Today there are few more controversial topics in the study of American history and government than the issue of slavery and the Constitution. On the surface, the Constitution seemed to protect slavery in the states, prohibited Congress from banning the slave trade for twenty years, and required that fugitive slaves, even in the North, be returned to their masters. Because of these apparent constitutional protections, a bloody Civil War was fought to free the slaves and win ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to end slavery in the U.S. forever. The Constitution, therefore, in the eyes of some scholars, seems to be a contradiction to the universal ideals of liberty and equality in the American Founding and the Declaration of Independence which proclaimed “all men are created equal” and endowed with “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Abraham Lincoln’s contention that the American Founding and its Constitution put slavery “in the course of ultimate extinction” runs contrary to much of the contemporary criticism of the U.S. Constitution’s stance on slavery. Does Lincoln’s contention hold up under scrutiny? Let us first examine the facts. Slaves were imported into and held as property all of the American colonies for more than a century. Slavery persisted despite the Revolutionary War and ratification of the Constitution, with most of the signers of the Declaration and the Constitution owning slaves, and the number of slaves steadily grew through natural increase and slave imports from abroad. Westward expansion caused sectionalism—disputes between the northern and southern sections of the new nation—to rise over slavery, and Congress continued to put off the controversy through a series of compromises name them until it could no longer be ignored.
The Founders knew that slavery violated the “self-evident truth” of the Declaration and the promise of equality in the Declaration of Independence. They were aware of the immorality of slavery and the need for action, yet were—sometime by their own admission—not active enough. Despite this fact, some scholars portray the Founders as racists who on the principle of racial superiority theories sought to protect slavery and its expansion. In fact, it was later generations of statesmen before the Civil War who took this view. They were morally relative about slavery or believed it was a “positive good.” They did not think that slavery violated natural law and believed that slavery was good for the inferior slave and the larger society.
Several important nineteenth century politicians embraced this “positive good” view of slavery and contradicted the Founders that slavery was morally wrong. In 1848, Senator John Calhoun argued that the natural rights language in the Declaration of Independence was “dangerous” and “erroneous,” and doubted that men were created equal.
Previously, Calhoun had asserted that, “The relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two [races], is, instead of an evil, a good—a positive good” (John C. Calhoun, “Slavery A Positive Good,” February 6, 1837).
Calhoun’s vision of consensual republican government, which was fundamentally at odds with the universal principles of the Founders, was one for white men only.
Another statesman, Stephen Douglas, did not take a stance on whether slavery was good or bad.
Instead, he wanted to let the people decide whether or not to own slaves. Douglas was challenging Abraham Lincoln in 1858 for a Senate seat from Illinois when he argued, “Our government can endure forever, divided into free and slave States as our fathers made it” (Stephen Douglas, Seventh Joint Debate at Alton, “Mr. Douglas’ Opening Speech,” October 15, 1858).
He believed that the great constitutional principle of popular sovereignty (the idea that all authority ultimately resides in the people) gave the whites in states the right to decide for themselves whether they wanted to own other humans. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney agreed with Douglas in the Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) decision. The prevailing idea at the time of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, he wrote, was that the African-Americans “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
Alexander Stephens, the Vice-President of the Confederacy, presented a different understanding of the Founders and the most significant challenge to the idea that African- Americans were meant to be included in the Declaration of Independence.
In his “Corner Stone” speech of 1861, Stephens argued that most of the Founding Fathers believed that slavery was a “violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically.” However, it was an “evil they knew not well how to deal with.” They believed that it would “be evanescent and pass away” in time. Those ideas were fundamentally wrong, Stephens argued, because they “rested upon the assumption of the equality of the races” (Alexander Stephens, “Corner Stone Speech,” March 21, 1861).
The “cornerstone” of the Confederacy, not the Union, rested upon the “great truth” that blacks are not equal to whites. Stephens, unlike many scholars today, admitted that Thomas Jefferson and the other Founders included African-Americans in the universal understanding of the promise of liberty and equality for all humans, he just believed Jefferson was wrong.
