What Happened At The Constitutional Convention Of 1787, And Why Was It Significant

1225 words - 5 pages

The Constitution of the United States is arguably the finest historical document and longest living Constitution in the history of the world. The freedoms and rights that are given to us by the Constitution make America one of the greatest countries in the world. However, this document was not constructed overnight. The United States system of Government has gone through great change from the Articles of Confederation to the United States Constitution.In the years following the Revolutionary War, the United States came up with a government called the Articles of Confederation. These Articles had an abundance of errors and shortcomings. There were countless rebellions and grievances as a result of the articles, but no one seemed to know how to fix things. "The year 1789 was the low point of the Critical Period. It was the year of Shays' Rebellion, the year of John Jay's proposed treaty with Spain, and a year in which the depression in trade reached its lowest ebb" (129). The articles were far from a centralized government, and provided little or no power for the government on most issues. Every state was considered equal, regardless how large or small they might be. The regulations on the Articles were far too strict to ever accomplish anything, since thirteen states would never share a precise view on any matter. Due to these downfalls, several conventions were set up in our country's early years to try and fix some of the problems. However, it was until the convention of 1787, which was to revise the Articles of Confederation, that our country really took shape.Seventy-four delegates from twelve of the thirteen states were invited to attend this Convention. Of these seventy-four, only fifty-five managed to show up. All states except Rhode Island chose to attend this conference. "There were a few conspicuous absences. Sam Adams of Massachusetts and Patrick Adams of Virginia were not there, the latter because he 'smelled a rat' in the whole proceeding" (113). Other major players such as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were not able to attend. However, a great assembly of figures had already been compiled. Some of the most notable were Ben Franklin, who was 81 years old, but nonetheless one of the greatest thinkers of the time; George Washington, a national war hero; wealthy James Madison of Virginia; and Alexander Hamilton.The fundamental question that had to be asked when writing the new Constitution had to do with the power of the state and national governments. People were afraid of any government that would possess similar characteristics to that of the monarchy, which England had previously imposed on them. State's rights were the first thing on everyone's mind after the revolution, so it was difficult to convince people that a large, centralized government would actually be beneficial. The large states, such as James Madison, were an advocate of the Virginia Plan. This plan consisted of a two-house legislature; both determined by population....

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