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The Foundations of American Government


Title: Unit #1 Foundations of Government Author: angel4905 Last modified by: Information Systems Created Date: 8/1/2009 5:03:26 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Foundations of American Government

The Foundations of American Government
  • Fundamental Principles You Need To Know
  • American Government
  • Semester 1, 2011
  • Perry High School

Identifying Violations of RightsSituation 1
  • Your name is Mary Strong. You have lived in
    Boston most of your life and have definite
    feelings about how Massachusetts is being
    governed. When you speak your mind freely, you
    find yourself arrested and put in an iron device
    that fits over your head like a mask to prevent
    you from talking.

Identifying Violations of RightsSituation 2
  • Your name is Elizabeth Merrill. While you were
    baking bread this afternoon at your home in
    Williamsburg, awaiting the return of your
    husband, an agent of the King arrived to inform
    you that you must shelter four British soldiers
    in your home.

Identifying Violations of RightsSituation 3
  • Your name is William Adams. You have a warehouse
    full of goods near Boston Harbor. The Kings
    magistrate gives British officials a writ of
    assistance that permits them to search homes,
    stores and warehouses near the harbor to look for
    further evidence of smuggling.

Identifying Violations of RightsSituation 4
  • Your name is James Otis. You represent colonists
    who have been imprisoned and are being denied
    their right to a trial by a jury from their own
    community. You argue that denying their
    traditional rights as Englishmen is illegal
    because it violates the principles of the British
    Constitution. The royal magistrate denies your
    request and sends you to prison in England for

  • Compactformal contract or agreement between or
    among two parties or states.
  • Law of Naturereferred to as the rules that would
    prevail in the absence of man made laws. Natural
    law is conceived to contain standards of justice
    that apply to all people.
  • Sovereigntysupreme power in a state. Democratic
    theory states that the people as a whole are
  • Writs of Assistance document giving a
    governmental authority the power to search and
    seize property without restrictions

  • 5. Checks Balancesdistributing and balancing
    the powers of government among different branches
    so that no one branch can dominate the others.
  • 6. Vetoright of a branch of government to reject
    a proposed law that has been passed by another
    branch in an effort to delay or prevent its
  • 7. Constituenta person represented by an elected
    official (citizen of a state, citizen of a

Main Ideas Arguments in the Declaration of
  • 1 Natural Rightsif a government deprives the
    people of their natural rights (life, liberty,
    property) then the people have the right to
    change or abolish the government and to form a
    new government.
  • 2 Human Equalityhumans are equal in the sense
    that neither God nor nature has appointed some at
    birth to rule over others. Thus humans are
    politically equal. To be legitimate, the right to
    rule must be based on agreement among equal civic

Violations Committed by the King
  • 1Seeking to destroy authority of colonial
  • 2Obstructing the administration of justice by
    refusing to approve laws for support of the
    colonial judiciary and making judges dependent
    upon his will.
  • 3Keeping standing armies among the people in
    time of peace without the approval of the
    colonial legislature.
  • 4Quartering soldiers among the civilian

Violations Committed by the King
  • 5Imposing taxes without consent of those being
  • 6Depriving colonists of the right to trial by a
    jury of their peers.
  • 7Altering colonial charters, abolishing laws
    and fundamentally changing the constitutions of
    colonial governments.

What Do You Think?
  • The Declaration of Independence states that
    people have a right to abolish their government.
    When is revolution necessary?
  • What were the colonists major objections to
    British policies?
  • What problems identified in the Declaration would
    have to be corrected for governments created
    after American independence to be legitimate?
  • Why did the colonists resist British control?
  • How would you characterize government today, in
    terms of its involvement in the lives of its

What Can You Do as a Citizen?

Legislative Supremacy
  • The Legislative branch was considered the most
    capable of reflecting the will of the people.
  • Voters determined who their representatives would
    be and could remove them if they believed someone
    else would better represent them.
  • The executive branch was seen to be less
    accountable to the people and should not be
    trusted with much power.
  • Judges should also not be trusted with too much

Who are these People?

Early State Constitutions (prior to our U.S.
  • Political Guaranteesright to vote, free/frequent
    elections, freedom of speech/press, right to
    petition government to redress grievances, no
    taxation w/o representation.
  • Due Processrights to counsel, trial jury of
    ones peers, protection from illegal searches,
    protection from forced self-incrimination,
    excessive bail/fines cruel/unusual punishment.

