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Creating the First Government


1. During the 2nd Continental Congress, John Adams proposed that each state ... b. Legislature divided into two houses (bicameral) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Creating the First Government

Creating the First Government
  • --UNIT TWO--

I. American Government during the American
  • A. Colonies become States
  • 1. During the 2nd Continental Congress, John
    Adams proposed that each state adopt their own
    independent government and write a Constitution
    (May 10, 1776)
  • 2. Constitution a document that sets out the
    principles and basic laws of a government
  • 3. Two reasons for a state Constitution
  • a. spell out the rights each citizen had.
  • b. set limits on the power of Govt.

  • 4. Limit the Power of the Government
  • a. All the states (except Penn.) divided power
    between a legislature and an executive.
  • --A legislature makes laws, elected by the
    people, and divided into two houses, or groups
  • --An executive carries out, or executes laws.
    (State ExecutiveGovernor)
  • b. Some States (Virginia) even created a Bill
    of Rights
  • --A bill of rights lists the freedoms that
    the government promises to protect.

B. Basic Ideas of the State Constitutions
  • 1. Higher law and natural rights
  • a. Constitution a higher law (superiority laws)
  • b. Purpose of govt. was to preserve and protect
    citizens natural rights of life, liberty, and
  • 2. Social Contract
  • a. State govts formed as a result of a social
  • b. Agreement among its people to create a govt
    to protect natural rights

The Social Contract
  • 3. Popular Sovereignty
  • a. The people hold the power and the people are
    sovereign (highest authority)
  • b. Basis for every state constitution
  • c. Govt. can only exist and function with the
    consent of the people/governed
  • 4. Representation and the right to vote
  • a. Creation of legislatures that were composed
    of elected representatives of the people
  • b. Right to vote all white male property
  • c. 70 white males could vote
  • d. Only 10 could vote in England

  • 5. Legislative Supremacy
  • a. Most of the power given to the legislature
  • b. Legislature considered the safest branch of
  • Why?
  • c. Distrust of the executive and judicial
  • 1. former Kings Governors and Council
  • 2. Very little power given to these branches

  • 6. Checks and Balances
  • a. Not much balance to the state constitutions
  • b. Legislature divided into two houses
  • c. Elections used as a check on legislatures

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C. The Constitution of Massachusetts
  • 1. 1780, Massachusetts became the last state to
    ratify a state constitution
  • 2. Written by John Adams
  • 3. Served as a model for the US Constitution
  • -Three parts (preamble, declaration of rights,
    and the framework of the Massachusetts govt.)

  • 4. Strong Executive Branch
  • a. Governor elected by the people
  • b. Salary fixed
  • c. Power to veto laws (check on legislature)
  • d. Power to appoint officials

  • 5. Division of society
  • -each level of property owners were given voting
    powers specific to a branch of govt.
  • 6. Oldest constitution still in use today
  • 7. Based on the principles of
  • a. Separation of powers
  • b. Representation
  • c. Checks and Balances

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D. Declaration of Rights
  • 1. Most state constitutions began with a
    Declaration of Rights that guaranteed certain
    basic rights
  • 2. Virginia Declaration of Rights (June 12,
  • a. Written by George Mason
  • b. Relied heavily on the writing of John Locke
  • c. Influenced Thomas Jefferson
  • d. It was copied by the other colonies and
    became the basis of the Bill of Rights

  • e. Rights included
  • 1. Power derived from the people
  • 2. Natural rights protected
  • 3. If govt does not protect those rights, then
    the people have the power to abolish it
  • 4. Guarantee of Due Process of law
  • 5. Freedom of press and religion

II. The Articles of Confederation
  • A. History
  • 1. Richard Henry Lee
  • a. Resolution led to the Declaration of
  • b. Also called on a plan of confederation
  • 2. 2nd Continental Congress
  • a. Need for colonial unity during the
  • b. John Dickinson drafted a plan of government
    called the Articles of Confederation
  • c. Submitted the plan to the Congress 8 days
    after the signing of the Declaration of

