Key Terms
•Government: procedures and institutions by which
people govern and rule themselves.
• Why Is Government Necessary?
•Politics: the process by which
people decide who shall govern
and what policies shall be
•Politicians: people who fulfill
the tasks of operating
“Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly
and for the same reason.”
- Anonymous
Key Terms
Forms of Government
Derived from the Greek words demos
(“the people”) and kratos (“authority”).
Key Terms
•Political Science: the study of the principles,
procedures, and structures of government; and
the analysis of political ideas, institutions,
behaviors, and practices.
•Democracy: a political form of
government carried out either
directly by the people or by
means of elected representatives
of the people, with free and
frequent elections.
“Democracy is not so much a form of
government as a set of principles.”
- Woodrow T. Wilson
Thomas Jefferson, one of our
best-known champions of
constitutional democracy
Whose Words are These?
“Political competition is the
heartbeat of democracy…”
“Today, the quality of our state
does not match civil society’s
readiness to participate in it.”
“The problem…comes from the
lack of transparency and
accountability of government...”
Defining Democracy
Direct Democracy
Government by the people,
either directly or indirectly,
with free and frequent elections
Government in which citizens
vote on laws and select
officials more directly
Representative Democracy
Constitutional Democracy
Government that derives its
powers indirectly from the
people, who elect those who
will govern
Government that enforces
recognized limits on those who
govern and allows the voice of the
people to be heard through free,
fair, and relatively frequent
Direct Democracy
• Political decisions are
made by the people
directly, rather than by
their elected
• Attained most easily in
small political
• Initiative
• Referendum
• Recall
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
American Government and
Politicians in Context
•Government by the people requires faith
concerning common human enterprise.
•Constitutional democracy requires constant
attention to protecting the rights and opinions
of others.
•Constitutional democracy is necessarily
government by representative politicians.
Is Direct Democracy Dangerous?
A Democratic Republic
Democratic republic and representative
democracy really mean the same thing government based on elected
representatives - except for the historical
quirk that a republic cannot have a
vestigial king.
• Principles of Democratic Government
– Universal suffrage
– Majority rule
• Constitutional Democracy
– Limited government
(National Portrait Gallery)
Defining Democracy
• Conditions Conducive To Constitutional
•Educational conditions - Democracy puts a
premium on education
•Economic conditions - Extremes of poverty and
wealth undermine the possibilities for a healthy
constitutional democracy
•Social conditions - Overlapping associations and
groupings, so that allegiance to one group is not
•Ideological conditions - Acceptance of the
ideals of democracy and a willingness from the majority to
proceed democratically
Defining Democracy
•Democracy As A System Of Interacting
•Personal liberty
•Respect for the
•Equality of
(The People)
•Popular consent
These basic values of democracy do
not always coexist happily.
Government by
the People
Defining Democracy
•Democracy As A System of Interrelated
Political Processes
•Fair and free elections
•Majority rule
•Freedom of expression
•The right to assemble and protest
“Democracy encourages the majority to decide things about
which the majority is blissfully ignorant.”
- John Simon
Defining Democracy
•Democracy As A System Of
Interdependent Political Structures
•Separation of powers
•Checks and Balances
•Bill of Rights
Separation of Powers
The Constitutional Roots of the
American Experiment
•The Colonial Beginnings
•Mayflower Compact - Legalized the Pilgrim’s position
as a body politic
•Colonial assemblies - Every colony in the New World
had an assembly
•The Rise of Revolutionary Fervor
•The Declaration of Independence - 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.
Chronology of Events
American Revolution begins on 04/18 /1775
Second Continental Congress convenes on 05/10/1775
Ben Franklin presents a plan for confederation on 07/21/1775
Richard Henry Lee introduces independence resolution on 06/07/1776
Declaration of Independence adopted on 07/04/ 1776 – “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.”
Third Continental Congress convenes on 12/20/1776
Articles of Confederation proposed on 11/15 /1777
Articles of Confederation ratified on 03/01/1781
English declare hostilities at an end on 02/04/1783
America declares hostilities at an end on 04/11/1783
Revolutionary War Ends (Treaty of Paris) on 01/14/1784
Constitutional Convention opens on 05/25/1787
Final draft of the Constitution sent to Congress on 09/17/1787
The Colonial Background
Separatists were dissatisfied
with the Church of England
and sought a place where they
could practice their religious
The compact they formed set
forth the idea of consent of
the governed.
(The Granger Collection)
British Restrictions & Colonial Grievances
 In 1763, the British Parliament began to pass laws that
treated the colonies as a unit. The major reason for these
laws was to raise revenue to help pay off the war debt
incurred during the French and Indian Wars (1756–1763).
