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American History

American history is a vast topic, one which starts with the forming of a nation. Once the thirteen American colonies had declared their independence from England in 1776 and established a new national government in 1781, there was still more work to be done. As a young country just emerging from war, many of the colonies were left facing a tremendous amount of debt for funds borrowed to pay for weapons and troops. At this time each state was printing its own money and disputes quickly arose between the states regarding whether money from one state was equal to that of another. The Confederation Congress was restricted from raising taxes under the Articles of Confederation as well as prohibited from using a court system to order the states to trade with one another. The new national government was powerless and problems were arising almost every day. Farmers revolted and refused to pay their taxes while also taking up arms to protect their right not to pay taxes during Shay’s Rebellion. It became rapidly apparent that a new and stronger national government was necessary.

Delegates from the 13 colonies, with the exception of Rhode Island, arrived in Philadelphia in May of 1787 to attend a Constitutional Convention. The Convention would last for four months as the framers debated over how a new national government would be formed. While varying plans were offered by different delegates, they were unable to reach an agreement and the Constitutional Convention became deadlocked. Under this plan Congress would have two houses; the House of Representatives and the Senate. The number of House members would be based on each state’s population. The membership of the Senate would include two members from each state. This allowed the larger states to gain more members in the House of Representatives and the smaller states to gain equal representation in the Senate. Under the plan, only the House of Representatives would be able to write bills that would create taxes.

The matter of a president was also addressed by the Convention. Alexander Hamilton proposed that the president be elected by serve a lifetime term. Having just gained independence from a tyrant king, this idea was not well received by many of the other delegates. Eventually the delegates reached an agreement that the president would serve a term of four years. The next matter to be discussed was precisely how the president would be elected. While some delegates thought the voters who elected the representatives should also elect the president, others were not in agreement and thought they should elect the president based on their superior knowledge of government.

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