Search the Internet for scholarly articles on the debate surrounding the composition and ratification of the Constitution. These can be primary or secondary sources but should come from academic sources. Recommended sites include: state constitutions drafted after the American Revolution; correspondence from significant colonial figures (e.g., John Dickinson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and others); the Virginia and/or New Jersey Plan; the Federalist Papers, and so on. These entries will provide a valuable resource for your first historical essay.
See Doc Sharing for general instructions on Webliography entries.
Historical Essay #1: Confederation and Constitution
As depression struck the new nation in the mid-1780s, new questions arose about the nature of American democracy. Many conservatives believed that the answer lay in a stronger national government. Most radicals believed it was up to the states to relieve the financial burden of the people. These sentiments fostered a movement for a new constitution. Political differences soon stimulated the creation of political parties.
Compare and contrast the Articles of Confederation with the new Constitution of 1787. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the Articles vis-à-vis the Constitution? Give specific instances that demonstrate the weakness of the Articles (such as the Western problem).
Then analyze the drafting of the Constitution, using specific details to show how the various states (slave vs. free, east vs. west) compromised in order to effectively draft a constitution. Pay particular attention to Roger Sherman’s plan, the Great Compromise, which broke a stalemate that could have been fatal to the development of the new Constitution.
Finally, compare and contrast the debate over ratification between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. Make sure you cite specific examples from the Federalist Papers to support the Federalist position and contrast it with leading proponents of the opposition (such as John Hancock). Analyze how the debate over a bill of rights illustrates the differences between the two parties. Evaluate the relative success of the Bill of Rights in achieving an effective balance between national and states’ interests.
Your Webliography assignments should include an introduction to the site and a description, and/or evaluation, of it. Be specific. The key is that someone should be able to read your entry and know whether this site is what they might be relevant to their research. See the examples below for good descriptions.
Do not duplicate entries. It might be to your advantage to post early. Otherwise one of your classmates may beat you to the wonderful site you’ve discovered
How to Post
When you go to the Webliography tab and click on it, you’ll see “add new entry,” on the left, just above the heading. When you click on it, you’ll go to a page that will have fields for you to fill in. It will include the title of the site, the category, the URL, the description, the site author, and the date it was last modified.
Pennsylvania State Constitution of 1776. (2008)
The Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 (ratified September 28, 1776) has been described as the most democratic in America and was drafted by Robert Whitehill, Timothy Matlack, Dr. Thomas Young, George Bryan, James Cannon, and Benjamin Franklin. The Constitution provides for a unicameral legislature, a Supreme Executive Council, a President elected by an Assembly and Council together, and a Council of Censors. The constitution was later copied by revolutionaries of Vermont as a basis for their constitution. This site is useful as it gives us an insight into the debate over constitutional government that would culminate in 1787.
- The entry is from an academic or literary source.
- You have included a helpful description of at least 4-6 sentences that tells us what we’ll find on the site.
- Your description is grammatically and mechanically correct.
- The URL is correct.
- You have not duplicated an entry.
- The URL is NOT from Wikipedia or other wiki or social media sites
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