Critical Thinking Questions
  • What is the greatest challenge to individual
    rights in our nation today?
  • Does the government have too much power or
    control over your life?
  • Should we place greater limits on how long people
    can serve in elected positions?
  • Do we have a fair system of justice in this

Random Thoughts on Government
  • Do you trust those in power to always tell you
    the hard truthespecially if it would hurt them
    at election time?
  • How is it possible that every President since
    Jimmy Carter has promised to lower our dependence
    on foreign oil, but now we import more oil than
    ever from countries that do us harm?
  • Do you believe that our elected leaders in
    Washington D.C. see your face when they make
    decisions, or instead, the faces of those who
    richly contribute to their campaigns?
  • Do you believe our public servants have your
    best interests at heart and will defend your
    life, liberty and property?

Agree or Disagree
  • I have a right to life, liberty and property,
    but there is no guarantee of equal results.
  • I must always try to be a more honest person than
    I was yesterday.
  • Is common sense completely dead in America today?
  • There arent enough citizens willing to do the
    hard work that self rule requires, our society
    has become one that would rather be cared for,
    fed, clothed and told what is best for us by a
    parentlike state (i.e. the federal, state or
    local government.

What Would You Say.. (please write down share)
  • Are Americas values?
  • Are Americas beliefs?
  • Our place in the world?
  • The obligation of Americas citizens to each
  • Is the role of a citizen in society?
  • Is the role of government in society?

Do We Have Any Left?
Common SenseThomas Paines Arguments Against
British Rule
  • America was not a British nation it was
    composed of influences and people from all of
  • Being a part of Great Britain would drag America
    into unnecessary European wars.
  • Britain ruled the colonies for its own benefit
    and did not consider the best interests of the
    colonists in governing them.
  • Paine argued it was ridiculous for an island to
    rule a continent.

Quotes from Thomas Paines Common Sense (1776)
  • I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain
    arguments common sense
  • Time makes more converts than reason
  • Society in every state is a blessing, but
    government, even in its best state, is but a
    necessary evil
  • Immediate necessity makes many things
    convenient, which if continued would grow into
  • The present state of America is truly alarming
    to every man who is capable of reflection

Thoughts From Our Founders
  • Firearms are second only to the Constitution in
    importance they are the peoples' liberty's
  • George Washington
  • If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb
    and silent we may be led, like sheep to the
  • George Washington
  • A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where
    51 of the people may take away the rights of the
    other 49 Thomas Jefferson
  • Advertisements contain the only truths to be
    relied on in a newspaper
  • Thomas Jefferson

The Founders

More Thoughts From Our Founders
  • A pure democracy is a society consisting of a
    small number of citizens, who assemble and
    administer the government in person
  • James Madison
  • All men having power ought to be distrusted to a
    certain degree
  • James Madison
  • If men were angels, no government would be
  • James Madison
  • Because power corrupts, societys demands for
    moral authority and character increase as the
    importance of the position increases
  • John Adams

Thoughts on Democratic Government James Madison
  • Recognized that the individuals rights to
    political and personal liberty are at risk if the
    government has too much power or too little
  • Must be constitutional limits upon the power of
    government in order to protect the rights of all
    members of a community.
  • A good government in a democracy is both
    sufficiently limited and empowered by a
    Constitution, to which the people have consented,
    for the achievement of order that ensures

Arguments For Democracy
  1. Enhance the individuals sense of dignity and self
  2. Encourage individuals to promote the well being
    of their community.
  3. Draw upon the collective wisdom of the people in
    making decisions.
  4. Protect the equal rights of all persons to life,
    liberty and property.
  5. Make rulers accountable to the people they rule.
  6. Justify the legitimacy of government by basing it
    on popular consent.

Arguments Against Democracy
  • It governs inefficiently due to excessive
    deliberation in decision making.
  • Governs ineptly because the most able persons are
    not selected to rule.
  • Unwise decisions are made due to pandering to
    public opinion.
  • It erodes political/social authority and unity by
    encouraging criticism and dissent.

