If I were you, I’d make sure I know lots of outside info and that I understand the documents…..
Reminder: Test 11-12 on Monday!
If I were you, I’d make sure I know lots of outside info and that I understand the documents…..
Reminder: Test 11-12 on Monday!
… since we have a terms check and hearing screenings tomorrow.
And some JV football players feel overly rushed…..
Hmmm, I am performing a little check.
If you’ve read this, bring in a picture of a monkey tomorrow. It can be Karl the Pencil Monkey. It can be the “See No Evil, Hear No Evil Speak No Evil monkeys. It can be a monkey mentioned in the “Another Postcard” song from Barenaked Ladies– even though those last two are actually chimpanzees, not monkeys.
I will give you ten assignment points if you do this to prove you’ve read the blog tonight.
I have no idea where I got this, but it’s pretty good.
The Constitution Explained
The Constitution is often hailed as a marvel of brevity and of clarity. It was, however, written in the 18th century, and many of the ideas, concepts, words, phrases, and euphemisms seem odd to us today, if not down right foreign. Some of the more obscure words are defined in The Glossary.
But what of the Constitution itself? What does it mean? What does each article, each section, say?
This is like a synopsis or summary of the Constitution, article by article, amendment by amendment. This should not be taken as a substitute for the Constitution, but more like a study guide.
The Preamble to the Constitution has no force in law; instead, it establishes the “Why” of the Constitution. Why is this document in existence? It reflects the desires of the Framers to improve on the government they currently had (to be “more perfect” than the Articles of Confederation), to ensure that that government would be just, and would protect its citizens from internal strife and from attack from the outside. It would be of benefit to the people, rather than to its detriment. And, perhaps as importantly, it intended to do the same for the future generations of Americans.
Article 1 establishes the first of the three branches of the government, the Legislature. Section 1 establishes the name of the Legislature to be The Congress, a bicameral, or two-part, body.
Section 2 defines the House of Representatives, known as the lower house of Congress. It establishes a few minimum requirements, like a 25-year-old age limit, and establishes that the people themselves will elect the members for two years each. The members of the House are divided among the states proportionally, or according to size, giving more populous states more representatives in the House. The leader of the House is the Speaker of the House, chosen by the members.
Section 3 defines the upper house of Congress, the Senate. Again, it establishes some minimum requirements, such as a 30-year-old age limit. Senators were originally appointed by the legislatures of the individual states, though this later changed. They serve for six years each. Each state has equal suffrage in the Senate, meaning that each state has the exact same number of Senators, two each, regardless of the population. This Section introduces the Vice-President, who is the leader of the Senate (called the President of the Senate); the Vice-President does not vote unless there is a tie.
Section 4 says that each state may establish its own methods for electing members of the Congress, and mandates, or requires, that Congress must meet at least once per year.
Section 5 says that Congress must have a minimum number of members present in order to meet, and that it may set fines for members who do not show up. It says that members may be expelled, that each house must keep a journal to record proceedings and votes, and that neither house can adjourn without the permission of the other.
Section 6 establishes that members of Congress will be paid, that they cannot be detained while traveling to and from Congress, that they cannot hold any other office in the government while in the Congress.
Section 7 details how bills become law. First, any bill for raising money (such as by taxes or fees) must start out in the House. All bills must pass both houses of Congress in the exact same form. Bills that pass both houses are sent to the President. He can either sign the bill, in which case it becomes law, or he can veto it. In the case of a veto, the bill is sent back to Congress, and if both houses pass it by a two-thirds majority, the bill becomes law over the President’s veto. This is known as overriding a veto.
There are a couple more options for the President. First, if he neither vetoes a bill nor signs it, it becomes a law without his signature after 10 days. The second option is called a pocket veto. It occurs if Congress sends the bill to the President and they then adjourn. If the President does not sign the bill within 10 days, it does not become law.
Section 8 lists specific powers of Congress, including the power to establish and maintain an army and navy, to establish post offices, to create courts, to regulate commerce between the states, to declare war, and to raise money. It also includes a clause known as the Elastic Clause which allows it to pass any law necessary for the carrying out of the previously listed powers.
Section 9 places certain limits on Congress. Certain legal items, such as suspension of habeas corpus, bills of attainder, and ex post facto laws are prohibited. No law can give preference to one state over another; no money can be taken from the treasury except by duly passed law, and no title of nobility, such as Prince or Marquis, will ever be established by the government.
Section 10, finally, prohibits the states from several things. They cannot make their own money, or declare war, or do most of the other things prohibited Congress in Section 9. They cannot tax goods from other states, nor can they have navies.
