In 1607, the English settled Jamestown, Virginia – the first permanent English colony in North America. • They brought ideas about government with them learned from centuries of practice – limited government and representative government were the heart of the English system. • The idea that the government was not all powerful had become part of the English system.
In 1215, King John of England was forced to sign the Magna Carta. • This was a list of do and do nots for the king. • It established the idea of limited government – the power of the monarch was limited not absolute.
1625, Charles I took the English throne. He dissolved Parliament, housed soldiers in private homes, and placed some areas under martial law. • 1628, Parliament was called back into session and passed the Petition of Right which severely limited the power of the king: he could not tax without Parliament’s consent, house soldiers in private homes, declare martial law unless at war, or imprison people without just cause.
1688, William III and Mary II came to the English throne. They started the “Glorious Revolution.” • They agreed to rule with Parliament and Parliament passed the English Bill of Rights – important to the American colonies. • It set clear limits on what the monarch could and could not do: monarchs do not have absolute power; rule with Parliament; cannot fool with elections or debates; right of petition; fair and speedy trial; no cruel or unusual punishments or excessive fines and bail.
American colonists had a firm belief in representative democracy – a government where the people elect delegates to make laws and run government.
Hobbes, Voltaire, Rousseau, and John Locke wrote about Social contract. • John Locke took social contract a step further. • People were endowed with the right of life, liberty, and property. To keep these rights, they willingly contracted to give power to a governing authority. When government failed to preserve the rights of the people, the people had the right to break the contract. • He influenced the American Declaration of Independence with his beliefs.
Each American colony had its own governor, legislature, and court system. • The British felt the colonies owed allegiance to the monarch, and for years the colonies were loyal to the crown. • The colonial governments did begin practices that became a key part of the nation’s government; a written constitution guaranteeing basic rights and limited the power of government; elected representatives; and a separation of powers between the governor and legislature.
The Mayflower Compact (1620) is the first example of colonial plans for self government. • The Pilgrim leaders realized they needed rules to govern themselves if they were to survive. • They also agreed to pick their own leaders and make their own laws, which they would design for their own benefit.
1636, Massachusetts – Plymouth colony -adopted the Great Fundamentals . • A general court made up of 2 deputies from each town chosen by freemen and a governor with assistants to make up the governing council • These were the first basic system of laws in the English colonies.
The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut was America’s first formal constitution. • It laid out a plan for government that gave the people the right to elect the governor, judges, and representatives to make laws. • Other English colonies began to draw up their own charters setting the principles of limited government and rule by law in each colonies.
Representative assemblies became big in the English colonies. • Puritan leaders used their experience in selecting church officials in electing representatives to the legislature. • 1619, the Virginia House of Burgesses came into existence. • It was the first legislature in North America. • Rapid growth meant the colonies needed new laws to cope with new circumstances – land distribution, public works, new towns, new schools, and new courts.
Colonial charters divided the power of government. • The governor had executive power, the colonial legislatures had the right to pass laws, and colonial courts heard cases. • This principle of separation of powers was popularized by Montesquieu The Spirit of the Law and proved vital to the U.S. Constitution.
The colonies were accustomed to ruling themselves. But, 2 things made the British tighten up their control of North America – (1.) the French and Indian War and (2.) George III’s view on how to govern the colonies.
The French and Indian War (1754 – 1763) gave the British control of the eastern part of North America. • The colonies no longer needed protection from the French. • The war did leave the British government in large debt that the colonies were expected to help repay.
New taxes were placed on the colonists to help repay this debt. • The first was the Stamp Act – it required a tax on legal documents, pamphlets, newspapers, dice, and playing cards. • It was the first direct tax on the colonists.
British revenue – the money a government collects from taxes or other resources – from the colonies increased. • Colonial resentment grew with the revenues. • Colonists protested and boycotted British goods. Parliament repealed the Stamp Act but replaced it with other tax laws.
The British responded with the Coercive Acts, which were called the Intolerable Acts by colonists. • Quertering Act; Boston Port Bill;Administration of Justice Act; Massachusetts Government Act; Quebec Act
The colonists responded by acting like Americans – not Virginians, Georgians, New Yorkers – as one. • The acts unintentionally promoted sympathy for Massachusetts and encouraged colonists from the otherwise diverse colonies to form the First Continental Congress. The Continental Congress created the Continental Association, an agreement to boycott British goods and, if that did not get the Coercive Acts reversed after a year, to stop exporting goods to Great Britain as well. The Congress also pledged to support Massachusetts in case of attack, which meant that all of the colonies would become involved when the American Revolutionary War began at Lexington and Concord.
