American Documents: The Constitution
Ages 8 to 10
National Geographic, 2006, 0-7922-7937-9
At first everyone in American was elated that they had fought for and won their independence. Indeed the people were so happy that they did want to have to think too much about having to create a government which would pass laws, keep the peace, and collect taxes. There was a national government of sorts which was based on the Articles of Confederation but this body had little power. It wasn’t long however before the people began to realize that the Articles left a great deal to be desired. With no president to lead it, the laws that Congress passed got nowhere. Taxes could not be collected and each state was printing its own money which caused an enormous amount of confusion.
It was therefore decided that the time had come to call a convention and to ask delegates from all the states to create a document which would establish a workable government for the new country. It soon became evident that there were many problems to overcome. For one thing the smaller states were very concerned that they would be overruled by the larger ones. This problem was solved by creating two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The document that the delegates ended up with was divided into three parts. There was the Preamble, the Articles, and the Amendments. Three branches of government were created and the overall result of this new government format was that no one branch would have too much power. In addition a system of “checks and balances” was created which also helped to make sure that the branches did not try to take over the government.
This well written title in the “American Documents” series will help young readers to understand not only why the Constitution was written but also why its drafters set up the government the way they did. Illustrations, photographs, quotations, and mini biographies can be found throughout the book.
At the back of the book readers will find the text of the Constitution and the texts of all the Amendments.
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