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Please be aware that this is a student-generated wiki designed for review for my students' AP external image arrow-10x10.png. Come in, look around, and enjoy yourself...just be aware of the nature of this wiki. Even though most everything is correct, I advise caution before citing this as an authoritative source.


With the victory of the French and Indian War in 1763, new territory came into the hands of the British, as did the heavy monetary burden which the British decided to dish out to the colonists, sparking the colonists' resentment (Wilson). After Americans declared themselves independent from the British monarchy and Parliament, convinced that King George III and Parliament had suppressed their liberty (through taxation without representation, quartering of British soldiers in American homes, and denial of the right to bring [[#|legal cases]] before independent judges), Americans were determined to create a government which would ensure that individuals would not have their liberties suppressed by an arbitrary and distant central government which previously encompassed them. As a result, they created a government that was highly [[#|decentralized]]: a confederacy, a "loose political union" between many sovereign and independent states. The Articles of Confederation were then written in November 1777 by the Second [[#|Continental Congress]], and ratified in 1781, after Congress was given the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains from the previous colonies (now states) that laid claim to them. Though the Articles of Confederation presented a good step towards a government that guarantees liberties, the extremely weak central government created many problems (including possible invasions from foreign countries).

The Articles of Confederation established the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, a protocol by which new states could external image arrow-10x10.png the confederation. This required that the population reach at least 60,000 settlers and that they [[#|apply]] or petition for statehood. It also abolished slavery in those territories, and granted the right of trial by jury and freedom of religion.
Most importantly, the Articles of Confederation was the underlying foundation of federalism, a structure of government by which both state and central government share governing responsibilities.[1]

Articles of Confederation managed to succeed in:

  • Giving each state one vote in Congress. In any vote of Congress it was necessary to have a majority vote. Meaning that nine of the thirteen states needed to vote to ratify any national laws.
  • Since the Articles of Confederation wouldn't allow congress to tax, the Land Ordinance of 1785 went around this issue by raising funds through the sale of empty land which resulted in the need of external image arrow-10x10.png existing and new land which in return benefited a larger cause of developing an organized land record. With this new knowledge, areas of land could be better distributed and "[lay the] foundation for land policy."
  • Allowing the ratification of the Treaty of Paris with England, put an end to the Revolutionary War and gave recognition to America's independence. In 1783 it allowed the Articles of Confederation to give Congress the power to make peace
  • It allowed Congress to coin money; however, there was very little to coin."
  • The vast amounts of land that the larger states held was ceded to the government under the Articles of Confederation which allowed all states to share in the capital gained from these areas.
  • Articles of Confederation were able to [[#|successfully]] wage war. (War of independence against Britain)
  • The Articles of Confederation also enacted the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 which outlined how a new state would be admitted into the union

Articles of Confederation failed because:

  • It failed to establish a more unified nation (stronger central government). Thus, states could focus on their own problems, but were not bound to help fellow states in times of crisis (no national military without taxes).
  • With the states claiming sovereignty and the right to do whatever they external image arrow-10x10.png, they taxed each other, created and printed their own money, and often did not abide by the laws established by Congress.
  • The states had many territorial disputes (many states claimed unsettled land in the West) that could not be solved since the impotent Articles did not mention a national judicial system to settle disputes.
  • The states were each given one vote and could pass measures with nine votes, a majority of 9 out of 13 colonies had to external image arrow-10x10.png. The delegates who cast these votes were picked and paid by the state legislatures. Since states could refuse to send delegates (as Rhode Island did external image arrow-10x10.png), it was difficult to pass any measure.
  • Under the Articles of Confederation, all 13 states (a unanimous vote) had to agree to amend the Articles, making changes virtually impossible.
  • Both the states and the congress were issuing worthless money and, therefore, the war (American Revolution) debt couldn't be paid. This problem couldn't be solved because Congress did not have the ability to levy taxes; it could only ask states for money, and states more often than not refused or ignored these appeals (wilson)
  • Under the Articles, the [[#|national government]] could not regulate foreign trade or [[#|interstate commerce]]. As a result, each state maintained its own [[#|trade policies]] and issued its own currency. Due to the lack of a uniform national currency, trading was difficult between states.
  • Due to its inability to levy taxes, the central government had no money to support an army to prevent conflicts among the states or attacks from other nations (as clearly evidenced in the Shay's Rebellion).
  • Although Congress could appoint the main army officers, the army was small (since the Articles did not mention the importance of a strong army) and depended on independent state militias for support
  • John Hancock in 1785 was elected president (a meaningless office) under the Articles of Confederation, but never showed up to take the external image arrow-10x10.png
  • Each state created their own state constitution and, though democratic, many state governments were tyrannical and often difficult to be a part of unless one was Christian or [[#|owned property]] (as depicted under the Mayflower Compact) (Wilson).
  • Congress could coin money, however, there was little to coin, which meant that Congress could only appoint key army officers, but the entirety of the army was small and depended on support from state militias, which often led to conflicting ideas of how to lead the army in the "external image arrow-10x10.png" manner.

