Week 1 Objectives: In Week 1, we will be introduced to the United States Constitution. We’ll consider the influence of early governing documents and Enlightenment Era philosophy on the development of the Constitution, and we’ll discuss the why the American system of government was designed as a federal republic based on the principles of representative democracy.
Post a total of three substantive responses each week. A substantive reply is:
- A minimum of 175 words.
- Notes facts from the materials in the Learning Activities folder with references and citations.
- Includes your thoughts about those facts.
- Includes references in APA 7 format.
- Be nice and don’t talk politics – we’re all on the same side here.
- Your first post is due Thursday and should be a stand-alone post that starts a discussion thread.
- Then between Tuesday and Monday, reply at least once to any instructor post and reply at least once to another classmate.
DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS
Choose one topic for your initial main post and then select a different topic for your reply message to a classmate. Your reply to one of my posts can be on any topic (so my response to your initial post or my response to any other classmates’ initial post).
Topic One: Influences on the US Constitution: Three primary documents that were early influencers of the U.S. Constitution are: the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the Magna Carta, and the Mayflower Compact. The primary philosophical thinkers who were early influencers of the U.S. Constitution are: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Charles Louis Montesquieu, as well as the Founder’s contemporary, the British legal scholar William Blackstone. After reviewing the readings on this topic in the Week 1 Learning Activities Folder, consider the following:
- What vestiges of these documents and philosophical positions do you see represented in the U.S. Constitution?
- How did these documents and philosophical positions influence the authors of the U.S. Constitution to divide political power and choose officers, in order to limit government power?
- What was left out?
- Discuss how the U.S. Constitution different from these early governing documents?
- If you were using these early governing documents and philosophical positions as guidance to create the U.S. Constitution, do you agree or disagree with what was included? And why?
Topic Two: Making the U.S. Constitution: During the Revolutionary War, the states agreed to the Articles of Confederation to provide for national issues in relation to the War. Otherwise, after the War, the United States was a country of 13 autonomous states, without a national government. The U.S. Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation. Its main purpose was to form a national government, and it was designed to spread power amongst the three branches of government, and between the central government and the state governments. After reviewing the readings on this topic in the Week 1 Learning Activities folder, consider the following:
- Why did the Founders find the Articles of Confederation to be too weak?
- What events highlighted for them the weaknesses of the Articles?
- What is federalism and why did the Founders rely upon this government structure when designing the U.S. Constitution?
- How did the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation influence this choice?
- Why was the division of powers architecture into a federal structure so important to the Founders?