Chapter 2: The Constitution & the Founding
▫ Republican democracy: Aform of democracy in which the interests of the people are
represented through elected leaders
▫ Monarchy: Aform of government in which power is held by a single person, or
monarch, who comes to power through inheritance rather than election
▫ Articles of Confederation: Sent to the states for ratification in 1777, these were the
first attempt as a newAmerican government. It was later decided that theArticles
restricted national government too much, and they were replaced by the Constitution
▫ Limited government:Asystem in which the powers of government are restricted to
protect against tyranny
▫ Republicanism:As understood by James Madison and the framers, the belief that a
form of government in which the interests of the people are represented through
elected leaders is the best form of government.
▫ “Consent of the governed”: The idea that government gains its legitimacy through
regular elections in which the people living under that government participate to elect
▫ Natural Rights:Also known as the “unalienable rights”, the Declaration of
Independence defines them as “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The
founders believed that upholding these rights should be the government’s central
▫ Federalist Papers:Aseries of eighty-five articles written byAlexander Hamilton,
James Madison, and John Jay that sought to sway public opinion toward the
▫ Federalists: Those at the Constitutional Convention who favored a strong national
government and a system of separated powers.
▫ Antifederalists: Those at the Constitutional Convention who favored strong state
governments and feared that s strong national government would be a threat to
▫ Pluralism: The idea that having a variety of parties and interests within a government
will strengthen the system, ensuring that no group possesses total control.
▫ Virginia Plan:Aplan proposed by the larger states during the Constitutional
Convention that based representation in the national legislature based on population.
The plan also included a variety of other proposals to strengthen the national
▫ New Jersey Plan: In response to the Virginia Plan, smaller states at the Constitutional
Convention proposed that each state should receive equal representation in the
national legislature regardless of size.
▫ Great Compromise:A compromise between the large and small states, proposed by
Connecticut, in which Congress would have two houses: a Senate with two
legislatures per state and a House of Representatives in which each states
representation would be based on population (also known as the Connecticut
Compromise). ▫ Parliamentary System:A system of government in which legislative and executive
power are closely joined, The legislature(parliament) selects the chief
executive(prime minister) who forms the cabinet from members of the parliament
▫ Reserved Powers:As defined in the 10 Amendment, powers that are not given to the
national government by the Constitution, or not prohibited to the states are reserved
by the states or the people.
▫ National Supremacy Clause: Part ofArticle VI, Section 2, of the Constitution stating
that the Constitution and the laws and treaties of the United States are the “supreme
Law of the Land,” meaning national laws take precedent over state laws if the two
▫ Three-Fifths Compromise: The states’decision during the Constitutional Convention
to count each slave as three-fifths of a person in a state’s population for the purpose of
determining the number of House members and the distribution of taxes.
▫ Bill of Rights: The first ten amendments to the Constitution; they protect individual
rights and liberties.
▫ Necessary and Proper Clause: Part of Article I. Section B, of the Constitution that
grants Congress the power to pass all the laws related to one of its expresses powers;
also known as the elastic clause.
▫ Impeachment:Anegative or checking power over the other branches that allows
Congress to remove the president, vice president, or other “officers of the United
States” (including federal judges) for abuses of power.
▫ Power of the purse: The constitutional power of Congress to raise and spend money,
Congress can use this as a negative or checking power over the other branches by
freezing or cutting their funding.
▫ Judicial Review: The Supreme Court’s power to strike down a law or executive
branch action that it finds unconstitutional.
▫ Executive powers clause: Part ofArticle II. Section 1, of the Constitution that states,
“The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States ofAmerica.
This broad statement has been used to justify many assertions of presidential power.
▫ Commerce Clause: Part ofArticle I, Section 8, of the Constitution that gives Congress
“the power to regulate Commerce…among the several States.” The Supreme Court’s
interpretation of this clause has varied, but today it serves as the basis for much of
▫ Enumerated Powers: Powers explicitly granted to Congress, the president, or the
Supreme Court in the first three articles of the Constitutions. Examples include
Congress’s power to “raise and support armies” and the president’s power as
commander in chief.
▫ Implied Powers: Powers supported by the Constitution that are not expressly stated in
▫ Constitutional Revolution:Asignificant change in the Constitution that may be
accomplished either through amendments (as after the Civil War) or shifts in the
Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitutional (as in the New Deal era).
II. Lecture(1/28/13) -Constitutional Foundations of U.S Government
1. What is a constitution? a.The document or documents that describe the basic structure of a
2. How do constitutions differ?
a.Length and specify
b. Written(United States) or Unwritten(Great Britton)
3. Basic Structure of U.S. Constitution
a.Created a national government while recognizing the authority of state
b. Divided the power of the national government into three parts and
described the powers of each part and the relations between
them(Separation of Powers & Checks and Balances)
4. Why was this a big deal?
a.Different from British/French Rule, set up was unique, distinct, and
B. Precursors to the Constitution
1. Step 1—British Rule
a.Status ofAmerican colonists in the 18 century
i. British subjects, but enjoyed greater freedoms
ii. Colonists and Britain had reached an (informal) agreement
-Great Britain had control over foreign affairs and trade and
the colonists had control over everything else.
iii. So, what changed?
-Seven Years War occurred, and colonists were taxed to
help pay for the war. No taxation without representation.
2. Step 2—Declaration of Independence
a.The Continental Congress’s choice
b. Their Decision?
i. Declare independence by writing up document
i. Locke’s idea of the Social Contract(If you are being governed,
you give up some freedoms. People give up freedoms,
government does certain things in repayment but if either side
fails, contract is broken)
3. Step 2—Declaration of Independence
a.Premises of the Declaration of Independence
i. The people have a right to revolt when they determine that the
government is destructive of legitimate rights
i. Long list of deliberate acts committed by the king illustrates
how government has destroyed these rights
4. Step 3—The Revolution
a.Continental Congress votes for independence (approves the
b. War officially begins (and lasts for 6 years) c.Begin work on setting up a new Republic
i. Without Monarch
ii. Rooted in consent of governed
iii. Power exercised through elected representatives
d. What is a confederation?
i. Loose association of states, independent units agree to come
together for a limited reason
e.Why did the Continental Congress opt for one?
i. Individuals had more affiliation with their states rather than as
ii. Prevent too strong of a national government(Don’t want another
f.Basic institutional structure
i. States would keep their sovereignty
ii. A“national: Congress, with each state having 1 vote
iii. For measures to pass, 9 of 13 states had to consent
g. Step 3—Articles of Confederation
h. Shortcomings of theArticles
i. National government had no power to tax
ii. No clear national leader
iii. No power to regulate commerce
iv. Amendments could only pass with unanimous consents
i. Effects of Shay’s Rebellion
i. MAin economic troubles, farms closing and therefore Shay
along with farmers started a rebellion and to order. Government
could not stop it.
j. What happens next?
i. 1786—Delegates meet inAnnapolis
ii. 1787—Second meeting scheduled in Philadelphia
C. The Constitutional Convention
1. What was it?
a.Power divided among three branches
b. Legislative branch to be bicameral
i. House of Reps chosen by people; Senate chosen by the House
from candidates proposed by state legislatures
ii. Each state’s representation based on taxes or free population
iii. Legislature could override state laws
c.Executive would consist of an unspecified number of people, would be
selected by the legislature, would serve a single term