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Unit 3: The American Government

"But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?" With an understanding built through theory and practical experience, Americans worked to design a government that would secure liberty and justice.

The Problems of the Articles

The Articles of Confederation was designed in the midst of the American revolution. After the conclusion of the war, cracks began to show. The challenges that arose would guide the creation of the new federal Constitution of the United States.

The Constitution

During the hot, humid summer of 1787, the framers worked to outline a constitution that would lay the foundation of the government of the United States. They sought to develop a limited government, based on consent that balanced powers between the various branches of government and the states.

The Constitution and Its Defenders

Once drafted, the Constitution needed to be ratified by at least 9 of the 13 states. These ratification debates were fiercely debated. Defenders of the new Constitution, known as "Federalists", wrote and spoke in an attempt to convince ratifying conventions of the soundness of the plan and purpose of the new Constitution.

The Constitution and Its Detractors

Opposing the Federalists were those who worried the new Constitution could lead to a centralization of power, threatening the liberties of individuals. These opponents came to be called "Anti-Federalists".

The Bill of Rights

The Constitution was ratified in 1788 and the first Congress assembled in 1789. One of the many tasks they undertook was the drafting of a list of constitutional amendments that would become the Bill of Rights.


How could a nation conceived in liberty tolerate the enslavement of individuals and the evils of the system of enslavement? Explore what the Constitution says about enslavement and how constitutional mechanisms were employed in abolishing the system.