American History I r. M. Tolles Unit 2 – Outline I. The French and Indian War A

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Discussion Question

What were some rights guaranteed by the English Bill of Rights?

II. Bringing the English Heritage to America

A. A colony is a group of people in one place who are ruled by a parent country

elsewhere. English colonists in America remained loyal subjects of England. They

accepted common law and expected the same rights they enjoyed in England.

B. A charter is a written document granting land and the authority to set up colonial

governments. The Virginia Company’s charter promised the colonists of Jamestown

the same liberties as in England.

C. The colonists chose representatives called burgesses to meet with the governor. These

representatives formed the House of Burgesses, the first legislature in the colonies. It

marked the beginning of self-government in the colonies.

D. Before arriving in Plymouth, the Pilgrims drew up the Mayflower Compact, a written

plan that set up a direct democracy in the colony. A compact is an agreement, or

contract, among a group of people. All men would vote. The majority would rule.
Discussion Question

What expectations for government did English colonists bring with them to America?

III. Early Colonial Governments

A. Later English colonies along the east coast followed the examples of the Mayflower

Compact and the House of Burgesses. Each colony had a governor and elected legislature,

often modeled after Parliament.

B. The colonial governments took on more power over time, as the king and Parliament

were preoccupied at home. The colonists grew used to making their own decisions.

Discussion Question

What examples did new colonies follow in setting up their governments?

I. Colonial Resistance and Rebellion

A. The British government began to tighten its grip on the American colonies. George III

adopted a policy of mercantilism, the theory that a country should sell more goods

to other countries than it buys. Britain wanted to buy American raw materials at low

prices and sell colonists British products at high prices.

B. Britain won land in North America from France in the French and Indian War. To pay

off war debts and cover the costs of ruling the new lands, Britain taxed the colonists.

C. Colonists resented the taxes. They had no representatives in Parliament—“No taxation

without representation.”

D. In protest, many colonists decided to boycott, or refuse to buy, British goods. As

a result, Parliament agreed to repeal, or cancel, the Stamp Tax and other taxes.

However, Parliament soon replaced them with new taxes. Parliament’s Declaratory

Act stated that it had the right to tax and make decisions for the colonies.

E. The Townshend Acts taxed needed goods imported to the colonies. The colonists

again boycotted.

F. The Tea Act allowed the British East India Company to bypass colonial merchants

and sell tea directly to shopkeepers at low prices. In response, colonists blocked all

the company’s ships from colonial ports, except in Boston. There colonists dressed as

Native Americans dumped the British tea into Boston Harbor—the Boston Tea Party.

G. Parliament responded with the Coercive Acts, which restricted colonists’ rights.
Discussion Question

What name did the colonists give to the Coercive Acts, and why?

II. Movement Toward Independence

A. The colonies sent delegates, or representatives, to a meeting in Philadelphia known

as the First Continental Congress. They demanded that King George III restore their

rights. The king responded with force.

B. The Revolutionary War began with battles at Lexington and Concord. Colonists

started to question their loyalty to Britain. They began talking about independence,

or self-reliance and freedom from outside control.

C. At the Second Continental Congress, some delegates wanted independence. Others

still felt loyal to Britain. Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense swayed public

opinion toward independence. Finally, the Second Continental Congress agreed.
Discussion Question

Why did some members of the Second Continental Congress oppose independence?

III. The Declaration of Independence

A. The Declaration of Independence, written mostly by Thomas Jefferson, explained why

the United States should be a free nation. It argued that the British government did

not look after the interests of the colonists. It listed many abuses by the king.

B. The Declaration said that the purpose of government is to protect the rights of the

people. Government is based on consent of the people. If it disregards their rights

or their will, the people are entitled to change or overthrow it.

C. These ideas were influenced by philosopher John Locke. He saw government as a

contract between the people and the rulers. The people agree to give up some freedoms

and abide by government decisions. In return, the government promises to

protect them and their liberty. If it misuses its power, the people should rebel.

