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DBQ: Constitution Interpretation

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  1. DBQ: Constitution Interpretation The Federalists versus the Democratic-Republicans

  2. Step 1: Think on the Prompt • What is the topic? Interpretation of the Constitution between the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans

  3. What are the descriptive words in the prompt? “to what extent” What does this mean????? “To what extent” is similar to “analyze” which means to break the topic into parts and explain the parts.

  4. To answer a “to what extent” prompt, you should take a strong stand for a greater extent or lesser extent in one's essay. By including equal amounts of evidence for both sides, the strength of the essay is diminished.

  5. Read and Make Notes on the Documents

  6. Document A Source: Thomas Jefferson to Gideon Granger, a future member of Jefferson's cabinet, 13 August 1800 I believe [we] shall obtain . . . a majority in the legislature of the United States, attached to the preservation of the federal Constitution, according to its obvious principles and those on which it was known to be received; attached equally to the preservation to the states of those rights unquestionably remaining with them; . . . in short, a majority firm in all those principles which we have espoused, and the Federalists have opposed uniformly . . . . It [our country] can never be harmonious and solid while so respectable a portion of its citizens support principles which go directly to a change of the federal Constitution, to sink the state governments, consolidate them into one, and to monarchise that. Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government. . . . The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best that the states are independent as to everything within themselves, and united as to everything respecting foreign nations. Thomas Jefferson Who said it? What did they say? What was their point of view? Significance? Would this support strict or broad construction? The Constitution promotes states rights Promotes the preservation of the Constitution and of states rights. Federalists want to change the Constitution to “sink” the state governments Supports strict construction with states rights,

  7. Document B Source: Jefferson to Samuel Miller, a Presbyterian minister, 23 January 1808 I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from inter­ meddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises . . . . Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general [federal] government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority . . . . I am aware that the practice of my predecessors [prescribing a day of fasting and prayer] may be quoted . . . . Be this as it may, everyone must act according to the dictates of his own reason, and mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the U.S. and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents Who said it? What did they say? What was their point of view? Would this support strict or broad construction? Doc B: Supports 1st Amendment, strict construction, separation of church and state, uses the word “delegated”

  8. Document C Who said it? What did they say? What was their point of view? Significance? Would this support strict or broad construction? OGRABME---The American Snapping Turtle Jefferson and Madison supported Embargo and Non-Intercourse Acts---this is Loose construction. Federalists were against trade restrictions, which makes them strict constructionists.

  9. Document D Daniel Webster, Federalist from New Hampshire, in a speech on a conscription bill, to the House of Representatives, 9 December 1814 • The [Madison] administration asserts the right to fill the ranks of the regular army by compulsion . . . . Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war in which the folly or the wickedness of the government may engage it? . . . Who will show me any constitutional injunction which makes it the duty of the American people to surrender everything valuable in life, and even life itself, . . .whenever the purposes of an ambitious and mischievous government may requirt:: it? . . . If the secretary of war has proved the right of Congress to enact a law enforcing a draft of men out of the militia into the regular army, he will at any time be able to prove quite as clearly that Congress has power to create a dictator. Daniel Webster---Federalist President Madison says he has the right to draft men into the military, but the Constitution does not support this Strict construction Federalists opposed the War of 1812 as which led to Hartford Convention Who said it? What did they say? What was their point of view? Significance? Would this support strict or broad construction?

  10. Document E Source: Report and Resolutions of the Hartford Convention, 4 January 1815 Resolved, That the following amendments of the constitution of the United States be recom­mended to the states represented as foresaid, to be proposed by them for adoption by the state legislatures, and in such cases as may be deemed expedient by a convention chosen by the people of each state. . . . Second. No new state shall be admitted into the Union by Congress, in virtue of the power granted by the constitution, without the concurrence of two thirds of both houses. Third. Congress shall not have the power to lay any embargo on the ships or vessels of the citizens of the United States, . . . for more than sixty days. Fourth. Congress shall not have power, without concurrence of two thirds of both houses, to interdict the commercial intercourse between the United States and any foreign nation, or the dependencies thereof. Delegates to the Hartford Convention, presumably Federalists Who said it? What did they say? What was their point of view? Would this support strict or broad construction? Suggests amendments to the Constitution which limit the power of the federal government. Against the Embargo Actand other federal government interference into commerce Supports strict constrction

