U.S. Constitution Structure Worksheet

ESSAY PROMPT: To what extent did the U.S. Constitution attempt to solve the challenges faced by the new American Republic during the 1780s?

Introduction / Thesis Statement

1. Start with Introduction (base it off of prompt): Two ideas: Need for stronger central government was highlighted by Shay's Rebellion; Articles of Confederation weren't working effectively (Ch. 5-2, pg. 140)

2. “Measure” the “to what extent” (How much do you agree the new Constitution attempted to solve the challenges?): _______________________ ...then list four to five challenges the Constitution solved (base it off of prompt):

3. Include a counterclaim statement: However,


Main Ideas (For this essay I recommend FIVE strong Main Ideas)

In each main idea be sure to emphasize the challenge faced by Congress and how they attempted to address it using specific evidence. Your topic sentence should clearly reflect this intention.

Main Idea 1: Division of Power (Ch. 5-2 pg. 143)

STUDENT GROUP-generated Example:

TOPIC SENTENCE: In the New American republic, the people were worried that if certain branches and people in the government held too much power, they could corrupt the rights of the people.  To fix this problem, the Congress went to great lengths to create a form of federalism to divide powers to balances the others out.

  • Power was divided between national government (delegated powers), and the state government (reserved powers)

  • National Government: control of foreign affairs, providing national defense, regulating trade between states and coining money

  • State Government: providing and supervising education, regulating trade among the state

  • Both levels of government have the right to tax, borrow money, pay debt and establish courts

Main Idea 2: Separation of Power / Checks and Balances (Ch. 5-2 pgs. 143-144)

STUDENT GROUP-generated Example:
TOPIC SENTENCE: Another challenge that the new American Republic faced and then attempted to solve with the Constitution was that the fear that the national government would gain too much power and the government system would become more of a monarchy (much like Great Britain’s) rather than a democracy. The Constitution solved this challenge by separating the powers between three branches of government rather than having one group control all the powers. The executive branch was in charge of carrying out the laws, the judicial interprets the laws and the legislative makes the laws. Power is also limited with the checks and balances system, which means all the branches are checked by the others’ power and if they feel one branch is gaining too much power, they can limit it. One example of this is the president (the executive branch) can veto laws passed by Congress (legislative branch) and can pardon crimes determined by the judicial branch, but can also be limited because the legislative branch can overrule a veto if ⅔ of Congress votes to overrule the veto, and is limited by the judicial branch because the judicial branch can declare presidential acts unconstitutional. This goes for each of the branches, not one with more power than another.

Main Idea 3: Fair representation of small and large states (Great Compromise & Three-Fifth Compromise) (Ch. 5-2, pgs. 142-143)

STUDENT GROUP-generated Example:
TOPIC SENTENCE: While creating the Constitution in the American Republic, the U.S. government went through a great extent in an attempt to solve the misrepresentation between the states caused by population differences. Before action was taken, larger states had an unfair advantage against smaller states. The majority of problems were mainly solved through the Great Compromise and ⅗ Compromise.
  • Government considered different ways to solve these problems

    • Madison’s Virginia Plan proposed a two-house legislature: gave more power to states with large populations

    • William Paterson’s New Jersey Plan: proposed a single-house congress in which each state had an equal vote(smaller states prefered this plan more)

    • Each state's only had 1 vote regardless of population

  • Great Compromise

  • offered a two-house Congress

  • each state would have 2 votes in the Senate/upper house

  • the size of the population of each state would determine its representation in the House of Representatives/ lower house

  • ⅗ compromise

  • three-fifths of a state’s slaves to be counted as population

  • representation based on population raised the question of whether slaves should be counted as people

  • this helped large southern states get more votes because the majority of the population were slaves

Main Idea 4: Electing a President - The Electoral College (Ch. 5-2, pg. 144)

STUDENT GROUP-generated Example:
TOPIC SENTENCE: In the new American Republic, the process of electing a president was biased and tense between the classes of the Americans. The U.S. constitution was able to solve the election problem to a great extent, by creating the Electoral College.


  • The popular vote would be divided between regional candidates.

  • Distrust between the classes.

  • Upper class feared the lower class didn’t have enough common sense.


  • They created the Electoral College.

  • Instead of voters choosing the president directly, they would cast ballots for the candidates.

Main Idea 5: Federalist vs. Anti-Federalists - Bill of Rights (Ch. 5-3, pgs. 146-149)

NOTE: Supporters of the Constitution called themselves Federalists, because they favored the new Constitution’s balance of power between the states and the national government. Their opponents became known as Antifederalists because they opposed having such a strong central government and thus were against the Constitution.

STUDENT GROUP-generated Example

TOPIC SENTENCE: When the U.S. Constitution was created it solved problems such a guarantee that the people needed a national bill of rights that gave them certain guarantees such as freedom of speech, of the press and of religion that the Anti-Federalists had to a great extent by creating the Bill of Rights.

  • Federalists: supporters of the Constitution that favored the new Constitution’s balance of power between states and the national government

    • argued that the Constitution granted only limited powers to the national government so that it could not violate the rights of the states or the people

  • Anti-Federalists: opposed having such a strong central government and were against the constitution

    • argued that the people needed a national Bill of Rights that would include the people are guarantee the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the right to trial by jury and the right to bear arms

  • Ratification of the Constitution: September 1789 Congress submitted 12 amendments to state legislatures for ratification. By December 1791 ¾ of the states ratified 10/12 of the amendments. These ten amendments became known as the Bill of Rights.

  • Bill of Rights:

    • freedom of speech

    • freedom of religion

    • right to peacefully assemble

    • right to petition the government

    • right to bear arms

    • no housing troops

    • protection against unreasonable search and seizure

    • right to a speedy trial

    • right to trial by jury

    • no excessive fines

    • right of the people

    • if something isn’t listed in the Constitution then the state has the power


No formal protection of rights for Native American, Slaves, Free Blacks and Women (Ch. 5-3, pg. 149)


Include a conclusion that clearly summarizes what you’ve just told the reader in the preceding essay AND include a re-emphasis of 2 of the MAIN IDEAS that help “prove” your argument.