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From the Articles of Confederation to the U.S. Constitution



opponents of ratification of the U.S. Constitution because of the belief that the federal government was given too much power

Articles of Confederation

first U.S. constitution, which established a central government with limited powers while granting most governmental power to the states


having two legislative chambers

Bill of Rights

first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which ensure individual freedoms and protections from the government

checks and balances

principle that ensures that the different branches of government have the ability to stop actions of the other branches under defined conditions


political system with weak or loose organization of states, where the central government is granted authority by the states

Constitutional Convention

1787 convention that drew up the U.S. Constitution instead of revising the Articles of Confederation

electoral college

system by which the president and vice president of the United States are selected by electors from each state and the District of Columbia. Each state has the same number of electoral votes as it has representatives and senators in Congress; the District of Columbia has three.

enumerated power

power specifically granted to Congress by Article 1, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution


system of government in which power is divided and shared between two entities, typically a central government and regional (e.g., state) governments

Federalist Papers

series of essays written in favor of ratification by explaining the intent of the Constitution


supporters of a strong federal government and ratification of the U.S. Constitution

Great Compromise

plan that proposed a legislature made up of a Senate, in which each state had equal representation, and a House of Representatives, in which representation was proportional in relation to the population of each state

implied power

power assumed by Congress through interpretation of the necessary and proper clause found in paragraph 18 of Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution

necessary and proper clause

the clause in Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to make laws that are necessary to carry out the powers that are granted by the Constitution

New Jersey Plan

plan for government favoring small states by keeping the unicameral legislature formed under the Articles of Confederation and giving each state equal representation


system of government in which the ultimate authority of government is in the hands of the people, who elect officials to represent them in the government

separation of powers

division of the judicial, executive, and legislative functions of government into distinct, independent bodies

Shays's Rebellion

rebellion in which poor farmers and others marched on courthouses to stop foreclosures of their property and the imprisonment of debtors

state sovereignty

supreme authority and power of the states to govern themselves

supremacy clause

clause in Article 6 of U.S. Constitution that establishes the U.S. Constitution as the supreme law of the land

Three-Fifths Compromise

provided that enslaved individuals would be counted as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of both representation and taxation

Treaty of Paris

formal agreement between the United States and Great Britain that ended the American Revolution


having one legislative chamber

unitary system

political system in which the central government holds most or all of the governing power, as opposed to a federal system


action by the president to reject legislation passed by Congress

Virginia Plan

plan for government favoring large states by establishing a bicameral legislature in which representation in both houses was based on population