(StraightNews.org) – The US Constitution is one of the most important documents in US history, likely only second to the Declaration of Independence. But why did the Founding Fathers write it? What gave them the idea of individual freedom and the Bill of Rights?
Before the Constitution
The government prior to the Constitution was established under the Articles of Confederation. However, this government showed signs of weakness only a few years after it was created.
The first American government depended solely on its states for revenue. The states, however, were not cooperative with the new government, and the young country surrounded by Spanish, British and French territories had trouble funding an army to fend off any attacks. This weakness troubled the leaders of the newly formed country, so in 1787 they gathered in Philadelphia to form a new and stronger form of government.
Creating the Constitution
The journey to this gathering in Philadelphia had actually started 2 years before the convention. General George Washington had brought together representatives from both Maryland and Virginia to come to an agreement on the navigation rights of the Potomac River, which ran between the two states. After this meeting, the Virginia Assembly asked for a larger convention to discuss trade among all 13 states.
Representatives from only five of the states attended this conference. While disheartened, the attending delegates were convinced by Alexander Hamilton to request a full constitutional convention in an effort to rid the nation of a serious weakness. The Confederation Congress was asked to send formal invitations to each state, asking them to send delegates to meet in Philadelphia.
Fifty-five delegates attended from every state except Rhode Island, which feared national interference in its economic initiatives. In May of 1787, the delegates met in Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 and the Constitution, along with a new form of government, was born.
The original government, under the Articles of Confederation, was weak; it could sign treaties and bring about war, but it couldn’t require states to provide funding or raise taxes to fund its decisions. The government also couldn’t stop the separate states from taxing each other’s exports.
The American economy was doomed to sink into a depression as the national government was too weak to prevent it. The Constitution formed a new, more powerful government able to control its delegates and make decisions in the best interest of the nation.
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