Constitutional Underpinning Terms

  • Thomas Hobbes

    Thomas Hobbes
    Thomas Hobbes was an Enlightenment philosopher born on April 5th, 1588. His book Leviathan was published in 1651. In the work, Hobbes stated his belief that the best way to protect life was to give total power to an absolute monarch and that if humans were given free reign chaos and violence would ensue.
  • John Locke

    John Locke
    John Locke was born on August 29th, 1632 and went on to become a philosopher during the Enlightenment. His Second Treatise on Civil government was published in 1690 and within the work, Locke states the belief that life, liberty and property were rights guarenteed by God. He also states that if the government infringes on these rights, the citizens have the right of revolution
  • Charles de Montesquieu

    Charles de Montesquieu
    Charles de Montesquieu was born on january 18th, 1689 and was a prominent French philosopher as well as an Enlightenment thinker. Montesquieu published De l'Esprit des Lois {The Spirit of the Laws} in 1748. Within his work, Montesquieu advocated for the separation of power into 3 branches of government which greatly influenced the Founders.
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born on June 28th, 1712 and was a philosopher during the Enlightenment. Rousseau believed that the government needed the people's consent.
  • The Articles of Confederation

    The Articles of Confederation
    The Articles of Confederation was the first “constitution” of the United States and they were one of the causes for the Constitutional Convention. The Articles of Confederation were introduced in 1774 and officially ratified in 1784. They were replaced by the Constitution in 1789.
  • Shay's Rebellion

    Shay's Rebellion
    Shay's Rebellion was a six month rebellion where 1,000 farmers ambushed a federal arsenal to protest the foreclosure of farms. The rebellion began on August 29th, 1786 and frightened the statesmen. It also exposed the weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation and added to the need for a rewriting/overhaul of the document.
  • Elastic Clause {Necessary & Proper Clause}

    Elastic Clause {Necessary & Proper Clause}
    The Elastic Clause, also known as the necessary and proper clause, allows Congress to make all the laws that are necessary and proper to implement its delegated power.
  • Constitutional Convention

    Constitutional Convention
    The Constitutional Convention took place in Philadelphia in 1787. The Framers came together and were convinced by James Madison that a complete rewrite was essential. The Convention was brought about by the flaws in the Articles of Confederation.
  • The Virginia Plan

    The Virginia Plan
    The Virginia Plan was a gameplan introduced by the larger states at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. It proposed that each state should be represented in government based on their population.
  • The New Jersey Plan

    The New Jersey Plan
    The New Jersey Plan was a course of action suggested by the small states at the convention in reaction to the Virginia Plan. The plan suggested that all states be represented equally within the government.
  • The Connecticut Compromise/The Great Compromise

    The Connecticut Compromise/The Great Compromise
    The Connecticut Compromise solved the dispute over representation by creating a bicameral legislature with the representation in the House of Representatives based on population and representation in the Senate being equal.
  • The Federalist Papers

    The Federalist Papers
    The Federalist Papers were a series of newspaper articles written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay in support of the newly ratified Constitution.
  • Separation of Powers

    Separation of Powers
    The idea of separation of powers was taken from Charles de Montesquieu and is the delegation of different but equally important tasks to three branches of government. The separation of powers is outlined in Article I of the Constitution. The three branches within the United States government are the legislative, the judiciary and the executive branch. The legislative branch makes the laws, the judiciary branch interprets the laws and the executive branch enforces the laws.
  • Checks & Balances

    Checks & Balances
    The concept of Checks & Balances is a safeguard designed to prevent one branch of the government from overtaking the others. The idea goes hand and hand with the separation of powers
  • Federalism

    Federalism is a political idea where states and central government share the responsibility of governing. The Federalist Papers were published between October 1787 and August 1788. The basis of federalism was set in the Articles of Confederation and the Federalist Party was formed in 1794.
  • Federalist #10

    Federalist #10
    Federalist #10 was an important article that advocated for a large republic and warned of the dangers of democracy. It is the 10th in the series of articles known as the Federalist Papers and was written by James Madison.
  • The Constitution

    The Constitution
    The Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. It is also the blueprint for government structure and a guide to guarantee the rights of the citizens.
    In the way of ratification, Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution, on December 7, 1787 and the Confederation Congress established March 9, 1789, as the date to begin operating under the Constitution after New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify, on June 22, 1788.
  • Executive Orders

    Executive Orders
    Executive orders have the same effects as laws, but bypass Congress in policymaking. Executive orders are used by the president uses them as part of the enforcement duties of the executive branch. Although the Constitution doesn't explicitly give the president these powers, they’re implied by Article II Section 3.
  • The Bill of Rights

    The Bill of Rights
    The first ten amendments to the Constitution are commonly known as the Bill of Rights. The amendments within the Bill of Rights protect the rights individuals from government infringement.
  • Concurrent Powers

