What Led to the Creation of the U.S. Constitution?

The framers of the Constitution drafted it in response to failings of the U.S. government under the Articles of Confederation. Many political leaders attributed the widespread economic disaster to the lack of centralized regulation of commerce. National impotence in the face of rebellion seemed indicative of the need for a stronger central government.

The first government of the United States was outlined in the Articles of Confederation. Under this system, the states operated as sovereign nations. The weak national government, which consisted of nothing more than a unicameral legislature, did not have the authority to tax the states, settle interstate disputes or effectively support a military.

Following the Revolutionary War, the inadequacies of the national government became apparent. Inflation was high, businesses were closing and farmers were losing their property. The ineptitude of the national government became more clear after the famous incident known as Shays’ Rebellion. Daniel Shays was a Massachusetts farmer and former captain in the Continental Army. Dissatisfied with the hardships confronting farmers, he led a group of armed men in preventing the local circuit court from sitting, and even threatened to raid the arsenal at Springfield. The inefficiency in quelling this rebellion, and the fear of anarchy it provoked, convinced many that the Articles of Confederation needed amending. This led to the drafting of the Constitution in 1787.