The Articles of Confederation- 1777
First system of government
used by the United States.
The Main Ideas
Only one branch of government (unicameral) called
States controlled most of the power.
Congress could declare war, make treaties, print
money, deliver mail.
Congress controlled Indian affairs.
Congress could not tax the states, enforce laws,
regulate trade between states.
Any decisions or changes made by Congress had to be
approved by 9 of the 13 states. Made it very difficult to make
any changes for the nation.
Without taxes the Country could not pay off debts.
Without trade rules, arguments between states hurt
Congress could pass laws but not enforce them.
Each state had one vote regardless of its size.
No executive branch or court system.
Congress could not raise an army without the states’
Articles of Confederation
In short, the national government did not have
enough authority to effectively rule.
Things were a mess!
States were not united as a country.
Something had to change.
A Constitutional Convention-1787
Delegates met to revise
(change) the Articles of
Instead they agreed to
create a new constitution.
They created the US
Constitution, which we
still use today.
Debating the Framework
James Madison designed a
framework for a new government.
He suggested replacing the current
weak central government with a
The one state/one vote system
would be replaced by a system based
on a state’s population. (Virginia
Georgia supported the idea, but
smaller states objected that they
would be less important.
Two Plans for the Constitution
Virginia Plan – called for a bicameral legislature (2
houses), with representation in the houses based on
state population. More populated states get more votes
in the legislature.
New Jersey Plan – called for a unicameral legislature (1
house), with each state getting only vote. Votes not
determined by population.
States had a hard time agreeing, because the smaller less
populated states did not agree with the Virginia Plan,
and the more populated states did not agree with the
New Jersey Plan.
The Great Compromise
A compromise was reached that satisfied both sides.
A bicameral (two house) legislature was created.
The House of Representatives would be based on a state’s
population. (Virginia Plan)
The Senate would include two representatives from each state
regardless of the states population. (New Jersey Plan)
Three branches of government were also created to
provide a system of checks and balances.
Congress was divided into two houses to balance
power between the states.
House of Representatives decided by population.
(satisfied the large states)
Senate gave each state two representatives. (satisfied
the smaller states)
Approved a 3/5ths compromise for all slaves.
William Few and Abraham Baldwin signed for Georgia.
Was elected to the Georgia Assembly (legislature
for the state) and helped establish Georgia’s
Constitution in 1777.
In 1780, he was elected to the Continental
Congress, before eventually representing
Georgia at the Constitutional Convention in
Was a chaplain (minister to soldiers) during the
He practiced law and help establish the
University of Georgia.
Had the last deciding vote on which plan would
be accepted for the national government
(Virginia Plan or the New Jersey Plan).
His vote resulted in a tie between the two plans,
which led to the great compromise.
Improvements with the
Federal Government has
more power than the states.
Congress can collect taxes
and regulate trade between
Bill of Rights guarantees
individual rights such as
Freedom of Speech and
The Bill of Rights
(Secured the freedom fought for during the American
Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition
Right to keep and bear arms
Conditions for quarters of soldiers
Right of search and seizure regulated
Provisons concerning prosecution
Right to a speedy trial, witnesses, etc.
Right to a trial by jury
Excessive bail, cruel punishment
Rule of construction of Constitution
Rights of the States under Constitution
Creating a Government Note Check
Choose either A (Articles of Confederation) or C (Constitution) to identify which form
of government is represented by each statement or phrase.
1. The first system of government used by the United States.
2. A bicameral Congress helped balance power between states.
3. Had a strong central (federal) government.
4. Could pass laws but not enforce them.
5. Was signed by Abraham Baldwin and William Few.
6. Created a system of checks and balances.
7. Used only a legislative branch of government.
8. Required 9 of 13 states to approve any changes.
9. Did not have the power to collect taxes.
10. Included the Bill of Rights.
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