The Evolution of Constitutionalism Prior to US Independence

The Evolution of Constitutionalism Prior to US Independence

Prior to independence, states in the US wrote new constitutions to replace state charters, which were written plans for government. These new constitutions introduced bi-cameral, two

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Slide1The Constitution

Slide2Independence Now What• Prior to Independence states wrote new constitutions to replace state charters • A Constitution is a written plan for government • State governments had bi-cameral (two chamber legislatures) • Most states had governors to carry out laws passed by legislature • State governments tried to protect natural rights

Slide3Articles of Confederation• Our first constitution • Introduced in 1777/Adopted in 1781 after revisions • Established a very weak central government • Most powers given to the states • Established a “firm league of friendship between states” • No executive or judicial branch—just a congress of delegates from each state

Slide4Successes of the Articles• Ordinance of 1785: Created a way to survey and sell western lands • Northwest Ordinance: established a way to govern newly acquired lands and a path towards statehood • Banned slavery or involuntary servitude in new territories

Slide5Problems with Articles ofConfederation • Congress could conduct foreign affairs, declare war and peace and maintain an army and navy • Congress could not collect taxes, regulate interstate trade and enforce laws • 9 states to pass laws 13 to amend • Congress realized it could pass laws but could not enforce laws or tax

Slide6Crisis in Government• War is over country is in debt • States taxed heavily to try and cover debt • Shays rebellion: Daniel Shays revolts against Massachusetts government • Congress authorized a convention to “revise the Articles of Confederation”

Slide7ConstitutionalConvention • On February 21, 1787, the Continental Congress resolved that: • is expedient that on the second Monday in May next a Convention of delegates who shall have been appointed by the several States be held at Philladelphia for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation...

Slide8ConstitutionalConvention • Delegates from each state (except RI) met in Philadelphia from May-September 1787 • Met in Secrecy– to allow those to speak freely • 74 delegates were appointed by the states, 55 arrived  and about 40 took a real part in the work at the Constitutional Convention • 39 signed the Constitution-3 refused to sign the “flawed document”

Slide9About the Delegates• 4/5  were members of Congress, others were governors • Predominantly Protestant • Farmers, businessman, lawyers • It is said they were well read, well bred, well fed and well wed • James Madison (VA) is known as the father of the Constitution, he took notes of the proceedings

Slide10Small and Large StateCompromise • Compromise between large and small states over representation in Congress • Virginia Plan: President, Courts and bicameral  legislature based on population • New Jersey Plan: One house legislature equal representation , Congress has power to tax and regulate trade • Connecticut or Great Compromise : Bicameral legislature, Senate = representation, House by population • All Agreed on the idea of “Balanced Government”

Slide113/5ths Compromise• Southern States wanted to count slaves in their population • North said “no”-slaves could not vote or participate in the political process-they were property • Compromise: every five slaves would be considered 3 free persons

Slide12North/South Compromise• North wanted congress to regulate foreign and domestic trade • South feared it would have economic impact on their export driven economy • Also feared Congress would stop slave trade • Compromise: North would not tax exports nor interfere with slave trade until 1808

Slide13Post Convention• Federalists: supporters of the Constitution, believed it created a balanced government between national and sub- national (state) units • Anti-Federalists: Feared a strong national government would take away liberties and ignore the will of the states. Wanted a Bill of Rights • Federalists guarantee a Bill of Rights-Constitution is ratified by 9 of the 13 states in 1788

Slide14Structure of theConstitution • Provides a framework for our government and serves as the highest legal authority in the country • 3 Main Parts: Preamble, Articles and Amendments

Slide15Preamble• Makes clear that the power in this country is derived from the people and the government exists to serve the people • Purpose of Government • Unify states • Establish justice • Keep peace and order • Protect the country • Help people live healthy and prosperous lives • Guarantee basic rights

Slide16The Articles• Seven Articles in the Constitution • I Legislative (Congress) • II Executive (President) • III Judicial (Supreme Court) • IV Relationship between the States • V Amending (changing the Constitution) • VI Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land • VII When the Constitution takes effect

Slide17Amendments• Framers made it hard to change the constitution • 27 Amendments • 1 st  Ten Amendments known as the Bill of Rights • Process for changing is found in Article V • ¾ of state legislatures need to pass amendment

Slide18Main Principles in theConstitution • Popular Sovereignty: the people have the right to rule. • Rule of Law/Limited Government: Government can only do what people allow it to do. Laws are applied equally • Separation of Powers: Divided powers to prevent abuse/ Montesquieu • Checks and Balances:

Slide19Main Principles in theConstitution • Federalism: Shared powers between national and state • Power: the ability to get someone to do something they would not normally do • Republicanism: We choose our Reps • Individual Rights: Big debate the fear was that the government would become too strong. Immediately after adoption, there was a push to amend the Constitution to include individual rights- “Bill of Rights”

Slide203 Types of Power• Enumerated or expressed powers: Powers specially given to federal government • Reserved Powers: Powers not given to the national government are served for the states. Ex: state borders, schools • Concurrent Powers: Powers given to both levels of government. Ex: Collect taxes • Supremacy Clause: when state and federal laws conflict, the federal laws trump state laws