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B. Established
  • 1. A firm league of friendship among the States
  • 2. Each State would retain sovereignty, freedom,
    and independence
  • 3. 1st attempt at a Federal Constitution
  • ---Preamble and 13 Articles

  • 4. The Articles did not go into effect
  • a. Written in July 1776
  • b. The ratification (approval) of each of the 13
    states was needed first
  • c. Did not receive final approval until
  • March 1, 1781
  • 1. States argued over western land claims
  • 2. Maryland was the final State to approve

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C. Structure of Government
  • 1. A Congress was the sole govt. body created
  • a. Unicameral assembly
  • b. Made up of delegates chosen yearly by the
  • c. Each state had one vote in Congress
  • 2. No Executive or Judicial branches created,
    these functions were handled by committees of

  • 3. Powers of Congress
  • a. Make war and peace
  • b. Enter into treaties and alliances
  • c. Borrow money and set up a money system
  • d. Create post offices
  • e. Build an army and navy

  • 4. Obligations of the States
  • a. Provide funds and troops upon request
  • b. Submit disputes to Congress for settlement
  • c. Pledge support to the Articles of

D. Weaknesses of the Articles
  • 1. Congress did not have the power to tax
  • a. Could only raise money by borrowing or asking
    the States for funds
  • b. Many debts remained from the Revolution
  • c. Why no power to tax?
  • 2. No system of federal courts
  • 3. No power to regulate trade between the states
  • ---No national currency
  • 4. States held the majority of the power

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IV. Outcomes of the Articles of Confederation
  • A. Accomplishments
  • 1. Treaty of Paris
  • 2. Land Ordinance of 1785
  • a. The Western territory was divided into
    10 districts.
  • b. Land would be surveyed and divided
    into a neat grid of townships, each 6 miles
  • c. Each township had 36 sections, each 1
    mile square.
  • d. Government owned four of the sections.
  • e. One section would be sold to support
    public schools.
  • f. This same regular grid was used in
    other territories. It ended many boundary

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  • 3. Northwest Ordinance (Jan, 1787)
  • a. Outlined the structure of the lands north of
    the Ohio River and west of the Appalachian Mts.
  • b. Established the process for creating
    territories and establishing states
  • c. Lot of lands set aside for public schools
  • d. No slavery in the Northwest Territory
  • e. A district could become territory with a
    population of 5,000 adult males. Then could send
    a nonvoting representative to Congress
  • f. A territory could write a constitution and
    apply for statehood with a population of 60,000
  • 4. First attempt at unity for the 13 states

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B. Troubles facing the new nation
  • 1. Economic Problems
  • a. States placed taxes on goods coming into
    their state
  • b. States began dealing with foreign nations
  • c. Govt. owed 40 million to foreign govt.s and
    to American soldiers
  • d. Economic depression
  • 1. Crop prices low
  • 2. Farmers and small businesses suffered

  • 2. Problems with foreign nations
  • a. Because it was so weak, Congress had trouble
    taking advantage of the territory that the United
    States had won in the Treaty of Paris.
  • b. The British did not leave their forts in the
    Great Lakes region.
  • c. The British and their Native American allies
    kept American settlers out of the Northwest
  • d. Negotiating with Spain about uses of the
    Mississippi and port of New Orleans was

3. Economic problems led to rebellion
  • a. Armed groups of farmers forced several courts
    to close in order to prevent farm foreclosures
  • b. Shays Rebellion (Aug. 31, 1786)
  • 1. Daniel Shays
  • 2. Led a group of farmers to the Massachusetts
    State Supreme Court in Springfield, Mass. to ask
    for help (rejected)
  • 3. Attempted to take control of the federal
    arsenal, but stopped by militia and federal

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  • c. Effects of the Rebellion
  • 1. Showed that the Articles of Confederation
    could not protect the citizens
  • 2. Showed the severe economic conditions
  • 3. Pushed the nations political leaders to take
    action to improve the government