Constitution Convention of 1787 A fundamental mistake of the Americans has been, that they consideredthe revolution as completed, when it was but just begun. Havingraised the pillars of the building, they ceased to exert themselves, andseemed to forget that the whole superstructure was then to be erected. Noah Webster 1790
Who 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, Hamilton • Products of the Enlightenment, but shrewd politicians • A unique assembly of men at any one time
George Washington Paying my respects to the father of the Constitution 3 did not sign
The Convention • Framers met on May 25th-September 17th 1787 • Worked in secret to protect themselves from outside pressure • Washington designated President of the Convention
Bundle of Compromises Connecticut Compromise (Great Compromise): the Convention’s duh moments 3/5’s Compromise Commerce Compromise Slave Trade Compromise Election of President Structure of judicial branch Amendment process
Article I-the legislative branch • Congress has 2 houses or is bicameral • House 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 them • All laws must pass both chambers before sent to president Article 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 time
Article II-the executive branch • The President serves a 4 year term and is chosen through the Electoral College, not the people at large • The president has power, but how much is open to interpretation • His primary job is to enforce the laws, which today is a vast bureaucracy of over 2 million people
Article III-the judicial branch • Shortest of the articles and vaguest • Judges serve life terms, but must be appointed by the President and approved by the Senate • Designed 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)
Ratificaton • 9 of 12 States to ratify • Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists Federalists: new central government will solve our problems Anti-Federalists: opposed the increased powers of central and lack of Bill of Rights • The Federalist Papers • September 13, 1788 11 of 13 states ratified Constitution; March 4, 1789 1st term of Congress meets and proposes a Bill of Rights
Principles of the Constitution • 1. Popular sovereignty: The people are the source of the government’s 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 Constitution • 3. 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 Constitution • 4. Checks and balances: Each branch of government holds some type of control over the other branch
Principles of the Constitution • 5. 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 Constitution • 6. Limited government: the Constitution limits the powers of government by only giving it certain authority.