Chapter 2: The Founding and the Constitution
Chapter 2: The Founding and the Constitution POLS 1101 01
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Paige Peterson on Wednesday August 24, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLS 1101 01 at Georgia Southern University taught by Lubecki in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 10 views. For similar materials see Introduction to United States Government in Political Science at Georgia Southern University.
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Date Created: 08/24/16
Chapter 2: The Founding and the Constitution What the Government Does and Why It Matters o Purpose of government is to promote justice, maintain peace at home, defend the nation from foreign foes, provide welfare for citizens, and secure the “Blessings of Liberty” for Americans The First Founding: Ideals, Interests, and Conflicts o Thinkers and ideas that shaped the constitution Thomas Hobbes Wrote in the Leviathan about the necessity of government authority, but also limits of power “contract theory” people give up certain rights and freedoms in exchange for an ordered society John Locke Principles of republican system o Government power was dangerous and should be limited o People retain rights despite the social contract made with the monarch o People have the right to overthrow a government if it is unjust or tyrannical Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu Power needs to be balanced by power Separation of governing powers o Ideas central in shaping the 3 branches o Narrow Interests and Political Conflicts Shaped the First Founding 5 sectors of society had interests that were important to colonial politics: New England merchants Southern Planters The ‘Royalists’-holders of royal land, offices, and patents Shopkeepers, artisans, laborers Small farmers These 5 groups were often at odds over taxation, trade, and commerce First 3 groups made up colonial Elite Maintained a political alliance that held in check more radical forces After 1760, British tax and trade interests split up the colonial elite permitting radical forces to expand their political influence and set into motion a chain of events that started the American Revolution o British Taxes Hurt Colonial Economic Interests Before 1760’s Colonies were ruled with a light hand- taxes easy to avoid, British rule hardly noticeable outside of large cities After 1760’s debts and financial problems in Britain forced it to look for new revenue sources, turning to the colonies Tried to first impose modest taxes to repay for the help in French and Indian war and use of Navy Stamp Act and Sugar Act mainly effected merchants and planters “No taxation without representation” Got together with other groups in colonies and organized boycotts o From perspectives of merchants and planters it was a victory o Radical groups were just further encouraged o Political Strife Radicalized the Colonists In 1770’s the East India Tea Company was granted a monopoly on the export of tea. Planned to sell directly to the colonies, not through colony merchants Tea was very important commodity, posed a threat to colonial merchants Boston Tea Party 1773- most radical result led by Samuel Adams Meant to push Britain into taking back the Tea Act Resulted in harsh measurements o Closed the port of Boston o Changed provincial government of Massachusetts o Provided for the removal of accused persons to Britain for trial o Restricted westward movement Boston Tea Party basically pushed the movement for revolution o The Declaration of Independence Explained, Why the Colonists Wanted to break with Great Britain 1776- Second Continental Congress appointed Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, John Adams, and Robert Livingston to draft a statement of independence from British rule Philosophically relevant for demand of unalienable rights, including life, liberty and pursuit of happiness o Very dramatic statement for the time o Greatly influenced by John Locke Politically relevant for focus on grievances, aspirations, and principles that might unify the colonial groups that were otherwise divided o The Articles of Confederation Created America’s First National Government Articles of Confederation- First written constitution Not ratified until 1781, but operative for 12 years, until March 1789 Concerned primarily with limiting central government powers How government was first organized Entirely based on congress- no executive branch because individual states were expected to enforce laws o Congress had little power- more like messengers of the state legislatures o Each state only had 1 vote regardless of size Congress had the power to declare war or make peace, make treaties and alliances, borrow money, regulate trade, and appoint senior officers of the army In order to amend articles, all 13 states had to agree Confederation- system of government in which states retain sovereign authority except for the powers expressly delegated to the national government Failure of the Articles Made the “Second Founding” Necessary Weakened Pre-revolutionary elite Strengthened the Radicals o The Annapolis Convention was Key to Calling a National Convention One important thing resulted- Carefully worded resolution calling on Congress to send commissioners to Philadelphia at a later time to revise