10.18 - 10.18.07 Intro: Imbecility of Articles of...

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10.18.07 Intro: Imbecility of Articles of Confederation. Always called it an imbecile government…. Also governments created through a revolutionary war will always have a large debt b/c they had NO TREASURY but had a war… However people will see this as an irresponsibility on the government’s part. Historians used to call the 1780’s the “Critical period”—this was when the fate hung in the balance. Would it survive? Outcome was the Constitution: 1787 adopted in 1789 -It is the oldest written Constitution in the world. It lasted for over 200 years Success attributed: -It can be amended -It is a model less in its detailed institutions but more of an idea of a written constitution -Was the result of the economic and therefore political problems raised by the huge debt from the revolutionary war They do try for national taxes b/c its hard to get unanimous participation needed This paralyzing weakness = imbecility of the government I. State constitutions a. Writing started in the beginning of the Revolutionary War—it was writing the state constitutions that Americans worked out how a constitution should be written and what should be written in it i. Many rewrote them in 1780s and some rewrote again in 1790s ii. During this time there were 26 separate state constitutions written an average of 2 per state how much experiment was going on 1. In the course of this experimentation they are answering questions: a. What is a constitution? b. How is a constitution diff from ordinary constitution? c. Who writes it? d. How does it get adopted? iii. First ones written by national assemblies but starting with Mass in 1779 new system: written by a convention elected for that purpose and the result would be sent to the people for ratification b. Most i. Started out with a bill of rights—some guaranteed religion, speech, some didn’t, most protected life liberty and property, unreasonable search and seizures, jury trials, most of what ended up in Bill of Rights was in at least one if not more of the state bill of rights ii. Structure of Govt
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1. Varied 2. But all provided for an elected legislature and some kind of judicial system iii. Important thinkers: 1. John Adams: worked out a new theory of mixed government 2. English theory: mix of social orders—monarchy, aristocracy, and people 3. John Adams: Thoughts on Government 1786: instead of separating power among groups separated by social order but separate by function—legislative, executive, and judicial a. Each of the branches would be a check on the other two b. He sent this to the other colonies when they were experimenting with constitution 4. Not everyone listened—Penn most revolutionary constitution—1776 a. Unicameral legislature—no senate b. No governor c. Right to vote granted to every free man over 21 who lived for at least 1 year and paid any kind of tax d. No property qualifications for office holding e. To be elected you have to live in the district 2 years f. (Not unique) state legislatures not allowed to be
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10.18 - 10.18.07 Intro: Imbecility of Articles of...

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