Ratification of the Constitution
The Articles of Confederation was the first constitution of the United States and legally established the union of the states. Under the Articles the states retained sovereignty over all governmental functions not specifically relinquished to the central government which eventually caused deep divides between the states that the national government could not resolve. These divides included disputes between Maryland and Virginia over the Potomac River, and Rhode Island's imposing taxes on all traffic passing through it on the Post road that linked all the states (AM GOV.).
The Virginia Legislature, under the leadership of James Madison's recommendation invited all the states to send delegates to Annapolis, Maryland to discuss ways to reduce these interstate conflicts. In September 1786, 12 delegates from five states (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia) met in the Annapolis Convention to discuss adjustments to the Articles of Confederation that would improve commerce since the Articles of Confederation could only be amended by unanimous vote of the states. All state had effective veto power over any proposed change, in addition, the Articles gave the weak federal government no taxing power it was solely dependent on the states for its money, and had no power to force delinquent states to pay (AM GOV)..
The main achievement of the convention was the decision to summon a new meeting for the express purpose of considering changes in the Articles of Confederation to make the union more powerful. An address was drawn up by Alexander Hamilton and was sent to all the states, asking them to send delegates to Philadelphia. Although the Convention was purportedly intended only to revise the Articles of Confederation, the intention of many of its proponents, chief among them James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, was from the outset to create a new government rather than fix the existing one.
After debate, the...