Ch 2: AP US Government and Politics: Constitutional Democracy

About This Chapter

Watch video lessons to learn more about what a constitutional democracy is and how it was created in the U.S. The quizzes at the end of each lesson can help you assess your understanding of the materials.

Constitutional Democracy - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

Developing and implementing a wholly new system of government is no easy task, and the U.S. was no exception to this. In this series of lessons, you'll learn about the first attempts to act on the democratic ideas that circulated before and during the Revolutionary War.

The formal adoption of the Articles of Confederation in 1781 was an important step that ultimately highlighted some of the flaws in placing firm limits on government power; delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 took these problems into consideration when writing the Constitution and later developing the Bill of Rights, leading to the constitutional democracy we recognize today. In these lessons, you'll learn things like:

  • How the Articles of Confederation were established
  • The functions of the U.S. government under the Articles of Confederation
  • How experiments with limiting government power turned out
  • How the U.S. Constitution was developed and adopted
  • The functions of the U.S. government under the Constitution
  • How the Constitution can be changed

Video Objective
The Spread of Democratic Ideals During the Revolutionary War Discuss how democratic ideals were disseminated in the Revolutionary War era.
The Articles of Confederation and the Northwest Ordinance Describe the formation of the first U.S. government under the Articles of Confederation; outline key actions of this government, i.e, the Northwest Ordinance.
Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and Shays' Rebellion Discuss the limits placed on government by the Articles of Confederation; explain how Shays' Rebellion put a spotlight on those limits.
The Constitutional Convention: The Great Compromise Describe the process by which the U.S. Constitution was conceived, including key issues that needed to be settled and the ways in which delegates compromised.
The Ratification of the Constitution and the New U.S. Government Discuss the ratification process, including pros and cons of the new Constitution; include an overview of the birth of political parties.
The U.S. Constitution: Preamble, Articles and Amendments Explain the structure of the U.S. Constitution, and describe the purposes of each part.
Constitutional Provisions for Limited Government Identify the parts of the Constitution that specifically limit government power, such as separation of powers and federalism.
U.S. Constitution: Definition and the Judicial Review of Marbury v. Madison Explain the concept of judicial review and its importance.
The Process of Amending the Constitution Explain the process by which the Constitution can be amended.
The Bill of Rights: The Constitution's First 10 Amendments Identify the purposes, context and legacies of the first ten amendments.

10 Lessons in Chapter 2: AP US Government and Politics: Constitutional Democracy
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
The Spread of Democratic Ideals During the Revolutionary War

1. The Spread of Democratic Ideals During the Revolutionary War

Democratic ideals spread before, during and after the American Revolution. This generated the democratic government known in the United States today. This lesson explores the Revolutionary roots of the Constitution.

The Articles of Confederation and the Northwest Ordinance

2. The Articles of Confederation and the Northwest Ordinance

The Articles of Confederation was the new nation's founding document, but the government established under the Articles was too weak. The new central government had no way of raising revenue and no ability to enforce the commitments made by the states. The Northwest Ordinance paved the way for the growth of the new nation.

Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and Shays Rebellion

3. Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and Shays Rebellion

The Articles of Confederation were too weak to create an effective government for the new nation. In this lesson, discover how Shays' Rebellion proved that the national government needed to strengthen.

The Constitutional Convention: The Great Compromise

4. The Constitutional Convention: The Great Compromise

The Constitutional Convention was intended to amend the Articles of Confederation. Instead, those in attendance set out to found a republic (the likes of which had never been seen), which is still going strong well over 200 years later. To accomplish this task, compromises had to be made. The Great Compromise designed the bicameral congress the U.S. has today.

The Ratification of the Constitution and the New U.S. Government

5. The Ratification of the Constitution and the New U.S. Government

The U.S. Constitution may be one of the most important documents in history, but it wasn't a sure thing. A lot of debate took place. There were many people passionate about ratification, and many people passionate about ensuring it didn't get ratified. The divide over the Constitution shows us the root of political parties in the U.S.

The US Constitution: Preamble, Articles and Amendments

6. The US Constitution: Preamble, Articles and Amendments

The U.S. Constitution is one of the most important documents in history. It establishes the government of the United States, and its first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, assures every U.S. citizen the rights we have all come to hold dear.

Constitutional Provisions for Limited Government

7. Constitutional Provisions for Limited Government

The United States Constitution lays out a limited federal government. Our federal government is based on federalism, with a separation of powers. This lesson explores constitutional provisions for a limited government.

U.S. Constitution: Definition and the Judicial Review of Marbury v. Madison

8. U.S. Constitution: Definition and the Judicial Review of Marbury v. Madison

Our United States Constitution is known as the 'Supreme Law of the Land.' The United States Supreme Court determines when other laws are in conflict with the Constitution. This lesson explains the concepts of supremacy and judicial review.

The Process of Amending the Constitution

9. The Process of Amending the Constitution

Amending the United States Constitution is a complicated process. It's only been accomplished 27 times. This lesson outlines the process by which the U.S. Constitution can be amended.

The Bill of Rights: The Constitution's First 10 Amendments

10. The Bill of Rights: The Constitution's First 10 Amendments

The Bill of Rights was pivotal in getting the U.S. Constitution ratified. More importantly, the Bill of Rights guarantees the rights of every citizen of the United States in a way that is nearly unequaled.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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