Us history & Government Study Guide I. Influence of Geography

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US History & Government Study Guide
I. Influence of Geography
Explain the advantages of the following four geographic features of the United States of America.

  1. Mississippi River

  • Served as a way to move people & products.

  1. Atlantic and Pacific Oceans

  • great for trade along the coast & with Europe

  • Promote fishing

  • Natural barrier—protection from foreign invasion

  1. Great Plains

  • Breadbasket of America

  • Flat and easy to travel

  1. Abundant Natural Resources

  • Tobacco, cotton, trees, crops, coal & oil

  • Developed into an economic powerhouse

13 Colonies

Geography was the primary influence on colonial life. So were the practices brought from the homelands of the colonists. This divided the colonies into three major areas. Explain the main economic activities in the three colonial regions:

New England Economy

  • Soil is not good for farming

  • Could only grow enough food to support

the population

  • Fishing is a key economic activity

  • Timber/wood supply is plentiful

  • Valuable natural resources

  • Ship building business will grow in New England

Middle Atlantic Economy

  • Soil is excellent for farming

  • Natural resources for future industrialization like coal, steel, iron, etc.

  • NYC becomes center of finances (money) for the colonies

Southern Colonies Economy

  • Soil is not good for edible crops, BUT

  • Soil is excellent for the production of Cash Crops.

  • Cash crops—crops grown to sell not to eat

  • Cash crops—1. Tobacco, 2. Cotton—harvesting/planting of these labor intensive crops needs many workers.

  • Demand for slaves increases as farms expand

II. Foundations of US Government

  1. Choose one of the key people and highlight their achievements and the impact these achievements had on this time period in this section.

John Adams Samuel Adams Benjamin Franklin

Alexander Hamilton Patrick Henry Thomas Jefferson

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Voltaire George Washington

James Madison

This is your life__________________________!

  1. Big Thinkers, Big Ideas for America

Explain how the following Enlightenment Philosophers influenced American Government

  • John Locke - Thomas Jefferson uses ideas from John Locke and the Enlightenment Thinkers to write the Declaration of Independence. Locke believed in:

  • Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

  • Government had the responsibility of protecting an individual’s rights and liberties, and if the government did not protect them, people had the right to overthrow or abolish the government.

  • Baron De Montesquieu - a French political analyst who lived during the Age of Enlightenment. He wrote The Spirit of Laws, which talked about the separation of powers.

  • Jean Jacques Rousseau - Rousseau argued that human beings are basically good by nature, but were corrupted by complex events in society.

  1. Early Attempts at Self-Government

Ideals of Democracy

Mayflower Compact

This was an agreement for the settlers on how to govern their colony. This was one of the first steps in American for self-government (democracy).

Virginia House of Burgesses

A law making assembly made up of representatives from the colony. This is the first instance of limited self-government in the English colonies.

Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

The framework for the government of the Connecticut colony from 1639-1662.

  1. What was the Proclamation Line of 1763?

The proclamation forbade all settlers from settling past a line drawn along the Appalachian Mountains. It closed off the frontier to colonial expansion. The King and his council presented the proclamation as a measure to calm the fears of the Indians, who felt that the colonists would drive them from their lands as they expanded westward.
How did the Proclamation Line help to push the colonies toward war with Britain?

The colonists resented this and ignored the King’s rule, which pushed them toward war with


  1. Causes of the Revolution – Explain how the following led to the American Revolution


Reversal of Salutary Neglect—An economic system of mercantilism still exists BUT the mother country (England) begins to relax economic control over the colonies  equal to economic freedom = more $$$ POWER. When Britain tried to impose more rules and take control over the colonies again, the colonies were upset.


  • Colonies exist to benefit the mother country

  • Raw materials are sold by the colony to the mother country (i.e. timber)

  • In return, mother country sells finished products back to the colony (i.e. desk

  • There are trade restrictions on the colonies selling to other countries.

Stamp Act and Intolerable Acts—This law placed a tax on newspapers, pamphlets, legal documents, and most other printed materials. This was supposed to pay the cost of keeping British troops in America. The Stamp Act and Intolerable Acts angered the colonists and caused them to renew boycotts and to call to the people of all the English colonies to arm themselves and form militias.

No Taxation without Representation”— because the colonies didn’t have representation in the British Parliament, they felt the British had not right to force laws on the colonies. Therefore they used this argument to protest the Sugar Act.

  1. Discuss three ideas the government expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

  1. The people have self-evident truths: All men are created equal and they have certain unalienable rights.

  2. The three unalienable rights are: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

  3. The government derives its “just powers” from the =consent of the governed.

  1. Explain the main ideas of each piece of literature by Thomas Paine and how each one influenced the American Revolution.

  • Thomas Paine (1776) wrote Common Sense a 47-page pamphlet which discussed the Revolution. It convinced many readers to support a complete break with Great Britain. The Crisis were pamphlets that were written in a language that the common man could understand, and represented Paine's philosophy.

Articles of Confederation




  • Successful conclusion of the American Revolution

  • Negotiated the Treaty of Paris

  • Passage of the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 which set a pattern of how new states could join the nation. It also did not allow slavery in the Northwest Territory

  • strong state governments and a weak central (national, federal) government

  • One vote for each state, regardless of size

  • No single national currency

  • Congress could not collect taxes

  • No separated executive branch to enforce acts of Congress

  • Congress powerless to regulate foreign and interstate commerce

  • No national court system to interpret laws

  • Amendment only with consent of all the states

  • A 9/13 majority required to pass laws

III. Writing & Ratifying the Constitution, 1787-1789

Explain what the constitutional issue was for each compromise and how compromise was reached.



