Chapter 5 and 6: The United States Constitution

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Chapter 5 and 6: The United States Constitution

  1. 1. The United States Constitution Chapters 5 and 6 GPS: SSUSH5
  2. 2. The Articles of Confederation  After declaring independence, the 2nd Continental Congress faced the challenge of establishing a central government.  In 1777, delegates wrote the Articles of Confederation, America’s first constitution.  A constitution is a plan of government or the rules of a country.  It est. a “firm league of friendship” (confederation) b/t the states and created a Congress with each state having one vote.
  3. 3. The Articles of Confederation  Federalism: the sharing of power b/t the federal and state governments, forming the basis of U.S. government  Powers NOT given to the federal gov’t were retained by the states.  Powers shared by the federal and state governments were called concurrent powers.  The articles did not create an office of chief executive, a system of federal courts, authorize Congress to raise an army or tax the states.  Ratification was required by ALL 13 states and was accomplished in 1781.
  4. 4. Weakness of The Articles of Confederation  The Articles of Confederation was not strong enough to govern America which now extended to the Mississippi River.  America was in debt b/c of the Revolution and the federal gov’t had no ability to resolve the financial issues.  The federal gov’t could ASK for $ from the states, but had no power to tax.  Also, the critical issue of slavery, which was abolished in the northern states, divided the new nation.
  5. 5. Weakness of The Articles of Confederation  Times were tough for American farmers – many were unable to sell their goods and pay heavy taxes levied by the states to pay for their war debts.  Many farmers ended up in jail and their lands were seized.  Farmers viewed the actions of gov’t just as they viewed England before the Revolution – a form of tyranny.
  6. 6. Shays’ Rebellion  In January 1787, Daniel Shays, along with 1,000 other farmers, attempted to storm the federal arsenal in Springfield, Mass.  To some, the rebellion showed the gov’t was too weak to rule the nation.  Others, like Thomas Jefferson, believed it served to correct the ills of government.
  7. 7. Constitutional Convention  Alarmed by the events of Shays Rebellion, delegates from each state met in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 – this meeting was called the Constitutional Convention.  Over half of the delegates served in the Continental Congress and 1/3 of them fought in the Revolution.  James Madison is known as the “Father of the Constitution” because he strongly influenced the shape of the Constitution.  George Washington was elected president of the Constitutional Convention.
  8. 8. The United States Constitution  Many delegates feared the establishment of a president and placing too much power in the hands of one individual.  The Framers (the founders, or individuals whose ideas organized the U.S. gov’t and are found in the Constitution): debated two plans for improving the legislative branch – The Virginia Plan: proposed by Edmund Randolph and favored by the majority of delegates – The New Jersey Plan: proposed by William Paterson
  9. 9. The United States Constitution  The Virginia Plan – Bicameral Legislature: one lower house elected by the people and one upper house whose delegates are chosen by the lower house. – Representation in Congress based on states’ population – Legislative branch makes the laws – Chief executive (president) chosen by legislature – Establishment of a federal court system – Power to veto (prevent becoming a law) state laws
  10. 10. The United States Constitution  The New Jersey Plan – Unicameral legislature: Congress made up of one house of delegates – Maintain the Articles of Confederation – Equal representation of states in Congress – Gives Congress the power to tax and regulate trade – Establish the laws of the U.S. as supreme over the states
  11. 11. The United States Constitution  The Constitution would be the supreme law of the United States.  The country would be a republic, governed by representation of the people’s will.  The Framers est. a limited government in that it only had powers granted to it by the Constitution.  The powers were divided and balanced b/t the gov’t: the executive branch, legislative branch, and judicial branch.  Each branch of government was given the ability to check the power of the other two branches – checks and balances system.
  12. 12. The United States Constitution  Three difficult problems arose: – 1. Representation in Congress – 2. How slaves would be counted in determining a state’s population – 3. The slave trade  The problems were solved by “The Great Compromise”, proposed by Roger Sherman, followed by the “Three-fifths Compromise”.
  13. 13. The United States Constitution  The Great Compromise – Bicameral legislature – The House of Representatives: based on a state’s population – The Senate: each state equally represented by two members  The Three-Fifths Compromise – Three-fifths of the enslaved counted as part of the population – Counting formula to be used for calculating taxation and representation  The Slave Trade – Congress agreed not to interfere with the slave trade for 20 years – Congress could limit the slave trade after that time
  14. 14. Federalists and Anti- Federalists  Federalists: Alexander Hamilton and James Madison; was a political party who supported a strong central gov’t, built upon representation of the people; started at the 1796 election.  Anti-Federalists: Thomas Jefferson; opponents of the Constitution; opposed the concept of a strong central government and supported strong state’s rights over federal power; wanted to protect people against the abuse by federal government
  15. 15. Bill of Rights  Several states refused to ratify (approve) the Constitution until a Bill of Rights was added.  Bill of Rights: sponsored by James Madison in 1789 and ratified in 1791; first ten amendments to the Constitution, which guaranteed individual rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of press, right to bear arms, right to trial by jury, and the right to petition the government.
  16. 16. The United States Government  George Washington was America’s first president and he est. a Cabinet, or set of advisors that shaped a working relationship b/t the executive and legislative branches.  The electoral college was created to limit the people’s power to elect a President directly.  The American Revolution sparked other revolutions in France and Latin America but the U.S. did not want to intervene in the political difficulties of other countries.
  17. 17. The United States Government  When farmers in western Pennsylvania rose in arms against the government over taxation, known as the Whiskey Rebellion, Washington showed the power of the federal government by sending troops to halt the armed protest.  The rebellion occurred in response to Hamilton’s debt plan and the tax on whiskey.  By 1796, two political parties had emerged: Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans.
  18. 18. Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans  The Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, believed the Constitution granted the federal government implied powers, or powers not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.  Leaders such as Jefferson and Madison considered themselves Republicans, individuals who believed in the strict interpretation of the Constitution.  The emergence of political parties played a major role in the 1796 presidential election.
  19. 19. Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans  John Adams, a Federalist, received the most votes and was elected president in 1796.  Under the provisions of the Constitution, the individual receiving the second highest vote count became vice president.  That fell to Thomas Jefferson, a person of very different political beliefs from Adams.

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