The Revolution and Constitutional Experimentation
The signing of the Declaration of Independence
|In Tuesday's class, we looked at the breakdown of the British/colonial relationship, caused primarily by two factors: the altered international climate following 1763; and the British decision to reassert their colonial power. The key question--and the correct answer is unclear--is when did the colonists begin to think of themselves as a unified entity--with the Albany Plan? With the Continental Congress? With the Declaration of Independence?|
Read the Declaration and the Articles of Confederation (the plan for the first government of the US) closely; both are very short.
Then, two state constitutions, representing the ideological extremes of the revolutionary experience. First, the Pennsylvania Constitution, which stressed legislative power: read "A Declaration of Rights" and "A Plan or Frame of Government," sections 1-15.
Second, the MA Constitution, which stressed more checks and balances; read "Part the First" only.
The key with both of the constitutions is simply to get the gist of the basic ideas behind the constitutions; I don't care if you know the specifics.
|1.) What do you see as the most important difference between the Massachusetts and Pennsylvania constitutions?|
|2.) Should historians view the Articles of Confederation a "constitution" for a unified country?|
|3.) Did a "counterrevolution" in constitutional thought occur in the 1780s?|