Learning Objectives

By the time you finish reading this chapter, you will able to

2.1 Contrast the different views of political power held by Great Britain and the American founders, and discuss how the idea of the social contract was incorporated into the Declaration of Independence

2.2 Explain the principles behind the first constitution that followed independence—the Articles of Confederation—and why that constitution failed

2.3 Discuss the arguments, debates, and compromises at the Constitutional Convention and how they translated into a new form of government

2.4 Explain what arguments were proposed for and against the adoption of the new constitution and how the ratification process worked

2.5 Define and discuss the main principles of the Constitution—separation of powers and checks and balances—and how they support the American system of government

2.6 Discuss the nature of federalism and how it works

2.7 Explain the historical events and policy debates that have changed the balance of power between nation and states over time