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foundations of american gov't
Transcript of foundations of american gov't
Influential English Documents
The Articles of Confederation
Under the Articles of Confederation, our government had only one branch of government: a unicameral legislature. The delegates of this legislature were chosen by the states in any way they chose. No matter what their size was, each state received one vote. In order to create a new law, nine out of the thirteen states had to approve it. The states had ultimate authority. They didn't even have to obey Congress.
Who influenced our ideas on government?
The Magna Carta (1215)
Mayflower Compact (1620)
Petition of Right (1628)
The Constitutional Convention
Our founding fathers
Choosing a new government!
The people of ancient Rome:
The Romans had a republic form of
government, which means that the citizens elected people to represent them in government. This is what we have today. Romans also wrote their laws down to make sure that everyone would follow them and they had a representative body made up of wealthy individuals, called a senate. We have all of these things today.
Things to think about:
Slavery (should it be allowed?)
the number of representatives each state received (did they need more than one?)
powers of the national government (set taxes, regulate trade, etc.)
whether or not to have a president (was it too similar to a king?)
government's role in commerce
What they came up with:
The Virginia Plan, the New Jersey Plan, the Three-Fifths Compromise, and the Great Compromise
The Virginia Plan
The New Jersey Plan
The 3/5th Compromise
The Great Compromise
What led up to America demanding independence?
The people of Athens:
The Athenians had a direct democracy, which
means that all decisions were made directly by the citizens. This worked very well on a small scale. It gave all people a voice in government and it promoted government participation. We have a much larger population than the Athenians did, so we don't have the same government that they had, but we still have a form of democracy.
The ideas of Hobbes
Hobbes believed that people were too selfish to govern themselves.
He claimed that without government, people would live nasty, short, brutish lives.
He supported a strong central government with a strong leader in charge of it all.
How were Hobbes's ideas incorporated into our
The United States has a strong central government and the people do not govern themselves.
Locke believed that people were born with natural rights (life, liberty, and the right to own property).
He said that government had been formed to protect the rights of people.
He viewed people as naturally self-interested.
How were Locke's ideas incorporated into our government?
America believes in and values natural rights.
Rousseau believed that all men were born free.
He said that all men were also created equal and deserved the same rights, whether they owned land or not.
How were Rousseau's ideas incorporated into our government?
Our constitution directly states that all men are created equal. We give all men the same rights, even if they don't own land.
The thoughts of Montesquieu
Montesquieu believed that governments should be moderate and not be able to abuse their power (checks and balances).
He viewed democracy as the best form of government.
We have a moderate government and it's based on checks and balances.
How were Montesquieu ideas incorporated into our government
Voltaire was a big supporter of religious tolerance and the rights of free speech and freedom of press.
He believed in equality.
How were Voltaire's ideas incorporated into our government?
The United States has free speech, freedom of press, and freedom of religion.
The king of England, King John, made many bad choices, which ended in the nobles rebelling against him and making him sign a charter (called the Magna Carta). The Magna Carta clearly defined the king's power, forced everyone to follow the laws, made sure that no one could be sent to trial without evidence against them, and ensured that the government would protect the people's rights.
Colonists had originally planned on settling in Virginia, but due to dangerous circumstances, they decided instead to settle in Massachusetts. The Mayflower Compact was written as an attempt to set up a temporary form of self-government. This temporary government was a basic form of democracy, in which the colonists voted on matters and majority ruled. The Mayflower Compact was actually a social contract, meaning that the colonists agreed to follow the laws in order to survive.
The king of England during 1628, King Charles, had been ignoring the Magna Carta. Then, when the parliament wouldn't raise taxes, he fired all of them. Eventually he asked them to return. They agreed to return as long as King Charles signed the Petition of Right. The petition limited the government's power, outlawed quartering of troops, outlawed sending someone to jail for no reason, and gave only parliament the ability to raise taxes.
The English Bill of rights (1689)
England had recently fought a civil war that ended in the beheading of the king. Parliament invited a new family, Mary and William, to become the new monarchs of England on one condition: they sign the English Bill of Rights. The English Bill of Rights limited the monarch's power significantly and gave the people new individual rights. Some of these rights included the right to bear arms, petition the ruler, and not receive cruel and unusual punishments.
The Stamp Act (1765)
The stamp act was the first direct tax on the colonists. It set up taxes on all paper goods
The Townsend Acts (1767)
The Townsend acts were more taxes on glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea. Eventually all of the taxes were removed except for the tea tax.
The Boston Massacre (1770)
The Boston Massacre was a street fight that occurred on March 5, 1770, between a "patriot" mob and British soldiers. Many colonists were killed.
The Boston tea party (1773)
Colonists were angry about tea taxes, so they dressed as Indians, sneaked onto British ships, and dumped tea crates overboard.
