The ROLE of GOVERNMENT: Part One – 1789-1933
PART ONE – CREATING A GOVERNMENT
1)The Constitution, ratified in 1787, came about because our first national government, the Articles of Confederation, were seen as too weak.
2)Confederation weaknesses included no “strong” leader and no power to tax.
3)The Constitution was ratified only after people were persuaded it did not have too much potential “tyrannical” power.
4)”Separation of Powers” is preventing tyranny by “dividing” government.
The three “branches” of government are the executive, (President),
legislative, (Congress) and Judicial (Courts).
5)”Federalism” is the division of power into federal (national), state
and local governments.
6)The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to protect individuals from
7)The 10th Amendment stated whatever powers not designated to the national government were to be assumed by the states or the people.
(e.g. The Constitution says nothing about education – hence the individual states are responsible for education. Our teaching credentials are granted by the State.)
8)Since the Constitution said nothing about slavery, the issue was decided on individual state levels.
9)”The Preamble” to The Constitution is our government in a nutshell. It
states, “We the People, to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare,
secure … liberty to ourselves and our posterity (children),
do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.
WHAT “EXACTLY” DOES THIS MEAN?????
TEST CASE #1 – The Whiskey Rebellion
10)Lacking funds, the national government initiated a tax on whiskey. Farmers in Massachusetts felt it was not “equitable”. Lacking in cash, they resented having to pay.
11)President Washington personally felt the need to put down this armed rebellion.
Although sympathizing in part with the farmers, he felt the “greater” need to establish the authority of the national government to “regulate commerce”. (i.e. tax people)
12)There would be chaos if everyone “rebelled” against acts of national
government they did not like.
“Federalists” vs. “Democrats”
13)The first two major political “parties” differed on the role of “national”
Federalists saw a need for a strong federal government
that could adequately regulate American society.
14)Democrats, led by Thomas Jefferson, saw a more limited role for
15)”Strict” Constructionists of the Constitution believed national government should be limited to exactly what the Constitution “empowered” it to do.
16)”Loose” Constructionists” felt national government should exercise implied (not explicitly stated in The Constitution) powers not specifically stated in the Constitution.
TEST CASE #2 – The Louisiana Purchase
17)President Jefferson was faced with an “ironic” choice. He had the chance to buy Louisiana from the French/Napoleon. The Constitution did not
explicitly give him that power.
18)Despite being a “strict” constructionist, Jefferson went ahead with the
purchase, arguing it was in the best interests of the entire nation.
WAS JEFFERSON BEING a “HYPOCRITE” OR JUST BEING “SMART”?????
TEST CASE #3 – The National Bank
19)Federalists wanted a “strong” National Bank to help regulate the nation’s
capital /credit supply. The Constitution did not say anything
specifically about doing this. It does allow “regulation” of “commerce”.
President Jackson, against the idea of a National Bank, let the charter run out.
20)The issue became whether states should create their own banking systems to suit their own best interests.
Or, would a “stable” national bank system help to promote national commerce. (benefiting the nation as a whole)
PART TWO – MAINTAINING NATIONAL GOVERNMENT (and The Nation)
21)Civil War “issues” were the spread of slavery and “secession”.
(break-up of The Union)
22)The ”State’s Rights” position argued against federal “abuse of power” in limiting the spread of slavery. (remember, the Constitution said nothing about slavery –the 10th Amendment said the states or the people took on this power if this was the case)
23)Regarding the issue of Secession, The Southern states argued that since they had voluntarily joined the Union of States, they could voluntarily leave.
24)President Lincoln argued the Constitution did not allow a “state’s right” to secede. He considered it an illegal act by “insurrection”.
25)The central issue became at what point was the government of the “union”
superior to that of the “states”?
26)During the terrible war that ensued, Lincoln suspended the “Writ of Habeas Corpus”, meaning to citizens a wartime loss of “liberty”.
Lincoln was accused of being a “dictator”.
27)The Government faced economic bankruptcy, Lincoln also instituted an”emergency”
income tax. It stayed in place for about 40 years.
DOES GOVERNMENT EVERY WILLINGLY “GIVE BACK” POWERS IT “TAKES?
28)After Northern military victory, the nation needed to “reconstruct” itself. Issues involved exactly how the “United States” would be put back together. Another issue would be the place that the freed slaves would assume in society?
29)New Amendments to the Federal Constitution were the 13th, which banned slavery, the 14th Amendment, which promised rights of equality
and equal “due process” of law, and the 15th Amendment which
stated the right to vote was not to be based on race.
