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Chapter One: The Study of the American Government Chapter Two: The Constitution.


a human right based on nature or god - can't be taken away

Articles of Confederation

each state retained its sovereignty and independance, had one vote in congress, and the central/national government was really weak

Constitutional Convention

meeting of delegates in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation, which produced the new U.S. Constitution

Shay's Rebellion

this conflict in Massachusetts caused many to criticize the Articles of Confederation and admit the weak central government was not working; uprising led by Daniel Shays in an effort to prevent courts from foreclosing on the farms of those who could not pay the taxes

Virginia Plan

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.

New Jersey Plan

New Jersey delegate William Paterson's plan of government, in which states got an equal number of representatives in Congress

Great Compromise

Compromise made by Constitutional Convention in which states would have equal representation in one house of the legislature (Senate) and representation based on population in the other house (House of Representatives)


a government in which elected representatives make the decisions

Judicial Review

the power of the courts to declare laws unconstitutional


government authority shared by national and local governments

Enumerated Powers

powers given to the national government alone

Checks and Balances

authority shared by the 3 branches of government to make sure none of them would gain more power than another

Concurrent Powers

powers shared by the national and state governments

Reserved Powers

powers given to the state governments alone


a group with a distinct political interest


those who favored a stronger national government


those who favored a weaker national government


an alliance of factions

Bill of Rights

the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, ratified in 1791

Habeas Corpus

an order to produce an arrested person before a judge

Bill of Attainer

a law that declares a person, without a trial, to be guilty of a crime

Ex Post Facto Law

makes an act criminal although the act was legal when it was committed


The right to use power

bureaucratic view

View that the government is dominated by appointed officials


The rule of the many

direct (participatory) democracy

A government in which all or most citizens participate directly


Persons who posses a disproportionate share of some valued resource, like money or power


Political authority conferred by law or by a state or a national constitution

Marxist view

View that the government is dominated by capitalists

power elite view

View that the government is dominated by a few top leaders, most of whom are outside the government

pluralist view

The belief that competition among all affected interests shapes public policy


The ability of one person to cause another person to act in accordance to the first persons intentions

power elite

A political theory espoused by C. Wright Mills which holds that an elite of corporate leaders, top military officers, and key political leaders make most political decisions

representative democracy

A government in which leaders make decisions by winning a competitive struggle for the popular vote

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