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NORTHERN NEVADA TEACHING AMERICAN HISTORY PROJECT SEPTEMBER 2011 Framing the Constitution.

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Presentation on theme: "NORTHERN NEVADA TEACHING AMERICAN HISTORY PROJECT SEPTEMBER 2011 Framing the Constitution."— Presentation transcript:

1 NORTHERN NEVADA TEACHING AMERICAN HISTORY PROJECT SEPTEMBER 2011 Framing the Constitution

2 How do you currently teach the Articles of Confederation and the making of the Constitution? Articles of Confederation: failure? In whose view? Complexities?

3 How do you currently teach the Articles of Confederation and the making of the Constitution? Articles of Confederation: failure? In whose view? Complexities? Making of the Constitution: triumph? In whose view? Complexities?

4 How do you currently teach the Articles of Confederation and the making of the Constitution? Articles of Confederation: failure? In whose view? Complexities? Making of the Constitution: triumph? In whose view? Complexities? Other aspects that you address with your students?

5 What were the “Framers” drawing upon: intellectually, experientially, and politically?

6 Intellectual frameworks: defining “constitution”  What do WE mean by the term “constitution”?

7 What were the “Framers” drawing upon: intellectually, experientially, and politically? Intellectual frameworks: defining “constitution”  What do WE mean by the term “constitution”?  What did Americans in 1787 mean by that word? (recent experience = constitutions of new states; but also “small-c” vs. “big-C” constitutions)

8 What were the “Framers” drawing upon: intellectually, experientially, and politically? Intellectual frameworks: defining “constitution”  What do WE mean by the term “constitution”?  What did Americans in 1787 mean by that word? (recent experience = constitutions of new states; but also “small-c” vs. “big-C” constitutions)  How had the definition of “constitution” developed from the 1600s to 1787? (this takes us to the English/British system)

9 English “constitutionalism” in the 17 th -18 th centuries The common-law tradition  What is “common law”?  Where does it come from?  What about a written, national constitution? (England did not have one—still doesn’t)  What did the common law mean to people in England, and in England’s North American colonies? (protected “the rights of Englishmen”—linchpin = the jury system)

10 English “constitutionalism” in the 17 th -18 th centuries The structure of the English “constitution”  King (monarchy): ideas about “divine right of kings” and absolute rule in the early to mid-1600s; changes in late 1600s  Parliament: House of Lords (aristocracy), House of Commons (the broader populace)  “King-in-Parliament”: the system as operated in the 1700s  Who voted for members of Parliament? Whom did Parliament “represent,” and how? (virtual representation)

11 English “constitutionalism” in the 17 th -18 th centuries Sources of ideas about sovereignty and rights  Emerging “natural rights” philosophy (John Locke): “natural” and “civil” liberty

12 English “constitutionalism” in the 17 th -18 th centuries Sources of ideas about sovereignty and rights  Emerging “natural rights” philosophy (John Locke): “natural” and “civil” liberty  Earlier “classical” philosophy re-emerges in the 18 th century, in the thinking of “radical Whigs”: power vs. liberty, the need for “citizen/civic virtue” to counter the encroachments of power

13 English “constitutionalism” in the 17 th -18 th centuries Sources of ideas about sovereignty and rights  Emerging “natural rights” philosophy (John Locke): “natural” and “civil” liberty  Earlier “classical” philosophy re-emerges in the 18 th century, in the thinking of “radical Whigs”: power vs. liberty, the need for “citizen/civic virtue” to counter the encroachments of power Another key thinker: Montesquieu  Big-C “Constitutions” (whether written or not) must reflect the small-c “constitutions” of the societies they are to govern—or else the Big-C Constitution won’t work

14 The experience of government(s) in American colonies (pre-1776) and early states ( s) The structure of colonial governments British Crown (through Privy Council & Board of Trade) Royal Governor Appointed by the crownHas final approval on laws Oversees colonial tradeCan dismiss colonial assembly CouncilColonial Assembly Appointed by governorElected by eligible colonists Advisory board to governorMakes laws Acts as highest court in colonyHas authority to tax Pays governor’s salary

