chapter 3 notes - Public Schools of Robeson County

1. Once the colonies gained their independence from Great Britain, they devised their own
government. This government was created under the document ARTICLES OF
a. This government was noteworthy for the fact of how weak it made the national
government. This was done due to the colonists’ fear of a powerful national
government – such as Great Britain’s.
b. Out of the many weaknesses – there are two that primarily stand out:
i. No power to tax. The federal government during this time was BROKE.
ii. No national military. The colonies at this time thought they could defend
themselves through the use of “militias”, which meant the citizens would
defend the nation in time of need.
c. As you’ll later see, this government was a complete failure. The only redeeming
quality that would be saved and applied to the next government was the Northwest
Ordinance, which was a system how new states were to be admitted to the union.
2. The nation struggled under its first government. Most people went into heavy debt, as the
states (who still had the power) enacted large taxes to its people. This would be the cause of
Shays’ Rebellion, which would be the event that made it clear to everyone that the Articles
needed changing if this country were to survive.
a. SHAYS’ REBELLION: started by a Massachusetts farmer, Daniel Shays. Distraught over
losing his farm due to not being able to pay state taxes, he organized a rebellion
among like-minded citizens. Due to the lack of a national military, there was nobody
to stop his rag-tag band of rebels. Massachusetts pleaded with the national
government for help, but they were unable to provide any since they were broke
(remember – no power to tax). The rebels were on the verge of conquering
Massachusetts, until a couple of wealthy Massachusetts citizens paid a group of
mercenaries to put down the rebellion.
i. Even though the rebellion was put down – it made many Americans wonder if
this nation was going to last. It was then the states decided to send delegates
to Philadelphia to “revise” the Articles.
All of the states (EXCEPT RHODE ISLAND, since they opposed the idea of strengthening the federal
government) decided to send delegates (55 in all) to Philadelphia to “re-write” the Articles of Confederation.
Notable absentees from this convention were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams (they were serving as
ambassadors overseas at this time), and Patrick Henry (who refused to go).
1. The first thing they decided was to make George Washington the leader over this meeting.
2. Meetings were to be kept a secret, so delegates could speak freely. The only record of what occurred
during this meeting was from James Madison’s notebook.
3. Shortly after starting this meeting, the delegates agreed to trash the Articles of Confederation
entirely and write up a completely new document. (This is why this meeting was called the
“Constitutional Convention.”)
4. This meeting would last for over six months. While hammering out the details of this new
government, the delegates had to argue/debate/compromise over several topics:
a. HOW TO SET UP THE GOVERNMENT: Two plans developed; the Virginia Plan and New Jersey
Plan. Larger states favored the Virginia Plan, since it based the number of seats a state gets in
Congress to be determined by population. (In other words, larger states would have more
power in the law-making process). Smaller states preferred the New Jersey Plan since it
made all states equal in power in Congress.
i. This issue was resolved with the Connecticut Compromise (or Great Compromise).
This compromise determined that Congress would be bicameral. One house (the
House of Representatives) would have its membership per state determined by their
population – which satisfied the larger states. The other house (Senate) would be
composed of two people from every state – which gave every state equal
representation in that house, which satisfied the smaller states.
b. HOW TO COUNT SLAVES: After the Connecticut Compromise was agreed upon, the next
issue to arise was how states would count slaves. (Remember, more population = more
power in the House of Representatives!) The southern states desired to count all of their
slaves (obvious reasons why), while the northern states opposed counting them (NOT
because they opposed slavery, but merely because of the fact they did not have the same
number of slaves as the South did.
i. This was resolved with the Three-Fifths Compromise. Long story short, it was
decided that states could count three-fifths of their slaves as part of their population
to determine how many seats they get in the House of Reps.
c. WHO ELECTS THE PRESIDENT: another source of controversy at the Convention was
determining who chose the President. Some felt that the people should vote on this position,
while others felt the general population was “too stupid” to make a proper decision (they
preferred Congress to vote for the President).
i. This was resolved with the creation of the Electoral College, which is a group of
people from each state that vote on the President. It sounds bizarre, I know. I’ll
explain this concept in Chapter 7. For now, just know the following: The Electoral
College chooses who becomes U.S. President.
5. The Constitution was completed on September 17,1787. When the delegates announced to the
public their new creation – their reaction was… mixed. (Keep in mind, everyone outside thought they
were revising the Articles, not creating an entirely new document.) Two groups developed afterwards
a. Federalists: supported ratification (approval) of the new Constitution since they felt a strong
national government was needed to protect the nation and its interests. They got this name
since the Constitution created a “federal system” (which means national and state
governments share power). Notable Federalists include; Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and
James Madison.
i. The three aforementioned individuals above wrote a series of essays trying to
persuade everyone to support the Constitution. These essays were later compiled
into a book known as The Federalist Papers.
b. Anti-Federalists: opposed ratifying the new Constitution since they felt it made the new
federal government TOO powerful. They felt the rights of individuals would be destroyed
under this new government. Notable Anti-Federalists include; Patrick Henry, James Monroe,
and Samuel Adams.
i. Eventually, the Anti-Federalists agreed to support the Constitution after the
Federalists offered to include a Bill of Rights to protect individual rights.
