Foundations of the American
Political System
The Constitution
Chapter 3
Who was the only state that
chose not to participate in the
Constitutional Convention?
Rhode Island
Their leaders opposed a strong
central government
Constitutional Convention 1787
Who attended?
55 men of distinction: lawyers, merchants,
college presidents, doctors, generals,
governors, and planters
Who did not attend?
Native Americans, Women, and African
Americans (not considered part of the
political process)
Convention gets Organized
Who did the delegates select as the leader of
the convention?
George Washington, Revolutionary war hero
• Each state gets one vote
• Seven states or more must be present
• Strict secrecy for all discussions
The Mission
Given the task of fixing the Articles of
Confederation by Congress, the delegates
quickly decided to do what?
Scrap the Articles of Confederation and
create a new Constitution
Two Opposing Plans
James Madison proposed “The Virginia Plan”
• Three branches of gov’t: Executive, Legislative,
and Judicial
• Bicameral “Two House” Legislature
• Legislative seats determined by states’ populations
William Paterson countered “The New Jersey Plan”
• Three branches of gov’t (same three)
• Unicameral “One House” Legislature
• Legislative seats determined as one vote per state
Virginia Plan favored
large states, big
Massachusetts, NY,
New Jersey Plan
favored small states
Supporters: Delaware,
Maryland, New
The Great Compromise
Roger Sherman [Connecticut delegate]
proposed a compromise plan:
A two house “bicameral” legislature
Senate ~ equal votes to please the small
House of Representatives ~ people based
on population for the large states
The 3/5 “Three-Fifths” Compromise
How should the government count slaves in
the population calculation for Congress?
South ~ Each slave should count
North ~ Slaves give the South unfair
advantage in Congress; Slaves are property
and should not count in equation
Resolution: Count every 5 slaves as 3 free
persons to determine House voting power
The Southern states would
have had more electoral
votes and Jefferson could
have won.
Constitution built on
Besides the Great Compromise
and the 3/5 Compromise, other
Compromises were made
What is Compromise?
Main Entry: 1com·pro·mise
1 a : settlement of differences by
arbitration or by consent reached by
mutual concessions
Translation ~ You give a little, I give a little
Electoral College
• Should the people choose the president?
• Should the Congress choose the president?
Electoral College ~ a group of people who
would be named by each state legislature to
select the President and Vice President
* Now the Electors are chosen by the voters
Slavery and Tariffs
Northern States ~ agreed not to tax exports
or interfere with the slave trade until after
Southern States ~ agreed to allow the
Congress to regulate interstate commerce
as well as trade between nations
Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists
Americans reacted to the Constitution in two
separate ways:
• Federalists ~ supporters of the Constitution
who believed in federalism {a form of
government where power is shared between
the federal or national gov’t and the states}
• Anti-Federalists ~ opposed the Constitution
because it gave too much power to the
national gov’t and took away from the power
of the states
Approving the Constitution (cont.)
Why did the Anti-Federalists oppose the
They felt it gave too much power to the
national government and took too much
away from the states. They also felt it
needed a bill of rights to protect certain
individual liberties, such as the freedom
of speech and religion.
The Federalist
James Madison stated, “A
republic, by which I mean a
government in which the
scheme of representation
takes place… promises the
cure for which we are
Alexander Hamilton, John
Jay, and James Madison
used this publication to
defend the need for a strong
national government and the
proposed Constitution.
Ratification of the Constitution
• Federalists agree with Anti-Federalists that a
Bill of Rights is needed for the Constitution
• Promise of a Bill of Rights speeds approval of
the Constitution
• June 21, 1788 – New Hampshire becomes
the 9th state to ratify the Constitution
Critical Thinking
Drawing Conclusions Why were
Southerners at the Constitutional Convention
fearful of government control of trade?
Southerners feared that Congress might
stop slave traders. You should note that
without the compromise, Southerners
may not have supported the Constitution.
Structure of the Constitution
• Preamble
An introduction of the goals and purposes of the
• The Articles (7)
The structure of the government
• The Amendments (27)
Additions or changes to the Constitution
Preamble dissected (part I)
Six Purposes of Government:
• “To form a more perfect Union”
~ Make states operate together efficiently
2. “To establish Justice”
~ Create a fair system of laws and courts
3. “To ensure domestic Tranquility”
~ Maintain peace, order and keep people
Preamble dissected (part II)
4. “To provide for the common defense”
~ Have a military prepared to defend
5. “To promote the general Welfare”
~ Help people live happy and healthy
6. “To secure the Blessings of Liberty to
ourselves and our Posterity”
~ Guarantee the freedoms and basic
rights for future generations
Articles (I - VII)
Article I – The Legislative Branch
Article II – The Executive Branch
Article III – The Judicial Branch
Article IV – States responsibilities, process
for creating new states, federal government
promises to protect and defend the states
• Article V – Process for amendments
• Article VI – Constitution is the “Supreme law
of the land”
• Article VII – Approval when 9 states ratify it
Making Amendments or Changes
• Amendment process is deliberately difficult
• Amendments are a two-step process:
1. Proposal
a. 2/3 of Congress (Senate and House) can
vote for proposing a change
b. 2/3 of State Legislatures can vote for a
convention to propose a change
2. Ratification
¾ of States must vote to ratify amendments
Amending the Constitution (cont.)
Why did the Framers make the
amendment process difficult?
After months of debate and compromise, the
Framers knew how delicately balanced the
Constitution was. Changing even a small
detail could have dramatic effects throughout
the government. They wanted to make sure
the Constitution could not be altered without
the overwhelming support of the people.
Checking for Understanding (cont.)
Describe In what two ways can an
amendment to the U.S. Constitution be
ratified? How are the states involved in
these processes?
An amendment requires the approval by
three-fourths of state legislatures or threefourths of ratifying state conventions.
• These are powers that are given directly to
the National Government. We can find
them in Article 1 of the Constitution.
• What allows these powers to change with
the times?
Article I “Necessary and Proper
The Constitution gives Congress the power “to
make all Laws which shall be necessary
and proper” to carry out its duties.
Two interpretations:
Loose ~
Congress should be allowed to make any laws
the Constitution does not specifically forbid
Strict ~
Congress should make only laws written in the
Concurrent Powers
• These are powers that are SHARED by
the National government and State
• Ex: Taxes, enforcing laws
What happens if there is a conflict
between the National and State
‘Supremacy Clause’
• Article 6 says that the National
government is supreme in conflicts with
the individual states.
• McCulloch v. Maryland
• State law cannot contradict national law
– Ex: Slavery is illegal in all 50 states. Even if a
majority of people wanted to institute it in a
state, they cannot legally do so
Reserved Powers
• These are powers reserved for the states.
• The 10th Amendment makes it clear that
any powers not given explicitly to the
National government belong to the
• How has the National government gained
influence on the State’s powers?
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