Article 2 establishes the second of the three branches of government, the Executive. Section 1 establishes the office of the President and the Vice-President, and sets their terms to be four years. Presidents are elected by the Electoral College, whereby each state has one vote for each member of Congress. Originally, the President was the person with the most votes and the Vice-President was the person with the second most, though this is later changed. Certain minimum requirements are established again, such as a 35-year minimum age. Presidents must also be a natural-born citizen of the United States. The President is to be paid a salary, which cannot change, up or down, as long as he in is office.
Section 2 gives the President some important powers. He is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and of the militia (National Guard) of all the states; he has a Cabinet to aid him, and can pardon criminals. He makes treaties with other nations, and picks many of the judges and other members of the government (all with the approval of the Senate).
Section 3 establishes the duties of the President: to give a state of the union address, to make suggestions to Congress, to act as head of state by receiving ambassadors and other heads of state, and to be sure the laws of the United States are carried out.
Section 4 briefly discusses the removal of the President, called impeachment.
Article 3 establishes the last of the three branches of government, the Judiciary. Section 1 establishes the Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States. It also sets the terms of judges, of both the Supreme Court and lower courts: that they serve as long as they are on “good behavior,” which usually means for life (no Justice and only a few judges have ever been impeached). It also requires that judges shall be paid.
Section 2 sets the kinds of cases that may be heard by the federal judiciary, which cases the Supreme Court may hear first (called original jurisdiction), and that all other cases heard by the Supreme Court are by appeal. It also guarantees trial by jury in criminal court.
Section 3 defines, without any question, what the crime of treason is.
Article 4 concerns the states. Section 1 mandates that all states will honor the laws of all other states; this ensures, for example, that a couple married in Florida is also considered married by Arizona, or that someone convicted of a crime in Virginia is considered guilty by Wyoming.
Section 2 guarantees that citizens of one state be treated equally and fairly like all citizens of another. It also says that if a person accused of a crime in one state flees to another, they will be returned to the state they fled from. This section also has a clause dealing with fugitive slaves that no longer applies.
Section 3 concerns the admittance of new states and the control of federal lands.
Section 4 ensures a republican form of government (one where the state derives its power from the people) and guarantees that the federal government will protect the states against invasion and insurrection.
Article 5 details the method of amending, or changing, the Constitution. See below.
Article 6 concerns the United States itself. First, it guarantees that the United States under the Constitution would assume all debts and contracts entered into by the United States under the Articles of Confederation. It sets the Constitution and all laws and treaties of the United States to be the supreme law of the country. Finally, it requires all officers of the United States and of the states to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States and the Constitution when taking office.
Article 7 detailed the method for ratification, or acceptance, of the Constitution: of the original 13 states in the United States, nine had to accept the Constitution before it would officially go into effect.
The 1st Amendment protects the people’s right to practice religion, to speak freely, to assemble (meet), to address the government and of the press to publish.
The 2nd Amendment protects the right to own guns. There is debate whether this is a right that protects the state, or a right that protects individuals.
The 3rd Amendment guarantees that the army cannot force homeowners to give them room and board.
The 4th Amendment protects the people from the government improperly taking property, papers, or people, without a valid warrant based on probably cause (good reason).
The 5th Amendment protects people from being held for committing a crime unless they are properly indicted, that they may not be tried twice for the same crime, that you need not be forced to testify against yourself, and from property being taken without just compensation. It also contains due process guarantees.
The 6th Amendment guarantees a speedy trial, an impartial jury, that the accused can confront witnesses against them, and that the accused must be allowed to have a lawyer.
The 7th Amendment guarantees a jury trial in federal civil court cases. This type of case is normally no longer heard in federal court.
The 8th Amendment guarantees that punishments will be fair, and not cruel, and that extraordinarily large fines will not be set.
The 9th Amendment is simply a statement that other rights aside from those listed may exist, and just because they are not listed doesn’t mean they can be violated.
The 10th Amendment is the subject of some debate, but essentially it states that any power not granted to the federal government belongs to the states or to the people.
The 11th Amendment more clearly defines the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court concerning a suit brought against a state by a citizen of another state.
The 12th Amendment redefines how the President and Vice-President are chosen by the Electoral College, making the two positions cooperative, rather than first and second highest vote-getters. It also ensures that anyone who becomes Vice-President must be eligible to become President.
The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the entire United States.
The 14th Amendment ensured that all citizens of all states enjoyed not only rights on the federal level, but on the state level, too. It removed the three-fifths counting of slaves in the census. It ensured that the United States would not pay the debts of rebellious states. It also had several measures designed to ensure the loyalty of legislators who participated on the Confederate side of the Civil War.
