Table of Contents
The passing of the series of coercive acts by the British parliament in 1774 caused the Americans to react through boycotts and the colonies united to take political powers. In April 1775 the British soldiers marched to Lexington as well as Concord to confiscate the weapons and capture the leaders of the rebellion. The Massachusetts patriots alerted the leaders who prepared and waited for the British soldiers. When the soldiers arrived, the people especially the Minutemen trained for battled refused to disperse as instructed by the British soldiers. As a result, a shot was fired and the war began in the lexicon and ended in Concord which caused over 250 casualties on the British side and less than 100 on the Americans’ side (MiddleKauff, 2004).
The American Second Continental Congress met the next month, on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, with representatives from all 13 colonies in attendance. The Congress first dealt with the disorganized military. The assembly organized the troops who had gathered around Boston into the Continental Army, appointing George Washington Commander-in-Chief. On 10th may 1775, the second continental congress was convened with attendance of the 13 colonies to deal with the disorganization of the military and appointed George Washington as the commander. Moreover, the drafting of the petition known as the olive branch and declaration of taking arms were done and presented to King George III. He refused the olive branch and planned to lead the British troops to defeat the Americans. In the Bunker Hill, the British soldiers were defeated and both sides lost many soldiers (MiddleKauff, 2004).
In 1776, Thomas pain made an independence declaration which was approved by the Congress. In the meantime, the British and Americans forces met at the long island for the battle of the long island where the American troops were defeated because of their small numbers compared to the British forces. Washington then retreated to Princeton, Trenton as well as other strategic locations. However, on 25th Dec 1776. These positions (Princeton and Trenton) served as battlegrounds where the British were defeated by the American forces. In 1777 the British pushed the American forces through the battle of Brandywine and that of Germantown to settle in Philadelphia. However, the American troops captured the British forces in north Saratoga on October 17, 1777. The British forces surrendered to the American forces and were marched to Virginia (Wood, 2002).
In 1778 the French joined the war in support of the Americans and in 1779 Spain did the same. The intervention of the French and Spain in the war influenced the outcome of the war of independence through changing the war from being a colonial war to being a global war. They intervened in key battles in the continent led to great results and success in the colonized countries as the guerilla tactics would not be enough in dealing with the forces (Countryman, 2003). In 1781 at Yorktown, the British forces under the leadership of Cornwallis surrendered to the Americans under the leadership of Washington. And in 1783, the peace of Paris was signed as an indication of ending the war. By the 18th century, despite the colonists’ strong sense of identity for America they did not unit against the British because of uncertainty concerning economic turmoil and conflict caused by the colonial interests (Van Tyne, 2002).
America won the revolutionary war and was now an independent nation which needed to form a government. The first government of the U.S was the articles of confederation which stated in 1776 through the continental congress. In was later approved in 1781 by all the states in the United States.
The article of Confederation established a fair policy for the lands which were located on the west side of the Appalachians. The Congress achieved this through establishing land ordinances which provided organization into the matter of land. These were the survey Act of 1785 and the 1787 Northwest Ordinance Act (MiddleKauff, 2004).
The article of Confederation gave the Congress the power to make peace, declare war, sign treaties. Therefore, the Congress was able to create a peace treaty between America and Great Britain which was signed in 1783. Through this treaty, Great Britain recognized the independence of America and enlarged its boundaries. To deal with issues of finance, defense, and infrastructure, the article of Confederation set up departments of treasury, war, marine and foreign affairs under one permanent secretary who was able to borrow money, establish a navy and army and deal with post office organization(Ginsberg et al., 2012).
The Congress had no power to collect taxes from the member states and could not enforce treaties. Since the Congress was denied the powers to collect or levy taxes, the only way of raising money was through requesting and borrowing money from the states. Moreover, the Congress did not have any powers for regulation of trade or interstate commerce and could not force the states or persons to obey the articles of confederation. The states could only be requested or advised to comply with the articles of confederation. What is more, nine out of the ten states needed to approve any law for it to be passed. As a result, the government had many problems and difficulties because they could not pass any laws (MiddleKauff, 2004).
