The British stated that the dividing line between the colonists and the Native American Indians was the Appalachian Mountains

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Proclamation Line of 1763

  • The British stated that the dividing line between the colonists and the Native American Indians was the Appalachian Mountains

  • The colonists were to stay east of the Appalachian Mountains

  • West of the Mountains was Indian Territory

  • Thus, the western limit on colonial settlement was the Appalachian Mountains

  • The line was established to avoid conflict between colonists and Native American Indians

  • The colonists, however, resented this line and a limit on their settlements

The Geography of New England

  • Rocky soil

  • Short growing season

  • Natural ports and harbors

  • Forests

  • Geographic factors encouraged shipbuilding, fishing, and trade in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, etc.

  • But geographic factors discouraged plantations and a slave system in New England

The Great Plains

  • Added to the U.S.A. by the Louisiana Purchase

  • Good for farming and herding

  • Known as the “breadbasket” of the nation

  • The Great Plains stretch from the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains out to the Mississippi River

  • This vast region is covered in wild grasses and mostly flat

  • Original inhabitants were the Plains Indians

  • Plains Indians depended on the buffalo

  • With westward expansion and the needless slaughtering of the buffalo by settler, the way of life of the Plains Indians was destroyed

Consent of the Governed

  • The principle that government depends on the people’s consent or permission

  • By voting, citizens give government officials permission to do what they do

  • Any government that is not based on consent of the governed can be justifiably overthrown and replaced according to the Declaration of Independence

  • The colonists’ slogan of “No taxation without representation” expresses their belief in consent of the governed

  • If the colonists were to be taxed, they believed they had a right to vote for their representatives in Parliament

  • A democracy is based on the principle of consent of the governed

  • In a democracy, the people give government its power

  • This is radically different than divine right theory or the idea that a ruler’s power comes from God and not the people

  • Americans believe that a ruler’s power comes from the PEOPLE

Thomas Paine and Common Sense and Views on Mercantilism

  • Thomas Paine, the great patriot, wrote a pamphlet

  • In his pamphlet, he encouraged the colonists to fight for independence from Britain

  • He showed the colonists that there was no benefit to being ruled by Britain

  • He especially opposed mercantilism or the idea that colonies exist for the benefit of the mother country

  • Thomas Paine wrote, “Our corn will fetch its price in any market” or this idea that the colonies don’t need the mother country because the colonies can sell their goods to any country – every country wants good American corn

  • Thomas Paine also stated that the British were the kind of mother country that devoured its children and therefore not a mother worthy of obeying

  • He encouraged the colonists to fight the colonial power

The Stamp Act Congress

  • The Stamp Act was a tax on the American colonies by the British in 1765

  • It stated that the colonists had to pay a tax on all sorts of printed materials such as newspapers, magazines and legal documents

  • It was called the Stamp Act because the colonies were supposed to buy paper from Britain that had an official stamp to show that they had paid the tax

  • The colonists hated the Stamp Act because they believed in consent of the governed; they believed that they could only be taxed if they voted for their representatives in Parliament

  • The colonists were so upset about the Stamp Act that they called a meeting of all the colonies

  • This meeting was called the Stamp Act Congress

  • Representatives from the colonies gathered together in New York City from October 7 to October 25 in 1765

  • They prepared a unified protest of the Stamp Act to Britain

  • At this meeting, they stated clearly their belief that only elected representatives of the colonies could levy taxes

  • With taxation, must come representation

  • Thus, the Stamp Act had to be disobeyed for the colonists did not vote for representatives in Parliament

A Chronology of Protest

  • The British needed revenue after the French and Indian War

  • Yes, the British won the war but war is expensive

  • So, the British began to act like a Mother Country towards the thirteen colonies

  • And what do mother country’s do: they tax

  • So, it starts with the Sugar Act and then the Quartering Act and the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts and then the Boston Massacre

  • The colonists then dump tea in Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party

  • The British respond with the Coercive Acts

  • Well, it eventually leads to revolution

  • But remember it started with a tax

The Louisiana Purchase

  • President Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France, specifically from Napoleon

  • The territory included the Mississippi River, the Great Plains, and the Port of New Orleans

  • Americans gained full control of the Mississippi River with the Louisiana Purchase

  • This purchase allowed farmers in the Ohio River Valley to transport their goods along the Mississippi River

