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Origins of American Government and Constitution Our Political Beginnings • The English colonists brought with them political ideas that had developed over centuries in England. • Some ideas, such as the rule of law, had roots in early Asian and African civilizations. • Other influences came from the ancient Romans, who occupied England. Our Political Beginnings • Many key political ideas were written into landmark English documents. • Ordered government – Local governments should be divided into units and ruled by officers according to law. • Limited government – Individual citizens have basic rights – There are limits on government power Our Political Beginnings • Representative government – Government should serve the will of the people. In other words, people should have a say in what the government does or does not do. • Written documents also had an influence on government in the colonies. • The Magna Carta, signed by King John in 1215. Our Political Beginnings • Created by English barons to put limits on the once absolute power of the King. • Guaranteed certain fundamental rights for the privileged, such as trial by jury and due process of law. • Over time, these rights were extended to all English people. Our Political Beginnings • The Petition of Right was signed by King Charles I in 1628. • Banned the king from imprisoning or punishing people without first following the laws of the land. • Kept the king from declaring military rule in times of peace or making people house soldiers. Our Political Beginnings • Required the consent of Parliament for taxation. • The English Bill of Rights was drawn up by Parliament in 1689 to prevent the abuse of power by all future monarchs. Our Political Beginnings • Required the consent of Parliament for taxation and suspension of laws. • Promised the right to a fair trial, and to petition the monarchy to correct injustices. This chart compares the rights guaranteed by the Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights with the freedoms listed in the Virginia Bill of Rights and the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution. Our Political Beginnings • The colonies were established over a span of 125 years. – Virginia was the first colony, founded in 1607. – Georgia was the last, formed in 1733. • The similarities among the colonies ultimately outweighed their differences. • Each colony was established on the basis of a charter granted by the king. – These charters granted some governing authority to the colonies and kept some for the king. Our Political Beginnings • Royal colonies were directly controlled by the king. • Proprietary colonies were run by a proprietor chosen by the king. • Charter colonies were run mainly by elected legislatures and were the most independent. Our Political Beginnings • Royal Colonies: • The governor was appointed by the king, and approved all laws. • The upper house of the colonial legislature was also appointed by the king and served as the colony’s highest court. • The lower house was elected by colonists who owned enough property to vote. Our Political Beginnings • Proprietary Colonies: • The proprietor appointed the governor. • These colonies were run much like royal colonies. • Of the proprietary colonies, Pennsylvania had an unusually democratic government with a unicameral legislature. Our Political Beginnings • Charter Colonies: • Governors in charter colonies were elected by property-owning colonists and lacked veto power. • The elected bicameral legislature could pass laws without the approval of the king. • Judges were appointed by the legislature. • Charter colonies enjoyed the most freedoms. YOUR TURN TO WRITE • What was the purpose of the Magna Carta, and what did it provide for all citizens? • Explain the differences between royal, proprietary, and charter colonies. Coming of Independence • Over time the colonists began getting used to more and more self-rule. • England was over 3,000 miles away and it took two months to sail from England to the colonies. • Colonial legislatures sometimes withheld governor’s pay until they agreed with the colonists. The distance from England to the colonies was over 3,000 miles – at least a two-month journey by sail. Coming of Independence • By 1760 King George III ruled England and Britain became more strict with the colonies. • Increased taxation on the colonists began to make the colonists resentful. • King George increased British soldier population in the colonies and made colonists pay for the expenses. Coming of Independence • The Stamp Act of 1765 added fuel to the colonists fire – taxing them on all business documents. • The colonists were upset at England’s policy of taxation without representation. • Even though they were upset, the colonists tried to resolve problems with the king. Coming of Independence • Failing to come to an agreement with the king, small revolts broke out in the colonies. • In 1770 British soldiers fired their guns into an angry colonial mob killing five – this was called the Boston Massacre. • In 1773 colonists dressed as Native Americans destroyed tea from England in the Boston Harbor – called the Boston Tea Party. Boston Massacre – 1770. British troops fire into a crowd of angry colonial protesters. Five colonials died. Boston Tea Party 1773. Colonists