The Constitution of the United States
Before the Constitution of the United States, America was made up of separate states each with their own rules, culture, and focus. They worked together minimally under the Articles of Confederation in specific instances but not as a cohesive government.
What plagued the mind of James Madison in the late 1700’s, was the lack of unionized government. He saw far-reaching political and economic fallout if the states continued to operate completely independent of one another. In the event of war, there would be no way of ensuring a combined effort and managing resources. The writing was on the wall with quarrels between states, a depleted treasury, no way to tax each state or enforce economic reform.
The Convention of the US Constitution
The answer was clear, a national government which could provide stability and control. Seventy-four delegates from all thirteen states were invited to attend a convention at which they would discuss a newly proposed government. Rhode Island, suspicious of the government trying to take over, refused to send anyone.
Three different plans were proposed at the convention, spanning May-July. The plans were the Virginia Plan, the New Jersey Plan and Hamilton’s Plan. None of these were accepted, and there was a lot of debate ending in a stalemate over, state representation. Finally, Oliver Ellsworth proposed a solution for representation which both the North and South states could agree. Now they were finally ready to draft a constitution.
Many of the delegates rejected the first draft. The biggest concern was control over commerce and taxes. The South which had a booming farming trade was concerned that a Northern government, would tax them out of business. Slavery was another big issue which was cause for a lot of heated debate during the convention. There was already talk of slavery abolition, and the South didn't want to go there.
By late September, the delegates were tired and longed for home, making them much more agreeable to compromise. Their fatigue allowed them to hammer out the final details and draft the first copy. Each state, however, demanded that they have their own set of amendments included.
Only five of the nine states necessary were ready to approve the first draft of the constitution presented on January 9, 1788. Over the next few months, the men most invested worked hard to persuade the other states to come on board.
Throughout 1788, more states ratified the document and became a part of the unified government. It took until the end of 1791 before three-fourths of the states had agreed upon the constitution with the ten amendments, now known as our “Bill of Rights.” These amendments were included to protect each person’s rights against tyranny even from their own government.
Our current government model was hard won and a tremendous amount of work to implement, but it was with good intentions of bringing together a unified America for a stronger, more stable country which we are today.