After rejecting British rule, the states’ first task was to establish their own political institutions. Most states quickly adopted constitutions that limited the governor’s power and established a strong legislature. On a national level, the Articles of Confederation established a weak central government and strong states’ rights.
As people moved west, the country needed a process for new states joining the Union. In 1785 Congress passed an ordinance to survey and publicly auction off the western lands north of the Ohio River. The Northwest Ordinance, passed in 1787, created territories within the area that could petition for statehood once the population reached 60,000.
Congress faced other challenges, including a collapse of the country’s finances, and disputes with Britain and Spain. These issues revealed the serious weaknesses of the Confederation government.
Frustrated that the Confederation government was too weak to deal with the nation’s economic depression and other problems, many Americans wanted to change the Articles of Confederation. In 1787 Daniel Shays led angry farmers in a rebellion that the Massachusetts state militia was not able to control. The issue of whether slavery should be abolished also divided and unsettled the new country.
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Notetaking and study guide - Chapter 7 Section 1 - Governing a New Nation
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