The 15th Amendment ensured that race could not be used as a criteria for voting.
The 16th Amendment authorizes the United States to collect income tax without regard to the population of the states.
The 17th Amendment shifted the choosing of Senators from the state legislatures to the people of the states.
The 18th Amendment abolished the sale or manufacture of alcohol in the United States. This amendment was later repealed (erased).
The 19th Amendment ensures that sex could not be used as a criteria for voting.
The 20th Amendment set new start dates for the terms of the Congress and the President, and clarifies how the deaths of Presidents before swearing-in would be handled.
The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment.
The 22nd Amendment set a limit on the number of times a President could be elected – two four-year terms. It has one exception for a Vice-President who assumes the Presidency after the death or removal of the President, establishing the maximum term of any President to 10 years.
The 23rd Amendment grants the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) the right to three electors in Presidential elections.
The 24th Amendment ensured that no tax could be charged to vote for any federal office.
The 25th Amendment clarifies even further the line of succession to the Presidency, and establishes rules for a President who becomes unable to perform his duties while in office.
The 26th Amendment ensures that any person 18 or over may vote.
The 27th Amendment requires that any law that increased the pay of legislators may not take effect until after an election.
How to Amend the Constitution
The recent Senate debate over a proposed constitutional amendment dealing with desecration of the U.S. flag raises the question of exactly how the Constitution can be amended. (See Anti-Flag Burning Amendment Debated in Senate.)
Article V of the Constitution provides two processes by which amendments can be proposed and approved.
1.Congress proposes amendments.
As is the case with the flag burning amendment, both houses of Congress approve by two-thirds votes a resolution calling for the amendment. The resolution does not require the president’s signature. To become effective, the proposed amendment must then be “ratified” or approved by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states. Congress typically places a time limit of seven years for ratification by the states.
2.The states propose amendments. The legislatures of two-thirds of the states vote to call for a convention at which constitutional amendments can be proposed. Amendments proposed by the convention would again require ratification by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states.
All twenty-seven amendments, including the Bill of Rights have been added through the first method. The Constitution has never been amended using the second process.
While over 10,000 have been proposed, only twenty-one amendments to the Constitution have been adopted since final ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791.
Your outline notes for chapter 8 are due Tuesday, September 11. Your term check over chapter 8 will be tomorrow as well.
Chapter 9 will be due on Thursday, September 13. Outline notes for that chapter will be due that day, as well. Make sure you have read the Declaration of Causes and Necessities…” in the chapter 8 blog archive as well as “The Suffolk Resolves” and the excerpt of Common Sense by Thursday.
Chapter 10 outlines will be due on Tuesday, September 18. Your test over chapters 8-10 will be as scheduled on Friday, September 21. We will then be back on track, according to the reading schedule.
Remember, terms checks may be given on dates when chapters are due. You may combine your terms into your notes, if you wish. Make sure your notes explain the significance, causes, effects, etc. of events.
1760: End of salutary neglect when George III demands enforcement of Navigation Acts. In particular, the authorization for customs officials to use writs of assistance to force local officials to cooperate in identifying contraband and arresting violators of the Navigation Acts. Writs of assistance also gave royal officials the rights to search homes or warehouses without a warrant.
1763: The end of the French and Indian War, and England has crushing debt. Colonies need to pay at least for their own defense, in the eyes of George III. He decided to make the Navigation Acts into taxation laws, which changes them in the eyes of the colonists—they did not dispute the right of the crown to regulate trade, only to tax without representation. Not all in George III’s cabinet agreed with the new taxes; in fact, William Pitt was forced out of the cabinet by George III due to his opposition to these taxes.
Also this year, Pontiac’s Rebellion breaks out along the western border. Detroit and other western outposts newly surrendered to the British are attacked by Ottawa War Chief Pontiac and other tribes, including the Seneca, Delaware, and other Iroquois tribes. British commander Gen. Jeffrey Amherst orders no prisoners to be taken. Violent and brutal warfare ensues. When news of the rebellion reaches England, Amherst’s policy is overturned, and the Proclamation of 1763 is issued forbidding white settlement beyond the Appalachians as a temporary measure to allow the Indians to cool off. The British initiate a policy of negotiating treaties with tribes to define white settlement—the beginning of the treaty policy which would endure in America until the 1870s. Sir William Johnson of New York, married to an Indian woman, is sent to negotiate with the members of Pontiac’s Rebellion, and brings peace in 1766. He also begins to negotiate for opening of portions of the Trans-Appalachian area to white settlement. Most wealthy people supported this method of opening up new lands, but the poor continued to squat on Indian lands illegally, provoking Indian counter-attacks. Pacifying the Indians with trade goods cost England money—money that George felt the colonists should pay. Pontiac’s Rebellion further encouraged George’s efforts to force the colonists to pay their share.
