POLS Chapter 2 - Ch 2 The Constitution Politics in Action o...

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Ch 2: The Constitution - Politics in Action o The Constitution supersedes ordinary law. It not only guarantees individual rights but also decentralizes power. o Power is not concentrated in one person’s hands; instead, there are numerous checks on the exercise of power and many obstacles to change. o A constitution is a nation’s basic law. It creates political institutions, allocates power within government, and often provides guarantees to citizens. - The Origins of the Constitution o The Road to Revolution Life wasn’t bad in America at the time of the Revolution. White colonists were freer, more equal, more prosperous and less burdened with cumbersome feudal restraints than any other part of mankind. The king and the parliament confined themselves to governing America’s foreign policy and trade. Britain obtained new territory after the French and Indian War. The cost of defending this territory was imposed on the colonists through a series of taxes. The colonists lacked direct representation in the Parliament and resented this. They protested, boycotted taxed goods and even threw 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor. First Continental Congress in September 1774->send delegates to Britain. o Declaring Independence May-June 1776->Congress began debating resolutions about independence. The Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence (written primarily be Jefferson) on July 4 1776. The Declaration was a polemic, political argument announcing and justifying a revolution. Most of the document listed the ways the king had abused the colonies. It is more a statement of philosophy than a political all to arms. o The English Heritage: The Power of Ideas Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Morris and Hamilton applied ideas of French, Scottish and British philosophers into the new government they formed through the framework of the Constitution. John Locke was one of the most influential philosophers. He built his philosophy on the belief in natural rights -rights inherent to human beings. Before governments arise, natural laws govern people (determined by the people’s innate moral sense). Government must be built on the consent of the governed. It should also be a limited government.
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The sole purpose of government is to protect natural rights. Limits on government: government must provide standing laws, preservation of property. In an extreme case, people have a right to revolt against a government that no longer has their consent. o Jefferson’s Handiwork: The American Creed Jefferson claimed in the Declaration of Independence that people should have primacy over government; that they should rule instead of be ruled. Each person was created equal with unalienable rights.
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