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Edwards, Wattenberg, and Lineberry

Government in America: People, Politics, and Policy


Fourteenth Edition

Chapter 2

The Constitution

Copyright 2009 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Longman.

Constitution
Definition

A constitution is a nations basic law. It


creates political institutions, assigns or
divides powers in government, and often
provides certain guarantees to citizens.

Sets the broad rules of the game


The rules are not neutral; some
participants and policy options
have advantages over others.
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Origins of the Constitution


The Road to Revolution

Colonists faced tax increases after the


French and Indian War.
Colonists lacked direct representation in
parliament.
Colonial leaders formed the Continental
Congress to address abuses of the English
Crown.

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Origins of the Constitution

Copyright 2009 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Longman.

Origins of the Constitution


Declaring Independence

In May and June 1776, the Continental


Congress debated resolutions for
independence.
The Declaration of Independence, which
listed the colonists grievances against the
British, is adopted on July 4, 1776.
Politically, the Declaration was a polemic,
announcing and justifying revolution.
Copyright 2009 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Longman.

Origins of the Constitution


The English Heritage: The Power of
Ideas

Natural rights: rights inherent in human


beings, not dependent on government
Consent of the governed: government derives
its authority by sanction of the people
Limited Government: certain restrictions
should be placed on government to protect
natural rights of citizens
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Origins of the Constitution

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Origins of the Constitution


Winning Independence

In 1783, the American colonies prevailed in


their war against England.

The Conservative Revolution

Restored rights the colonists felt they had


lost
Not a major change of lifestyles

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The Government That


Failed

The Articles of Confederation

The first document to govern the United


States, it was adopted in 1777 and ratified
in 1781.
It established a confederation, a league of
friendship and perpetual union among 13
states and former colonies.
Congress had few powers; there was no
president or national court system.
All government power rested in the states.
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The Government That


Failed
Changes in the States

Liberalized voting laws increased political


participation and power among a new
middle class.
An expanding economic middle class of
farmers and craft workers counterbalanced
the power of the old elite of professionals
and wealthy merchants.
Ideas of equality spread and democracy
took hold.
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The Government that


Failed

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The Government That


Failed

Economic Turmoil

Postwar depression left farmers unable to pay


debts

Shays Rebellion

Series of attacks on courthouses by a small band of


farmers led by Revolutionary War Captain Daniel
Shays to block foreclosure proceedings.
Economic elite concerned about Articles inability
to limit these violations of individuals property
rights
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The Government That


Failed

The Aborted Annapolis Meeting

An attempt to discuss changes to the


Articles of Confederation in September 1786
Attended by only 12 delegates from 5 states
Called for a meeting in May 1787 to further
discuss changesthe Constitutional
Convention

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Making a Constitution:
The Philadelphia Convention
Gentlemen in Philadelphia

55 men from 12 of the 13 states


Mostly wealthy planters and merchants
Most were college graduates with some
political experience
Many were coastal residents from the larger
cities, not the rural areas

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The Philadelphia
Convention

Philosophy into Action

Human Nature, which is self-interested


Political Conflict, which leads to factions
Objects of Government, including the
preservation of property
Nature of Government, which sets power
against power so that no one faction rises
above and overwhelms another

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The Agenda in
Philadelphia

The Equality Issues

Equality and Representation of the States

New Jersey Planequal representation in states


Virginia Planpopulation-based representation
Connecticut Compromise

Slavery

Three-fifths compromise

Political Equality and voting left to states

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The Agenda in
Philadelphia

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The Agenda in
Philadelphia

The Economic Issues

States had tariffs on products from other


states
Paper money was basically worthless
Congress couldnt raise money
Actions taken:
Powers of Congress to be strengthened
Powers of states to be limited

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The Agenda in
Philadelphia

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The Agenda in
Philadelphia

The Individual Rights Issues

Some were written into the Constitution:

Prohibits suspension of writ of habeas corpus


No bills of attainder
No ex post facto laws
Religious qualifications for holding office prohibited
Strict rules of evidence for conviction of treason
Right to trial by jury in criminal cases

Some were not specified

Freedom of speech and expression


Rights of the accused

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The Madisonian Model


To prevent a tyranny of the
majority, Madison proposed a
government of:
Limiting Majority Control
Separating Powers
Creating Checks and Balances
Establishing a Federal System

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The Madisonian Model

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The Madisonian Model

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The Madisonian Model


The Constitutional Republic

Republic: A form of government in which


the people select representatives to govern
them and make laws
Favors the status quo change is slow

The End of the Beginning

The document was approved, but not


unanimously. Now it had to be ratified.

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Ratifying the Constitution

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Ratifying the Constitution


Federalist Papers

A collection of 85 articles written by Alexander


Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison under the
name Publius to defend the Constitution

Bill of Rights

The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution,


drafted in response to some of the Anti-Federalist
concerns about the lack of basic liberties

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Ratifying the Constitution

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Ratifying the Constitution


Ratification

Lacking majority support, the Federalists


specified that the Constitution be ratified by
state conventions, not state legislatures.
Delaware first ratified the Constitution on
December 7, 1787.
New Hampshires approval (the ninth state
to ratify) made the Constitution official six
months later.

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Constitutional Change

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Constitutional Change
The Informal Process of
Constitutional Change
Judicial Interpretation

Marbury v. Madison (1803): judicial review

Changing Political Practice


Technology
Increasing Demands on Policymakers

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The Importance of
Flexibility

The Constitution is short, with fewer


than 8,000 words.
It does not prescribe every detail.

There is no mention of congressional committees or


independent regulatory commissions.

The Constitution is not static, but flexible


for future generations to determine their
own needs.

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Understanding the
Constitution
The Constitution and Democracy

The Constitution is rarely described as democratic.


There has been a gradual democratization of the
Constitution.

The Constitution and the Scope of


Government

Much of the Constitution reinforces individualism


and provides multiple access points for citizens.
It also encourages stalemate and limits
government.
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Summary
The Constitution was ratified to
strengthen congressional economic
powers, even with disagreements over
issues of equality.
Protection of individual rights
guaranteed through the Bill of Rights.
Formal and informal changes
continue to shape our Madisonian
system of government.
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