Essay Constitutions Notes

Submitted By karasia15
Words: 2198
Pages: 9

UNIT 5: The US Constitution

I. The Origin of American Government
A. English Contributions
i. 1215 – The Magna Carta (Great Charter) was signed insuring protection against the absolute power of the monarch. ii. 1628 – The Petition of Right was signed limiting the monarch’s power in many specific ways. iii. 1689 – The English Bill of Rights was produced guaranteeing citizen’s rights and preventing abuses by the monarchs.

B. Colonial Contributions
i. 1619 – Virginia House of Burgesses became the first elected legislative body in the America’s ii. 1620 – Mayflower Compact signed creating a social contract in which people agreed to be governed by established laws and principles iii. 1643 – The New England Confederation joined into a “league of friendship” in defense against hostile Native Americans. iv. 1754 – The Albany Plan of Union was proposed by Benjamin Franklin to attempt to form a political union of the 13 original colonies – in the end this failed from lack of support
v. 1765 – The Stamp Act Congress joined the colonies together for the first time to oppose British governing policies and taxes. vi. 1774 – The First Continental Congress called to establish formal opposition to taxation through organized boycotts of British goods vii. 1776 – The Second Continental Congress breaks formally broke ties with the British. The Declaration of Independence was signed officially placing the colonies in a state of rebellion. viii.1776 – 1777- Most state constitutions were written and adopted ix. 1781- The Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation as the official governing body of the new United States of America
x. 1783- Treaty of Paris finally gives British recognition to American independence

II. State Governments
A. Most people held loyalties to their state instead of a national government
B. Most States passed their individual Constitutions before 1780
C. Themes
i. Limit Power of the executive (disliked Kings and royal Governors) ii. Strong Representative Legislatures iii. Assigned many of the powers traditionally given to the executive
a. Alliances and treaties
b. Appointments of government officials iv. Most Legislatures were bicameral (2 houses)
a. Senate – upper house
b. House of Representatives – lower house
c. Elections for both held often 1-2 years exhibited

III. America’s first National Government
A. Proposed by Richard Henry Lee
B. Adopted by the Continental Congress in 1781
C. Themes
i. Weak union of strong governments ii. 1 Branch of government
a. Legislative branch (Congress)
b. Each state had one vote
D. Strengths
i. Under the Articles the lands west of the 13 original colonies were organized
a. Land Ordinance of 1785
1. Organized the land in the west into organized plots
1 township  36 sections  640 acres  $1 an acre
b. Northwest Ordinance of 1787
1. Created a framework for territories to become states
5000 people = elected government
60,000 = apply for statehood
E. Weaknesses
i. Powerless to collect taxes ii. No person or group was in charge of enforcing the acts of Congress iii. No national court system iv. 9 of 13 states needed to pass a law (minority could block a majority)
v. In order to amend the Articles all states must agree (unanimous)
F. Consequences
i. Foreign Problems
a. Spain closed the Mississippi to American shipping
b. Britain refused to give up forts in lands owned by the US in the west ii. Domestic Problems
a. States taxed each other and quarreled with one another
b. The US was broke and could not raise any money
c. The inability to pay Revolutionary Veterans led to Shay’s Rebellion

IV. Annapolis Convention
A. Assembly of states called together to address the economic problems in the US
B. Only 5 states attend – disaster
C. Agreed to meet again later that year in Philadelphia

V. Philadelphia Convention
A. George Washington invited to attend and is unanimously elected