Unit1A_TheFoundationsofAmericanGovernment

Unit1A_TheFoundationsofAmericanGovernment - 1 Unit 1A: The...

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1 Unit 1A: The Foundation of American Government The Declaration of Independence The US Constitution & The Bill of Rights The Enlightenment and Political Philosophy George Washington "Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth." Expected Outcomes : To understand the philosophical principles behind the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and how these principles influence the structure and process of government. 1A Overview The United States, as a nation, was born of the American Revolution of 1776. This revolution cut the political ties between England and its American colonies. Many "Americans" living in the colonies complained about harsh British rule. King George of England had ruled over the colonies with a heavy hand, increasing taxes through the Stamp and Sugar Acts, for example. These abuses began to divide the "patriots," in favor of independence, and the "loyalists," in favor of the English Crown. Tensions between the American colonials and British soldiers boiled over in the Boston Massacre, when a mob harassed British soldiers who then fired their muskets into the crowd, killing three, mortally wounding two others, and injuring six. Another famous incident which helped inspire the American Revolution was the Boston Tea Party of 1773, launched as a protest to the British Tea Act. This Act gave the British East India Company a tea monopoly, shutting out American traders. Bostonians disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians, then boarded the British ships and dumped all 342 containers of tea into the harbor. Two years later, in 1775, there were more serious conflicts between colonials and British troops: the Battles for Lexington and Concord, the prelude for a full conflict. The American Revolutionary War was long, bloody and ended with the French-assisted victory of the American Continental Army in 1781.
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2 An understanding of American government and politics should consider two documents related to this war and its aftermath. The first, the Declaration of Independence, which launched the American Revolutionary War; and the second, the US Constitution, which replaced the post-war Articles of Confederation and remains the highest law of the land. This unit analyzes these documents, noting how they were part of a trans-Atlantic Enlightenment movement with its emphasis on reason, freethinking, natural law, popular sovereignty, and human equality. Many of these ideas are visible in the Declaration of Independence, largely written by Thomas Jefferson. These ideas provided the ideological and philosophical framework for the American Revolution. After the expulsion of the English monarchy, the Articles of Confederation - in effect from 1777 to 1787 - turned the former colonies into largely autonomous units with a weak federal government. However, many people thought that this decentralized system did not solve the problem of providing for a common defense and for integrating state economies. Some elites also hoped that a stronger central
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This note was uploaded on 06/18/2011 for the course POLS 210 taught by Professor Prof.wood during the Spring '11 term at American Public University.

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Unit1A_TheFoundationsofAmericanGovernment - 1 Unit 1A: The...

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