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1600-1778: American colonial period
- The English made profits from their colonies: they raw materials from their colonies and forced them to buy manufactured goods from them
- High taxes
- The colonies wanted representation in parliament in London because of the taxes ( "No taxation without representation")
o conflict o War of Independence or Revolutionary War (1775-1783),
General George Washington (1732-1799; first president of the US, 1789-1797) led colonial armies
1776: Decleration of Independence mostly written byThomas Jefferson (1743-1826; third president, 1801-1809)
1783: peace treaty; the colonies won the war
Decleration of Independence stated that governments are instituted to secure the natural and inalienable rights which every person should have: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and equaliy
1787: Constitutional Convention: delegates from each state met to create a new constitution:
- some delegates wanted a strong national government
- others were afraid of the potentially dictatorial power of such a government
- large states wanted more influence because they are bigger
- small states feared to be overruled
o Connecticut Compromise: new Congress exists of 2 houses:
- The Senate ( 2 senators for each state)
- The House of Representatives (representation accrding to the size of the population in each state)
- For passing legislation it needs the majority of both houses.
- most delegates wanted indirect election
- but election by Congress could lead to a domination of the legislative over the executive
- small states favoured an election by state(one vote per state), bigger states were against
- compromise: each state has as many electors as it has senators and representatives
System of checks and balances:
-president: every 4 years
-House of Representatives:
elected for 2 years
-Senate: every 6 years
The Constitution came out in 1789.
people divided in 2 factions: - Federalists who suppport new constituiton
- Anti-Federalists who oppose ratification
In constitution the basic rights of the citizen were not guaranteed
o Bill of Rights:
1. Guarantees 5 civil liberties;
2. Right to bear arms;
4.-8. Rights of poeple accused of crime;
9.-10. All rights which have not explicitly been given to the government are kept by the states or by the poeple
Since 1791 only 16 amendments have been added.
- Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was elected to president
- 18 "free states" and 15 "slave states" in the Union
- 11 southern slave states decided to leave the Union
- Lincoln had to keep the Union together
o Civil War (1861-1865)
- Union stayed together but the South was destroyed
- 13. Amendment abolished slavery
- only a law in theory
- reality: racist attitudes ("Jim-Crow-Laws") segregated black people
1896: Supreme Court decided that racial segregation was not unconstitutional (but this decision was canceled in 1954)
Supreme Court (consists of 9 justices appointed by president with consent of Senate for life) is responsible for interpreting the constitution, but they jugded not always fairly.
1960s: the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren ruled to end racial segregation and enforced black people´s rights
So the real integration started
Since then the Court has tried to improve the rights of women mainly in the workplace, but there is no Equal Right Amendment for women added to the Constitution.