Articles of Confederation: powers, weaknesses, successes
The Articles of Confederation delegated most of the powers (the power to tax, to regulate trade, and to draft troops) to the individual states, but left the federal government power over war, foreign policy, and issuing money. The Articles weakness was that they gave the federal government so little power that it couldn't keep the country united. The Articles only major success was that they settled western land claims with the Northwest Ordinance. The Articles were abandoned for the Constitution.
The document which established the present federal government of the United States and outlined its powers. It can be changed through amendments.
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Constitution: Checks and balances
Each of the three branches of government "checks" the power of the other two, so no one branch can become too powerful. The president (executive) can veto laws passed by Congress (legislative), and also chooses the judges in the Supreme Court (judiciary). Congress can overturn a presidential veto if 2/3 of the members vote to do so. The Supreme Court can declare laws passed by Congress and the president unconstitutional, and hence invalid.
Constitution: Separation of power
The powers of the government are divided between three branches: the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary.
Land Ordinance of 1785
A major success of the Articles of Confederation. Provided for the orderly surveying and distribution of land belonging to the U.S.
Northwest Ordinance, 1787
A major success of the Articles of Confederation. Set up the framework of a government for the Northwest territory. The Ordinance provided that the Territory would be divided into 3 to 5 states, outlawed slavery in the Territory, and set 60,000 as the minimum population for statehood.
Occurred in the winter of 1786-7 under the Articles of Confederation. Poor, indebted landowners in Massachusetts blocked access to courts and prevented the government from arresting or repossessing the property of those in debt. The federal government was too weak to help Boston remove the rebels, a sign that the Articles of Confederation weren't working effectively.
Beginning on May 25, 1787, the convention recommended by the Annapolis Convention was held in Philadelphia. All of the states except Rhode Island sent delegates, and George Washington served as president of the convention. The convention lasted 16 weeks, and on September 17, 1787, produced the present Constitution of the United States, which was drafted largely by James Madison.
James Madison, "Father of the Constitution"
His proposals for an effective government became the Virginia Plan, which was the basis for the Constitution. He was responsible for drafting most of the language of the Constitution.
At the Constitutional Convention, larger states wanted to follow the Virginia Plan, which based each states representation in Congress on state population. Smaller states wanted to follow the New Jersey Plan, which gave every state the same number of representatives. The convention compromised by creating the House and the Senate, and using both of the two separate plans as the method for electing members of each.
Virginia Plan, New Jersey Plan, Connecticut Plan
The Virginia Plan called for a two-house Congress with each states representation based on state population. The New Jersey Plan called for a one-house Congress in which each state had equal representation. The Connecticut Plan called for a two-house Congress in which both types of representation would be applied, and is also known as the Compromise Plan.
The North was given full federal protection of trade and commerce. The South was given permanent relief from export taxes and a guarantee that the importation of slaves would not be halted for at least 20 years, plus the national capitol was placed in the South. Slaves were also deemed to be counted as 3/5 of a person when determining the state population, thus giving the Southern states a greater number of representatives in the House.
Slavery and the Constitution: slave trade, 3/5 Clause
The Souths slave trade was guaranteed for at least 20 years after the ratification of the Constitution. Slaves were considered 3/5 of a person when determining the state population.
Procedures for amendments
An amendment to the Constitution may be proposed if 2/3 of Congress or 2/3 of state legislatures vote for it. The amendment may then be added to the Constitution by a 3/4 vote of state legislatures or state conventions.
They opposed the ratification of the Constitution because it gave more power to the federal government and less to the states, and because it did not ensure individual rights. Many wanted to keep the Articles of Confederation. The Antifederalists were instrumental in obtaining passage of the Bill of Rights as a prerequisite to ratification of the Constitution in several states. After the ratification of the Constitution, the Antifederalists regrouped as the Democratic-Republican (or simply Republican) party.
One of the main opponents of the Constitution, he worked against its ratification in Virginia.
The Federalist Papers
This collection of essays by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, explained the importance of a strong central government. It was published to convince New York to ratify the Constitution.
"The Federalist, # 10"
This essay from the Federalist Papers proposed setting up a republic to solve the problems of a large democracy (anarchy, rise of factions which disregard public good).
Bill of Rights adopted, 1791
The first ten amendments to the Constitution, which guarantee basic individual rights.
