Preface to the Constitution A Difficult War Rebellion nearly collapsed in 1780 Forces had shrunk from 26,000 to 15,000 Problems less from military and more from national government (Continental Congress): Decisions of consequence had to be approved by all state governments Failed to get available supplies to troops Could not compel states to contribute resources whe n needed National government could not coordinate the states ? actions General Washington urged for more government control of efforts Additional support and money came from France Helped end the war in 1783 A Legacy of Self Governance By 165 0 all of the colonies had established elective assemblies. Eventually gained the authority to initiate laws and levy taxes. Britain appointed governors, judges, colonial councils: But their pay was tied to the assemblies Subsequently , often accommodated popular opinion State assemblies also provided the nation with: Elective politicians experienced in negotiating collective agreements, and Ample experience in constitution writing BUT little experience w/: Regulating commerce Overseeing independent military Foreign relations * Working together * Dismantling Home Rule British government was broke French and Indian War (ended in 1763). British citizens already heavily taxed. Colonists neede d to share the tax burden. New taxes conta ined provisions that tightened control over the internal affairs of the colonies, thus violating colonial home rule. Most aggressive challenge to home rule: Stamp Act . imposed a tax on all printed material s, including legal documents, licenses, newspapers and playing cards. Americans had paid taxes before, but they were local and service-oriented. In response, colonial assemblies passed resolutions demanding repeal of the tax. sent delegates to a national conference to draft a unified response. Colonists responded with: boycotts Boston Tea Party Dismantling Home Rule Britain ? s response: closed port of Boston to all commerce dissolved the MA assembly decreed troops could be quartered in colonial homes Americans charged with crimes against Britain would be sent to England for trial Other colonies met in late 1774 in Philadelphia for what became the First Continental Congress. served as nucleus of natio nal representation passed resolutions condemning British taxes and administrative decrees Addressed Franklin ? s idea of creating a national government, but inconclusively debated. Passed a Declaration of American Rights The Second Continental Congres s By the time the Second Continental Congress met (1775), war had broken out: Lexington and Concord War necessitated national government: Continental Congress had no legal authority to conduct war, but colonies required coordination instructed the conventions to reconstitute themselves as state governments based on republican principles most states adopted bicameral legislatures And weak governorships issued nation ? s first bonds and established a national currency The Declara tion of Independence Thomas Paine ? s Common Sense moved independence to center stage. Three months and 120,000 copies later, Americans supported independence. In June 1776 Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee called for creation of a new nation sepa rate from Britain. Committee to draft resolution [clip: John Adams ] A number of Jefferson ? s listed grievances were removed: condemnation of slavery offended slave-owning southern delegates on July 4, 1776, members of the Second Continental Co ngress signed the document (with some absentions). The Articles of Confederation Second Continental Congress also drafted the nation ? s first Constitution ? the Articles of Confederation ratified five years later Created a confederation ? a highly decentralized governmental system in which the national government derives limited authority from the states rather than directly from the citizens. the Articles transferred power from the Continental Congress to the new, permanent Congress Provisions: major laws (e.g., taxes) required the endorsement of 9 of the 13 states Constitutional amendments required unanimous agreement No real executive or a judiciary The Confederation at War Problems in conduct of the war under the Articles: states responsible for recruiting and outfitting troops Congress attempted to coordinate the state regiments into a single fighting force. But could not tax. No administrative branch; so Congress had to administer. Quickly deteriorating military si tuation high levels of free riding and the reluctance of some states to contribute their fair share to the effort Congress responded by decentralizing even more. instructed the states to supply their troops directly. Why? What was their rational e for this? The Confederation at War Because of war difficulties, Congress pressured to take on greater authority. Washington even advised Congress to adopt an entire new plan providing it with the authority ad equate to all of the purposes of war. Even states themselves complained of the impotence of the Articles. States were willing to sacrifice for the war, but only if they could be confident that the other states would also do their part. Congress r esponded the best it could, but worked under a constitution that was designed to limit (and thus, frustrate) national action. Several New England states passed resolution calling for investing Congress with powers competent for the government. Hartfo rd Convention of five northern states called on Congress to grant itself the power to tax. But R.I. vetoed a bill giving Congress the authority to levy taxes. Tide of war turned with the entry of France as a vested ally: defeat of Cornwallis at Yo rktown The Confederation ? s Troubled Peace With the war over and the peace treaty signed, new perils: a war-torn economy trade barriers at home and abroad mounting debt popular discontent (Shays ? s Rebellion) 1786: Virginia invited other st ates to convene in Annapolis to consider ways of strengthening the national government ? s role in commerce.
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