1764: The Sugar Act replaces the Molasses Act of 1733, which forbade imports of molasses from the French or Dutch West Indies. The Sugar Act allows the purchase of foreign molasses, but taxes these purchases. The Sugar Act also requires that cases in which the act was violated were to be tried in Vice-Admiralty courts, which did not use juries. Thus the Sugar Act embodied threats to two cherished rights guaranteed in the Magna Carta. In response, a Boston town meeting proposes in May that the colonies unite behind a Non-Importation Agreement, or boycott, of several British goods. Several colonies join this boycott.
1765: The Stamp Act is passed to help pay for British soldiers stationed in the colonies. Once again, colonists feel they are taxed without representation, and Vice-Admiralty courts are to judge violations, jeopardizing the right to trial by jury.
Samuel Adams organizes the Sons of Liberty in response. Originally called the Loyal Nine, their organization spreads from Boston to other cities. Their mission was to intimidate all Stamp agents to resign, making it impossible to collect the tax. All the agents they contact do resign. Tar and feathers awaits those who do not cooperate. Patrick Henry of Virginia passes seven resolutions called the Virginia Resolves, one of which proclaims that only the Virginia legislature has the right to tax Virginians. Henry says of his resolutions, “If this be treason, make the most of it.”
Parliament also passes the Mutiny Act, which has a provision allowing for the lodging of troops in private homes. When the colonists try to evade the act by pointing out it did not specifically apply to the colonies, Parliament passes the Quartering Act, which backs down on the provision placing troops in private residences but instead requires colonial authorities to furnish housing and supplies to British troops. Several colonial legislatures refuse to appropriate funds for this Act. In response to these challenges, James Otis calls for the convention of the Stamp Act Congress, which passes a Declaration of Rights and Grievances. These resolutions attack to concept of taxation without representation and denial of the right to trial by jury. When the resolutions arrive in Parliament, William Pitt and others are sympathetic, and move to repeal the Stamp Act before it takes effect. It didn’t hurt that the Non-Importation Agreement had slashed trade from the colonies by 25%. Prime Minister George Grenville responded to this talk by suggesting that British troops enforce the Stamp Act, prompting Benjamin Franklin (who was in London as an agent representing Pennsylvania’s business interests) to step in and argue the colonies’ case to Parliament. In March, 1766, the Stamp Act is repealed, but Parliament passes the Declaratory Act to save face and retain Parliament’s right to make any laws it wishes in regard to the colonies. Although the Sons of Liberty officially disbands after the repeal, their network remains active, sharing information and remaining politically active throughout the revolutionary period.
1766: Charles Townshend becomes the chancellor of the exchequer (like treasury secretary). When Prime Minister William Pitt has a breakdown, Townshend takes charge and forces through the Townshend Acts. These include:
•The Townshend Revenue Act, which imposed duties on lead, glass, paint, tea, and paper imported into the colonies, with the money to be used to pay for the salaries of royal officials and for military expenses (making royal officials independent of colonial legislatures for their pay);
•An act creating a new system of customs commissioners, who were notoriously corrupt and received 1/3 of the money collected;
•An act suspending the New York Assembly in punishment for its refusal to allocate money required by the Quartering Act.
The colonists are angered, and respond by reviving the nonimportation agreement. Having been effective once, they work again, and all the Townshend duties except those on tea are repealed in April of 1770. The tea tax is retained because George III believes “there must always be one tax” to establish the precedent for the right of Parliament to tax the colonies.
1768: The Massachusetts General Court issues the Massachusetts Circular Letter to urge other colonies to resist the Townshend Acts. The Circular letter decries the Acts as taxation without representation, insists that colonial governors and judges must not be independent of colonial legislatures, and insists that Americans can never be represented in Parliament. Due to the Letter’s demand for further resistance to British policy, Massachusetts’ royal governor closes down the General Court on grounds of sedition. But New Jersey, New Hampshire, Virginia and Connecticut announce support of the principles in the letter.
Another set of letters which were widely published throughout the colonies and Britain which protested taxation without representation were the Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania to Inhabitants of the British Colonies by John Dickinson.
