Chapter 2: Origins of American Government
Chapter 2 outlines the colonial
period and the life of a colonist as it related to changing
government control. During this time period, some of the founding
principles were formulated that still govern us today.
Section 1 deals with the
colonists' thoughts on government and the relationship they
had with Great Britain. When the first colonists arrived in
North America, the idea of limited government was not unheard
of. The colonists drafted and signed the Mayflower Compact,
which stood as an example of colonial plans for self-government.
Principles such as separation of powers were created during
this time period and were later incorporated in the Constitution.
Section 2 deals with the
tightening British control over the colonies and the subsequent
reaction of the colonists. Two events drastically changed
the relationship between the British and the coloniststhe
French and Indian War and George III taking the throne. Following
the French and Indian war, the British had a large wartime
debt to contend with, and King George III made the decision
to pay the debt by taxing the colonies. The British decision
to tax the colonies led to colonial union and to the first
and second Continental Congress.
Section 3 reveals the hardships
the new nation faced because of the weaknesses in the Articles
of Confederation. Although the Articles gave Congress powers,
these powers were mainly lawmaking and usually unenforceable.
These weaknesses in the Articles led to widespread financial
issues that eventually forced amendments to the Articles in
order to provide economic stability.
Section 4 deals with the
Constitutional Convention and the decisions and compromises
that were made. Key agreements among the delegates, such as
limited and representative government, propelled the convention
ahead. The delegates soon focused their efforts on developing
a plan for a strong national government. Various compromises
for a strong national government were presented, with a variety
of suggestions on how it should be structured. The Connecticut
Compromise became the chosen plan for government.