Presentation on theme: "The Founding of the American Democratic System"— Presentation transcript:
1 The Founding of the American Democratic System What led to the creation of the U.S. Constitution?
2 Founding and the U.S. Constitution The revolution was inspired by concern for libertyUnderstood as preservation of traditional rights against tyrannyThese rights were threatened by British trade and tax policiesConcern also motivated by desire for popular sovereignty
3 First Continental Congress: (September 5-October 22, 1774) Every colony but Georgia sent representativesMet in secret because they did not want the British to know that the colonies were unitingThey made list of basic rights they wanted and a list of complaints to send to King George IIISigned petition demanding the Intolerable Acts be repealed and sent it to England with the demand they would be repealedAgreed to meet again if Intolerable Acts not repealed
4 Second Continental Congress: May 5, 1775 (met throughout war) Purposes:Organize Army and NavySend diplomats to Europe for financial and military assistance for warAppoint committee to draft Declaration of IndependenceThomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert LivingstonCommittee delegated job to Jefferson (revised by Adams, Franklin, and entire committee)
5 Articles of Confederation: The Government They Created No executive branchNo judicial branchUnicameral legislatureEqual representation (one vote per state)Nine votes necessary for legislationUnanimity necessary for amendments or abolition
6 Weaknesses of Articles of Confederation Congress did not have power to taxCongress could not regulate commerceStates could issue their own currencyExecutive not independent of CongressNo national judicial systemNeeded unanimous decision to amendAll laws needed 9/13 states to approve
7 I. Constitutional Convention Failures of the Articles of Confederation inspire many citizens to call for constitutional conventionExplicit tension between proponents of greater democracy and a more republican system of government
8 II. Defining Republicanism ObjectivesGovernment based on popular consentPowers of government are limitedGovernment insulated against judgments of the majorityCitizens should have right to have property protected
9 II. Defining Republicanism B. How to achieve these objectivesElected representatives exercising independent judgmentSuffrage restricted to only white male property ownersPrevent concentration of government power in any single governing body
10 II. Defining Republicanism While Republicanism represents a step towards democracy, it is NOT democracyretains many aristocratic or elitist featuresenvisions a political order in which a natural elite ruleslimitations on the participation of peopleFederalist 62: state governments were allowing government "to fall into the hands of those whose ability or situation in life does not entitle them to it."
11 III. Members of Convention 73 delegates from 12 states (Rhode Island did not attend)Delegates were largely from privileged, educated backgroundsThere are questions about how representative these individuals were (most citizens had neither financial privilege nor education)
12 IV. Consensus and Conflict A. ConsensusAlmost all agreed that Articles were inept and needed to be replacedSupport for strengthened national governmentDangers of factionsBelief in republican form of government
13 IV. Conflict and Compromise Representation of states in legislatureConnecticut CompromiseStatus of slavery3/5 CompromiseEnd of Slave TradeSelection of the PresidentElectoral College
14 Virginia Plan (Madison) Designed to create a strong central government, controlled by the wealthiest and most heavily populated statesPopularly elected bicameral national legislature with power to veto state laws and appoint the executive and the judiciarySeats in both houses based on populationSingle executive
15 New Jersey PlanModeled after Articles of Confederation (with slightly more powerful central gov’t)Favored small statesStates remain sovereign over central gov’tUnicameral legislatureOne representative from each statePlural executive
16 Connecticut Compromise (Roger Sherman) Compromise between large and small statesCalled for bicameral legislatureRepresentation in lower house based on population (favors large states)Direct popular election of representativesRepresentation in upper house to be equal for each state (favors small states)Senators elected by state legislatures
17 Slavery This was a very divisive issue, even at the founding This represents an inherent conflict in American politicsslavery is institutionalized in a society that just fought a war supported by the claim that "all men were created equal."
18 Slavery: Story of Political Power of South 3/5 Compromise:3/5's of state's slave population would be counted in states population and taxation** contributes to the count of representatives in the House of Repsb. Prohibited enactment against slave trade until 1808 (ending slave importation)c. Required non-slave states to return runaways
19 John Roche’s ArgumentThe Founding Fathers had significant political experienceThey were masters at the art of compromiseThey wanted to write a document that was acceptable to their constituentsThey were also eager to finish their work quickly to go back to their families, businesses and political careers
20 Charles Beard: An Economic Interpretation of Constitution (1911) Constitution was an economic document written by a self-interested eliteThis elite wanted to protect their interestsPeople were not involved in selecting the delegates to the Constitutional ConventionThe ratification process was also undemocratic since only one sixth of the adult males participated
21 Constitution as a Living Document Jefferson – “The real friends of the Constitution in its federal form, if they wish it to be immortal, should be attentive, by amendments, to make it keep pace with the advance of the age in science and experience”Two ways to change:By amendmentBy interpretation
22 Constitution as a Living Document Change by amendmentThe formal amendment process is difficult: to date only 27 amendments have been addedProposing amendments: 2/3 of Congress or 2/3 of state legislatures calling for a conventionRatifying amendments: 3/4 of state legislatures, or ratifying conventions in 3/4 of the statesChange by interpretation (Supreme Court)