Civic Education
  • A democracy depends upon the competent
    participation of its citizens that people must
    be educated in a democracy.
  • Civility, honesty, charity, compassion, courage,
    loyalty, patriotism self-restraint must be

Common Good
  • Refers to collective welfare of the community.
    Also may refer to the individual welfare of each
    person in the community.
  • Most democracies have some tension between the
    perceived rights and interests of individuals and
    the common good.

  • The basic law and general plan of government or a
    people within a country.
  • Purposes, powers and limitations of government
    are prescribed in the Constitution.
  • Sets forth the way people are governed or ruled.

DiversityWhat Does It Mean?
  • A Diversity in ideas interests
  • A Diversity in social political groups
  • A Diversity in race, religion ethnicity.
  • A Diversity in centers of power.

  • Regular occurrence of free, fair competitive
    elections in which practically all the people of
    a country can vote to select their
    representatives in government.

  • No one is above or beyond the reach of the law.
  • No one is entitled to unfair advantages or
    subjected to unequal penalties based on the law.
  • Founders were committed to establishing a
    government that would guarantee equally, to all
    individuals under its authority, security for
    liberty based on the rule of law.

  • Division of governmental powers between a central
    national government and state governments within
    a country.
  • Each level of government can separately exercise
    powers directly upon the people under its

Limited Government
  • Enumerating and listing the number of the
    governments powers.
  • Branches of government are separated.
  • Power is decentralized through the society by a
    kind of federal system that enables the sharing
    of powers by national and local units of
  • People can limit the power of government by
    holding representatives accountable to them (how
    does the public do this?)
  • A broad range of rights included in a
    Constitution, which the government is prohibited
    from denying to the people.

Independent Media
  • Mass media are privately owned.
  • They are free of government control.
  • They are free to transmit information and ideas
    about government and public affairs to people.
  • They can criticize government officials offer
    alternative opinions about current events and

Judicial Independence
  • Independent in order to insulate its members from
    punitive or coercive actions by the legislative
    and executive branches of the government.
  • An independent judiciary ( in theory) can make
    fair decisions that uphold the rule of law.

  • Is achieved when everyone receives what is due to
    him or her.
  • Is achieved when persons with equal
    qualifications receive equal treatment from the
  • Occurs when a government equally guarantees the
    rights of each person within its authority.

  • Person who has this is free to make choices about
    what to do or what to say during the course of
    the day.
  • Purpose of government is to protect and promote
    the liberty of individuals.
  • James Madisona standing threat to liberty is
    posed by insufficient constitutional limits on

Free Market Economy
  • System based on rights to private property and
    free enterprise.
  • Refers to a flexible system for producing and
    distributing the goods and services that people
    need and want.
  • This type of economy involves competition among
    producers and sellers of goods and services for

  • Is necessary for citizens in a civil society.
  • Citizens should prompt their representatives in
    government to be accountable to the people.
  • Participation must be free and independentnot

Political Party
  • Independent and freely formed organization that
    nominates candidates for positions in government,
    with the purpose of winning elections in order to
    form or control the government.

Popular Sovereignty
  • A government based on consent of the people.
  • Governments source of authority is the people
    and its power is not legitimate if it disregards
    the will of the people.

  • Form of government based on the consent of the
    people and operated by representatives elected by
    the people.
  • Hereditary rule by a monarchy or aristocratic
    class is prohibited.
  • Every state in our union is guaranteed a
    republican form of government

  • A constitution in a democracy guarantees the
    rights of the people.
  • A right is a persons justifiable claim,
    protected by law, to act or be treated in a
    certain way.
  • Rights of free speech, press, assembly,
    association petition.
  • Free exercise of religion, and privacy in ones
    home or place of business use of private
    property for personal benefit.

Rule of Law
  • Laws to be enforced equally and impartially.
  • No one is above the law everyone under the
    authority of the Constitution is obligated
    equally to obey the law.
  • Laws are reasonable and enforceable.
  • Laws are not enacted or enforced retroactively.

Separation of Powers
  • Sharing power among the three branches of
    government, through checks and balances, is the
    basic constitutional means for achieving limited
    government, thereby protecting the people from
    governmental abuses.
  • No one branch of the government (in theory) is
    to accumulate too much power.

  • Defined as excellence in the character of a
  • Refers to a desirable disposition, which can
    prompt individuals to be good persons and do good
    things in regard to others and the community.
  • Since ancient times, political philosophers have
    stressed the importance of virtue in the
    establishment and eminence of good government.