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THE CONSTITUTION

CHAPTER 2

As You Read
What factors contributed to the need for a
Constitutional Convention?
What are the basic principles that inform our
Constitution?
In what ways does constitutional change
occur?

THE FOUNDATIONS OF
AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
Early colonization
First permanent British colony was Jamestown,
founded in 1607
First representative assembly, Virginias House of
Burgesses, created in 1619
Self-Rule
By 1732, 13 colonies were established with basic
government institutions

THE FOUNDATIONS OF
AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
Economic distress
Economic progress of colonies limited by
British policies
Cost of defending colonies leads Britain to
impose unpopular taxes (Seven Years War)
First Continental Congress (1774) urges
boycott of British goods
American and British forces clash in 1775
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THE FOUNDATIONS OF
AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
Declaration of Independence (1776)
Asserts ideas of natural rights and equality
of all men
Political participation limited to free male
property holders
Serves as declaration of war and tool to
rally support for revolution

THE BIRTH OF A NATION


Articles of Confederation
Recognized states as sovereign, limiting
powers of central government
Did not include creation of a common
currency or national army
Hampered interstate commerce and tax
collection (voluntary)
Shayss Rebellion pointed out weaknesses
of the Articles and spurred reform
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THE BIRTH OF A NATION


Constitutional Convention (1787), called to
amend Articles; created new governing
document, the Constitution
Small states and large states disagreed
over representation in Congress
Great Compromise: states representation
equal in Senate and determined by
population in House of Representatives

THE BIRTH OF A NATION


Regional Tensions
How to count slaves for taxation and
congressional representation?
Compromise: each slave counted as 3/5 of
a person
Importation of slaves permitted by
Constitution until 1808

CONSTITUTIONAL
PRINCIPLES
Constitution embodies liberal democratic principles of self-rule and
citizen control over government
Separation of powers and checks and balances ensure no single branch
dominates government
Constitution provides for federalism: power-sharing between state and
federal governments
Constitution as higher law

CONSTITUTIONAL
CONSTRUCTION
Article I deals with the organization, powers, responsibilities, and election
qualifications of the legislature.
Article II deals with the organization, powers, and responsibilities of the
executive branch, including election qualifications and powers of the
president.
Article III creates the federal judicial system, defines its powers and
jurisdiction, and specifies rules for appointment and dismissal of judges.

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CONSTITUTIONAL
CONSTRUCTION
Article IV discusses relations between the states,
admission of new states, and guarantees that states
have republican forms of government.
The remaining articles deal with a variety of issues
including the supremacy clause, which gives federal
law precedence over state law.

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THE FIGHT FOR


RATIFICATION
Federalists supported ratification of the Constitution,
but opposed adding a separate Bill of Rights.
Antifederalists opposed the Constitution on several
grounds:
Farmers feared a national currency would lower prices
on commodities and enable wealthy to buy their land
Many feared a powerful central government would
threaten state sovereignty
Demanded a Bill of Rights that protected basic
freedoms
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THE FIGHT FOR


RATIFICATION
The Constitution found support among
commercial centers, Western territories, land
speculators, plantation owners, and smaller
states.
Federalists won hard-fought ratification battles
in large states including Virginia, Massachusetts,
and New York.

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THE FIGHT FOR


RATIFICATION
In New York, pro-ratification articles called The
Federalist Papers offered insightful analysis of
the principles of American government

Constitution adopted in l788


Congress presented Bill of Rights for
Constitution after ratification; states adopted
Bill of Rights in 1791

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CONSTITUTIONAL
CHANGE
Framers provided two methods for amending Constitution:
Amendment introduced to Congress and, if approved by a 2/3
vote of both houses, submitted to the states for ratification
National convention called by Congress to propose amendment
if requested by 2/3 of state legislatures
To be adopted, amendments must be ratified by 3/4 of the states
The Framers intended Constitution to be adaptable to change but
difficult to amend

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CONSTITUTIONAL
CHANGE
The Constitution has been flexible enough to adapt to changing
times and circumstances.
Congress has often interpreted the Constitution in ways that
expanded congressional power or promoted government policies.
The case of Marbury v. Madison (1803) established the Supreme
Courts power to rule on the constitutionality of laws or other
acts of government.

Constitutional amendments have expanded the franchise to


women, African Americans, and those without property.

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Freedoms Guaranteed
by the Bill of Rights

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Methods for Proposing and


Ratifying Amendments

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Recent Unsuccessful
Attempts to Amend the
Constitution

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