These are revision notes which i have gained from the govpol AQA A2 textbook on american politics, i have also used the internet on a minimal amount on my revision notes. ENJOY AND GOOD LUCK :) 

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  • Created on: 08-06-12 15:56

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The large size and diversity of the United States brings with it the need for decentralisation, for the
federal government established by the founding fathers (1787). As the US is characterized by a
federal government, all 50 states may practice different laws, crime and punishment etc.-
Conservative South (bible belt) Texas to Virginia/ Liberal Northeast; Massachusetts and Rhode Island
1776- The 13 original British colonies on the eastern seaboard of North America declared
independence for Great Britain in the `Declaration of Independence'
1776-83- The war of independence between the former colonies and Great Britain (US won)
1781- The independent colonies decided to establish a confederacy a loose association of states in
which almost all political power rests with the individual states - by the Articles of Confederation
1781 (which was ratified by all 13 colonies)
Confederacy- a `league of friendship', independent states rather than a national government
Federal Government- power decentralised to separate states
Articles of confederation- a written agreement ratified by the 13 original states in 1781 which was
the basis for their government until it was replaced by the US Constitution in 1789.
The Philadelphia convention (writing of the US Constitution)
On 25th May 1787; delegates from all 13 states were invited and was presided over by George
Washington. The purpose of the convention was to revise the Articles of Confederation, but they
decided to scrap them and write a new constitution, which was written by the 55 delegates (the
founding fathers). It was completed on 17th September 1787. It gave America a codified constitution
that consists of a full and authoritative set of rules written down in a single text. This constitution
would allow for effective checks and balances between the branches of government. The
constitution provided:
Article 1
'All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall
consist of a Senate and House of Representative'
-Established that the congress was to be made up of two chambers; Laid down methods of election;
Terms of office; their powers- section 8- gave congress the power to `lay and collect taxes'; `coin
money'; `declare war'; make all `necessary and proper laws'
Article 2
'The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America'
-Methods of election; Terms of office; Powers; Chosen indirectly by an Electoral College. (all
executive power should be vested in the hands of the president)
Article 3
'The judicial power of the United states shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such inferior
courts as congress may from time to time ordain and establish'
-Judges' terms of office; their jurisdiction; Supremacy clause
Article 4
-Federal-state and state-state relationships
Article 5
Amendment procedure
Article 6
-Miscellaneous provisions; Included the supremacy clause
Article 7
-Ratification procedure of the constitution.

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THE THREE COMPROMISES (when drafting the US Constitution);
· The form of government
Under Great Britain the colonies had been ruled under a unitary form of government. Political power
rested with GB. The compromise was to devise a new form of government, a federal form of
government. This gives some political power to the national government but other, equally
important, powers to state government.
· The representation of the states
Large population states wanted representation to be proportional to population.…read more

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In 2007, the Democrat-controlled Congress attempted to limit President Bush's' spending on the military
operations in Iraq. The last time Congress declared war was on Japan in 1941.
* The Senate rejected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by 48 votes to 51.
Was intentionally made difficult by the founding fathers; amendments need 2/3rds of approval from
congress which then need to be ratified by ¾ of state legislature (super majority of more than 50% is
needed).…read more

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Gun rights; District of Columbia v. Heller
Some feel guaranteeing abortion rights for women, fails to protect rights of unborn child.
2nd Amendment, right to own guns, court failed to protect citizens from gun crime and violence.
Banning prayer in schools, separation of church and state, harms 1st amendment to freedom of
Having once safe guarded a right, the Court may at a later date back-track
· Gratz v. Bollinger (2003), declared the university of Michigan's affirmative action- based
admissions programme to be unconstitutional.…read more

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New federalism- as referred to by President Nixon. This era saw the rise of block grants (money
given to states by fed. govt. to be used within broad policy areas). This change in federal state
relationship coincides with the rule of 4 republican presidents. This type of federalism was
characterized by a return of certain powers and responsibilities from the federal govt. to state
governments. Seen as an attempt to reverse the growth of federal government
A perception had grown that the federal programmes e.g.…read more

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Regionalism: as well as areas differing in culture, racial, religious and ideological views, the parties
also differ from state to state.…read more


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