Influences for the Creation of the Constitution

The American Revolution was considered a "war of ideology." After the American Revolution, colonists wanted to create a legitimate government that required the consent of the governed, while rejecting one based on royal prerogatives. The constitution was created in order to capture this idea.
  • Many states constitutions stressed personal liberties, and most placed the highest political power in the hands of elected representative.

State Constitutions
  • The illustrations for the Constitution were sought out in current forms of state constitutions: the Pennsylvania constitution of 1776 and Massachusetts of 1780.
    • The Pennsylvania Constitution gave the power to a one-house legislature whose members were elected each year for one-year terms and could not serve more than four terms. There was not executive head but there was an Executive Council, which had little power.
    • The Massachusetts constitution had a clear separation of powers between the different branches of government. The governor was directly elected and could veto laws passed by the legislature. The judges, once elected, served for life. The primary requirement to be an elected official was that the person had to be a property owner and Christian.
Shays's Rebellion
  • In 1786, Shay's Rebellion took place because the federal government had placed a external image arrow-10x10.png on its citizens. Farmers did not have physical money to pay so they had to pay with crops. The government declined the offer, which led to an armed uprising and attempt to seize the US weapons arsenal at the U.S. Arsenal at Springfield.
  • Shay's Rebellion showed the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation. In order to ensure that no such uprising would ensue again, the Constitutional Convention was held from May 25th to September 17th 1787 in order to revise the Articles, however a completely new draft of the Constitution was written instead.
  • Shortly after the ratification of the Constitution, the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791 threatened the federal government in a similar fashion to Shays' Rebellion. This time, the tax dispute concerned grain farmers in Pennsylvania, who attempted to ignore the federal tax on whiskey. This time, the federal government quickly subdued the uprising through the deployment of 13,000 federalsoldiers sent by Washington to crush the rebellion.

Enlightenment Philosophies

  • John Locke stated in Second Treatise on Civil Government that everyone had natural rights ("in a state of nature" all men cherish and seek to protect: life, liberty, and property) which were given to all by God; it was an obligation by the government to protect and respect everyone’s natural rights. If the government did not, Locke contended, the citizens have the right of revolution. Locke said that limitation of the government should derive from the fact that it is created by and needs the consent of the governed.
  • The French Baron de Montesquieu is credited with inspiring the idea of separation of powers among three independent branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial; see "SEPARATION OF POWERS" below) which would keep a mutual external image arrow-10x10.png on each others powers. This was outlined in his major work The Spirit of the Law.
  • Jean Jacques Rousseau argued his famous "social contract", which stated that "the only good government was one that was freely formed with the consent of the people."
  • external image arrow-10x10.png Diderot argued for absolute separation of church and state, citing the abundance of corruption apparent in past marriages between the two institutions. This corruption may quintessentially be exemplified by the pluralism, despotism, and simony perpetuated by the Catholic Church in Medieval Europe.

