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Articles of Confedration
Foundations: Greece and Rome
elements of
ancient Greek
classification of
The ancient
Roman Republic
A Roman tribune presiding over a council
of citizens
The Magna Carta
• Signed by King John of
England in 1215
• Placed monarchs and
magistrates under rule
of law
• Established English
common law
• Influenced the Fifth
Thomas Hobbes
Leviathan (1651)
Discusses the origin of
centralized government
Explains the “social
contract” theory
Early humans gave up a
“state of nature” for
government’s protection
The cover of Leviathan depicts
government as an unruly monster
John Locke
 Two Treatises of
Government (1689)
 “Natural rights” to “life,
liberty, and property”
 Government responsible
for protecting the
people’s rights
 The people have the right
to change their
John Locke
The Spirit of the Laws
Classified government
into three types:
Developed the concept
of separation of powers
Charles de Secondat,
Baron de Montesquieu
Albany Plan of Union
Benjamin Franklin’s famous “Join Or Die”
cartoon, published to support the Albany
Plan of Union
Proposed in 1754 by
Benjamin Franklin
Early attempt at uniting
Based in part on
Iroquois Confederacy
Never adopted, but
served as a rough draft
for Articles and
The Declaration of Independence
Thomas Jefferson
Does not institute a
Borrowed heavily from
Locke’s concepts of
natural rights
Designates government
as protector of these
Thomas Jefferson
State Constitutions
Gave governors limited
political power
Gave state legislatures
substantial power
Several included bills of
Many implemented
reforms toward ending
slavery and protecting
property owners
The New York state constitution
The Articles of Confederation
• Drafted by the
Continental Congress
• Passed in 1777; ratified
in 1781
• No central authority or
court system
• Each state remains
The Articles: Provisions
States given sovereignty over central government
Each state had a single vote in Congress
No power of taxation
National government afforded certain powers:
– Declare war and conduct foreign affairs
– Standardize currency and measures
– Arbitrate disputes between states
The Articles: Accomplishments
• Land Ordinance of 1785
• Northwest Ordinance of
• Articles created the first
form of American
The Northwest Ordinance of 1787
The Articles: Weaknesses
• Congress could not:
– Force states to pay taxes
– Raise an army without state support
– Regulate trade
• Each state had one vote in the legislature, regardless
of population
• Difficult to pass laws and amend Articles
• No court system or executive branch
Shays’s Rebellion
 MA heavily taxed middle
 Farmers called for revisions to
the state constitution
 Shays led a march on a federal
 Governor sent militia to stop
 Illustrated starkly the
weaknesses of the Articles of
The militia fires on protesting
farmers in this illustration