What was the goal of the American war for independence?
- Liberty, vs. equality (Russian, Chinese) or "equality and fraternity" (french)
What is unalienable?
- Laws based upon nature and Providence , and not the whims of the people. Congress denied rights to slaves, etc.
The real Revolution
- A "radical change in the principles, opinions, and sentiments, and affections of the people" - Adams
Articles of confederation
- Weak federation of states, because people were afraid of strong central government
- No tax collection
- Weak army
- No judiciary
- No executive
- Too cumbersome to pass legislation, amend
- Congress couldn’t regulate taxes
- Could make peace, print money, post office
Effects on the constitutional convention
- History appeared to indicate that confederacies were too loose to be effective, while stronger forms would lead to trampling of liberties.
- Shay's rebellion. Revolutionary war soldiers prevented the courts in W. MA from sitting, were lead by Daniel Shays. Made people fearful that state governments were about to collapse. . .
- Showed that individual states couldn’t act to put down insurrection
Why wasn't there a bill of rights?
- Constitution already contained rights of Writ of habeas Corpus, no bills of attainder, no ex post facto, right to trial, no religious test
- States already had bills of rights
- Thought that Constitution told government what it could do, and it didn't say that it could infringe on free speech
- Positive vs. Natural law
- Natural law: you have rights unless they are given to government
- Positive Law: This is what you can do.
Beard: Economic self-interest of the propertied class
Look at the preamble
Reasons to limit central government power
Separation of powers,
Slows the work / inefficient
Weakens the executive
Why limit central power
Bureaucracy is acting on its own, and is not held accountable
States have lost sovereignty
Ways to limit central power
Laws, amendments, constitutional interpretation
The Federalist Number 10
"Complaints are every where heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens . . . that our governments are too unstable; that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice, and the rights of the minor party; but by the superior force of an interested and over-bearing majority."
Faction: group of citizens (minority or majority) who are united by passion or interest adverse to the rights or aggregate interests of the community
Issue is difficult because those who make decisions on faction are inherently tied to the issues, i.e. the property class wants something, supposedly congress is supposed to be just, but at the same time represent the class it represents. Hmmmm
Ways to control
Remove cause of faction
Control the effects!!!
- Deny liberty (worse than the disease; liberty is to faction what air is to fire)
- Force conformity so there can be no difference in opinion (goes against purpose of government. "The protection of these faculties [which lead to differentiation of opinion] is the first object of government"
Pure democracy provides no protection against faction
Republic offers the cure (two points of difference)
Elitism (small individuals elected by the rest)
- If faction<Majority, republicanism [democracy] protects interests
- If majority, then
- Don't let majority form in the first place, or
- Don’t allow majority to execute "schemes of oppression"
Thus, large union/representative size is desirable
Large republic = greater probability of more effective leader
Larger group will elect, thus small faction will have less chance at influencing the system
- Wise enough to discern true interests of the country
- Yet, with a small group, it is possible for sinister individuals to get elected
The Federalist 51
Separation of powers & Checks and balances
By dividing up powers, it is less likely that to do anything.
This is positive because any law is an infringement on liberty
Executive – enforce law
Congress – lawmaking
Has the most power, as it can remove everyone from office
Limiting of jurisdiction of judicial
To limit legislative powers, we create a bicameral legislature
Judicial – settle disputes
Judicial Review / not convicting
British History with Declaration of Independence
King John in 1215
- Essentially two factions.
- Essentially, declaration of independence claims king is in violation of Magna C.
- M. C. allowed barons to have legislature
- Petition of Right in 1628 – King may not impose taxes on Commoners without the consent of Commons
- English Bill of Rights – 1688 – Says that taxes may only be initiated by house of commons. Crown will agree to all laws passed by parliament. King loses right to veto.
1998-1999 AP American Government Notes
copyright Eric Jonas, 1999.
notes have been taken from American Government, 7th edition, by Wilson
and DiIulio, and from in-class lecture by Mr. Greg Sandmeyer at Timberline High