Chapter Two
Forging a New
Government: The
The Colonial Background
• Jamestown – representative assembly
• Plymouth – social contract with consent of the
Selected Milestones in the Colonial/ Early American Era
• the Stamp Act
• the First Continental Congress
• the Second Continental Congress
• the Revolutionary War
• the Declaration of Independence
• the ratification of the Articles of Confederation
• Shays’ Rebellion
• the Constitutional Convention
• the ratification of the U.S. Constitution
• the Ratification of the Bill of Rights
Important concepts in the Declaration of Independence
• Natural Rights – the idea that individuals hold certain rights because
they are human; governments cannot take away these “inalienable”
(can’t be transferred) rights
•Locke describes these rights as “life, liberty and property”
•Jefferson describes these rights as “life liberty and the pursuit of
•Social contract -- a general agreement between the people and the
government, where the people agree to give up some of their
liberties, so that the remainder are protected.
Compromises in the Drafting of the U.S. Constitution
• the Great Compromise – resulted in a bicameral legislature, with one
house based on equal representation, the other on population.
• the Three-Fifths Compromise – resulted in slaves being counted as
“3/5” of a person for the purpose of determining population for
representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Dispersion of Power by the U.S. Constitution
• Federalism – sovereign powers are divided between the states anthe
national government
• Separation of Powers – dividing governmental powers
•legislative branch – is granted the power to make laws
•judicial branch – is granted the power to judge laws
•executive branch – is granted the power to administer laws. some
delegates favored a plural executive, but a single chief executive was
decided upon.
Ratification of the U.S. Constitution
• was supported by Federalists, who argued in favor of the ratification
and supported a strong central government.
• was opposed by the Anti-Federalists, who opposed a strong central
The Bill of Rights
• the first 10 amendments to the Constitution
• were adopted in 1791
• were designed to protect individuals from a too
powerful national government
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