Documenting Democracy: The United States Constitution

Documenting Democracy: The United States Constitution

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  • The Declaration of Independence was a document that dictated the many grievances done against the colonists by the British Crown. It brought about the idea that government must have the consent of the governed to preside, otherwise the people may adopt their own government. This idea of consent of the governed and the grievances suffered by the colonists gave way to the Constitution, namely the Bill of Rights, guaranteeing the right of the governed to overthrow the government should it no longer seek its peoples' best interest and guaranteed personal freedoms.
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Declaration of Independence John Adams   Samuel AdamsJohn Hancock   Benjamin FranklinThomas Jefferson John Penn
  • The AOC was the very first centralized government established in the United States. It was approved by the 2nd Continental Congress on Nov. 15, 1777 and came to effect on March 1, 1781, after all 13 states ratified it. This government was designed to be weak, so as to have state sovereignty, as the colonists didn't wish to again have a strong central government controlling them.  When it failed, it provided guidelines for the next government to be established, as well as providing certain guarantees and limits against the federal government without being harmful to the new government.
  • Articles of Confederation
  • We must have state sovereignty and the federal government must be weak to allow this. 
  • The Constitutional Convention was a meeting held in Philadelphia after the recognition of the Articles of Confederation government as a failure. Delegates came together, having decided to write an entirely new document. This was done in secret, with the delegates locking themselves away from outside influence. The delegates proposed two different plans: the VA and NJ plans. This led to the Great Compromise with the Constitution as the official document detailing the organization of the government.
  • Virginia Plan- bicameral- House of Representatives by population- count slaves as part of population
  • Constitutional Convention
  • New Jersey Plan- unicameral- Senate with equal representation (2 reps each)- do not count slaves
  • The Great Compromise provided for the separation of powers into  the executive (enforce the laws), legislative (make the laws), and judicial (interpret the laws) branches, as a means to limit the power of the federal government - this is dictated in Article 1 of the Constitution. The 3/5 Compromise was that each slave would be counted as 3/5ths of a person, to contribute to a state's representatives in the House, a stipulation in the Constitution. It also made it so a majority was needed in each part of Congress, rather than a complete consensus, a weakness of the Articles of Confederation.
  • The Great Compromise
  • The Great Compromise- bicameral- HOR by population- Senate with equal representation (2 per)- 3/5 Compromise- Separation of powers- Limited federal government
  • The ratification of the Constitution had two groups in its debate: the Federalists and the Anti-federalists. The Federalists were for the Constitution and the new government, while the Anti-federalists were against the Constitution. The Federalists, namely the two well-known Federalists, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, wrote the Federalist Papers, a final number of 85 essays. One of these in particular, Federalist Paper 10, was written by James Madison, defending the republican form of government proposed by the Constitution, after Anti-federalists claimed that it would b be too large and unresponsive to the people.
  • Federalists v. Anti-federalists
  • We will write the Federalist Papers to convince the Anti-federalists that a republican form of government and the Constitution is what the U.S. needs.
  • We must vote in support of the Constitution. We need a strong, central government with little state sovereignty.
  • We do not need to vote for this Constitution, the basis of the Articles of Confederation is superior - state sovereignty with a weak central government.
  • Bill of Rights1. Civil rights and liberties2. Right to keep and bear Arms3. No quartering of soldiers4. No unreasonable search and seizure5. Innocent until proven guilty6. Rights of criminal defendants7. Right to trial by jury8. No cruel and unusual punishment9. Citizens have more rights than what is enumerated.10. Federal powers are explicitly those depicted in the Constitution.
  • Bill of Rights
  • The Bill of Rights was written into the Constitution as the first ten Amendments, as a way to appease the Anti-federalists to get them to ratify the Constitution in a majority vote. In the end, all 13 states ratified the Constitution.
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