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					The Constitution

You think you know…
                     Declaration of
• Written by Thomas Jefferson
• Inspired by John Locke
• D of I opens with Jefferson invoking Locke
  philosophy… “Life, liberty, pursuit of
• Jefferson continues by listing grievances
  against George III for violating inalienable
• declares US independence
                      British Colonial Rule

Unitary System – all power flows from one central government

                                   Powerful British

                                            Political Subunits
                     Articles of Confederation
                                              1781 – 1789 – RIP

Confederate System – power concentrated in political subunits (states)
with a weak central government (typically unite for a common goal)

Federal System – powers are divided and/or shared between state
and central governments (Current gov’t designed by framers)

                                   Central US government

                                           State governments
             Articles of Confederation
• 1781-1789
• Original American gov’t system
• Weak central gov’t
• Individual and state liberties not
• No executive (they hated kings)
• Confederacies are usually unstable
                  A of C – Weaknesses
• Article II – “Each state retains its sovereignty,
  freedom, and independence.” Gov’t has no control
• Unicameral Congress (one house) with one vote
  per state
  – Supermajority (9 of 13) to pass a law
  – Supermajority (13 of 13) to amend
• No Executive (No President), no central authority
• No Federal Judiciary (No Supreme Court), no
  central law
• No control of taxation, commerce between states or
  with foreign nations, money system
                  Shays’s Rebellion
• Colonies were in debt after the war, central
  gov’t tried to raise taxes
• Farmers in western Massachusetts rebelled
  against tax they could not afford
• Rebelled against foreclosures, forced
  judges out of court, freed debtors from jail
• Showed that national gov’t was weak,
  needed to seek a stronger national gov’t
                     The Constitutional
• 1787
• Revising the A of C
• Demographics of Delegates
  -55 delegates (none from RI)
  -33 Lawyers
  -half were college graduates
  -7 former governors
  -7 plantation owners
  -8 business leaders
  -age 26-81 (avg. age 42)
  -all male, all white
                Two “Revision” Plans
• Virginia Plan
  – Favored large states
  – Strong central government
  – Bicameral (two house) legislature – larger
    house elected by the people (House of
    Representatives, and a smaller house that
    was selected by larger house (Senate)
     • (This would change in the 17th Amendment)
              Two “Revision” Plans
• New Jersey Plan
  – Agreed with strong central government…BUT
  – Congress would be unicameral (one house)
    with states having equal votes
  – Did not want large population states to
    dominate the legislature
                Great Compromise
• A bicameral legislature in which the House
  of Representatives membership
  apportioned according to the state
  populations, plus 3/5 the slave population
• An upper house, the Senate, which would
  have two members from each state,
  elected by the state legislature (popularly
  elected today)
             Three-fifths Compromise
• Agree to allow the South to count 3/5 the
  population in each state to balance the
  power of North and South
                Madisonian Principles of
                Gov’t in the Constitution
• Popular Sovereignty – power to govern belongs to
  the people, gov’t based on the consent of
• Separation of Powers – division of gov’t between
  branches: executive, legislative and judicial
• Checks and Balances – a system where branches
  have some authority over others
• Limited Government – gov’t is not all-powerful, and
  it does only what citizens allow
• Federalism – division of power between central
  government and individual states
               Separation of Powers
•    Prevents an all-powerful ruling body
1.   Legislature – passes law (Congress)
2.   Executive – enforces law (President)
3.   Judiciary – interprets law (Supreme
                    Amending the
• Meant to be difficult
• Require action from national and state gov
• Amendment proposed by 2/3 vote in each
  house of Congress and ratified (accepted)
  in at least ¾ of state legislatures
                  Fed vs. Anti-Fed
• Ratification – formal approval
• Federalist – in favor of adoption of US
  Constitution creating a federal union and
  strong central government
• Anti-Federalist – opposed to ratification in
  1787, opposed to strong central
                 Federalist Papers
• Annoyingly hard to read
• Best political theory ever written in US
• Written by Alexander Hamilton, James
  Madison, and John Jay
• Publius
• Convince public for ratification
                    Federalist #10
• Madison addresses biggest fear of gov’t
• Faction – a group in a legislature or political
  party acting together in pursuit of some
  special interest (think fraction – ½, 1/3, etc)
• Founding fathers were concerned that our
  government would be ripped apart
• Madison defends our national Constitution
                  Federalist #10
• Separation of Powers check the growth of
• Each branch of government keeps the
  other two from gaining too much power
• A republic guards against irresponsible
  direct democracy or “common passions”
• Factions will always exist, but must be
  managed to not severe from the system.
               Anti-Fed Response
• Central gov’t would threaten liberty
• Aristocratic tyranny could happen
• Demanded a guarantee of individual rights
  and liberty
• States power was too limited
                    Bill of Rights
• 10 amendments to the Constitution
• guaranteed individual freedoms and rights
• limited power of national government,
  guaranteed rights to states
• Ratified in 1789, Bill of Rights added 1791