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The Constitution. Declaration of Independence Written by Thomas Jefferson Inspired by John Locke D of I opens with Jefferson invoking Locke philosophy…

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Presentation on theme: "The Constitution. Declaration of Independence Written by Thomas Jefferson Inspired by John Locke D of I opens with Jefferson invoking Locke philosophy…"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Constitution

2 Declaration of Independence Written by Thomas Jefferson Inspired by John Locke D of I opens with Jefferson invoking Locke philosophy… “Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness” Jefferson continues by listing grievances against George III for violating inalienable rights declares US independence

3 British Colonial Rule Powerful British Government Political Subunits (Colonies) Unitary System – all power flows from one central government

4 Articles of Confederation 1781 – 1789 – RIP Confederate System – power concentrated in political subunits (states) with a weak central government (typically unite for a common goal)

5 Constitution Central US government State governments Federal System – powers are divided and/or shared between state and central governments (Current gov’t designed by framers)

6 Articles of Confederation 1781-1789 Original American gov’t system Weak central gov’t Individual and state liberties not threatened No executive (they hated kings) Confederacies are usually unstable

7 A of C – Weaknesses Article II – “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence.” Gov’t has no control Unicameral Congress (one house) with one vote per state –Supermajority (9 of 13) to pass a law –Supermajority (13 of 13) to amend No Executive (No President), no central authority No Federal Judiciary (No Supreme Court), no central law No control of TAXATION, commerce between states or with foreign nations, money system

8 Shays’s Rebellion Colonies were in debt after the war, central gov’t tried to raise taxes Farmers in western Massachusetts rebelled against tax they could not afford Rebelled against foreclosures, forced judges out of court, freed debtors from jail Showed that national gov’t was weak, needed to seek a stronger national gov’t

9 The Constitutional Convention 1787 Revising the A of C Demographics of Delegates -55 delegates (none from RI) -33 Lawyers -half were college graduates -7 former governors -7 plantation owners -8 business leaders -age 26-81 (avg. age 42) -all male, all white

10 Two “Revision” Plans Virginia Plan –Favored large states –Strong central government –Bicameral (two house) legislature – larger house elected by the people (House of Representatives, and a smaller house that was selected by larger house (Senate) (This would change in the 17 th Amendment)

11 Two “Revision” Plans New Jersey Plan –Agreed with strong central government…BUT –Congress would be unicameral (one house) with states having equal votes –Did not want large population states to dominate the legislature

12 Great Compromise A bicameral legislature in which the House of Representatives membership apportioned according to the state populations, plus 3/5 the slave population An upper house, the Senate, which would have two members from each state, elected by the state legislature (popularly elected today)

13 Three-fifths Compromise Agree to allow the South to count 3/5 the population in each state to balance the power of North and South

14 Madisonian Principles of Gov’t in the Constitution Popular Sovereignty – power to govern belongs to the people, gov’t based on the consent of governed (with safeguards!!) Separation of Powers – division of gov’t between branches: executive, legislative and judicial Checks and Balances – a system where branches have some authority over others Limited Government – gov’t is not all-powerful, and it does only what citizens allow Federalism – division of power between central government and individual states

15 Separation of Powers Prevents an all-powerful ruling body 1.Legislature – passes law (Congress) 2.Executive – enforces law (President) 3.Judiciary – interprets law (Supreme Court)

16 Amending the Constitution Meant to be difficult Require action from national and state governments Has only happened 27 times, of which 10 were combined as the Bill of Rights and one (XXI) was used to repeal an earlier amendment (XVIII)

17 PROPOSAL By two-thirds vote of BOTH houses of Congress By a national constitutional convention called by Congress at the request of two-thirds of the state legislatures This method has never been used

18 RATIFICATION By legislatures in three-fourths of the states By conventions in three-fourths of the states This method was only used once (21 st Amendment)

19 Informal Change Legislation from Congress –Created federal court system, the cabinet and agencies, the Commerce Clause Executive Actions –War powers, executive agreements Judicial Review –Not specified in the Constitution –Marbury v. Madison

20 Informal Change Actions of Political Parties –POLITICAL PARTIES ARE NOT mentioned in the Constitution –Parties have taken over the presidential nomination process, reducing the influence of the Electoral College Unwritten Tradition –Senatorial Courtesy

21 Fed vs. Anti-Fed Ratification – formal approval Federalist – in favor of adoption of US Constitution creating a federal union and strong central government Anti-Federalist – opposed to ratification in 1787, opposed to strong central government

22 Federalist Papers Annoyingly hard to read Best political theory ever written in US Written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay Publius Convince public for ratification

23 Federalist #10 Madison addresses biggest fear of gov’t Faction – a group in a legislature or political party acting together in pursuit of some special interest (think fraction – ½, 1/3, etc) Unequal division of property is the “most durable source” of factions Founding fathers were concerned that our government would be ripped apart Madison defends our national Constitution

24 Federalist #10 Separation of Powers check the growth of tyranny Each branch of government keeps the other two from gaining too much power A republic guards against irresponsible direct democracy or “common passions” Factions will always exist, but must be managed to not severe from the system.

25 Anti-Fed Response Central gov’t would threaten liberty Aristocratic tyranny could happen Demanded a guarantee of individual rights and liberty States power was too limited

26 Bill of Rights 10 amendments to the Constitution guaranteed individual freedoms and rights limited power of national government, guaranteed rights to states Ratified in 1789, Bill of Rights added 1791

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