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Political Cartoon Research Project  

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    The Critical Period picture is a beautiful artwork that illustrates what America government look like in the 1780s. The picture looks very detail and there is plenty of things going on with this new nation under the Articles of Confederation. It represented how the United States of America was struggling after declared their independence, and they tried their best to make the government run efficient. The States had too much power to regulate their own laws and government system, that created a very weak government.


    By looking at the top of the picture, we can see there’s a title and the years that event happened in between 1783-1789. The rocks represent the obstacles that the United States had to deal with during the critical period. They had a very weak central government; therefore they had no power to collect taxes, neither regulate the policy. They led all the states to have their own policies and their own currency which cause the trade harder for Americans. During the American Revolution, the United States had borrowed the money from France to fight war against Great Britain. After declared the independence, debts need to be paid back to France, but the problem with that was none of the states were willing to pay the taxes. United States did not have no money pay debt nor money to defend itself from the enormous British navy and the Spanish Empire. Across the Atlantic ocean, the British navy stopped the American ships and impressed American sailors to join their navy. America was struggling to establish a strong military to protect their people from other countries and the Native America. There was complex between states, those who didn’t agree with each other on policy and economic point of view. The Northern states abolished the slavery and focused on manufacture; meanwhile slaves were the main resources for the Southern states’ economic. The Northern States afraid that if Southern States get too powerful, then they will take over the control of the American and bring all the benefits to the South. Meanwhile, the Southern also afraid of the Northern states would take over the control and abolish the slavery. The United States of America had also deal with economic problems because they lost their trade partner and almost went bankrupt in these years after Revolution. Great Britain went against them and stopped all the trades, and banned the new nation of trading with British West Indies. It was very difficult for the United States to find foreign trade because they were surrounded by the British and Spanish territories. (Shi, David pg 204) The thirteen sailors in the boat represented the thirteen independent states are struggling under the Article of Confederation. The boat is close to the edge and at risk to fall off the river of independent into the deep dark bottom of anarchy. That represented the nation was very unorganized; they had a weak national government. There was no leader to lead the nation, no president, no legislative branch, nor judicial branch. It doesn’t matter how large the size of the state’s population, they still only get one vote, and that make small like Rhode has same power in Congress as Virginia.

    The deep dark bottom of the sea-anarchy represented Shays’s Rebellion in 1786. The waterfall in the picture means that America will fall into Anarchy if they can’t find a way to solve all the problems they had with weak central government. There were many farmers struggling to the taxes in Massachusetts, and later formed a group of arm participated by angry framers. They tried to stop the judges and sheriffs of seizing the cattle and farms of one wasn’t able to pay off the taxes. The rebellion was led by a war veteran, Daniel Shay. The state government sent more than 4,000 militiamen to stop the rebellion by shoot one single cannon blast, and that killed four farmers and many other wounded. It was the end of the rebellion, an important rebels that set America into the thinking of a better government system. There should be a government system were given the national government more power to keep the nation run efficient and economic stability.

    The outcome for this all of these complexes is all states’ delegate except for Rhode Island came together to sign the Constitution in 1787. The Constitution solved all the problems that America had under the Articles of Confederation; they created a strong national government to keep the nation run efficient. The President was introduced to people as the national leadership to lead the nation and does what he had promised. Different from the King, President has limited power that the Constitution separated the power into three branches and there is a check and balance created to make sure none of these will gain supremacy. Executive branch is power given to the President; legislative branch is in charge of making the laws, and judicial branch is in charge of interpreting the laws in the courts. That solved the problems of the Articles of Confederation had, which has a strong central government, and also has solved the problem of monarchy that leader has too much power. There were still some argument about the lack of civil rights in the Constitution, therefore they established the first 10 out of 12 amendments that introduced by James Madison and it also known as the Bill of Rights.


    The picture represented the rough time that America went through in those years after the Revolution. They tried to run the nation under the Articles of Confederation and it didn’t work out for them. But, they figured out a way to solve it by creating the Constitution, which helped them to build a strong national government. It was a challenge for them, but if there was no challenge, then there was no change for them to make a better nation. America became a powerful nation and one who’s leading the world’s democracy, which they need to go through a barrier to get there, and that’s how democracy is done. They fought for what they want and find the way out to make this democracy works, and this picture shows the struggle that went to to get here today. This picture means a lot to me when I’m looking at it, because that’s the image of what a young new democracy look like. If the boat fall off the river into the anarchy, then there might not be democracy today. The picture is means everything to the people in the past, they had to go through all of the struggles and fight for it to get have what they want. We now might need sources or other to tell us what that picture means, but I’m sure they would understand the meaning of it right away when they’re looking at it.

    Works Cited

    1. Davis, K. (2019). The Judicial Branch. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Nov. 2019].
    2. Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. The Critical Period (2018). Digital History. Retrieved Nov 20th, 2019 from
    3. Shi, David E., and George Brown Tindall. America: a Narrative History. pg 200-238, W. W. Norton & Co, 2016.
    4. The White House. (2019). The Constitution | The White House. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Nov. 2019].

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