Government 103, Week 2 Notes
Government 103, Week 2 Notes 103
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This 10 page Class Notes was uploaded by jeremiahmgarland98 Notetaker on Friday September 9, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 103 at Towson University taught by John McTauge in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 9 views. For similar materials see American National Government in Political Science at Towson University.
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Date Created: 09/09/16
I. The Politics of American Founding A. The Split from England a. Britain was deeply in debt, having won the French and Indian War, which effectively forced the French out of North America and the Spanish to vacate Florida and retreat west of the Mississippi. (pg. 43) ● French and Indian War a war fought between France and England, and allied Indians, from 17541763; resulted in France’s expulsion from the New World b. Britain, having done its protective duty as a colonial power and having taxed British citizens at home heavily to finance the war, turned to its colonies to help pay for their defense. c. The series of acts passed by the British infuriated the colonists. ● Sugar Act of 1764 imposed customs taxes, or duties, on sugar as unfair and unduly burdensome in a depressed post war economy. (pg. 44) ● Stamp Act of 1765 incited protests and demonstrations throughout the colonies. (pg. 44) d. Continued protests and political changes in England resulted in the repeal of the Stamp Act of 1776. The Townshend Acts of 1767, taxing goods imported from England, such as paper, glass, and tea, and the Tea Act of 1773 were seen by the colonists as intolerable violations of their rights. (pg. 44) B. Revolution a. From the moment the unpopularly taxed tea plunged into Boston Harbor, it became apparent that Americans were not going to settle down and behave like proper and orthodox colonists. Britain was surprised by the colonial reaction, and it could not ignore it. b. By the time of the December 1773 Boston Tea Party, also incited by the Sons of Liberty, passions were at a fever pitch. The American patriots called a meeting in Philadelphia in September 1774. (pg. 44) C. The Declaration of Independence a. In 1776, at the direction of a committee of the Continental Congress, thirtyfouryear old Thomas Jefferson sat down to write a declaration of independence from England. b. The Declaration of Independence is first and foremost a political document. Having decided to make the break with England, the American founders had to convince themselves, their fellow colonists, and the rest of the world that they were doing the right thing. (pg. 45) ● Declaration of independence the political document that dissolved the colonial ties between the United States and Britain c. The rest of the Declaration focuses on documenting the ways in which the colonists believed that England, and particularly George III, had violated their rights and broken the social contract. D. “...That All Men Are Created Equal” a. The Declaration of Independence begins with a statement of the equality of all men. Since so much of this document relies heavily on Locke, and since clearly the colonists did not mean that all men are created equal, it is worth turning to Locke for some help in seeing exactly what they did mean. b. Although he hemmed and hawed about it, ultimately he failed to condemn it. Here, too, our founders would have been in agreement with him. E. African Americans and the Revolution a. The Revolution was a mixed blessing for American slaves. On the one hand, many slaves won their freedom during the war. Slavery was outlawed north of Maryland, and many slaves in the Upper South were also freed. b. In the aftermath of war, African Americans did not find their lot greatly improved, despite the ringing rhetoric of equality that fed the Revolution. The economic profitability of slave labor still existed in the South, and slaves continued to be imported from Africa in large numbers. c. By 1786 New Jersey prohibited free blacks from entering the state, and within twenty years northern states started passing laws specifically denying free blacks the right to vote. F. Native Americans and the Revolution a. Native Americans were another group the founders did not consider to be prospective citizens. Not only were they already considered members of their own sovereign nations, but their communal property holding, their nonmonarchial political systems, and their divisions of labor between women working in the fields and men hunting for game were not compatible with European political nations. b. There was certainly no suggestion that the claim of equality at the beginning of the Declaration of Independence might include the peoples who had lived on the continent for centuries before the white man arrived. G. The Articles of Confederation a. In 1777 the Continental Congress met to try to come up with a constitution, or a framework that established the rules for the new government. (pg. 49) ● Constitution the rules that establish b. The Articles of Confederation, our first constitution, created the kind of government the founders, fresh from their colonial experience, preferred. The rules set up by the Articles of Confederation show the states’ jealousy of their power. (pg. 49) ● Articles of Confederation the first constitution of the United States (1777) creating an association of states with weak central government H. The Provisions of the Articles a. The government set up by the Articles was called a confederation because it established a system in which each state would retain almost all of its own power to do what it wanted. In other words, in a confederation, each state is sovereign and the central government has the job of running only the collective business of the states. (pg. 50) ● Confederation a government in which independent states unite for common purpose, but retain their own sovereignty b. Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress had many formal powers, including the power to establish and direct the armed forces, to decide matters of war and peace, to coin money, and to enter into treaties. (pg. 50) c. Its inability to tax put Congressand the central government as a whole at the mercy of the states. The government could ask for money but it was up to the states to contribute or not as they chose. I. Some Winners, Some Losers a. The era of American history following the Revolution was dubbed “this critical period” by John Quincy Adams, nephew of patriot Sam Adams, and himself a future president of the country. b. The political elite in the new country started to grumble about popular tyranny. In a monarchy, one feared the unrestrained power of the king, but perhaps in a republican government, one had to fear the unrestrained power of the people. (pg. 51) ● Popular tyranny the unrestrained power of the people c. The final straw was Shay’s Rebellion. Massachusetts was a state whose legislature, dominated by wealthy and secure citizens, had not taken measures to aid the debtridden population. (pg. 51) ● Shay’s Rebellion a grassroots uprising (1787) by armed Massachusetts farmers protesting foreclosures d. In other words, they had to find a way to contain and limit the will of the people in a government that was based on that will. If the rules of government were not producing the “right” winners and losers, the rules would have to be changed before the elite lost the power to change them. J. The Constitutional Convention a. As the delegates had hoped, the debates at the Constitutional Convention produced a very different system of rules than that established by the Articles of Confederation. Many of them were compromises to resolve conflicting interests brought by delegates to the convention. (pg. 52) ● Constitutional convention the assembly of fiftyfive delegates in the summer of 1787 to recast the Articles of Confederation; the result was the U.S. Constitution K. How Strong A Central Government? a. The compromise chosen by the founders at the Constitutional Convention is called federalism. Unlike a confederation in which the states retain the ultimate power over the whole, federalism gives the central government its own source of power, in this case the Constitution of the people of the United States. (pg. 52) ● Federalism a political system in which power is divided between the central and regional units b. Those who sided with the federalism alternative, who mostly resembled Delegate A, came to be known as Federalists. (pg. 52) ● Federalists supporters of the Constitution who favored a strong central government. c. The people like Delegate B, who continued to hold on to the strongstate, weak centralgovernment option, were called Antifederalists. (pg. 52) ● Antifederalists advocates of states’ rights who opposed the Constitution L. Large States, Small States a. Two plans were offered by convention delegates to resolve this issue. The first, Virginia Plan, was the creation of James Madison. Fearing that his youth and inexperience would hinder the plan’s acceptance, he asked fellow Virginian Edmund Randolph to present it to the convention. (pg. 54) ● Virginia Plan a proposal at the Constitutional Convention that congressional representation be based on population, thus favoring the large states b. The New Jersey Plan amounted to a reinforcement, not a replacement, of the Articles of Confederation. It provided for a multiperson executive, so that no one person could possess too much power, and for congressional acts to be the “supreme law of the land.” (pg. 54) ● New Jersey Plan a proposal at the Constitutional Convention that congressional representation be equal, thus favoring the small states c. The Great Compromise kept much of the framework of the Virginia Plan. It proposed a strong federal structure headed by a central government with sufficient power to tax its citizens, regulate commerce, conduct foreign affairs, organize the military, and exercise other central powers. (pg. 55) ● Great Compromise the constitutional solution to congressional representation: equal votes in the Senate, votes by population in the House M. North and South a. The bizarre compromise, also a triumph of politics if not humanity, is known as the Threefifths Compromise. It was based on a formula developed by the Confederation Congress in 1763 to allocate tax assessments among the states. According to this compromise, for representation purposes, each slave would count as threefifths of a personthat is, every five slaves would count as three people. (pg. 55) ● Threefifths Compromise the formula for counting five slaves as three people for purposes of representation that reconciled northern and southern factions at the Constitutional Convention N. The Legislative Branch a. Legislative power is lawmaking power. The body of government that makes laws is called the legislature. (pg. 58) ● Legislature the body of government that makes laws b. The U.S. Congress is bicameral legislature, meaning that there are two chambersthe House of Representatives and the Senate. Article I, by far the lengthiest article of the Constitution, sets out the framework of the legislative branch of government. (pg. 58) ● Bicameral legislature legislature with two chambers c. The House of Representatives, where representation is based on population, was intended to be truly representative of all peoplethe “voice of the common man,” as it were. d. The Senate is another matter. Candidates have to be at least thirty years old and citizens for nine yearsolder, wiser, and, the founders hoped, more stable than the representatives in the House. O. The Executive Branch a. The executive is the part of government that “executes” the laws, or see that they are carried out. Although technically executives serve in an administration role, many end up with some decisionmaking or legislative power as well. (pg. 59) ● Executive the branch of government responsible for putting laws into effect b. Instead, the Constitution provides for the president’s selection by an intermediary