The Intolerable Acts (1773)
The intolerable acts were a result of the Boston Tea Party. The Boston harbor was shut down, Boston was put under martial law, and the right to assemble in Boston was taken away.
Congress was allowed to declare war or peace, establish treaties with other countries, borrow money from the states, create post offices, and raise an army after asking the states for money. Congress was
allowed to tax the citizens, solve conflicts between the states, interfere with trade, or enforce the laws.
The United States faced many problems under the articles. Soon the country decided that it was time for a new plan of government...
The Constitutional Convention began on May 17th, 1787 at the Pennsylvania State House. Each state was welcome to send as many representatives as they wanted, but in the end, each state only received one vote. Although the convention had began on May 17th, not all of the state representatives had arrived until two months later. It had been extremely hot at the time and in order to keep the meeting secret from the public, all doors and windows had to be closed. First, the members of the convention decided without conflict to make George Washington the country's leader. Then the convention rules were laid out. There were twenty-two rules total, but the most important rules were secrecy and never closing debate on a topic. The people at the convention really wanted to keep their events secret from the public so that the delegates would not feel pressured to vote on what the people wanted. The representatives never wanted to close debate on a topic because they wanted everyone to be able to voice their opinions.
The Virginia Plan was proposed by James Madison. It called for three branches of government (the Judicial, Executive, and Legislative) instead of one. Madison wanted the Legislative branch to include a house of representatives and a senate. The members of the house would be directly chosen by the US citizens and the members of the house would choose the senators. The members of the Executive branch would be chosen by the Legislature.
Madison's plan was supported most strongly by the larger states because the amount of votes that they received depended on size, which gave them more power in government than the smaller states.
The New Jersey Plan wanted to fix the Articles of Confederation, not get rid of them completely. It wanted to keep the unicameral legislature and continue giving each state one vote no matter their size. The New Jersey Plan wanted to change several things as well, such as giving Congress the right tax and establish tariffs. It also called for the Executive branch to consist of a panel of people chosen by the Congress and the Judiciary branch being chosen by the Executive branch.
One of the big issues that the delegates at the Constitutional Convention needed to address was slavery. The Northern states were fine with slaves being taxable property, since they had few slaves, but the Southern states had a lot of slaves, so they were very against being taxed on them. When determining a state's population, the southern states wanted their slaves to be counted. The Northern states didn't want slaves to be counted as population because that would give the Southern states much more power. These conflicts ended in the 3/5th compromise. 3/5th of the slaves were counted as taxable property and
3/5ths were counted as population when determining a states number of votes.
The Great Compromise took ideas from both the New Jersey Plan and the Virginia Plan. From the Virginia Plan, it had a bicameral Legislative branch. Each state would receive two votes towards the senate, which made the smaller states happy. To please the larger states, the number of votes towards the house of representatives depended on population. The Great Compromise had an Executive branch, which was chosen by an electoral college, unlike the New Jersey Plan. Finally, the Great Compromise had a Judicial branch. The Judicial branch was chosen by the president.
The Great Compromise is still the form of government that we have today.
Thomas Jefferson was an American Founding Father, the man credited for writing the Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the United States. He was a proud supporter of democracy, republicanism, and the rights of the individual. During the American Revolution, he served in the Continental Congress as a representative for Virginia, and then he served as Virginia's wartime Governor. He then joined the second continental congress later on. In May 1785, he became the United States Minister to France and later the first United States Secretary of State. Jefferson viewed America seeking independence from Britain as breaking away from "parent stock", and that the war of Independence from Britain was a result of being separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Jefferson believe that the English colonists were compelled to rely on "common sense" and rediscover the "laws of nature".
George Washington was the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and the first president of the United States. He attended the Constitutional Convention, which was where he was unanimously chosen to be the country's president. Washington rarely participated in debates, but he was a strong supporter of the constitution. Being a respected war veteran, many people listened to him and ended up voting for ratification of the constitution because of him.
Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. He was an important figure in the American Enlightenment and in the history of physics. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove. He founded many civic organizations, including Philadelphia's fire department and a university. Franklin earned the title "the First American" for his early campaigning of colonial unity. Benjamin ranklin was extremely important in the fight for American independence.
James Madison is considered the"Father of the Constitution" for being very involved in the drafting of the United States Constitution. He was also the author of the United States Bill of Rights. After the constitution had been drafted, Madison became one of the leaders in the movement to ratify it. He worked together with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to write the Federalist Papers in 1788, which would later be considered among the most important treatises in support of the Constitution. He was also a delegate at the Virginia constitutional ratifying convention. During the writing and ratification of the constitution, he favored a strong national government.
John Adams was a founding father, a statesman, a diplomat, and a leading supporter of American independence from Great Britain. He was an Enlightenment political theorist who promoted republicanism and a strong central government. Adams was big opponent of slavery, having never bought a slave. In 1770 he provided a successful legal defense to the British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre, because he believed in the right to counsel and the "protection of innocence".