    Concurrent Powers
    Concurrent powers are powers shared by the federal and state government. Collecting taxes, building roads, operating courts of law and borrowing money are some examples of concurrent powers. They are somewhat defined by the 10th Amendment
  • 5th Amendment

    5th Amendment
    The Fifth Amendment prohibits double jeopardy, guarantees a grand jury for capital crimes, and prohibits self-incrimination.
  • 9th Amendment

    9th Amendment
    The Ninth Amendment states that the rights outlined in the Constitution aren’t the only human rights.
  • Reserved Powers

    Reserved Powers
    Reserved powers are powers that belong solely to the stats. Issuing licenses, regulating interstate businesses and running and paying for federal elections, among other things qualify as reserved powers. They're protected by the 10th Amendment.
  • Amendment

    An amendment is a change to the Constitution. The first amendment was made on December 15th, 1791.
  • 1st Amendment

    1st Amendment
    The First Amendment guarantees citizens the freedoms of speech, press, religion and petition/assembly.
  • 2nd Amendment

    2nd Amendment
    The Second Amendment protects citizens’ right to bear arms.
  • 3rd Amendment

    3rd Amendment
    The 3rd Amendment forbids the quartering of soldiers and direct public support of armed forces.
  • 4th Amendment

    4th Amendment
    The Fourth Amendment states that all evidence unlawfully gathered must be excluded from judiciary proceedings.
  • 6th & 7th Amendment

    6th & 7th Amendment
    The Sixth Amendment guarantees a quick trial and includes the right of habeas corpus. Habeas Corpus is the right to confront witnesses, subpoena witnesses and have a lawyer for defense.
    The Seventh Amendment allows trial by jury in common law cases.
  • 8th Amendment

    8th Amendment
    The Eighth Amendment forbids excessive bail in federal cases and outlaws cruel and unusual punishment.
  • 10th Amendment

    10th Amendment
    The Tenth Amendment states that the powers not given to the national government goes to the state government or the people, within reason.
  • 11th Amendment

    11th Amendment
    The Eleventh Amendment says that states may not be sued in federal court by citizens of another state/country without the consent of the state being sued.
  • Marbury vs. Madison

    Marbury vs. Madison
    Marbury vs. Madison was a supreme court case that granted the supreme court the power of judicial review, which is the right to overturn laws passed by the legislature.
  • 12th Amendment

    12th Amendment
    The Twelfth Amendment ensures that electors cast separate votes for president and vice president.
  • 13th Amendment

    13th Amendment
    The 13th Amendment prohibits slavery except as a punishment for a convicted crime.
  • Privileges & Immunities Clause

    Privileges & Immunities Clause
    The privileges and immunities clause says that states may not refuse police protection or access to courts to US citizens just because they reside in a different state. It is protected by the 14th Amendment.
  • 14th Amendment

    14th Amendment
    The 14th Amendment was created so that Southerners couldn't deny equal rights to newly freed slaves. The amendment also expands the right of due process to all Americans with selective incorporation.
  • Supremacy Clause

    Supremacy Clause
    The supremacy clause requires conflicts between federal law and state law to be resolved in favor of federal law.
  • 15th Amendment

    15th Amendment
    The 15th Amendment granted voting rights to all males, regardless of race and gave Congress the power to enforce the amendment.
  • 16th Amendment

    16th Amendment
    The 16th Amendment gave Congress the power to lay and collect income taxes. As a result, a progressive income tax was created and fell mainly to the rich.
  • 17th Amendment

    17th Amendment
    The 17th Amendment instated the direct election of senators.
  • 18th Amendment

    18th Amendment
    The 18th Amendment created prohibition. It prohibited the manufacture, sale and the transport of alcohol in and out of the United States.
  • 19th Amendment

    19th Amendment
    The 19th Amendment extended the right to vote to women.
  • 20th Amendment

    20th Amendment
    The 20th Amendment defines the procedures regarding the logistics of presidential and legislative terms and shortened the time between election and inauguration.
  • 21st Amendment

    21st Amendment
    The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment. It effectively ended prohibition.
  • 22nd Amendment

    22nd Amendment
    The 22nd Amendment limited the number of terms a president could serve to two terms.
  • 23rd Amendment

    23rd Amendment
    The 23rd Amendment allowed citizens of Washington D.C to vote.
  • 24th Amendment

    24th Amendment
    The 24th Amendment eliminated poll taxes.
  • 25th Amendment

    25th Amendment
    The 25th Amendment clarified the process of selecting a new Vice President if the Vice President has to take the place of the President. It formally allowed the Vice President to assume interim presidential power in the event of presidential disability.
  • 26th Amendment

    26th Amendment
    The 26th Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 to 18, due to the number of young people fighting in the Vietnam War.
  • 27th Amendment

    27th Amendment
    The 27th Amendment states that if Congress votes to increase its pay, the raise cannot come into effect until after the next election.