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Transcript of U.S. Constitution
Most scholars would say "No"!
Historical Roots of the Constitution
The Charter of Liberties (Coronation Charter) – was a written proclamation by Henry I of England issued upon his ascension to the throne in 1100.
Magna Carta (“the Great Charter”) is the fundamental English charter, which limited the power of King John in 1215.
English Bill of Rights 1689
Who were the colonists and why did they come to America?
Independent and Diverse
Escape from religious persecution
What caused the break with the Crown?
There are numerous reasons but in general a few include:
As new generations of Americans were born on colonial soil, the ties to the Crown and King weakened
By 1760, each of the thirteen colonies had drafted its own written constitution.
Unofficial trade with other nation exist.
1763 Treaty of Paris--The treaty ends the French & Indian War-France cedes its claims to any lands east of the Mississippi River
Significance: Colonists expected westward expansion to begin; however, the the crown decreed that colonists were not to expand their settlements west of Allegheny Mountains
Timeline: Key Events Leading to American Independence
1764 Sugar Act & 1765 Stamp Act:Taxes imposed on colonists by crown to help pay for war debt. The taxes are not as controversial as the possible precendent of the crown beginning to regulate commerce within the colonies without the approval of the colonial governments.
1765 Quatering Act-Requires colonists to furnish barracks or provide living quaters for British troops.
Significance: Basically a slap in the face to colonists and a disregard to their complaints!
1765 Stamp Act Congress-Meeting convenes where nine of the thirteen colonies send reprensentatives met to outline what they thought the proper relationship between the colonies and crown to be
Had no real effect
1767-1770 Townshed Act & Violence Errupts (Boston Massacre)
1773 Parliement passed Tea Act which grants a monopoly to the East India Company. This leads to public protest and the Boston Tea Party.
1774 Coercive Acts/Intolerable Acts-blockade of Boston harbor and reinforcement of Quatering Act.
1774 First Continetal Congress-Delegates from of all colonies except Georgia attend to discuss relations with Great Britian.
Drafted Declaration of Rights and Resolves
If King did not respond, they would meet again in May of 1775.
1775 Second Continental Congress-Fighting broke out before Congress met.
Olive Branch Petition: King refused
Congress had already appointed Washington as commander in chief of the Continental Army
1776 Thomas Paine & Richard Lee's resolution
Common Sense made an argument for colonial independence
Lee's resolution proposed the colonies out to be free and independent and all connection between them and Great Britain be dissolved.
1776 Declaration of Independence-A committee of five began work on Declaration of Independence
Ben Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman, and Thomas Jefferson
July 2, 1776: 12 of 13 colonies (NY abstained) voted for independence.
Content of Declaration--Locke’s Two Treatises of Government
What was the first attempt at government in the U.S.?
Articles of Confederation
Under the Articles
Each state retained its independence and sovereignty, or ultimate authority
One vote in the Continental Congress for each state, regardless of size
Vote of nine states to pass any measure
Vote of all states to amend Articles
Selection and payment of delegates to the Congress handled by respective states legislatures
Problems Under the Articles
Lack of national sentiment; little unity
1781-1789 was “critical period”
Congress rarely could assemble quorum
When they met, little agreement on policy
Chaotic regulation of trade among states and with foreign nations
No provision of judicial system
Lack of strong central government
1780: Massachusetts adopted a constitution that appeared to favor the wealthy.
Property ownership required for voting and office holding
Economy bad; banks foreclosed on farms of veterans
An individual was more likely to be imprisoned for debt than for any other crime.
Massachusetts law required payment of debts in cash
In responses, Shays and 1500 armed, disgruntled farmers marched to Springfield.
Congress called for militia; asked for state donations. All refused but Virginia.
Private money used to raise militia
Demonstrated need for stronger government
What were the issues and compromises that were central to the writing of the U.S. Constitution?
What were the characteristics & motives of the framers?
Congress passed resolution for the “sole and express purpose” of revision of the Articles.
First day: Edmund Randolph and James Madison of Virginia proposed 15 resolutions creating an entirely new government.
Others wished to stick to their task.
All were men
Many were quite young. Franklin, 81
Several owned slaves.
Virginia Plan proposed:
Representation based on population
Favored Larger states
New Jersey Plan proposed:
Equal representation regardless of population
Favored smaller states
Instead of one house legislature; there would be two houses: One based on population and one with equal representation regardless of population.
“three-fifths of all other Persons”
Assured South would hold 47 percent of the House
Power of the one-person executive
Removal of Executive
What are the basic principles of the U.S. Constitution?
Separation of Powers & Checks and Balances
What are the Articles of the U.S. Constitutions?
Article 1: The Legislative Branch
Powers of legislative branch
Qualifications for holding office
Terms of office
Methods of selection
System of apportionment
Section 8 carefully lists the enumerated powers – 17 specific powers
Necessary and Proper Clause
Elastic clause – basis for implied powers
Article II: The Executive Branch
Vests the executive power in a president
Sets the president’s term at 4 years
Explains the Electoral College
States the qualifications for office
Describes the mechanism to replace the president in case of death, disability, or removal
Powers and duties found in Section 3
Commander in chief, authority to make treaties with Senate consent, appointment power, State of the Union, and the “take care” clause, removal of the president
Article III: The Judicial Branch
Establishes a Supreme Court and defines its jurisdiction
Supreme Court was given power to settle disputes between states or between national government and states.
Ultimately, Supreme Court would determine what provisions of the Constitution actually meant.
Articles IV Through VII
Attempted to anticipate problems that might occur in the operation of the new national government and relations it had with the states.
Article IV: Full Faith and Credit Clause
States honor the laws and judicial proceedings of other states
Mechanisms for admitting new states to the Union
Articles IV Through VII
Article V specifies how amendments can be added to the Constitution.
Article VI contains the Supremacy Clause.
Provides that the “Constitution, and the laws of the United States” as well as all treaties are to be the supreme law of the land.
Also specifies that no religious test shall be required for holding office.
Article VII concerns the procedures for ratification of the new Constitution.
Nine of thirteen states would have to agree to, or ratify, its new provisions before it would become the supreme law of the land.
Who were Federalists and Anti-Federalists and what were their differences?
Favored a stronger national government and supported the proposed Constitution
Later became the first political party in the U.S.
Favored strong state governments and a weak national government
Opposed the ratification of the U.S. Constitution
Tyranny of the majority
Tyranny of the elite
The Federalist Papers
Series of 85 political papers written by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison
Supported the ratification of the Constitution
Hamilton wrote 51, Madison wrote 26, Jay wrote 5
Appeared in newspapers where ratification was in doubt
Brutus and Cato among others versus Publius
Anti-Federalists feared a strong central government would render states powerless.
Feared that liberties of people would be trampled
Wanted to limit taxing power of Congress
Curb executive with a council
Military consist of state militia rather than a national force
Limit Supreme Court power to review decisions made by states