HST 141                                                                                                                                   Dr. Kerns


The Unfinished Nation: Chapter 6: The Constitution And The New Republic


Chapter 6 Main Themes:


  1. The origins of and debates surrounding the US Constitution, and how they were resolved.


  1. The differing views of what the nation should become, and how these differences led to the rise of the Federalists, the Republicans, and America's "first party system."


  1. The ways in which the new United States tried to establish itself as a nation in the eyes of both foreign powers and its own people.


  1. The rise and fall of the Federalist Party and the background of the "Revolution of 1800."



A thorough study of Chapter 6 should enable the student to understand:


  • The groups that advocated a stronger national government and how they, probably a minority, were able to achieve their objective.


  • The historical debate concerning the motives of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention.


  • The debate over the Virginia and New Jersey plans and how it was resolved.


  • The idea of federalism and the working design of the American Constitution.


  • The importance of The Federalist Papers in the ratification struggle, and the arguments of the antifederalist opposition.


  • The financial program of Alexander Hamilton, and its contribution to the success of the new government.


  • The emergence of the first party system, the political philosophies of the Federalists and Republicans, and their respective influence through the election of 1800.


  • The ways in which the weak new nation coped with various domestic and international problems, including the Whiskey Rebellion, Native American unrest, and the "Quasi-War" with France.


  • The presidency of John Adams, the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts, and their role in helping to bring about the "Revolution of 1800."





A system of government in which powers are divided between a central government and local governments, giving each authority in its own sphere. The extent of and the limitations on this authority are defined in a constitution, which in the United States, also reserves certain powers to the people. It was such a system that many argued existed under the British Empire, whereas others insisted that a true "federal" system existed under the Articles. This latter group further argued that the Constitution of 1787 put too much power in the hands of the central government and hence created a national rather than a federal government.


Implied Powers:  

Powers that are not clearly defined in the Constitution, but, by implication, are granted to the government. Those who believe in the existence of such powers favor a "loose" interpretation of the Constitution, whereas those who hold that the Constitution authorizes nothing that is not spelled out specifically follow a "strict" interpretation.


Implied Powers Doctrine:

The idea put forth by Hamilton in his argument in favor of the Bank, which held that the government has powers other than those enumerated in the Constitution. These "implied powers" rise from the government's right to select the means to exercise the powers given it and from the "necessary and proper" clause of the Constitution. Later this was stated even more directly by Chief Justice John Marshall: "Let the end . . . be within the scope of the constitution and all means which [are] appropriate . . . which are not prohibited . . . are constitutional."


National Bank:

A private (as opposed to government) institution into which government revenue is deposited. This bank issues currency, grants loans, and generally encourages commercial activity while stabilizing the economy.


National System:

A system of government (as opposed to a federal system) in which the central government is supreme and the local units (states) surrender most of their sovereignty to it.


Protective Tariff: 

A tax on goods that are brought into the country and compete with that country's own products. It is designed to drive up the cost of foreign goods and protect native manufacturers from disruptive competition.


Separation of Powers:

The division of governmental power among the various branches (legislative, executive, judicial) to prevent one branch from dominating the government.



A tax on goods imported or exported by a country; in the United States, a tax on imported goods.