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The Magna Carta
1215-- England
Magna Carta is Latin for "Great Charter" it literally
means “Great Paper”.
Magna Carta was the most significant early influence
that led to the rule of constitutional law today.
It guaranteed people a right to trial by jury.
Guaranteed basic rights to citizens in England.
Approved by King John.
English Bill of Rights
England -1689
An Act of the Parliament of
England when William and Mary
were in power.
It is one of the basic documents
of English law, along with the
Magna Carta,
It is a statement of certain rights
that citizens ought to have.
It gives right to petition, to bear
arms for defense, and speaks of
consent of the governed.
It made the legislature more
powerful than the monarchy.
Mayflower Compact
Agreement established by the men who sailed to
America on the Mayflower.
It set forth the idea of self government.
Established laws for the good of the colony.
The passengers knew that earlier settlements in
the New World had failed due to a lack of
government. The Mayflower Compact was a
social contract in which the settlers agreed to
follow the rules for the sake of survival.
This document said that the government would
get its power from the consent of the governed.
Fundamental Orders of
Connecticut- 1639
A short document, but contains principles that were later
used in creating the US government.
• Government is based in the rights of an individual. And
allowed free men to vote.
• Was carried to England by Governor John Winthrop
and approved by the British King, Charles II. The
colonists viewed the charter as a continuation and
promise for their freedoms.
• Today, the individual rights in the Orders, with others
added over the years, are still included in Declaration
of Rights in the first article of the current Connecticut
Albany Plan of Union
USA- 1754
Benjamin Franklin drafted this.
It was a plan to unite the colonies.
It was modeled after the Iroquois League.
It called for each colony to send a
representative to a Grand Council and the
Grand Council would govern the colonies.
This never actually happened because the
individual colonies didn’t want to give up
control of themselves.
The Olive Branch Petition
Second Continental congress sent this document to King
George III.
An “olive branch” is a sign of peace.
This document requested that the King end the conflict,
repeal the Coercive Acts and guarantee American
After reading this document, the King considered the
colonists in a state of rebellion and he refused their
Declaration of Independence
Adopted on July 4, 1776.
Declared that the US was free from Britain.
Written mostly by Thomas Jefferson, who
believed in John Locke’s theory that if a
government doesn’t provide life, liberty and
the right to own property, then that
government should be overthrown.
An enlarged copy was signed by most of the
delegates on August 2 and is on display in the
National Archives and Records Administration
in Washington, D.C.
John Hancock was the first to sign the
Declaration of Independence.
Articles of Confederation
USA- 1777 (ratified in 1781)
The first governing document of the United States of
Adopted by the Second Continental Congress
Set the rules for operations of the US confederation.
The Federal gov. could declare war, negotiate treaties,
and resolve issues regarding the western territories; it
could print money and borrow inside and outside the
The Federal government couldn’t tax; it had to rely on
donations from the states.
Each state only had 1 vote. The bigger states found this
The Articles were replaced by the United States
Constitution on June 21, 1788.
Treaty of Paris (there actually were many of
these, the year matters)
Paris 1783
Ended the Revolutionary War.
Terms: Britain keeps Canada
England had to recognize the 13 colonies as free
and independent States
USA gains all territory west to the Mississippi.
Granted fishing rights to United States fishermen
off the coast of Newfoundland and in the Gulf of
Saint Lawrence Instructed that debts to be paid to
creditors on either side
Prisoners of war on both sides are to be released
Preamble to the Constitution
It is actually part of the Constitution.
Explains why the constitution is being
It outlines the purpose of the Constitution.
It tells that the intent is to keep all
Americans peaceful, safe, happy and free;
including Americans who would be born
after the document was written.
US Constitution
• AKA- The Supreme Law of the Land
• Written in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
• James Madison was the primary author along with the rest of the
Founding Fathers.
• This document replaced the Articles of Confederation.
• It divides the government into 3 branches. (legislative/executive/
• It has been amended twenty-seven times.
13th Freed slaves
14th Made slaves citizens
15th Gave black males the right to vote
19th Gave women the right to vote
26th allowed 18year olds to vote
American Bill of Rights
• It is actually part of the Constitution. It is the first
10 amendments to the Constitution. (An
amendment is a change or addition to a
• It is a formal list of citizen’s rights and freedoms.
• These amendments limit the powers of the
federal government, protecting the rights of all
citizens, residents and visitors on United States
• Rap song
Federalist Papers
USA - October 1787-August 1788
• The Federalist Papers are a series of 85
articles advocating (promoting) the ratification
of the United States Constitution.
• They appeared in newspapers.
• A way for regular people to understand and
support the Constitution.
• The articles were written by Alexander
Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay.
Monroe Doctrine
1823- USA
• Written by John Adams.
• European powers would no longer
colonize or interfere with the affairs of the
independent nations of the Americas.