15 The experience of government(s) in American colonies (pre-1776) and early states ( s) How did colonial governance differ from governance in Great Britain (King-in-Parliament, etc.)?  Broader suffrage among free white males  Assembly members elected from specific districts, answerable to constituents in those districts (not “virtual representation”)

16 The experience of government(s) in American colonies (pre-1776) and early states ( s) The creation of new state constitutions,  Constitutions as WRITTEN documents, expressing “supreme” law (above the common law, ordinary legislation, etc.)  Legislative supremacy in most states: weak executives, strong legislatures  Widened representation: more members in legislatures, closer to the people represented (more, smaller districts)  Underlying concept: popular sovereignty, based on “civic virtue” in the people

17 The experience of government(s) in American colonies (pre-1776) and early states ( s) The Articles of Confederation (1777)  Let’s read some of these together (Major Problems pp )

18 The experience of government(s) in American colonies (pre-1776) and early states ( s) The Articles of Confederation (1777)  Let’s read some of these together (Major Problems pp )  Where does “sovereignty” lie?  What is the nature of “the United States” as an entity? (“firm league of friendship”)  What are the powers of “the United States in Congress assembled” (and what does THAT phrase mean, anyway?)  In what ways does the document limit the powers of states?  How can the Articles of Confederation be amended?

19 Movement for a stronger central government, 1780s Experience:  Fighting the American Revolution—constraints on the “national” war effort (Washington, Hamilton)  Inter-state disputes after the war—disagreements over boundaries, trade, etc. (Madison)  “Conflagrations” within states that threatened to spread across the states (Shays’s Rebellion)

20 Movement for a stronger central government, 1780s Experience:  Fighting the American Revolution—constraints on the “national” war effort (Washington, Hamilton)  Inter-state disputes after the war—disagreements over boundaries, trade, etc. (Madison)  “Conflagrations” within states that threatened to spread across the states (Shays’s Rebellion) Which Americans would have been most likely to want a stronger national government? And which would NOT have wanted such a government?

21 Toward May 1787 September 1786: Annapolis Convention  12 delegates from 5 states (NJ, NY, PA, DE, VA)  Attempts to deal with trade barriers between states  Calls for a broader convention to be held in Philadelphia in May 1787

22 Toward May 1787 September 1786: Annapolis Convention  12 delegates from 5 states (NJ, NY, PA, DE, VA)  Attempts to deal with trade barriers between states  Calls for a broader convention to be held in Philadelphia in May 1787 Late 1786 to April 1787:  Madison studies the history and government of ancient and modern nations  States select delegates to the convention (all except RI)

23 The “Federal Convention” What was it authorized to do? (recommend changes to the Articles of Confederation)

24 The “Federal Convention” What was it authorized to do? (recommend changes to the Articles of Confederation) What did the delegates decide to do? (propose an entirely new constitution)

25 The “Federal Convention” What was it authorized to do? (recommend changes to the Articles of Confederation) What did the delegates decide to do? (propose an entirely new constitution) Basic rules of the convention  Nothing is decided until everything is decided (why?)  Confidentiality: don’t leak the proceedings (why?)  Rule of debate: nobody speaks a second time on an issue until everyone who wants to speak on that issue has spoken

26 The “Three Plans”: An Exercise in Historical Thinking and Understanding Virginia Plan (written by Madison, proposed by Edmund Randolph, May 29) New Jersey Plan (proposed by John Dickinson, June 15; defeated June 19, 7-3-1) Alexander Hamilton’s Plan (June 18)

27 Resource Exploration: Teaching Websites on the American Founding  Created by Gordon Lloyd, Pepperdine University  The Constitutional Convention  The Federalist-Antifederalist Debate  The Ratification of the United States Constitution


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