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50 terms

Chapter 2 The Constitution

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Unalienable
A human right based on nature or God
Articles of Confederation
A weak Constitution that governed America during the Revolutionary War
Constitutional Convention
A meeting in Philadelphia in 1787 that produced a new constitution
Shay's Rebellion
A 1787 rebellion in which ex-Revolutionary War soldiers attempted to prevent foreclosures of farms as a result of high interest rates and taxes
Virginia Plan
Proposal to create a strong national government
New Jersey Plan
Proposal to create a weak national government
Great Compromise
Plan to have a popularly elected House based on state population and a state-selected Senate, with two members for each state
Republic
A government in which elected representatives make the decisions
Judicial Review
The power of the courts to declare laws unconstitutional
Federalism
Government authority shared by national and local governments
Enumerated Powers
Powers given to the national government
Checks and Balances
Authority shared by three branches of government
Reserved Powers
Powers given to the state government alone
Concurrent Powers
Powers shared by the national and state governments
Separation of Powers
Constitutional authority is shared by three different branches of government
Faction
A group with a distinct political interest
Federalists
Those who favor a stronger national government
Anti-federalists
Those who favor a weaker national government
Coalition
An alliance of factions
Bill of Rights
First ten amendments to the Constitution
Habeas Corpus
An order to produce an arrested person before a judge
Bill of Attainder
A law that declares a person, without a trial, to be guilty of a crime
Ex Post Facto Law
A law that makes an act criminal although the act was legal when it was committed
Amendment
A new provision in the Constitution that has been ratified by the states
Line-item veto
An executive's ability to block a particular provision in a bill passed by the legislature
Charles A. Beard
A historian who argued that the Founders were largely motivated by the economic advantage of their class in writing the Constitution
James Madison
A principal architect of the Constitution who felt that a government powerful enough to encourage virtue in its citizens was too powerful
Thomas Jefferson
Author of the Declaration of Independence
Federalists papers
A series of political tracts that explained many of the ideas of the Founders
Massachusetts Constitution
A state constitution with clear separation of powers but considered to have produced too weak a government
Pennsylvania Constitution
A governing document considered to be highly democratic yet with a tendency toward tyranny as the result of concentrating all powers in one set of hands
natural rights
Rights of all human beings that are ordained by God, discoverable in nature and history, and essential to human progress
Patrick Henry
Individual who refused to attend the Constitutional Convention because he "smelled a rat"
Republic
A form of democracy in which leaders and representatives are selected by means of popular competitive elections
Constitutional Convention
A meeting of delegates in 1778 to revise the Articles of Confederation
Checks and Balances
The power of legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government to block some acts by the other two branches
Coalition
An alliance between different interest groups or parties to achieve some political goal
Inalienable rights
Rights thought to be based on nature and providence rather than on the preferences of people
Amendment
Change in, or addition to a constitution
Faction
A group of people sharing a common interest who seek to influence public policy for their collective benefit
Judicial Review
The power of the courts to declare acts of the legislature and of the executive unconstitutional and therefore null and void
Federalist papers
A series of eighty-five essays published in New York newspapers to convince New Yorkers to adopt the newly proposed Constitution
Federalists
Supporters of a stronger central government who advocated ratification of the Constitution and then founded a political party
Line-item Veto
The power of an executive to veto some provisions in an appropriations bill while approving others
Anti-federalists
Those who opposed giving as much power to the national government as the Constitution did, favoring instead stronger states' rights
Ex post facto law
A law that would declare an act criminal after the act was committed
Madisonian view of human nature
A philosophy holding that accommodating individual self-interest provided a more practical solution to the problem of government than aiming to cultivate virtue
Confederation
An agreement among sovereign states that delegates certain powers to a national government
Writ of habeas corpus
A court order requiring police officials to produce an individual held in custody and show sufficient cause for that person's detention
Sovereignty
A government that is legally and politically independent of any other government