dressed as Native Americans storm British ships carrying tea in Boston Harbor. The tea is thrown overboard to show the colonists resentment over England’s policy to control the tea trade. Coming of Independence • England responded by punishing the colonists even more. • This prompted the first meeting of the colonies (all except Georgia) in Philadelphia in 1774. • This meeting is called the First Continental Congress – they discussed what to do. Coming of Independence • Some wanted to separate from England, others wanted to ask King George for relief. • The Declaration of Rights was sent to England asking one last time for a change in English policy. • Their request was rejected, and met with even more severe taxes from England. Coming of Independence • By the time the Second Continental Congress met in 1775 shots had been fired between British troops and colonists at Concord and Lexington. • George Washington from Virginia was named leader of the Colonial Army. • The Second Continental Congress became the first American government. Coming of Independence • About one year after the American Revolution began, the colonies issued the Declaration of Independence to England on July 4, 1776. • It was mostly written by Thomas Jefferson, a delegate from Virginia. • The document discussed the belief that government be held accountable by the people it governs. Coming of Independence • The Declaration of Independence also uses such terms as: – “all men created equal” – “certain unalienable rights” – “consent of the governed” Coming of Independence • These terms, especially “unalienable rights” or “natural rights” were ideas from past philosophers like John Locke. • It was Jefferson’s idea to incorporate the ideas of John Locke and other famous past philosophers into the Declaration of Independence to increase its credibility. The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in 1775 and agreed to declare independence from England. The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776. YOUR TURN TO WRITE • What was one reason why the colonists began getting used to self-rule and not always following English policies? • What was the main complaint made by the colonists towards England? • Was the colonists initial goal to separate from England? Explain your answer. The Critical Period • Once the colonies established independence from England, they knew a formal government needed to be established. • To meet this need the Articles of Confederation was created. • The Articles of Confederation set up a “firm league of friendship” between the states. The Critical Period • The Articles of Confederation established a strong state government in which they would come together for common defense. • This created an alliance instead of a country. • By 1781, all 13 states had ratified – or approved – the Articles of Confederation. The Critical Period • The government structure of the Articles of Confederation was simple. • There was one Congress made up of all 13 states – each had one vote. • Representatives of the Congress were chosen every year by whatever method each state wanted to use. The Critical Period • Congress also chose one presiding officer each year to lead. • Congress had power to make war, make treaties, and ask for states to provide troops. • However, states held most of the power to govern themselves as they saw fit. The Critical Period • States did agree to allow Congress to settle any disputes, and treat people from other states fairly. • Articles of Confederation proved weak because Congress lacked essential power. • Congress could not tax the states, regulate trade between states, or force the states to obey. The Critical Period • In 1783 the American Revolutionary War came to an end with the Treaty of Paris. • Afterwards, states bickered and could not come to an agreement on issues. • Hard feelings set in between the states, and violence even broke out in some areas. The Critical Period • By 1785, it was clear that the need for a stronger central government was necessary. • Hope came during a trade dispute that was solved between Maryland and Virginia. • This prompted the idea of another meeting of the states to revise the Articles of Confederation. The Critical Period • In September of 1786 a meeting of all states was called in Annapolis, Maryland. • The turnout was low, which prompted a second calling of all states to meet in Philadelphia. • While the purpose of the meeting was to revise the Articles of Confederation… The Critical Period • It turned into a meeting in which the entire structure of the American government was re- created. YOUR TURN TO WRITE • Did the Articles of Confederation set up a strong central government or a strong state government? • What were the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation? • Why were meetings of all the states called in 1786 and 1787? Creating the Constitution • At the Philadelphia Convention in 1787 representatives from the 13 states met to create a new central government. • They met during the summer months – very hot, no air conditioning, windows closed to stop eavesdroppers. • “The most wonderful work by the brain and purpose of man.” Creating the Constitution • The meeting place was Independence Hall where the “D of I” was signed 11 years earlier. • George Washington was elected president of the