Declaration of Independence: Document drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1776 that proclaimed the right of the American colonies to separate from Great Britain.
Articles of Confederation: The compact among the thirteen original states that was the basis of their government. Written in 1776, the Articles were not ratified by all the states until 1781.
• A national government with a Congress empowered to make peace, coin money, appoint officers for an army, control the post, and negotiate with Indians.
• Each state retains independence and sovereignty to govern within ins territories.
• One vote in the Continental Congress for each state, regardless of size.
• 9/13 to pass a measure, unanimous for amendment.
• Selection and payment of delegates to Congress by their state legislatures.
Shays's Rebellion (s): A 1786 rebellion in which an army of 1,500 disgruntled and angry farmers led by Daniel Shays marched to Springfield, Massachusetts and forcibly restrained the state court from foreclosing mortgages on their farms. The failure of Congress to muster and army to put down the rebellion showed the weaknesses inherent in the Articles of Confederation and shocked the nation's leaders into recognizing the new government's overwhelming inadequacies.
Constitution: A document establishing the structure, functions, and limitations of a government.
Charles A. Beard: Wrote the Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States which argued that the 1780's were critical for businessmen who wanted a strong national government to promote industry and trade, and protect private property. According to Beard, the constitution represents “An economic document drawn with superb skill by men whose property interests were immediately at stake.
• Creation of a powerful central government with three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.
• A population based two-house legislature with one house elected directly by the people, the other chosen from among persons nominated by the state legislatures.
• A legislature with the power to select the executive (a president serving a single 7 year term) and the judiciary.
New Jersey Plan:
• Unicameral legislature with one vote per state.
• Congress has the power to raise revenue from duties and postal service.
• Creating a supreme court with members appointed for life by the executive officers
• The house of representatives would be based on population, and directly elected by the people. This house would have the power to originate all bills concerning raising and spending money
• All states would have equal say in the other house, the Senate. Representatives there would be selected by state legislatures
3/5 Compromise: Agreement reached at the Constitutional Convention stipulating that each slave was to be counted as three-fifths of a person for purposes of determining population for representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Preamble: a brief introductory statement of the fundamental purposes and guiding principles which the Constitution is meant to serve. “We the People of the United States” boldly proclaimed that a loose confederation of independent states no longer existed.
Federal System: Plan of government created in the U.S. Constitution in which power is divided between the national government and the state governments and in which independent states are bound together under one national government.
Separation of Powers: A way of dividing power among three branches of government in which members of the House of Representatives, members of the Senate, the president, and the federal courts are selected by and responsible to different constituencies.
17th Amendment: Called for the direct election of senators by the voters, making them directly accountable in the people, thereby making the system more democratic.
Checks and balances (s): A governmental structure that gives each of the three branches of government some degree of oversight and control over the actions of the others. Allowed framers to reduce the threat of tyranny from any one branch.
Enumerated Powers (s): Seventeen specific powers granted to congress under Article I section 8 of the U.S. Constituion; these powers include taxation, coinage of money, regulation of commerce, and the authority to provide for a national defense. Granted powers to Congress previously denied by the Articles of Confederation.
Necessary and proper clause (s): Gives Congress the authority to pass all laws “necessary and proper” to carry out the enumerated powers specified in the Constitution; also called the "Elastic Clause". Source for congressional activity never anticipated by the framers.
Implied Powers (e): Powers derived from the enumerated powers and the elastic clause. Powers that are considered reasonably implied through the exercise of delegated powers. Federal minimum-wage and maximum-hour laws. Regulating trains and planes.
Supremacy clause (s): National law is supreme to all other laws passed by states or by any other subdivision of government. Linchpin of the entire federal system.
Federalists: Those who favored a stronger national government and supported the prosed U.S. Constitution; later became the first U.S. Political party.
Anti-Federalists: Those who favored strong state governments and a weak national government; opposed the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
The Federalist Papers: A series of 85 political papers written by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison in support of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
Bill of Rights: The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
27th Amendment: Amendment preventing members of the House from raising their own salaries.
Equal Rights Amendment: Womens rights amendment that, despite gaining overwhelming majorities in congress, failed to be ratified by the states, showing how hard it is to amend the Constitution.
Informal Amendments (e): When judicial review is used as a means to “amend” the constitution. When the Constitution is interpreted a certain way by the Supreme Court. Seen in social example with womens rights. While there is no specific womens rights amendment, the courts have interpreted the Constitution to prohibit forms of gender discrimination.