  11. Document F Source: John Randolph, a Democratic Republican congressman from Virginia, in a speech to the House on the proposed tariff of 1816 [W]e have another proof that the present government have renounced the true republican principles of Jefferson's administration on which they raised themselves to power, and that they have taken up, in their stead, those of John Adams . . . . [T]heir principle now is old Federalism, vamped up into something bearing the superficial appearance of republicanism . . . . Sir, I am convinced that it would be impolitic, as well as unjust, to aggravate the burdens of the people for the purpose of favoring the manufacturers; for this government created and gave power to Congress to regulate commerce and equalize duties [tariffs] on the whole of the United States, and not to lay a duty [tariff] but with a steady eye to revenue . . . John Randolph, Democratic Republican form Virginia Who said it? What did they say? What was their point of view? Would this support strict or broad construction? Tariff of 1816 violates true republican principles Passing a protective tariff to protect manufacturing is not just He says the Tariff of 1816 is unjust---this is a strict constructionist view He implies those who supported the tariff are loose constructionists

  12. Document G Source: Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 12 July 1816 Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. . . . I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions . . . . But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also and keep pace with the times. Thomas Jefferson Who said it? What did they say? What was their point of view? Would this support strict or broad construction? The Constitution is not “too sacred to be touched” This is the typical loose construction point of view in. Jefferson’s own words!

  13. Document H Source: James Madison: Message to Congress vetoing an Internal Improvements Bill, March, 1817 [I have] considered the bill this day presented to me entitled "An act to set apart and pledge certain funds for internal improvements," and which sets apart and pledges funds . . . for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses . . . . The power to regulate commerce among the several states cannot include a power to construct roads and canals. . . . I am not unaware of the great importance of roads and canals and the improved navigation of water courses, and that a power in the national legislature to provide for them might be exercised with signal advantage to the general prosperity. But seeing that such a power is not expressly given by the Constitution, and believing that it can not be deduced from any part of it without an inadmissible latitude of construction and a reliance on insufficient precedents; believing also that the permanent success of the Constitution depends on a definite partition of powers between the general [federal] and the state governments . . . I have no option but to withhold my signature from it . . . Who said it? What did they say? What was their point of view? Would this support strict or broad construction? President James Madison The Constitution does not give the power to the federal government to construct roads and canals This is a strict constructionist point of view

  14. For the opening paragraph, use the 2-1-1 format 2 introductory sentences 1 sentence thesis 1 sentence essay roadmap

  15. 2 introductory sentences Some information to consider • Every delegate at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 was considered a “federalist”, by the end of John Adams’ administration in 1800, two political parties emerged with opposite philosophical views of the Constitution. • Broad or loose construction---Federalists including Alexander Hamilton favored this point of view • Strict construction---Jefferson and Madison favored this point of view before taking office • Revolution of 1800 propelled the Democratic-Republicans into office • Both Jefferson and Madison found it expedient to adopt most of Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist financial structure. • The “necessary and proper “ clause of the Constitution was expanded by both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (with the embargo, the Non-intercourse Act and the War of 1812) to address threats to national security. • In order to counter the Democratic-Republicans, the Federalists resorted to relying on the literal “delegated” powers of the Constitution.

  16. Sample Thesis In the period from 1801-1816, both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, while philosophically advocating a strict construction of the Constitution, resorted to loose interpretation during their presidencies, while the Federalists, originally supporting a broad view, countered the Democratic-Republicans with a literal definition.

  17. Sample Roadmap Thomas Jefferson changed the way he interpreted the Constitution after he became President. In reaction to foreign threats, his fellow Virginian, James Madison, did the same. The Federalists, reacting to these decisions, also changed their position on Constitutional interpretation.

  18. Body Paragraph 1---about Jefferson Paragraph 2---about Madison Paragraph 3---about the Federalists

  19. Topic Sentences or “Points of Discussion • Both Federalists and Democratic-Republicans philosophically and practically differed on: • Hamilton’s Financial Plan • Bank of the United States (BUS) • Protective Tariff • “Necessary and Proper,” Art 1, Section 8 • Department of the Navy • Quasi War with France • Purchase of Louisiana Territory • Embargo/Non-Intercourse Acts • State’s Rights • Virginia/Kentucky Resolutions • Nullification • Hartford Convention • Nullification and Secession

  20. Body Paragraph Examples Reword the 1st Topic Sentence Include at least 2 docs in a paragraph No quoting documents Watch spelling errors and slang Write in past tense Don’t “describe” but “analyze” with complete thoughts

  21. Examples of how to use documents In Jefferson’s letter to Samuel Kercheval he stated that citizens have to adapt to the Constitution depending on the era.(Doc G) So even though Jefferson allowed for the expiration of the Alien and Sedition Acts and the repeal of the Excise Tax, all other programs in Hamilton’s financial program stayed in place. Madison instituted the first protective tariff in 1816, which John Randolph laments in his speech to the House of Representatives. (Doc. F) Randolph accuses Madison of being just like Federalist John Adams, who was responsible for the hated Alien and Sedition Acts.