The Constitution
The most important thing since sliced
bread and the invention of the wheel
Rules for the Game
A Revolution of the Mind
• What do we mean by the Revolution, the war?
That was not part of the revolution, it was only
an effect and consequence of it. The revolution
was in the minds of the people, and this was
affected from 1760-1775 in the course of 15
years before a drop of blood was shed at
John Adams
A Revolution of the Mind
• While in Europe, I often amused myself with contemplating the
characters of the then reigning sovereigns....Louis XVI was a
fool....The King of Spain was a fool, and of Naples the same.
They passed their lives in hunting....The Queen of Portugal was
an idiot by nature. And so was the King of Denmark....The
King of Prussia, successor to Frederick, was a mere hog in
body as well as in mind. Gustavas of Sweden and Joseph of
Austria were really crazy and George of England was in a
straight waistcoat [straight jacket]. These animals had become
without mind and powerless....
Europe, is a first idea, a crude production, before the maker
knew his trade, or had made up his mind as to what he wanted.
[America, Jefferson implies, was closer to the final product]
Thomas Jefferson
A Revolution of the Mind
In Congress, July 4, 1776
The Unanimous Declaration of The Thirteen United States of America
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the
political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the
earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle
them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes
which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are
endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty
and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among
Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of
Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to
abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and
organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and
Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be
changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that
mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by
abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and
usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute
Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new
Guards for their future security. -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and
such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations,
all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove
this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world...
…We solemnly publish and declare, that these colonies are and of
aright ought to be free and independent states... And for the support
of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine
providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our
sacred honour."
The Declaration of Independence, 1776.
15 / 56 signers of the Declaration had their homes burned by the British
• Too Late to Apologize
A Question of Sovereignty
• Articles of Confederation
o “Each State retains its
sovereignty, freedom and
independence, and every power
not... expressly delegated to the
United States, in Congress
Articles of Confederation
Target 2.4
The Story of the Philadelphia Convention
• Great Compromise
• Three-fifths Compromise
• Slave Trade Compromise
New Powers of the National Government
2.4 Politics of Compromise
• Should Democrats and Republicans today
compromise on political issues, or should they “stand
on principle”?
o Driving out Moderates (CNN video) ……….. Daschle & Lott on Compromise
Framework of
Target 2.5
• The Constitution sets up a
“Framework” of government
• The basic structure of the
• 3 Basic Principles
o Separation of Powers, Checks & Balances, Federalism
• Central Dilemma
o But what is government itself but the greatest of all
reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no
government would be necessary.... In framing a government
which is to be administered by men over men, the great
difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to
control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control
James Madison, The Federalist No.51
• Checks & Balances
Flexible by Design
But not too flexible
Flexible by Design
But not too flexible
The Amendment Process
o Propose
• When 2/3rds of
o States call for a Constitutional
o Ratify
o Congress propose an
• When 3/4ths of
o State Legislatures approve
o State Ratifying Conventions
Target 2.6
Ratification Federalists v. Antifederalists
• The Federalist Papers
o 85 Essays defending the Constitution
• Federalist No. 10
• Federalist No. 51
What was at stake?
• It has been reserved to the people
of this country, to decide the
important question, whether
societies of men are really capable
or not of establishing good
government from reflection and
choice, or whether they are forever
destined to depend for the political
constitutions on accident and
Hamilton, The Federalist, No. 1
Ratification (State by State Ratification)
Modern Debate
Politics of the Constitution
• Public view of the Constitution (Time)
One Document Under Siege
Rex E. Lee on the Constitution