The Constitutional Convention

Start Free Trial

Why did the writers of the Constitution feel it was necessary to create a new plan of government ?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The men who wrote the Constitution of the United States believed that the US needed a new plan of government because they believed that the old plan gave too much power to the states and not enough to the national government.  They felt that such a plan allowed for too...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The men who wrote the Constitution of the United States believed that the US needed a new plan of government because they believed that the old plan gave too much power to the states and not enough to the national government.  They felt that such a plan allowed for too much democracy and did not allow the country to grow economically.  They believed that a new plan with a stronger central government would be better for the country.

When the Articles of Confederation were written during the Revolutionary War, the Americans were afraid of centralized government.  They felt that the English government was too centralized and that the centralization had helped make it abusive.  Therefore, they created a very confederal system in which the national government had very little power.

By 1787, however, it had become clear to many that the confederal plan of government was not working.  The states had too much power and were making laws that hurt the country as a whole.  For example, the states would erect trade barriers against one another, making it hard to create a large, national economy.  The states also did not have to give money to the national government unless they wanted to, making it hard for the US government to do anything, even things as basic as having armed forces.

In addition, many Americans (particularly the elites) felt that the states were too democratic.  They felt that the state governments allowed the regular people to have too much power.  The democratic nature of the state government allowed things like stay laws (laws allowing people not to pay off their debts) to be made.  The elites felt that these popular laws were bad for the country as a whole.  They came to feel even more strongly about this when Shays’s Rebellion in Massachusetts showed how far the poorer people were willing to go to try to push their governments to enact popular laws.  Because they were worried about the power that the common people had over the state governments, they wanted to reduce those governments’ powers.

The writers of the constitution wanted a new plan of government because they felt the old plan gave too much power to the states and allowed too much democracy.  They fixed these problems in the document that we now  call the Constitution.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team