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Politics of the United States
definition + historical significance
Terms in this set (31)
Opponents of the American Constitution at the time when the states were contemplating its adoption. Their arguments included: it was a class-based document, it would erode fundamental liberties; and it would erode the power of the states.
Supporters of the Constitution that were led by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. They firmly believed the national government should be strong. They didn't want the Bill of Rights because they felt citizens' rights were already well protected by the Constitution.
Articles of Confederation
Adopted in 1777 during the Revolutionary War, this "bond of friendship" established the United States of America and granted limited powers to the central government, reserving most powers for the states. The result was a poorly defined national state that couldn't govern the country's finances or maintain stability. The Constitution replaced the document in 1789.
Compromise agreement by states at the Constitutional Convention for a bicameral legislature with a lower house in which representation would be based on population and an upper house in which each state would have two senators.
This principle of government states that political power rests with the people. This power may be expressed through voting and participation in government.
A basic principle of American government which states that government is restricted in what it may do, and each individual has rights (natural rights) that government cannot take away.
Declaration of Independence
The document of the Second Continental Congress (4 July 1776) stating the grievances of the American colonies against the British monarch and proclaming the independence of the colonies from Great Britain. The primary author was Thomas Jefferson.
New Jersey Plan
The proposal at the Constitutional Convention (introduced by William Paterson) that called for equal representation of each state in Congress regardless of the state's population.
James Madison introduced this plan which called for a national government that had unrestricted rights of legislation and taxation, the right to veto any state law, and use military force against the states. It also specified a bicameral legislature and representation of each state in Congress in proportion to that state's share of the U.S. population.
An uprising by debtor farmers in western Massachusetts, led by a Revolutionary War captain against Boston creditors. It began in 1786 and lasted half a year, threatening the economic interests of the business elite and contributing to the demise of the Articles of Confederation.
Conflicts on slavery emerged during the Philadelphia convention. Southern states argued for counting slaves in determining their representation in the House of Representatives, though they resisted counting them for apportionment of taxation. Only Massachusetts had outlawed slavery at this time, but many northern states argued against counting slaves for representation. The agreement resulted in representation and taxation to be based on the "number of free persons," plus a percentage of "all other persons."
A law making body made of two houses. Example: the U.S. Congress.
Checks and Balances
A system that allows each branch of government to limit the powers of the other branches in order to prevent abuse of power.
Power shared by the state and federal government, such as the power to tax.
In Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, Congress is given the right to make all laws "necessary and proper" to carry out the powers expressed in the other clauses of Article I.
The Constitutional declaration (Article VI) that the Constitution and laws made under its provisions are the greatest law of the land.
Traditions, precedent, and practice incorporated into our form of government that add to the Constitution's elasticity and its viability. Political parties and national parties' conventions are examples.
Powers of the federal government that are specifically addressed in the Constitution. Article I, Section 8, for instance, cites the powers of Congress to coin money, regulate its value and impose taxes.
A group selected by the states to elect the president and the vice-president, in which each state's number of votes is equal to the number of its senators and representatives in Congress.
Ex post facto laws
A law which punishes people for a crime that was not a crime when it was committed. Congress cannot pass these laws nor can states.
The Constitution states that "the executive power shall be vested ina president..." and requires the president to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." This term is an implied presidential power that allows the president to refuse to disclose information regarding confidential conversations or national security to Congress or the judiciary.
A form of government in which power is divided between the federal, or national, government and the states.
Full Faith and Credit
The first words of Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution, which requires states to respect the "public acts, records, and judicial proceedings" of all the other states.
Federal government powers that go beyond those enumerated in the Constitution. The Constitution states that Congress has the power to "make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution" the powers enumerated in Article I.
The powers of the national government in foreign affairs that the Supreme Court has declared do not depend on constitutional grants but rather grow out of the very existence of the national government.
A preliminary introduction to a statute or constitution (usually explaining its purpose).
Privileges and Immunities
A clause in Article IV, Section 2, of the Constitution that bans states from discriminating aginst citizens of other states.
Reserved Powers Amendment
Powers, derived form the tenth amendment, that are not specifically delegated to the national government or denied to the states.
Separation of Powers
The structure of the government provided for in the Constitution where authority is divided between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches; idea comes from Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws.
Writ of Habeas Corpus
A court order requiring jailers to explain to a judge why they are holding a prisoner in custody.
Bills of Attainder
Prohibits a person or group being found guilty of a crime without a trial; forbidden by the Constitution.
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