Contrary to the ideas of the statesmen and scholars who doubted that all men were created free and equal, the Framers of the Constitution and other American statesmen believed slavery contradicted the natural rights all had and denied the idea of consent in a republic. They consistently worked to build a constitutional republic of liberty that equally protected the rights of all Americans. Far from being proponents of slavery, the Founding Fathers criticized the institution severely.
The “Father of the Constitution,” James Madison, attacked slavery early in the Convention, stating, “We have seen the mere distinction of colour made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man” (James Madison, Notes on the Federal Convention, 1787).
Another Virginian, George Mason, feared that slavery brought down “the judgment of heaven on a country.” At the Constitutional Convention, Gouverneur Morris called slavery a “nefarious institution” and the “curse of heaven” (James Madison, Notes on the Federal Convention, 1787). John Adams wrote, “Every measure of prudence, therefore, ought to be assumed for the eventual total extirpation of slavery from the United States…I have, through my whole life, held the practice of slavery in…abhorrence." (James Madison to Robert J. Evans, June 8, 1819)
The author of the Declaration of Independence wrote a withering attack on slavery when he stated, “The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other.” (Thomas Jefferson, “Notes on the State of Virginia,” 1785).
Several Founders launched critiques of the slave trade for violating natural rights. In a draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson attacked the slave trade in harsh language, calling it a “cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people.” At the Convention, Morris echoed these sentiments and said that the slave trade continued “in defiance of the most sacred laws of humanity” (James Madison, Notes on the Federal Convention, 1787).
No delegates to the Constitutional Convention defended the morality of slavery. The best argument that they could muster on behalf of slavery was protecting their own economic interest.
John Rutledge of South Carolina admitted: “Religion and humanity had nothing to do with this question. Interest alone is the governing principle with nations” (James Madison, Notes on the Federal Convention, 1787).
The Framers made a prudential compromise with slavery because they sought to achieve their highest goal of a stronger Union of republican self-government. Since some slaveholding delegations threatened to walk out of the Constitution if slavery was threatened, there was a real possibility that there would have been separate free and slave confederacies instead of the United States. The free states would have lost all leverage over the slave states to end slavery if they had separated. The Framers had to create the Union with the institution of slavery but built a regime of liberty that they hoped would lead to slavery’s ultimate extinction.
The specific clauses of the Constitution related to slavery were the Three-Fifths Clause, the ban on Congress ending the slave trade for twenty years, the fugitive slave clause, and the slave insurrections. However, the Constitution only very obliquely referred to slavery and never used the words slave or slavery because the Framers were embarrassed by the institution. They believed that slavery was morally wrong and would die out, and they did not want that permanent moral stain on the document. Interestingly, they avoided the word slave and referred to slaves as persons.
The Constitution itself had four clauses that indirectly addressed slavery and the slave trade though it did not actually use those terms.
The former-slave Frederick Douglass noted that that the framers purposefully avoided the mention of slavery in the Constitution. “It so happens that no such words as ‘African slave trade,’ no such words as ‘slave representation,’ no such words as ‘fugitive slaves,” no such words as ‘slave insurrections,’ are anywhere used in that instrument. These are…not the words of the Constitution of the United States” (Fredrick Douglass, “The Constitution of the United States: Is it Pro-Slavery or Antislavery?” March 26, 1860).
In the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, Abraham Lincoln argued that the Framers avoided any specific mention of slavery because the enduring Constitution would not have “on the face of the great charter of liberty suggesting that such a thing as negro slavery had ever existed among us” (Abraham Lincoln, Seventh Joint Debate at Alton, “Mr. Lincoln’s Reply,” October 15, 1858).
Four clauses have been used to indict the Constitution and show it to be a pro-slavery document. The Three-Fifths Clause in Article I, Section 2 purportedly meant that slaves were considered less than fully human. However, it was little more than a compromise when creating the Congress and determining how slaves were counted for purposes of representation and taxation. Some have argued that it gave greater power to the southern states but Frederick Douglass believed that it encouraged freedom because it gave “an increase of ‘two-fifths’ of political power to free over slave States…taking it at its worst, it still leans to freedom, not to slavery” (Fredrick Douglass, “The Constitution of the United States: Is it Pro-Slavery or Antislavery?” March 26, 1860).
