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Constitution Convention of 1787

Constitution Convention of 1787

A fundamental mistake of the Americans has been, that they considered the revolution as completed, when it was but just begun. Having raised the pillars of the building, they ceased to exert themselves, and seemed to forget that the whole superstructure was then to be erected. Noah Webster 1790Who were the delegates?55 delegates from 12 states (Rhode Island refused to show)They were highly educated and some of the best known names in American history: Washington, Madison, Franklin, Pinkney, HamiltonProducts of the Enlightenment, but shrewd politiciansA unique assembly of men at any one time

3 did not signPaying my respects to the father of the ConstitutionGeorge WashingtonThe ConventionFramers met on May 25th-September 17th 1787Worked in secret to protect themselves from outside pressureWashington designated President of the Convention

4What is the Constitution?1. Unique/NecessaryNo true precedent for a written constitutionLegitimate authority derived from the peopleArticles too weak to work-What a triumph for our enemies to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves. -G. Washington No national identity

What is the Constitution?2. Boring, but rationalNo Declaration of IndependenceAn instrument of actionFull of precautions Vague-necessary and proper, high crimes and misdemeanors, others

3. Blueprint for Federal Government4,000 words, provided a framework for government while leaving the brushstrokes and detail to later generations7 ArticlesPreamble-Purpose of governmentPower Map-Articles I, II, IIIRelationship with States-Article IVAmendments-Article VNational Supremacy-VIRatification-VIIWhat is the Constitution?4. Bundle of CompromisesHow shall representation be decided in government? (Great Compromise)How much authority shall the federal government have? (Article Section 8, 9)What will protect people and the government from other branches? (checks and balances)Shall Congress have the power to regulate commerce and how? (can tax imports, but not exports, and can regulate interstate trade)How should states be formed in the frontier?How can Constitution be changed?What will we do about slavery? (cant interfere with slave trade until 1808)How much democracy? (House directly elected, Senators chosen by states, President through Electoral College, judges by President and Senate)How much political equality?What is the Constitution?5. An experiment in government seen through several cases such as Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch v. Maryland, the Civil War (no Confederate was brought to trial for no one knew if the states had a right to secede.6. Conservative document achieved through liberal means.Conservative because is protected property and provided stability, social classes didnt change as a result of the ConstitutionLiberal because it attempts to achieve status quo and equality through checks and balances, separation of powers, elastic clauseWhat is the Constitution?7. Supreme law of the land as established through Article VI- This Constitutionshall be the supreme Law of the Land8. Generational: a flexible document that can not be changed on a whim, but contains ambiguous phrases to allow for simple changes9. Store of values discussing ideas such as representation, no factions, limited government

10. Imperfect because it does not end slavery, no Bill of Rights, vague phrases,

Article I-the legislative branch

Congress has 2 houses or is bicameralHouse of Representatives chosen every two years by people and proportional to state population (435)Senators chosen every 6 years by state legislatures (until 1913) with 2 per state (100)The House represents the people, all revenue bills started here; the Senate represents states, all treaties and presidential appointments approved by themAll laws must pass both chambers before sent to presidentArticle I, Section 8 lists the enumerated powers of government, but Section 8 also contains the elastic clause or necessary and proper clause allowing the government to grow over timeArticle II-the executive branch

The President serves a 4 year term and is chosen through the Electoral College, not the people at largeThe president has power, but how much is open to interpretationHis primary job is to enforce the laws, which today is a vast bureaucracy of over 2 million peopleArticle III-the judicial branchShortest of the articles and vaguestJudges serve life terms, but must be appointed by the President and approved by the SenateDesigned to interpret the Constitution and determine what powers belong to the federal government and state governments

Article V-Amending the Constitution

A complicated procedure, but doable: the process allows for necessary changes to be made, but not easily (only 27 amendments, 10,000 proposed)Principles of the Constitution1. Popular sovereignty: The people are the source of the governments power, although indirectly. The government acts in response to the what the people want.

2. Federalism: the power of the government is divided between the national and state governments (this will be examined later). This idea is important because it allows the US to be united (which the Articles did not provide) and give the states the ability to govern themselves according to their needs. In other words, the states handle the small things, the federal government deals with the big picture.

Principles of the ConstitutionLegislative BranchExecutive BranchJudicial BranchMake lawsDeclare warSpend money (borrow money)Impeach

Enforce lawsVeto billsC-I-C of militaryAppoint officialsRepresent the USInterpret lawsCreate uniformity in the law3. Separation of powers: Each of the 3 branches of government has its own responsibilities in order to prevent not only tyranny, but also the growth of factions (political parties).Principles of the Constitution4. Checks and balances: Each branch of government holds some type of control over the other branch

Principles of the Constitution5. Judicial Review: The power of the courts to determine what laws are constitutional or not. In the case of Marbury v. Madison (1803), the Supreme Court determined that Article III gives them the power to decide what the law is. This opinion can only change if Court membership changes or an amendment is passed.

Principles of the Constitution6. Limited government: the Constitution limits the powers of government by only giving it certain authority.

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