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Limited Government

basic principle of american government which states that government is restricted in what it may do, and each individual has rights that government cannot take away

Magna Carta

Great Charter forced upon King John of England by his barons in 1215; established that the power of the monarchy was not absolute and guaranteed trial by jury and due process of law to nobility

Petition of rights

document prepared by parliament and signed by king charles 1 of England in 1628; challenged the idea of the divine right of kings and declared that even the monarch was subject to the laws of the land

English Bill of rights

document written by parliament and agreed by William and Mary of England in 1689, designed to prevent abuse of power by English monarchs; forms the basis for much in American government and politics today


a body of people who settle far from home but maintain ties with their homeland

Direct Democracy

A form of government in which citizens rule directly and not through representatives

Representative Democracy

A system of government in which citizens elect representatives, or leaders, to make decisions about the laws for all the people.

John Locke

English philosopher who advocated the idea of a "social contract" in which government powers are derived from the consent of the governed and in which the government serves the people; also said people have natural rights to life, liberty and property.


French political philosopher who advocated the separation of executive and legislative and judicial powers (1689-1755)


a city's basic law, its constitution; a written grant of authority from the king

fundamental Orders of connecticut

This document was the first written constitution in the American colonies. It was prepared as the covenant for the new Puritan community in Connecticut, established in the 1630s. This document described a system of government for the new community.

French and Indian war

Was a war fought by French and English on American soil over control of the Ohio River Valley-- English defeated French in1763. Historical Significance: established England as number one world power and began to gradually change attitudes of the colonists toward England for the worse.

Boston Tea party

a raid on three British ships in Boston Harbor (December 16, 1773) in which Boston colonists, disguised as Indians, threw the contents of several hundred chests of tea into the harbor as a protest against British taxes on tea and against the monopoly granted the East India Company.


a government order imposing a trade barrier

Thomas Paine

American Revolutionary leader and pamphleteer (born in England) who supported the American colonist's fight for independence and supported the French Revolution (1737-1809)

Articles of Confederation

plan of government adapted by the continental congress after the American Revolution;established "a firm league of friendship" among the states, but allowed few important powers to the central government

Bicameral legislature

A law making body made of two houses (bi means 2). Example: Congress (our legislature) is made of two house - The House of Representatives and The Senate.

Virginia Plan

plan presented by delegates from Virginia at the constitutional Convention; called for a three-branch government with a bicameral legislature in which each State's membership would be determined by its population or its financial support for the central government

New Jersey Plan

plan presented as an alternative to the Virginia Plan at the Constitutional Convection; called for a unicameral legislature in which each State would be equally represented

Connecticut Compromise

agreement during the constitutional Convection that Congress should be composed of a Senate, in which States would be based on a State's population

3/5 compromise

the decision at the Constitutional convention to count slaves as 3/5 of a person for the purpose of deciding the population and determining how many seats each state would have in Congress


approve and express assent, responsibility, or obligation

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