Constitutional Convention

  • With the Articles of Confederation falling external image arrow-10x10.png, Revolutionary leaders wanted to change it. The Annapolis Convention was held to change trade regulation, but it was a failure as not enough people showed up so another was called in Philadelphia, known as the Constitutional Convention. Even then, only 30 out of 55 delegates presented had consistent attendance in the process. This convention was kept confidential.
  • Delegates were mainly interested in fighting for the interests of their own states. For example, delegates of slave-states were keen on protecting the institution of slavery, since under the Articles of Confederation the states were left sovereign and were allowed to do what ever they felt with slavery without any challenge.
  • Small-state representatives sought to balance out the influence that the external image arrow-10x10.png states had.
  • The delegates wanted to make a government that was strong enough to preserve external image arrow-10x10.png without threatening liberty. They did not believe that "democracy" was the answer because in the eighteenth century democracy basically meant, "mob rule." A democracy in which all people external image arrow-10x10.png, the delegates felt, would not be suitable as they felt rash decisions could be made by the people due to their fleeting passions. Instead, A republic was the delegates' preferred form of government.
  • George Washington was the chairman of the convention, and helped in convincing the delegates to ratify it.
  • The main draftsman of the Constitution was James Madison; he later became president. With the help of Governor Edmund Randolph and Madison, the Virginia delegation was able to bring forth a plan for a completely new form of national government (Wilson). Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution.
    • Madison contributed the most towards the visionary of the government's structure, suggesting: separation of powers, external image arrow-10x10.png and balances, limits on the majority, and federalism.
    • James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton wrote the Federalist Papers in order to help gain ratification for the Constitution.
  • Slavery was a difficult issue because of the southern states' economic dependence on slaves.The delegates from southern states wanted to count the slaves toward representation in the legislative branch, however, the delegates from the north did not. The issue of representation was solved through the 3/5 Compromise of 1787, which stated that any state wishing to use its slave population toward its population count for Congressional representation purposes may count each enslaved individual as 3/5 of a person. To further appease the South, the Framers also allowed the importation of slaves to the US until 1808, when the importation would no longer be allowed. (The Framers believed that the slave trade would die out, before then because they did not anticipate the slaves to rapidly reproduce, eliminating the need for imported slaves and eventually leading to the Civil War).

  • Individual rights were left to the state constitutions. However, the Constitution does protect three important personal liberties in Article I Section IX:
    • Writ of Habeas Corpus (right of individuals to receive immediate justification for the cause of their detention) shall not be Suspend, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.0
    • No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed (Transcript of US Constitution)
  • Shays' Rebellion made the states decide to re-write the Articles to make taxes for the military and to prevent future rebellions, since it initiated a fear that the entire system, external image arrow-10x10.png state governments, were going to fail because the national government was too weak. After this, the states also realized that taxation was necessary since the federal government was not gaining enough revenue under the Articles.
  • For all other purposes not realized by the Framers, Article I, Section 8 was included in the Constitution. The "elastic clause," or the "necessary and proper" clause, indicated that Congress would be given permission to make any laws necessary and proper to implement rule, order, or the well-being of the external image arrow-10x10.png. From this clause, much of the country's bureaucratic growth has occurred.

Two Proposal by the States:

  • Virginia Plan (Large State Plan or the Randolph Plan)

    • It called for a strong national government with three branches: legislative, judicial and executive.
    • The legislative branch would be bicameral (made up of two chambers). The first house was to be elected by the people, and the second house was to be elected by the first house and state legislature nominations.
    • The executive was to be chosen by the national legislature, along with members of the judiciary (Wilson).
    • The Virginia Plan also called for a national legislature that would have the final say on all matters that states were not given the power to act on. This plan also gave the national legislature the power to veto state laws, resulting from their supreme powers. (Wilson 25)
    • Representation in both chambers of the legislative branch would be based on population/monetary contributions by the state.
    • The Virginia Plan was supported by large states because they believed that they deserved more representation in the legislative branch to account for their larger populations. However, it was generally opposed by the smaller states, since they feared that small state interests would be suppressed since large states, with more votes, could always out-vote them.
    • This plan was written by James Madison and was proposed to Congress by Edmund Randolph

