The New Nation after the American Revolution
1. Under the Articles of Confederation, the central government was weak and had no control over the states. Congress did not participate in the trade regulation as this power was reserved for the states. Nor had it the power to collect taxes from the states. The government could only request taxes but usually received less than 25% of what it asked for. Important laws could be adopted only if they were supported by at least 9 states. (Kennedy 173).
2. A major controversy of the 1787 Philadelphia Convention was the idea that the representation of the states in both Houses had to be proportional to a state’s population. It was advocated by the large states and fiercely opposed by the small ones. An important compromise reached at the Convention was the indirect election of future presidents by the Electoral College. It was also agreed that the large states were advantageous in the first round of the election while the smaller ones were advantageous in case the election was to be decided in the House of Representatives (Kennedy 179-180).
3. As a result of reaching the “Great Compromise”, the American states would be represented in the House of Representatives proportionally to their population while all of them would be equally represented in the Senate (two senators from each state). A politically strong president would be empowered to veto any laws adopted by Congress (Kennedy 180).
4. As president, George Washington was an excellent administrator and one of the founders of the emerging republic. He was first to formally establish the cabinet although the creation of this institution was not mentioned in the new Constitution. The cabinet that later became the Washington administration began to meet regularly in order to debate important issues before a final decision was made (Kennedy 191-192).
5. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s plan was to convince Congress to assume the debts accumulated by the states during the war for independence. This policy, he believed, would result in tighter relationships between the central government and the states, and would also attach wealthy financial groups to the central government. With fiscal policies favoring those groups, the government would secure both financial and political support (Kennedy 193-196).
6. The Republicans were alarmed by the fact that the new Constitution did not include a bill of rights. However, the Federalists solemnly promised to protect the traditional American values and principles (fundamental rights and freedoms) by amending the Constitution in 1791 (Kennedy 192).
7. The major accomplishments of the Federalist Era included the adoption of the Bill of Rights, the creation of the Supreme Court, federal courts, and the office of the Attorney General, the establishment of the Bank of the United States, the building of a financially powerful nation that contributed to a gradual population growth, the political and military strengthening of the federal government, the emergence of permanent political parties, etc (Kennedy 191-197).
Kennedy, David. “The American Pageant: A History of the Republic.” Twelfth Edition. 2006.