You are on page 1of 100

The Articles of Confederation

The First State Constitutions

In January 1776, New Hampshire became the 1st colony to organize as a state and craft a detailed, written plan for government or constitution

From Colonies to States

The states set up similar systems of government Each state had a legislature to create laws Most of these legislatures were bicameral, like the English Parliament; that is, they were divided into 2 parts, or houses

The Articles of Confederation

Americans realized that they needed to unify the 13 colonies In 1777, the 2nd Continental Congress made plans for a union of the 13 states in the Articles of Confederation Confederation-a group of individuals or, in our case, individual state governments

The Articles of Confederation

The Articles set up a one-house legislature in which each state had one vote Congress had NO power to enforce it laws or the power to tax

The Articles allowed Congress to ask the states for money, but could not demand it

By 1781, all 13 states had ratified (approved) the Articles of Confederation


Ordinance of 1785

When the American Revolution began, only a few thousand white settlers lived west of the Appalachian Mountains Through the ordinance of 1785, Congress created a system for surveyingtaking a detailed measurement of an area of landand selling the western lands It arranged the land into townships 6 miles square. Each township was divided into 36 sections of each one square mile The Ordinance established a system of land surveying and settlement that we still use today


Northwest Ordinance

In 1787, the Northwest Ordinance was passed It laid the basis for the organization of new territorial governments and set a precedent for the method of admitting new states to the Union The Northwest Ordinance also included a specific provision outlawing slavery

There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in said territory.

Weaknesses of the Articles

Within a few years, it became clear that the Articles of Confederation had some serious problems Congress couldnt pass a law unless 9 out of 13 states voted in favor Any attempt to amend (change) the Articles required all 13 states to agree Even when Congress managed to pass its law, it could not enforce them Congress was unable to collect taxes to repay its war debts

A Shaky National Government

Because of the Revolutionary War, America
had large war debts Congress could not collect taxes to pay back debts State govts had large war debts as well Taxed citizens heavily and drove many farmers out
of business and sparked widespread resentment

Citizens Response
Citizens became very insecure and feared that
the govt could not protect their safety or their property During 1786 and 1787, riots broke out in several states

Shays Rebellion
Daniel Shays, a
Massachusetts farmer, led an armed uprising of about 1200 Massachusetts farmers on a federal arsenal.

Result of Shays Rebellion

After Shays Rebellion, many political
leaders, merchants and others were already arguing for a stronger national government In 1787, 12 of the states sent delegates to a meeting in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation

The U.S. Constitution

Road to the Constitution

The Articles of Confederation were an ABSOLUTE failure! In 1787, each state was asked to send delegates to Philadelphias Independence Hall for a convention to fix the problems with the A.O.C.this meeting was known as the Constitutional Convention

A Distinguished Gathering

Made up of 55 well-educated white men Native Americans, African Americans, and women were not considered part of the political process Benjamin Franklin, 81, was the oldest delegate. Two of the delegates (George Washington and James Madison), would go onto become Presidents A few notable leaders were not at the convention: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were both in Europe as representatives for the American government Patrick Henry refused to attend the convention because he was against it

Early Decisions

The delegates agreed unanimously that George Washington should preside over the convention Widely respected for his leadership during the American Revolution, Washing would now call on speakers and make sure that the meetings ran in an orderly, efficient manner

Early Decisions: Operating Procedures

Washington appointed a committee to set rules for conducting the convention

Rules of the Constitutional Convention

At least 7 out of the 13 states had to be present Decisions were to be made by a majority of the vote, with each state having only one vote Participants had to keep all discussions secret

Because of the secrecy, we have virtually no written records of the convention The only details we have came from a notebook kept by James Madison

Early Decisions: The Need for a New Constitution

Delegates were supposed to change the Articles of Confederation, but agreed that changing the Articles was simply not enough They decided instead to discard the Articles of the Confederation and write a new constitution All delegates set out to strengthen the national government by creating a new plan of government, thus this meeting became known as the Constitutional Convention

