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2. The Constitution. Constitution. 2. A nation’s basic law. It creates political institutions, assigns or divides powers in government, and often provides certain guarantees to citizens. Constitutions can be either written or unwritten. The Origins of the Constitution. 2.1.

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2

The Constitution

constitution
Constitution

2

A nation’s basic law. It creates political institutions, assigns or divides powers in government, and often provides certain guarantees to citizens. Constitutions can be either written or unwritten.

slide5
Life was good in the colonies

(Slaves excepted, of course)

Self-governing

Irritants

New taxes to finance French and Indian War

Enforcement of trade regulations

No representation in Parliament

2.1

Road to Revolution

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Frustration came from increased levels of control from Britain. This was in response to the French and Indian war. The British felt the colonists should pay for their own protection through that war. Colonists were frustrated with not having any representation in Parliament.

2.1

Why were colonists frustrated with British rule?

slide7

2.1

FIGURE 2.1: European claims in North America

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Irritants

New taxes to finance French and Indian War

Enforcement of trade regulations

No representation in Parliament

Protests and boycotts

First Continental Congress – Sept. 1774

2.1

Road to Revolution

slide9
A meeting of delegates from each of the colonies in Philadelphia in September 1774 to discuss future relations with Britain.

2.1

What was the First Continental Congress?

slide10
Reconciliation or revolution?

Thomas Paine’s Common Sense

Fanned revolutionary sentiments

2.1

Declaring Independence

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2.1

Common Sense

slide12
Declaration of Independence

Thomas Jefferson

Justified revolution

Revolutionaries needed foreign assistance

2.1

Declaring Independence

slide13

2.1

Delegates in Philadelphia

slide14
John Locke

Natural rights

Life, liberty, property

Purpose of government is to protect

Consent of the governed

Government derives its authority by sanction of the people

Limited government

Certain restrictions should be placed on government to protect the natural rights of citizens

2.1

English Heritage: Power of Ideas

slide15

2.1

Locke and the Declaration of Independence: Some parallels

slide16

2.1

American Creed, Winning Independence, and the “Conservative” Revolution

  • Individualism
  • Rule by the people
  • New ideas incubated in a unique environment
  • Winning independence not easy
  • A conservative revolution?
articles of confederation
Articles of Confederation

First constitution of the US

State-dominated government

League of friendship amongst states

Unicameral legislature

No judiciary

No executive

No power to tax

No power to regulate commerce

Feared strong central government

2.2

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2.2

Key provisions of the Articles of Confederation

changes in the states
Changes in the States

Increases in liberty, democracy

If you were a white male

New middle class

Artisans

Farmers

Elite power threatened

Legislatures held governmental power

Controlled governors

2.2

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2.2

FIGURE 2.2: Power shift: Economic status of state legislators before and after the Revolutionary War

economic turmoil and aborted annapolis meeting
Economic Turmoil and Aborted Annapolis Meeting

Postwar economic depression

Shays’ Rebellion (1786)

Farmers attack courthouses to prevent foreclosures

Neither national nor state govt. could respond

Elites privately put down rebellion

2.2

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2.2

Shays’ Rebellion

economic turmoil and aborted annapolis meeting1
Economic Turmoil and Aborted Annapolis Meeting

Annapolis meeting leads to Constitutional Convention

2.2

gentlemen in philadelphia and philosophy in action
Gentlemen in Philadelphia and Philosophy in Action

Goal was to REVISE the Articles

Who attended Constitutional Convention?

55 delegates from 12 states

Wealthy planters, lawyers, merchants

High principles versus self-interest

Human nature

Political conflict resulting from factions

Purpose of government

Nature of government

2.3

equality issues
Equality Issues

Equality and representation of the states

New Jersey Plan

Equal representation

Virginia Plan

Proportional representation

Connecticut Compromise

Senate has equal representation, House of Representatives has proportional representation

Slavery

3/5ths Compromise

Equality in voting

Let the states decide

2.4

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2.4

How the Constitution resolved three issues of equality

economic issues
Economic Issues

State of the postwar economy

Interstate tariffs

Worthless paper money

Congress could not raise revenue

Congress given economic power

Limited economic interference of states

New government must repay debts of $54 million

2.4

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2.4

Table 2.4: Economics in the Constitution

individual rights issues
Individual Rights Issues

Preserving individual rights a priority

Personal freedoms in the Constitution:

Suspension of habeas corpus prohibited (jailers must explain why they are holding a prisoner in custody)

Bills of attainder prohibited (laws that punish people without a judicial trial

Ex post facto laws prohibited (laws that punish people for committing acts that were not illegal when the act was committed)

Religious qualifications for office prohibited

Strict rules for what constitutes treason

Right to trial by jury

2.4

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2.5

James Madison

thwarting tyranny of the majority
Thwarting Tyranny of the Majority

Limiting majority control

James Madison’s system

Separating powers

Creating checks and balances

Establishing a federal system

2.5

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2.5

FIGURE 2.3: The Constitution and the electoral process: Original plan

constitutional republic and the end of the beginning
Constitutional Republic and the End of the Beginning

Creating a republic

Direct democracy not feasible

Representative democracy

Separating powers and checks and balances make change slow

Is policymaking inefficient?

10 states vote in favor, then dinner

2.5

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2.5

FIGURE 2.4: Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances in the Constitution

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2.5

Signing of the Constitution

federalists and anti federalists
Federalists and Anti-Federalists

Federalists

Supported Constitution

Federalist Papers

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay

Anti-Federalists

Opposed Constitution

No protection for civil liberties

States’ power would weaken

2.6

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2.6

Federalists and Anti-Federalists Compared

slide43

2.6

Bill of Rights arranged by function

ratification
Ratification

Ratification by special convention

Got around state legislatures

Delaware first to approve

New Hampshire made it official

New York and Virginia critical

North Carolina and Rhode Island hold out

2.6

formal amending process
Formal Amending Process

Proposal

Two-thirds vote in each house

National convention called by Congress

Ratification

Legislatures of three-fourths of states

Special state conventions

2.7

slide47

2.7

FIGURE 2.5: How the Constitution can be amended

slide48

2.7

Suffragettes marching

equal rights amendment
Equal Rights Amendment

A constitutional amendment passed by Congress in 1972 stating that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The amendment failed to acquire the necessary support from three-fourths of state legislatures.

2.7

informal processes of constitutional change
Informal Processes of Constitutional Change

Most changes have been informal

Judicial interpretation

Marbury v. Madison (1803)

Changing political practice

Technology

Increased demands for new policy

2.7

judicial interpretation
Judicial Interpretation

Marbury v. Madison (1803)

The 1803 case in which the Supreme Court asserted its right to determine the meaning of the US Constitution. The decision established the Court’s power of judicial review over acts of Congress.

Judicial Review

The power of the courts to determine whether acts of congress and, by implication, the executive are in accord with the US Constitution.

2.7

political practice
Political Practice

Things like political parties have shaped how we select presidents, despite the fact that the Constitution does not mention political parties, much less their involvement in selecting presidents.

2.7

technology
Technology

Technology has increased the roles of different members of the government, like the president, in ways that the original Constitution could not have imagined. These changing roles are effectively amendments to the Constitution (at least in terms of how our government operates, if not in the letter of the law).

2.7

increased demands for new policy
Increased demands for new policy

As the world has changed, what citizens demand from government has also changed. This has resulted in who and how those needs are carried out being adapted into the existing framework of the Constitution.

2.7

importance of flexibility
Importance of Flexibility

Constitution meant to be flexible

Many decisions left up to Congress

Flexibility key to survival

World’s oldest Constitution

2.7

constitution and democracy
Constitution and Democracy

Original Constitution created a republic, not a democracy

Framers thought elites should govern

Representative democracy allowed Constitution to become more democratic

From elitism to pluralism

Voting qualifications left up to states

5 amendments have expanded electorate

More officials chosen by popular election

2.8

constitution and the scope of government
Constitution and the Scope of Government

Constitution designed to limit government and protect liberties

Broad participation possible

Effects of separation of powers

All groups can be heard

Encourages stalemate

Effects of checks and balances

Gridlock or ineffective policy

2.8

slide60

2.8

Obama and Boehner

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2

Discussion Question

Did learning that the Framers were elites who feared majority rule surprise you? Does it change any ideas you had about American government and politics, and the Framers themselves?