30)During Reconstruction, the Federal Army, divided into 5 districts, stayed in the South to enforce “Constitutional rule.” (and prevent any possible “race war”)
31)The Freedman’s Bureau was a federal government agency set up to
help the freed slaves adjust to freedom.
32)Some asked the government for “forty acres and a mule” as an
“investment” in their freedom. They did not ultimately receive it.
33)The Compromise of 1877 settled the disputed presidential election of 1876.
The Federal Army left the South as a result.
34)In conclusion, one can argue the North won “the war” but the (white)
South won “the peace” – domination of the freed blacks was continued
under state and local laws.
35)African-Americans would not begin to get any full resemblance of their
Constitutional “CICIL Rights” until almost 100 years later. (the 1950s & 60s)
PART THREE – The DEVELOPMENT of GOVERNMENT
36)During the “Gilded Age”, America became economically prosperous.
Something “gilded” is gold on the outside and “ugly” base metal on the inside.
What should be the role of the government be towards this “prosperous mess”????
37)According to the theory of Social Darwinism, it was “natural” to let the weak (the “poor”) die or suffer. The theory was used to justify social inequalities.
38)Wealthy industrialists believed that the inequalities of the American economy and
society were supported by “nature”.
39)The theory of “Laissez Faire” stated that government “regulation”
with the “Law of the Jungle” was not good for American society.
40)”Laissez Faire” was a policy against federal government involvement with economics and society. This would be considered “interference” with “nature.”
41)Laissez Faire economics meant a strict free market, run by the
“invisible hand” of supply and demand.
42)Some debated just how “free” markets were, saying that supply and demand could be manipulated by those in power.
43)Wealth was distributed “unevenly”. In 1900, the richest 1% owned 80%
of all the wealth. 80% lived at “subsistence” (just surviving) levels.
44)Some complained that America had become a “dictatorship” of the rich,
stating that the power of “Big Business” unjustly dominated the interests
and “will of the people.”
45)Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle described the “rich and poor”, but really upset
people when he wrote about public health conditions of the Chicago meat industry.
46) Sinclair also wrote about “corrupt” government, which seemed to “help itself” more than it helped “the people”.
47)Sinclair was a “socialist” who believed the state should ultimately take care of its citizens.
48)Anarchists believed government was the root of society’s problems.
They thought is should be “eliminated”.
49)Anarchists sought to use destruction and terror to end government.
They were viewed by most as a “menace” to society.
One anarchist shot and killed President McKinley in 1901.
50)”Progressives” saw society’s problems and sought some government
regulation of society’s ills/problems.
51)President Teddy Roosevelt enacted the Pure Food and Drug Act to make sure food and drugs were properly and not fraudulently labeled.
52)Roosevelt’s “Square Deal” was a government guarantee to balance “corporate” and “popular” interests of the Nation.
53)”Progressives” sought “good” government needed to help fix society’s problems.
54)”Progressives” were not against capitalism. They sought to make capitalism more
“equitable” and “efficient”.
55)”Progressive” laws included building codes for construction, 8-10 hour
work days, child labor laws, mandatory schooling, public
health services, and government by “experts” (by test), not the
local corrupt “political machines” that governed by “deals” and “friendship”.
56)Teddy Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism” called for creation of a system of social welfare to help the poor. Critics were suspicious that such
a system would create dependence and more government corruption.
57)Roosevelt also pushed for “National Parks” that would “preserve” our nation’s resource of natural beauty.
58)In 1913, a Federal Income Tax (the 16th Amendment) was instituted.
95% of the population was exempt from paying in the beginning.
59)Fabian Socialists advocated greater intervention by government through
incremental (or gradual) changes through established government.
GRADUALLY LARGER and LARGER GOVERNMENT ????
PART FOUR – WARTIME GOVERNMENT
60)The Federal government enacted a military draft to get soldiers.
(millions also volunteered)
61)Mass production and destruction were needed to gain victory in “modern” warfare.
National “unity” was required.
62)The Espionage Act of 1917 laid stiff penalties for “aiding the enemy” or
interfering with the military draft.”
63)The Postmaster General was empowered to stop mail he thought was
64)Schenk was arrested under the Espionage Act for distributing fliers against the war.
In Schenk vs. U.S. (1919), the Supreme Court ruled that free speech was
limited, when it posed a “clear and present danger” to society.
(in another famous wartime “free speech” case, newspapers were not allowed to post ship arrival times, based on German spies relaying this to their submarines)
65)During World War One, the practice of “total warfare” required an unprecedented national “coordination” of society. The Wilson Administration took an
active involvement in the war effort.
