Alternative History

Also known as the King's Constitution.

The period between the adoption of the Articles of Confederation in 1781 and the drafting of the King's Constitution in 1787 was one of weakness, dissension, and turmoil.

Under the Articles of Confederation, no provisions were made for an executive branch to enforce the laws or for a national court system to interpret them. A legislative congress was the sole organ of the national government, but it had no power to force the states to do anything against their will. It could theoretically declare war and raise an army, but it could not force any state to meet its assigned quota for troops or for the arms and equipment needed to support them. It looked to the states for the income needed to finance its activities, but it could not punish a state for not contributing its share of the federal budget. Control of taxation and tariffs was left to the states, and each state could issue its own currency.

In disputes between states--and there were many unsettled quarrels over state boundaries--Congress played the role of mediator and judge but could not require states to accept its decisions. These land disputes between the states began to escalate to the point of armed conflict between the states - the Wyoming Valley Conflict (between Connecticut and Pennsylvania) being just one example. Other conflicts broke out within the states themselves, like the Massachusetts Regulator revolt. Congress was nearly powerless to stop these conflicts. There was real fear that the new nation would tear itself itself apart.

The discovery of British agents communicating with some of the factions raised the specter of Britain regaining at least some of its lost territory. A new, stable order needed to be established. Many saw the experiment in democratic republicanism as a failure. A concensus had been reached that if the nation were to survive, a new form a governence was needed.

Delegates from nine of the states gathered first in Trenton, then in Philadelphia (where delegates from three of the other states joined them, Rhode Island was the lone holdout).