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political leaders of the colonies

natural rights

life, liberty, property

social contract

an agreement to create a government and follow its laws

Civic Virtue

citizens who put the common good above their own selfish interests

Higher law

must be obeyed by everyone including those running the govt.

Separation of Powers

Dividing the govt. into 3 different branches

checks and balances

prevents branches of govt. from abusing power

Magna Carta

agreement between nobles and the king that required the king to govern according to the established rules of law

Representative Government

the colonists included this in their govt. to protect themselves from abuse of power the Stamp Act of 1765

were invalid because the colonists were not allowed to vote in Parliament

Constitutional Govt.

always includes a limitation of powers

Declaration of Independence

an explanation of the colonist's revolt against Great Britain

Writer of the Declaration of Independence

Thomas Jefferson

Revolutionary War

war in which the colonies won their independence from England

Purpose of govt. in the Declaration

protect people's natural rights

Diplomacy in the Revolutionary War

France supplied loans and military assistance to the Americans

Popular Sovereignty

the govt. gets its right to govern from the people

First U.S. Constitution

Articles of Confederation

Single branch of the Articles of Confederation


Document before the Constitution that joined the states together

A.O.C. - Articles of Confederation

Differences between the AOC and the Constitution

Constitution gives Congress the power to act directly on the people

Where did the Constitutional Convention meet?

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Preamble begins...

"We the People..."

Preamble states...

the purpose of the Constitution

Original purpose of the Philadelphia Convention

to rewrite the Articles of Confederation

Proportional Representation

gives states with larger populations a greater number of representatives in Congress

Great Compromise

divides Congress into 2 houses with equal representation in the Senate and proportional representation in the House

Virginia Plan

favored large states

New Jersey Plan

Favored small states

Framers resolved the conflict between the northern and southern states by

allowing the slave trade to continue

Branches of the U.S. govt.


How is Congress divided?

2 houses

Enumerated powers

specifically granted to Congress by the Constitution

General Welfare Clause

allows Congress to provide for the common defense and common good of the U.S.

Powers of the President

pass or veto bills/laws made by Congress

Electoral College

system Framers created for electing the President

Term of Supreme Court jutices

life to ensure neutrality of the national judiciary

Total number of amendments


U.S. Senators term of office

6 years

House of Representatives term of office

2 years

Total number of U.S. Representatives


Total number of U.S. Senators


Who can declare war?


Judicial branch

interprets laws

Executive branch

enforces laws

Legislative branch

makes laws

Number of Supreme Court justices


First 10 amendments

Bill of Rights


aiding the enemies of your country

Appellate jurisdiction

Supreme Court hears a case that has already been heard in a lower court.

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