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Newspaper Editorial “Your Federalist Paper”


Background  It is 1788, and you are writing an editorial for a local newspaper. Your purpose is to convince your readers that the new Constitution will be better than the old Articles of Confederation and that they should urge the delegates to ratify the Constitution. You will be writing as a Federalist, like Hamilton did as Pluribus, or Madison did in Federalist #10  


  1. Think about the Articles of Confederation, what important powers are missing?

Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation

  • one branch of government
  • legislative branch has few powers
  • no executive branch/ no chief executive/no national leader
  • no judicial system at the national level
  • no system of checks and balances
  • no power to tax the states or pass tariffs on foreign trade
  • no ability to draft
  • no power to regulate interstate commerce
  • states could ignore requests for money or troops

2. Identifying Problems

List problems that were made worse by the powers that the Articles of  Confederation did or did not give the national government.

Some Problems

  • Inflation/economic depression
  • Shays’s Rebellion
  • High tariffs on American goods in Britain
  • British shipping blockades on the West Indies
  • British goods flowed into the US without tarriffs
  • Problems with Spain, they closed of the Mississippi for US shipping

Think about how you can include this information in your editorial.


3. Thinking about the Constitution

Make notes on the important features of the Constitution. In your prewriting, answer these questions:

• How did the Constitution solve the large state versus small state problem?

• How and why did the Constitution divide the government?

Consider including strengths of the Constitution

  • three branches of government
  • legislative branch has many powers
  • executive branch led by president
  • judicial branch to review the laws
  • firm system of checks and balances

4. Other Evidence

Consider including these points.

Describe the Bill of Rights and its importance; delegates have promised to add this to the Constitution.

The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. These limitations serve to protect the natural rights of citizens’ liberty and property. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and reserve some powers to the states and the public.

The Amendment process allows the Constitution to change if it is really needed.

5. Organization

Look back over your notes and choose three or more important points to include in your editorial. Consider using the five paragraph method. Remember that your evidence should support your argument that the Constitution will be better than the Articles of Confederation.



6. Writing the Editorial  

Review the suggestions below, to write your editorial.

  • Consider using the five paragraph method.
  • Start with a strong statement of your opinion about the Constitution. Introduce your main supports
  • In the body paragraphs .Write about each of your three or more main points of support, refer to evidence that reinforces your points.
  • Remember that the purpose of your editorial is to persuade. Include only those points that support your point of view.
  • Begin with the most convincing piece of evidence.
  • End with a call to action, supporting ratification of the Constitution.


7. Evaluating Your Editorial

 Is your editorial persuasive enough to convince readers that the new Constitution will be much better than the old Articles of Confederation? Use the questions below to evaluate and revise your editorial.

Review Rubric

• Does your editorial begin with a strong statement of your opinion?

• Did you include three or more pieces of evidence to support your opinion?

• Did you end with a call to action asking delegates to the Constitutional Convention to ratify the Constitution?

Is the editorial persuasive?