The Beginning


The framers of the U.S. Constitution met in Philadelphia in 1787.  Before that, there was already an existing form of constitution called the Articles of Confederation written in 1777 and ratified in 1781 as the U.S.’s first constitution.

            The Articles of Confederation was too weak and unstable to govern the new republic.  It had a Congress that could not collect tax or duties.  State had all the powers.

            Under this constitution, economic problems became difficult to resolve, hence Shay’s Rebellion of 1786 over creditors and debtors.  This gave rise to a new change.  The politically influential leaders deemed it necessary and urgent to have a new and stable institution which is the one that we have today.




  1. Where did the framers meet?
  1.  New York
  2.  Philadelphia
  3.  Washington, D.C.
  4.  Virginia


  1. What existed before the present Constitution?

A.    Rule of law

  1.  Statues or confederation
  2.  Articles of Confederation
  3.  Federalism in action


  1. What incident led to the urgent need of a new Constitution?

A.  War between Britain and the U.S.

  1. Shay’s Rebellion
  2. Madison’s overreactions
  3. Washington’s need to be president


  1. Which of the following best describes the Articles of Confederation?
  1. strong and active
  2. weak and unstable
  3. better than the second constitution
  4. reliable




The Framers

They were fifty-five all white males that came to Philadelphia in1787.  They are referred to as the founding fathers.  Dayton Jonathon of New-Jersey was the youngest of them while Benjamin Franklin was the oldest at 81 years.  More than half were lawyers. Governor Morris played a major role in drafting the Constitution and was known for his losing a leg in a childhood accident.

            George Washington presided over.  Benjamin Franklin described the constitution as “Perfect.”




5. Who was the oldest founding father?

  1. Dayton Jonathon
  2. James Madison
  3. Thomas Jefferson

      D.  Benjamin Franklin


6.  Who presided over the debate during the drafting of the Constitution?

  1. Benjamin Franklin
  2. King George II
  3. George Washington
  4. Supreme Court Judge


7. How many people were there in Philadelphia to draft the Constitution?

A. one-hundred and fifty

      B. fifty-five

C. one hundred and five

D. fifty-six



The Roots of the Constitution


            The U.S. Constitution has the British constitutional tradition.  The British Constitution was based on a charter, the common laws or Judge- made law as several major statutes.  Like the Magna Carta law that was signed by King John in 1215 (a document that established that everybody including the king is not above the law) the bill of rights of 1791 could be traced to the British Bill of Rights of 1689. 

            The writing of the Charles de Montesquieu influenced the fathers in structuring of power.

            The Stamp act passed in 1765.  That required taxation without representation provoked the colonial leaders.  Also following with the monopoly rule brought by Britain allowing only British firms the right to sell sale which led to the 1773 Boston citizen raiding the British ship carrying tea. (Known as Boston Tea Party)  Boston harbor was shut down. 

            With all the conflict, representatives from the colonies met in Philadelphia in 1774, met again in 1775.  By June 1776 Continental army was formed head by George Washington. On July 2, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted.




  1. What is the Magna Carta?
  1. states have the right to rule themselves
  2. nobody is above the law
  3. British supremacy over the U.S. laws
  4. Principles of the U.S. Constitution


  1. What act required taxation without representation?
  1. Stamp act
  2. importation act
  3. tax act
  4. shipping act


  1. Whose writing influences the structure of separation of powers?
  1. John Locke
  2. James Madison
  3. John Marshall
  4. Charles de Montesquieu


  1. What event led to the raiding of British ships in Boston in 1773?
  1. Boston was very lawless.
  2. Boston wanted to have revenge on British ships
  3. British monopoly rule over sales of tea
  4. Britain refused to pay for the required tax.


  1. The U.S. Constitution copies which country’s constitutional tradition?
  1. USSR
  2. France
  3. British
  4. China


  1. What document was signed by King John in 1215 that established that no man, regardless of position, is above the law?
  1. Magna Carta
  2. British law of all
  3. Charter Act
  4. King John act


What the Framers Did


       The framers adopted what was known as the Great Compromise which provided each state with representation based on population in the House of Representatives with equal numbers of U.S. Senators for each state.