  • Thus, it was a benefit for trade

  • Yes, the Mississippi River was a major trade route that transported goods from North to South

  • The Mississippi flows into the Gulf of Mexico which led to the development of the trading port city of New Orleans

  • The region of the Great Plains is known as the “breadbasket” of the nation as farmers grow important grains on the Great Plains and cattle is also herded on the Great Plains

  • This was a great purchase for the United States but it almost didn’t happen because Jefferson was a strict constructionist and nowhere in the Constitution does it state that a President may purchase land

  • Jefferson modified his beliefs for this purchase and was convinced that since a President can make a treaty and the Senate must ratify the treaty that this purchase was really a treaty

  • Jefferson also sent Lewis and Clark to map the territory which encouraged westward expansion

  • Lewis and Clark were greatly helped by the Native American Indian, Sacagawea

The Virginia House of Burgesses and the Mayflower Compact

  • The Mayflower Compact was a document signed by 41 male Pilgrims on November 21, 1620 on the ship called the Mayflower

  • By signing this document, the men agreed to form a temporary government and be bound by its laws

  • The compact became the basis of government in the Plymouth Colony

  • The Mayflower Compact is an example of self-government in the colonies

  • The Virginia House of Burgesses was a representative body in the colony of Virginia

  • The House of Burgesses was the first democratically-elected legislative body in the British American colonies

  • Colonists could elect representatives and participate in government

  • Thus both the Mayflower Compact and the House of Burgesses are examples of self-government in the colonies


  • The idea that colonies benefit the mother country

  • Colonies only trade with the mother country

  • Colonies only export raw materials or natural resources

  • Colonies only import finished goods from the mother country

  • Gold and silver is taken from the colonies to the mother country

  • Mercantilism was a popular economic philosophy in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe

  • In this system, colonies were moneymakers for the mother country

  • The British system of mercantilism was opposed by many American colonists because it placed restrictions on trading

  • Colonists hated mercantilism

  • As Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense, “...I challenge the warmest advocate [supporter] for reconciliation, to shew [show], a single advantage that this continent can reap [gain], by being connected with Great Britain. I repeat the challenge, not a single advantage is derived [acquired]. Our corn will fetch its price in any market in Europe, and our imported goods must be paid for, buy them where we will...”

The Declaration of Independence

  • Written by Thomas Jefferson

  • Stated the reasons for the colonists’ grievances with England

  • Stated the colonists’ belief in natural rights and consent of the governed

  • Also formally announced independence from Great Britain

  • Justified rebellion

  • We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it...”

  • This document provides a justification or reason for revolting against unjust governments

  • If a government violates the natural rights of its people or acts as a tyrant and does not allow citizens to vote and pick representatives – if it violates principles such as consent of the governed – then the people have a right to revolution

Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom

  • In 1779, the Virginia General Assembly stated: “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious Worship place or Ministry whatsoever…”

  • This act boldly pronounced that “our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry”

  • It concludes that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities”

  • Of course, the principle of religious freedom emphasized in this act is also established by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

  • And by the way, Thomas Jefferson had listed on his gravestone this as his greatest achievements along with the better-known Declaration of Independence and the University of Virginia

  • Here are the exact words:

Here was buried

Thomas Jefferson

Author of the Declaration of American Independence

of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom

& Father of the University of Virginia

  • The Antifederalists opposed the ratification of the US Constitution

  • The Antifederalists feared a powerful central government

  • Their great success was in forcing the first Congress under the new Constitution to create the Bill of Rights, amendments protecting individual rights and freedoms

  • Antifederalist were joined by a large number of ordinary Americans particularly yeomen [a man holding and cultivating a small landed estate] farmers who predominated in rural America

  • The one overriding social characteristic of the Antifederalists as a group was their strength in newer settled western regions of the country

  • They believed that the greatest threat to the future of the United States lay in the government’s potential to become corrupt and seize more and more power until its tyrannical rule completely dominated the people

  • Having just succeeded in rejecting what they saw as the tyranny of British power, Antifederalists feared kings

  • The President’s vast new powers, especially a veto that could overturn decisions of the people’s representatives in the legislature, were especially disturbing to the Antifederalists

  • The Federalists [supported ratification of the Constitution and a strong central government] and the Antifederalists were the first political parties in the United States

The Great Compromise

  • A compromise between the big states and the small states over congressional representation

  • It led to the creation of a bicameral Congress

  • Representation in the House of Representatives is based on the population of each state

