America Vs. Destiny Essay, Research Paper
America vs. Destiny
The citizens of the United States of America take for granted the hard work and rough times that the fore-fathers of this country went trough to shape the way we live today. There were many things happening during the post-Revolution years that affected the way this country was formed. If some of these decisions had not been made, or had been made a different way, this nation not exist here today in its present form. The Articles of Confederation and the Constitution had monstrous effects on this country and the way it runs.
The government under the Articles of Confederation lacked the unity needed for the smooth running of this new country. The individual sovereignties of the states brought about too many problems to compensate for. Different currencies and tariffs made trading between states harder and got in the way of making a productive country. The Articles brought about important changes in this country, including the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which divided the Old Northwest into independent territories and eventually states. The fear of a monarchy returning to rule this country made it hard for the federalists to eventually pass the Federal Constitution. The people thought this job of a president would turn into another form of rulership and that the freedom now enjoyed for a decade would dissolve. Finally, after promising a Bill of Rights, the federalists were able to ratify the Constitution. It could have easily gone the other way. According to Bailey it is said that if Massachusetts, who had become very powerful in its views, had not ratified the document it would never have eventually passed.
Many farmers, who worked hard for a living, did not trust this new document because they believed that they would have to start paying taxes and in doing so, give up their civil rights. The people in the city , though, had been paying taxes already in the form of tariffs on imports and exports. The farmers did not want to pay a share of the taxes and this could have lead to the demise of the present government if not for the Constitution.
In the mid-1780s the taxation system of raising money was breaking down. Interest on the public debt was growing larger, while the nation’s credit was dissipating rapidly. Some states became aggressive and several of them were quarreling over boundaries, which started numerous minor battles. Certain states began placing taxes on goods shipped from their neighbors; New York, for example, taxed firewood from Connecticut and cabbages from New Jersey. Many states began issuing depreciated paper currencies, far from what a united country would do.
An uprising in Massachusetts, called Shays’s rebellion, again exemplifies the fear and uncertainty of the common people. Poor farmers, many of whom were Revolutionary War veterans, were losing their farms through mortgage foreclosures and tax delinquencies. The uprising, led by Captain Daniel Shays, demanded lighter taxes and the cancellation of mortgages. They brandished muskets and attempted to enforce their demands. The Massachusetts authorities responded with decisive action. Several skirmishes followed, in which three were killed and one wounded, the one in Springfield being where the movement collapsed. If this rebellion had not been dispersed it might have led to a permanent disunity among the citizens of the states.
The convention of “demi-gods”, held in Philadelphia, was an assembly of representatives from twelve of the thirteen states. Independent-minded Rhode Island did not participate. This assembly was initially created, by Congress, “for the sole and express purpose of revising” the Articles of Confederation. An assembly of fifty-five delegates from the twelve states started the convention on May 25, 1787. George Washington, the unanimously elected chairman, was instrumental in the formation of these meetings. He decided to split this convention into committees, who had individual topics to cover. He decisive thinking and his adept ability to lead brought these “demi-gods” through the convention with flying colors. The convention had scrapped the old Articles of Confederation and completely wrote an entirely new document known as the Federal Constitution. Without Washington’s valuable leadership, the convention may never have pulled together to write the Constitution, the basis of this country.
A major job accomplished by George Washington in his first years of office he defined the executive branch. He was a great leader, but he was not a genius. He adopted the idea of a cabinet: advisors who helped him work in certain aspects of the governmental system. When Washington first set this cabinet up, there were only four jobs: Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of War ( now Secretary of Defense), and the Attorney General. Today there are fourteen members in the cabinet. Without this idea formed by Washington, the job of the president would be very different today.
This time period, 1780s and 1790s, proved to be very important in the formation of this nation. Many reforms had taken place and were accepted during this time. Decisions made by the first president helped shape the executive body of government. Most of these reforms made, including the Constitution, have come through to the present day and are the basis of our nation.