The Founders of the United States were heavily influenced by Englishman John Locke and his theory of a state of nature in which people, without government, cherish life, liberty and property . These natural rights are not secure, however, because the strong can deprive the weak of their rights. Government is created to prevent this exploitation but it must be based on the consent of the governed (known as the social contract theory).
The Founders clearly distrusted aristocracy, the rule of the few, but they also distrusted democracy, the rule of the many, which to the Founders meant mob rule. Thus arose their most difficult problem: how to devise a government strong enough to keep order yet not strong enough to threaten liberty.
1. What specific freedoms did American colonists possess as British subjects prior to the Declaration of Independence ? (Pg.63)
2. List four main weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation ? (Pgs.69-70)
Following Shays' Rebellion the Constitutional Convention assembled in 1787 in order to correct the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation. Immediately the delegates were presented with the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan.
3. Explain the main differences between The Virginia Plan and The New Jersey Plan (pgs.72-74)
a) Virginia Plan
b) New Jersey Plan
4. How did the Great Compromise attempt to balance the interests of the small and large states (pgs.75-76)
5. How was the slavery issue temporarily "resolved" ? (pgs.84-85)
6. What was the purpose of publishing the Federalist Papers ? (Pgs.86-87)
7. Why were some of the Founders (such as Hamilton) opposed to adding a Bill of Rights to the Constitution ? (Pg.89)
8. Explain the main idea behind:
Federalist #10 (pg.87)
Federalist #51 (pg.87)
9. Which branch of the government (Congress, Presidency, Courts) did the Founders intend to be the strongest ? ((Pg.94)