Wilson Chapter 2 The Constitution History Articles of Confederation Framers plan Other states plans Constitution and Liberty Modern views
The colonial mind and the Revolution Revolution based on liberty Rights came from God, not man!! Revolution clearly based on politics, not economic issues Declaration of Independence listed issues - 27 paragraphs of complaints The “real revolution” was the change in attitude of the colonists - a new vision!
Dawn of new ideas no government ever based on principle of human liberty Written Constitution, representatives, Bill of Rights totally new innovations in 1776 Many Americans though it would fail - either so strong as to crush liberty or so weak as to create chaos
The Revolutionary War * 11 years between Declaration of Independence and signing of Constitution Between was a bitter war with no central government At wars end, parts of the country were in shambles including 1/4 of New York that lay in ruins
After the War Even though the British lost, they still had a large army in Canada and a powerful navy Spain claimed the Mississippi and occupied Florida and California Veterans returned home to face debt and heavy taxation US paper money printed to finance the war was now virtually worthless
Articles of Confederation Went into effect in 1781 - during the war Weaknesses included: couldn’t tax or regulate trade One vote per state 9 of 13 states needed to pass any measure Delegates picked and paid for by state Little money coined by Congress Army small and based on state militias All 13 states consent needed for changes No national judicial system Territory disputes led to open hostilities Independence retained by each state
“The next step??” A small group of men met in Washington’s home at Mt. Vernon in 1785 and decided to meet later to make changes to the Articles…
Welcome to Annapolis… They met in Annapolis in Sept 1786 But poor attendance led them to call for another meeting the following summer - in Philadelphia
Shay’s Rebellion Shay was the leader of a group of soldiers and officers who protested against high taxes and debt in western Massachusetts Many of Shay’s men could have lost all of their property
More on Shay… Shay’s rebellion came between Annapolis and the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia It showed the weaknesses of the Articles - the governor couldn’t raise an army, or fund one, or do much of anything so he raised a private army to put down the rebellion
Reaction to Shay’s Rebellion Jefferson said, “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”. He was in Paris at the time… Washington said, “if there are real grievances then deal with them, if not, then crush it” Jefferson Washington
That summer they met at the Pennsylvania Courthouse to revise the Articles of Confederation Philadelphia in 1787
One amazing summer!! They were only supposed to revise the Articles but quickly realized they needed a completely new idea They had NO model what-so-ever Looked at some state constitutions but they only exemplified the problems… Pennsylvania was democratic but too tyrannical (rule by majority) and Mass. was not democratic at all (property and religious requirements)
The Framers of the Constitution 55 men - young but “experienced” 8 had signed the Declaration of Independence 7 had been governors 34 were lawyers Not necessarily “intelligent” but they were “practical” men 1/3 were veterans of the Revolution
More about the Framers Only about 30 attended regularly Committed to liberty Based on philosophical ideas of Locke The questions at hand: How to devise a government strong enough to preserve order but not so strong that it would threaten liberty??
***It wasn’t easy…*** The Virginia Plan - called for a strong national government with 3 branches and one house based on population The New Jersey Plan - was alternative to Va Plan and protected small states by proposing one vote per state no matter what the population The Great Compromise - called for a House based on population, a senate with two members per state and equal voting in that body - reconciled interests of both big and small states. Also called the Connecticut Compromise.
Framers did not intend to create a direct democracy It would have been impractical in so large a country Too many individual “passions” Couldn’t secure rights of minorities
They very clearly planned a “republic” - a government of representatives
The 6 principles of the Constitution 1.Popular sovereignty - power to the people 2.Limited government - power to ONLY do those things the people have given it the power to do This is called “Constitutionalism” “Rule of Law” - government and its officials are subject to the law
More principles 3.Separation of powers - 3 branches and basic powers are distributed among them 4.Checks and balances - each branch is subject to constitutional restraints by the other 5.Federalism - division of power among a central government and the states
The last one… 6. Judicial review - the power of a court to determine the constitutionality of a governmental action, in other words, to declare something “unconstitutional”
Powers of Government Enumerated – powers given to the national government alone Reserved – powers given to the state government alone Concurrent - powers shared by both state and national governments A system of checks and balances
Ratification?? Federalists – favored Constitution and a large central government Hamilton, Madison and Jay wrote the Federalist Papers in favor of Constitution Anti-federalists – many objections and favored a “loose” confederation of states with power firmly in the hands of state legislatures
They approved it… June 21, 1788 the 9 th state, New Hampshire, ratified it Easy win in small states, tough in big ones Had to promise a federal Bill of Rights to get some join in 3/5’s Compromise – 60% of southern slave population counted towards southern representation in the House
The Bill of Rights In the First Session of the new Congress they devised the first 10 amendments based on many state Bill of Rights ideas. Ratified in 1791 Funny thing is, most states already protected individual freedoms and so did the Constitution!!
But what of equality?? Slavery was basically left out Fear that southern states wouldn’t sign it Constitution agreed to avoid slavery issues until 1808 Of course, they couldn’t sidestep the issue in the Civil War…
And the ladies?? Although not specifically mentioned, women were included: referred to as “citizens”, “persons” and “people” Another funny thing, nothing in the Constitution denied women the right to vote but they had to pass the 19 th Amendment that simply said anyone can vote regardless of their “sex”
But can I fix it??? Yes, it’s called Amendment – most popularly by a 2/3rds vote in both houses of Congress to propose an amendment or 2/3rds of the states to call Congress to a national convention to propose an amendment 3/4ths of each house and of the states must approve for a change to happen
But it works well, right? Some today say the Constitution goes too far, others say it’s too weak One idea, like the “line item veto” would give the president too much power Still others think the federal courts have too much power and must be restricted
It’s over!! Yeah….. Yes, it’s over, but the Constitution is not What an amazing history it has and look at how wonderful it’s been for almost 225 years Will it be around for another 225?? Only if you all stay involved, vote, stay in school, root for the Cardinals, eat your veggies, and say nice things to me!