Underpinnings of the Constitution

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1 Underpinnings of the Constitution A constitution is a nations basic laws creates political institutions assigns and divides power in government provides certain guarantees to citizens includes unwritten traditions and precedents sets the broad rules of politics Revolution the king and Parliament left all decision making to the discretion of the colonists except trade and foreign policy Britain obtained a large amount of land after the French and Indian War Parliament passed a series of taxes on the colonists to pay for the cost of defending the land Colonists resented the taxes---no representation the Stamp Act, the Sugar Act, the Townshend Acts, the Tea Act Rebellions ensued Bacon s Rebellion, Culpeper s Rebellion, Leisler s Rebellion, Boston Tea Party Colonists created the First Continental Congress- one delegate from each colony to discuss future relations with Britain (September of 1774) By June of 1776 began discussing independence July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was adopted Written primarily by Thomas Jefferson using the ideas of the Enlightenment John Locke- life, liberty, and property Believed in natural rights of people. People exist in a state of nature before governments arise, where they are governed only by the laws of nature. - Natural laws bring natural rights; life, liberty, and property - Natural law is superior to human law, natural law can justify even a challenge to the rule of a tyrannical king. - Government must be built on the consent of the governed; the people must agree on who their rulers will be. - Government must also be a limited government with clear restrictions on what it can and cannot do. - The sole purpose of government was to protect natural rights - In extreme cases people have a right to revolt against a government that no longer has their consent but not until injustices become deeply felt.

2 Later contributions of the Enlightenment John Jacques Rousseau- Social Contract Baron de Montesquieu- Separation of Powers The Article of Confederation and Perpetual Union The Article of Confederation was the first government of the United States and a failed government. The government was dominated by the states. The Articles established a national legislature-the Continental Congress with one house (unicameral). States could send up to seven delegates but each state had one vote. Its only power was to maintain an army and navy and little money to do that. No power to tax, regulate commerce, no president, no national court. Strengths & Accomplishments Government signed a treaty of alliance with France in Government successfully waged a war for independence against the British. Government negotiated an end to the American Revolution in the Treaty of Paris, signed in Government granted the free inhabitants of each state all the privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several states. Government provided for the eventual admission of Canada into the Confederation. Government passed the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which allowed the Northwest Territories to organize their own governments. It allowed the eventual admission to the Union of no more than five states, and no fewer than three, on an equal footing with the original states. The Ordinance also banned slavery from the region. Government established the Departments of Foreign Affairs, War, Marine, and Treasury. Weaknesses Congress had no power to coin money, therefore each state developed its own currency. Congress was unable to regulate interstate and foreign commerce; some states refused to pay for goods they purchased from abroad. Congress was unable to impose taxes; it could only borrow money on credit. No national court system was established to protect the rights of U.S. citizens. No executive branch was established to enforce laws. Amendments could be added only with the approval of all 13 states. Approval of 9 of 13 states was required to pass a law in Congress.

3 One vote was allotted for each state, despite the size of its population. It was just a firm league of friendship. After the war there was a depression that left many small farmers unable to pay their debts, many were threatened with foreclosures. Shays Rebellion: Daniel Shays led a rebellion of farmers unhappy with the prospect of losing their land to creditors. They took up arms against courthouses to prevent judges from foreclosing on farms. The National Government was powerless to put down the rebellion. Annapolis Meeting -A meeting of continental leaders to discuss economic problems of the states but only five states sent delegates. The meeting was aborted and a call for a full scale meeting of the states in Philadelphia was issued. Philadelphia Convention -the sole purpose was to revise the Articles of Confederation. -could not amend because it required unanimous consent. -Rhode Island did not participate. -the fifty-five delegates ignored their instructions and began to write a new document. The delegates were political notables, wealthy men, college graduates, aged 26 (Jonathan Dayton), - 81 (Ben Franklin). The men were made of differing political views and ideologies Agreements on questions of human nature The causes of political conflict The objective and nature of republican government Agreed that people were self-interested and government had to play a role in checking Natural Rights Philosophy vs. Classical Republican Philosophy James Madison- The Father of the Constitution Believed that the distribution of wealth was the source of political conflict Unequal distributions of wealth lead to factions -----majority- many people with little or no money or property -----minority- few with most of the wealth Either will become tyrannical if left unchecked. Property must be protected against tyranny Good government is balanced government- tyranny avoided as long as no faction seizes control.

4 Philadelphia Convention 1. Large states vs. small states Virginia Plan- Edmund Randolph --- proportional representation New Jersey Plan- William Patterson ---equal representation Connecticut Compromise- Roger Sherman; The Great Compromise Equal and proportional; bicameral 2. North vs. South South wanted slaves counted in population but not for taxation North wanted slaves counted for taxation but not for population. Three-fifths Compromise 3. Slavery Agreed that Congress could limit the future importation of slaves but did not forbid slavery. 4. Political Equality Left to the states to decide 5. Individual Rights Writ of Habeas Corpus Ex post facto laws Bills of Attainder 6. Economy Congress could tax and borrow and appropriate funds Powers to punish counterfeiters and pirates, ensure copyrights and patents, rules for bankruptcy and intestate and foreign trade Prohibited state monetary systems Placing duties on imports from other states The new government was obligated to pay all debts incurred under the Articles The Madisonian Model of Government Prevention of tyranny of the majority- government had to be beyond the control of the masses Only the House of Representatives would be directly elected Separation of Powers

5 Checks and balances Congress has the power of the purse Judicial review- through Marbury v. Madison Federalism

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