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Foundations Of American Government
Transcript of Foundations Of American Government
The Colonies Declared Independence because...
The colonists explain their reasoning for declaring independence in the Declaration of Independence:
The government had violated the citizens' unalienable rights.
The King had violated the colonists' right to self-government and a fair judicial system.
He also created legislation that affected the colonies without them knowing.
The legislation he created made taxes on the colonists, required them to house soldiers, denied their right to trial by a jury, and prevented them from trading freely.
The King and Parliament destructed American life and property by refusing to protect the colonies' borders.
They confiscated American ships at sea.
They hired foreign mercenaries to fight against the colonists.
The colonial government tried to form a peaceful agreement, but were ignored.
The King kept his army active in America, even though no war was going on.
The British government tried colonists for offences that did not happen.
The King took away their charters and laws and changed their form of government.
The King renounced our government and fought a war against us.
The King's armies destroyed towns and killed many people.
The King ordered his troops to commit acts of death, cruelty, and tyranny.
He has made the colonists fight against their own kin in war.
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
Hobbes was an
He came up with the idea
of the social contract theory. He also thought that people were too selfish to rule themselves;
they needed government to survive.
Hobbes created his book, "Leviathan", in 1651. He wrote a sort of parable, or story about and imaginary time in which people lived a terrible life without government. To escape this awful time of war, people created social contracts with each other, which meas that people give up some of their rights and freedoms to government in exchange for protection and order.
One of his main Ideas was that the purpose of government was to protect the rights of people.
Another philosopher who had similar ideas was John Locke....
He believed that people created government to protect their rights, not to save themselves.
Locke was an English political theorist and philosopher. Some of his ideas established the foundations for democratic government.
John Locke (1632-1704)
He wrote the book, "Second Treatise on Government" in 1689. In this book he said that all people were equal and should enjoy certain natural rights
Natural rights are rights that all people have by virtue of being human
There were also three French philosophers who helped influence american government...
He wrote the book, "The Spirit of Laws", published in 1748. In it he said that government should be organized in a way that no group or person can dominate everything.
Montesquieu was a French aristocrat and philosopher. He believed that democracy was the best form of government. But he thought that power needed to be divided in order for it to work.
Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755)
He was one of the first people to suggest a three branch system including an executive, judicial, and legislative branch. This was a principle of separation of powers.
two other French philosophers were...
Rousseau (1712-1778) was a French philosopher
who believed that people were naturally good but were corrupted by society.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire
He said that governments had a duty to secure freedom for their people and if they did not, then they had no right to exist.
Rousseau wrote the book, "The Social Contract". He said that for government to have a social contract with legitimacy it must be based on popular sovereignty, or the general will of the people. He also said that if government did not follow the general will of the people, the social contract would disappear. Many colonial leaders also believed that government should be based on the will of the people.
Voltaire (1694-1778) was a French Philosopher
He often doubted his own beliefs and was a very pessimistic person. He believed that human beings were born evil and they should be treated that way. He had many of the same views as John Locke.
Voltaire also had great ideas which contribute to the American Revolution such as that the government should be run by Natural Law instead of Gods Law.
Many documents also helped to form colonists ideas on government...
The Magna Carte
King John made some very bad decisions and he created some very oppressive laws for the people of England, so the barons rebelled against him and forced him to sign the Great Charter, or Magna Carte.
The Magna Carte established limited government, or the principle that a government's power is defined; a ruler can not do whatever he wishes.
It also established due process of law, such as trials must be held in a timely manner, and that they must include a jury of one's peers.
It also included rule of law; the principle that everyone, even the government, is required to follow the law.
It also created individual rights; guaranteed basic rights that government can't take away.
Many of these ideas were used after by the American colonists.
The Magna Carte only applied to landowners and nobles, so only about 10% of the population. But it did set up many ideas that led to the forming of America's laws.
Another document that inspired America's ideas was...
The colonists came to Massachusetts and decided that they needed laws or something to keep order in the state, so they wrote the Mayflower Compact, (named after their ship).
The Mayflower Compact
It established a government based on the majority. They created a social contract in which the settlers agreed to follow the compacts rules in order to survive.
It applied to everyone who came from the Mayflower and we applied the idea that they used of a government based on the majority for the declaration of independence.