body called the Electoral College. Citizens vote not for the presidential candidates but for a slate of electors, who in turn cast their votes for the candidates about six weeks after the general election. (pg. 59) ● Electoral college an intermediary body that elects the president c. Article II of the Constitution establishes the executive branch. The four sections of that article make the following provisions: ● Section I sets out a fouryear term and the manner of the election; provides for the qualifications for officepresident must be a naturalborn citizen of the United States, at least 35 years old, and a resident of the United States for at least fourteen years. ● Section II establishes the powers of the chief executive. The president is commanderinchief of the armed forces and of the state militias when they are serving the nation, and he has the power to grant pardons for offenses against the United States. ● Section III says that the president will periodically tell Congress how the country is doing (the State of the Union address given every January) and will propose to them those measures that he thinks appropriate and necessary. ● Section IV specifies that the president, vice president, and other civil officers of the United States (such as Supreme Court justices) can be impeached, tried, and convicted for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” P. The Judicial Branch a. Judicial power is the power to interpret the laws and to judge whether they have been broken. Naturally, by establishing how a given law is to be understood, the courts (the agents of judicial power) end up making law as well. (pg. 60) ● Judicial power the power to interpret laws and judge whether a law has been broken b. But the founders left plenty of clues as to how they felt judicial power in their debates and their writings, particularly in The Federalist Papers, a series of newspaper editorials written to encourage people to support and vote for the new Constitution. (pg. 60) ● The Federalist Papers a series of essays written in support of the Constitution to build support for its ratification c. Judicial review allows the Supreme Court to rule that an act of Congress or the executive branch (or of state or local government) is unconstitutionalthat is, that it runs afoul of constitutional principles. (pg. 60) ● Judicial review power of the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of laws Q. Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances a. Separation of powers means that legislative, executive, and judicial powers are not exercised by the same person or group of people, lest they abuse the considerable amount of power they hold. (pg. 61) ● Separation of powers the institutional arrangement that assigns judicial, executive, and legislative powers to different persons or groups, thereby limiting the powers of each b. A complementary principle, checks and balances, allows each of the branches to police the others, checking any abuses and balancing the powers of government. (pg. 61) ● Checks and balances the principle that allows each branch of government to exercise some form of control over the others R. Amendability a. A final feature of the U.S. Constitution that deserves mention in this chapter is its amendabilitythe founders’ provision for a method of amendament, or change, that allows the Constitution to grow and adapt to new circumstances. (pg. 63) ● Amendability the provision for the Constitution to be changed, so as to adapt to new circumstances b. In the 200+ years of the U.S. Constitution’s existence, more than 10,000 constitutional amendments have been introduced, but the Constitution has been amended only twentyseven times. c. The Constitution is silent on the subject of judicial interpretation, but in part because it is silent, especially in Article III, the courts have been able to create their own role. S. Ratification a. For the Constitution to become the law of the land, it had to undergo ratification, that is, it had to be voted on and approved by state conventions in at least nine states. (pg. 64) ● Ratification the process through which a proposal is formally approved and adopted by vote T. Federalists V. Anti federalists a. The Federalists thought people like themselves should be in charge of the government, although some of them did not object to an expanded suffrage if government had enough builtin protections. b. The Antifederalists, on the other hand, rejected the notion that ambition and corruption were inevitable parts of human nature. If government could be kept small and local, the stakes not too large and tempting, and popular scrutiny truly vigilant, then Americans could live happily and contented lives without getting involved in the seamier side of politics. U. The Federalist Papers a. He explains that the greatest danger to a republic comes from factions, what we might call interest groups. Factions are groups of people motivated by a common interest, but one different from the interest of the country as a whole. (pg. 65) ● Factions groups of citizens united by some common passion or interest and opposed to the rights of other citizens or to interests of the whole community b. To control the causes of factions would be to infringe on individual liberty. But Madison believed that the effects of factions are easily managed in a large republic. c. The Constitution was ratified in spite of it, not because of it. In this essay, Hamilton argues that a Bill of Rightsa listing of the protections against government infringement of individual rights guaranteed to citizens by government itselfis not necessary in a constitution. (pg. 66) ● Bill of Rights a summary of citizen rights guaranteed and protected by a government; added to the Constitution as its first ten amendments in order to achieve ratification d. Hamilton explains the Federalist position, that a Bill of Rights was unnecessary. Then he makes the unusual argument that a Bill of Rights would actually be dangerous.
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