The second clause, known as the Importation Clause, dealing with slavery was Article I, Section 9, in which the Congress could not ban the slave trade for 20 years. The Framers were not protecting the slave trade (and thus slavery) with this clause but rather were seeking to end the infernal trade in humans. And, indeed, on January 1, 1808, that is exactly what happened when the 1807 bill that President Thomas Jefferson signed, went into effect.
Frederick Douglass argued that the Clause “looked to the abolition of slavery rather than to its perpetuity,” and that the Founders’ intentions “were good, not bad” (Fredrick Douglass, “The Constitution of the United States: Is it Pro-Slavery or Antislavery?” March 26, 1860).
The third clause is the Slave Insurrection Clause in Article I, Section 8. While it might include slave insurrections, Douglass argued that it is also a general statement that the chief executive has the power and duty to suppress all “riots or insurrections” in the interests of maintaining law and order.
Finally, Article IV, Section 9, of the Constitution provided for the return of fugitive slaves from the North back to the South. Douglass noted that the Fugitive Slave Clause only made sense in a country where half the states either banned slavery or were moving quickly in that direction. Indeed, the northern states abided by Revolutionary principles and either banned slavery outright or introduced schemes of gradual emancipation.
In sum, the Constitution was a document that sought, as Abraham Lincoln contended, to put "slavery in the course of ultimate extinction.” As Frederick Douglass noted, importantly, the Constitution’s “language is ‘we the people;’ not we the white people’” (Fredrick Douglass, “The Constitution of the United States: Is it Pro-Slavery or Antislavery?” March 26, 1860).
By contrast, the Constitution of the Confederate States of America was deeply rooted in inequality and freedom for whites only. The Confederates rejected universal principles in favor of power and domination in which only whites had any rights that the government was bound to respect. Although the Confederate Constitution appealed to justice, the blessings of liberty, and divine guidance, it made property in human beings an essential right when it stated, “No law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.” The Confederate Constitution of 1861, not the U.S. Constitution of 1787, was the Founding document that violated liberty and equality of African-Americans.
The first decades after the ratification of the Constitution saw the rise of freedom in the new nation. In the wake of the American Revolution, the northern states banned slavery outright or with gradual emancipation schemes in which African-Americans were born free. In 1787, while the Constitution was being framed, the Northwest Ordinance banned slavery in new western territory and eventually advanced liberty and equality in five states. In 1820, the Missouri Compromise banned slavery in the northern part of the Louisiana Territory, again contributing greatly to the spread of liberty and equality over a large swath of America. The new nation was mostly bent on expanding liberty and equality.
During and after the Civil War, Americans would end slavery constitutionally. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation as a war measure, and the Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery in the United States forever. Slavery could not survive in a nation half-slave and half-free, but it could also not endure in a nation founded upon the natural right ideals of liberty and equality in the constitutional republic provided by the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
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Law of Demand
As prices decrease, the quantity demanded increases or as prices increase, the quantity demanded decreases.
Rights which belong to us by nature and can only be justly taken away through due process.
Rights which belong to us by nature and can only be justly taken away through due process.
Except where authorized by people through the Constitution, government does not have the authority to limit freedom.
The power of government flows from the people.
Separation of powers
A system of distinct powers built into the constitution, to prevent an accumulation of power in one branch.
Checks and balances
Powers distributed among the branches of government allowing each to limit the application of power of the other branches and to prevent expansion of power of any branch.
The people delegate certain powers to the national government, while the states retain other powers; and the people, who authorize the states and national government, retain all freedoms not delegated to the governing bodies.
Fairness or reasonableness in the way people are treated or decisions are made.
The natural right of all individuals to create, obtain, and control their possessions, beliefs, faculties, and opinions, as well as the fruits of their labor.
Citizens are best able to pursue happiness when government is confined to those powers which protect their life, liberty, and property.
(or republican government) Form of government in which the people are sovereign (ultimate source of power) and authorize representatives to make and carry out laws.
