The way our government works today can be traced to important documents in history:
Important Philosophies that Influenced U.S. Government John Locke (certain rights belong to all people-Natural Rights Philosophy, behavior is motivated by self-interest, consent of the governed-Social Contract Theory) Thomas Hobbes (big governments are like a monster-Leviathan)
Important Philosophies (cont.) Baron de Montesquieu (division of power, mixed government-power divided among societal classes) Classical Republicanism (citizens and government must work together, civic virtue--”public spiritedness”, moral education and small uniform communities where everyone knows and cares for one another)
English colonist brought three main concepts : The need for an ordered social system, or government. The idea of limited government, that is, that government should not be all-powerful. The concept of representative government—a government that serves the will of the people.
Early Colonial Governments The royal colonies were ruled directly by the English monarchy. The King granted land to people in North America, who then formed proprietary colonies. The charter colonies were mostly self- governed, and their charters were granted to the colonists.
Common Features of State Constitutions Civil Rights and Liberties Popular Sovereignty Limited Government Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances The principle of popular sovereignty was the basis for every new State constitution. That principle says that government can exist and function only with the consent of the governed. The people hold power and the people are sovereign. The concept of limited government was a major feature of each State constitution. The powers delegated to government were granted reluctantly and hedged with many restrictions. In every State it was made clear that the sovereign people held certain rights that the government must respect at all times. Seven of the new constitutions contained a bill of rights, setting out the “unalienable rights” held by the people. The powers granted to the new State governments were purposely divided among three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. Each branch was given powers with which to check (restrain the actions of) the other branches of the government.
Articles of Confederation Approved November 15, 1777 Est. “a firm league of friendship” between the states Needed the ratification of the 13 states March 1, 1781 Second Continental Congress declared the Articles effective
Articles of Confederation Powers of Congress: –Make war and peace –Send and receive ambassadors –Make treaties –Borrow money –Set up a money system –Est. post offices –Build a navy –Raise an army by asking the states for troops –Fix uniform standards of weights and measures –Settle disputes among the states
Articles of Confederation States Obligations: –Pledge to obey the Articles and Acts of the Congress –Provide the funds and troops requested by the congress –Treat citizens of other states fairly and equally –Give full faith and credit to public acts, records, and judicial proceedings –Submit disputes to congress for settlement –Allow open travel and trade b/w and among states –Primarily responsible for protecting life and property –Accountable for promoting the general welfare of the people
Critical Period, the 1780’s Revolutionary War ended on October 19, 1781 Signed the Treaty of Paris With Peace comes hardships –Economic problems –Political problems –Problems a result of the weaknesses of AofC
Problems included –Central government who could not act –States entering into treaties –States taxing on goods and banning trade –Debts, public and private were unpaid Shay’s Rebellion –Farmers were losing their land –Shut down courts –Led and attack on Federal arsenal –Mass. State legislature eases the burden of debtors Critical Period, the 1780’s
Constitutional Convention Mid-February of 1787 Seven states name delegates –Delaware, Georgia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia
Constitutional Convention Meet summer of 1787 in Philadelphia Elected George Washington as president of the convention Majority of States needed to conduct business One vote per State on all matters Majority of votes needed to pass proposals Worked in Secrecy
Father of the Constitution James Madison: –Kept detail records of the convention –Conventions Floor leader –Contributed more to the constitution than any other Full body settled all questions
The Virginia Plan: Called for a NEW Government Three Separate branches of government Legislature, Executive, and Judicial Bicameral legislature Based on population or money given to support the central government Members of House of Reps = based on population Senate = chosen by House from a list from the State Legislature Congress would be given powers it had under the A of C Veto any State law that conflicted with National Law
The New Jersey Plan Unicameral Congress of the Confederation –Each state equally represented Add closely limited powers –Tax and regulate trade Federal Executive –More than one person –Chosen by Congress/could be removed with maj. Vote Federal Judiciary –Single “supreme Tribunal” –Selected by Executive
Differences between the plans How should the states be represented in Congress? –Based on population? –Financial contribution? –State equality? 4 weeks they deliberated –Heated debate –Lines drawn in the sand
The Compromises Connecticut Compromise –Two houses –Senate – equal representation –House – proportional representation Combination of Virginia and New Jersey plans AKA: The Great Compromise
Three-Fifths Compromise –Should Slaves be counted? –Split North v South –All “free person’s” will be counted; 3/5 of all other persons –Southerners could count slaves but had to pay taxes on them The Compromises
The Commerce and Slave Trade Compromises –Congress = power to regulate foreign and interstate trade –Scared southerners (Controlled by industrial North) –No export tax –Continue the slave trade for at least 20 years The Compromises
Ratifying the Constitution Federalists –Articles of Confederation were weak – argued for the ratification of the Constitution. –James Madison –Alexander Hamilton Anti-Federalists –objected to the Constitution for including the strong central government –the lack of a bill of rights. –Patrick Henry, John Hancock, Samuel Adams
The Constitution is Ratified Nine States ratified the Constitution by June 21, 1788, but the new government needed the ratification of the large States of New York and Virginia. Great debates were held in both States, with Virginia ratifying the Constitution June 25, 1788. New York’s ratification was hard fought. Supporters of the Constitution published a series of essays known as The Federalist.
Inaugurating the Government The new Congress met for the first time on March 4, 1789. Congress finally attained a quorum (majority) on April 6 and counted the electoral votes. Congress found that George Washington had been unanimously elected President. He was inaugurated on April 30.