the articles o Shays’s Rebellion Showed How Weak the Government Was Rebellion in Massachusetts for taxation implied on farmers Congress was unable to act decisively in a time of crisis, further pushing for resolution o Constitution Convention didn’t start out to write a new Constitution A Marriage of Interest and Principle Group chiefly made up of merchants and southern planters Sought to create a new system capable of promoting commerce and protecting property from radical state legislatures and populist forces The Great Compromise Virginia Plan- plan that provided for a system of representation in the national legislature based upon population of each state or proportion of the states revenue contribution to the national government o Heavily biased towards larger states New Jersey Plan- equal state representation in the national legislature regardless of population The Great Compromise- House of Representatives would be proportioned according to population, Senate would have equal representation regardless of population The question of slavery: the three-fifths Compromise Southern Planters vs New England Merchants was main conflicted groups Three-Fifths Compromise- 5 slaves would count at 3 free people in House of Reps The Constitution Created Both Bold Powers and Sharp Limits on Power o Political significance of compromises was the reinforce the unity of the merchants and farmers o Goals and Outcomes of Framers regarding the Constitution Bicameralism- having a legislative assembly composed of 2 chambers or houses Checks and Balances- mechanisms through which each branch of government is able to participate in and influence the activities of the other branches Electoral College- presidential electors from all states would meet after the popular election to vote Bill of Rights- first 10 amendments of the constitution Separation of Power- division of power between different groups within government Federalism- power is divided by a constitution between central and regional governments o Legislative branch was designed to be the most powerful Designed to be directly responsible for the people in order to encourage popular consent for the new constitution, and to enhance new government Structure designed to contribute to governmental power, to promote popular consent for the new government, and to place limits on popular political currents that posed a threat to the economy and social order Powers of Congress included- Collect taxes, borrow money, regulate commerce, declare war, and maintain an army and navy Expressed Powers- powers specifically listed in constitution (above) Elastic Clause- states that expressed powers are a source of strength of the government, not a limitation o Executive Branch created a brand new office Powers granted to President Receive ambassadors from other countries, negotiate treaties (Though had to be accepted by 2/3 of senate), Grant and reprieve pardons, except in cases of impeachment, appoint major departmental personnel, convene congress in special session, and veto congressional actions (congress can override with 2/3 votes) o Judicial Branch was a check on too much democracy Judicial Review- power of the courts to review, and if necessary, declare actions of the legislature and executive branches invalid or unconstitutional Marbury vs Madison o National unity and power set the new constitution apart from the old articles States could no longer discriminate against citizens of other states Created a national free-flowing economy Supremacy Clause- provided that national laws and treaties shall be the supreme law of the land and superior to all laws adopted by any state or subdivision o Constitution established the process for amendment o Constitution Set Forth Rules for its own ratification o Constitution limits the national governments power Separation of powers Each branch given its own power, but also some powers over the other branches Federalism Sovereign nation and state, allowing both to check and balance each other Bill of Rights Greater powers needed greater limitations st Adopted in 1791, made up of the 1 10 amendments Ratification of the Constitution was Difficult o Federalists- supported constitution, preferred a strong national government o Antifederalists- favored strong state government and weak national government, opposed the constitution o Federalists and Anti Fought bitterly over the wisdom of the new document Federalist Papers- written in defense of the constitution and sought to dispel fear of the stronger government Representation Antifed’s thought that a smaller government would provide a more accurate representation of the people Fed’s thought a difference between the people and representatives would be a good thing Tyranny of the Majority Tyranny- oppressive and unjust government that employs cruel use of power and authority Governmental Power Anti wanted very specific and tight regulations on government powers Feds wanted broad power in order to provide people with better protection and create better balance o Both groups contributed to the success of a new system Fed’s vision triumphed Anti-fed’s gave us something to think about Constitutional Amendments Dramatically changed the Relationship between citizens and the government o Amendments: Many are called; few are chosen
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