Constitutional Convention

Creation & Ratification of the Constitution



Opposing Plans: Virginia/New Jersey Constitutional Compromises Approval of the Constitution

Two Opposing Plans

In order to pass the Constitution, all states had to accept and approve the final plan The two opposing plans that were debated over in creating and ratifying the Constitution:

Virginia Plan New Jersey Plan

The Virginia Plan

On May 29, 1787, the Virginia delegates proposed a plan for government. James Madison had designed what came to be known as the Virginia Plan

The Virginia Plan

The Virginia Plan called for a government with 3 branches,

In addition to the already established Legislative Branch (make the laws), there would also be an Executive Branch (carries out the laws), and a Judicial Branch (to interpret and apply the laws)

The Virginia Plan

The Legislative Branch would be divided into two smaller houses, each state would be represented based on their population

Large states would have more votes than smaller states The Virginia Plan appealed to delegates from the more heavily populated states The small states feared that a government dominated by the large states would ignore their interests

The New Jersey Plan

The Virginia Plan angered the smaller states b/c they would have less representation in government. William Patterson of New Jersey proposed an alternative plan

The New Jersey Plan

The New Jersey Plan also called for three branches of government However, the Legislative Branch would have only one house and each state would get one vote This made the smaller states equal in power to the big states Under this plan, Congress could set taxes and regulate trade

The Great Compromise

A committee headed by Roger Sherman of Connecticut came up with an answer The committee proposed that Congress (Legislative Branch) have two houses: A Senate (every state gets 1 vote) and a House of Representatives (based on population)

Great Compromise

Historians call Roger Shermans plan the Connecticut Plan or the Great Compromise In order to pass a law, both houses must approve

Three-Fifths Compromise

At the time of the Constitutional Convention, more than 550,000 African Americans, mostly in the South, were enslaved The Southern states wanted to count these people as part of their population The Northern states, who had few slaves, opposed this idea

Argued that slaves couldnt vote so they shouldnt be used to give the South a bigger voice in government

Three-Fifths Compromise

In the Three-Fifths Compromise, delegates agreed that every five enslaved persons would count as three free persons Thus three-fifths of the slave population in each state would be used in determining representation in Congress That number also used in figuring taxes

Other Compromises

Trade Compromise:

Who will regulate foreign and interstate trade? Southern states feared Congress would tax exports Southern economy depends on exports of tobacco, rice, cotton, etc. Also feared that Congress might stop slave traders from bringing enslaved people into the U.S. RESOLUTION: Southern states agreed that Congress could regulate both foreign and interstate trade and the North agreed that Congress could not tax exports, nor could in interfere with the slave trade before 1808

Other Compromises

Executive Branch Compromise:

Who should elect the President and Vice President?

Congress People

RESOLUTION: Electoral College, a group of people who would be named by each state legislature to select the President and Vice President Note: Today, the Electoral College is still in place but the voters in each state, not the legislators, now choose the electors

Approving the Constitution

Approving the Constitution

By September 17, 1787, a committee (42 of the 55 delegates were present) headed by Governor Morris, had put their ideas in writing, and the Constitution was ready to be signed

All but 3 delegates signed the Constitution

The Constitution still had to be ratified, or approved

Needed 9 out of the 13 states to ratify

Approving the Constitution

The Constitution was set out to become the supreme law of the land A problem with the Constitution was that it determined National and State powers

Led to a division of the public into 2 groups: Federalists and AntiFederalists


Federalists were supporters of the Constitution The name Federalists emphasized a new system of federalism=govt power divided between FEDERAL (National) and the State govts


Leaders of the Federalists included: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay Federalists goals included a STRONG central government and WEAKENED state powers


To win support, the Federalists reminded Americans of the flaws in the Articles of Confederation In a series of essays known as The Federalists Papers, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay defended the Constitution and tried to gain support for the newly proposed plan for govt


Anti-Federalists opposed the US Constitution Had 2 main concerns:

Gave too much power to the National govt, weakened state govt Absence of Bill of Rights


The leaders of the Anti-Federalists were Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry

Resolution Agreement

The Federalists eventually agreed with the Anti-Federalists that a bill of rights was a good idea June 21, 1788: New Hampshire becomes the 9th state; therefore, the US Constitution officially ratified!!! 1790: Rhode Island was the last state to ratify the Constitution The 13 independent states now become unified as the United States of America

Structure of the Constitution

A. B.


Constitution: 3 Major Parts Amending: Process of Change Interpreting the Constitution?

