Confronting Civil War Revisionism: Over the past sixty years, many groups, exploiting a general lack of public knowledge about particular movements or events, have urged upon the public various revisionist views in order to justify their particular agenda.
Historical context[ edit ] Before the Constitution was drafted, the nearly 4 million inhabitants  of the 13 newly independent states were governed under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Unioncreated by the Second Continental Congressfirst proposed inadopted by the Second Continental Congress in and only finally unanimously ratified by the Original Thirteen States by It soon became evident to nearly all that the chronically underfunded Confederation government, as originally organized, was inadequate for managing the various conflicts that arose among the states.
These included a dispute between Maryland and Virginia over the Potomac River and opposition to Rhode Island 's imposing taxes on all traffic passing through it on the post road.
James Madison suggested that state governments should appoint commissioners "to take into consideration the trade of the United States; to examine the relative situation and trade of said states; to consider how far a uniform system in their commercial regulations may be necessary to their common interests and permanent harmony".
A political conflict between Boston merchants and rural farmers over issues including tax debts had broken out into an open rebellion. This rebellion was led by a former Revolutionary War captain, Daniel Shaysa small farmer with tax debts, who had never received payment for his service in the Continental Army.
The rebellion took months for Massachusetts to put down completely, and some desired a federal army that would be able to put down such insurrections. In Septemberat the Annapolis Conventiondelegates from five states called for a Constitutional Convention in order to discuss possible improvements to the Articles of Confederation.
Rhode Island, fearing that the Convention would work to its disadvantage, boycotted the Convention and, when the Constitution was put to the states during the next year of controversial debates, initially refused to ratify it, waiting until May to become the thirteenth, a year after the new federal government commenced.
New Hampshire delegates would not join the Convention until more than halfway through the proceedings, on July While waiting for the other delegates, the Virginia delegation produced the Virginia Planwhich was designed and written by James Madison.
On May 25, the delegations convened in the Pennsylvania State House. George Washington was unanimously elected president of the Convention,  and it was agreed that the discussions and votes would be kept secret until the conclusion of the meeting.
Madison's Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention ofsupplemented by the notes of Robert Yatesremain the most complete record of the Convention. Most commonly, they referred to the history of Englandin particular the Glorious Revolution often simply called "The Revolution"classical history mainly the Roman Republic and the leagues of Greek city-statesand recent precedents from Holland and Germany.
Outside the Convention in Philadelphia, there was a national convening of the Society of the Cincinnati. Washington was said to be embarrassed. The "old republican" delegates like Elbridge Gerry MA found anything military or hereditary anathema.
The Presbyterian Synod of Philadelphia and New York convention was meeting to redefine its Confession, dropping the faith requirement for civil authority to prohibit false worship. Merchants of Providence, Rhode Island, petitioned for consideration, though their Assembly had not sent a delegation. He carried grants of five million acres to parcel out among The Ohio Company and "speculators", including some who were attending the Convention.
It was published much earlier and more widely circulated than today's better known Federalist Papers. They agreed on Madison's plan, and formed what came to be the predominant coalition.
By the time the Convention started, the only blueprints that had been assembled were Madison's Virginia Plan, and Charles Pinckney's plan. As Pinckney didn't have a coalition behind his plan, Madison's plan was the starting point for deliberations.
Most importantly, they agreed that the Convention should go beyond its mandate merely to amend the Articles of Confederationand instead should produce a new constitution outright. While some delegates thought this illegal, the Articles of Confederation were closer to a treaty between sovereign states than they were to a national constitution, so the genuine legal problems were limited.
Once this was done, they began modifying it. Madison's plan operated on several assumptions that were not seriously challenged. During the deliberations, few raised serious objections to the planned bicameral congress, nor the separate executive functionnor the separate judicial function.
The main exceptions to this were the dysfunctional Confederation Congress and the unicameral Pennsylvania legislaturewhich was seen as quickly vacillating between partisan extremes after each election. Since America had no native hereditary aristocracythe character of this upper house was designed to protect the interests of this wealthy elite, the "minority of the opulent," against the interests of the lower classes, who constituted the majority of the population.
An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other.
They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority. The Senate, therefore, ought to be this body; and to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and stability.
Convention delegate Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts observed that "the great mercantile interest and of stockholders, is not provided for in any mode of election-they will however be better represented if the State legislatures choose the second branch.
The delegates also agreed with Madison that the executive function had to be independent of the legislature.The Articles of Confederation - A few hundred years ago, the United States first Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, was created. AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Thomas Jefferson Table of Contents. The Declaration of Independence The Articles of Confederation The Virginia Legislature Review and Reform of the Law.
Bibliography. Following are books and other material which were used in preparing this paper. Abshire, David, The Character of George Washington and the Challenges of the Modern Presidency, The Center for the Study of the Presidency, Washington, DC, l, 15 pgs.
Arnold, James R., Presidents Under Fire. Orion books, New York, , pgs. WallBuilders is an organization dedicated to presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built – a foundation which, in recent years, has been seriously attacked and undermined.
Start studying Articles of Confederation & Constitution Study Guide. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. Introduction. Although both Jefferson and Washington were lifelong slaveholders, as were the previous generations of Washingtons in Virginia, the master of Mount Vernon has scarcely received a fraction of the criticism on the subject that has fallen on Jefferson since the s.