The United Kingdom had been the dominating force of government in the colonies since the arrival of the first settlers. These colonists benefited significantly from British rule. They were provided with an ordered, limited, representative government ( A government which was later to be used as the model to form their own). After 150 years of colonial rule, the ties between the two became strained. The three major factors that changed colonists’ attitudes towards British rule were the Sugar Act of 1764, the Stamp Act, and the Quartering Act. As a result of these unjust acts, the Sons of the Revolution was formed, and the First Continental Congress met. The First Continental Congress resulted in a strong unification of the colonies. The main purpose of this meeting was to iron out the differences with the king and to draft the Declaration of Rights. Conflict seemed inevitable after the death of eight colonial minutemen, and the Second Continental Congress met and tried one last time to end the hostility with the forming of the Olive Branch Petition.
To stir Americans to war Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet titled “Common Sense.” This influential pamphlet sold 120,000 copies in the first three months of publication. “Common Sense” was also a major factor leading to the creation of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration proposed certain God-given, inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The ended with the examples of British tyanny, and declared the colonies independent from Great Britain. This sparked rage in King George, and he sent additional troops to bring the colonists back under his rule.
While in a wartime atmosphere, Congress presented the Articles of Confederation. The major provisions of the Articles included a national government with the power to coin money, make peace, and appoint officers for an army. It also gave one vote for each state in the continental Congress, and required a vote of nine states to pass any measure. Although the articles were a beginning, they had some major drawbacks. They didn’t provide for the ability to tax, a judicial system, authority to regulate commerce, or established an executive to administer the government. The biggest problem with the Articles was the lack of a strong central government.
The failure of the Articles of Confederation slowly led to the development of the U.S. Constitution. The Virginia Plan proposed a national government consisting of Legislative, Executive, and Legislative branches, The New Jersey Plan suggested that instead of replacing the Articles, they should be strengthened, and The Great Compromise took ideas from both the Virginia and New Jersey Plans. With the formation of a strong government starting to come together, work proceeded to the resolution of the Constitution. The major influences on the U.S. Constitution came from the French Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu, John Locke, and Aristotle. The basic principles of the Constitution included Federalism, a separation of powers, and checks and balances. The Constitution consisted of seven articles, and twenty-seven articles (Ten of which make up the Bill of Rights). It was finally adopted in 1788 after heavy debates between the Federalists and Anit-Federalists.