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The young USA
There were many actions taken by the American political leadership between 1785 and 1800 in order to move forward on the path of establishing stability and promoting prosperity within the young nation. The period between the creation of the articles of Confederation and the creation of the Constitution was called the Critical Period. This was a time in history when American patriarchs questioned the future of their homeland and knew that someone had to take charge in order to lead young America in the right direction. With the failure of the Articles of Confederation threatening Americas unity and prosperity, something had to be done in order for America to become a unified nation. The creation of new government, the avoidance of tyranny, the development of unity, Bill of Rights, Hamilton’s Vision/Program, the Whiskey Rebellion, and Foreign policy were the main actions that propelled the young American nation into becoming a new unified country.
The Articles of Confederation was not quite a complete failure; however, it was not nearly as successful as America had planned it to be. There were many disagreements over the Articles of Confederation, which in turn, triggered its failure. For example, the small states wanted equal representation however the larger states of the Americas wanted representation to be related to population. In this situation, the smaller states won the debate over this issue. Arguments such as this were what tore the Articles of Confederation apart and made it so unsuccessful. Because of this, America found it necessary to start the creation of a newly formed government. The formation of Americas new government started when a man named Alexander Hamilton called for a national convention of all the states to override the Articles of Confederation. Only five states attended the meeting, however, the conference acknowledged a proposal that Hamilton made concerning a convention to be held next year for all states to attend and discuss the Articles of Confederation. This was a very important action taken by the American political leadership towards establishing stability within the young nation, however, people doubted that only a small number of states would show up to the convention, however, when word traveled around that George Washington would be attending, it attracted many states to attend and discuss.
In 1787 fifty-five men representing all the states of America, excluding Rhode Island, met in Philadelphia to discuss the future of their country. The convention elected Washington to be the leader of the discussions they had during their time. They decided that every state would have one equal vote, and that major decisions would simply rely on the majority of the people. During this convention, every delegate that attended the meeting had agreed that they needed to somehow build up and develop a strong central government in order for their country to be successful. During the convention there was a very influential plan proposed by James Madison who was the delegate for Virginia. This plan was quite simple, however If accepted by the convention, could be a seriously large footstep towards developing a new government. It stated that a government should contain an Executive branch, judiciary branch, and a legislative branch. The convention accepted Madison’s Plan.
Another large event that helped develop America’s young nation was the development of the Constitution in 1787. James Madison was a very large player in the development of the constitution. The constitution divided powers between state governments and the national governments. The government that the constitution in turn created was directed to be the superior law of the land, however, it still left many of the significantly important powers in the hands of the states. The next idea that was established was the avoidance of tyranny, because, after all, how successful would a developing young nation be with a tyrannical leader? The structure of government was shaped by the fact that numerous powerful groups “canceling out” or “checking each other” were more beneficial because then one single power could not become more dominant than another.
Another important theme of the Constitution was the separation of powers and the creation of checks and balances. Both of these rules made it so that tyranny was literally impossible. The different sections in the government would clash with each other, and they would have to agree on a law before it was passed. The president had the power to veto something if it did not seem appropriate in his mind. There were judges also involved in this so that it made sure each hearing was fair. This was a huge step towards making the young nation a new unified America. The first elections under the new Constitution were soon to be held. It was quite obvious who was going to be the first president of the United States of America- George Washington. George Washington had led the constitutional convention, and had many followers; there was no doubt that he would win the presidency. He was inaugurated on April 30, 1789 on September 25th.
When congress was serving its first term along with George Washington serving his presidency, it was basically very similar to the Constitutional Convention. They focused on the main cause they had been focusing on for a few years now, continuing to establish a new strong government for the young American nation. One of their first goals was to draft a bill of rights. In 1789 on September 25th, Congress had approved the first twelve amendments of the Constitution. The first ten amendments were known from that point on as the Bill of Rights. They consisted of: Freedom of speech, religion and press, freedom to bear arms, no quartering, search and seizure, rights of the accused, speedy trial, trial by jury, and no cruel of unusual punishment or excessive bail. The Congress then created three new departments, state, treasury, and war. And also added new offices as well, such as that of the attorney general and postmaster. President George Washington appointed Alexander Hamilton for the position of secretary of treasury. Henry Knox was appointed the position of secretary of war, and Edmund Randolph was appointed attorney general. And lastly, President George Washington gave the position of secretary of state, to Thomas Jefferson.
Another important action that helped develop America’s young nation was Alexander Hamilton’s Vision. Alexander Hamilton was a strong, philosophical leader who played a strong role in helping the young American Nation get on the right track to establishing a stronger country. He had a vision that could truly help America on its road to victory. He Envisioned the United States becoming a global power that one-day rivaled England and France. He believed in strong central government, involvements and support of the elite, and the need to develop a complex economy that included manufacturing. In order to achieve these lofty goals, Hamilton knew that he had to address Americas credit both abroad and within the United States because at some point they would have to borrow more money again in order to grow. This then becomes the main focus of Alexander Hamilton’s economic program. Hamilton’s Economic Program consisted of a few different things. One part was the Payment of Debts, in which he established the idea to Re Issue War Funds- this plan was called Funding War. Then there was the assumption plan upon which he decided that they should Assume State Debts. In order to help him perform and carry out all of these plans successfully, Alexander Hamilton proposed the Creation of a national Bank called the Bank of the United States. Lastly, the final part of Hamilton’s Plan was the establishment of Taxes, and the action to excise taxes. Although Hamilton’s Plan was very advantageous for young America, there was still however, an Opposition to Hamilton’s Plan. There was Southern frustration with assumption because many southern states had been left with smaller debts following revolutionary war, while contrary to that, many New England states still owed a certain amount of debt. The southern states were very angry and upset that they would have to in turn; pickup northern states “tab”. Despite, the opposition to Hamilton’s plan, it was still successful, and in the end, Hamilton and Jefferson were able to sort out their complaints and criticism.
The last significant action that truly helped the young American nation develop a strong government and prosperous unity was the way George Washington handled the Whiskey Rebellion. Farmers in Western Pennsylvania had refused to pay taxes and began to terrorize tax collectors. This rebellion was known as the Whiskey Rebellion. They refused to pay the new whiskey excise tax that had just been introduced. To resolve the issue, President George Washington assembled nearly 15,000 troops, and single handedly led all of them to march on to Pennsylvania. Washington’s quick retaliation to the Whiskey Rebellion not only crushed the radical farmers uprising, but it established and made a permanent example in the mind of many states around the region that nothing of this matter would be tolerated.
The development of America’s young nation and the establishment of stability and prosperity truly could not have been possible without the creation of a new government. The avoidance of tyranny as well as the development of Unity with the help of President George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson also helped shape the young nation. The bill of Rights along with Hamilton’s Vision and Washington’s reaction to the Whiskey Rebellion were some of the few actions taken by the American political leadership in the 17th century, however, they were the most critical, and without them, America would not be the strong, unified nation it is today.