What compromise was reached

Great Compromise

New Jersey Plan: equal representation—favors smaller populated states.

Create a new stronger central government and a weak state government

Virginia Plan: representation based on population—favors larger populated states.

A bicameral system was reached. The New Jersey Plan was used for the Senate (2 members per state).

The Virginia Plan was used for the House of Representation (number of representatives based on population).

3/5 Compromise

The south wanted to count slaves as people for representation and as property for tax purposes. The North said—No, you can’t have it both ways

They will count each slave as three fifths of a person, so 5 slaves = 3 people.

Trade Compromise

*Southerners opposed tariffs because their economy was heavily dependent upon trade.

*Northerners wanted tariffs to protect their industries from foreign competition.

The Constitution allows the federal government to tax interstate trade but not intrastate trade.

Governments of the United States: 1781 and 1789

How the Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation

Were Corrected by the Constitution

Articles of Confederation

Constitution of the United States

  • States have most of the power. The national government has little

  • No executive officer to carry out the laws of Congress

  • No national courts. Only state courts exist

  • Congress is responsible to the states

  • Nine out of 13 states have to approve a law before it can go into effect

  • Congress has no power to tax

  • Congress cannot regulate trade among the states

  • Each state coins its own money. No national currency

  • States have some power, but most is given to the national government

  • A president heads the executive branch of the government

  • Both national and state courts exist.

  • Congress is responsible to the people

  • Laws may be passed by a majority vote of both houses of Congress

  • Congress given the power to tax

  • Congress given the power to regulate interstate and foreign trade

  • Only the national government has the power to coin money




Reserved Powers

Powers reserved for the states

Establish schools, Pass statewide laws, regulate intrastate trade

Delegated Powers

Powers delegated to the federal government

Regulate interstate trade, coin money, declare war, sign treaties

Concurrent Powers

Powers held and exercised by both the national and state governments


A strong central government

Federalist Papers

Written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Jay, they were a series of essays to persuade the NY State convention to agree to the Constitution


The preamble describes the purpose of the government set up by the Constitution. We the people…

Separation of Powers

3 Branches of Government

  1. Legislative Branch—make laws

  2. Executive Branch—The President, enforces laws

  3. Judicial Branch—Supreme & Federal Courts

Explain what the debate was between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. Include who supported the Bill of Rights and why?

The Great Debate



-James Madison

-They wanted a strong national government

-Thomas Jefferson

-Wanted strong state government

-They were afraid the president would be like a king

-They feared for Americans’ individual liberties

The federalists added the Bill of Rights to appeal to the antifederalists. These were amendments designed to protect citizens’ rights.

IV. The Constitution

Implied Powers

  • Powers not written in the Constitution—future power

  • This makes the constitution a “living document” and gives the government most of its power today

  • Flexible document based on the necessary and proper (or elastic) clause

  • Gives the Legislative Branch flexibility to make laws today. i.e. radio, internet.


Delegated Powers:

Reserved Powers:

Those powers specifically granted the

Federal Government by the Constitution.

Those powers not delegated to the Federal Government or denied the states are reserved for the states.

Concurrent Powers:

  • Regulate interstate and international trade

  • Coin money

  • Declare war

  • Maintain an armed forces

  • Establish a postal system

  • Enforce copyrights

  • Sign treaties

Powers that are shared by both the Federal and State Governments.

  • Power to tax

  • Maintain courts

  • Borrow money

  • Regulate intrastate trade

  • Establish schools

  • Establish local governments

  • Pass statewide laws (ex. Safety belt laws)

  • Run elections

2. Give two specific ‘real life’ examples for each of the three powers.

Delegated Powers

Concurrent Powers

Reserved Powers

  1. There is one common currency in the US

  2. Passports

  1. There are federal prisons and state prisons

  2. Federal and state courts

  1. Drivers’ licenses

  2. Create schools

Explain the responsibility of the President under each ‘role’?

Chief of State

This role requires a president to be an inspiring example for the American people.

Chief Executive

The president is “boss” for millions of government workers in the Executive Branch, deciding how the laws are to be enforced.

Chief Diplomat

The president represents the United States in negotiations with foreign countries, because the Constitution grants the President the power to negotiate and sign treaties on behalf of the United States

Commander in Chief

The President is ultimately at the head of the chain of command for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and the Coast Guard.

Bill of Rights

1st Amendment

  • Freedom of Speech, Religion, Press, Assembly, Petition

2nd Amendment

  • Right to keep arms

3rd Amendment

  • Right to protection from troops being quartered in homes during peacetime

4th Amendment

  • Right against unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant

5th Amendment

  • Rights of the Accused

6th Amendment

  • Right to be informed of the charges against you, a speedy public trial, impartial jury

7th Amendment

  • Right to a trial by jury in a civil case (non-criminal case)

8th Amendment

  • Right to protection against cruel and unusual punishment

9th Amendment

  • Guaranteed the rights not listed in the Constitution are still protected

10th Amendment

  • Guarantee that the people and the states have all of the powers not specifically delegated to the federal government (reserved powers)

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