       Article I established the Congress, Article II established the presidency.  Article III established the judicial branch. Delegated powers and implied powers from the necessary and proper clause (also called elastic clause) are given to the Congress by the Constitution (G 39).

      Reserved powers are given to states by the10th Amendment. 

      The framers allowed for amendments to the Constitution by two difficult methods--

  1. Proposal by 2/3 of Congress, ratification by 3/4 of state legislatures
  2. Proposal by of state through convention at the requisition of Congress ratify by 3/4 of state and legislatures (G 45)




14.  How may the Constitution be amended?

  1. Proposal by 2/3 of Congress ratification by 2/3 of Senate
  2. Proposal by 2/3 of Congress ratification by 3/4 of state legislatures
  3. Proposal by 2/3 of House of Representatives and ratification 2/3 of Senate
  4. Proposal by 2/3 of Senate ratification by the president


15. What was the Great Compromise?

  1. Allow the state to have equal powers with the national government
  2. A reward for George Washington
  3. Representation by population but equal numbers of Senators for each state
  4. Representation equality


  1. To which branch of government are implied powers given?
  1. State level
  2. Congress
  3. President
  4. Judiciary


  1. What Amendment gives states reserved powers?
  1. Article I
  2. 10th Amendment
  3. 1st Amendment
  4. 9th Amendment


  1. What Article established the presidency?

      A.  Article I

      B.  Article III

      C.  Article II

      D. 10th Article


19. Which branch of government possesses the delegated powers? (G 39)

      A.  Supreme Court

      B.  Congress

      C.  Judiciary

      D.  Presidency


20. What compromise did the framers adopt when they wrote the Constitution?

A.  New Jersey Compromise

      B.  Great Compromise

      C.  State compromise

      D.  Virginia Compromise



Enduring Principles


The constitution has survived as a result of some basic principles.  Below are the principles.

  1. Rule of Law:  This provides that nobody is above the law. 
  2. Republicanism:  Provides decision to be taken by electors or appointed members who are answer to the people.  James Madison, John Jay and Andrew Hamilton saw that having a direct democracy would lead to factions making society uncontrollable (G 52). The Federalist Papers successfully advocated an indirect democracy and helped bring about ratification of the Constitution.
  3. Separation of Powers:  The creation of three branches of government made it impossible for faction. It also creates limitations to the exercise of power.
  4. Check and Balances:  The Congress power to impeach, Congressional authorization, Senates power to confirm appointments and treaty ratification puts the executive in check while the president power to veto legislation put the Congress in check.  The power of judicial review (Marbury v. Madison, 1803) put both Congress and president in check, which is under court limits (G 54-56).
  5. National Supremacy: The supremacy clause of article VI of the Constitution makes the Constitution and those laws passed under it the “supreme law of the land” (G 57).  Because of this, all state laws are subject to the Constitution and federal laws. 




     21. What is the rule of law?

                  A. Nobody is above the law

B. State legislatures’ way of making laws

            C. the principle of federalism in the Constitution

D. Making laws that must be obeyed by states only


22. What was the purpose of the Federalist papers?

A. To make the transition to Federalism easy

                  B. To create support for the ratification of the Constitution

                  C. To make Madison popular

                  D. To use the media to insult anti-Federalists


23.  Judicial review was derived from what case?

                   A. McCulloch v. Maryland

                   B.  Marbury v. Madison

                  C. John Adams v. Jefferson

                  D. Dred Scott v. San(d)ford


 24.  In the United States what is the supreme law of the land?

                   A.   Laws passed by the president

                   B.   Laws ratified by states

                   C.   The Constitution

                   D.   State laws allowed by Congress


  25.  What part of the government ratifies treaties?

                   A. Congress

                   B. President

                   C. Senate

                   D. Supreme Court