Most governmental actions that affected the people were made within the colony. Each colony was separate with its own decision-making government.
Although Thomas Jefferson said he was influenced by “neither book nor pamphlet,” his writings were strongly influenced by those of John Locke and others. Natural Rights Natural rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness Social Contract Based on the idea of consent of the governed, and that governments had the responsibility to protect the natural rights of its citizens. If the government failed to do so, the people had the right to revolt.
Once independence was granted there was less pressure on the states to organize for the collective good.
With the creation of the Articles remained the lack of a strong central authority to resolve disputes between the states. To organize the states for the collective good, including the organization of a militia, was crucial to the development of the Constitutional Convention. Events such as Shays’ Rebellion convinced many political leaders of the need for a stronger central government.
Republicans opposed any centralization of power. Federalists favored a stronger government. However, there was no agreement among the Federalists concerning the structure and division of power for this new government.
Concentrated power in a lower house that was to choose the executive. Major weakness: representation was strictly by population, to the disadvantage of the small states.
The Madisonian Model Separation of Powers. The legislative, executive, and judicial powers to be independent of each other Checks and Balances. Government had considerably more power than under the Articles of Confederation. However, these men were distrustful of those who would hold this power and of the people who would select the governmental officials.
The electoral college meant that the president was not to be chosen by Congress, but not by a popular vote either.
Beard’s Thesis . Historian Charles Beard argued that the Constitution was put through by an undemocratic elite intent on the protection of property. State Ratifying Conventions . These conventions were elected by a strikingly small part of the total population. Support Was Probably Widespread . Still, the defense of property was a value that was by no means limited to the elite. The belief that the government under the Articles was dangerously weak was widespread.
A “Bill of Limits.” The package was assembled by Madison, who culled through almost two hundred state suggestions. No explicit limits on state government powers. Did not apply to state governments. The restrictions were only applicable to the national government until the 14th amendment incorporated some of these rights.
Click on the picture to get the text of the Bill of Rights.
Every government needs to be able to cope with any new and unforeseen problem. Any Constitutional change should, however, be taken on with extreme caution. If the process to amend the Constitution is rigorous, there should be ample time to consider the merits of such a change.
Recent amendments have usually been accompanied by time limits for ratification.
http://www.lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/declara/declara4. html The Library of Congress presents original drafts and other documents pertaining to the Declaration of Independence. http://www.usconstitution.net This Constitution page with numerous links was originally created by a political science student as a class project. http://thomas.loc.gov A comprehensive guide to the current status in Congress of a bill, resolution, or amendment. Includes bills that are under consideration. Also includes links to the websites of members of Congress.