  • New Jersey Plan (Small State Plan or the Paterson Plan)

    • Each state had one vote regardless of population for equal representation
    • The members of the house would be elected by the state legislatures, not the people. Each state would get the same number of seats, rather than the seats being proportional to the state's population.
    • The plan was opposed by Edmund Randolph and James Madison, whom supported the Virginia Plan.
    • The New Jersey Plan simply called to amend the Articles of Confederation, and not replace them. Although it also increased the power of the national government, it was not to the extent that the Virginia Plan did, and left the representation of the states as it was under the Articles of Confederation (Wilson).

  • Great Compromise (Connecticut Compromise) of 1787.

    • Submitted to the convention on July 5 and was ratified on July 16 with five states in favor of it, four against it, and two abstaining.
    • The compromise said that the number of representatives per state in the House of Representatives was determined on the basis of population, and that members were to be elected by the people. Also, the Senate was to have two members from each state that were chosen by the state legislatures (this changed in 1913, when the 17th amendment established the direct election of senators).
    • Finally on September 17, after being debated over, revised, and amended by the Committee of Detail, the Constitution was finally completed with the new and improved Connecticut Compromise and approved by all twelve states present, creating the form of government seen today.
    • The Connecticut Compromise created a bicameral Congress and outlined that bills pertaining to taxes needed to originate in the House of Representative.

Differences between Federalists and Anti federalists[2]
  • Federalists:

    • included leaders such as John Adams and Alexander Hamilton
    • supporters included Northern businessmen, wealthy men, and landowners
    • believed that national government is superior and is the leading force in political affairs
    • wanted the ratification of the Constitution by the approval of only nine out of thirteen states, which was illegal under the Articles of Confederation as the Articles require that all thirteen states approve the Constitution.
  • Anti-Federalists:

    • opposed the ratification of the Constitution because it did not list specific rights for the people initially and it favored a strong national government
    • Argued that a strong central government would be distant from the people and would use it's powers to take over states' functions.
    • included leaders such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison
    • mostly included workers, farmers, and people from rural areas

  • The Federalist Papers

  • published by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in hopes of external image arrow-10x10.png the ratification of the new Constitution.
  • Originally, all The Federalist Papers were published anonymously under the pseudonym Publius
  • Federalist 10: This paper argued that factions are detrimental to a democratic government; however, they cannot be prevented. The government, however, must protect the interests of all these factions and govern their vices through "controlling its effects." In addition, the paper argued that a government elected by a large population will have minimal corruption.
    • Madison believed that a direct democracy would endanger individual rights, and favored a representative democracy that would be free from popular opinion, or rule.
    • In controlling the factions' clashing interests, Madison proposed that they are to be restrained in front of the "public good."
  • Federalist 51: This paper focuses primarily on the three branches of government and the equality of the powers of all of them
*In Federalist No. 51, Madison argued that the coalitions that formed in a large republic would be more moderate than those that formed in a small one. This is because a large republic has more variability in interests. (Wilson).

Changing the Constitution

Formal Process:

  • Described in Article V of the Constitution
  • 2 stages: ratification and proposal
    • The bulk of adult white males were able to vote for delegates to be nominated to the ratifying conventions. Women and blacks were unable to.
  • Two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress. Ratified by legislatures in three- fourths of the states. (Every amendment, with the exception of the Twenty-First, was the result of this).
  • Two-thirds request at a national convention called by Congress. Ratified by conventions in three-fourths of the states (Has never been used in the entire history of the United States).
  • Tends to emphasize equality of the people and expand voting rights.
*To ratify an Amendment: three-fourths of the state legislatures approve it, or ratifying conventions in three-fourths of that states approve it. (Wilson).

Informal Process:

  • Judicial interpretation - Supreme Court decides whether a case is constitutional or not, settling disputes over interpretation of the Constitution.
  • Judicial review- Supreme Court can rule an act of congress unconstitutional, limiting their power.
  • Line-item veto- An executive’s ability to block a particular provision in a bill passed by the legislature. This has happened to follow through as an ongoing issue due to the flexibility of the Constitution. However, the Supreme Court has declared this partial veto unconstitutional in a 1998 case (Wilson).