  • States with more people receive more representatives in the House of Representatives

  • Each state, however, receives two senators

  • In the Senate, every state receives the same number of representatives

  • A census is recorded every ten years to determine each state’s number of representatives in the House of Representatives

  • The Great Compromise is also known as the Connecticut Compromise

  • At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the Great Compromise resolved the issue of representation

  • The Great Compromise protect the interests of states with small populations and states with large populations

The Unwritten Constitution

  • Traditions and practices of U.S. Government but not listed in the Constitution

  • Examples include the President’s cabinet, political parties, congressional committees, and judicial review

  • The unwritten Constitution has become a part of American government even though its principles are not found in the Constitution

The Electoral College

  • Voters in the United States don’t directly vote for the president

  • People actually vote for a group of electors when they go to the polls on Election Day

  • These electors have pledged to support a party’s nominee for president

  • In many states the ballot lists only the names of the nominees and not the names of the electors, so many people believe they are voting for the president

  • The Electoral College, this system of presidential electors, is still in effect today, although some adjustments have been made over the years

  • And remember that a candidate can win the popular vote and not the electoral vote

  • Many critics of the electoral college system point out that it might not select the candidate with the largest number of popular votes

  • It is for this reason that some people are critics of the Electoral College because a candidate can be elected president without the popular vote

Checks and Balances

  • By creating three branches of government, the delegates built a “check and balance” system into the Constitution

  • This system was built so that no one branch of our government could become too powerful

  • The constitutional principle of checks and balances best protects the public from abuse by one branch of government

  • Each branch of government has the power to limit the power of the other branches

  • Each branch is restrained by the other two branches

  • Due to separation of powers, each branch has the power to check or limit the power of the other branches of government

  • By creating separation of powers with legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, tyranny is prevented


  • The American System of government

  • Power is shared between a federal government and state governments

  • Concurrent powers are powers shared by the Federal and state governments in the American system of government known as federalism

  • An example of a concurrent power is the power to tax

  • Both the federal government and the state governments can levy or make or impose taxes

  • Some powers are only delegated to the Federal Government such as the only Congress can declare war

  • And some powers are reserved for the states such as each state determines its requirements for graduation

  • An example of federalism is the national government coins money, but states cannot

The Amendment Process to the Constitution

  • The authority to amend the Constitution of the United States is derived from Article V of the Constitution

  • The Amendment process allows the Constitution to be changed

  • The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures

  • None of the 27 amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by constitutional convention

  • An amendment is a modification, addition or deletion of or to the U.S. Constitution

  • The amendment process allows for a flexible Constitution, a Constitution that can change over time

  • If not for the amendment process, the Constitution would not have endured or survived

  • Think about it: After the Civil War, the amendment process allowed for the abolition of slavery (the thirteenth amendment) – however, if the amendment process did not exist then the Constitution would have had to be discarded and a new Constitution created

  • A flexible document can endure or survive changing times

The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution

  • We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” ~ Preamble to the Constitution

  • A preamble is an introduction

  • Our Constitution begins with the words: We the People

  • This means that the people form the government or that government’s power comes from the people

  • The preamble states that sovereignty (supreme power or authority) belongs to the people of the nation

  • Yes, the people rule in a democracy

  • The sovereign is “We the People…”

The Fourth Amendment

  • Protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures

  • This means that a police officer must have a warrant issued by a judge in order to enter and search a person’s house

  • The warrant can only be issued if there is evidence to suggest wrongdoing

  • In addition, the police officer may only search for the item or items listed on the search warrant

  • However, there are moments when the individual freedoms and liberties can be suspended such as in times of rebellion or invasion

  • In other words, if the nation is threatened, some rights can be temporarily suspended

  • The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” ~ The Fourth Amendment

  • But “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.” ~ Article I, Section 9 of U.S. Constitution

  • The writ of habeas corpus is a court order that commands an individual or a government official who has restrained another to produce the prisoner at a designated time and place so that the court can determine the legality of custody and decide whether to order the prisoner’s release

  • Habeas corpus means to bring the person to court and to either charge the person with a crime or release the person

  • But notice: the writ of habeas corpus can be suspended in times of national emergency

  • Thus, the Constitution balances individual liberty with the need for order in American society

A Strict Interpretation of the Constitution vs. a Loose Interpretation of the Constitution
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