Confederation to Constitution 221
ONE AMERICANS STORYIn 1775, Daniel Boone and 30 woodsmen cut
a road over the Appalachian Mountains into
Kentucky. After about 250 miles, they arrived
in a meadow along the banks of the
Kentucky River. Felix Walker, a member of
Boones party, described what they saw.
A VOICE FROM THE PAST
On entering the plain we were permitted to view avery interesting and romantic sight. A number ofbuffaloes . . . between two and three hundred,made off. . . . Such a sight some of us never sawbefore, nor perhaps ever may again.
Felix Walker, quoted in The Life and Adventures of Daniel Boone
In the late 1700s, most Americans thought of Kentucky as the wild
frontier. Some, like Boone, looked at the frontier and saw a world of
opportunity. Exploring and governing these lands was one of the many
challenges facing the new government of the United States.
Moving WestThe trail into Kentucky that Daniel Boone helped build was called theWilderness Road. This road was not easy to travel. It was too narrow forcarts or wagons, but it became the main road into Kentucky. The settlerscame on foot or on horseback. Settlers were drawn to Kentuckys richriver valleys, where few Native Americans lived. But some NativeAmericans, such as the Shawnee, did live, hunt, and fish in the area.
Tensions between Native Americans and settlers led to violent con-frontations. But the settlers did not stop coming. By the early 1790s, about100,000 Americans lived there. While settlers headed into the Westernterritories, the people in the East began to create new state governments.
The Confederation Era
MAIN IDEA WHY IT MATTERS NOW TERMS & NAMES
The Articles of Confederation were
too weak to govern the nation after
the war ended.
The weakness of the Articles of
Confederation led to the writing of
the U.S. Constitution.
Land Ordinance of 1785
Representation in the new government
Taking Notes Use your chart to take notes about the western lands andpostwar depression.
Detail of Daniel BooneEscorting Settlers Through
the Cumberland Gap byGeorge Caleb Bingham.
8.2.2 Analyze the Articles ofConfederation and theConstitution and the success ofeach in implementing the ideals ofthe Declaration of Independence.
8.3.1 Analyze the principles andconcepts codified in state constitu-tions between 1777 and 1781 thatcreated the context out of whichAmerican political institutions andideas developed.
8.3.2 Explain how the ordinances of1785 and 1787 privatized nationalresources and transferred federallyowned lands into private holdings,townships, and states.
8.3.5 Know the significance ofdomestic resistance movementsand ways in which the central gov-ernment responded to such move-ments (e.g., Shays' Rebellion, theWhiskey Rebellion).
8.9.2 Discuss the abolition of slaveryin early state constitutions.
8.9.3 Describe the significance of theNorthwest Ordinance in educationand in the banning of slavery innew states north of the Ohio River.
New State GovernmentsOnce the American colonies declared independence, each of the states setout to create its own government. The framers, or creators, of the stateconstitutions did not want to destroy the political systems that they hadhad as colonies. They simply wanted to make those systems more demo-cratic. Some states experimented with creating separate branches of gov-ernment, giving different powers to different branches. By creatingseparate branches, Americans hoped to prevent the government frombecoming too powerful.
Nearly all states tried to weaken the executive branch. Terms of officewere usually short, and elections were held frequently. Most states madeproperty ownership a requirement for holding office or voting. Some statesbegan passing laws gradually abolishing slavery. In 1783 a court decisionruled that Massachusettss 1780 Constitution effectively outlawed slaveryby declaring that all men are born free and equal. By 1786 five states hadabolished slavery.
Some states included a bill of rights in their constitutions as a way tokeep the government under control. The idea of a bill of rights camefrom the English Bill of Rights of 1689. This was a list of rights that thegovernment guaranteed to English citizens.
Although not all the states had a bill of rights, all of them did have arepublican form of government. In a republic, the people choose repre-sentatives to govern them.
The Articles of ConfederationWhile the states were setting up their governments, Americans also dis-cussed the form of their national government. During the RevolutionaryWar, Americans realized that they needed to unite to win the waragainst Britain. As Silas Deane, a diplomat from Connecticut, wrote,United we stand, divided we fall.
In 1776, the Continental Congress began to develop a plan for anational government. Congress agreed that the government should be arepublic. But the delegates disagreed about whether each state shouldhave one vote or voting should be based on population. They also dis-agreed about whether the national government or the individual statesshould control the lands west of the Appalachians.
The Continental Congress eventually arrived at a final plan, called theArticles of Confederation. In the Articles, the national government hadfew powers, because many Americans were afraid that a strong governmentwould lead to tyranny, or oppressive rule.The national government was runby a Confederation Congress. Each state had only one vote in theCongress. The national government had the power to wage war, makepeace, sign treaties, and issue money.
But the Articles left most important powers to the states. Thesepowers included the authority to set taxes and enforce national laws.The Articles proposed to leave the states in control of the lands west ofthe Appalachian Mountains.
222 CHAPTER 8
BackgroundTwo states,Connecticut andRhode Island,kept their oldcolonial chartersas their constitu-tions. The other11 states wrotenew constitutions.
A. Reading aMap Look at themap on page 223to see whichstates claimedterritories in the West.
The Continental Congress passedthe Articles of Confederation inNovember 1777. It then sent theArticles to the states for ratification, orapproval. By July 1778, eight stateshad ratified the Articles. But some ofthe small states that did not haveWestern land claims refused to sign.
These states felt that unless theWestern lands were placed under thecontrol of the national government, theywould be at a disadvantage. The stateswith Western lands could sell them topay off debts left from the Revolution.But states without lands would have dif-ficulty paying off the high war debts.
Over the next three years, all thestates gave up their claims to Westernlands. This led the small states to ratifythe Articles. In 1781, Maryland becamethe 13th state to accept the Articles. Asa result, the United States finally had anofficial government.
The Northwest OrdinanceOne of the most important questions that the Confederation Congressfaced was what to do with the Western lands that it now controlled.Congress passed important laws on how to divide and govern theselandsthe Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance(1787). (See Geography in History on pages 226227.)
The Land Ordinance of 1785 called for surveyors to stake out six-mile-square plots, called townships, in the Western lands. Each town-ship was to set aside a square-mile section of land for schools, markingthe first time the national government promoted public education.These lands later became known as the Northwest Territory. TheNorthwest Territory included land that formed the states of Ohio,Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin and part of Minnesota.
The Northwest Ordinance (1787) described how the NorthwestTerritory was to be governed. As the territory grew in population, itwould gain rights to self-government. When there were 60,000 people,they could apply to become a new state.
The Northwest Ordinance also set conditions for settlement in theNorthwest Territory and outlined the settlers rights. Slavery was out-lawed, but indentured servitude still existed, and slaves already in theterritories were not automatically freed. Fugitives were to be returned.The rivers were to be open to navigation by all. Freedom of religion andtrial by jury were guaranteed.
Confederation to Constitution 223
Original 13 statesArea of Westernland claims
Mis s issippi
A T L A N T I CO C E A N
G u l f o fM e x i c o
VA., CONN.VA., CON
GEOGRAPHY SKILLBUILDER Interpreting Maps1. Location Which of the original 13 states had Western
land claims?2. Location To what geographic feature did the
Western land claims extend?
Western Land Claims, 1781
B. Finding MainIdeas Why didthe states with-out Western landclaims want theother states togive up theirclaims?B. Answer Thestates withoutclaims feared t