A New Nation
After the Revolutionary War came to an end in 1783, the new United States was held together by a weak confederation government under the Articles of Confederation. Run by a unicameral Congress without the power to tax or to hold anyone accountable, the country began to decend into chaos. The British, still in Canada, waited patiently for the United States to crumble and beg to go back into the British Empire. After local militia put down Shays' Rebellion in Massachusetts, leaders across the states called for a convention to revise the Articles. In May 1787, leaders from twelve of the thirteen states arrived in Philadelphia. Led by James Madison of Virginia, the delegates quickly abandoned the Articles in favor of a new government. After many emotional debates, a new constitution emerged outlining the structure of the government and the powers it possessed.
The Constitution sets the framework for the United States government. It defines the structure of the government, the responsibilities and limitations of the three branches, and a system for modifications. For democracy to thrive, citizens need to understand how the government works, stay informed of current events, obey the laws, and participate in various civic duties. The American experiment in democracy had a new beginning.