Presentation on theme: "The Constitution: Details and Ratification US History."— Presentation transcript:
The Constitution: Details and Ratification US History
The Convention itself Convention lasted from May to September, 1787 –Hot in Philadelphia that summer. –The doors and windows were closed to prevent eavesdropping. –Most delegates were rich, well-educated, white men in their 30s and 40s.
The Convention Players Washington (VA) was presiding officer. James Madison (VA) was the main man. –His notes on the debates are the main source of record on what happened behind closed doors. Roger Sherman (CT) came up with the key compromise for representation in Congress. –House of Representatives: based on population size. –Senate: two delegates from each state.
Structure Limits National Authority Government split up into three branches. –This idea came from Baron de Montesquieu in the early 18th century. –Branches: Legislative: makes laws. Executive: carries out laws. Judicial: interprets laws.
No Branch is TOO Strong Checks and Balances prevent one branch dominating another. ExecutiveJudicial If president vetos, Congress can override (2/3 vote). Congress approves funding for executive programs Congress sets up lower federal courts. Senate confirms/rejects appointment of judges.
No Branch is TOO Strong Can veto bills passed by Congress Can call special sessions of Congress Appoints federal judges. Can pardon or reprieve people convicted of federal crimes Legislative Judicial
No Branch is TOO Strong Executive Legislative Appointed for life; free from presidential control. Can declare presidential actions unconstitutional. Can decide the meaning of laws. Can declare acts of Congress unconsitutional.
Electing a President 2 main concerns back then: Concern 1 –Because there were no main political parties AND –Because communication and travel were difficult… –Fear of only regional candidates splitting popular vote.
Electing a President Concern 2 –Upper classes feared and distrusted lower classes! What if they are easily swayed? What if they vote upper classes out of power?
Solution: Electoral College No direct vote! Formula: Number of state electors for a state = Number of representatives (in House of Reps) for that state + Number of senators (in Senate): fixed number (2)
“What if We Screw Up?” Change mechanism: Amendment process. –Amendments add and subtract from the constitution.
Now it had to be agreed upon Ratification process: –Each state held a special convention. –The state convention chose special delegates. –Delegates voted to approve or reject Constitution. –Only 9 out of 13 states had to pass it.
2 Camps Federalists –Favored balance of power between states and national govt. –Division of powers and checks and balances will protect from tyranny of central govt. Vs Antifederalists –Opposed strong central govt. –Govt likely to serve a privileged minority, not the majority. –How could a single government run a large country?
Federalists George Washington James Madison Alexander Hamilton John Jay Support from merchants skilled workers laborers Why? Strong national govt can regulate trade. Support from small states and states with weak economies, because strong central govt will protect their interests.
Anti-Federalists Patrick Henry Samuel Adams Richard Henry Lee Support from Rural areas, because central govt could add to tax burden. Large states States with strong economies …because they had greater freedom under the Articles of Confederation.
War of Words The Federalist –Series of 85 essays published in New York newspapers between 1787 and 1788. –Written by “Publius” (in reality Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison) –Explained the federalist position.
War of Words Letters from a Federal Farmer –Probably written by Richard Henry Lee. –Listed the rights that needed to be protected: freedom of the press and religion, right to trial by jury. –Antifederalists argued for a Bill of Rights
The People Demand a Bill of Rights Many people agreed with the Antifederalist position: Bill of Rights was needed. –Federalists gave in: they promised to support amendments that would make up the Bill of Rights if the Constitution passed.
Ratification Process Delaware ratified right away: December 1787 9th state: New Hampshire in June 1788. But because Virginia and New York were so large and influential, it needed ratification there, too.
Ratification In the end, New York ratified in July 1788 despite a huge debate (30 to 27!) Constitution became reality in 1789. –Even though Rhode Island didn’t pass it until 1790.