66)The railroad system was taken over by the national government.
67)The War Industries Board was established to direct war production of war supplies.
68)The National War Labor Board settled strikes and labor disputes.
69)The Committee on Public Information was a government agency that distributed “pro-American” and anti-German propaganda to create popular support for the war.
70)Wilson’s League of Nations was an attempt to create a type of world government. The U.S. Senate rejected American entrance into it.
DID THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT OVERSTEP ITS POWERS (wrongly taking people’s freedoms) DURING THIS WAR OR DID IT DO WHAT WAS NECESSARY TO WIN AND “PROVIDE FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE” ???
(temporarily taking freedoms to win the war and maintain our freedoms afterwards)
PART FIVE – The 1920s : “CONTRADICTORY” GOVERNMENT
71)The 1920s displayed “contradictory” government through economic “laissez-faire”
(government “non-interference”) and alcohol “Prohibition”, government
regulation or interference in society. (is that “consistent”?)
Part One – ECONOMIC “LAISSEZ FAIRE”
72)Government involvement in business was seen as “interference” by Republicans.
73)President Coolidge’s naps symbolized how “less” government is “good”
74)Coolidge wanted “smaller” government, cutting the income tax rate and
limiting government spending.
75)Republican “pro-business” policies were summarized by Coolidge’s quote: “The business of government is business”.
76)Individual economic freedom led to mass production,
speculation/investment, easy credit, increasing advertising,
with mass production feeding mass consumption.
Part Two – PROHIBITION
77)The 18th Amendment, added in 1920, made the making, selling and
distribution of alcohol illegal. It was an attempt to “better” or “improve” society.
78)Prohibition found great support from “dry” and Protestant
“small-town” America, and women’s groups.
79)Bootleggers illegally supplied alcohol to meet the public demand for alcohol.
80)In Detroit, illegal liquor became the second biggest business.
81)”Speakeasies” were illegal bars where one would quietly say a “password” to get in. There as many as 25,000 of these in the Detroit area.
82)President Harding drank and played poker with his friends in the White House.
83)Criminal gangs entered into this profitable business. Since it was illegal, they assumed a business monopoly.
84)Onetime “small-time gangster” Al Capone became the “unofficial” mayor of Chicago.
85)Al Capone argued he was just a “businessman”, giving people what they
wanted. He acted a modern-day “Robin Hood”, giving millions to the poot.
Many profited from Capone’s profits.
86)Like the rich “corporate” elite, gangsters used their wealth and power to dominate and “corrupt” society.
87)Capone was eventually sent to prison for income tax invasion.
88)Government corruption became rampant.
Payoffs to police, politicians and judges were common.
89)Violence grew in this war between government authorities, bootleggers
and rival gangs. Hijacking and kidnapping were common.
90)Racketeering is illegal business practices sustained through the threat of violence.
WAS THIS WHAT SUPPORTERS of PROHIBITION HAD IN MIND???
91)The “Law of Unintended Consequences” states that often what government intends as “good” has the “opposite” effect.
92)Examples of the “”Law of Unintended Consequences” include a law that produced lawlessness, criminalizing alcohol resulting in the explosion of “criminality”, making normally “law-abiding” citizens into “law-breakers”, and attempting to “reform” society and making it more “corrupt”, (unjust)
93)In 1933, Prohibition was repealed. (rejected as law)
The ROLE OF GOVERNMENT – CONCLUSIONS:
PICK ONE of the FOLLOWING and WRITE A 75-WORD RESPONSE.
94)Was Prohibition a “NOBLE EXPERIMENT” (well-meaning) that was worth trying?
Was Prohibition a “national disaster” that made American society worse?
95)Is it consistent for government to be “laissez faire” in one respect (economics) and “interfering” in another respect? (society?)
96)Should government be entirely consistent in its “approach”. Should it be entirely“laissez faire” in all parts of society?
Should it be involved or “regulate” all parts of society?
Briefly explain your perspective.
97)What role should government take towards law enforcement?
Should it be “strict” or “lenient”?
Should it try to “legislate morality”? (e.g. War on Drugs)
98)What role should government take towards economics?
Should it “stay out” of people’s money affairs OR should it seek to “redistribute wealth” from “the rich” to “the poor”?
Briefly explain your perspective.
99)What should be our government’s role towards foreign affairs?
Should we be “isolationist” towards the world? Or should we be “active” and act like “the World’s policeman”, expanding American influence and creating some “law and order” in the world?
Briefly explain your perspective.