Violence also was a response to British oppression. On the North Carolina frontier, a loosely organized group called the Regulators arose to protest their lack of representation in the colonial assembly and to protest corruption of royal officials. The Regulators, armed and dangerous, engage in a few skirmishes with colonial officials and British troops, but usually back down in the face of organized resistance, especially since they lack strong leadership. The North Carolina assembly passes the Bloody Act in 1771 in response to the horsewhipping of a man they claimed to be an agent of the eastern Carolina aristocrats. The Bloody Act declares the Regulators to be traitors subject to execution. Finally, Governor William Tryon leads a force of 1000 troops against an encampment of 2000 Regulators, but the Regulators withdraw after an hour’s fighting with thirteen of their leaders captured. One is executed the next day, six more are executed a month later, and the last six are forced to swear loyalty to the royal government, along with 6500 other settlers in the region of the battle. New Yorkers also rioted in 1769 over the dissolution of their assembly. In Boston in May of 1768, the seizure of John Hancock’s ship Liberty provoked a riot which resulted in the beating of the customs official who ordered the seizure, his son, and another customs agent.
1770: The Boston “Massacre” results in five colonists killed. 7 British soldiers were indicted on charges of murder. John Adams and Josiah Quincy defend the soldiers, arguing self-defense. Four were acquitted (by a jury of Bostonians!) and two were convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter. They both were discharged and branded on the thumb.
1772: The Royal Navy sends a ship named the Gaspee to hunt down smugglers hiding in Narragansett Bay, near Rhode Island. In response, the governor of Rhode Island threatens to arrest the commanding officer of the Gaspee, Lt. William Dudingston. When the Gaspee runs aground on a sandbar, the local sheriff and a posse row out to the ship, order Dudington to surrender, and board the ship when he refuses. When Dudington points his sword at one of the invaders he is shot in the midsection, although not fatally. He and his men are forced from the ship and it is set aflame. Other colonists are excited about this blow to Britain attempt to enforce its taxes. When British officials attempt to arrest the boarding party and send them to London to be tried as pirates, though, Sam Adams revives the Sons of Liberty as a Committee of Correspondence to coordinate action. The Crown backs down, claiming lack of evidence, but the damage is done.
1773: The Tea Act aims to help the British East India Company by lowering the cost of its tea—up until this point, the colonists had avoided paying the taxes on British tea by buying smuggled Dutch tea. The Act forgave part of the taxes the East India Company paid, enabling it to lower costs. It also allowed the Company to sell the tea directly to American businessmen and cut out the British middlemen. The colonists, however, view the act as an attempt to get Americans to accept the tax on tea. Therefore, the Sons of Liberty (aka Committees of Correspondence) launch a program to intimidate the American merchants from buying the tea. East India Company ships are turned back at the harbor entrance, or are prevented from unloading. Three of these ships are the victims of the Boston Tea Party, which destroyed $90,000 of tea.
In response, Parliament passes the Coercive Acts (aka Intolerable Acts or Repressive Acts) which included the closure of the Port of Boston, limitations on Massachusetts’ colonial government, colonial courts, and the right to have town meetings, and an extension of the Quartering Act designed to place troops in Boston permanently.
General Thomas Gage is appointed royal governor of Massachusetts as well as remaining commander in chief of British troops in North America. He immediately implements the Port Act. He also attempts to disperse the General Assembly, which then calls for a Continental Congress to be called. The Port Act results in the unification of the other colonies in sending food to Boston—even Quebec sent grain.
1774: In the midst of this turmoil, the Quebec Act is passed, which restores the old borders of the province into the Ohio valley. It requires that French be the official language, French law be retained, and the Catholic Church be officially recognized.
The First Continental Congress is convened with 56 delegates from all the colonies but Georgia. It denounces the intolerable Acts, declares 13 different acts of Parliament unconstitutional, sends protests to the king and addresses to the people of Great Britain, and forms the Association to organize a new boycott on British goods.
The royal governor of Virginia dissolves the House of Burgesses. The lawmakers meet in a tavern (some say a church) instead. It is there that Henry gives his famous speech on liberty on March 23, 1775.
1775: King George III and Parliament propose the Plan of Reconciliation, which proposed to not tax the colonies in return for the colonial assemblies voluntarily paying for part of colonial defense. They also pass the Fishery Act, banning New England from the waters off Newfoundland. When Massachusetts calls on the Provincial Congress to begin arming the colony, Gage imposes martial law and orders the arrest of Sam Adams and John Hancock. Paul Revere rides to tell them to escape. He also alerts the colonists that the British are moving toward Lexington and Concord to capture the stash of weapons there. The British marched to Concord (“One if by land,…”) and rowed whaleboats to Lexington (“…Two if by sea.”). In Lexington, the British drove the colonists off, but at Concord, the colonists carried the day. The first shots had been fired.