• The United States planned to stay neutral
in wars between European powers and
their colonies. However, if these latter
types of wars were to occur in the
Americas, the United States would view
such action as hostile.
• President James Monroe first discussed
this during his annual State of the Union
Address .
This is a defining document in US foreign
policy. (Foreign policy means how we relate
to other countries)
Northwest Ordinance
USA—1783 (ratified in 1789)
• Created the Northwest Territory. (Land north of the
Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River)
• Established the plan by which the United States would
expand westward across North America. (Adding more
states, not expanding existing states)
• Banned slavery in the territory.
• Out of this land we got: Ohio, Michigan, Illinois,
Wisconsin, and Indiana.
Indian Removal Act
USA- May 1830
• President Andrew Jackson called for an Indian
Removal Act.
• White people generally wanted the Indians off the
land because the white man wanted more farming
• Especially in Georgia, the largest state at that time,
people wanted to push the Cherokee off the land.
• Christian missionaries, and some people like Davey
Crockett did stick up for the Indians.
• It was passed after bitter debate in Congress.
• Indians were forced to move to Indian Territory
(Western lands).
• The Trail of Tears. is one situation that occurred
because of this law.
Declaration of Sentiments (and Resolutions)
1848-New York
• Written by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth
Cady Stanton.
• Seneca Falls Convention was organized by
Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
• Called for voting rights for all citizens.
Women didn’t get this right for another 70
• In 1920, the 19th Amendment was passed
and women got the right to vote.
• The Declaration of sentiments and
resolutions took the preamble from the D
of I and changed it to, “We hold these
truths to be self evident that all men and
women are created equal”
Missouri Compromise
(aka Compromise of 1820)
1820- USA
• A series of laws that were drafted to keep
the balance of power between the slave
states and the free states.
• It accepted Missouri as a Slave state and
Maine as a free state.
• It banned slavery north of the 36 30’
Compromise of 1850
USA- 1850
• Prompted by California wanting to enter the
union as a free state.
• Strengthened the fugitive slave law. (Fugitive
Slave law allowed slave owners to reclaim run
away slaves—the strengthening made it a law
obligating people to assist in the capture and
return run away slaves).
• Halted slave trade in the District of Columbia.
(Slavery was still permitted in District of
Columbia, just not the trading of slaves)
• Allowed California to enter as a free state.
Kansas Nebraska Act
• Led to violence between pro slavery and anti slavery
• Created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opened
new lands for settlement, and allowed the settlers to
decide whether or not to have slavery.
• This repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820.
• The act established that settlers could decide for
themselves whether to allow slavery, in the name of
"popular sovereignty" or voting.
Emancipation Proclamation
USA -1863
• Abe Lincoln issued this order.
• It freed all the slaved in the rebelling
states. This was symbolic movement.
• But, it committed the Union to
ending slavery, and invited freed
slaves to join the union army.
• The proclamation did not free any
slaves in the border states (Kentucky,
Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, and
West Virginia).
• The 13th Amendment officially ended
slavery in the USA in 1865.
Gettysburg Address
Gettysburg Pennsylvania- 1863
• Speech given by Abe Lincoln to honor
fallen Civil War soldiers.
• That battlefield was the site of the
turning point of the civil war. (In the
union’s favor)
• Famous words “and that government of
the people by the people and for the
people shall not perish from the earth.”
• Short speech, but explained the
importance of preserving the union.
Report to the Massachusetts State
Massachusetts 1843 By Dorthea Dix
• Dix researched conditions in prison and insane asylums in Mass. She
discovered that people suffering from mental illness were confined
in prisons and were receiving no medical treatment. Even in mental
asylums the patients were often confined in cages and bound with
ropes and chains.
• This report explained to the government that the conditions of
mental institutions and jails were deplorable.
• She said that the mentally ill were being put in jail because there
was no where else to put them.
• She convinced the legislature to appropriate $ to expand mental
hospitals and help the insane.
• An example of citizen action!!!!!
Appeal to the Colored
Citizens of the World
USA- 1829
• David Walker a Black Male was born to a free mother and a slave
father. He was a free man who spent his life trying to end slavery.
• He wrote a series of articles titled, Appeal to the Colored Citizens of
the World. The intent of these was to call to end slavery
• Walker also used Christian language to assert that slavery was a sin.
• Walker also attacked Thomas Jefferson's argument that blacks were
inferior to whites.
• June 18, 1830, Walker died just months after completing the
Appeal. Walker’s sudden and mysterious death caused speculation
that he was poisoned
• An example of citizen action!!!!!
Wilmot Privoso
USA August 8, 1846
• Wilmot Privoso
• USA August 8, 1846
• The intent of the proviso, submitted by
Congressman David Wilmot, was to prevent the
introduction of slavery in any territory acquired
from Mexico.
• The proviso did not pass.
• But, many consider it as the first event in the long
slide to Civil War .