1) Discuss the major compromises worked out at the constitutional Convention (1787) and the major features of the original Constitution. How did the Constitution change and strengthen the government that had existed under the old articles o confederation?
The Constitutional Convention of 1787, to a significant extent, defined the development of the USA and, in a way, the entire world. In fact, the Constitutional Convention became a quintessence of the unique American policy of that epoch and mirrored progressive trends of that epoch which were practically implemented in the US before any other country in the world. In such a context, it is possible to speak about the Constitutional Convention of 1787 as the turning point in the western history and as a birth of the western democracy in its modern form.
The founding fathers attempted to implement their own ideas and views in the Constitutional Convention. In such a way, they attempted to create a monumental historical document which could glorify them for centuries worldwide. As a result, the implementation of the ideas of the founding fathers and their ambitions were major factors which influenced the Philadelphia decision.
In such a situation, it is quite natural that the process of taking the decision was highly emotional and was accompanied by strong competition between the founding fathers, between the strong personalities which made the history at the epoch (Kennedy, 165). The outcome of this struggle of ambitions and emotions was the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
However, the political situation in the US and its position in international relations forced the founding fathers to unite the country and ratify the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The pressure from the part of Great Britain and the risk of the loss of the independence was the major stimulus that contributed to the positive decision in Philadelphia. In addition, the internal situation also needed closer interaction between states to make the economic development of the country more effective.
At the same time, it is important to remember that the Constitutional Convention laid the foundation to the constitutional process in the USA and the overall implementation of the US Constitution. In this respect, the impact of the Constitutional Convention can hardly be underestimated because the convention contributed to compromises which led to the implementation of the Constitution. To put it more precisely, there was a debate over the redistribution of power between the federal government and states. For instance, Hamilton insisted to use the British model and suggested to unite the country under the national government, eliminating states. His opponents, such as Pinckney insisted on the creation of confederation of 13 states (Kennedy, 168). In such a way, the founding fathers had to seek for a compromise between a unitarian and confederate state.
Furthermore, another important issue was the government and redistribution of power in the country. Basically, the delegates agreed that the USA should have a bi-cameral parliament, but views on the election of the houses of the parliament, or Congress, and the executive branch of power varied consistently. On the one hand, it was proposed to elect only the lower House of Congress, which would elect the upper House and the President of the USA. On the other hand, it was suggested to separate legislative and executive powers. In the US Constitution, such a division of powers was officially implemented and both Houses of the Congress and the President were elected by people (Kennedy, 174). Also, delegates argued on terms of Presidency and work of legislators, but they were less important compared to the procedure of elections of legislative power and the President of the US as the head of the executive power in the country.
In such a way, the US Constitution enhanced the role of people of the country and their participation and influence on the national politics since people got the right to elect both legislative and executive power. Moreover, the unity of the USA was preserved by the Constitution, while states preserved their autonomy within the USA that was apparently a compromise between suggestions of the creation of a unitarian state or confederation in the USA.
2) Discuss the factors that led to the emergence of the first political parties in America
The emergence of first political parties in the USA was the result of the political and economic development of the country. On gaining independence, the USA needed political forces which could represent interests of different groups of the local population. In this respect, the argument over the power of the central government and states was one of the central point in the ideological struggle between different groups in American society, which naturally needed political representation. As a result, two political parties emerged ”“ Federalists and Republicans. Federalists stood on the ground that the USA should be a federal state, where states could have a large autonomy. In contrast, Republicans insisted on the strengthening of the power of the central government that would naturally lead to the weakening of the autonomy of states (Kennedy, 199). In such a way, the redistribution of power between states and the central government and the dispute on this issue was one of the major factors that contributed to the formation of political parties which could represent interests of different groups in American society.
Furthermore, economic factors were not less significant than political ones. In this respect, the main dispute concerned the future economic development of the country. In this regard, the position of political forces in the USA was quite controversial too. On the one hand, Federalists supported the idea of the industrialization of the country and the development of manufacturing in the USA that would naturally contribute to the economic strengthening Northeastern states of the USA (Kennedy, 198). On the other hand, Republicans mainly defended interests of the agricultural South. They insisted on the agricultural development of the USA and they viewed agriculture as the main branch of the national economic which could allow the USA to increase the national wealth and become truly independent from Great Britain.
As a result, economic interests of different groups were quite different that led to the formation of two political parties which represented their interests on the top political level since political could represent their interests in both legislative and executive branches of power.
a) Shay’s Rebellion. Shay’s Rebellion was an uprising in the Central and Western Massachusetts from 1786 to 1787. The rebellion was led by Daniel Shay and was carried out by poor farmers angered by crushing debt and taxes. They were unable to repay their debts that led to them to prison or claiming the property by the County. Being in a desperate position, poor farmers rebelled against such order and legal norms to protect their interests and avoid imprisonment for their debts.
b) Federalists. Federalists were the political party in the USA which supported the idea of the creation of a strong central government. Some federalists insisted on the creation of the new state system where the central government could rule the entire country, while states were supposed to be either eliminated or their power decreased substantially. They were headed by John Adams who eventually became the President of the USA.
c) Anti-Federalists. Anti-Federalists were opponents of Federalists who created the Republican party in the USA. Unlike Federalists, they stood on the ground of strong states with large autonomy. They defended the sovereignty of states and insisted on the minimization of the impact of the central government.
d) The Jay Treaty is the treaty between the USA and Great Britain which averted war and solved many issues left over from American Revolution. The Treaty led to peace and normalization of relationships between the USA and Great Britain.
e) XYZ Affair. The XYZ affair was a significant diplomatic episode which worsened relations between the USA and France substantially in 1798. The diplomatic confect was provoked by John Jay’s Treaty of 1794 which angered France, which was in war with Great Britain. The XYZ affair led the USA and France to the undeclared Quasi-War of 1798. At the same time, the diplomatic conflict was nourished by the dissatisfaction of the US Federalist government headed by President John Adams with the radicalism of the French Revolution which ruined traditional views on the state and government.