Discuss how the newly freed colonies governed after the war? How long did that last and what issues forced the writers of the Constitution to finally act? What were the factors decided in giving us...

Discuss how the newly freed colonies governed after the war? How long did that last and what issues forced the writers of the Constitution to finally act? What were the factors decided in giving us a democratic republic? How did it differ from a pure democracy? Why was the Bill of Rights important to winning the support of a majority of the colonies?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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After the American colonies gained independence and became the United States of America, they were governed by a constitution known as the Articles of Confederation.  That constitution gave very little power to the national government and practically all of the power to the states.  This led to a variety of problems that convinced many Americans of the need for a new constitution.  The Articles of Confederation were ratified in 1781.  By 1787, enough problems had arisen that a Constitutional Convention was called.  The convention ended up writing a new constitution (that we now call the Constitution of the United States) which was ratified in 1789.

After the Revolution, the new states were very concerned about the possibility of a central government that was too strong.  They had felt that the British government was too strong and did not pay any attention to the needs of the colonies.  They did not want an American government that would be strong and might ignore the needs of the states.  Therefore, they set up a system of government in which the national government was very weak and the states were very strong.  They felt that this system was more democratic because it allowed the people of the states to have more control over their own affairs.

However, it turned out that the central government was too weak.  It could not defend the country adequately and could not conduct diplomacy.  It could not levy taxes to build a military.  It could not stop the states from engaging in trade wars with one another.  In other words, the country was not very united.  In addition, many people felt that the states were too democratic.  They felt that the masses had too much power and that they were pushing for counterproductive policies such as the stay laws.  This led to calls for changes to the Articles of Confederation.

When the new Constitution was written, many people worried that it created a central government that was too strong and could trample the rights of the people.  Because so many people were concerned about this, the proponents of the Constitution had to promise to add a Bill of Rights to the document.  The Bill of Rights would stipulate that the central government could not infringe on the basic rights of the people.  The Bill of Rights was important, then, because it reassured people that the new central government would not be too strong.  This allowed them to support ratification of the Constitution.

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