United States Constitution (1787-1789)

United States Constitution (1787-1789)

The people of the US set up a Constitution to form a union for justice, peace, defense, welfare and liberty.

Legislative Powers à US Congress

  • 2 houses – Senate and House of Representatives
    • House of Representatives
      • Chosen every 2 years by each state
      • Must be at least 25 and a citizen for at least 7 years
      • Number of members for each state based on number of people (3/5 for slaves) to be determined by a census every 10 years
      • Vacancies will be filled by governor’s appointment until the next election
      • Can choose speaks, offices and have power of impeachment
    • Senate
      • Each state has 2 and terms are 6 years
      • 3 classes for election.
        • 1st class ends on end of 2nd year
        • 2nd class ends on end of 4th year
        • 3rd class ends on end of 6th year
      • Vacancies appointed by governor until next election.
      • Must be at least 30 years old
      • Chosen by state legislatures (CHANGED LATER)
      • Vice President is the president of the Senate, only votes in case of a tie
      • Will choose a president pro tempore
      • His power to try impeachments but can only remove someone from office but he can be tried criminally
    • Elections
      • Set up by state legislatures but Congress on change them
      • Congress must meet at least once every year on 1st Monday of December (or another agreed upon date)
    • Voting
      • Each house will decide a quorum to do business but smaller number may call for attendance
      • Each house will set up its own rules and punishments for poor behavior. Need a 2/3 vote to expel a member
      • Each house will keep a record of proceedings and publish (except if needing to be kept secret) all votes
      • Neither house may adjourn without consent of the other for more than 3 days or meet in any place without other’s consent
    • Senators and Representatives will set their own pay and be paid by the treasury. Except for treason fraud and breach of peace, they’ll be protected from prison
    • Senators and Representatives may not also be appointed to another office while still holding office
    • All taxation bills start in the House but may be amended in the Senate
    • All bills passed by both houses must be presented to the president. If he approves, it is law. If he doesn’t, there will need to be a 2/3 majority to override it. If he doesn’t return it, it becomes null after 10 days
    • Powers of Congress
      • Levy and collect taxes, duties, imposts, excises, pay debts, provide for defense and welfare. All these must be uniform throughout the states.
      • Borrow money in the name of the US
      • Regulate foreign, interest and Indian trade
      • Establish laws for naturalization and bankruptcy
      • Coin money and regulate its value
      • Establish counterfeit laws
      • Establish post offices and post roads
      • Promote science and art through intellectual property rights
      • Set up tribunals under Supreme Court
      • Determine and punish piracy laws and acts
      • To declare war and commission warships
      • Raise and support short term armies
      • Maintain a navy
      • Establish rules for government and regulation of army and navy
      • Provide for and call up militias to put down insurrections and repel invasions
      • Organize, arm and discipline militias. States may appoint officers and have authority over training
      • Set up Washington DC with Congressional rule as national capital
      • Make laws need to set all of these up
    • No importation of slaves after 1808
    • No suspension of writ of habeas corpus, except in emergencies
    • No bills of attainder and no ex post facto laws
    • No head tax except in proportion to the census
    • No interstate taxes or duties
    • No preferences in regulation of commerce or binding vessels to particular ports
    • Only spend money if it’s on a bill and published.
    • No titles of nobility given out.
    • States are not allowed to enter into treaties, alliances, commission privateers, coin money, issue bills of credit, make non-gold or silver money to pay debts, bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, hindering contracts or granting nobility
    • No imposts or duties on imports and exports without Congress’s consent
    • No duties on tonnage, keeping troops or warships in peace or sign treaties by States


Executive Power à President and Vice President of the United States

  • President and Vice President have 4 year terms
  • Both chosen by electors of number of Representatives and Senators but not allowed to be those Senators and Representatives
  • Votes will be counted and certified
  • If a majority is reached, then President is the one with the largest and the Vice President is the one with the second largest (CHANGED LATER)
  • If no majority is reached, then House will choose through a vote
  • If still no majority is reached, then House will choose from top 5 candidates
  • If still no majority is reached, then go to 1 state – 1 vote
  • Congress decides when Election Day is
  • Must be at least 35 and a natural born citizen and resident for 14 years.
  • If the President is removed, dead, resign or unable to serve à Vice President becomes President. Congress will decide if he’s unable.
  • President doesn’t get a raise in the middle of a term and can’t have another government position
  • Must take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the US Constitution
  • He is Commander in Chief of Army, Navy and militias and decides the heads of government departments, issues pardons and reprieves except impeachment
  • May establish treaties but must be ratified by 2/3 of Senate
  • May nominate Supreme Court judges and other offices with advice and consent of Senate
  • Power to fill vacancies during recess but need to be voted on in the next session
  • Must keep Congress abreast of the State of the Union
  • May call special sessions of Congress
  • May receive foreign ambassadors
  • Must execute the law faithfully
  • President and Vice President may be impeached and convicted of treason, bribery, etc.

