A group of powerful men succeeded in writing and winning approval of a federal constitution that established a strong central government. The conflict generated by their efforts resulted in safeguards in the form of the Bill of Rights to protect Americans' liberty from government infringement.
Section 1: Government by the States
The national government under the Articles of Confederation was weak, and political power rested mostly with the states.
Section 1: Writing a Newspaper Article: Shays' Rebellion/Annapolis Convention
Using the links below, research Shays' Rebellion and the Annapolis Convention. Then, select one of these topics and write a newspaper article on the event you selected.
Proceedings of Commissioners to Remedy Defects of the Federal Government
Shays' Rebellion and Related Resources
Section 2: The Constitutional Convention
In 1787, delegates to a convention in Philadelphia created a new plan of government, the Constitution of the United States.
Section 2: Writing a Diary Entry: Constitutional Convention Delegates
Using the links below, research the lives of the delegates at the Constitutional Convention. Based on what you have learned, write a diary entry for one of the delegates that describes a day at the convention.
Delegates to the Constitutional Convention
The Signers of the U.S. Constitution
Section 3: Ratifying the Constitution
The states debated and then approved the new Constitution, and a Bill of Rights was soon added to protect individual liberties.
Section 3: Writing an Editorial: The Constitution
Using the links below, research opinions on the proposed United States Constitution. Then, craft a newspaper article that argues either for or against the proposed Constitution. Try to use the writing style of the time, and include quotes from primary sources on the ratification process.
The Federalist Papers
Section 4: The New Government
President Washington led the effort to create an effective federal government that would earn the respect of the American people and of other nations.
Section 4: Writing a Progress Report: Messages to Congress
Using the links below, review the first four annual messages delivered by President George Washington to Congress. Then, create a list of topics raised in each message. Use this list to write a report on the progress President Washington made during his first term in office.
First Annual Message
Second Annual Message
Third Annual Message
Fourth Annual Message