D. The Second Continental Congress approved the Declaration on July 4, 1776. True

freedom arrived when Britain officially recognized the United States at the war’s end.

Discussion Question

What are some ideas that the authors of the Declaration of Independence adopted

from the writing of John Locke?
I. Early State Constitutions

A. New Hampshire was the first colony to organize as a state and craft a written plan for

government, or constitution. Other states formed similar systems of government.

B. Most state legislatures were bicameral—divided into two parts, or houses. Members

of the two houses were chosen by different methods.

C. Each state had an elected governor to carry out the laws and judges and courts to

interpret the laws.

D. Most state constitutions included a bill of rights.

E. The Massachusetts constitution was different from the others. It distributed power

more evenly among the legislature, governor, and courts. It gave the governor and

the courts the authority to check the legislature. The constitution itself was not created

by the legislature but by a convention of elected delegates.

F. The Massachusetts constitution would later become the model for the U.S.


Discussion Question

Under the state constitutions, what were the jobs of the legislature, the governor,

and the courts?
II. The Articles of Confederation

A. Separately, the states could not maintain a large army to fight the British. For this

and other reasons, the Second Continental Congress made a plan for union called the

Articles of Confederation. A confederation is a group of individuals who band

together for a common purpose.

B. The Articles set up a one-house legislature. As a result of bad experiences with the

British government, the states refused to give Congress the power to tax or to enforce

its laws. Congress could not require the states to give money or do anything else.

C. The states ratified, or approved, the Articles. Soon, serious problems became clear.

Strict voting requirements to pass laws or amend (change) the Articles made it difficult

for Congress to accomplish anything. Even when it passed laws, Congress could

not enforce them. States could just ignore the laws.

D. The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, ending the Revolutionary War.

E. Unable to collect taxes, Congress had borrowed to pay for the war. The states had

also run up deep debts. To pay their debts, the states overtaxed their citizens and even

taxed goods from other states and foreign countries. The Confederation Congress had

no power to solve these problems.

F. Daniel Shays, an indebted farmer, felt the state had no right to take his farm away

because of a problem the state had created. He led an uprising, known as Shays’s

Rebellion. This unrest swayed leaders toward revising the Articles of Confederation

to create a stronger national government.

Discussion Question

What problems did the tax practices of the states cause for their citizens after

the Revolutionary War? (To pay their deep debts, state governments taxed their citizens

heavily, driving many farmers out of business and sparking widespread resentment. The

states also taxed goods from other states and foreign countries, hurting trade.)
I. A Distinguished Gathering

A. Each state except Rhode Island sent delegates to Philadelphia to fix the flaws in the

Articles of Confederation.

B. Most of the 55 men were well-educated and experienced in politics. Native

Americans, African Americans, and women were not included.

C. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest delegate at 81. He was a diplomat, writer, inventor,

and scientist. Two delegates—George Washington and James Madison—would later

become presidents.

D. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams could not attend. They were in Europe as representatives

of the United States government. Patrick Henry opposed the convention

and did not attend.
Discussion Question

Describe the political experience of the delegates.


II. Early Decisions

A. The delegates chose George Washington to preside. Washington chose a committee to

set rules for conducting the convention.

B. The committee decided that decisions would be made by majority vote, with each

state having one vote. Delegates agreed to keep all discussions secret to enable all to

speak freely.

C. No formal records were kept. Most of what we know comes from James Madison’s

personal notebook of events.

D. The delegates decided to discard the Articles of Confederation and write a new constitution.

Thus the meeting came to be known as the Constitutional Convention.

Discussion Question

Why did the delegates decide to keep all discussions secret?

II. Early Decisions

A. The delegates chose George Washington to preside. Washington chose a committee to

set rules for conducting the convention.

B. The committee decided that decisions would be made by majority vote, with each

state having one vote. Delegates agreed to keep all discussions secret to enable all to

speak freely.

C. No formal records were kept. Most of what we know comes from James Madison’s

personal notebook of events.

D. The delegates decided to discard the Articles of Confederation and write a new constitution.

Thus the meeting came to be known as the Constitutional Convention.