The Stamp Act Congress met in 1765 to protest the actions of George III. They sent a petition to the king protesting direct taxes on the colonies. • Committees of Correspondence were started so colonists could keep in touch about events. • Samuel Adams began the first one in Boston, and the idea soon spread throughout the colonies.
September 5, 1774, the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to discuss how to deal with the relationship with Britain. • They agreed on an embargo – an agreement to prohibit trade – on Britain and agreed to meet one year later if British policies had not changed. • George III declared New England in a state of rebellion.
April 19, 1775, “the shot heard ‘round the world” was fired beginning the American Revolution. • British redcoats clashed with American minutemen at Lexington and Concord.
Three weeks later, the Second Continental Congress took the powers of central government. • John Hancock was made President. • They voted to organize an army and navy, issue money, and made George Washington commander of the Continental Army. • It purchased supplies, negotiated treaties, and rallied support for the colonists’ cause.
July 2, 1776, Richard Henry Lee issued the “Lee Resolution” – “that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.”
July 4, 1776, Congress passes Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence . • Key parts of the Declaration: preamble (why); declaration of natural rights (political philosophy); grievances against George III; and resolution.
The Articles of Confederation were ratified, passed, to carry on the system of government set up by the 2nd Continental Congress. • They had a unicameral, or single chamber, Congress from which executive positions were chosen; no federal court system; congress decided on issues between states; each state had 1 vote no matter its size or population; and states could recall representatives whenever they wanted.
Weaknesses in the Articles : Congress could not levy or collect taxes; could not regulate trade; could not enforce laws; needed 9 of 13 votes to pass laws; amending the Articles required consent of all the colonies; no executive branch; and, no national court system.
Achievements: (1.) a fair policy for development of lands west of the Appalachian Mountains – states ceded, gave up, lands to the central government and passed ordinances, laws that provided for the organization of territories; (2.) peace treaty with Great Britain; set up departments of foreign affairs, treasury, war, and marine; and (3.) encourage cooperation among states.
Despite its accomplishments of the Articles of Confederation, the country faced problems – the central government could not coordinate the actions of the states. • Growing problems: boundary lines, taxes, finances, and protection. • Shay’s Rebellion was an uprising led by Massachusetts farmers against the foreclosures of farms brought on by the economic depression after the American Revolution.
With the problems facing the nation, delegates met to revise the Articles of Confederation. (5 states had discussed commerce at the Annapolis Convention.) • The Constitutional Convention met May, 25, 1787. • 55 delegates out of 74 showed up and 39 signed the Constitution
James Madison was a strong advocate of a strong national government. • He is called “the father of the Constitution” because he was the author of the basic plan of government that was eventually adopted.
The delegates came to the agreement that they should begin a new government. • They agreed that the new government should be limited and representative; 3 branches of government; limit the state’s power when coining money or interfering with creditor’s rights; and they agreed the national government should be strengthened.
The Virginia Plan proposed a government based on 3 principles: (1.) a strong national legislature with 2 chambers – lower house chosen by the people and an upper house chosen by the lower house; (2.) a strong national executive chosen by the national legislature; and (3.) a national judiciary chosen by the legislature. • It became the basis for the Constitution. • It favored the larger states population wise.
The New Jersey Plan wanted to keep the unicameral legislature, with one vote each state; Congress could levy taxes and regulate trade; a weak executive with more than one person would be picked by congress; and a national judiciary would appointed by the executive. • This plan favored the smaller states – gave equality. The Va. Plan favored larger states.
The Connecticut Compromise suggested the legislative branch have 2 houses – a House of Representatives based on population, and a Senate with 2 rep. per state picked by the legislature. • All revenue laws – spending and taxes – began in the House. • Larger states had the advantage in the House; smaller were protected in the Senate with equal representation.
The Three-fifths Compromise ended the debate on the number of representatives a state would get in the House. • Three-fifths of the enslaved peoples would be counted for taxes and the purpose of representation.
June 21, 1788, the Constitution goes into effect when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify it. • The political debate ended may 29, 1790 when Rhode Island agreed to approve it.
Two opposing viewpoints arose about the Constitution: Anti-federalists and Federalists. • The Anti-federalists said the Constitution was drafted in secrecy and was extralegal, not sanctioned by law. They were against it. • The Federalists argued that a strong national government was to stop anarchy, political disorder. They were for the Constitution. They promised a Bill of Rights added to it.