2 LC-DIG-ppmsca-02949/Library of Congress Even before the Revolutionary War, many felt some form of union would be necessary if the rebellious colonies were to survive. In 1774, the Massachusetts Spy portrayed the colonies as segments of a snake that must “Join or Die.” p. 20
3 “Give me liberty or give me death!” Patrick Henry’s famous quotationMarch 23, 1775“He called the King a Tyrant, a fool, a puppet & tool to the Ministry, Said there was now no Englishmen, no Scots no Britons, but a Set of Wretches Sunk in luxury...”- James Parker
4 Thomas Paine’s Common Sense Published January 10, 1776Signed: “Written by an Englishman”Common Sense challenged the authority of the British governmen. The plain language that Paine used spoke to the common people of America and was the first work to openly ask for independence from Great Britain.
5 Colonists were focused on traditional liberties The right to bring legal cases before independent judgesThe right to not have to quarter troops in their homesThe right to trade without burdensome restrictionsThe rights to pay no taxes that they had not been established without direct representationThe colonists came to see independence as possible because they had lost confidence in the British constitution
7 The Real RevolutionWas the radical change in belief about what made authority legitimate and liberties secure.Government exists by consent of the governedPolitical power exercised by direct grant of power in a written constitutionHuman liberty exists prior to government, and government must respect liberty.Legislative branch created as superior to executive branch because the legislature directly represents the people.
8 Lafayette College Art Collection The American colonists’ desire to assert their liberties led in time to a deep hostility toward British government, as when these New Yorkers toppled a statue of King George III, melted it down, and used the metal to make bullets. p. 21
11 Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation 1781 Could not levy taxes or regulate commerceSovereignty, independence retained by statesOne vote in Congress for each stateNine of thirteen votes in Congress required for any measureDelegates to Congress chosen and paid by state legislaturesLittle money coined by CongressArmy small and dependent on independent state militiasTerritorial disputes between states led to open hostilitiesNo national judicial systemAll thirteen states’ consent necessary for any amendments
16 The Constitutional Convention cont’. The FramersFifty-five (55) attending: men of practical affairs, including Continental army veterans and members of the Congress of the ConfederationAbsent: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Patrick HenryAn entirely new constitution was written, although the gathering was authorized only to revise Articles.Primary concern was with defense of liberty as a natural right (based in Lockean reasoning).Doubt that popular consent alone could guarantee liberty: fear of tyranny of the majority“A delicate problem” how could government be strong enough to preserve order but not threaten liberty
20 The Constitution and Democracy cont’. Key principles of representative government in the United StatesSeparation of powers: among branches of the national governmentFederalism: power divided between national and state governmentsThree categories of governmental powersEnumerated powers: given exclusively to the national government; include power to print money, declare war, make treaties, conduct foreign affairsReserved powers: given exclusively to the states; include power to issue licenses and to regulate commerce wholly within a stateConcurrent powers: shared by both national and state governments; include collecting taxes, building roads, borrowing money, establishing courts
22 The Constitution and Democracy cont’. Government and human natureFounders’ central belief: people would seek their own advantage, in and out of politicsGovernment based on popular consent was possible, but not inevitable.Aristotelian view (championed by Samuel Adams): government should improve human nature by cultivating virtue.Madisonian view: cultivation of virtue would require a government too strong, too dangerous; self-interest should be freely pursued within limits.Factionalism could be harnessed to provide a source of unity and guarantee liberty.Separation of powers enables each branch to check the others.Federalism enables one level of government to check another.
24 Federalist PapersMadison’s response (Federalist No. 10 and No. 51): personal liberty safest in large (extended) republicsCoalitions were then more likely to be moderate because there would be a greater diversity of interests to be accommodatedGovernment should be somewhat distant from the people to be insulated from their passions.Federalist favored representative over direct democracyLarge republic would protect minority rights and mitigate against tyrannical majoritiesp. 35American Antiquarian Society
25 Bill of Rights? Reasons for the absence of a bill of rights Several guarantees already in ConstitutionRight of habeas corpusNo bill of attainderNo ex post facto lawTrial by jury in criminal casesCitizens of each state guaranteed the privileges and immunities of citizens of every other stateNo religious tests for federal officeNo state could pass a law impairing the obligation of contractsMost states had bills of rightsIntent in writing the Constitution was to limit federal government to specific powersNeed for a bill of rightsRatification impossible without onePromise by key leaders to obtain oneBitter struggle for ratification, narrowly successfulTwelve amendments approved by Congress; 10 ratified by the states and went into effect in 1791
27 The Constitution and Slavery Slavery was addressed in three provisions of the Constitution.House of Representatives apportionment—”the three-fifths compromise”Congress could not prohibit slave trade before 1808.Fugitive slave clauseNecessity of compromise: the Constitution would not have been ratified, and slavery would have continued under the Articles of Confederation with no prospective challenge possible.Great (or Connecticut) Compromise favored smaller (mostly) northern states by giving equal representation to each state in the Senate, but it also favored southern, slave-holding statesThe three-fifths apportionment would have 33 rather than 47 House seatsThis led to the domination of the new government by southern-born presidents, House leadership, and the Supreme Court until the Civil War.Legacy: civil war, social and political catastrophe