Discussion Question

Why did the delegates decide to keep all discussions secret?

I. Two Opposing Plans

A. James Madison designed the Virginia Plan. It called for a government with three

branches: the legislative branch (lawmakers), executive branch (to carry out the

laws), and judicial branch (a system of courts to interpret and apply the laws). The

legislature would have two houses, with the states represented by basis of population

in each.

B. The Virginia Plan appealed to the large states. The small states feared a government

dominated by large states would ignore their interests.

C. The New Jersey Plan also called for three branches of government. The legislature

would have one house and each state would get one vote. This plan would give equal

power to large and small states.
Discussion Question

Why did large states favor the Virginia Plan and small states favor the New Jersey

II. Constitutional Compromises

A. Roger Sherman’s committee proposed a Senate and a House of Representatives. Each

state would have equal representation in the Senate. Representation in the House

would be based on population. The delegates accepted this Great Compromise.

most could agree. These letters, later published in book form as The

Federalist, swayed public opinion toward accepting the Constitution.

The Federalist papers are still used today to help interpret the


B. Southern states wanted to count enslaved African Americans as part of their population

in determining representation in the House. Northern states opposed this plan.

In the Three-fifths Compromise, delegates agreed that every five enslaved persons

would count as three free persons for determining congressional representation and

figuring taxes.

C. Northern states wanted Congress to be able to regulate foreign trade and trade

between the states. Southern states feared Congress would then tax their exports and

stop the slave trade. They agreed to give Congress the power to regulate trade, but it

could not tax exports or interfere with the slave trade before 1808.

D. Delegates disagreed on whether Congress or the voters should choose the president.

The solution was the Electoral College, a group of people named by each state legislature

to select the president and vice president. Today, the voters in each state, not

the legislators, choose electors.

Discussion Question

Why did the Southern states at first oppose giving Congress the power to regulate trade?

III. Approving the Constitution

A. Ratification required at least 9 of 13 state conventions to vote “yes.”

B. Supporters of the Constitution called themselves Federalists to emphasize that the

Constitution would create a system of federalism, a form of government in which

power is divided between the federal, or national, government and the states.

Federalists argued for a strong central government.

C. Opponents, the Anti-Federalists, wanted more power for the states and less for the

national government. They also wanted a bill of rights to protect individual freedoms.

D. Both agreed to add a bill of rights. This promise turned the tide. The Constitution took

effect when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify it.

I. The Constitution and Its Parts

A. The main purpose of the Constitution is to provide a framework for government, but

it is also the highest authority in the nation. The powers of all branches come from it.

It has three main parts: the Preamble, seven articles, and amendments.

B. The Preamble states the goals and purposes of government. The first part makes

clear that government gets its power from the people and exists to serve them.

C. The Preamble states six purposes: “To form a more perfect Union,” “To establish

Justice,” “To insure domestic Tranquility,” “To provide for the common defense,”

“To promote the general Welfare,” and “To secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves

and our Posterity.”

D. The articles explain how government is to work. The first three articles describe the

powers and responsibilities of the three branches of government.

E. Article I describes the legislative branch as two houses with lawmaking authority.

It then describes how members will be chosen. The article also lists specific powers

Congress does and does not have.

F. Article II establishes the executive, or law-enforcing, branch headed by a president

and vice president. It explains how these leaders will be elected and can be removed,

and describes their powers and duties.

G. Article III establishes the judicial branch to interpret and apply the laws. It calls for

one Supreme Court plus lower courts and describes the powers of federal courts.

H. Article IV says that all states must respect one another’s laws and explains the process

of creating new states. Article V specifies how the Constitution can be amended.

Article VI declares that the Constitution is the “supreme Law of the Land” and federal

law prevails over state law. Article VII states that the Constitution would take effect

when nine states ratify it.

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged

by the United States or any state on account of sex.” After years

of nationwide debate, Congress passed the ERA in 1972. In the

end the ERA fell 3 states short of the 38 needed for ratification.

