On September 17th, after weeks of debate, the Constitution of the United States was approved.
It called for a strong central government in the United States. Thirty-nine delegates, representing 12 of the 13 states, signed the document.
For seventeen weeks, from May 25th to September 17th, delegates debated the details of the proposed Constitution. The primary debate was between those who believed in a stronger federal government and those who wished the states to retain power.
The final draft of the Constitution was constructed of a bundle of compromises. Having two houses in Congress, one based on population (the House of Representatives) and the other based on number of states (the Senate), was one compromise reached between states with large and small populations. The Electoral College came about as a result of a compromise between those who wanted the direct election of a President and those who felt that Congress should elect the President.
Another issue of contention was raised questioning whether slaves could be counted when assessing the population of a given state. As a compromise, states were allowed to count slaves as 3/5 th of a person, in calculating their total populations.
It was decided that slave importation could be continued until 1807, at which point Congress could outlaw it.
Despite clashes over many issues, there was a general agreement on the need to establish a stronger form of government. Under the Articles of Confederation, the United States was a loose confederation of states. Under the Constitution, however, it became a firm union of people.
Unlike the Articles of Confederation, which provided no practical vehicle for its amendation, the Constitution required only a two-thirds majority of states to ratify a constitutional amendment. In addition, while under the Articles of Confederation, Congress required a
two-thirds majority to pass a bill; the Constitution called for a simple majority to pass a bill.
Most importantly, the Constitution provided extensive executive powers to the newly-created office of the President and gave Congress the power to impose taxes. It also created a federal judiciary, and bestowed on the federal government the power to enforce laws.