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Notes on video lecture:
Why We Needed a Constitution
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Independence Hall in                         
Thomas Jefferson                the Declaration of Independence
on July 4, 1776 congress met here and                  it
that was the beginning of the American             
after the Declaration came the                            War
        : ratification of the Articles of Confederation
the first, but             , attempt at a national government
         delegates from      states meet again at Independence Hall
to propose revisions to the articles
what emerged after months of deliberation, was the constitution
Declaration of Independence
a statement of two foundational principles
1. a statement of             
all men are created equal
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights
odd wording coming from            holders
we'll see how this unresolved                between the Declaration and slavery colors American history
2. a theory of                     
governments are created to secure these             
when governments don't protect these rights, when they oppress people, then the people have a right to              their government
this is a surprising statement for the signers to make
it does seem to justify their rebellion, but it would also justify a            rebellion
certainly the American slaves could say that the government was not                      their rights
it's a particularly surprising thing to say to a         , to King George
government authority, the Declaration says, comes from the consent of the governed: your power comes from     , and we're taking it back
according to King George, this is               
if the Americans lose the war, they will be considered traitors and be                 
so a ragtag rebel alliance takes on a vast and power             
that works out well in the most              but not so much in real life
and yet somehow, with some help from the French and the               , the American colonists win
lesson learned:
faraway states can stand up to protect the rights of (         of) their citizens
Articles of Confederation
in creating it, they were worried about a                      national government
their solution was to create a government that is took          to be a tyrant
something like the United               
there is a legislature called congress
each state gets one vote as in the United Nations
congress can make laws, but it can't                them
no executive branch
no                  branch
congress can't require                        to do anything
it can act on the states
it can ask them to do things like pay their revolutionary war debts, but it can't            them to
it can't       
the states were basically still independent                   
they have their own                     
they don't get along that well, many                 
lesson: the national government must be strong enough to             
states in general look after their own citizens, but they may                  the citizens of other states
states may not contribute to the collective good of the nation the way they should
the national government has to be strong enough to keep them in line and make them do what they are supposed to do
the colonies were revolting against a                  and a parliament
they wanted to prevent any institution from having that kind of power over their            again
the states saw themselves more as                    nations
1787: congress meets to consider changes to the articles
               are all that the articles allow
changes require                    consent, even the smallest state can block it
when they meet, the first thing they decide is that they are not going to do revisions, they are going to create a new constitution
in wanting to do away with the current government, this was like Declaration, and the Declaration was               
they are going to wipe out the Articles of Confederation, in effect, wipe out the                  government
               is too strong of a word, but what they wre doing was not permitted under the Articles of Confederation itself, which declared that the states' union shall be perpetual and that any change shall be unanimous
yet the constitution declared that it would binding if    of 13 states ratified it
the delegates had no                    under the previous system of government to do what they were doing
this wasn't supposed to be a constitutional convention, it was supposed to be a                  convention
the third day of the convention, Edmund                  stands up and says, "Virginia thinks we should throw out the Articles of Confederation and write a new constitution"
so on the            day of a convention with the purpose to make recommendations to the Articles of Confederation, the delegates                    the United States government
was this treason?
there really was no sovereign against which to commit treason
the Declaration of Independence was treason, a slap in face to King George
tossing out the Articles of Confederation, who will be upset?
Rhode Island is the answer: it has a veto under the Articles of Confederation, they like the          and have used it a lot
now the                          is going to take it away
King George was a real             , Rhode Island wasn't

People:

Edmund Randolph (1753-1813)
American attorney, the seventh Governor of Virginia, delegate from Virginia to the Constitutional Convention, Randolph introduced the Virginia Plan as an outline for a new national government
  • the second Secretary of State
  • the first United States Attorney General
  • argued against importation of slaves and in favor of a strong central government
  • advocated a plan for three chief executives from various parts of the country
  • proposed two houses, where in both of them delegates were chosen based on state population

Ideas and Concepts:

On the legality of the American Constitution, via tonight's Key Constitutional Concepts and Supreme Court Cases class: "In 1787, delegates from the 13 colonies met in Philadelphia to consider changes to the document that defined the United States government, the Articles of Confederation. Changes required unanimous consent, even the smallest state could block it. However, once the delegates met, one of the first decisions they made was that they were not going to do revisions to this document at all:they were going to write a new constitution. They were going to do away with the Articles of Confederation and wipe out the existing government. Was this legal? Was it treason? Illegal may be too strong of a word, but what the delegates were doing was definitely not permitted under the existing law of the government, which declared that the states' union shall be perpetual and that any change shall be unanimous, whereas the Constitution declared that it would binding in all states if 9 of 13 states ratified it. Since delegates had no authority under the previous system of government to do what they were doing, was this treason? Not in a direct sense of the term, since there really was no sovereign against which to commit treason. The Declaration of Independence, for example, was pure treason, as it was a slap in face of King George, but tossing out the Articles of Confederation, who would be upset? The answer was:Rhode Island. This tiny state had a right to veto under the Articles of Confederation, and they had used it quite a bit, but now the Constitution was going to take that right away. But alas, while King George had been a real threat, Rhode Island wasn't, and so the Articles of Confederation were scrapped and the American Constitution was ratified by 9 of 13 states and put into effect as the new law of the country."
Via tonight's Key Constitutional Concepts and Supreme Court Cases class: "The Declaration of Independence is a statement of two foundational principles:(1) a statement of values, including that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, which are important values, certainly, but a little odd coming from slave holders, and (2) a theory of government, that when governments don't protect these rights, when they oppress people, then it is the right of the people to change their government, which does seem to justify the cause of the colonial rebellion against King George, but it would also justify a slave rebellion, since certainly the American slaves could say that the American government was not protecting their rights. We'll see how this unresolved tension between the Declaration and slavery colors American history."
Why We Needed a Constitution
Creating the Constitution
Structural, Backward-Looking, and Forward-Looking Provisions
Article I: The Legislative Branch
Article II: The Executive Branch
Article III: The Judicial Branch
The Bill of Rights
The Progressive Amendments: 16, 17, 18, and 19
Freedom of Speech
The Supreme Court and the Free Exercise of Religion Clause
The Establishment Clause
The Fourth Amendment: Protection from Unreasonable Search and Seizure
The Fifth Amendment and the Miranda Warning
The Sixth Amendment