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Politics of the United States
AP Gov Key Concepts Ch. 2
Terms in this set (32)
Declaration of Independence
a list of grievances against King George III; purpose of government is to protect natural rights; gov't needs consent of the people.
Radical Ideas embedded in the Declaration
Natural rights, not divine rule.
Gov't requires consent of the governed.
Limited gov't — national gov't can do only that which is permitted.
Articles of Confederation
first governing document of the confederated states drafted in 1777, ratified in 1781, and replaced by the present Constitution in 1789
Some highlights of the Articles of Confederation
Unicameral (i.e., only one chamber of Congress)
No executive branch
No judicial branch
Needed 9 of 13 states to approve anything, and all 13 to change the Articles.
Each state got 1 vote on legislative matters (so big and small states treated the same) Could borrow, create army, declare war
Could NOT tax, draft, or regulate commerce
Rebellion led by Daniel Shays of farmers in western Massachusetts in 1786-1787, protesting mortgage foreclosures. It highlighted the need for a strong national gov't, given the inability under the Art. Of Confederation to pay for a military that could protect the property owners.
Federalist Paper #10
Written by James Madison; said (among other things) that the best way to deal with the inevitable factions that form is for a gov't to pit faction against faction and for this to be done over a large geographic area (thus arguing against city- states).
Federalist Paper #51
Also written by Madison; outlined need for separate branches with checks and balances ("ambition must be made to counteract ambition"; "[Y]ou must first enable the government to control the governed; and then in the next place oblige it to control itself."
The convention in Philadelphia, May 25 to September 17, 1787; was called to amend the Articles of Confederation; wound up discarding the A of C and came up with the Constitution of the United States.
The principle of a two-house legislature. We have a bicameral legislature with a House of Representatives and Senate.
Initial proposal at the Constitutional Convention made by the Virginia delegation for a strong central government with a bicameral legislature dominated by the big states; proportional representation in each chamber.
New Jersey Plan
Proposal at the Constitutional Convention made by New Jersey for a central government with a single-house legislature in which each state would be represented equally.
(sometimes called the Great Compromise) - 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. Senators initially elected by state legislatures; changed by 17th Amendment to provide for direct election of Senators, just as we have for Representatives.
Compromise allowing qualified citizens to cast a vote for "electors" who in turn vote for the presidential candidate each elector deems best. Has evolved into a rubber-stamp exercise where electors typically exercise no discretion.
Voting Qualification Compromise
Gave states the power to control who is qualified to vote in a national election. If someone is qualified to vote in a state election, they are thereby qualified to vote in the national one.
Compromise between northern and southern states at the Constitutional Convention that said three-fifths of the slave population would be counted for determining direct taxation and representation in the House of Representatives. Gave slave states more Representatives but they paid more taxes, too.
Slave trade could not be banned for at least 20 years following ratification of the Constitution.
Principles of the Constitution
Limited government, Separation of power, Checks and balances, and
power belongs to the people; consent of the governed
gov't can do only that which is permitted by the people as reflected in the Constitution
Separation of Power
3 branches — legislative, executive, and judicial — each of which has own powers
Checks and Balances
each branch has some control over the actions of the other 2
Supporters of ratification of the Constitution and of a strong central government; division of powers between national gov't and the states
Opponents of ratification of the Constitution and of a strong central government, generally; preferred more power vested in the states
Article 1 of the Constitution
Legislative Branch— Enumerated powers (including power to declare war, raise taxes, coin money, and regulate commerce); Congress can enact any law that is "necessary and proper" to execute the enumerated powers; qualifications of Senators and Representatives; McCulloch v. Maryland; regulating interstate commerce has at times been a huge source of power
Article 2 of the Constitution
Executive Branch— Electoral college, qualifications of the president, powers (make treaties, appoint officers, etc.), the "Take Care" clause, impeachment
Article 3 of the Constitution
Judicial Branch— One Supreme Court (mostly appellate jx), such "inferior" courts as Congress wants
Article 4 of the Constitution
The Full Faith and Credit Clause (state's honor the laws and rulings of other states) and the Privileges and Immunities clause (guarantees each citizen equal treatment in the states)
Article 6 of Constitution
Supremacy Clause (federal law preempts conflicting state laws); McCulloch v. Maryland important
Gibbons v. Ogden
Hugely important for broad reading of IC Clause
Necessary and Proper Clause
(Aka the Elastic Clause or the Implied Powers Clause) Congress can enact any any law that is "necessary and proper" to execute the enumerated powers; used in McCulloh v. Maryland
McCulloch v. Maryland
The "Necessary and Proper Clause" was used during this;
Powers stated explicitly in the constitution alone (including power to declare war, raise taxes, coin money, regulate commerce)
Recommended textbook explanations
United States Government: Principles in Practice
Luis Ricardo Fraga
Magruder's American Government
William A. McClenaghan
United States Government: Democracy In Action
Richard C. Remy
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