First Continental Congress
 The focus was to restore the political structure that was in
existence before the passage of legislation affecting the
internal operations of each colony by Parliament.
 Had the Crown and Parliament relented on many of their
demands it is possible the Declaration of Independence
would never have been issued.
Second Continental Congress
Established an army
Made Washington the
general in chief and
pursued the
Revolutionary War
Painting by John Trumbull, 1819, Library of Congress
The Political Theory and Practices of the
Revolutionary Era
• Conflicts over the meaning of democracy and
liberty in the new nation
– Initially, the Revolution was fought to preserve an
existing way of life.
– Traditional rights of life, liberty, and property seemed
to be threatened by British policies on trade and
– The Revolution was inspired by a concern for liberty
together with the development of sentiments for
popular sovereignty and political equality.
Prelude to the Declaration of
• Delegates to the Second Continental Congress did not
originally have independence in mind.
• By the spring of 1776, delegates concluded that
separation and independence were inescapable.
• A special committee was appointed to draft a declaration
of independence.
• The Declaration of Independence was unanimously
adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4,
The Rise of Republicanism
Republicanism vs. The Republican Party
While republicans were opposed to rule by the
British, they were also opposed to rule by any
central authority. They were even skeptical of
a permanent union of the states.
Each state was seen as the sovereign authority
and the only legitimate ruling force.
The Declaration of Independence
The Influence of John Locke
Natural Rights
Social Contract
© Archivo Iconografico S.A. /Corbis
© Bettmann /Corbis
Key ideas in the Declaration of
• Human beings possess rights that cannot be
legitimately given away or taken from them.
• People create government to protect these
• If government fails to protect people’s rights or
itself becomes a threat to them, people can
withdraw their consent from that government
and create a new one
Omissions in the Declaration of
• Did not deal with the issue of what to do about
• Did not say anything about the political status
of women, Native Americans, or African
Americans who were not slaves
The Articles of Confederation:
Our First Form of Government
States retained most of
the power
Citizens loyal to their
The Confederal
Structure Under the
Articles of
Library of Congress
The Articles of Confederation: The
First Constitution
• Provisions of the Articles
– A loose confederation of independent states
– Weak central government
• Shortcomings of the Articles
– Indebtedness and inability to finance its activities
– Inability to defend American interests in foreign affairs
– Commercial warfare among the states
Accomplishments Under the Articles
Articles established to:
Organize the states so they could defeat the British
Gain independence from Britain
Weaknesses of the Articles
Still no central authority to resolve disputes between the
states. To organize the states for the collective good,
including the organization of a militia, was crucial to the
development of the Constitutional Convention.
The Constitutional Roots of the
American Experiment
•Toward Unity and Order
•The Articles of Confederation - Adopted on March 1, 1781
to bring the thirteen states together while allowing each state to
remain independent
•Shays’s Rebellion - Economic depression of mid-1780s
•Daniel Shays - Rallied farmers to demand change from
•Tensions Over Big Government Today
• How much power should the American government have and what
role should it play in the lives of citizens?
Shay’s Rebellion,
 Widespread economic problems
among farmers at the end of the
Revolutionary War
 Nonpayment of taxes and debts led
to foreclosure proceedings and
imprisonment for debt.
© Bettmann/Corbis
• Farmers in western Massachusetts took up arms to prevent
courts from meeting
• Armed farmers led by Captain Daniel Shays forced the illequipped state militia to withdraw.
• By the spring of 1787, special armed forces recruited from the
Boston area defeated the rebels.
Aftermath of Shay’s Rebellion
• Shay’s Rebellion reinforced the fears of national leaders
about the dangers of ineffective state governments and
of popular democracy out of control.
• In this climate of crisis, a call was issued to meet in
Philadelphia to correct defects in the Articles of
• Delegates to the Philadelphia convention were instructed
to propose revisions for the Articles of Confederation,
but they wrote an entirely new constitution instead.
Why the Founders Were Worried
• An Excess of Democracy in the States
– In the mid-1780s, popular conventions were
established to monitor and control the actions of state
– The Pennsylvania state constitution replaced the
property qualifications as a requirement to vote with a
very small tax.
• The Threat to Property Rights in the States
– Popular opinion
– Stay acts
– Shay’s Rebellion
The Articles and the Constitution
Convening the Constitutional Convention
• Consensus that a new Constitution was
desperately needed
• Yet, growing concern by influential citizens
about democratizing and egalitarian
The Constitutional Convention
• By 1787, most of America’s leaders were
convinced that the new nation was in great
danger of failing.