Constitution: 3 Major Parts

The Constitution is:

Our framework for government Supreme law of the land Basic law of the U.S. Empowers the 3 major branches of the government Divided into 3 Sections: Preamble, Articles, and Amendments

The Articles

The 7 articles that follow the Preamble explain how our government should work

I. Legislative Branch II. Executive Branch III. Judicial Branch IV. States Rights and Responsibilities V. Amendment Process VI. US Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land VII. Ratification of the Constitution-Need 9 out of 13 states to approve

The PreambleYouTube Video

The Preamble is the introduction to the Constitution States the goals and purposes of the government

The Preamble

There are 6 goals listed in the Preamble:

Form a more Perfect Union To establish Justice To insure domestic Tranquility (maintain peace/order) Provide for a common defense (protect the nation with force) Promote the general welfare (help people) Secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity (guarantee freedom and the rights of our children)

Article I: Legislative Branch

Primary function is to make laws Bicameral: the Senate and the House of Representatives Has 7 specific powers

Article I: Legislative Branch

If a representative dies, retires or is impeached, another election is held and the winner of that election takes office The Vice President serves as President of the Senate

Article I: The Legislative Branch

The Congress is to meet on the 1st Monday in December. (They must PASS a law in order to change this) The LAW sets the Congressional salaries, and the Treasury of the United States pays them

Article I: The Legislative Branch

Any member elected to the Senate shall be called Senator Deaton (substitute their last name) In the U.S., we do not have princes/princesses so no matter how much $$$ you give, NO ONE can become royalty

Article I: Legislative Branch

House of Rep. Age Requireme nt # years as a citizen Elected how often 25 Senate 30 President 35

7 2

9 6

Natural born citizen/14 years residency

Article I: The Legislative Branch

The Senate is the only house that may try (go through a court case) a member and decide to impeach them All bills being passed that raise money must START in House of Representatives, but the Senate must agree with the decision The House of Representatives can override a Presidential veto (rejection) of a bill

Article I: Legislative Branch

7 Specific Powers:

Pass laws by majority vote Declare war Coin/borrow $$$$ Approve Treaties Issue/Collect taxes Regulate commerce: foreign/interstate (domestic) Confirm Presidential Appointments List limits on Congress

Article I: The Legislative Branch

The necessary and proper clause, Implied powers clause, or elastic clause means that Congress has the power to stretch its powers to meet situations that may arise

Article I: Legislative Branch

4 Powers Denied to the States:

4 Powers Denied to the National Govt:

Make treaties Coin $$$ Cannot tax imports or exports Keep troops or battleships in time of war or in time of peace

Wage war against another state or the country

Cannot restrict migration between states Cannot ignore the Writ of Habeus Corpus (reasonable doubt) Cannot punish a person without a trial (bill of attainder) Cannot tax exports from the states Cannot limit travel between states Cannot take money out of the National Treasure without permission Cannot make a noble class

Article II: The Executive Branch

The President is the head of the Executive Branch

Article II: The Executive Branch

3 Requirements for the President:

Citizen of the US by birth 35 years old A resident of the US for at least 14 years

Article II: The Executive Branch

5 Powers of the President

Issue executive orders Nominate heads of executive departments, agencies, and other high ranking offices Veto bills passed by Congress Nominate federal judges (Supreme Court Justices) Appoint ambassadors, consuls and ministers

