Origins of Government notes
“We
must all hang
together, or assuredly
we shall all hang
separately.”
Benjamin Franklin
• American
government, its
powers and
limitations,
were brought to
these shores by
the English
colonists.
Please take out your copy of the
Declaration of Independence (page 40 in
your book) and answer these questions:
1. Which truths in the second paragraph are
“self-evident?”
2. Name three natural rights listed in the
Declaration.
3. From what source to government derive
their “just powers?”
4. In the series of paragraphs beginnings, “HE
has refused his Assent,” to whom does the
word “He” refer to?
#2 writing assignment question:
• Do the ideas expressed in the
Declaration of Independence
still mean something to
Americans? Justify your
answer with two examples.
Celebrate Freedom week
question:
• Remembering what you’ve learned about
the Bill of Rights identify at least two
amendments that reflect the influence
of the Declaration of Independence.
The ideas of
• ordered
• limited
• representative
government
have roots in
English historical
documents
1. Magna Carta
(1215), included
a. trial by jury
b. due process of
law
2. Petition of Right
(1628) – limited the
king’s power;
insured citizens
they would have
protection during
peacetime.
3.Bill of Rights
(1689) –
guaranteed free
elections; also
limited military
during peacetime,
protection from
cruel and unusual
punishment
Three types of colonies:
• royal (crown) (8) –
direct control of the
king; NH, MA, NY,
NJ, VA, NC, SC, GA
• proprietary (3) –
ruled by the owner;
MD, PA, DE
• charter – governed
themselves; CT, RI
By the mid-1700s, the colonies
had grown accustomed to
doing as they pleased.
But when George III
(1760) came to
power, things
changed.
1. taxes were levied
2. colonists resisted
Early colonial attempts at unity:
1. Albany Plan of Union (1754) – 7 northern
colonies focused on military matters and
relations with France; failed
2. Stamp Act Congress (1765) – 9 colonies
protested British policies
3. Boston Tea Party (1773)
4. 1st Continental Congress (1774) –
Philadelphia; protested colonial policies,
refused all trade with England
5. 2nd Continental
Congress (1775) –
Philadelphia; battles of
Lexington and Concord
had already been
fought. J. Hancock –
president, G.
Washington –
commander-in-chief;
functioned as first
national gov’t for 5
yrs.
• fought a war
• raised armies and
navies
• borrowed money
• bought supplies
• made treaties
• created a monetary
system
Declaration of Independence – 1776
• 56 signers of a
document
almost wholly
Jefferson’s;
brought U.S.
into being
Articles of Confederation (1777)
went into
effect in
1781
Common features of early state
constitutions:
1. popular sovereignty
2. limited government
3. civil rights and liberties
4. separation of powers
5. checks and balances
Parliament could have eliminated the
colonists’ chief objection to taxes by
allowing them representation in
Parliament
No taxation
without
representation!
Critical period – 1780s
• 1st national
constitution –
November, 1777;
took effect on
March 1, 1781
– Articles of
Confederation
1. unicameral
2. each state had 1
vote
3. no executive or
judicial branch
4. Congress could
make war, borrow
$, build a navy,
raise an army,
settle disputes
Weaknesses of the Articles of
Confederation
1. Congress powerless to
tax
2. Congress powerless to
regulate interstate
commerce
3. no executive to
enforce acts of
Congress
4. amendment only with
consent of all states
Revolutionary War ended October, 1781 economic chaos resulted
• national
government
proved too
weak to deal
with growing
economic and
political
problems
Constitutional convention convened in
May, 1787, Philadelphia.
• 55 delegates
Framers were “well read, well-bred,
well-fed, well-wed.”
1. young
2. politically
experienced
3. well educated
One might expect a
government structured to
favor people of wealth and
property…
Consider voting rights…
Work was completed –
September, 1787
• James Madison
was termed
“Father of the
Constitution”
Ratification of the Constitution two groups quickly emerged:
• Federalists –
favored ratification
(J. Madison,
A.Hamilton)
stressed this as a
preferable
document to the
Articles of
Confederation
• Anti-Federalists –
opposed ratification
(P. Henry, S.
Adams)
Objections of the AntiFederalists:
• increased powers of
central gov’t
• lack of a bill of
rights
Why Virginia and New York were key
states – because they are large!
•Federalist Papers
• collection of
essays by A.
Hamilton, J.
Madison, and J.
Jay written in
support of
ratification of
the Constitution
September, 1788
• 11 states
ratified the
Constitution
and Washington
chosen as 1st
President
Know in chronological order…
• Declaration of
Independence
• Articles of
Confederation
• Shays’ Rebellion
• Constitutional
convention
Why we have government…
• maintain order
• provide defense
• establish justice
Articles of Confederation to
Constitution…
• legislative supremacy to separation of
powers
• confederate form of gov’t to federalism
• power located in the states to located
in national gov’t
Notes to remember for Origins
of Gov’t test - a review of sorts…
1. The belief that
gov’t should be
based on the
“rule of law” is
limited
government.
2. The early
belief that the
lawmaking
branch
(Congress)
should be
dominant is
legislative
supremacy.
3. Government
that is centrally
located
geographically is
unitary.
4. Both the social
contract theory
of gov’t and the
Declaration of
Independence
share the belief
that people have
the right to run
their own gov’t
and to change it if
necessary.
5. Government
where there is
division of
power between
a strong central
government and
various state
governments is
federal.
6. Government
where there is
separation of
powers between
the executive
and legislative
branches of
government is
presidential.
7. Government
that is
characterized
by legislative
supremacy is
parliamentary.
8. The Articles of
Confederation
government (17811787) had
• equal representation
of the states,
• no executive
(president),
• no judiciary and
• no separation of
powers.
9. Very important
to know!
• legislative branch
makes the law
• executive branch:
enforces the law
• judicial branch:
interprets the law
10. Federalism is
not specifically
referred to in
the Declaration
of
Independence.
11. The Declaration
of Independence
says that
governments
derive (get) their
power from the
consent
(permission) of
the governed.
Know these for the Origins of
Gov’t test:
13. a) The Federalists were led by many
of those who attended the
Constitutional Convention, notably
Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.
b) Their main argument was the weakness
of the Articles of Confederation.
# 14
Anti-Federalists didn’t want such
a strong central gov’t as the one
set up in the proposed
constitution. They also didn’t
like the absence of a bill of
rights.