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American Government Unit 1, chapture 2 (TCN)


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The opponents of the adoption of the Constitution in 1787. These individuals preferred a decentralized government with power vested in the states.
Articles of confederation
The agreement signed by the American states during the Revolutionary War that created a weak confederal union.
bicameral legislature
A legislature that consists of two chambers.
Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments to the Constitution, each of which deals with basic protections of individual liberties.
checks and balances
The principle of constitutionally dispersing power within a government so that no single branch may become too powerful.
A form of government in which sovereign states agree to delegate authority over certain issues to a central government.
Connecticut Compromise
The compromise proposal put forth by the Connecticut delegation at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. This proposal called for the creaation of a bicameral legislature.
Constitutional Convention of 1787
The meeting at which delegates from twelve of the thirteen states drafted the Constitution of the U.S.
Declaration of Independence
The document signed by the Second Continental Congress in 1776 that declared the American colonies independent from Britain.
A term used by James Madison to describe the various groups motivated to participate in politics by the pursuit of selfish interests rather than the desire to promote the common good.
A system of government in which power is divided or shared between the national government and subnational or state governments.
The proponents of the adoption of the Constitution in 1787. These individuals favored the creation of a federal system with a strong national government.
Federalist Papers
The set of essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in support of the ratification of the Constitution.
First Continental Congress
A meeting of delegates from 12 of the 13 American colonies in 1774.
New Jersey Plan
The plan favored by small states at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. This plan would have retained the framework of the Articles of Confederation with its emphasis on decentralized government and states' rights.
A theory that depicts politics as a struggle between diverse and competing interest groups.
A form of representative government in which legitimate power and authority resides in the people.
Second Continental Congress
A meeting of delegates from the thirteen American colonies in 1775 and 1776.
Separation of powers
The division of the national government into three branches (legislative, executive, and judicial), each of which serves as a check on the authority of the other two branches.
Shays' Rebellion
A failed revolt led by Daniel Shays of Massachusetts in protest of the debt crisis faced by the country.
Despotic rule.
unicameral legislature
A legislature that consists of only one chamber.
Virginia Plan
The plan favored by large states at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. This plan proposed replacing the Articles of Confederation with a constitution that created a stronger national government made up of a bicameral legislature and separated legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
What is the difference between a direct democracy and a republic?
In a direct democracy, the people govern themselves directly. In a republic, the people govern themselves indirectly through elected representatives.
Why did the Federalists reject direct democracy?
The Federalists feard that direct rule by the people threatened individual libery and property rights of minority groups. They also believed that elites were more qualified to rule than the masses.
Why did the Anti-Federalists argue that the Federalists represented an aristocratic elite?
The Anti-Federalists argued that their opponents' focus upon the creation of a federal republic reflected the fact that the federalists represented a minority of wealthy, aristocratic elites who believed that their economic interests would be threatened by democracy.
List 3 fundalmental differences between the national governmental institutions created by the Articles of Confederation and those created by the Constitution.
- The Articles of Conderation created a conferal system of government, whereas the Constitution created a federal system of government.
- The articles of Confederation created a unicameral national legislature, while the Constitution provided for a bicameral national legislature.
- The Articles of Confederation did not provide for separate executive and judicial branches at the national level, while the Constitution did.
What were some major weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation?
In general, the Articles of Confederation were weak because they gave limited powers to the national government. For instance, although the Congress of the confederation had the authority to raise an army and to declare war, it did not have the power to draft soldiers or to force states to contribute to the military budget. Also, the Congress of the Confederation was prohitbited from raising taxes or forcing states to contribute to the national budget, and it could not act without agreement from nine of the thirteen states.
Explain the basic differences between the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan as presented at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
The Virginia Plan represented the interests of large states. It called for a bicameral legislature with its seats allocated to the states by population. In addition, the Virginia Plan proposed the creation of separate executive and judicial branches at the national level. The NJ Plan favored the interests of small states. Under this plan, each state would have ehad only one vote in a unicameral Congress, and Congress would have been the major institution of national government. In general, the NJ plan did not make any dramatic departures from the Articles of Confederation.
How did the Constitutional Convention of 1787 resolve the disagreements between large and small states with regard to the plans for the national legislature?
The constitutional Convention adopted the Connecticut Compromise, thereby creating a bicameral legislature. As per this plan, the House of Representatives allocates seats based upon population, thus favoring the concerns of the large states, and the Senate allocates two seats to every state, thus favoring the concerns of the small states.
What is the modern definition of pluralism?
Pluralism is the idea that politics is a competitve process among diverse interest groups. According to the present-day view of pluralism, decision making is characterized by negotiation and compromise among these competing groups.
Were the Anti-Federalists more concerned about majority tyranny or minority tyranny? Why?
The Anti-federalists were more concened about the tyranny of the minority. They believed that the best form of democracy was self-government by way of small political units. The Anti-Federalists felt that majorities within states should have the capacity for self-government; thus, they opposed the Constitution because they believed it gave too much power at the national level to an elite, aritstocratic minority.
Were the Federalists more concerned about majority tyranny or minority tyranny? Why?
The Federalists expressed concern about both majority and minority tyranny. They very clearly feared majority tyranny, as illustrated by their criticisms of direct democracy. They believed direct rule by the masses would threaten individual liberty, minority rights (most notably property rights), and the processes of good government by hindering the ability of wise elites to deliberate and make policy. Still, the Feralists did express concern about minority tyranny. In doing so, they argued that basic protections against minority tyranny were built into the Constitution. In their eyes, these protections included federalism, separation of powers, and the system of checks and balances.
When they were first passed, did the amendments that make up the Bill of Rights apply to the national government, the states, or both?
When first passed, the bill of rights applied only to the national government. It did not recquire the states to guarantee fundamental individual liberites. Over time, however, the Supreme Court broadened the interpretation of the Bill of Rights so that states as well as the national government are now obligated to guarantee most of the fundamental liberties present in these amendments.

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