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Terms in this set (34)
Framers of the Constitution
architects of the US Constitution. Dealing with the difficulty of balancing national and local interests, they set out to create the American Republic during and after the Revolutionary War.
a type of Republic where states retained sovereignty over all governmental functions not specifically relinquished to the national government. Prioritized state interests above national interests.
Articles of Confederation
1st constitution in US history legitimized the Continental congress as the national government during Revolutionary War. After the war, its weaknesses (weak central government) created grave problems that nearly bankrupted and unraveled the nation.
Congress of the Confederation
the governing body of the USA that existed from March 1, 1781, to march 4, 1789. A unicameral body with legislative and executive function, it comprised delegates appointed by the legislatures of the several states, Each state delegation had one vote.
What were the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation?
national government couldn't tax, no regulation of interstate trade, no ability to respond to British mercantilism, each state had its own currency.
No president to enforce laws of Congress, no national courts to resolve disputes of interstate disputes, 9 of 13 states must agree to make a law, all 13 are needed to amend Articles. Weak negotiation rights couldn't prevent Spain from closing Mississippi River, weak military couldn't force Britain to evacuate forts in Ohio River Valley, Frontier unprotected from Native raids.
Land Ordinance of 1785
declared that the Northwest boundary of the US owned territory would be sold and that the proceeds should be used to help pay the national debt. The area was surveyed so the value could be established and future state lines drawn
Northwest Ordinance of 1787
established the precedent by which the Federal government would expand westward with the admission of new states, rather than with the expansion of existing states. .
benchmarks for statehood
Elect local and national representatives. Write a state Constitution, which needs approval from Federal government. Reach 60,000 free inhabitants
uprising of debt-ridden farmers protesting state taxes and home foreclosures. The rebellion was defeated by the state militia, but left American leaders unsettled about the weakness of the Articles of Confederation. This event triggered the Constitutional Convention.
Hod did the failure of the Articles of Confederation directly lead to the the outbreak of Shay's Rebellion?
Inability to tax lead to chronic under funding of the military, and an inability to keep a standing army or pay soldiers' pensions.
unpaid soldiers were imprisoned for tax evasion by state governments. The national government couldn't intervene.
Meeting of 12 of the US states to address the failings of the Federal government under the Articles of Confederation. The major areas of disagreement that required compromise were proportional representation, slavery, and limitations on a newly expanded Federal government. The result of the Convention was the creation of the United States Constitution.
known as the "Father of the Constitution" due to success of his Virginia Plan which set the agenda for debate at the Convention. It called for population-weighted representation in national legislature, a separation of powers. and a system of checks and balances.
Separation of Powers
the power within the Federal government is divided into branches, each with independent powers and responsibility. Typical division includes a legislature, and executive, and a judiciary.
the branch of the government that creates laws, made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. This branch is more representative of will of the people, since it has more frequent elections.
Convention's agreement to count ⅗ of a state's slaves as population for purposes of representation and taxation. International slave trade allowed for 20 more years, and then ended permanently.
The Great Compromise
proposed by Roger Sherman of Connecticut, as an agreement to establish a bicameral legislature, with all states having equal representation in the upper house (the Senate) and each state having representation based on its population in the lower house (the House of Representatives)
the branch of the government that administers and enforces the law. Made up of the President and the Vice President, this branch acts as a visible figure head for the entire country.
The President can refuse to sign a bill and instead cast a veto to prevent a bill from becoming a law. Congress must either reconsider the bill or get a ⅔ majority to override the veto.
group special electors, chosen by the states to elect the President. A state's number of electors was equal to its number of representatives in congress (House + Senate). It put a degree of separation in between the President and the under-educated masses.
the branch of government that interprets the meaning of laws as they apply to specific court cases. Acts as independent (unelected, non-political) protector of the Constitution.
system of government in which power is divided between a federal government and the states. Under this system, the federal government was more powerful, and national law would outrank state law.
Enumerated Powers vs. Reserved Powers
EP- powers given to the Federal government to administer directly to the people, not indirectly through states.
RP- powers given to the individual states to administer specific solutions for the needs of their citizens. In the absence of a national law, each state reserves the right to make their own law.
Checks and Balances
provisions in US Constitution that prevent any branch of government from dominating the other two branches. Allowed Framers to give the Federal government considerable powers without fear of an abuse of power.
the process of altering the Constitution, ⅔ of both Houses of Congress need to propose it, and ¾ state legislatures need to ratify for it to go into effect.
How did the Constitution both empower the national government and restrain its power at the same time?
Federal government can now tax, regulate interstate commerce, and can demand states obey national laws.
The federal government divides power three ways (separation of powers) and gives each branch the ability to restrain one another (checks and balances)
formal approval of the US Constitution by 9 out of 13 state conventions. By requiring a supermajority, rather than a unanimous vote, the ratification process peacefully overthrow the Articles of Confederation
delegate from New York, war veteran, and Federalist leader. He was an active in the debate over ratification, writing 51 of the 85 installments of The Federalist Papers. 1st Secretary of State
The Federalist Papers
a collection of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay promoting the ratification of the Constitution. To this day, they are the single most important reference for Constitutional interpretation and what the framers intended.
What were the core beliefs of the Federalists?
Argued that the Separation of Powers and system of Checks and Balances would protect from tyranny. If the Constitution failed to ratify, the ineffective Articles of Confederation would remain in place. An empowered Federal government would be able to maintain law and order, further economic prosperity, and command respect abroad.
Letters from the Federal Farmer
Anti-federalist essay written by Richard Henry Lee, argued that the Constitution would tear down state sovereignty in favor of all-powerful Federal government, which would be destructive of civil liberties.
What were the core beliefs of the Anti-Federalists?
Argued that abuses of power were inevitable with a powerful Federal government, which, if left unchecked could threaten natural rights. Feared that a one-size-fits-all government would make decisions that were not beneficial to individual states. Argued that the safeguards against mobocracy put in place were anti-democratic.
Unanimously elected first president of the United States. John Adams was vice president.
Bill of Rights
the first ten amendments of the Constitution which adds specific guarantees of personal freedoms, clear limitations on the government's powers in judicial proceedings, and explicit declaration that all powers not specifically delegated to Federal Congress are reserved for the states or the people.
How were the federalist able to succeed in ratifying the Constitution?
Delegates voting for ratification were elected by landowners, who tend to back ratification.
Federalists were better funded and organized, publishing pro-ratification propaganda such as the Federalist Papers.
Federalists were able to end Anti-Federalist obstruction by proposing a Bill of Rights.
Failure to pass the Constitution would keep the Articles of Confederation in place.
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