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The Constitution and the Federalist Debate

America: A Concise History, Volume 1: To 1877

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The Constitution and the Federalist Debate - 1787 (end of chapter 3 in text) - How much democracy? - John Adams feared the Pensylvannia radical democracy. He called for a bicameral legislature with functions to curb democracy. A veto for the elected governor. Two houses, a representative one and then one for the landowners to watch over. Separate institutions for functions of government (lawmaking, administering, judging). - The articles of confederation, the first constitution did not work. - They had no ability to tax, the president had no power and changed frequently (NO EXECUTIVE BRANCH). Government was decentralized and the power remained with the states. They didn’t want to replace one tyrant with another. - They made it purposefully decentralized. - Most things had to be decided by at least, 9/13 somethings even required unanimity. - They voted by states. Each state had a vote. There was a one house parliament. - The Congress faced major debts and challenges. The government could not make any decisions. - After Newburgh’s rebellion, they decided to change the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution. - They organized a constitutional convention. - Constitutional Convention is three years after Newburgh’s rebellion. Newburgh was after the war. - This is now 1787 = constitutional convention. - New Jersey plan, Virginia proposal. Various plans. In the end, they focused on a federalist proposal. - Federalist proposal: 1) three branches of government: - Executive: president and his advisors and assistants. Their job is to administer the government. - Legislative: a congress designed to make and pass laws - Judicial: courts, headed by a supreme court 2) checks and balances: one branch checks the other branch. Hands on everyone else’s shoulders. WAR: congress declares war, President is commander in chief. Congress has the power to pass laws, the president has a veto. The Supreme Court has a power to rule whether the law is constitutional. The president appoints the justices to the Supreme Court, but they must be approved by the Congress. 3) Separation of powers: no group has supreme authority.
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