convention. • First order of business was to set up ground rules for the convention. Creating the Constitution • Each state would receive one vote, and majority was needed to pass a resolution. • Their goal was to write a new constitution. • There was yelling, bickering, arguing among the representatives – some even left the room at certain points. Creating the Constitution • Two major plans were offered as replacements to the Articles of Confederation. • First was the Virginia Plan, developed by future president James Madison. • It featured three branches of government, a legislature, executive and judicial branch. Creating the Constitution • Legislature was made up of two houses – a House of Representatives and a Senate called the Congress. • Total population of a state determined how many Reps and Senators each state had. • Congress could also force states to obey laws. Creating the Constitution • Congress chose a “National Executive” and a “National Judiciary” to balance power. • The Virginia Plan had the support of large states – but smaller states rejected it. • Instead they favored the New Jersey Plan which was different from the Virginia Plan. Creating the Constitution • New Jersey Plan called for a one-house Congress with each state having equal representatives, regardless of population. • It also gave Congress the power to tax the states to fund the government. • The question between the two plans – how should the states be represented? Creating the Constitution • The conflict was settled through the Connecticut Compromise – also called the Great Compromise. • The compromise created two houses – House of Representatives and a Senate. • Number of HOR was based on state population – Senate was equal representation. Creating the Constitution • The next question was about slaves – should they count towards total population? • Southern states said yes because it would give them more HOR seats. • Northern states said no because they did not want the south to out vote them. Creating the Constitution • The Three-Fifths Compromise resolved the issue – all “non-free persons” equal 3/5 when counting population. • It was a mixture of compromises that made the U.S. Constitution. • They did not agree on everything, but did agree on liberty and sovereignty for all. YOUR TURN TO WRITE • What was the biggest difference between the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan? • What was the Three-Fifths Compromise? • Did the “framers” of the U.S. Constitution consider it to be perfect? Explain your answer. Ratifying the Constitution • After the Constitution was written a new challenge presented itself. • The Constitution needed to be ratified – or approved – by a vote in all of the states. • Copies of the Constitution has been made and were being read by every citizen in the U.S. Ratifying the Constitution • Not everyone was in agreement with the Constitution however. • In each state, two distinct groups were forming – Federalists and Anti-Federalists. • Federalists were those who were in favor of the Constitution and Anti-Federalists were opposed to the Constitution. Ratifying the Constitution • Federalists believed that the Constitution was necessary because the Articles of Confederation were too weak. • Federalists were led by those at the Philadelphia Convention when the Constitution was written. Ratifying the Constitution • Ant-Federalists claimed that the Constitution gave too much power to the central government. • They also were worried that the president – or executive branch – was too powerful. • Anti-Federalists feared the president turning into another monarchy. Ratifying the Constitution • Anti-Federalists also were concerned about the absence of a list of rights for each American. • The right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press was not in the Constitution. Ratifying the Constitution • Federalists said that there doesn’t need to be a list of rights. • Their argument was that because there was a separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branch, people’s rights would never be threatened. Ratifying the Constitution • The Anti-Federalists got their way – a list of rights called the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution. • The Bill of Rights was 10 specific freedoms that each citizen held which was protected by the Constitution. • The goal now was to get all 13 states to ratify. Ratifying the Constitution • Getting the Constitution ratified was not easy. • Both sides campaigned and wrote essays expressing their view points. • Eventually, all 13 states did ratify the Constitution – but vote was very close in Rhode Island and New York. Ratifying the Constitution • Finally, the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. had a new framework for government. • The new Congress met in 1789 for the first time. • New York City was named a temporary capital where Congress would operate. Ratifying the Constitution • George Washington – the Revolutionary hero – was elected as the first President. • John Adams was elected as the first Vice President. YOUR TURN TO WRITE • What was the difference between Federalists and Anti-Federalists? • Why was it important to add a Bill of Rights to the Constitution? • Why was it important for all 13 states to ratify the Constitution?
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