US Constitution: People, Concepts, and Government





Alexander Hamilton: Federalist, Roman like Republic, central government can veto state laws

George Mason: Anti-Federalist, individual rights, weak central government

James Madison: architect of the US Constitution, a Federalist who distrusted men’s virtue, compromised with the Anti-Federalists (senate & house of reps for example)

Thomas Jefferson: contributed the 1st 10 amendments — Bill of Rights


Federalist: strong federal (or central) government, believed that a Democracy or Confederacy

Would end in chaos

Anti-Federalist: weak federal government, more power to state & local governments (led by Thomas Jefferson following ratification of the Constitution, calling themselves The Democratic Republican Party, later simply Democrats in 1828) believed a strong central government would be the death of liberty

Republic: a select few rule, possibly aristocratic leaders/representational/citizens give power to others to rule on their behalf

Democracy: everyone’s voice is a part of the process in the rule of government – participation in all political process (in ancient Greece someone who did not participate in the polis was called an idiot)


Separation of Powers: governing power divided among three branches

Checks & Balances: each branch has some “authority” over the other


(J) appoints Federal Judges, grants pardons

(L) Proposes laws/vetoes laws, negotiates treaties, appoints persons to Fed. Posts


(J) creates lower Fed. Courts, impeach/remove judges, propose amendments, overrule judicial decisions, approve appointments of Fed. Judges

(E) Override veto, confirms executive appointments, declare war, appropriate money, impeach/remove President


(L) can declare acts of congress unconstitutional

(E) Can declare executive actions unconstitutional

Executive: administers and enforces the law

Legislative: creates the law

Judicial: interprets law

Veto: reject a proposed law, President has 10 days to veto or it becomes law / 2/3 vote to override veto

3/5ths Law: Slaves count as 3/5ths of a person during census (removed by 14th amendment)

Electoral College: responding to the vote, each state offers its electoral votes based on popular vote (# of electors = reps + senators)

State’s Powers Include: highways, education, banks, taxes (except Federal Income Tax, amendment 16), civil & criminal codes

Senate: 2 representatives from each state / 6 year terms, 30 yr. Old, citizen for 9 years / VP casts vote if tied / cannot serve in another office while in congress

House: number of reps related to population from census / 2 year terms, 25 years old, citizen for 7 years /cannot serve in another office while in congress

President: 35 years old, citizen for 14 years

Presidential Succession: Vice President, Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, Cabinet Members

Amendments: 2/3 of states to call a constitutional convention to propose, approved by ¾ of state legislators, Congress can propose if 2/3 of both house & senate support amendment


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