A new Nation

Democracy for the people

After the Declaration of Independence, they declared themselves free from the British Monarchy,. They declared themselves a republic, a democracy of equals. British democracy was built on a small group of wealthy landowners and business supporting a monarchy, which in the Americans mind was corrupt as they acted in their selfish interests. From 1775, plans were made for the states to write their own constitution.

A Constitution is a document, which set out the basic rights of the individual and government. The British government did not have a written constitution but a mixture of law, customs and institutions which allowed to infringe on the rights of the Americans as the British saw fit. Although they wrote Articles of Confederation at the start of the war, it was too weak to build a national governement on so it needed to be improved upon. As they met to draw up a national Constitution, some ideas were floating around. The states had to keep some powers, there had to be a way of ensuing that the tyranny and corruption would not take hold and the rights of the individuals could be protected. They came up with the idea of the separation of powers as a way of preventing a Monarchy or an elite emerging to rule the country.

White house

The White House- Home of the US President

The constitution created a federal system of government. Each state had its own internal government, which dealt with local matters; a national government would take care of larger issues like declaring war, foreign affairs and money. They put a president in charge with the day to day running of the country that would be elected every four years. The Law making part of the government would be Congress who would represent the people. All those entitled to vote could vote for their member in the House of Representative and in the Senate. It is Congress job to make the laws. The third part of the separation of powers was the judiciary (justice system) whose job it was to enforce the laws. No part could dominate any of the others parts and there are complex rules to ensure this. It is like a giant game of scissors, rock, and paper.

Personal freedom (freedom of speech, freedom of religion etc.) was very important. Many of the states had included these basic rights within their constitutions so many at the Constitutional convention did regard it as important that they would be included. As time wore on, more of the more outspoken members of that convention fearful of a return to tyranny could not sign the Constitution until they were included. A comprise was agreed where the first 10 Amendments (or additions) to the Constitution were added. These were called the Bill of Rights.