Criticisms to the Constitution

Most, criticisms of the constitution can generally be categorized as those against a federal government that is too powerful or one that does not have enough power.
  • Some critics claim that the separation of powers results in an inefficient government, because too much time is spent in one branch trying to gain the approval of another branch.These critics believe that the president should have the most power, and that he should not be hindered by Congress.
    • Critics may be derisive in that they feel the Constitution's formal amendment process is far too external image arrow-10x10.png and effectively can be done with little or no input and approval from the president.
    • They want the president to be able to incorporate Congress members into his cabinet. The Constitution does not allow the president to involve members of Congress in his cabinet.
    • They also want to remove the current system of where Congress elections occur at specified time intervals (every 6 years for Senators and every 2 years for House of Representatives), and instead allow the president to designate new elections as he desires.
    • Another notable point these individuals make is for term of the president to be expanded from four years to six years.
  • Other critics want the government to lessen its role, because they believe it has over stepped its bounds.
    • These critics want lower taxes.
    • They propose that government balance its budget each year.
    • Some also believe that role of federal courts needs to be reduced in the field of public policy.
    • They thought a confederation of states was a more ideal political structure, where state legislatures held most of the power.

The Constitution and Democracy

  • The framers intended to create a republic. By which they meant a government in which a system of representatives operates. The members of the House of Representatives directly elected by the people and members of the Senate would be chosen by state legislators not the people.
-The Framers believed that a representative democracy was better than that of a direct one as the will of the people wouldn’t always lead to the public good. They believed that policies should mediate not mirror popular views. They doubted the people’s capacity or potential to make meaningful choices
  • The president would be chosen by the electoral college, whose members are voted on by the public who want that electorate's supported candidate to win. George Washington got all of the votes of the electoral college to become the first president of the United States under the Constitution.
  • Judicial Review:[3]
    • the power of the Supreme Court to declare an act of congress or the President as unconstitutional
      • Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803)

  • Amending the Constitution
    • The process for amending the Constitution was made easier than the one outlined in the Articles of Confederation, but still a difficult task overall.
    • A potential amendment is proposed with a two-thirds vote from the House and the Senate or a two-thirds vote from the states for a national convention that is called by Congress (28).


Under two principles, government powers are divided into three categories.

Enumerated Powers: Powers given to the [[#|national government]] alone. This includes the power of the national government to print money, declare war, make treaties, conduct foreign affairs, and regulate interstate and international commerce

Reserved Powers: Powers given by the tenth amendment to the state government alone. This includes the power the states have to issue licenses, establish schools, run elections and regulate intrastate commerce.

Concurrent Powers: Powers shared by the national and state governments. This includes the power that both the national and state governments to collect taxes, construct public facilities, borrow money, and hold court sessions.


Separation of Powers was established by the Framers in order to have a strong central government, but at the same time limit the power of the government. This power is stated at the beginning of the first three Articles of the Constitution. Each of the states constitutions had adopted this idea of Separation of Powers during the Revolution. Also, each of the three branches of government would be given independent powers so that no one branch could control others, yet no branch could operate with total independence.
  • Executive Branch: The President and his Cabinet (The President's Cabinet is not mentioned in the constitution; President becomes commander-in-chief, and negotiates treaties)
  • Legislative Branch: bicameral Congress with a House of Representatives and a Senate (Can ratify treaties, appropriate money, declare war, and can make and at time pass laws by overriding a presidential veto with a two-thirds majority)
  • Judicial Branch: Supreme Court (Also allowed for "inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish." Officialized under Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court has the power to exercise "judicial review" to judge whether an executive or legislative act is constitutional.)

Checks and Balances:

Congress can external image arrow-10x10.png the president in the following ways:
  • Refusing to pass a bill
  • Can impeach the president (Only if he commits Treason, Bribery, or Other High Crimes and Misdemeanors)
  • Can override a President’s veto on a bill by a vote of 2/3rds
  • During the 20th century, Congress also practiced a "legislative veto" on executive actions. This was later deemed unconstitutional.

