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make laws


enforce laws


interpret laws

Articles of Confederation

1st national constitution; powers establish national policy, conduct foriegn relations, coin money, declare war, set up post offices

Problems of the Articles of Confederation

congress could not impose taxes or regulate trade; no executive or judicial branch of government; all states needed to amend and only 9/13 needed to pass laws

Northwest Territoy

established pattern of settlement; states had to give up their land claimes west of appalachian Mountains

Land ordinance of 1785

plan for selling the NorthWest territoy; surveyed and divided into a neat grid of townships

Northwest Ordinance

1787- law passed to encourage orderly settlement; promised religious freedom and other civil rights (no slavery)

Shay's Rebellion

one of several tax payers revolts in Massachusetts; led g4roup of farmer that couldn't par in hard currency; tried to convince other states that amending the Constitution was necessary

Constitutional Convention

12 of 13 states were represented; deciding on whether or not to have a strong or weak central government

George Washington

elected to lead constitutional convention; strength and character made him a symbol for every other state

Virginia Plan

"large state plan" 3 branches of government- exectutive, judicial, legislative; bicameral; Senate and House of Representatives; based on population

New Jersey Plan

"small state plan" 3 branches of government- multiple exectutives; one house and not based on population

Great Compromise/ Conneticut Compromise

combining both plans; bicameral legislature; lower house= number of representative sis determined by population and upper house= equal

bicameral legislature

upper house= each state has an equal number of representatives; lower house= number of representatives is determined by population

3/5 compromise

all white plus 3/5 of slave population (all other people) would be counted for representation and taxation but they will not have the right to vote


the division and sharing of power between a strong central government and regional units of government (states)

checks and balances

provided each branch with the power to stop or slow an action of one of the other branches; no one branch would dominate the others


support the constitution; educated and well organized; unified/ urban city dwellers


opposed the constitution; mojority of people; rural society; Sam Adams; Thomas Jefferson

Bill of Rights

1st 10 ammendments to the constitution; added to the consititution; used to convince states to ratify the constitution

Federalists Papers

used to convince states to ratify the constitution

delegated powers

federaol government powers; declare war, admit new states, coin money, set up post offices

reserved powers

state ofernment powers; maintain law and order, levy taxes, borrow money, establish courts

Legislative Checks on judicial

may impeach supreme court justices

legislative checks on executive

may reject treaties

executive checks of legislative

may veto bills

executive checks on judicial

appoint judges

judicial checks on legislative

declare laws passed by congress unconstitutional

judicial checks on executive

may declare actions unconstitutional

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