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23 Cards in this Set

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  • Back
A nation's basic law. It creates political institutions, assigns or divides powers in government, and often provides certain guarantees to citizens. constitutions can be either written on unwritten.
Declaration of Independence
The document approved by representatives of the American colonies in 1776 that stated their grievances against the British monarch and declared their independence.
Natural Rights
Rights inherent in human beings, not dependent on governments, which include life, liberty, and property. The concept of natural rights was central to English philosopher John Locke's theories about government, and was widely accepted among America's founding fathers.
Consent of the Governed
The idea that government derives its authority by sanction of the people.
Limited Government
The idea that certain restrictions should be placed on government to protect that natural rights of citizens.
Articles of Confederation
The first constitution of the United STates, adopted by congress in 1777 and enacted in 1781. The ARticles established a national legislature, the Continental Congress, but most authority rested with the state legislatures.
Shays' Rebellion
A series of attacks on courthouses by a small band of farmers led by Revolutionary War Captain Daniel Shays to block foreclosure proceedings.
U.S. Constitution
The document written in 1787 and ratified in 1788 that set forth the institutional structure of U.S. government and the tasks these institutions perform. It replaced the Articles of Confederation.
Interest groups arising from the unequal distribution of property or wealth that James MAdison attacked in Federalist Paper #10. Today's parties or interest groups are what Madison had in mind when he warned of the instability in government caused by factions.
New Jersey Plan
The proposal at the Constitutional Convention that called for equal representation of each state in Congress regardless of the state's population.
Virginia Plan
The proposal at the Constitutional Convention that called for representation of each state in Congress in proportion to that state's share of the U.S. population.
Connecticut Compromise
The compromise reached at the Constitutional Convention that established two houses of Congress: the House of Representatives, in which representation is based on a a state's share of the U.S. population, and the Senate, in which each state was two representatives.
Writ of Habeas Corpus
A court order requiring jailers to explain to a judge why they are holding a prisoner custody.
Separation of Powers
A feature of the Constitution that requires each of the three branches of government - executive, legislative, and judicial - to be relatively independent of the others so that one cannot control the others. Power is shared among these three institutions.
Checks and Balances
Features of the Constitution that limit a government's power by requiring that power be balanced among the different governmental institutions. These institutions continually check one another's activities. This system reflects Madison's goal of settling power against power.
A form of government in which the people select representatives to govern them and make laws.
Supporters of the U.S. Constitution at the time the states were contemplating its adoption.
Opponents of the American Constitution at the time when the states were contemplating its adoption.
Federalist Papers
A collection of 85 articles written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison under the name "Publius" to defend the Constitution in detail.
Bill of Rights
The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, drafted in response to some of the Anti-Federalist concerns. These amendments define such basic liberties as freedom of religion, speech, and press and guarantee defendants' rights.
Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
A constitutional amendment passed by Congress in 1972 and sent to the state legislatures for ratification, stating that "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." The amendment failed to acquire the necessary support form three-fourths of the state legislatures.
Marbury v. Madison
The 1803 case in which Chief Justice John Marshall and his associates first asserted the right of the Supreme Court to determine the meaning of the U.S. Constitution. The decision established the Court's power of judicial review over acts of Congress, in this case the Judiciary Act of 1789.
Judicial Review
The power of the courts to determine whether acts of Congress, and by implication the executive, are in accord with the U.S. Constitution. Judicial review was established by John Marshall and his associates in Marbury v. Madison.