Another important document was...
The Petition of Right
King Charles of England was ignoring the Magna Carte. He dismissed the parliament after it refused to raise taxes to fund a war against France, he forced loans on people, and forced citizens to house soldiers. Parliament then reconvened in 1627 and created the Petition of Right.
It established more individual right such as that only parliament could raise taxes, no imprisonment without reason, etc. It also enforced more limited government. All these ideas influenced the American colonists views.
It helped to protect all of the English citizens.
Another important document was...
England had just finished a civil war that had resulted in several government changes.
Parliament invited William and Mary to become the monarchs of England on the condition of signing the English Bill of Rights. Thus the Bill of rights was made...
The English Bill of Rights
It limits the Power of monarchs and expands individual rights such as the right to bear arms, right to petition the king, etc.
It protects all English citizen and it helped to form the ideas of the American colonists.
Some people also helped to write the Declaration of Independence, and they are known as the founding fathers. They are...
Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, in Shadwell, Virginia. He was a draftsman for the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Jefferson wrote the first draft of it.
He created two new major ideas that had never been seen before for this nation: Governments are formed to protect people's individual rights, and "governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed.
He said that peoples' individual rights were life, liberty, and he pursuit of happiness.
He later became the nation's first secretary of state , second vice president, the third president, and he was responsible for the Louisiana Purchase. He contributed greatly to the writing of the Declaration of Independence. He did not, however, attend the constitutional convention.
Another founding Father was...
John Adams was born on October 30, 1735, in Quincy, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard and helped to write the Declaration of Independence.
Adams did not want the Americans to find peace with the British, he believed that their main goal should be independence.
Both he and Thomas Jefferson were in Europe acting as diplomats during the Constitutional convention and did not attend.
In 1796, he became the second president of the United States.
Another founding father was...
He was born in Boston in 1706. He was an inventor, scientist, and a draftsman of the constitution.
He came to the constitutional convention and he was 81; therefore, the senior member. He was wise and witty, and he provided many great insights and points from his experience as a writer.
Franklin had a clear idea of what government should be like. He used negotiation and writing skills to help form the future of the United States. He is the one person who has been the most involved in the United States.
He helped to create things and form a government that serves us in our everyday lives.
Another founding father was...
Roger Sherman was an American government leader born on April 19, 1721 in Newton, Massachusetts. He was one of the five men chosen to be a draftsman of the Declaration of Independence.
He proposed the Connecticut Compromise for the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan. This plan called for a bicameral legislature with a different form of representation in each house. In the senate, each state would have equal representation and in the House of Representatives, states would have representatives based on their populations. His compromise was so important that it is often called the Great Compromise.
Sherman was later elected the mayor of New Haven in 1784. After that he was elected a U.S. House of Representative and Senate member where he worked until his death on July 23, 1793 in New Haven, Connecticut.
Another Founding Father was...
Livingston was born in New York City in 1746, and he was a politician, lawyer and diplomat from New York and is best known as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was another draftsman of the Declaration of Independence.
Robert R. Livingston
He attended the Continental Congress, and in 1783 he became the chancellor of New York.
Livingston helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase with the French. He died on February 26th, 1813, at 66.
Some major events that led to the colonists declaring independence were...
The Stamp Act
In 1765, the Stamp Act was created. The stamp Act was a tax levied by Parliament on all paper goods . The King created this act because he needed money to pay for the extra troops and defense that were to be placed in the Ohio territory. This caused the colonies to create and use the phrase, " no taxation without representation."
The colonists retaliated to this act by protesting and using their new phrase. The British government backed down and repealed the act, but they still continued to try to tax and control the colonies.
The creation of this act was one of the many things that lead to the Declaration of Independence.
Since the British continued to try to control and tax the colonists even further, protests and violence continued to grow.
This lead to another big event...
The Parliament passed the Townsend Acts, which was more taxes on glass, lead, points, paper, and tea. To enforce this new act, the British government sent in troops to the towns. These soldiers' presences were extremely unwelcome. The colonists became outraged and they decided to have a protest.
The Boston Massacre
The protest began on March 5, 1770. It soon formed into a street fight between the soldiers and the towns people. It then took a deadly turn when the British troops shot and killed five people in Boston. This outraged the colonists even more and it is another big event that lead to the declaration of independence.