Judicial Power à Supreme Court and inferior courts – hold offices with good behavior and receive a steady paycheck

  • Judicial power extends to all cases under the Constitution, laws of states, treaties and various cases abroad, and interstate cases
  • Cases with foreign ministers and ambassadors will be under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and Congressional laws
  • All trials except impeachment will be by jury and held in the state where the crime was committed. If it’s not actually in a state, Congress will decide
  • Treason is defined as levying war against the US or helping or obeying enemies. The accused is only convicted with 2 witnesses or a court confession
  • Congress may declare something treason but there will be no bill of attainder. They cannot condemn a man’s blood and seize their property




  • States may not open a case settled in another state and Congress can regulate this
  • All citizens of one state are given all privileges and immunities of all the other states.
  • All those charged with treason, felony or high crimes will be extradited to jurisdiction of the alleged crime
  • Runaway slaves aren’t automatically freed by running away to states where slavery is illegal
  • New states can be admitted but can’t be created out of another state or by joining up 2 or more states without the consent of Congress and states’ legislatures
  • Congress will establish law in territories and other places without state status.
  • US guarantees each state protection from invasion and domestic violence


  • 2/3 of both Houses or 2/3 of state legislatures may call a convention to amend the Constitution. Must be ratified by ¾ of state legislatures. No state may be deprived of its vote.


  • US recognizes all debts prior to the ratification of the Constitution as valid


  • The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and all executive, legislative and judicial officers must pledge to uphold it without any religious test.


  • The Constitution is considered ratified if 9/13 of the first states ratify it



  1. Congress can’t establish a religion or prevent the practice of any religion. It can’t stop free speech, freedom of press, freedom of peaceable assembly or freedom of petition to redress grievances
  2. We need a militia to keep a free country. Government cannot prevent people from having arms.
  3. No soldiers can be quartered in peace time without owner’s consent. In war, they will be according to a law.
  4. No unreasonable searches and seizures of people’s houses, papers and effects without probable cause. If there is, it must be specific and have an oath or affirmation by an officer.
  5. Big crime trials require a trial by jury (except the military). No second trial for a man acquitted. A man can’t be forced to testify against himself. He can’t be denied his life, liberty or property without due process of the law. No confiscation of private property for public use without proper compensation
  6. The Accused has a right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury in the crime’s jurisdiction. He has the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation. He may be allowed to call witnesses on his behalf and question those who testify against him. He may have assistance in his defense.
  7. If the value of a controversy is over $20, there will be a trial by jury
  8. No excessive bail or fines. No cruel and unusual punishment.
  9. Can’t construe the Constitution to deny rights of states and people
  10. Powers not delegated to the Federal government by Constitution are reserved for the states and the people.
  11. Federal courts aren’t allowed or are restricted in hearing cases from citizens in one state or foreigners against those in another state.
  12. Electors will vote for the Vice President directly by name explicitly – no longer the runner-up in the Presidential election.
  13. Slavery and involuntary servitude is banned except for cases of crime.
  14. All people born or naturalized in the US are citizens and states may not take away their privileges and immunities, or property without due process of the laws. They cannot deny equal protection of the law. No more 3/5 count in census. Male citizens over 21 may vote. No former Confederate officials allowed in elected positions
  15. The right of a citizen to vote can’t be denied to anyone on the basis of races, color or prior status as a slave.
  16. Congress may pass a federal income tax law without any input from the states.
  17. Senators are elected directly by the people not by state legislatures
  18. Ban on manufacture, sale and transportation of alcohol
  19. Women citizens over 21 may vote.
  20. Elected federal positions terms end on January 20th at noon and the new term starts then. If the president dies before taking office, the Vice President will step in
  21. Repealing 18th Alcohol is legal again.
  22. President may only be elected twice to office.
  23. Washington DC residents may now vote for President and Vice President. They still have no senators and congressmen
  24. Poll taxes are banned
  25. If the President is removed from office à Vice President becomes President. If the Vice Presidency is vacant àPresident will nominate a Vice President and Congress will vote.
  26. Voting age is now 18 years and older
  27. One session of Congress can’t give itself a pay raise. Congress can give future sessions a pay raise.

Author: knowit68

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