6. It was determined beforehand that once NINE of the THIRTEEN states ratify the Constitution, it
would become the official law of the land.
a. NEW HAMPSHIRE was the ninth state to ratify.
b. Rhode Island was the last of the thirteen original states to ratify. NC was #12.
There are three parts in the Constitution:
(1) PREAMBLE: Introduction, explains the six goals of government.
(2) ARTICLES: Covers the structure of the government 7 parts.
(3) AMENDMENTS: Identifies changes made to the Constitution over time. 27 as of now.
o Identifies the six goals of government. (Goals are bolded/underlined)
“We the People of the United States, in Order
1. to form a more perfect Union
2. establish Justice
3. insure Domestic Tranquility,
4. provide for the common defence,
5. promote the general Welfare,
6. and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
 ARTICLE 1: explains the LEGISLATIVE branch. (makes laws)
o A controversial part of this is the ELASTIC (OR NECESSARY AND PROPER) CLAUSE. It
basically allows Congress to do “whatever it wants” in order to do its job.
 ARTICLE 2: explains the EXECUTIVE branch (enforces laws)
 ARTICLE 3: explains the JUDICIAL branch (judicial branch)
 ARTICLE 4: explains that the states will respect each other’s laws
 ARTICLE 5: explains the AMENDMENT process
 ARTICLE 6: explains that the federal government is superior to state governments. This
article is called the SUPREMACY CLAUSE.
 ARTICLE 7: explained once 9 states ratified the Constitution, it would become the new
official government of the United States.
Will be covered in Chapter 4.
There are two things included in the Constitution to prevent the government from becoming too
 SEPERATION OF POWERS: See 2.1, Montesquieu.
 CHECKS AND BALANCES: the creators of the Constitution designed each branch of
government to have the power to ‘limit” the power of the other two branches.
The chart below explains how branch limits the power of the others:
(makes laws)
Can override Presidential vetoes
(check on executive)
Approve reject nominations for
judicial branch (check on judicial
and executive)
Has impeachment power to
regulate conduct. (check on
judicial and executive)
(enforces laws)
Nominates federal judges
(check on judicial)
Can veto laws made by
Congress (check on
(interprets laws)
Can declare laws
unconstitutional (check on
Can declare executive acts
unconstitutional (check on
 The powers of government can be divided up into three categories:
A) Expressed powers: These are powers specifically given to the federal government. These are also
B) Reserved powers: these are powers reserved for the state governments.
C) Concurrent powers: these are powers shared by both the national and state governments.
(Federal only!)
Coin money (create)
Maintain military
Declare war
Regulate trade between
states and nations
- Establish courts
- Enforce laws
- Collect taxes
- Borrow money
- Provide general welfare
(State only!)
Regulate trade within
Conduct elections
Establish local
Marriage/Divorce laws
Establishing schools
1. After acquiring their independence from Great Britain, what document created
the first American government?
2. WHAT were the two primary weaknesses of this first government?
3. WHY did the creators of this first government make the national government
so weak?
4. What event proved to everyone that this government was too flawed to
continue using?
5. What was the only worthwhile portion of the Articles of Confederation?
6. What was the original purpose of the delegates sent to meet in Philadelphia in
the aftermath of Shays' Rebellion?
7. What is our only source of what took place at the Constitutional Convention?
8. What were the three major issues the delegates had to work out compromises
9. Why did large states support the Virginia Plan?
10.Why did smaller states support the New Jersey Plan?
11.How did the Connecticut Compromise resolve the differences between the
Virginia and NJ Plans?
12.What entity was created to elect the President?
13.When was the Constitution completed?
14.Why did the Federalists support ratification of the Constitution?
15.Who were the three leaders of the Federalists?
16.Why did the Anti-Federalists oppose ratification of the Constitution?
17.Who were the three leaders of the Anti-Federalists?
18.How did the Federalists convince the Anti-Federalists to support ratification?
19.Why was the ninth state to ratify so important?
1. What are the three parts of the U.S. Constitution?
2. What are the six goals of government identified in the Preamble?
3. What does Article 2 address?
4. What does Article 1 address?
5. What does Article 3 address?
6. What is the Supremacy Clause? (Explanation – not just the Article #)
7. What was the significance of Article 7 of the U.S. Constitution?
8. What two things exist in our government to prevent it from becoming abusive
or too powerful?
9. What is one method in which the legislative branch can check the power of the
executive branch?
10.What is one method in which the judicial branch can check the power of the
legislative branch?
11.What is one method in which the executive branch can check the power of the
judicial branch?
12.Using the information listed under the section TYPES OF POWERS, complete
the chart below: