Chapter Two: The Constitution

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1 Chapter Two: The Constitution

2 Learning Outcomes 1. Explain how the colonial experience prepared Americans for independence. 2. Discuss the restrictions that Britain placed on the colonies and the American response. 3. Describe how the Declaration of Independence came to be written and the importance of its second paragraph. 2

3 Learning Outcomes 4. Detail the Articles of Confederation and some of their weaknesses. 5. Discuss the most important compromises reached at the Constitutional Convention and the basic structure of the resulting government. 6. Summarize the arguments in favor of adopting the Constitution and the arguments against it. 3

4 Learning Outcomes 7. Explain how and why the Bill of Rights came to be adopted. 8. Describe the process for amending the Constitution. 9. Consider the informal ways in which the meaning of the Constitution has adjusted to modern circumstances. 4

5 The Colonial Background Separatists dissatisfied with Church of England created place to practice their religious beliefs Mayflower Compact Consent of the governed Self government Thirteen colonies establish limited governments 5

6 British Restrictions and Colonial Reactions In 1760s, British Parliament began to pass laws treating colonies as unit Raising revenue to help pay off war debt Sugar Act Stamp Act Colonists say taxation without representation 6

7 British Restrictions and Colonial Reactions The First Continental Congress Express grievances The Second Continental Congress Established army Named Washington commander-in-chief 7

8 Declaring Independence The Resolution of Independence 8

9 Declaring Independence July 4, 1776 The Declaration of Independence Universal truths Natural rights and social contracts The significance of the Declaration 9

10 Declaring Independence The Rise of Republicanism Opposed to rule by British, and opposed to rule by any central authority Each state seen as sovereign authority Unicameral legislatures 10

11 The Articles of Confederation: Our First Form of Government Voluntary association of independent states States retained most of power Weak central government Citizens loyal to their state (not country) The Articles establish a government Congress of the Confederation 11

12 The Confederal Government Structure Under the Articles of Confederation 12

13 The Articles of Confederation: Our First Form of Government Accomplishments Under the Articles States claims to western land settled Northwest Ordinance of 1787 Weaknesses Under the Articles Congress could not demand revenues No national courts No central authority to resolve disputes No funding for militia 13

14 The Articles of Confederation: Our First Form of Government Shay s Rebellion Need to revise the Articles 14

15 The Constitutional Convention Who were the delegates? Mostly upper class, educated and young The working environment Far from ideal Met in total secrecy 13 15

16 The Constitutional Convention Factions Strong nationalists (majority) Anti-nationalists Politicking and compromises Virginia Plan New Jersey Plan The Great Compromise 16

17 The Constitutional Convention 17

18 The Constitutional Convention The Three-Fifth Compromise Apportionment based on property (including slaves) Did not settle slavery issue Other issues Agriculture and exports Court system 18

19 The Constitutional Convention Working toward Final Agreement Madisonian model Separation of powers Checks and balances The executive Single chief executive Electoral College 19

20 Checks and Balances 20

21 The Constitutional Convention The Final Document Popular sovereignty Republican government Limited government Separation of powers Federal system (includes states rights) 21

22 The Difficult Road to Ratification Federalists favor strong central government and new Constitution Time, power, and wealth Hamilton, John Jay, Madison Anti-Federalists prefer status quo Feared overbearing central government Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams 22

23 The Difficult Road to Ratification The Federalist Papers Attempts to persuade public to support new form of government Hamilton, Jay and Madison Federalist #10 Anti-Federalist response Claimed aristocratic tyranny and overbearing central government Wanted guaranteed liberties (Bill of Rights) 23

24 The Difficult Road to Ratification March to the Finish Struggle for ratification Passed by narrow margin Did the majority of Americans support the Constitution? Beard s Thesis State ratifying conventions Support probably widespread 24

25 Ratification of the Constitution 25

26 The Bill of Rights Twelve drafted by Madison, ten ratified by states A bill of limits No explicit limits on state government powers Did not apply to state governments 26

27 The Formal Amendment Process Amending the Constitution Copes with new/unforeseen problems Taken on with extreme caution Rigorous process Two formal methods 27

28 Amending the Constitution Many Amendments proposed, few accepted 11,000 amendments considered Only 33 submitted to states Only 27 ratified 28

29 The Formal Constitutional Amending Procedure 29

30 Amendments to the Constitution 30

31 Informal Methods of Constitutional Change Congressional legislation Presidential actions Judicial review Interpretation, custom, and usage 31

32 Questions for Critical Thinking? In your opinion, what constitutional amendment is the most important? What are the top five constitutional amendments that are relevant today? 32

33 Questions for Critical Thinking? Are there any constitutional amendments that you would like added to the Bill of Rights? Are there any that you would like to repeal? 33

34 Questions for Critical Thinking? Describe the structure of the national government had the Anti-Federalists defeated the Federalists in the ratification of the Constitution. 34

35 Questions for Critical Thinking? In recent years the electoral college has faced criticism regarding the popular vote in presidential elections. Is the electoral college relevant in modern elections? What method should replace it? 35

36 Questions for Critical Thinking? Can we apply Charles Beard s theories about economic self-interests and the inner circle of power to policymakers today? 36

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