The American Journey © 2007

Chapter 7: A More Perfect Union

Chapter Overviews

After winning their independence from Great Britain, the thirteen states adopted new state constitutions. They also needed to form some kind of central government. Adopted in 1777, the Articles of Confederation was the first government of the United States.

By 1787 the weaknesses of the Articles were clear. A convention was held in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787. While originally planned merely to revise the Articles of Confederation, the convention eventually adopted an entirely new plan: the Constitution. Delegates worked to settle differences over representation and slavery. Incorporating ideas from English law, the Enlightenment, and their own experiences, they designed a federal system that divided powers between the national government and the states. Further, they split the functions of government among three branches: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. After strong debate throughout the country, the new Constitution was ratified by all thirteen states. It now was time for the nation to elect leaders and begin the work of government.

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