Article II: The Legislative Branch

The main duty of the President is to be the Commander in Chief (Head of the US army)

Article II: The Legislative Branch

If the President is found dead, the Vice President takes office The President swears to faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States

Article II: The Legislative Branch

The President may issue treaties as long as he has at least 2/3rds of the Congress consent The President can be removed from his office on Impeachment for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors

Article III: The Judicial Branch

The courts are a part of the Judicial Branch

Article III: The Judicial Branch

A federal judge shall hold office for life The 2 instances where the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction:

When Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls are involved When states are involved

Original jurisdiction means that the Supreme Court has the authority to be the 1st to hear a case

Article III: The Judicial Branch

Congress cannot, for any reason, abolish the Supreme Court Yes, the Supreme Court can declare any law unconstitutional There are 12 Supreme Court justices

Article IV: Relations Among the States

Each state must give citizens in other states the same rights and privileges as their own citizens If someone commits a crime in one state a flees to another, the governor can order the return of that person

Bev Purdue-N.C. Governor

Article IV: Relations Among the States

New states may be admitted by the Congress, but no state may be formed within another state; and 2 states cannot be combined to make 1 larger state with the the consent of the Legislature The United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union (country) a Republican form of government

Article V: The Amendment Process

The Legislative Branch decides which method to use when ratifying an amendment 3/4ths of states must approve a proposed amendment now for it to pass It can add laws to the Constitution, or change laws already in the Constitution

Article VI: National Supremacy

All debts Congress has are to be paid by the national government (money gotten by collection of taxes) The Federal law (national law) is the supreme (highest) law All Senators and Representatives must swear to uphold the Constitution There will be no religious test required for Senators and Representatives elected

Article VII: Ratification of the Constitution

9 out of 13 states were required to sign the Constitution before it was established George Washington was the first person to sign the Constitution because he was the leader of the Constitutional Convention 3 delegates did not sign th Constitution because it lacked a bill of rights

VII: Ratification of the Constitution

North Carolina Signers:

William Blount

Hugh Williamson

Richard Dobbs Spaight

VII: Ratification of the Constitution

Rhode Island was the last state to sign the Constitution, which was in 1790

Amending the Constitution

Key Terms

Amendment Bill of Rights Elastic Clause (Necessary and Proper Clause) Implied powers Strict interpretation Loose interpretation Expressed powers Enumerated powers

Amending/Changing the Constitution

Since the Constitution was signed in 1787, it has been amended 27 times (Any change in the Constitution is called an amendment). The first 10 amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were added in 1791.

Amending/Changing the Constitution

Goals of the Amendments:

Improve the way government meets the needs of the people Help the government adjust to new circumstances/situations Example: In 1913, an amendment was passed to allow Congress to collect an income tax (a tax on peoples earnings)

The Amendment Process

The process for amending the Constitution is found in Article V (5) of the Constitution Steps to Amending the Constitution

Proposal (Proposals can be made in 2 ways):

Congressional action-2/3rds of the Congress must vote in favor of the amendment National convention-must be requested by 2/3rds of the state legislatures

The Amendment Process

Steps to Amending the Constitution cont.

Ratification-must be approved by 3/4ths of state legislatures (2 ways to ratify an amendment);

Vote by individual state legislatures Vote by special state conventions

Interpreting the Constitution

Interpreting-trying to figure out what the Constitution really means Four Methods of Interpretation:

Necessary and Proper Clause Court Decisions Congressional/Presidential Actions Customs

Methods of Interpreting the Constitution

Necessary and Proper Clause

Found in Article I (1) Allows Congress to exercise power not specifically listed in the Constitutionthese powers are known as implied powers Should Congress be allowed to make laws that the Constitution does not specifically forbid?

