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Ch. 3 - The Roots of American Democracy
Transcript of Ch. 3 - The Roots of American Democracy
Chapter 3 - The Roots of American Democracy
From Ideas to Independence:
The American Revolution
Putting Ideas to Work:
Framing New Constitutions
Ratifying the Constitution
The Roots of American Government
The Religious and Classical Roots of Colonial Ideas about Government
Influenced by the ethical ideas of Judeo-Christian religious traditions
Natural Law - A universal set of moral principles that can be applied to any culture or system of justice. Any human law must follow natural law.
Direct Democracy of Athens influenced the town meetings of New England
From the Roman Republic came the idea of representative government - decision making by officials elected by the people
Colonists admired the Roman idea of civic virtue - a willingness to serve one's country
The English Roots of American Government
Traditions and principles of English government
System based on a set of laws, customs, and practices that limited the powers of government and guaranteed the people certain basic rights.
Petition of Rights
English Bill of Rights
Established the "rule of law"
The king cannot sell, deny, or delay justice
Underscored "limited government"
the king's power is not absolute
Reaffirmed "individual rights"
Established Parliament over Monarchy
Enlightenment Thinkers and Philosophers
government is a social contract between people and their rulers
In the state of nature, all people were equal and enjoyed certain "natural rights"
People formed government to protect their rights
give up freedom for security and order
Governments should be organized in a way that prevents any one person or group from dominating or oppressing others.
executive, legislative, judicial
Separation of Powers
A social contract must be based on popular sovereignty
Government should be based on the will of the people
If not, then it breaks the social contract and should be dissolved
Colonial Experience with Self-Government
The Mayflower Compact - The settlers agreed to live in a "Civil Body Politic", and obey "just and equal laws" enacted by representatives of their choosing "for the general good of the colony."
- First written framework for self-government in the American colonies.
House of Burgesses - The first elected assembly in the colonies
Over time, assemblies played an increasing role in colonial government
From "Benign Neglect to Armed Rebellion
Through time, the colonies became used to managing their own affairs, until the 1760's, when Britain reversed its policy of "benign neglect".
Over time, Britain imposed more and more taxes upon the colonies, leading to the cry of "no taxation without representation."
The The Boston Massacre in 1770 made matters only worse.
After another tax on tea was passed in 1773, the Boston Tea Party occurred in retaliation.
In 1974, the Intolerable Acts were the last straw, leading to the colonial leaders gathering in the First Continental Congress, seeking a peaceful solution
However, colonies were already forming militias to defend their rights, and in 1775, the Battle of Lexington and Concord too place, marking the beginning of the Revolution.
The Decision to Declare Independence
"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
A committee of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston was established to draft a declaration of independence.
The Declaration details "a long train of abuses" that violated the colonists' rights.
Approved and signed by Congress on July 4, 1776.
Creating a New Government During Wartime
During the war with Britain, the Continental Congress served as the new nation's government.
In 1777 Congress approved a plan of government called the Articles of Confederation, and sent it to the states for ratification, but it did not get approved until 1781.
George Washington, as the commander of the army and hero of the revolution, was admired by many who believed he should become the ruler of the new nation, although Washington held no such aspirations.
Giving Power to the People
The states were guided by
Constitutionalism - The idea that government should be based on an established set of principles.
The principles that governed the states included popular sovereignty, limited government, the rule of law, and majority rule.
Three branches of government, including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
Each state constitution began with a statement of the individual rights.
Derived their power from the people
Governing under the Articles of Confederation
Reaching a Compromise on Representation
Creating the Executive Branch:
One Head or Many?
Compromises on Slavery and Commerce
The national government was much weaker than the states under the Articles of Confederation.
There was neither an executive to carry out decisions nor a judicial branch to settle legal questions.
Its one success was the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, establishing the procedure for territories to be created and become states in the future.
It did not have the ability to levy taxes, and was unable to raise funds to repay debts from the revolution.
It became clear that a solution was needed.
Congress lacked power to control trade among the states.
New Jersey Plan
Based on population of each state
More population = more power
Each state is equal
More powerful government
The Great Compromise
Senate: Equal representation
House: Based on Population
Most of the Northerners wanted to abolish slavery, however, the Southerners refused, as their economy depended on it.
The South wanted slaves to count as part of the population when determining representation in the House, yet not when determining the states' taxes to support the national government
The Three-Fifths Compromise - This treated a slave as three fifths of a free person, and was agreeable for both sides, although it was still not equal.
Northerners wanted Congress to have power when regulating trade, while the South did not.
The two sides agreed for congress to be able to regulate foreign and interstate trade, but it could not tax exports or outlaw the slave trade until 1808.
Although debated if it was too much power, eventually it was decided the executive branch should consist of a single president.
It was decided that an electoral college should be set up, which would elect the president.
The Electoral College would be made up of electors from each state who would cast votes to elect the president and vice president.
Each state would have as any electors as they have senators and representatives in Congress.
Anti-Federalists Speak Out
Against the Constitution
Federalists Defend the Constitution
The Constitution Goes into Effect
Anti-Federalists preferred the loose association of states established under the Articles of Confederation to a strong, central government
Believed the Constitution would bring:
Large standing army
Federal courts overruling state courts
Above all, they worried that it would bring too much power to the national government and the fact that it did not contain a bill of rights, which they believed would lead to tyranny.
In defense of the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay compiled "The Federalist Papers", a collection of 85 essays explaining the key features of the Constitution and undercutting the claims of their opponents.
Many historians believe that this publication is one of the most powerful public relations campaigns in history
In 1789, the new Constitution had been ratified and went into effect with the promise of a Bill of Rights being added soon.
In 1789, the first elections were held for Congress, and the Electoral College elected George Washington as President.
Proposing a List of Rights
Ratifying the Bill of Rights
James Madison, although initially opposed to a bill of rights like most Federalists, immediately set out to draft a bill of rights.
In 1789, Madison introduced to Congress a series of proposed amendments.
Many legislatures wanted to postpone the matter, but Madison urged it was necessary to act quickly to ensure the rights of the people.
Eventually, Congress approved 12 amendments and passed them onto the states for ratification.
By 1791, the Bill of Rights had been ratified by 11 of 14 states, allowing it to go into effect.
However, the last two amendments failed to win ratification.
The 11th amendment dealt with the number of members in the House of Representatives.
The 12th amendment limited the ability of Congress to increase the salaries of members, and it was finally ratified two centuries later as the 27th amendment instead.