(or representative government)Form of government in which the people are sovereign (ultimate source of power) and authorize representatives to make and carry out laws.
Reasoned and respectful sharing of ideas between individuals is the primary way people influence change in society/government, and is essential to maintain self-government.
The fundamental principles by which a state or nation is governed. The United States Constitution, written in 1787, lays out the roles and powers of each of the three branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial), the protections of due process and rule of law in the states, a republican form of government, and the manner in which to amend the document.
Jefferson was a Virginia plantation owner who was the principle author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson served as a legislator and governor in Virginia, as well as an ambassador to France, Secretary of State under George Washington, Vice President under John Adams, and the third President of the United States. During his political career, Jefferson founded the Democratic-Republican Party with James Madison, and he bought the Louisiana Purchase from France. After his presidency, Jefferson started the University of Virginia near his home, Monticello.
Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments to the Constitution, ratified in 1791, which limit government power and protect individual liberties, including the freedoms of speech, press, religion, petition, and assembly, as well as protections against cruel and unusual punishment, unreasonable search and seizure, and other due process rights.
Ratified in 1791, it protects citizens’ rights to create a militia and to bear arms. “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
The government must interact with all persons according to the duly-enacted laws; applying these rules equally among all persons.
Every individual is equal to every other person with respect to natural rights and treatment before the law.
Consent of the governed
The authority of the government must come from the people through elections and through the people’s interaction with government.
Individuals must take care of themselves and their families, and be vigilant to preserve their liberty and the liberty of others.
Rule of law
Government officials and citizens all abide by the same laws regardless of political power.
Declaration of Independence
The document written in 1776 by the Founders to send to Britain’s King George III in which independence from Britain was declared and the reasons for the separation were explained.
Articles of Confederation
The first national government document developed in 1781 by the Founders. The Articles created a federal legislative branch, but there was no executive or judiciary. The states retained most of the governmental powers.
The group of people who wrote and influenced the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the United States Constitution, and the United States Bill of Rights. These men were instrumental in establishing the nation and its governmental documents and practices.
A series of 85 essays written to convince the people of New York to ratify the Constitution. The authors were James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay. These documents are considered to be the most authoritative explanation of the political theory of the Constitution.
Ratified in 1791, it protects the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition the government.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Law of Supply
As the price drops, the quantity supplied also drops.
Ratified in 1791, it protects citizens’ rights against unreasonable searches and seizures of property and explains that warrants must be issued with probable cause. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Ratified in 1791, it protects the right indictment by a jury, against double jeopardy, self-incrimination, loss of life, liberty, or property without due process, and just compensation for private property taken for public use. “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
Ratified in 1791, it states that the powers not enumerated or delegated in the Constitution are reserved for the states and the people. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
Ratified in 1791, it protects against excessive bail and fines and cruel and unusual punishments. “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
Ratified in 1791, the listing of certain rights protected by the Constitution cannot be used to deny rights not enumerated in the document. “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Alexander Hamilton served as General Washington’s chief of staff, promoted the ratification of the Constitution in the Federalist Papers, and founded the nation’s financial system and first political party.
Madison was a Framer who was instrumental in writing the Constitution and Bill of Rights. He is known as the “Father of the Constitution.” Madison partnered with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to write the Federalist Papers in support of the ratification of the Constitution. He also served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, the United States House of Representatives, Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson, and the fourth president of the United States.
First President of the United States, George Washington served as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
An English philosopher and physician, John Locke was one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers and is known today as the Father of Classical Liberalism.
The Continental Congress, comprised of delegates from 12 of the 13 American colonies, represented the colonists during and after the American Revolution. The Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence and ratified the Articles of Confederation.
King George III
King George III was the King of Great Britain at the time of the American Revolution. His actions towards the American colonies, outlined in the Declaration of Independence, spurred the American Revolution.
Spanning ten years from 1929 to 1939, the Great Depression was one of the longest-lasting economic downturns in the history of the United States affecting the U.S. and most of the world.
An introductory statement, preface, or introduction.
Cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others.
Using power over people in a way that is cruel and unfair.