The Senate in Congress can check the president in the following ways:
  • They must approve of treaties created by the president in order for the treaty to be in effect and occur

Congress can also check the Court in several ways:
  • They may impeach a judge from office as a result of unlawful activities.
  • They can approve federal judges, including Supreme Court justices throught the advise and consent clause
  • They can change the size of the Supreme Court in order to select new justices onto the court
  • They can change federal court jurisdictions, and even do away with a court altogether (except the Supreme Court)

The president can check Congress in the following ways:
  • May veto bills passed by Congress
  • Gives instructions to Congress
  • May postpone signing a bill until congress is out of session, which is known as a pocket veto
  • May issue an executive order, which completely skips over any congressional input.

The Judicial Court can check Congress and the President by:
  • The Judicial Court can check Congress by reviewing any law they pass. Upon review, they can declare a law unconstitutional.
  • The Judicial Court can check the president by declaring the president's or his subordinates' actions to be unconstitutional or permissible by law.

Informal Powers
  • There exists informal powers as well. For example, the President can withhold information from Congress ("executive privilege"), and Congress can, in turn, try to get information by mounting an investigation.
    • The Supreme Court ruled the Executive Privilege doctrine to have validity in the case United States V. Nixon; this however, did not go as far as to justifying Nixon’s actions in the Watergate Scandal.

Liberties Before Bill of Rights:

  • Writ of Habeas Corpus may not be suspended (except during invasion or rebellion)
  • No Bill of Attainder may be passed by Congress or the States
  • No Ex Post Facto Law may be passed by Congress or the States
  • Right to trial by jury in criminal cases that is guaranteed
  • Citizens of each state have the same privileges and immunities of every other state
  • No religious test or qualification for holding federal office is imposed
  • No law may be passed by the states that impairs the obligations of contracts

=**The Structure of the Constitution [4]

  • Preamble:

    • Summarized the goals of the founders and what they hoped to create with the new constitution.
      • Form a more perfect union, establish justice, domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, provide for the common defense, and secure blessings of liberty.
    • While it has no real power, the preamble has been used by the Courts to understand the intents of the Founders and to understand the meanings of other parts of the Constitution.
  • Article 1 – Legislative Branch:

    • Establishes a bicameral Congress made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
    • Senate:
      • Members of the Senate must be at least 30 years old, an American citizen for 9 years and a resident of the state the senator is representing.
      • Senators serve 6 year terms.
      • Senate has the power to approve presidential appointments.
    • House:
      • Members of the House are elected every two years, must be twenty five years or older, and a citizen of the United States for at least seven years.
      • Must be a resident of the state, but not necessarily the district, they represent.
      • Members of the House can choose their speaker and other officers.
      • The House has the sole power to impeach.
  • Article 2 - The Executive Branch

    • Establishes the Office of the President and enumerates requirements, standards and authorities of the position.
    • Requirements:
      • at least 35 years of age
      • natural born U.S. citizen
      • must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years
    • Standards:
      • 4 year terms
      • can be impeached for "high crimes and misdemeanors" (eg. Treason and/or Bribery)
      • must provide a state of the union address to the Congress
      • must make sure that laws are dutifully executed
    • Authorities:
      • Commander in chief
      • power to make treaties (with approval by Senate)
      • fill vacancies during the recess of the Senate
  • Article 3- The Judiciary

    • The Judicial power of the United States is in one main Supreme Court and in inferior courts that congress may establish
    • Judges serve for life as long as they maintain good behavior.
    • Requires trials by jury in all criminal cases, except in the cases of impeachment.
  • Article 4 – The States

    • “Full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State.”
    • "The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States."
  • Article 5 – Amending the Constitution

    • Two-thirds of both the House and the Senate may propose an amendment if they deem it necessary.
    • No amendment may affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article to the point of nullifying them.
    • No State shall be deprived of its suffrage, and in effect representation in Congress, without its consent.
    • Changed by the 13th Amendment
  • Article 6- Establishing the Constitution

    • States that all debt that existed before the Ratification of the Constitution still exist and have the same terms set forth before ratification.
    • States that any federal law that is made according to the Constitution is the supreme law of the land.
    • Executive officers, judges, and state and federal legislatures must swear under oath to obey the Constitution of the United States of America.
  • Article 7 - Ratification Procedure

    • Sets forth the requirement of 9 of the 13 states to approve the Constitution in order for it to be Ratified.


