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Articles of Confederation

document adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777 and adopted by the states in 1781 outlining the form of governement for the U.S. A.; states more powerful than national government


introduction to the Constitution, "We the people..."


system of government where power is shared among the central or federal government and the states

delegated powers

powers assigned to national government in the Constitution

reserved powers

powers kept by the states


each side giving up something in order to gain something else

Virginia Plan

plan proposed by Edmund Randolph of Virginia in 1787, proposed a 3 branch government, 2 house legislature where representation is based on states' population or wealth

New Jersey Plan

government plan that called for one house legislature, each state having one vote

3/5 Compromise

3/5 of slave population counted when setting direct taxes and to determine representation in legislature

separtion of powers

division of basic government roles into branches to keep any one branch from gaining too much power

legislative branch

makes laws: congress, senate

executive branch

enforces laws: president is the chief executive

judicial branch

interprets the laws, courts (judicial = judges)

checks and balances

ability of each branch of government to exercise checks or controls over other branches


all laws begin as a bill, introduced by the House of Representatives for discussion

elastic clause

federal government given power to make all laws "necessary and proper" - loose interpretation of Constitution


changes, additions to the Constitution

Bill of Rights

the first 10 amendments to the Constitution added in 1791 consisting of a list of citizens' rights and freedoms


supporters of the Consititution


person who was against the ratification (passing) of the Constitution

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