President George Washington
He established many of the presidential traditions, including limiting a president's tenure to two terms. He was against political parties and strove for political balance in government by appointing political adversaries to government positions.
Vice-president John Adams
A Federalist, he had little say in Washingtons administration.
A leading Federalist, he supported industry and strong central government. He created the National Bank and managed to pay off the U.S.s early debts through tariffs and the excise tax on whiskey.
Sec. of State Jefferson
A leading Democratic-Republican, he opposed Hamilton's ideas. Washington tended to side with Hamilton, so Jefferson resigned.
National debt, state debt, foreign debt
The U.S.s national debt included domestic debt owed to soldiers and others who had not yet been paid for their Revolutionary War services, plus foreign debt to other countries which had helped the U.S. The federal government also assumed all the debts incurred by the states during the war. Hamilton's program paid off these debts.
Taxes placed on manufactured products. The excise tax on whiskey helped raise revenue for Hamiltons program.
Implied powers, elastic clause, necessary and proper clause
Section 8 of Article I contains a long list of powers specifically granted to Congress, and ends with the statement that Congress shall also have the power "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the forfegoing powers." These unspecified powers are known as Congress' "implied" powers. There has long been a debate as to how much power this clause grants to Congress, which is sometimes referred to as the "elastic" clause because it can be "stretched" to include almost any other power that Congress might try to assert.
In 1794, farmers in Pennsylvania rebelled against Hamilton's excise tax on whiskey, and several federal officers were killed in the riots caused by their attempts to serve arrest warrants on the offenders. In October, 1794, the army, led by Washington, put down the rebellion. The incident showed that the new government under the Constitution could react swiftly and effectively to such a problem, in contrast to the inability of the government under the Articles of Confederation to deal with Shay's Rebellion.
Washington's Farewell Address
He warned against the dangers of political parties and foreign alliances in this speech.
Election of 1796: President Adams, Vice-president Jefferson
The first true election (when Washington ran, there was never any question that he would be elected). Adams was a Federalist, but Jefferson was a Democratic-Republican.
Federalists and Democratic-Republicans
The first two political parties. Many of the Democratic-Republicans had earlier been members of the Antifederalists, which had never organized into a formal political party.
Federalists / Democratic-Republicans: Philosophies
Federalists believed in a strong central government, a strong army, industry, and loose interpretation of the Constitution. Democratic-Republicans believed in a weak central government, state and individual rights, and strict interpretation of the Constitution.
Alien and Sedition Acts
These consist of four laws passed by the Federalist Congress and signed by President Adams in 1798: the Naturalization Act, which increased the waiting period for an immigrant to become a citizen from 5 to 14 years; the Alien Act, which empowered the president to arrest and deport dangerous aliens; the Alien Enemy Act, which allowed for the arrest and deportation of citizens of countries at was with the US; and the Sedition Act, which made it illegal to publish defamatory statements about the federal government or its officials. The first 3 were enacted in response to the XYZ Affair, and were aimed at French and Irish immigrants, who were considered subversives. The Sedition Act was an attempt to stifle Democratic-Republican opposition, although only 25 people were ever arrested, and only 10 convicted, under the law. The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which initiated the concept of "nullification" of federal laws were written in response to the Acts.
Election of 1800, tie, Jefferson and Burr
The two Democratic-Republicans Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr defeated Federalist John Adams, but tied with each other. The final decision went the House of Representatives, where there was another tie. After a long series of ties in the House, Jefferson was finally chosen as president. Burr became vice-president. This led to the 12th Amendment, which requires the president and vice-president of the same party to run on the same ticket.
Brought about by the Jefferson/Burr tie, stated that presidential and vice-presidential nominees would run on the same party ticket. Before that time, all of the candidates ran against each other, with the winner becoming president and second-place becoming vice-president.
Second Great Awakening
A series of religious revivals starting in 1801, based on Methodism and Baptism. Stressed a religious philosophy of salvation through good deeds and tolerance for all Protestant sects. The revivals attracted women, Blacks, and Native Americans.
The second great democratic revolution, taking place in the 1790s, after the American Revolution had been proven to be a success. The U.S. did nothing to aid either side. The French people overthrew the king and his government, and then instituted a series of unsuccessful democratic governments until Napoleon took over as dictator in 1799.