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Flashcards in The American Founding Constitution Deck (23):

What happened in the end of the French and Indian War?

•Britain broke by end of French and Indian War

– colonists required to share burdens (taxes)

– Britain asserted power to impose taxes

– Britain began to violate home rule in colonies


What was the Stamp Act of 1765?

– imposed taxes on all printed material

– first non-self-imposed tax on the colonies

– inspired the colonists to organize and demonstrate


What was the First Continental Congress?

–Declaration of American Rights reasserted home rule and endorsed agreement to ban trade with Britain until it rescinded unwanted taxes and regulations 
–“committees of observation”
•enforced boycotts against possible free riding
•provided a base for statewide conventions that became de facto governments
•collected taxes, raised militias, passed “laws” forbidding  the judiciary from enforcing British decrees, and selected delegates to Second Continental Congress


What was the Second Continental Congress ?

– war broke out in Spring 1775

– acted as a national government, but lacked legal authority to conduct war

– instructed the conventions to reconstitute themselves as state governments based on republican principles

– most states adopted bicameral legislatures and created governorships

– issued the nation’s first bonds and established a national currency


What were the series of events that built the road to Independence?

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Define confederation

highly decentralized system where federal government has limited authority and authority is derived from states rather than citizens directly


The Articles of Confederation 

•The Second Continental Congress proceeded to create a new government.

–Confederation = highly decentralized system where federal government has limited authority and authority is derived from states rather than citizens directly

•It created a new, permanent Congress with each state having one vote.

–States select federal officials and can override decisions

•Major laws required the endorsement of 9 of 13 states

•Amending the Articles of Confederation required unanimous agreement (as did direct taxation)

•The delegates sought to replicate the home rule they had lost


The confederation at war 


–Refused to give national authority to conduct war

–chiefly responsible for recruiting troops and outfitting them for battle –but voluntary contributions

•National military command

–organize fighting force, coordinated by Congress


–could borrow money, but could not tax

–no administrative branch, so had to do all the work

•Many difficulties during the war

–most difficult was that Congress labored under a constitution designed to frustrate national action


How was a new constitution drafted?

•In 1787, the 55 delegates met in Philadelphia.

•Delegates were conversant in the ideas of the Enlightenment and influenced by advances in science.

–“natural laws,” which governed economics, politics, and morality

–Popular sovereignty = citizens’ delegation of authority to agents in government with the ability to rescind authority (Locke)


What was the Virginia Plan?

•Madison and Nationalist Colleagues

•Bicameral legislature

–members of the lower chamber apportioned among the states by population and directly elected.

–lower chamber would elect members of the upper chamber from lists generated by the state legislatures

–lower chamber would elect executive and judicial officers

•Veto power over states

•Use of military power if states did not fulfill obligations

•Council of Revision to check legislative


Define the New Jersey Plan

•William Paterson and States’ Rights Supporters

•Hastily drafted response to Virginia Plan

–failed to propose the organization of the executive and judiciary

–kept same composition and selection of Congress as it functioned under the Articles of Confederation

–gave Congress the power to tax

–allowed a simple majority to enact national policy as compared to a supermajority


What was The Great Compromise?

•Each side got one of the two legislative chambers fashioned to its liking:

–The upper chamber (Senate) would be composed of two delegates sent from each state legislature who would serve a six-year term.

–Madison’s population-based, elective legislature became the lower chamber (House of Representatives).

•Unanimous state agreement rule gone

–majority in Congress required to pass legislation

–Article 1, Section 8 expanded the scope of the national government


How was the Executive Branch designed?

•Ideas included: a president “elected for life,” a plural executive, and something similar to  a governor with limited power 
•The delegates settled on an independent, yet limited, executive.       
–take care clause
–confirmation of appointments
–ratification of treaties 
–veto power
–supermajority of each house needed to override a veto


How was the Judicial Branch designed?

•Supreme Court given final jurisdiction between national and state differences

•Supremacy clause

•Debate over two questions:

–Who would appoint Supreme Court justices?

–Should a network of lower federal courts be created, or should state courts handle all cases until they reach the federal court?

–Judiciary Act of 1789


Amending the constitution

•There was agreement on the need to amend the Constitution, but not how to do it.
–Delegates from small states insisted on endorsement of amendments by a large number of states. 
–Nationalists argued that the citizens alone should approve any change.
–There was no majority for either idea.
–The Constitution allows an amendment to be proposed either by two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or by an ‘application’ from two-thirds of the states.
–Enactment occurs when three-fourths of the states, acting either through their state legislatures or in special conventions, accept the amendment.


What did the statement “The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.” do?

– It removed the unanimous assent rule of the Articles of Confederation.

– It withdrew authority from the state legislatures, which might have misgivings about surrendering autonomy.


What did the antifederalists argue ?

only local democracy could approach true democracy and wanted a bill of rights to safeguard against tyranny.


•Madison, in a strategic political maneuver, pledged to introduce amendments at the First Congress.
•By 1791, the Bill of Rights (first ten amendments) were part of the Constitution.        


Which of the Federalist Papers focus on the fundamental problem of self-governance?

No. 10

No. 51


Theory Underlying the Constitution: Federalist No. 10


• Organic solution to danger of majority tyranny  
• Discusses the negatives of faction defined as
–“a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”


What are the two ways that Madison identifies to eliminate factions?



• Neither is acceptable.

• If the causes of factions cannot be removed, then one must control their effects rather than snuffing out liberty.


A representative government would...

– dilute factious spirit through election (appeal to diverse constituents)

– introduction of the size principle (larger, more diverse constituents, more diluted influence of a particular faction)

– Legislatures composed of representative of diverse factional interests negate the ability of potential majorities to attempt any form of collusion (steep transaction costs)


"Ambition must be made to counteract ____"