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Birth of the Constitution

Articles of Confederation

As America’s first Constitution, the Articles of Confederation gave the states too much power and left the central government too weak. Although the 1787 Constitutional Convention aimed to amend the Articles, they were instead scrapped for the Constitution.

The Constitutional Convention

The 1787 Constitutional Convention featured two plans, the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey plan. The Virginia plan favored the larger states and the New Jersey plan favored the smaller states. Roger Sherman’s “Great Compromise” helped draw consensus but more convincing was needed to get all of the states to ratify.

The Federalist Papers

Following the Constitutional Convention, not all states were convinced to ratify the Constitution. The Federalist Papers, written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, were a series of persuasive essays designed to emphasize the merits and benefits of the new Constitution.

The Bill of Rights

Known as the Father of the Constitution, James Madison initially resisted including a Bill or Rights because he thought the Constitution itself included the same rights. He eventually included the bill in exchange for support from the anti-Federalists.

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