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26 Cards in this Set

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Declaration of Independence
The document drafted by Thomas Jefferson and adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, declaring the independence of the thirteen colonies from Great Britain
Federalist
Name given to two related, but not identical, groups in late-eighteenth-century American politics. The first group, led by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, supported ratification of the Constitution in 1787 and 1788. Subsequently, Hamilton and John Adams led the second group, which dominated national politics during the administrations of George Washington (1789-1797) and Adams (1797-1801)
Nationalists
Constitutional reformers led by James Madison and Alexander Hamilton who sought to replace the Articles of Confederation. Opposed at the Constitutional Convention (1787) by states’ rights proponents, they favored a strong national legislature elected directly by the citizenry rather than the states and a national government that could veto any state laws it deemed unfit
Faction
A group of people sharing common interests who are opposed to other groups with competing interests. James Madison defined one as any group with objectives contrary to the general interests of society
Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution
Confederation
A political system in which states or regional governments retain ultimate authority except for those powers they expressly delegate to a central government
Popular Sovereignty
Citizens’ delegation of authority to their agents in government, with the ability to rescind that authority
New Jersey Plan
New Jersey delegate William Patterson’s proposal for reforming the Articles of Confederation. Introduced at the Constitutional Convention (1787), this plan was favored by delegates who supported states’ rights
"Take Care" Clause
The provision in Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution instructing the president to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed”
Bicameral Legislature
A legislature composed of two houses or chambers. The U.S. Congress (House and Senate) and every U.S. state legislature (with the exception of Nebraska’s, which only has one chamber) are examples
Commerce Clause
The clause in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution that gives Congress the authority to regulate commerce with other nations and among the states
Logroll
The result of legislative vote trading. For example, legislators representing urban districts may vote for an agricultural bill provided that legislators from rural districts vote for a mass transit bill
Necessary and Proper Clause
The last clause of Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution. This clause grants Congress the authority to make all laws that are “necessary and proper” and to execute those laws
Pluralism
A theory describing a political system in which all significant social interests freely compete with one another for influence over the government’s policy decisions
Articles of Confederation
The compact among the thirteen original states that formed the basis of the first government of the United States. They were the formal basis of the national government from 1777 to 1789, when they were supplanted by the Constitution
Checks and Balances
A constitutional mechanism giving each branch some oversight and control of the other branches. Examples are the presidential veto, Senate approval of presidential appointments, and judicial review of presidential and congressional actions
Great Compromise
The agreement between large and small states at the Constitutional Convention (1787) that decided the selection and composition of Congress. The compromise stipulated that the lower chamber (House of Representatives) be chosen by direct popular vote and that the upper chamber (Senate) be selected by the state legislatures. Representation in the House would be proportional to a state’s population; in the Senate each state would have two members
Antifederalists
A loosely organized group (never a formal political party) that opposed ratification of the Constitution, which it believed would jeopardize individual freedom and states’ rights. After ratification, their efforts led to adoption of the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights
State's Right
Safeguards against a too-powerful national government that were favored by one group of delegates to the Constitutional Convention (1787). Advocates supported retaining those features of the Articles of Confederation that guarded state prerogatives, such as state participation in the selection of national officeholders and equal representation for each state regardless of population
Home Rule
Power given by a state to a locality to enact legislation and manage its own affairs locally. It also applies to Britain’s administration of the American colonies
Electoral College
A body of electors in each state, chosen by voters, who formally elect the president and vice president of the United States. Each state’s number of electoral votes equals its representation in Congress; the District of Columbia has three votes. An absolute majority of the total electoral vote is required to elect a president and vice president
Shay's Rebellion
Uprising of 1786 led by Daniel Shays, a former captain in the Continental army and a bankrupt Massachusetts farmer, to protest the state’s high taxes and aggressive debt collection policies. The rebellion demonstrated a fundamental weakness of the Articles of Confederation--its inability to keep the peace--and stimulated interest in strengthening the national government, leading to the Philadelphia convention that framed the Constitution
Virginia Plan
Constitutional blueprint drafted by James Madison that sought to reform the Articles of Confederation. Introduced at the Constitutional Convention (1787), the plan proposed a tripartite national government, but unlike the subsequent Constitution, it provided for a popularly elected legislature that would dominate national policymaking. Moreover, the national government would possess the authority to veto any state laws
Judicial Review
The authority of a court to declare legislative and executive acts unconstitutional and therefore invalid
Veto
The formal power of the president to reject bills passed by both houses of Congress. It can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in each house
Supremacy Clause
A clause in Article VI of the Constitution declaring that national laws are the “supreme” law of the land and therefore take precedence over any laws adopted by states or localities