ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION—the constitution of the 13 American states from 1871-1789.
UNICAMERAL LEGISLATURE—consisting of but one legislative house
BICAMERAL LEGISLATURE—consisting of two chambers or houses
SOVEREIGNTY—supremacy in rule or power; power to govern without external control.
AMENDMENT—the alteration of a parliamentary motion or constitution.
COMMERCE—the exchange of materials or products between states or nations.
IMPOST—a tax; duty (especially a customs duty)
RATIFY—to give sanction to; to make valid by approval.
NATIONAL DEBT—the total debt, foreign and domestic, owed by any state.
CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION—the assembly of delegates which met in Philadelphia in 1787 to amend the Articles of Confederation.
FREE TRADE—commerce free from government regulations, with tariffs used only as a source of revenue.
CREDITORS—people to whom money is owed.
DEBTORS—people under financial obligation to others.
QUORUM—the number of members of a body required to be in attendance for business to be legally transacted.
“NATIONAL” GOVERNMENT—one that possesses a strong central government, with the power to coerce states and their citizens. Followers also believed in the executive and judicial rather than legislative control of state and central governments and in the funding and assumption of the national debt by the new Congress under the Constitution.
“FEDERAL” GOVERNMENT—one that possesses a weak central government, with the individual states in control. Followers in 1787 felt that the Articles of Confederation needed only to be “patched up”. They favored the division of the national debt among the states. In this way, each state would be able to retain its sovereignty and independence.
VIRGINIA PLAN—the large-state plan delivered by Governor Edmund Randolph. This set of proposals was the blueprint for a “national” government. See essay for more details.
NEW JERSEY PLAN—the small-state plan delivered by William Paterson. This set of proposals was the blueprint for a “federal” government. See essay for more details.
CONSTITUTION—the fundamental laws and principles that govern the operation of a state.
COMPROMISE—a settlement of differences reached by mutual
SUFFRAGE—the right or privilege of voting; franchise.
CONNECTICUT COMPROMISE—one that resulted in the creation of our present Congress. The House of Representatives is based on population; the Senate is based on equality. For more details, see the essay.
BILL—a draft of a proposed law.
ELECTORAL COLLEGE—a body of electors, chosen by the voters in the states and the District of Columbia, that formally elects the president and vice-president of the United States.
INFERIOR COURTS—the District and Circuit Courts of our national judiciary.
WYOMING VALLEY—in the valley of the Susquehanna River in Northeastern Pennsylvania. This area was claimed by both Pennsylvania and Connecticut. After much violence, in 1782 the Confederation Congress gave the disputed land to Pennsylvania.
GRADUAL EMANCIPATION LAW OF 1784—a Connecticut statute which granted freedom at the age of twenty-five to all persons born into slavery after March 1, 1784.
THREE-FIFTHS COMPROMISE—one made at the Philadelphia convention in which slaves would be counted as three-fifths of a person for purposes of both taxation and representation.