Before becoming the second President of the United States, John Adams served as the country’s first Vice President under George Washington. Adams was an advocate of American independence from Britain and a Federalist.
Founding Father John Jay was one of the signers of the Treaty of Paris and served as the first Chief Justice of the United States. He was also one of the authors of the Federalist Papers.
Ratified in 1791, it protects citizens against the quartering of soldiers in private homes without their approval. “No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”
Ratified in 1791, it protects the rights of impartial jury trials, the right to be informed of the accusations against you, the right to be confronted by witness, and the right to be assisted by counsel. “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”
Ratified in 1791, it protects the right of jury trials in law suits dealing with more than twenty dollars and protects against reexamination of the trial in any court if decided by a jury. “In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”
Alexis de Tocqueville
French political thinker and historian, Alexis de Tocqueville is best known for his works Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the Revolution. He visited the U.S. in the 1830s and wrote admiringly about many aspects of American law and society.
Democracy in America
Written by Alexis de Tocqueville after visiting the United States, Democracy in America contains de Tocqueville’s analysis of and reflections on the United States’ democratic system and society. The first volume was published in 1835 and the second in 1840.
Written in 1215, it is the oldest document in the British and American heritage of rights. Contributed to the adoption of the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments of the Bill of Rights, and speaks of these rights as ancient.
Two Treatises of Civil Government
Written by John Locke in 1690, the Two Treatises of Civil Government criticize absolute power for kings and outline Locke’s suggestions for a more civilized society based on natural rights and the social contract.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. “Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
The group of people who actually attended the Constitutional Convention and participated in writing the Constitution.
Ratified in 1868, it states that all people born or naturalized in the United States are citizens and ensures that “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Ratified in 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment gave Congress the ability to collect income taxes. “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census of enumeration.”
atified in 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment introduced Prohibition, the period of United States history when the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol was made illegal throughout the country. “Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited. Section 2. The Congress and the several states shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.”
The Twentieth Amendment was ratified in 1933, and it establishes procedures for presidential succession and the start and end of federal officials’ terms of office.
“Section 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3rd day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
In 1933, the Twenty-First Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, ending Prohibition. “Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed. Section 2. The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited. Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.”
English Bill of Rights
Passed by the British Parliament in 1689, the English Bill of Rights limited the power of the British monarch, outlined the rights of the Parliament, and guaranteed Protestants the right to bear arms.
The legislative body of the United Kingdom (known as Great Britain or England during the Founding era).
One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin was a statesman, author, publisher, scientist, inventor and diplomat. He served in the Second Continental Congress during the American Revolution and helped draft the Declaration of Independence. In addition, Franklin helped negotiated the Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary War and later served as a delegate to the convention that produced the U.S. Constitution.
The right to vote.
A government in which the power belongs to citizens through the right to vote.
Ratified in 1870, it states that the right could not be restricted based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” “Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
Ratified in 1913, the Seventeenth Amendment introduced direct election of Senators. “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislatures. When vacancies happen in the representation of any state in the Senate, the executive authority of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any state may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct. This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.”
Ratified in 1920, the amendment stated that a citizen’s right to vote must not be restricted based on gender. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
Direct democracy is a political system in which the people vote directly on policies or laws, as opposed to voting for representatives who enact laws on their behalf.
Not planned or chosen for a particular reason; done without concern for what is fair or right.
The process by which courts analyze the constitutionality of an act of government.
Majority rule/minority rights
laws may be made with the consent of the majority, but only to the point where they do not infringe on the inalienable rights of the minority.
An arbitrary order or decree.
Something that is owned by a person, business, etc. This includes possessions, beliefs, faculties, and opinions, and the fruits of one's labor.
A government in which the power is held by the people.
A body of electors chosen by each state to vote for the president and vice president of the United States.
Conduct that reflects universal principles of moral and ethical excellence essential to leading a worthwhile life and to effective self-government. For many leading Founders, attributes of character such as justice, responsibility, perseverance, etc., were thought to flow from an understanding of the rights and obligations of men. Virtue is compatible with, but does not require, religious belief.