Another important event was...
The parliament later repealed the taxes created with the Townsend Act, all except for the tax on tea. In 1773, three ships arrived in Boston Harbor with the first load of taxed tea. the British had no Idea what was waiting for them at the harbor...
The Boston Tea Party
Colonists hid there, dressed as Indians and emptied 342 chests of tea into the harbor to show the British that they would not stand for such taxes.
The British tried to stop these protests by creating penalties against anyone who participated in such protests.
This lead to other events, such as...
The harsh penalties made the colonists even angrier and caused more resistance. Some colonial leaders wanted to decrease the increasing conflict. Colonial leaders gathered in Philadelphia in 1774. this assembly was called the first Continental congress, and it's purpose was to create a peaceful opposition to British policies.
The Continental Congress and Second Continental Congress
Soon after the war began, the congress met again. They voted to form a continental army made up of volunteers and they voted George Washington as the army's commanding officer. many delegates still hoped that a peaceful opposition could be made. Later the congress formed a committee of five men to create the declaration of Independence.
In between these two meetings were two other big events...
The Battles of Lexington and Concord
Colonial patriots were already forming militias to defend their rights. On April 19, 1775, militia troops clashed with British soldiers in battles at Lexington and Concord. These battles created the beginning of the Revolutionary war.
The first shot fired by the patriots is known as the shot heard around the world.
The patriots won the battles and these battles resulted in many wounds and deaths on the patriot side, and even more on the British side. The revolutionary war is one of the most important events that leads up to the writing of the Declaration of Independence.
The reasons why, or the explanation of why the colonists declared independence was...
The colonists' reasons for creating a new government were...
After declaring independence, Congress created a committee to prepare a plan of government that would be called the Articles of Confederation.
The Articles of Confederation
The Articles' main concepts were popular sovereignty, limited government, the rule of law, and majority rule. It also said that each state would have their own constitution that would establish judicial, executive, and legislative branches. The government itself would only have a legislative branch. The majority of the people preferred a loose confederation, because they were fearful of being controlled by a king again.
The Articles of Confederation were extremely weak and did not provide a good government for this developing country.
Some of the problems the Articles caused were...
After the war, America was far in debt. The U.S. owed money to France and to the citizens who bought bonds to support the war.
The Articles of Confederation limited the governments ability to tax, so the government had no way to pay off these debts. It also had little funds to do other things or projects to help the people of America.
The government is started to become poor and the French and the people who gave bonds became angry because their money had not yet been restored.
Another detriment of the Articles was...
Under the Articles of Confederation, the government had no power to tax. It was also very restricted on how it could handle debts and purchases.
The Power to Tax
The government had no way to pay back its' debts from the war.
Everyone in America and the government would become poor if the government was not able to tax.
Another problem was...
A tariff is a tax or duty to be paid on a particular class of imports or exports.
The Tariff Wars
The Articles stated that the government had little power, but the states were to act independently. Therefore, the states controlled their own trade, even with other states. Tariff wars began between states because if one states taxed its goods heavily to one state, that state could retaliate with even higher tariffs.
This caused some animosity between the states and some states may not want to trade with each other because of the high prices.
Another defect was...
America needed to provide protection for it's people against the British, who remained in some territories, the Spanish, Barbary Pirates, and outbursts of civil unrest, such as Shay's Rebellion.
The Articles of Confederation, however, stated that the government had no means to provide for America's security.
The government saw an urgency to protect it's people from violence and death.
Because of all these things, the government created...
The Constitutional Convention began on May 25, 1787. It consisted of 55 delegates from all the states except Rhode Island.
George Washington became the presiding officer. They did not allow the public know anything of what was going on.
At the conventions, there were many disagreements and compromises that had to be made, but eventually they came up with a constitution to completely replace the Articles of Confederation.
The Constitution fixed all the problems under the Articles of Confederation. Some of the Constitutions main ideas included: the power to tax, three branches of government, and the power to regulate trade. The compromises that the constitution used were the Great Compromise, the Three-Fifths Compromise, Commerce and the Slave Trade Compromise.
Some delegates still disagreed with the decisions, and 39 of the 55 people who were there signed it. It took a long time, but eventually the constitution was ratified. Yay!