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According to James Madison, a group of people who seek to influence public policy in ways contrary to the public good
Supporters of a stronger central government who advocated ratification of the Constitution. After ratification, they founded a political party supporting a strong executive and Alexander Hamilton's economic policies.
Shays's Rebellion
A rebellion in 1787 led by Daniel Shays and other ex-Revolutionary War soldiers and officers to prevent foreclosures of farms as a result of high interest rates and taxes.
Great Compromise
Compromise at the constitutional convention in 1787 between the small states and large states. Set up the amounts of people in the Senate and the House of Representatives. One population based (House), the other a set number of representatives (Senate).
Judicial Review
The power of the courts to declare acts of the legislature and of the executive to be unconstitutional and hence null and void.
Line-Item Veto
The power of an executive to veto some provisions in an appropriations bill while approving others. The president does not have the right to exercies this veto and must approve or reject an entire appropriations bill.
An alliance among different interest groups (factions) or parties to achieve some political goal. An example is the coalition sometimes formed between Republicans and conservative Democrats.
Checks and Balances
The power of the legislature, executive, and judicial branches of government to block some acts by the other two branches.
Bill Of Rights
A list of individual rights and liberties, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press.
Changes in, or additions to the U.S. Constitution. Proposed by two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or by a convention called by Congress at request of 2/3 of the states and ratified by the approval of 3/4 of the states.
Federalist Papers
A series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay published in New York newspapers in 1787-1788 to convince New Yorkers to adopt the newly proposed Constitution.
Articles of Confederation
A constitution drafted by the newly independent states in 1777 and ratified in 1781. It created a weak national government that could not levy taxes or regulate commerce. In 1789 it was replaced by our current constitution
A form of democracy in which power is vested in representatives selected by means of popular competitive elections.
Bill of Attainder
A law that declares a person, without a trial, to be guilty of a crime. The state legislatures and Congress are forbidden to pass such acts by Article I of the Constitution.
A political system in which ultimate authority is shared between a central government and state or regional governments.
Opponents of a stronger national government. Campaigned against ratification of the Constitution. After ratification, they formed a political party to support states' rights.
Separation of Powers
A principle of American government whereby constitutional authority is shared by three separate braches of government, the legislative, the executive, and the judicial.
Constitutional Convention
A meeting of delegates in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation, which produced a totally new constitution still in use today
Based on nature and Providence rather than on the preferences of people.
Ex Post Facto Law
Ex post facto is a Latin term meaning "after the fact." A law that makes criminal and act that was legal when it was committed, that increases the penalty, or that changes rules or evidence to make conviction easier.
Writ of Habeas Corpus
A Latin term meaning "you shall have the body." A court order directing a police officer, sheriff, or warden who has a person in custody to bring the prisoner before a judge and show sufficient cause for his or her detention.

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