US Constitutional Convention: The Creation of the American Nation
After the promulgation of the American nation, delegates of various states assembled in Philadelphia to create a constitution which would replace the Articles of Confederation. With the leadership of James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, the delegates were asked to meet in Philadelphia in May 1787. Three major issues were in the agenda: 1) the distinction between the national and state governments (how power will be shared between the two governments), 2) mode of representation in the national legislature (how seats will be allocated for each state – determination of votes per state), and 3) the structure of the executive branch (how much power will be allocated in the executive branch in lieu of the principle of checks and balances).
After much deliberation, the first issue was resolved. It was agreed that the principle “two governments, one state” is possible. Separate taxation systems were also agreed upon (in contrast to the ‘contribution system’ of the Articles of Confederation which severely limits the powers of the national/federal government). The second issue took much time to resolve. Many of the larger states wanted greater representation in the national legislature by virtue of their population. Smaller states wanted equal representation. The delegates, in order to prevent the political division of the country, agreed that the national legislature be bicameral. The House of Representatives and the House of Senate composed the legislature (the first one depends on the population quota of a state, the second one on equal representation).
The Convention created an executive branch which adheres to the principle of checks and balances (Milkis and Nelson, 2007). The executive branch is powerful in two respects: 1) the president is the supreme head of the military, and 2) the president is the executive official in charge of the financial, diplomatic, and internal affairs of the country. However, limitations were imposed on the presidency. The national legislature could always question the actions of the executive branch (and even limit it). This unique combination of government became efficient and effective in governing the American nation (Milkis and Nelson, 2007). One can say that the Convention formalized the creation of the American nation.
Milkis, Sydney and Michael Nelson. 2007. The American Presidency: Origins and Development, 1776-2007. New York: QC Press