United States History And Government

Separation of church and state

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Separation of church and state (religion is separate from the government) is established in the 1" Amendment.

  • Freedom of Speech (1St Amendment)

o John Peter Zenger- Arrested by governor of New York (1733) for printing an article that criticized the governor. Was found to be not guilty because the article was based on fact. Led to a strengthening of freedom of press.
Constitution: Basic Principals

U.S. Constitution- A statement of rules and procedures for governing the U.S.

Enlightenment Influence 

  • Idea of sovereignty of the people came from social contract philosophers of the Enlightenment period. Sovereignty is derived from the consent of the governed (only the citizens give the government the power to rule).

  • Consent of the governed concept comes from enlightenment philosophers.

  • Limitations on the power of government were influenced by the ideas of John Locke and Baron de Montesquieu (checks & balances, three branches of government).

Democracy- A government for the people by the people. A democracy must have citizen participation in government. Ex) the citizens of the U.S. choose their congressional representatives (House & Senate) through elections. The most essential feature of democratic government is a free and open election process.

Republican Government- Described as one in which representatives are elected by the people.

Division of Power-The framers of the Constitution included the concepts of federalism, checks &balances, and separation of powers in the document because they feared a government with unlimited power.

Federalism- Division of powers between the national and state government.

  • A constitutional principle that establishes limits on the powers of the government (the state and Federal government share different powers so neither can become too powerful).

  • Reserved Powers- Powers only granted to the state governments by the Constitution. Ex) Public Education,

  • Delegated Powers - Powers only granted to the Federal Government by the Constitution. EX) Power to declare war, coin money, control interstate commerce.

  • Concurrent Powers- Powers shared by the federal and state governments Ex) power to tax.

Structure of the Federal Government

  • Legislative Branch- AKA Congress (House of Representatives and Senate) Group of representatives from each state that propose, write, vote on laws, and approve treaties.

  • Executive Branch- The President of the U.S. and his cabinet.

  • Chief Legislator- It is the President's role to ask executive department staff to propose and support legislation.

  • Chief Executive- President is highest military official (Commander & Chief).

  • Chief Diplomat- President meets and negotiates with other foreign rulers. Ex) Wilson at treaty of Versailles, Regan meets with Gorbachev, Jimmy carter negotiates Camp David Accords.

  • From time to time, the President must inform Congress and the nation about the state of the Union (condition of the country).

  • Judicial Branch- Federal Courts and Supreme Court.
    Marbury v. Madison

  • Heard under Chief Justice John Marshall.

  • Established judicial review.

  • Strengthened the Judiciary branch (Supreme Court) of the U.S.

  • First time a Federal law was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court

Checks & Balances- Each of the three branches of government (executive, legislative, judicial) checks the other to ensure that no one branch has too much power.

  • President can be impeached (removed from office by trial) by congress.

  • Congress (legislative branch) can pass a bill and the President (executive branch) can sign the bill into law or veto (reject) the bill. Congress can override the veto by a two-thirds vote of both houses.

  • President can negotiate treaties but the senate must ratify (pass) them.

  • The Supreme Court can rule that a law is unconstitutional.

  • The President appoints Supreme Court judges but the Senate must approve the appointments.

Flexibility of Constitution- Amendments (changes to the constitution), the Elastic Clause, necessary and proper clause, unwritten constitution, and Judicial Review all allow for the Constitution to meet the needs of a changing society (adapt to changing times).

  • The elastic clause has been used primarily to broaden the power of Congress (because it allows Congress to pass more laws).

  • Examples- Pure Food and Drug Act (1906), Social Security Act (1935), Louisiana Purchase, creation of Federal Communications Commission (FCC), creation of Federal Reserve were all enacted using the elastic clause.

Unwritten Constitution- Practices of the U.S. government that are based on custom and tradition, but not actually written anywhere in the Constitution.

  • Limiting the President's time in office to two terms was established under the unwritten constitution and later included in the written Constitution.

Electoral College- President of the U.S. is elected by winning electoral votes from each state, not a popular vote.

