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  1. 1. The Constitution: Historical Context Andrew Martin University of Kentucky
  2. 3. Life in England <ul><li>Economic Conditions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Inequality throughout society – many poor farmers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Little land, overcrowding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Colonization thought to be good way to invest wealth, extract resources for Britain </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good for exporting unwanted groups (e.g. criminals, the poor, religious minorities) </li></ul></ul>
  3. 4. Life in England <ul><li>Political conditions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sectarian religious violence and upheaval plagued England </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fighting between established Anglican church and Puritans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Crown/parliament repressed dissent </li></ul></ul>
  4. 5. Incentives to Immigrate <ul><li>1. Economic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gold, silver, other natural resources could be extracted for profit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Land – either self-sufficiency or exporting crops </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2. Religious </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Freedom to worship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Establish a “city on a hill” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>3. Political </li></ul><ul><ul><li>self-determination </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>self-reliance </li></ul></ul>
  5. 6. Governance in New England <ul><li>Most colonies were established through royal charter. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Royal governors were appointed and responsible only to the crown. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Every colony had an elected assembly. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assemblies had little legal force but were useful to royal governors. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Governors wanted good advice, esteem of citizens. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 7. Governance in New England <ul><li>Eventually the arrangement became trouble: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Supporters of the crown in the colonies tended to be the wealthy and elite, as in Great Britain. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many received special land grants and privileges not open to ordinary citizens. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Colonists became increasingly suspicious of power. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Colonists could easily avoid royal/colonial control because they could move around freely. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 9. French and Indian War (1754-1763) <ul><li>Britain incurred large war debts </li></ul><ul><li>English citizens unhappy about taxes; Parliament needed to generate revenue </li></ul><ul><li>Parliament decided to generate revenue by taxing American colonies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Taxed other colonies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Break from earlier policy of lower taxation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Break from policy of “salutary neglect,” or loose enforcement of trade laws in colonies. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 10. French and Indian War (1754-1763) <ul><li>Colonial Taxation: </li></ul><ul><li>Sugar Act (1774) – Tariffs imposed on molasses and rum, increased customs enforcement </li></ul><ul><li>Stamp Act (1765) – Direct tax on pamphlets, newspapers, playing cards, dice, marriage licenses, legal documents </li></ul>
  9. 11. French and Indian War (1754-1763) <ul><li>Colonial Taxation: </li></ul><ul><li>Townsend Acts (1767) – Tariffs imposed on lead, paper, paint, glass, and tea </li></ul><ul><li>Tea Act (1773) – Exempted East India Company from tariffs on tea. </li></ul><ul><li>Duties on imports and direct taxes hurt both merchants and colonial consumers. </li></ul><ul><li>Royal Proclamation of 1763: King George also prohibited colonists from moving west of the Appalachian mountains. </li></ul>
  10. 13. Tea Party fallout <ul><li>In 1774, Britain responds by passing harsher laws known as the Coercive Acts, or Intolerable Acts. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Closed Boston Harbor </li></ul></ul>
  11. 15. Tea Party fallout <ul><li>In 1774, Britain responds by passing harsher laws known as the Coercive Acts, or Intolerable Acts. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Closed Boston Harbor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>British officers who were arrested stood trial in England instead of in colonial courts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quartering Act – obligated citizens to house British troops. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quebec Act – Strengthened British-controlled central government in Canada. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 17. First Continental Congress (1774) <ul><li>Formed in response to Coercive Acts. </li></ul><ul><li>FCC calls for boycott of British goods. </li></ul><ul><li>But delegates still hope for a peaceful reconciliation with Great Britain. </li></ul>
  13. 18. First Continental Congress (1774) <ul><li>Formed in response to Coercive Acts. </li></ul><ul><li>FCC calls for boycott of British goods. </li></ul><ul><li>But delegates still hope for a peaceful reconciliation with Great Britain. </li></ul>