In addition, all the government had to get the agreement of all the states for an amendment to be made. Moreover, the central government lacked the executive branch which caused the government to lack unity in the making of the policies as well as coordination of the various committees’ work. Also, the central government found difficulties in settling disputes because there was no national court system. The United States also lacked a national currency which made the trade to be difficult between the states and the other nations. Finally, the articles of confederation were difficult to amend as changes to the article needed unanimous votes (Ginsberg et al., 2012).
This type of government was not effective as the Americans were scared of a tyranny in forming a strong national government which and formed a weak government. This weak national government had no power of taxing which made the national money to be worthless and the nation had a huge debt problem. As a result, the soldiers who were also the farmers who fought the war were angry for not being paid which made them unable to settle their debts. They were taken to courts and to jails and lands confiscated because of lack of debt payment. Therefore, in 1786 the farmers staged a revolt which prevented the courts from meeting to prevent more farmers being jailed and their lands taken away. The defeat of the rebels in 1787 showed that the articles of confederation were very weak and America needed a stronger national government (Ginsberg et al., 2012).
The articles of confederation had many weaknesses and the framers of the constitution decided to ratify the problems through granting enumerated powers to the Congress, federalism and the supremacy clause. The first problem with the article of Confederation was that it did not give enough powers to the Congress for it to collect taxes, raise an army, force the states of America to follow the laws and regulate foreign or interstate commerce. To solve this problem, the constitution gave the Congress the enumerated powers which are powers specifically listed. Example of such powers is powers to raise taxes and the universal welfare clause which gives the Congress the power of making laws which safe guides the wellbeing of the citizens of the U.S. Moreover, the proper and necessary clause gives the Congress the power of making the laws which are necessary as well as proper for the enactment of the enumerated powers (Ginsberg et al., 2012).
The second problem caused by the articles of confederation was granting more power to the states than the federal/national or central government. The solution to this problem as provided by the constitution was the introduction of federalism. Through federalism, the constitution of the U.S divided the power between the national/federal/ central government and the state governments. One type of power is known as delegated powers which are specifically given to the national government. Some of the powers which are given particularly to the central government include the power to declare war, make treaties and control of the interstate and international commerce. On the other hand, the reserved powers are specifically given to the states governments such as education regulation and issue of the licenses. Moreover, the concurrent powers are given to both the national and the state government. These are shared powers such as raising taxes (MiddleKauff, 2004).
The framers of the constitution were still afraid of the excessive powers of the federal government which were the reason behind using a weak article of confederation. Therefore, to deal with the fears of a powerful executive, the constitution enacted the supremacy clause. This clause states that the constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the country. Therefore, the states are required to make laws that are in line and not conflicting to the laws stated in the constitution. Moreover, to deal with the excessive powers of the central government the constitution placed the separation of powers into effect. In the power separation, each branch of the government was given a separate or different job or powers from the other arms of the government. This would ensure that no one arm of the federal government has more powers than the other branches of government (Ginsberg, 2012).
Fig 1. Separation of Powers
Thus, the constitution provides checks and balances by giving powers to all the branches of government to limit or check the powers of the other branches of government. For example, the president has the powers of rejecting the laws which are made by the Congress and the Congress can remove the president from office. Hence, one branch cannot control the government alone as the other two branches also have control over the other branches. Consequently, the constitution creates a government which is limited as the federal government’s powers are limited through the powers given by the constitution made by the people (Ginsberg et al, 2012).
- Countryman, E. (2003). The American Revolution. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
- Ginsberg, B. et al., (2012). We the People: An Introduction to American Politics. New York: W. W. Norton & Company
- MiddleKauff, R. (2004). The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution 1763-1789. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Van Tyne, C. H. (2002). The Loyalists in the American Revolution. Rochester, New York: Simon Publications.
- Wood, G. S. (2002). The American Revolution: A History. New York: Random House.