  • The number of electoral votes a state receives is based on the size of its population.

  • - records population data to determine the number of electoral college votes from each state, as well as the number of members in the House of Representatives.

  • Some presidential candidates skip campaigning in low population states.

  • The winner of the popular vote can lose the election (happened in 1876 and 2000).

  • This indicates that the authors of the original Constitution did not completely trust the common voter to make decisions.

  • Ratification of a constitutional amendment is the only way to eliminate the Electoral College.

George Washington- First President of the U.S. and Revolutionary War general.

  • Did not want to become entangled (involved) with European affairs.

  • Issued the Proclamation of Neutrality in order to isolate the U.S. from Europe and keep it independent.

  • Set a precedent (example) for all future presidents by using the unwritten constitution to form the first cabinet (group of close advisers to the President).

  • Whiskey Rebellion- Passage of a new excise tax led to a rebellion in western Pennsylvania. Washington used state militia (army) to put down the rebellion, demonstrating that the new national government intended to enforce federal laws.

  • His actions and policies strengthened the Federal Government.

  • Washington pursued neutrality because he believed the U.S. needed time to gain economic and military strength.

  • Farewell Address- Washington urges the U.S. to avoid European conflicts, stay neutral, and avoid alliances with any other nation of the world.

Alexander Hamilton- First Secretary of Treasury of the U.S.

  • Proposed a national bank to improve the economic position of the U.S. government.

  • Argued that the government has the power to create a National Bank based on the elastic clause of the Constitution.

  • Established a sound financial plan for the new nation.

  • Devised a plan to pay off U.S. debt.

  • Urged Congress to pass a protective tariff (tax on foreign goods) to encourage the growth of U.S. manufacturing.

  • Believed the government should exercise all powers necessary and proper to meet its responsibilities (loose interpretation of the Constitution).

Thomas Jefferson 

  • Opposed Hamilton's plan to create a national bank because the plan depended on a loose interpretation of the Constitution.

  • Believed in strict interpretation of the Constitution (you have to follow the Constitution exactly as it is written).

  • Sought to avoid involvement in European affairs (isolationist).

  • Disagreement between Hamilton and Jefferson over the interpretation of the Constitution led to the development of the political party system.

  • Authorized the Lewis and Clark expedition in order to explore a route to the Pacific Ocean (helped lead to westward expansion).

  • Made the Louisiana Purchase while President of the U.S.

Louisiana Purchase 

In deciding to purchase the Louisiana Territory, Jefferson had to overcome the problem of contradicting his belief in a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

  • He used the Elastic Clause and implied powers to make the purchase.

  • The purchase was made because he was worried about a strong French and Spanish presence and wanted American control of New Orleans which had a valuable port.

  • Secured U.S. control of the Mississippi River.

  • Farmers needed a water route to help ship their products to market.

  • Farmers in the Ohio River Valley gained greatest economic benefit as a result of the purchase.

  • Focused the U.S. on westward expansion.

Nationalism/ Sectionalism

John Marshall- Chief Justice of the U.S.

  • Decisions as Chief Justice of the U.S. resulted in expansion of the power of Federal Government.

  • Helped create a sense of national unity by strengthening the Federal Government at the expense of State government.

  • Helped make the Constitution more flexible by interpreting the Constitution broadly.

War of 1812- War between U.S. and Britain over trade in the Atlantic Ocean.

  • War Hawks- A group of Congressmen from the South and West who supported the War of 1812.

  • Ended by the Treaty of Ghent.

  • Increased American nationalism- the loyalty of a people to their values, traditions, and/or geographic region (intense pride for one's nation or culture).

President James Monroe-

Monroe Doctrine (1823)-Foreign policy intended to limit European influence in the Western Hemisphere.

  • Warned Europe against any further colonization in Latin America.

  • Resulted from the close geographic relationship between the U.S. and Latin America.

  • U.S. foreign policy increased enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine during the late 19th and early 20th century.

  • Roosevelt Corollary to Monroe Doctrine - President Theodore Roosevelt would later add to the Monroe Doctrine to make the U.S. the "policeman of the Western Hemisphere.". Roosevelt's foreign policy was that the Monroe Doctrine permitted the U.S. to intervene actively in the affairs of Latin American nations.

President Andrew Jackson-

  • Starting with the election of Jackson in 1828, voter participation increased due to the end of property requirements for voting by many states (White, male U.S. citizens no longer had to own property in order to vote which meant that lower class citizens who could not afford land, gained the opportunity to vote).

  • Used the spoils system to provide jobs to political party supporters. The spoils system resulted in elected officials rewarding their supporters with government jobs.

  • Jackson claimed that the spoils system increased democracy in the federal government because it allowed larger numbers of citizens to hold office.

  • Expanded presidential powers through frequent use of the veto.

  • Forced Native Americans to move west of the Mississippi River to modern day Oklahoma (the trip became known as the Trail of Tears.

  • Worcester v. Georgia- Supreme Court ruled in favor of Native Americans who were being forcefully removed from Georgia, but President Andrew Jackson did not enforce the ruling.

  • Whig party began as a group unified against Andrew Jackson.

  • Political Machines- Politicians in these organizations often accepted bribes in return for favors.

Erie Canal- A waterway connecting Lake Erie to the Hudson River that aided the economic development of the U.S. by lowering the cost of shipping goods from the Midwest to the Atlantic coast. The farmers in the Midwest could ship their goods to merchants in the east who would trade and sell the goods for a larger profit. North East economies (ex, New York, New England) promoted the growth of trade and manufacturing as a result.
Westward Expansion

Gold Rush 1849- Resulted in an increase in westward migration. Led to the growth of the populations of California and the western territories.

Homestead Act 1862- Promoted development of western lands by providing free land to settlers. Demonstrated the federal government's commitment to the settlement of western territories. Most directly affected the Great Plains.

Pacific (Transcontinental Act) Railway Act 1862

  • In the second half of the 1800's, the federal government encouraged the building of transcontinental railroads by giving land to the railroad companies.

Manifest Destiny- Idea that the U.S. should possess the entire continent.

  • Used to support westward expansion of the U.S. to the Pacific Ocean.

  • Used as an excuse to expand into lands claimed by other nations.

  • Led to the annexation of Texas, and the Mexican War.

  • During the 1840's abolitionists (people who wanted to make slavery illegal) opposed annexation of new western territory because they feared the admission of new slave states.

  • Major Abolitionists- William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe

  • Territorial expansion led to increased tensions over slavery (should the new territories be open to slavery?).

President James Polk- Policies involving Texas, California, and Oregon Territory were all efforts to fulfill the goal of Manifest Destiny.

Missouri Compromise 1820/Compromise of 1850/Kansas-Nebraska Act 1854- All were efforts to settle disputes over the spread of slavery to the western territories. The debate was whether new states admitted to the union would be free or slave states. Rapid migration caused by the discovery of gold in California led to the Compromise.

Popular Sovereignty- The idea that settlers had the right to decide whether slavery would be legal in their new territory or not. Set up by Kansas-Nebraska Act.

Dred Scott v. Sanford 1857- Supreme Court decision which ruled that Congress could not ban slavery in the territories.

Plantations- Large farms in the south that used slave labor. Slavery became more widespread in the South than in the North because geographic factors contributed to the grown to the southern plantation system. Slavery expanded in the South in the first half of the 1800's because new inventions led to an increase in cotton production.

Bleeding Kansas- Phrase used to describe clashes between proslavery and antislavery groups.

Uncle Tom's Cabin- Written by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Book describing slavery that contributed to the start of the Civil War by intensifying Northern dislike of slavery.

Underground Railroad- A secret network that aided slaves in escaping slave-owners and reaching free states. Supported by many abolitionists.

U.S. Civil War

Abraham Lincoln is elected and Southern states secede (leave or break away) from the Union, causing a war between the North (Union) and the South (Confederate States). The two major issues dividing the North and South were States’ rights and the status of slavery.

Reasons for Succession of Southern States 

Increasing sectionalism

  • Disagreements over states’ rights issues (the South felt that the Federal Government did not have the right to abolish slavery in their states).

