The Constitutional Convention

Updated April 9, 2021

Notes from Scholar Exchange with Jill Lepore.

  • Writing a constitution, a list of rules that government the government, was new in the 17th century.
  • The powers that the Articles of Confederation granted to the federal government were very limited, more like the EU.
    • 13 different states, navies, and currencies.
    • Congress couldn't compel states to pay back war debts, so the economy was falling apart.
    • Congress couldn't resolve disputes between states.
  • Madison's idea was to replace the Articles of Confederation. He read about different types of governments to try to see what worked.
  • The Constitution was a quid pro quo, so people would make sacrifices to the government (taxes, following laws) in return for rights (the government will preserve your rights, won't quarter soldiers in your house, etc).
  • The part of the Constitution (Article 5) that allows for amendments allows people's energy to go into changing the Constitution instead of having insurrections constantly.
    • It's too difficult to amend the Constitution as it stands right now.