According to Keene (2013), “The postwar economic downturn hit farmers in Massachusetts particularly hard. As farm foreclosures increased, and families saw their farms seized by their creditors, frustration mounted. Revolutionary War veterans marched on the town of Northampton to shut down the local courts and prevent further foreclosures. The armed crowd prevented the judges, dressed in formal judicial attire, long black robes and gray wigs, from entering the courthouse. The protestors, dubbed Shaysites, after their leader, Daniel Shays, believed they were protecting the “good of the commonwealth” and opposing the “tyrannical government in the Massachusetts State.” Governor James Bowdoin condemned the court closings as “fraught with the most fatal and pernicious consequences” that “must tend to subvert all law and government (p.140).” This began the Shay’s rebellion which was one of the main problems with the Articles of Confederation that led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Keene (2013) stated, “The economic, political, and diplomatic problems faced by the Confederation government, including Shays’s Rebellion, inspired a small but talented group of politicians to advocate reform of the Articles of Confederation (p.143).” These politicians wanted to create a government to promote public good and independence. “The Federal Constitution created by this group relied on a system of checks and balances, not virtue, to protect liberty (Keene, 2013, p.143).” According to Keene (2013), “The powerful national legislature created by the Constitution was given authority to enact all laws “necessary and proper” to carrying out responsibilities delegated by the Constitution. The new national legislature had two houses, a House of Representatives and a Senate. Each state had two senators. Representation in the House of Representatives was based on population, with slaves counting as three-fifths of a person. Amendments to the Constitution would require the approval of three-quarters of the states, not the unanimous consent required under the Articles. Although executive power under the Articles of Confederation had been weak, the new president could veto legislation, negotiate treaties, and issue pardons. The ill-defined powers of the new Supreme Court left some wondering if the judiciary would be the weakest of the three branches, not co-equal with the legislature and the executive (p.147).” According to Haworth (2010), “There was a key difference between the Articles and the Con- stitution. With respect to the Articles, the central organization of federal authority was a Congress that was largely dependent upon the states to realize its powers. In contrast, the Constitution created a federal government that had very limited, but effective, sovereign powers over citizens in each of the states, and this provided the new federal government with some independent ability to enact and enforce its own legislation (p.10).”
Keene, J. D., Cornell, S., & ODonnell, E. T. (2013). Visions of America: A history of the United
States. Boston: Pearson.
Haworth, P. (2010). The Con-Federal Constitution of the United States: A Review of John C.
Calhoun and the Confederation Thesis. Political Science Reviewer, 39, 41–86. Retrieved
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