The 1780s has often been termed the "critical period" for the new nation. The dangers posed by economic crisis and the disillusionment that came with the collapse of Revolutionary expectations for dramatically improved conditions combined to make the decade a period of discontent, reconsideration, and, in the end, a dramatic new proposal for redirecting the nation. Just as the Revolution had been born of diverse and sometimes conflicting perspectives, even among the Patriots, so too, ideas about the future of the United States in the 1780s were often cast in dramatic opposition to one another.
The new plan for the nation was called the Federal Constitution. It had been drafted by a group of national leaders in Philadelphia in 1787, who then presented it to the general public for consideration. The Constitution amounted to a whole new set of rules for organizing national government and indicates the intensity of political thought in the era as well as how much had changed since 1776. The proposed national framework called for a strong central government that would have authority over the states. At the same time, the proposed Constitution also centrally involved the people in deciding whether or not to accept the new plan through a process called ratification.