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Reasons for Adopting a New Constitution


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AP Government

During the late eighteenth century British colonies in North America rebelled, and later gained their freedom from England.  Even after colonial independence was gained, uprisings such as Shays Rebellion in 1786 concerned many prominent figures.  The Articles of Confederation put forth a weak central government with little power over the states.  Under it, each state set its own standards with little regard for the nation as a whole.  This led many of the framers of the Constitution to question human nature, and their answer influenced how they constructed the government.

       Many founders noted that people tended to act out of self-interest, which led them to be impulsive.  This impulsiveness, the founders felt, would lead many to vote according to how they felt momentarily.  This would cause many to make hasty decisions with no thought of the consequences.  The word used is human nature, which implies that this aspect is universal.

Accordingly, the founders used this flaw to their benefit by providing a set of checks and balances, in which no level of government would have unrestricted power.  This is shown in the separation of powers in the federal level of our government.  The concept of federalism also prevents power from compiling, as, by definition, in a federalist system power flows to and from the central government.  By making each component of government responsible for its actions, such impulsive urges would be examined by more than one party, deterring foolish and negligent decisions.