The American Revolution which is ideally called the American War of Independence lasted eight long years ranging from 1775 to 1783. It was this war which was fought against Britain which later led to unity between the states comprising the United States of America.
The colonies during the war were united by an agreement called the Articles of Confederation. It was sufficient during the war to hold together the union. But the articles of Confederation did not organize a central government, create courts, decided laws or carry out laws. It merely created a Congress with very little power. The Congress could then only advise the thirteen states and was not strong enough to pass any laws for the union of states.
Suggestions for the need to change the articles of configuration arouse even before the American Revolution came to an end. Three men – George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison – strongly suggested the need for a strong central government. George Washington was personally against the articles of Confederation due to his bitter experiences during the Revolution. George Washington when commanding the American troop felt dearly that his soldiers often lacked proper clothing, food, medicines and even bullets. Despite his attempts to improve the condition of his soldiers George Washington failed in getting any worthy help from the thirteen separate states.
James Madison and Alexander Hamilton – an assistant to General Washington – could not agree better. Each of the thirteen states had an army of its own; nine among them had their own navy but there were using their forces to protect themselves and not others.
The conditions after the war were not better. There was social, political and economic disorder. There was no national money. Though there was an American dollar, it did not have the same value everywhere. If one dollar was eight shillings in New York, it was more than 32 shillings in South Carolina. Moreover, Americans thought of money in terms of the shillings and pounds as per the British system.
During 1786 the first convention to discuss the need for a united government was planned and set for Annapolis, Maryland. The response of the states was not very encouraging. Representatives came only from five states. But in this first convention, the representatives chose Alexander Hamilton – the representative from New York – to send messages to the legislature of each state in order to put an agreement in writing.
Alexander Hamilton called for a convention in Philadelphia in May 1787. Thus, 55 delegates from 12 states (except Rhode Island) met in Philadelphia. Among the delegates were George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. The participants soon moved from revising the articles of Confederation to developing the new structure of government. George Washington was selected as the chair for the convention.
Making the initial draft of the US Constitution was not an easy task. After much debate the representatives came to some common grounds. One of these was with regard to the number of seats in the House of Representatives. It was finally agreed that each state will have the number of seats in the House of Representatives in proportion to its population. Also each representative will be elected by the people. In the Senate, each state will have two senators chosen by the state legislatures.
Decisions were also made with regard to the election of the President, the separation of powers etc. The Constitution consisting of seven articles written on four pages was completed on September 17, 1787. On June 21, 1788 the ratification of the Constitution was a success after nine states ratified the Constitution. On September 13, 1788 the new constitution was certified as ratified and on March 4, 1789 the new government began its operations under the new Constitution in New York City.