Chapter 2- The Constitution

Chapter 2- The Constitution - Chapter 2: The Constitution...

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Chapter 2: The Constitution I. Introduction a. Constitution is the supreme law of the land that was developed as a replacement to the Articles of Confederation b. Made in secrecy in the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia at the Constitutional Convention c. Goal for the American Revolution was liberty i. First revolution with the clearest case of a people altering the political order violently in order to protect their liberties II. History a. Colonists sought to have their liberties protected while they remained a part of the British Empire i. The lack of liberties caused the colonists to decree the Declaration of Independence 1. Listed a person’s “natural rights” and self evident facts a. Rights included life, liberty, and property(pursuit of happiness) 2. Asserted 27 complaints against the British king 3. Written by Thomas Jefferson 4. Declaration acted as a lawyers brief prefaced with a philosophical claim b. The real revolution was the “radical change in the principles, opinions, and sentiments of the people” i. Human liberty = the foremost priority ii. The legislative branch would represent the people and should be more powerful than the executive branch iii. Written constitution could allow political power to be recognized. c. Articles of Confederation i. “league of friendship” that contained a weak constitution that governed America during the Revolutionary War ii. Strengths 1. Each state was sovereign and independent 2. Congress could ratify treaties in order to obtain peace iii. Weakness 1. Congress could not levy taxes or regulate commerce 2. A confederation not a country was established 3. Each state regardless of size had 1 vote in congress 4. Small federal army 5. No national judicial system d. Constitutional Convention i. delegates were authorized by Congress only to revise the Articles 1. the convention instead produced a wholly new written constitution that created a national government like never before ii. The Framers 1. 55 mostly young but experienced delegates
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a. Consisted mostly of lawyers who were not “intellectuals” but men of practical affairs 2. Everyone present was familiar with traditional arguments and were well read in history 3. Used experiences and anecdotes from other governments a. James Madison, studied ancient and modern political history, but concluded that nothing in history had worked 4. Influenced by the writings of John Locke a. Preached that all men were perfectly free, but that men gave up a bit of their freedom to enter a society that could protect their property. iii. Conflicts and Compromises within the Convention 1. Central problem was how to devise a government strong enough to preserve order but not so strong that it would threaten liberty 2. Delegates were split upon many issues a. What powers should be given to a central government b. How the states should be represented c. What was to be done about slavery d. The role of the people 3. Virginia Plan vs. New Jersey Plan a. Virginia Plan called for a strong national union organized
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This note was uploaded on 02/09/2009 for the course POLITICAL 220 taught by Professor Schwak during the Spring '08 term at Northwestern.

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Chapter 2- The Constitution - Chapter 2: The Constitution...

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