  • Breakdown of compromise- failure of the Compromise of 1850 1820 and Kansas Nebraska Act.

  • Election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Lincoln made it very clear that he opposed slavery in the new territories. Southerners wanted slavery extended to the new territories so the south could keep enough strength in the Senate to protect Southern interests (slavery).

Abraham Lincoln 

  • Believed that sectional differences threatened to destroy the Union. "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

  • As the Civil War began, Lincoln stated that his primary goal was to preserve the Union (states remain united).

  • Claimed that the government was a union of people and not of states.

  • Lincoln justified the war by stating that his oath of office required him to defend and preserve the Union.

Lincoln expands Presidential powers during wartime

  • Suspended the writ of habeas corpus (law that prevents a person from being held in jail without just cause) during the Civil War.

  • Arrested and jailed anti-Unionists without giving a reason.

  • Increased the size of the army without congressional authorization.

  • Censored some anti-Union newspapers and had some editors and publishers arrested.

  • This demonstrates that restrictions on people's rights may occur during wartime.

Emancipation Proclamation- Order issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 (effective Jan. 1863) that declared slaves free in the areas still held by the Confederates. Major purpose was to help the North win the Civil War because it helped keep England from siding with the South.

Reasons for North (Union) Victory 

  • North was better prepared economically to fight the war.

  • North had more human resources and war material.

Results (U.S. Civil War) 

  • Power of the central government (aka Federal Government) was strengthened over the power of the States.

  • The passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments all led to greater Federal supremacy over the states.

  • Secession was no longer regarded as an option to be exercised by States (States can't try to leave the U.S. anymore).

  • North undergoes rapid economic growth and industrialization because it was stimulated by increased government demand for many products. The North's economic growth during the Civil War was stimulated by increased government demand for many products in order to fight the war (ex: guns, supplies, transportation).

Post-Civil War/ Reconstruction Era

Reconstruction Era- Time period following the Civil War, when the Southern States were reorganized and reintegrated back into the Union.

  • Marked by the military occupation of the South, attempts to remove a President, and major constitutional amendments.

  • Withdrawal of federal troops from the South marked the end of Reconstruction in the U.S.

Lincoln's Plan for Reconstruction 

  • Primary goal was to restore Southern representation in Congress.

  • The Union should be restored as quickly as possible. Which could only happen if

  • The former Confederate States are treated as if they had never actually left the Union.

  • Reject the idea of harsh punishments for the South.

  • Forgive the Southerners and welcome them back into the Union.

Radical Republicans- Group of Republicans that wanted harsh punishments for the South.

  • Opposed Lincoln's plan for Reconstruction because the plan offered amnesty (official forgiveness) to nearly all Confederates who would swear allegiance to the U.S.

  • Believed that Reconstruction should be used to force political and social reform in the Southern States.

  • A major goal was to gain voting rights for the newly freed slaves.

  • Did not want to readmit Southern States into the Union unless they ratified the 14th amendment.

Solid South- Nick-name given to the former Confederate States after Reconstruction because they consistently supported (voted for) the Democratic Party.

Lincoln is Assassinated- Lincoln's death allowed the Radical Republicans to control Reconstruction policy. President Andrew Johnson- Takes over for Lincoln after his assassination.

  • Supported Lincoln's policy of Reconstruction- wanted to allow the Southern States to reenter the nation as quickly as possible (wanted Southern States back in Congress).

  • The Radical Republicans in Congress disagreed with Johnson about how to handle Reconstruction, which led to the impeachment of Johnson. Johnson was officially impeached because he fired the Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, without Senate approval, but the impeachment failed and Johnson remained in office.

Constitutional Amendments During Reconstruction 131h, 14th, 15th were all passed during the Reconstruction Era and showed that Federal powers could be expanded to protect the rights of minorities.

13th Amendment (1865)-Law that formally abolished slavery in the U.S.

14th Amendment-

  • Law that officially gave citizenship to African Americans and legally protected them under the Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution.
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