• Delegates to the Constitutional Convention
– Wealthy men, well-educated, landowners
– Young, but with broad experience in American politics
– Familiar with the great works of Western philosophy
and political science
Debate Over the Intentions of the
• Historian Charles Beard: The framers were engaged in
a conspiracy to protect their personal economic
• Although the reality is surely more complex, broad
economic and social-class
motives were
likely important.
Factions Among Delegates
The beliefs of the delegates ranged
from the near-monarchism of Hamilton
to definite decentralized republicanism.
© Archivo Iconografico, S.A./Corbis
The Constitutional Convention of
•The 55 Delegates: Educated, Wealthy, White, Male
Experienced in state/local government
•Consensus: The common philosophy accepted by most of
the delegates was that of balanced government
•Conflict and Compromise
•The Virginia Plan – Supreme national government
– Favored by populous states
•The New Jersey Plan – Confederation model
– Favored by smaller states
•The Connecticut Compromise
•North-South Compromises
•Other Issues
Consensus Among the Delegates
• Agreement that a new constitution must replace the
the Articles of Confederation
• Republican form of government
• Support for a substantially strengthened national
• Concern that a strong national government is
potentially tyrannical
• Belief in a republican form of government based on
popular consent
• Desire to insulate government from public opinion
and popular democracy
TABLE: The Virginia and New Jersey Plans
Virginia Plan
New Jersey Plan
Legitimacy derived from
citizens, based on popular
Derived from states, based
on equal votes for each
Bicameral legislature
Unicameral legislature
Executive size
undetermined, elected
and removable by
More than one person,
removable by state
Judicial life tenure, able to
veto state legislation
No Judicial power over states
Table: The Virginia and New Jersey Plans
Virginia Plan
New Jersey Plan
Legislature can override
state laws
Government can compel
obedience to national laws
Ratification by citizens
Ratification by states
A Council of Revisions to
review national laws
A “Supremacy clause”
similar to Article VI of
Disagreement Among the Delegates
• Representation of the states in the legislature
• Status of slavery
• Selection of the President
Overall, Conflict Often Centered Around Disagreements
Between Large and Small States.
• Three-fifths Compromise
• Enactments against the slave trade were prohibited until
the year 1808, but a tax or duty on such importation was
• Return of runaway slaves
Overall, these provisions explicitly recognize the legal
standing of slavery
Conflict and Compromise:
The Conflict
The Compromise
State-based approach versus an
individual-based approach
House of Representatives:
Proportional; Senate: Equal number
of representatives from each state
The Conflict
The Compromise
The fact that Northerners hated slavery
worried Southerners, who feared that
their greater representation in Congress
would be used to end slavery
Slaves counted as three-fifths of a
free person; protection of the
Atlantic Slave Trade for at least 20
The Conflict
The Compromise
Southerners feared that the North’s
greater representation in Congress
would be used to end slavery
Slaves counted as three-fifths of a free
person in determining representation in
the House of Representatives;
protection of the Atlantic slave trade for
at least 20 years
Understanding the Constitution —
What the Framers Created
• Republican form of government
– Popular consent and some popular participation,
but barriers to majoritarian democracy
– Purposes and powers of
government limited
Library of Congress
 The Madisonian Model
Separation of powers
Checks and balances
The Struggle to Ratify the Constitution
• Delegates had been instructed to propose
alterations to the Articles of Confederation, but
they wrote an entirely new Constitution instead.
• Ratification was a difficult process.
– Federalists — favored
– Anti-Federalists — opposed
To Adopt or Not to Adopt?
•Federalists Versus Antifederalists
•The Politics of Ratification
The Federalist Papers
– James Madison
– Alexander Hamilton
– John Jay
The “Brutus” Essays
Ratification of the U.S. Constitution
New Jersey
South Carolina
New Hampshire
New York
North Carolina
Rhode Island
December 7, 1787
December 12, 1787
December 18, 1787
January 2, 1788
January 9, 1788
February 6, 1788
April 28, 1788
May 23, 1788
June 21, 1788
June 25, 1788
July 26, 1788
November 21, 1789
May 29, 1790
30 - 0
46 - 23
38 - 0
26 - 0
128 - 0
187 - 168 *
63 - 11
149 - 73 *
57 - 46 *
89 - 79 *
30 - 27 *
194 - 77 *
34 - 32 *
Ratifying Amendments
The Time for Ratification of the 27 Amendments to the Constitution
Four ways to Amend the Constitution
Four ways to Amend the Constitution
• Cope with any new and unforeseen problem
• Taken on with extreme caution
• Rigorous process
Amending the Constitution
• Although 11,000 amendments have been
considered by Congress, only 33 have been
submitted to the states after being approved,
and only 27 have been ratified since 1789.
The Bill of Rights
• A “Bill of Limits”
• No explicit limits on state government powers
• Did not apply to state governments