September 18, 2005

Am. Gov't - Exam Prep. and Position Paper #2-#3


Please notice the following points as you get your position papers back. For your convenience, here is a brief list of concepts that I am looking for; these are prime targets for test material. All are either listed in your textbook, or they are part of what we discussed in class. This is not an exhaustive list, rather a sample of several issues you read about, that directly addresses the three questions I posed. These position papers are 30 points each; meaning, that each question requires about ten separate points of fact or analysis. These concepts are overflowing with potential for your own independent thought, and our brief analysis does not do them justice. But, these papers are a good way to get accustomed to the sort of study that will serve you well in preparing for the exam.

For Position Paper #2, we are going carefully the examine protection of rights; so take a look at the Jefferson/Locke relationship again, and be prepared to spend time looking at the Court and its protection of rights, as well as its role as ‘definer’ of rights. We are going to start with the history of Judicial Review and end with the nomination of John Roberts onto the court; in short, we are going to connect the theories and history in your textbook, with the very current events in the country today.

Please feel free to email me privately with any questions, and thank you.


Question 1:
How would the Founders’ view of equality, as addressed in Constitution in 1789 differ with our view of equality today? Specifically, please address equality among individuals compared to equality among states.

  • Equality among states at issue

  • Virginia Plan v. New Jersey Plan

  • Connecticut Compromise

  • Electoral College

  • Decl. of Independence and equality of people

  • Contradictions of ‘real world’ – like slavery – vs. ideal of Decl.

  • Voting rights today v. voting rights in 1789

  • Eligibility for voting in federal elections

  • How does the electoral college work today

  • How does the US Senate work today

Question 2:
Where does Jefferson find his own views of equality, as addressed in the Declaration of Independence? What role does “Natural Law” play, and how does the Declaration change these natural rights? Where do the Founders – where does Jefferson, in the Declaration – find these rights? How does he avoid controversy about the source of these rights?

  • Jefferson bases his ideas on Locke

  • Natural law is what governments are created to protect

  • Inherent rights according to Locke are ‘Life, Liberty, and Property”

  • Jefferson changes this to “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness”

  • Says these rights are ‘self evident’ and avoids controversy as to have to explain where he gets these ideas

  • Not just Jefferson wrote Declaration; Franklin, Adams et al. Five person committee assigned to draft document

  • Contradiction – Jefferson the slaveowner vs. Jefferson the democrat

Question 3:
Explain the impact of the 3/5th Clause and political controversy that surrounded it at the time of the ratification of the Constitution. Having done that, please briefly detail the lingering controversy of this very anti-Democratic detail to the Constitution. Then, answer the question – in terms of the North/South relationship – is it possible that the 3/5 clause was indeed part of the Founders’ recipe for good government?

  • 3/5 clause formalized the ‘worth’ of slaves for the purposes of the census

  • On one hand, the 3/5th clause ‘proves’ founders’ “anti-democratic” views

  • Southern delegates wanted slaves to be counted as one full person because representation in Congress was based upon the census, and to count the slaves would have given the South much political power

  • Northern delegation wanted slaves to be not counted at all in order to prevent the South and the slaveholders a super-majority in Congress

  • 3/5 was a compromise to satisfy south but also to weaken the hand of the slaveholding interests

  • 3/5 clause avoided directly confronting the issue of slavery and put off the north/south conflict

  • Resolution of the issue allowed northern economy to grow and allow the non-slave holding interests in the country to gain power

  • Notice that Slavery is never explicitly mentioned in the Constitution


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