The Bill of Rights was purposely left off the original Constitution, despite the fact that it would be the Founding Father's claim to fame.
  • Amendment I: Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly

    • Establishment Clause: Prohibits the creation of any law "respecting an establishment of religion," and enforces separation of church and state.
    • Free Exercise Clause: Prohibits the government from interfering with a person's exercise of their religion.
    • Prohibits infringement of freedom of speech, press, or the right to peacefully assemble.
  • Amendment II:The Right to bear arms.

    • The right for citizens to have or carry firearms.
    • Declares the necessity for a militia, this came as a response to the lack of a military under the Articles of Confederation.
  • Amendment III: Soldier Garrison

    • Only by the consent of the owner of the house is a soldier allowed to be quartered in; in time of peace nor war.
    • The Founding Fathers' intention in writing this amendment was to prevent the quartering of soldiers in private citizens' homes, as happened during British rule of the colonies.
  • Amendment IV: Refusal against unreasonable searches and seizures.

    • People have the right to security in "their persons, houses, papers and effects" against searches and seizures that are deemed unreasonable.
    • This right can not be violated without a warrant issued on "probable cause" and supported by "Oath or affirmation" that must specifically describe the location that will be searched or the person/item to be seized.
  • Amendment V: Rights when accused; "Due-process" clause

    • The right to trial by Grand Jury.
    • "Double Jeopardy"- The right to not be tried more than once for the same offense.
    • A citizen should not be deprived of "life, liberty, and property."
    • A person may not be forced to testify against themselves in court.
    • Property shall not be taken for public use without fair payment.
    • Miranda v. Arizona (1966): Involved an involuntary confession of a convicted rapist.
      • => Miranda Rules: governing how police must conduct an arrest and interrogation
  • Amendment VI: Rights when on trial

    • In all criminal prosecutions, the prosecuted has the right for a speedy and public trial.
    • Right to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
  • Amendment VII: Common-law suits

    • No fact tried by a jury will be reexamined in any other court of the United States.
    • A citizens right to trial by jury shall be preserved
  • Amendment VIII: Excessive bail; no "Cruel and unusual" punishments

    • This Amendment prohibits the government from imposing excessive bail and excessive fines.
    • Prohibits some punishments entirely such as crucifixion, death by stoning, gas chambers, and hanging.
  • Amendment IX Unenumerated rights protected

    • This amendment prohibits the violation of natural human rights to any man
  • Amendment X Powers reserved for states

    • All powers that are not specifically given to the national government or specifically withheld from the States belong to the States or the people.

Amendments XI-XXVII (Not Part of the Bill of Rights)

Because the United States Constitution can be amended, as outlined in Article V, it is considered a "living external image arrow-10x10.png."
  • ==Amendment XI[5]
    • The amendment allowed federal courts to have the authority to hear cases in "law or equity" against states by private citizens. It also prevented states from having sovereign immunity from suits made by citizens of other states.
      Sovereign Immunity: The rule that a citizen cannot sue the government without the government's consent.
  • ==Amendment XII[6]
    • This Amendment made revision to Article II of the Constitution about electoral-college procedures.
    • "The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves (the elector)". The electors must cast distinct votes for President and Vice President, instead of casting two votes for President or Vice President.
    • The President of the Senate will open the certificates to voting if both houses of Congress are present, and the votes will be counted.
  • ==Amendment XIII[7]
    • Prohibited slavery, or acts of "involuntary servitude". However this excludes "punishment for crime" committed.
    • Gave Congress the power to enforce this Amendment.
  • ==Amendment XIV[8]
    • No state shall "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law."
    • No state shall "deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
    • The debt of the United States, "including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."
  • ==Amendment XV[9]
    • Gave all "citizens of the United States" the rights to vote and "shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
    • This means that the former slaves were given the rights to vote.
  • ==Amendment XVI[10]
    • Allow Congress to have the power to "lay and collect taxes on incomes".
    • Taxes may be levied upon any income regardless of source
  • ==Amendment XVII[11]
    • Calls for the election of United States Senators by means of popular elections.
    • Calls for two Senators per state who serve six year terms. If there is a vacancy, the state from which seat is open will have elections for the replacement.