  14. 19. Lexington and Concord (1775) <ul><li>Mass. Gov. Thomas Gage orders troops to seize growing militia weapons arsenal in Concord. </li></ul><ul><li>Patriots fired on Redcoats before they reach Concord. </li></ul><ul><li>Redcoats have to retreat. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>95 colonists dead </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>270 British soldiers dead </li></ul></ul>
  15. 21. Declaration of Independence (1776) <ul><li>Written by Thomas Jefferson, landmark document provides rationale for both self- government and revolution. </li></ul><ul><li>Lays out tenets of democratic government </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All people have natural rights. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>These natural rights come from the creator, and cannot be given or taken away by government. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social Contract Theory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Popular sovereignty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Revolution is justified when government is tyrannical. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 23. Origins of Jefferson's ideas <ul><li>John Locke (1632-1704) </li></ul><ul><li>Second Treatise on Government </li></ul><ul><ul><li>State of nature (the time before government or laws) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Complete, unrestricted freedom </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In such a state, no rights are safe (Hobbes) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Therefore, governments were formed to protect natural rights </li></ul></ul>
  17. 24. Declaration of Independence (1776) <ul><li>The rest of the document formally lays out grievances with King George III and the British government. Some highlights: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No form of representation for colonists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dissolving legislative bodies and making governance difficult for them. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Refusal to approve important public law. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of an independent judiciary. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Using a standing army for intimidation and control. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Forced quartering of troops. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of government, military accountability. </li></ul></ul>
  18. 26. The Revolutionary War <ul><li>Fought from 1775-1783. </li></ul><ul><li>The colonists won the war because: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Leadership of Gen. George Washington, whose Continental Army won enough high-profile battles to convince his soldiers, other foreign powers the war could be won. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Writings and ideas of revolutionary era thinkers (e.g. Thomas Paine). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Common Sense </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Crisis” papers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assistance from France. </li></ul></ul>
  19. 27. Articles of Confederation (1781) <ul><li>Devised during the first year of the war and but not put into effect in 1781. </li></ul><ul><li>Written when suspicion of governmental power was at its peak. </li></ul><ul><li>Authors wanted to create a loose federation of states while retaining state-level autonomy. </li></ul>
  20. 28. Articles of Confederation (1781) <ul><li>Provisions included: </li></ul><ul><li>Unicameral Legislature </li></ul><ul><li>Each state has one vote in legislature. </li></ul><ul><li>Delegates are appointed and paid by state legislatures. </li></ul><ul><li>No official head of the executive department. </li></ul><ul><li>Congress was given nominal power but in reality was very weak. </li></ul>
  21. 29. Articles of Confederation (1781) <ul><li>Had many limitations. Congress could not: </li></ul><ul><li>Levy taxes. Congress had to request money from states. </li></ul><ul><li>Regulate commerce. </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct national, consensus foreign policy. </li></ul><ul><li>Establish a national commerce system. </li></ul><ul><li>Force state compliance with federal laws. </li></ul><ul><li>Establish a draft. </li></ul><ul><li>Collect money from states for services performed. </li></ul>
  22. 30. Articles of Confederation (1781) <ul><li>Ultimately failed because: </li></ul><ul><li>No way to finance operation of government. </li></ul><ul><li>No commercial regulation. </li></ul><ul><li>No ability to establish unified foreign policy. </li></ul><ul><li>Too difficult to amend. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Required unanimous consent to amend document. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Did not establish leadership or government accountability. </li></ul>
  23. 31. Shays Rebellion (1786) <ul><li>Colonists hit hard by postwar depression. </li></ul><ul><li>Imported food flooded market and depressed crop prices. </li></ul><ul><li>Farmers could not pay debts. Banks began foreclosing on land/assets. </li></ul><ul><li>Massachusetts state legislature did nothing to ease plight of farmers. </li></ul>
  24. 33. Shays Rebellion (1786) <ul><li>Farmer and Patriot militia Capt. Danial Shays led 2,500 farmers in uprising against Massachusetts state legislature. </li></ul><ul><li>Massachusetts appealed to federal government for help, but none was available. </li></ul><ul><li>Rebels captured and sentenced to death, but later all were pardoned. </li></ul>