America's Political Beginnings

America's Political Beginnings
The Road to Independence
Colonial Period & The Colonial Mindset:
Organized government into institutions and introduced roles
Limited Government
Government is NOT all powerful.
Representative Government
Government serves will of the people
King George Takes the British Throne in 1760:
Introduces new taxes & more taxes imposed on the colonies.
Colonists feel as if they are being mistreated by the crown.
No taxation without representation-We want a voice in our
Colonists begin to protest, organize resistance movements, etc.
(Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party).
Enlightenment Philosophers
John Locke was a 17th century English writer. Locke
believed that people can live in the state of nature-that is
without any ruler as long as people had enough food and
The human desire for self-preservation will lead people to
form governments. Therefore people entered into a
Social Contract.
Government is based on an agreement between people
and their rulers. He felt that people have the right to life,
liberty, and property.
In order to give up absolute freedom for protection, the
people formed governments to limit certain freedoms in
order for government to protect their natural rights, or rights
given to us by god.
John Locke
Government, was necessary to restrain humanity’s
bestial tendencies because life without government
was but a state of nature.
State of Nature: A place without written,
enforceable rules. A place without government.
Without government people would live like animalsforaging for food, stealing and killing when
To escape the horrors of the natural state to protect
their lives, people must give up certain rights to
Without government Hobbes warned life would be
Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.
Thomas Hobbes
Rousseau's most important work is The
Social Contract, he claimed that the state
of nature was a primitive condition without
law or morality, which human beings left for
the benefits and necessity of cooperation.
According to Rousseau, by joining together
into civil society through the social contract
and abandoning their claims of natural
right, individuals can both preserve
themselves and remain free.
This is because submission to the authority
of the general will of the people as a whole
guarantees individuals against being
subordinated to the wills of others-All men
are created equal.
Jean Jacques
Baron De Montesquieu who wrote the
Spirit of the Laws adopted Hobbes's
and Locke’s theory of the Social
He argued that the best form of
government is one that fits best with
the “peculiar character of its people.”
His most critical contribution was his
theory about liberty which held that
government power was best when
divided into branches of government
such as a legislative, executive and
Baron De
After the pamphlet Common Sense
a plan was developed to declare
Congress named a committee of
Five; Ben Franklin, John Adams,
Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman
and Robert Livingston to prepare a
Many delegates had serious doubts
about the wisdom of declaring a
separation and continuing a war
On July 4th 1776 the Declaration
was signed
The Road to Independence
First Continental Congress: 1774 in Philadelphia
1774: British Parliament passed the Intolerable Acts in response to
the troubles in Boston, Massachusetts
Stripped Massachusetts of self-governing rights-Punishment
Colonists send delegates from every colony except Georgia
Decided to boycott British goods
Colonists set up Second Continental Congress
The Road to Independence
Second Continental Congress: 1775 in Philadelphia
British government refused to compromise with colonies.
Revolutionary War had already begun
All colonies sent representatives
Army is created & George Washington appointed commander in
Declaration of Independence adopted in 1776
After Declaring Independence
First State Constitutions developed.
Articles of Confederation written.
Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederations
Couldn’t tax
Couldn’t regulate foreign & interstate commerce
Couldn’t enforce acts of Congress
No national court system
9 out of 13 colonies required to pass laws
Shay’s Rebellion is the last straw for the Articles of
Need for a Stronger Government
Constitutional Convention (May 1787)
Virginia Plan
Population-based representation in Congress
Bicameral Congress
3 Branches
Favors Big States
New Jersey Plan
Equal representation in Congress
Unicameral Congress
Favors Small States
The Great Compromise
The Great Compromise leads us to what we have today:
Bicameral Congress
House of Representatives: Population
Senate: Equal Representation
3 Branches of Government
3/5th’s Compromise: Slavery.
Slave counts as 3/5’s of a person towards population.
Ratifying the constitution
Strong Central Government
Stressed weaknesses of Articles
System of Checks and Balances and
separation of powers will safeguard rights
System of Federalism
Called for ratification
Anti- federalists
Weak Central Government
Stressed a revision of Articles
Feared an abusive central government
Insisted on a written guarantee of rights
The Constitution
“Supreme Law of the Land”
Outline of the Constitution
Sets out the basic principles & framework of government
Outline basic organization and powers
Relationship with states
Requirements for ratification
Six Principles of Government
Popular Sovereignty
Limited Government
Separation of Powers
Check & Balances
Judicial Review
Changing the Constitution
4 methods of adding an amendment:
1st- Amendment proposed by 2/3 in congress, ratified by ¾ of
2nd-Proposed by congress, ratified by convention in ¾ of states
3rd-Proposed by a national convention called by congress at the
request of ¾ of the states, ratified by ¾ of state legislatures
(never used)
4th-Proposed & ratified by a national convention in ¾ of the
Principles of Government
Government and the State
What is Government?
Govt. is the institution through society makes & enforces its
public policies.
Governments Role in Society
Need for Security
One of the original purposes of government is
maintenance of security and order
Definition of Order
A state of peace and security which maintains order
by protecting member of society from violence and
Every government must have a legitimate authority: the right and
power to enforce decisions and compel obedience.
Definition of Legitimacy: Popular acceptance of the right and power of
a government to exercise authority.
Monty Python
Quick Discussion
Turn to a person sitting next to you and apply the idea of
legitimacy to your life.
Levels of Government
Federal Government
Located in Washington,
Makes, interprets, and
enforces laws for the
entire nation.
Levels of Government
State Government
Each state has its own separate government.
Legislatures make laws and the Governors are the
executives within the state.
