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The US Constitution Origins The Articles of Confederation

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Presentation on theme: "The US Constitution Origins The Articles of Confederation"— Presentation transcript:

1 The US Constitution Origins The Articles of Confederation
The Philadelphia Convention Adopting the Constitution Principles of the Constitution Structure of the Constitution The Bill of Rights

2 Origins of the Constitution
The US Constitution was created at the end of the War of Independence (1781), when the 13 American colonies became independent from Britain. The War of Independence (or American Revolution) was a conflict between the 13 American colonies and Britain. The colonies complained to Britain mainly about taxation and the lack of political representation.

3 The Articles of Confederation
The 13 independent states had to create a new constitution and a new system of government. The first Constitution was adopted in 1781 and was called the Articles of Confederation. However, this first Constitution was subject to much criticism.

4 Why was the first Constitution subject to criticism?
The first Constitution established a system of government where: the national (federal) government had only limited powers the individual states had still too much power there wasn’t a separate executive branch legislation required the approval of 9 of the 13 states.

5 The Philadelphia Convention
Some states believed that the Constitution (the Articles of Confederation) had to be modified in some way. THUS there was a Convention in Philadelphia, in 1787, where 55 delegates (known as the Founding Fathers, the Framers or the Founders) found a compromise between the different political forces at the convention.

6 The Great Compromise The result of the Philadelphia Convention was a compromise between two models of government: a strong national government a weak national government with strong individual states

7 Adopting the Constitution
The ‘new’ Constitution was accepted (or ratified) in 1789. At the beginning only 9 out of 13 states ratified the document: the supporters of the new Constitution were called the Federalists, while its opponents the Antifederalists. In order to satisfy the opponents of the Constitution, in 1791, ten amendments (the Bill of Rights) were added.

8 The Federalists (Madison, Hamilton, etc
The Federalists (Madison, Hamilton, etc.) wrote a series of newspaper articles in defence of the new Constitution known as the Federalist Papers. The Antifederalists feared an overcentralisation of power in the hands of the federal government.

9 Principles of the Constitution
The six defining principles of the Constitution are: The representation of the people (people’s consent) as the base for government A form of representation taking into consideration the rights of minorities as well The separation of powers (legislative, executive and judicial) Checks and balances between the branches of government Federalism: the division of the powers of government between national state and individual states The acknowledgement of the rights of both the people and the states.

10 Structure of the Constitution
The Constitution is made up of sections or Articles. The Articles describe the powers, responsibilities and character of the three branches of government.

11 Preamble The two key features of the Preamble are:
‘We the People’ which emphasises the role of the people who wrote the new Constitution; the broad purpose of the new federal government (establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for common defence, etc.)

12 Article I: Congress Article I is about the Congress and its legislative powers. The Congress is divided into two chambers (bicameral structure): the Senate (elected every six years) the House of Representatives (elected every two years) The powers of the Congress are: to collect taxes, borrow money, regulate commerce among the individual states, declare war, maintain an army and navy and run the post office.

13 Article II: the President
Article II is about the President. The President is elected every four years. He can be re-elected for two terms of office. The President has important defence and foreign policy powers (for ex. he is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and negotiate treaties with other countries). The President has limited domestic powers (he has to ensure that the laws are carried out, he has the right to veto bills). A vice-president can substitute the President in case of death or incapacity.

14 Article III: the Supreme Court
Article III is about the Supreme Court (judicial power). It can declare a law or action undertaken by the federal or state government unconstitutional.

15 The Bill of Rights It is made up of 10 Amendments which were adopted four years after the Constitution was written. The Bill of Rights sets limits to the actions of the Congress, the Executive, the Judiciary and the National Government. It was intended to offer greater protection to individual citizens and the states against the power of the federal government.

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