VII.4: The Separation of Powers

One of America’s founding principles was that liberty cannot survive unless power is divided into multiple hands. The doctrine of separation of powers has a long history. The ancients (Greek and Roman) divided power according to a plan called mixed government. That is, they mixed or divided power between a monarchy, an aristocracy, and a … Read more

VII.1: The Origin of the Ideas behind the US Constitution

In early history, people referred to England as Angle-land because of a tribe that settled there called the Angles. Then, in the fifth century, another tribe called the Saxons began to leave what is now the state of Saxony in Germany. They traveled by sea to what is now England. (Jefferson 1774) Later, the Angles … Read more

VI.4: The Virginia Resolution

James Madison had more influence than any other person in creating the form of the U.S. Constitution. Madison wrote the Virginia Resolution a decade after the Constitution. But both came from his understanding of tyranny. That is, to prevent it, a government must divide power between separate groups of people. If the nation is to … Read more

VI.3: National versus State Sovereignty

The American Civil War was not just about slavery, though that was the hot-button issue. The bigger issue in that war was national versus state sovereignty or power. That included a state’s right to allow slavery. And while it’s true that most southerners believed slavery was necessary for their economy, many wanted it slowly abolished. … Read more

VI.2: States’ Rights and National Supremacy

The northern and southern states fought the Civil War over states’ rights. States’ rights and national supremacy involve the sovereignty of individual states within their own boundaries. The opposite point of view is that only the national government is truly sovereign, so it can override state decisions. The most volatile issue at the time of … Read more

VI.1: The Fight over the US Constitution

The Articles of Confederation acted as a “federal constitution” for the original thirteen American states, but it had no enforcing power. The story of the fight over the US Constitution begins after the War for Independence. At that time, the state governments ignored the Articles of Confederation. In fact, they refused to cooperate on much … Read more

V.4: James Madison and the Virginia Resolution

We know James Madison as the “Father of the Constitution”. But he also expressed an ingenious afterthought in his Virginia Resolution. James Madison wrote his Virginia Resolution to address a serious oversight in the Constitution. The issue began with the French Revolution in 1789, just after the nation elected George Washington for his first term … Read more

V.1: Majority Rule and Minority Oppression

How can government allow majority rule and, at the same time, prevent minority oppression? Democracy means majority rule, but throughout history, majorities have been guilty of minority oppression. James Madison searched for a solution to this problem for America during the years before he and others wrote the U.S. Constitution. In his studies, he came … Read more

III.3: Legal Corruption

Would a truly wise person even want to run for political office today? In a previous post, I said that a wise person would desire a solid and comfortable income. And I described how that is different from the ridiculous wealth that most politicians are able to amass through their manipulation of insider information. Corruption … Read more

III.1: Campaign Contributions, Free Speech, and Bribes

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that campaign contributions are a form of free speech. That is, your freedom to help a politician pay for advertisements is similar to your freedom to speak on his or her behalf. But you support a politician because you want them to support your personal interests over other people’s … Read more