Constitution Framing Process
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The process of the formation of the United States and its first independent government can be traced back to the 16th century. A constitution can be defined as the legal framework of a set of rules that determines how power in a state is used lawfully. On the contrary, only few governments have been created through a written constitution. Significantly the Americans had experienced some self-governance way before the constitution was written in 1787. This prior experience created the political views of framers who drafted the constitution that led to the formation of the first government. Historians state that what is now the United States was first occupied by the indigenous population, before colonialists from Europe began to arrive particularly from the Great Britain. The Britons developed their own autonomous legal and political policies and system in the 13 colonies. In the parliaments that they formed they imposed new taxes, which the Americans found to be unconstitutional since they had no representatives in the house. Different governmental structures existed in the 13 colonies. Each colony was under the rule of a governor who was in charge of the executive administration under the control of a locally elected legislature to make new laws and impose taxes. The colonies experienced tremendous growth in population. They attracted new immigrants who owned plantations in the tobacco and rice farming sector that used slave work. This saw the import of black slaves into America, and by the 1770s their population was a fifth of the total population. The increased imposition in taxes and the end of the feud between the Americans and France saw the rise of the need for independence by the 13 states. This led to the waging of a great war for independence that began in 1775. On the 4th of July 1776, the American colonies declared independence from the British thus forming the United States of America. From this point, the framers of the constitution began the long process that would see their first president George Washington inaugurated to office. Through the leadership of General Washington, the American patriots fighting for independence managed to win the revolutionary war in 1783 and finally attain peace. The first thirteen states came together and formed a federal government that would unite them as one under the article of confederations, although this became a challenge as the federal government was weak and unstable. The states came up with a new constitution in 1778 that later included the bill of rights.
The road to a new constitution began as early as 1774 when the Massachusetts and Virginia parliaments proposed the assembly of the thirteen states to end the feud between the Americans and the Great Britain. The assembly of the 13states adopted what was known as the declaration and resolves of the first continental congress that addressed the king of England and his people. It also had the rights and principles that were later incorporated in the declaration for independence and the federal constitution. A second congress was proposed the following year, and it assumed control of the 12 states. George Washington was appointed its leader. The congress became the de facto government that organized liberation movements The sentiments for independence were rapidly growing while, at the same time, a declaration for the restoration of peace between the colonies and Great Britain. Delegates from Virginia were deployed to the continental congress to have the organization declare the freedom of the colonies into independent states. Later, the same the union with Great Britain was dissolved by the congress, and propositions were made to form foreign alliances. Each respective colony was presented with a drafted plan of confederation. Although some of the delegates argued for the confederation before the declaration, independence was first to be declared and the former postponed. A year after 1777, an agreement by the congress on a form of a government that could be embraced by different states was reached. On 9th July 1778, states that were given the article of confederations were approved to be functional. The success was not long lusting as the article of confederation had its weakness. The need to have it was considered since the congress had no authority to levy taxes. To fix this, the congress gave the states the power to lay duties and secure public debts. Some states agreed to these and others, particularly Rhode Island, refused thus the proposal failed. This led to the discovery of another weakness of the article of confederations that each of the 13 states had to ratify all important amendments, and if any of them were to miss then one or two states had the power to stop the proposals.
The article of confederations had other imperfections such as all treaties with foreign powers negotiated by the congress had to be approved by several states. The congress could not act on its own without the approval of states or individuals. This made foreign states doubt values of treaties signed by the Republic. The shortcoming saw the need for amendments, and in 1786, under the leadership of Virginia, delegations agreed to meet in Annapolis to make the necessary amendments. The attendance for the meeting was quite a disappointment since only few states sent representatives. The delegates at Annapolis suggested another convention at Philadelphia in 1787 to look into the defects of the existing form of government and come up with recommendations for amendment. However, they sought to scrap away the article and come up with a document that would create a new stronger functional national government, which would enhance and protect liberty thus preventing tyranny. Among prominent men who met during the great constitutional convention were Benjamin Franklin George Washington, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton among others. Other states acted promptly to this, they include New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia and Delaware. After some hesitation, the congress approved the Philadelphia convention for the revision of the article of confederations the delegation soon received membership from other states including New York when Virginia sent its delegates. George Washington was appointed the presiding officer, and the sessions were agreed to remain secret.
On 29th of May 1787 Randolph on behalf of the Virginia delegation presented 15 prepositions as a plan of a government to the congress. Some of the recommendations presented included a split of the govvernment into three parts; legislative judiciary and executive powers. These were vested in the congress. The legislature was to be made up of two houses and not one. The conventional delegates had debates on various issues regarding the constitution. The three major basic ones were based on slavery, representation in congress and presidential elections. Presidential elections had various proposals with some states favoring a direct election of the president but others suggested that the best man should hold the office. However, they fixed this by creating presidential voting system, the electoral college where the presidential electors from each state would vote for the president according to the states’ number of seats in the House and the Senate.
On July 13th, proposition representations on both houses were made with regards to the Virginia resolutions presented to the committee. Peterson of New Jersey submitted 9 resolutions with changes to be made on the article of confederations. The New Jersey plan also suggested giving equal representation to each state in the legislature. Although this was largely supported by members of lesser states who believed that each state was to be given equal power regardless of its population, the New Jersey plan was rejected and the house continued with the Virginia plan which proposed that representation should be given on the basis of population. This gained enormous support from larger states as it would give them much power. The 15 resolutions were expanded to 23, and on 24th July a committee was appointed to draft a constitution basing it on the reforms of the convention. House meeting were held from august 6 to September 10 to discuss the report of the committee.
After many amendments had been done, the constitution was viewed as a makeshift by some of the delegates. Those delegates who were advocating for it, sort unanimous support from each state seeing that it was difficult for the state to approve it. The new constitution was suggested by the Philadelphia convention to supplant the article of conventions. This led to the emergence of two parties one in support of the constitution and the other against the constitution. The constitution was criticized and debated on bit by bit. Pennsylvania State, Delaware, New Jersey, and Georgia ratified the constitution. Nine others too followed the suit and based on the amendments made by the constitution; nine states were enough to have it established among the states ratifying it. States advocating for it saw that it could not succeed without New York and Virginia both of which had not ratified. Madison Randolph and Marshal were involved in a campaign for the ratification of the constitution in Virginia. On July 1788, New York ratified. With eleven states having ratified the constitution, the continental congress passed a resolution that saw the new constitution put into full operation. The 4th of January 1789 was the day for choosing the presidential electors, 1st of February was set as the day for electors to meet and 4th of March was set as the opening day for the new congress. On 30th April 1789, George Washington the first president of the United States of America was inaugurated.
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