Contours of the Confederation:
Macrolevel Conditions, 1776–1786
The equal state rule of apportionment adopted by the First Continental Congress in 1774 and formalized within the Articles of Confederation in 1781 endured until the Articles were set aside in 1787. The new constitutional order fashioned in that year promised to establish a more powerful national government and a new national rule of apportionment. This new rule divided national decision-making capacities among the states according to state population in the new U. S. House and equally among the states in the new U. S. Senate. The next three chapters retell the seemingly familiar story by which the Articles and their equal state rule were abandoned and replaced with the U. S. Constitution and its new “double” rule of apportionment.
Chapter 5 begins this new story of constitutional change and the framing of the Constitution by examining the same macrolevel conditions examined in Chapter 2, tracking their development from 1776 to the calling of the 1787 Constitutional Convention. As in Chapter 2, this chapter focuses on the economic, demographic, institutional, and ideological conditions that shaped the context within which the change occurred. Description of these conditions between 1776 and 1786 serves several purposes. First, it provides an opportunity for an assessment of potential causal relationships between these conditions and the subsequent change that is not predicated on the detailed account completed in Chapter 6. Second, it establishes external reference points for analyzing the decisions and outcome of the 1787 Convention. Third, description of the four conditions opens a window onto the developmental dynamics embedded within the status quo of late 1786 and early 1787,