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Concerning Government" (1680)
Englishman Algernon Sydney wrote the following in
"Discourses Concerning Government": "...
the principle of liberty in which God created us ...
includes the chief advantages of the life we enjoy, as
well as the greatest helps towards felicity, that is the
end of our hopes in the other. ...God leaves to Man the
choice of Forms in Government; and those who constitute
one Form, may abrogate it. ...The general revolt of a
Nation cannot be called a Rebellion. ...Laws and
constitutions ought to be weighed ... to constitute that
which is most conducing to the establishment of justice
and liberty. A civil society is composed of equals, and
fortified by mutual compacts."
THIRD DECLARATION OF THIRD CONTINENTAL CONGRESS
The Declaration of Independence was written during the
Third Continental Congress, and declared America to be
independent from Britain. Thomas Jefferson wrote the
first draft, based on previous declarations from the
earlier Continental Congresses.
"All Men Are Created Equal"
It was during the Third Continental Congress that Thomas
Jefferson wrote "all men are created equal"
with "unalienable rights" of "life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776)
The Declaration of Independence was adopted and boldly
signed by the president of congress, John Hancock, on
July 4, 1776. Most of the other delegates signed it on
OUR NEW COUNTRY NEEDED A NEW GOVERNMENT BOUND BY
A NEW CONTRACT
On June 7, 1776, in addition to the resolution for
independence, Richard Henry Lee moved that "a plan
of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the
respective Colonies for their consideration." The
committee members were: Samuel Adams, Josiah Bartlett,
John Dickinson (chairman), Button Gwinnett, Joseph Hewes,
Stephen Hopkins, Francis Hopkinson, Robert R. Livingston,
Thomas McKean, Thomas Nelson, Edward Rutledge, Roger
Sherman, and Thomas Stone.
Articles of Confederation (1777)
The Articles of Confederation were based upon Ben
Franklins Albany Union Plan
Delay in ratification of Articles due to war
The Articles of Confederation did not come into force
until state ratification in 1781, over three years after
Congress approved it. It took a long time to ratify the
Articles of Confederation because the colonists were busy
fighting the War of Independence, which officially ended
with the Paris Peace Treaty in 1783.
Powers given to federal government by the
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation gave Congress the power to
deal with foreign countries and to declare war, and to
coin and borrow money and to operate post offices.
Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation did not give Congress the
power to tax, make paper money, or enforce its laws or
even attendance; and it needed all states to agree in
order to make amendments. The Articles of Confederation
also lacked the ability to regulate commerce, so in 1787
a constitutional convention was convened to strengthen
FIRST CONSTITUTIONAL FORM OF GOVERNMENT TOO WEAK
The Articles of Confederation provided the first
constitutional form of federal government for the United
States of America, though it quickly proved to be too
weak. The Continental Army continually lacked proper
funding for food and clothing because state funding was
All States at Constitutional Convention except
Rhode Island (1787)
The Constitutional Convention included delegates from all
states except Rhode Island.
A NEW BALANCED POWERS CONSTITUTION WAS NEEDED
Algernon Sydney wrote, "...we are not to seek what
government was the first, but what best provides for the
obtaining of justice, and preservation of liberty.
...Laws and constitutions ought to be weighed, and whilst
all due reverence is paid to such as are good, every
nation may not only retain in itself a power of changing
or abolishing all such as are not so, but ought to
exercise that power according to the best of their
understanding, and in the place of what was either first
mistaken or afterwards corrupted, to constitute that
which is most conducing to the establishment of justice
and liberty. ...If virtue may in any respect be said to
outlive the person, it can only be when good men frame
such laws and constitutions as by favoring it preserve
themselves. This has never been done otherwise, than by
balancing the powers in such a manner, that the
corruption which one or a few men might fall into, should
not be suffered to spread the contagion to the ruin of
Continental Congress voted to form a new
Amending the Articles of Confederation in 1786
wasnt effective enough, so they voted to create a
new form of national government separated into three
branches to provide checks and balances on power.
Constitution based upon James Madisons
The Constitution of the United States of America is based
upon James Madisons Virginia Plan which he had
presented to Washington a month prior to the conference.
Madison also helped prepare the final version of the
Constitution, which was adopted by Congress in 1787.
JAMES MADISON, ARCHITECT OF THE CONSTITUTION
The architect of the Constitution was James Madison. He
was on the "Committee of Style" along with
Virginias governor, Edmund Randolph, who presented
the Virginia plan to Congress and wrote out the first
rough draft of the Constitution. The final version of the
Constitution was handwritten by Gouverneur Morris. Though
many minds and hands were involved in composing the
Constitution, Thomas Jefferson was NOT one of them.
Thomas Jefferson was not involved in writing the
Thomas Jefferson, who was serving abroad as ambassador to
France, did not attend the Constitutional Convention.
Those for and against state approval of
To obtain its approval by the states, several delegates
began writing newspaper articles, which later became
known as The Federalist Papers. Those who opposed
ratification of the Constitution (because it didn't
protect state and individual rights) countered with their
own articles, which became known as The Anti-Federalist
Anti-Federalists demanded a Bill of Rights
Though most states had a bill of rights in their own
constitutions, they would only ratify the federal
Constitution with the assurance that a federal Bill of
Rights would then by added to it.
Constitution only needed 9 of the 13 states to
make it binding on all states
By 1788 the Constitution was ratified by the ninth state,
making it the federal law of all the states.
Federal Bill of Rights (1789)
The next year the new Constitutional Congress submitted
12 proposed constitutional amendments to the states for
ratification. Ten were ratified and added to the
Constitution in 1791 as the federal Bill of Rights.
||to annul or
abolish by authoritative act
||a change to a
legal document after it has been accepted
constitution of the United States
purchase something in order to make a point
written agreement between the government and the
people, rather than by the whim of those in power
||a meeting of
the American leaders before and during the War of
exemption from control
made in an assembly preceded by the words,
||approval of a
contract or law
regarding business deals and transportation