Example: Embryonic Stem Cell Research (cloning animals and people)

Methods of Interpreting the Constitution

Court Interpretations

The Supreme Court has the final authority on interpreting the Constitution Supreme Court justices determine if a law is in accordance (agrees with) what the Constitution says Judges can interpret the Constitution strictly or loosely

Methods of Interpreting the Constitution

loose interpretation-gives the Constitution flexibility, allows the Legislative and Judicial branches to adjust the meaning of the Constitution to fit different situations strict interpretation-literal interpretation of the Constitution; Legislative and Judicial branches have only the powers listed in the Constitution

Methods of Interpreting the Constitution

Congressional Action:

Executive (Presidential) Action:

The Constitution allows the House of Representatives to bring charges against (accuse) federal officials of inappropriate acts Senate: Senators determine a persons guilt or innocence Congress has investigated more than 60 impeachment cases

Presidential succession (whos next in line) 1841: Pres. William Henry Harrison dies in officeVice President John Tyler became President Constitution is unclear on this process (change of power) 1967: 25th Amendment Presidential succession established

Methods of Interpreting the Constitution

Enumerated powers-powers directly stated in the Constitution; also known as expressed powers Expressed powers-powers directly stated in the Constitution; also known as enumerated powers

Methods of Interpretation

Interpretation Through Custom

The interpretation of the Constitution has also changed through customs that have developed.

Example: Although the Constitution does not mention political parties, they are a very important part of todays political system

Five (5) Principles Underlying the Constitution

A. B.

D. E.

Popular Sovereignty Rule of Law Separation of Powers Checks and Balances Federalism

Popular Sovereignty

Popular Sovereignty-rule by consent of the governed Article IV of the Constitution guarantees the people a Republican form of government We ELECT those who govern us Majority rule (more than 50% of the vote) determines who represents us

Rule of Law

Constitution set limits on the powers of the government Rule of law-the law applies to everyone, including those who govern No one may break the law or escape its reach

Separation of Powers

Montesquieu came up with the idea The split of authority among the legislative, executive and judicial branches is known as separation of powers Functions/powers of the government are divided among the various branches Each branch has specific powers but NOT ALL the power

Checks and Balances

Checks and balances-a system in which each branch of the government is able to check, or restrain, the power of the others

Checks and Balances

Checks and Balances

Legislative Branch (Congress)-makes laws Checks:

Executive Branch (President): may veto (reject) laws passed by Congress Judicial Branch (Supreme Court): may declare a law passed by Congress UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Checks and Balances

Executive Branch-carry out the laws/Executive Orders and Actions/Veto Checks:

Legislative Branch (Congress)-impeach officials; reject judicial appointments; congressional override (2/3 vote of Congress)of Presidential veto Judicial Branch (Supreme Court)-declare act unconstitutional

Checks and Balances

Judicial BranchInterpret the laws Checks:

Legislative Branch (Congress)-impeach judges; reject judicial appointments Executive Branch (President)-appoint more judges


Federalism-powers divided between national and state governments State laws must be in agreement with Federal laws and the US Constitution


Power is divided three ways:

Expressed powers-powers given specifically to the national government by the Constitution, also known as enumerated powers Reserved powers-powers that the Constitution does not give to the national government that are kept by the states Concurrent powers-powers shared by both the national and state governments

Expressed Powers

Laws specifically given to the national government:

Pass laws Regulate trade (foreign and interstate) Conduct foreign affairs (make treaties) Raise/support an army (military defense) Coin and print money (establish a monetary system) Establish a postal service Govern US territories (such as Guam), admit new states, regulate immigration (population control)

Reserved Powers

State governments reserve the power to:

Provide for the public safety and health within the state Regulate trade with the state Establish local governments (town, city, counties) Conduct elections Establish public school system

Concurrent Powers

Powers that both national and state governments have:

collect taxes borrow money set up courts and prisons provide for the general welfare (wellbeing) of the people

Supremacy of the Constitution

In a federal system, the laws of a state and the laws of a nation may conflict Article VI (6) of the Constitution declares that the Constitution and other laws and treaties made by the Constitution are the supreme law of the land Because the Constitution is the highest law, the national and state governments can not do anything that goes against it and state governments may not go against federal law