  • ==Amendment XVIII[12]
    • Prohibits the "manufacturing and sale of liquor". Important to note that it didn't ban the consumption of liquor, just made it hard to obtain. Two states rejected the amendment: Connecticut and Rhode Island.
  • ==Amendment XIX[13]
    • Prohibits any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote based on sex.
  • ==Amendment XX[14]
    • The term of Presidency and Vice President is to end on January 20th at Noon. The term of members of Congress end on January 3rd at Noon.
    • Congress is to assemble at least once a year which is to be held on the 3rd day of January unless they have agreed on a different day.
  • ==Amendment XXI[15]
    • Repealed the 18th Amendment (Prohibition)
    • Allowed the manufacturing, distribution, sales, and possession of alcohol.
    • Only amendment not passed via formal method: proposal by Congress and ratification by state legislatures.
  • ==Amendment XXII[16]
    • An individual shall not be elected as President more than two times (max of two terms).
    • Ratified in 1951, merely a few years after the end of President Franklin Roosevelt's four terms. He was, and will always be, the only President to serve more than two terms.
  • ==Amendment XXIV[17]
    • Prohibits the use of poll taxes or any other taxes as a condition for voting in any primary or election.
  • ==Amendment XXV[18]
    • If the President is removed from office the Vice President shall become President
    • If there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a replacement, and Congress must confirm.
    • The President may give a written statement to the Vice President and the Speaker of the House, and declare himself unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Until the President sends the letter to the mentioned officers the Vice President serves as Acting President.
    • If the Vice President and a majority of either the cabinet or Congress, submit a written declaration that the President is unable to perform his duties to the Vice President and the Speaker, the Vice President will be sworn is as Acting President.
  • ==Amendment XXVI[19]
    • The right to vote is extended to American citizens over the age of 18.
    • Although the right has been extended, the age group 18-25 has only been strongly represented a few times in presidential elections since 1971, like in the recent 2008 election. (Note: This was the case with every group receiving the right to vote for the first time, including African Americans and women. Neither group voted in large numbers until well after receiving the right to vote.)
  • ==Amendment XXVII[20]
    • The pay wages of Congress members can not be changed unless decided on by a majority vote in the House of Representatives
    • Any law that changes congressional salaries, cannot take effect until the next set of terms of office for Representatives begins.

  1. ^ The Princeton Review
  2. ^ (Source: US History: Preparing for the AP Exam, John N. Newman)
  3. ^ (Source: US History: Preparing for the AP Exam, John N. Newman)
  4. ^ For an entertaining, illuminating review on the Articles of the Constitution: http://www.legion.org/oratorical/3521/2007-oratorical-champ-shining-nyu
  5. ^ Ratified in 1795.
  6. ^ Ratified in 1804.
  7. ^ Ratified in 1865, during the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War.
  8. ^ Ratified in 1868.
  9. ^ Ratified in 1870.
  10. ^ Ratified in 1913.
  11. ^ Ratified in 1913.
  12. ^ Ratified in 1919.
  13. ^ Ratified in 1920.
  14. ^ Ratified in 1933.
  15. ^ Ratified in 1933.
  16. ^ Ratified in 1951.
  17. ^ Ratified in 1964.
  18. ^ Ratified in 1967.
  19. ^ Ratified in 1971.
  20. ^ Ratified in 1992.