Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to do the following:

  • Explain how the American colonies came into being and describe the influence of British tradition on the rights that the colonists came to expect.
  • Describe the factors that led to the American Revolution and explain how the basic principles of the revolution shaped the governments that followed.
  • Outline the structure and power of government under the Articles of Confederation and describe the weaknesses that ultimately led to their failure as a form of government.
  • Describe the delegates to the Constitutional Convention, including the issues that united and divided them and the compromises among them that led to the final document.
  • Identify the four core principles and major provisions of the U.S. Constitution as well as the ways in which it was undemocratic.
  • Evaluate the arguments of those on both sides of the ratification battle and the roles of the Federalist Papers and the Bill of Rights in helping to secure ratification.
  • Describe the formal process of amending the U.S. Constitution as well as the informal process of amendment through interpretation.