It never became law.

Discussion Question

What are some powers that Article I grants to Congress?

II. Amending the Constitution

A. An amendment is any change to the Constitution. The first 10 amendments are the

Bill of Rights. The Sixteenth Amendment allows Congress to collect an income

tax—a tax on people’s earnings.

B. The Framers made sure that the Constitution could not be altered without overwhelming

support of the people. Only 27 amendments have become law.

C. The amendment process involves two steps: proposal and ratification. An amendment

may be proposed by a vote of two-thirds of both houses of Congress or by a national

convention requested by two-thirds of the state legislatures.

D. Once proposed, an amendment must be ratified by three-fourths of the states. The

states can do this by a vote of either the state legislature or a special state convention.

Discussion Question

Why did the Framers make the amendment process difficult?

III. Interpreting the Constitution

A. The Constitution is a general document and open to interpretation.

B. Article I gives Congress the power “to make all Laws which shall be necessary and

proper” to carry out its duties. This necessary and proper clause allows Congress to

exercise implied powers not specifically listed in the Constitution.

C. Americans disagree on what laws are “necessary and proper.” Loose interpreters

believe Congress can make any laws not specifically forbidden. Strict interpreters

believe Congress can make only the kinds of laws mentioned by the Constitution.

D. The Supreme Court has the final authority on interpreting the Constitution. Each

new interpretation, whether strict or loose, changes our government.

E. Actions by Congress and the president have also caused new interpretations. For

example, the president requests legislation from Congress. This action is not directed

by the Constitution.

F. Custom also changes the interpretation of the Constitution. For example, political

parties, not mentioned in the Constitution, are part of today’s political system.

Discussion Question

When William Henry Harrison died in office, Vice President John Tyler took the oath as president. Why was this action an interpretation of the Constitution?

I. Popular Sovereignty

A. The Framers had a common vision for the government: It should be representative of

the people and limited in scope. Power should be divided among different levels.

B. To achieve these ends, the Framers embraced five principles as the backbone of the

Constitution: popular sovereignty, rule of law, separation of powers, checks and balances,

and federalism.

C. Article IV guarantees a republic, in which supreme power belongs to the people

(popular sovereignty). The people express their will through elected representatives.

Provisions, such as those about the right to vote, ensure popular sovereignty.

Discussion Question

What does “popular sovereignty” mean? (Popular sovereignty is the notion that power

lies with the people. Taken apart, “sovereignty” means the right to rule and “popular,” in

this case, means the population or public.)

II. Rule of Law (page 90)

A. The Framers believed the government should be strong but not too strong.

B. The Constitution sets limits by stating what government may and may not do.

Government is also limited by the rule of law. This means that the law applies

to everyone, even those who govern.
Discussion Question

How does the rule of law limit government?

III. Separation of Powers

A. To keep any one person or group from becoming too powerful, the Framers divided

government into three branches with different functions.

B. This split of authority among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches is called

the separation of powers.

Discussion Question

What did French philosopher Baron de Montesquieu believe was the best way to protect the liberty of the people?

IV. Checks and Balances

A. Checks and balances keep any one branch from becoming too powerful. Each

branch can check, or restrain, the power of the others.

B. For example, the president can veto laws, Congress can block presidential appointments,

and the Supreme Court can overturn laws it finds contrary to the

Discussion Question

What are some ways that Congress can check the powers of the other branches?

V. Federalism

A. Under federalism, power is shared by the national government and the states.

Americans must obey the laws of both.

B. Enumerated or expressed powers are powers the Constitution specifically grants to

the national government. Powers not given to the national government are reserved

powers kept by the states. Powers that both levels of government can exercise are

concurrent powers.

C. When national and state laws conflict, the Constitution is the final authority. Neither

the national nor state governments may act in violation of it.

D. The Constitution is both durable and adaptable. It provides the government sufficient

power to keep order, protect, and defend, yet sets limits to avoid tyranny.

Discussion Question

What are some examples of concurrent powers?


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