Compare and contrast the Articles of Confederation...

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.


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