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Section 1: Why Americans Have Governments Section 2: The First Government Section 3: A New Constitution. Chapter 2 Foundations of Government. Section 1: Why Americans Have Governments. The Main Idea

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Section 1: Why Americans Have Governments

Section 2:The First Government

Section 3:A New Constitution

Chapter 2Foundations of Government

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Section 1: Why Americans Have Governments

The Main Idea

Government plays an essential role in every country. A country’s government affects the lives of its people. Often, it affects people around the world.

Reading Focus

  • What are two main types of government?

  • What are the purposes of government?

  • How does the U.S. government guarantee freedom to its citizens?

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Section 1: Why Americans Have Governments

Governments are influenced by:

  • The people’s beliefs and the country’s history

  • Dictators or absolute monarchs with authoritarian power

  • Ceremonial monarchs with separate governing bodies

  • The “rule of the people” in a democracy

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Section 1: Why Americans Have Governments

Types of Governments

Characteristics of Governments


People rule directly or indirectly



  • All voters make decisions together.

  • People elect representatives.


Ruled by a king or queen

  • Absolute

  • Monarchs have total control.

A person or small group has absolute power and does not answer to the people.


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Section 1: Why Americans Have Governments


  • There is no absolute ruler or absolute ruling body

  • The people rule directly (direct democracy) or through elected officials (representative democracy or republic).

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Section 1: Why Americans Have Governments

Roles of Government

  • Provides a means for cooperation and unity among people

  • Enables groups of people to achieve large goals

  • Provides protection, security, transportation, monetary assistance, education, and health related services

  • Provides laws and a Constitution

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Section 2: The First U.S. Government

The Main Idea

The American ideals that people should rule themselves and that government should protect human rights are clearly set forth in the Declaration of Independence.

Reading Focus

  • Why is the Declaration of Independence so important?

  • What were the Articles of Confederation, and what were their weaknesses?

  • What was the effect of a weak national government on the United States?

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Section 2: The First U.S. Government

The Declaration of Independence

  • Upholds the philosophy on which the United States is based

  • Is a statement of the American ideals

  • Declares that the purpose of government is to protect human rights

  • Stresses equality among individuals

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Section 2: The First U.S. Government

Limitations of the Articles of the Confederation:

  • Congress had difficulty passing important measures.

  • There was no executive branch to ensure that new laws would be carried out.

  • There were no national courts to interpret the laws and uphold them.

  • A unanimous vote was required to make changes to the Articles of the Confederation.

  • There was no money to pay for expenses or services.

  • Each state regulated its own trade and had its own currency.

  • Conflicts between the states and Congress developed.

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difficult to change Articles because unanimous vote was needed

no execu-tive branch to enforce laws

difficult to pass laws because 9 out of 13 states’ approval was needed


no means to regulate trade with foreign countries

lacked power to collect taxes

no judicial branch to interpret laws

Section 2: The First U.S. Government

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Section 2: The First U.S. Government needed

Effects of a weak national government:

  • Had no power to operate effectively or settle disputes

  • The country lacked a national identity.

  • The states quarreled over boundary lines and trade.

  • The country looked weak to other nations.

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Section 3: A New Constitution needed

The Main Idea

The framers of the U.S. Constitution drew upon a history of democratic ideals while developing a document that would establish a new, stronger federal government.

Reading Focus

  • What historical principles of government influenced the delegates to the Constitutional Convention?

  • How did the U.S. government become stronger under the Constitution?

  • How did the viewpoints of Federalists and Antifederalists differ, and how were these differences resolved?

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Section 3: A New Constitution needed

Principles of Great Britain’s government that influenced the delegates:

  • Magna Carta—free people cannot be arrested without a trial by jury of their peers; Parliament’s rights are protected; English citizens only judged by English laws

  • English Bill of Rights—right to petition a change of laws; right to a fair punishment

  • Parliamentary government—a bicameral body; a prime minister administers the government and can be replaced by a majority vote

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Section 3: A New Constitution needed

The U.S. government became stronger under the Constitution.

  • A federal system was established.

  • Powers included the coining and printing of money, raising armed forces, trade regulations, and levying taxes.

  • Provisions for an executive and a judicial branch were established.

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Powers of the National Government

Powers Dealing with Laws

Section 3: A New Constitution

  • Provide a president to carry out the country’s laws

  • Establish the Supreme Court and other national courts to interpret laws

  • Print money

  • Raise armed forces

  • Regulate trade

  • Set taxes

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Section 3: A New Constitution needed

Differences among Federalists and Antifederalists:

  • Federalists—strong national government would keep the country united

  • Antifederalists—strong national government would not protect the people’s freedoms and would take power from the states

  • A bill of rights was proposed to outline the rights of the people under the Constitution.

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Chapter 2 Wrap-Up needed

  • 1. What are two of the major factors that shape a country’s government?

  • 2. How are a democracy and other types of governments different?

  • 3. What were the key purposes of the Declaration of Independence?

  • 4. What were some of the problems the country faced after independence was declared?

  • 5. In what ways did the colonists’ English political heritage influence American ideas about government and individual rights?

  • 6. What was the outcome of the Constitutional Convention?

  • 7. What were the arguments of the Federalists and Antifederalists?