Levels of Government
Local Government
Local governments are governed by city council members
and the city major
Local government also include positions like county
commissioners city clerk, and school board members.
These are all elected officials.
Leesburg, VA City Hall
The Branches of Federal
The U.S. Federal Government has and
exercises three basic kinds of power:
The power to make laws and frame
public policy.
The power to execute, enforce, and
administer law. This power resides
with the President of the United
The power to interpret laws, determine
the meaning of laws, and settle
disputes that arise within a society.
Quick Discussion
Turn to your partner and discuss the differences between
LEVELS of government vs. BRANCHES of government.
The Four Characteristics
In popular usage, a state is often called a “nation” or a
Population-To be a state, it must contain a population of
Territory-A state must have land, with known and
recognized boundaries.
Sovereignty- It must have supreme and absolute power
within its own territory.
Government-Each state must have a government.
The Four Origins of the State
The Force Theory- The state was born from the result of
force. Person or small group claims control over and area
and forced all within it to submit to the person’s or group’s
The Evolutionary Theory-The state developed naturally out
of the early family. Nomadic families got bigger and bigger.
Essentially they become a tribe that gives up its nomadic
ways to tie itself to the land.
The Four Origins of the State
The Divine Right Theory-God created state and God had
given those of royal birth the “divine right” to rule. For
example, Henry the VIII (Early British Monarchy) ruled by
the divine right theory.
The Social Contract Theory- The state arose out of a
voluntary act of free people and exists only to serve the
will of people. Philosophers such as John Locke and
Thomas Hobbes developed this theory.
Purpose of Government
Form a more perfect Union
Establish Justice
Insure Domestic Tranquility
Promote General Welfare
Secure Liberty
Common Defense
Forms of Government
How are Governments classified?
Who can participate in the governing process.
What is the geographic distribution of governmental
power within the state.
What is the relationship between the legislative and
executive government.
A system of government in which the political authority is
vested in the people.
A Democratic Republic is based on popular sovereignty,
the concept that ultimate political authority is based on
the will of the people, rather than with a King or Monarch.
Popular Sovereignty: People hold the ultimate power over
Two Types of Democracy
Representative-A form of government in which
representatives elected by the people make and
enforce laws and policies.
Direct-A system of government in which political
decisions are make directly by the people rather than
elected representatives.
Quick Discussion
What type of Democracy does the U.S. practice?
Basic Concepts of Democracy
Geographic Distribution of Power
Unitary Government – A centralized government where all
powers held by the government belong to a single, central
agency. This does not imply a dictatorship.
Federal Government – The powers of government are
divided between a central government and several local
governments. Sound familiar?
Confederate Government – An alliance of independent
states. Very rare today, the EU is close.
5 Basic Concepts of a Democracy
Worth of the Individual
Equality of All people
Majority Rule, Minority Rights
Individual Freedom (Not Anarchy!)
Quick Discussion
Do we fulfill the 5 basic concepts of democracy? Why or
why not?
Democracy and the free enterprise
Our economic system is a free enterprise system
A system characterized by the private ownership of
capital goods, investments are made by private
decisions and success/ failure is determined by
competition in the free market.
Law of Supply and demand governs much of our
Government’s role in our Economy
Our government does participate in our economy though. It
serves to:
Protect the public and preserve private enterprise
Regulations…Good or bad?
A economy that exists with a considerable amount of
government regulation and promotion is called a
mixed economy.
Representative Democracies
A radical faction that broke away from the socialist
Abolished capitalism
Instituted socialism through a dictatorship
Government controls ALL enterprises
Replaced free markets by central planning
Example: Soviet Union
One ruler controls every aspect of life and is
not responsible to the will of the people
All dictatorships are authoritarian and
modern dictatorships have tended to be
Lesser of two evils is authoritarian
Types of Dictatorships:
Oligarchy- Power to rule is held by a
small group of self-appointed elite
Autocracy-Single person holds unlimited
Examples: Soviet Union (Stalin), Nazi
Germany (Hitler), Italy (Mussolini)
A political system that denies popular participation in
government and exercise complete power over nearly
every part of every day life
Example: North Korea
An ideology that promotes nationalism and unites behind
an absolute ruler.
Example:Nazi Germany
Monarchy- A political system in which power is passed
from generation to generation through Blood
Absolute Monarchy-King/Queen controls the government
Constitutional Monarchy- Citizen elect members of
Relationship between Legislative and
Executive Branches
Presidential Government
The two branches are co-equal and independent
President is chosen independently of the legislature
Parliamentary Government
Executive branch is made up of a prime minister or
premier, and that official’s cabinet
The executive is chosen by the legislatures, and is
subject to its direct control
Monarchies Around the World
Red: Absolute Monarchy
Orange: Semi-Constitutional Monarchy
Dark Green: Constitutional Monarchy
Light Green: Personal Union with Constitutional Monarchy
Pink: Sub-State level monarchy
Who is truly “Free”?
Not Free
The Cow System
PURE SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The
government takes them and puts them in a barn
with everyone else's cows. You have to take care of
all of the cows. The government gives you as much
milk as you need.
FASCISM: You have two cows. The government
takes both, hires you to take care of them and sells
you the milk.
PURE COMMUNISM: You have two cows. Your
neighbors help you take care of them, and you all
share the milk.
RUSSIAN COMMUNISM: You have two cows. You
have to take care of them, but the government takes
all the milk.
CAMBODIAN COMMUNISM: You have two cows.
The government takes both of them and shoots you
DICTATORSHIP: You have two cows. The
government takes both and drafts you.