Week 3 POLS 1101 American Government Notes
Week 3 POLS 1101 American Government Notes Pols 1101
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by bmccullough97 on Monday September 12, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Pols 1101 at Georgia State University taught by Sinclair in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 12 views.
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Date Created: 09/12/16
Week 4: American Government 1 C HAPTER 4 The Constitution: Origins, Principles, andDevelopments The Colonial Period General context of British colonialism in north America Importance of self-rule and colonialism The French and Indian War American colonists felt more secure from foreign threats and Britain began to impose taxes (to pay war debts) despite a lack of representation for the colonies in Parliament Turning point in British-Colonial relations Philosophical issue: Is it right to be taxed without someone in Parliament representing your best interests? Tax Initiatives in the Colonies Sugar Act 1764 Declaratory Act 1766 Currency Act 1764 Townsend Acts 1767 Stamp Act 1765 Tea Act 1773 (BOSTON TEA PARTY) Quartering Act 1765 These initiatives lead to the signing of the Declarationof Independence in 1776. The primary purpose of the Declaration was to officially announce to the British empire that the American colonies no longer considered themselves to be part of the empire and were thus free and independent states. The Declaration is also, among other things, important because we get America’s creed from it. “America’s Creed” All men are created equal (Ahem… pardon, all WHITE MEN are created equal) All are endowed with natural rights, including the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness The purpose of government to secure natural rights and to be legitimate, the government must derive its’ authority from the consent of the governed The people have a right (even a duty) to alter or abolish government that is destructive of their natural rights. Note: The purpose of the constitution is to fulfill the aspirations of America’s Creed The Revolutionary War New state constitutions Common features: a. Tightly democratically controlled legislatures i. The members of the state legislatures were regularly held accountable to voters ii. Direct popular elections and short terms (1-2 years) were intended to keep the government as closely accountable to the people as possible. b. Separation of powers in theory, but legislature-dominated government in reality i. Americans believed that the separation of powers was necessary for preserving liberty but their previous experiences with government taught them to be very weary of governments dominated by the executive and judicial branches. This caused them to over-do it when it came to giving the legislative branch power ii. The legislative branch became too powerful. It controlled the executive and judicial branches but was not held accountable to those branches. There was no way for the other branches to effectively “check and restrain” the legislative branch. c. Declarations of legal rights i. Designers of the state constitutions sought to empower governments to protect the rights of the people while also keeping the government controlled so that they didn’t violate rights. ii. Civic liberties are legal rights that are designed to protect people from government abuse Articles of Confederation Confederal structure a. A confederacy has a central government and state governments, but the system is set up so that the states can retain as much sovereignty and independence as possible b. The government does NOT claim authority over individual people and instead only seeks to exercise power over state governments (Government over governments) c. In a confederacy, the central government was unable to effectively exercise power over the state governments. Because it only had“control” over the governments, they could levy taxes directly to the people to generate revenue. Insteadthey could only levy requisitions – essentially asking the state governments to pretty please give them some money. No distinct branches of government. Only a unicameral (one body) legislature called congress i. With no executive branch, there weren’t any permanent agencies committed to carrying out public policy. ii. Also means there was no branch constitutionally dedicated to engaging in diplomacy, meeting with ambassadors from foreign countries, or with commanding the military during times of war. Lack of clear supremacy of treaties and other national laws i. States often passed laws the contradicted the terms of treaties with foreign countries which in turn created tensions with foreign countries and made it difficult to cooperate for mutual benefit. Tight control of congressional delegates by state legislatures i. Legislatures were required to select delegates every year but were also allowed to recall any delegate any time and replace that person with a new delegate. Super majority voting in congress i. For congress to enact any important policy, the support of nine states (70%) was required. No direct control by the people over congress i. The people didn’t elect their representatives in congress. ii. Every member of congress was elected by the state legislatures The central government seemed incapable of intervening to restore in states where armed uprisings such as Shay’s Rebellion were taking place The central government under the Articles of Confederation was unable to build a navy that could be used to protect American ships attempting to trade with other countries; and this contributed to poor economic conditions State governments were printing money in order to pay down their debts, and this created inflation. A growing sense that the system was dysfunctional lead Madison and Alexander Hamilton to organize a small convention in Maryland to discuss the need to revise the Articles of Confederation. The Annapolis Convention was the meeting Madison and Alexander held in September of 1786 in which 12 delegates from 5 states met to revise the Articles. A report submitted by the convention to congress led congress to call for a larger meeting in Philadelphia in May of 1787. That meeting is now known as the Constitutional Convention or the Philadelphia Convention. During the Philadelphia Convention, 55 delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies wrote the original U.S. Constitution that would be ratified in 1788. The Constitutional Convention of 1787 Different interests of large/small states and slave/non-slave states The Virginia Plan i. James Madison penned the first set of reform proposals submitted at the Philadelphia Convention. He is known as the “Father of the Constitution”. ii. The Virginia plan had the following features that would become part of the U.S. Constitution but were not part of the Articles of Confederation: a central government with power over the people (not just over the state governments, democratic control by the people over the people over the central government, a bicameral legislature, three distinct and separate (legislative, executive, and judicial) branches of government, and checks and balances betweenthe branches of federal government. The New Jersey Plan i. William Peterson’s New Jersey plan would have kept the Articles of Confederations basic structure of government. Under the plan, Congress would remain a unicameral legislature with delegates appointed by the state governments. ii. The plan proposed the creation of a very weak executive committee, one hardly distinguished from the president, and a court with limited authority over states (not over individual people). iii. Under the New Jersey plan, the states would still be the center of everything The Great Compromise i. Roger Sherman proposed a compromise. In his proposal, there would be a bicameral legislature (Virginia Plan), BUT each chamber would have a different scheme of representation. The lower chamber (House of Representatives) would be based on the population size [proportional representation] as proposed in the Virginia Plan and in the upper chamber (Senate), all states would have the same number of representatives [equal state representation] as proposed in the New Jersey plan. ii. The representatives in the House would be elected the people as proposed in the Virginia plan while the 2 representatives in the Senate would be appointed by state legislature as proposed in the New Jersey plan. Final design a. Preamble with 7 articles b. Federalism c. Popular sovereignty d. Representative democracy e. Bicameralism f. Separation of powers/checks and balances g. A small list of civil liberties (Bill of Rights) Northern Accommodation of Southern Slave States The southern slave states wanted to count their slaves as part of their population so that they’d get more representatives in Congress. The South wouldn’t have ratified the constitution without something being done, so the northern states chose to placate them in four ways: i. Three-Fifths Clause: When measuring population sizes for purposes of apportioning representatives in the House, each slave would count as three fifths of a person. ii. The Electoral College: A system established by the U.S. Constitution for selecting Presidents. By this system, each state is allocated a number of individuals called “Electors” equal to the number of members each state has in the House of Representatives and Senate. The person who becomes President is the person who wins the most votes from these “Electors”. iii. Slave Trade Clauses: This clause agreed that Congress would not ban the slave trade prior to 1808, which was 20 years after the year they expected the Constitution to ratified. iv. Fugitive Slave Clause: granted slave owners a constitutional right to recapture runaway slaves who had fled to other states, including states where slavery was illegal. It also took away the right of states to pass laws to protect and/or emancipate runaway slaves.
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