Vocabulary ch 1 and 2


Political authority conferred by law or by a state or national constitution

unitary system

A government that gives all key powers to the national or central government

federal system

A government that divides the powers of government between the national government and state or provincial governments


A loose union of independent states

presidential system

a system of government in which the legislative and executive branches operate independently of each other


A legislature consisting of two parts, or houses

Magna Carta

the royal charter of political rights given to rebellious English barons by King John in 1215

Petition of Right

Document prepared by Parliament and signed by King Charles I of England in 1628; challenged the idea of the divine right of kings and declared that even the monarch was subject to the laws of the land

English Bill of Rights

King William and Queen Mary accepted this document in 1689. It guaranteed certain rights to English citizens and declared that elections for Parliament would happen frequently. By accepting this document, they supported a limited monarchy, a system in which they shared their power with Parliament and the people.

Proprietary, charter, and royal colonies

Proprietary colonies were founded by a proprietary company or individual and were controlled by the proprietor. Charter colonies were founded by a government charter granted to a company or a group of people. The British government had some control over charter colonies. Royal (or crown) colonies were formed by the king, so the government had total control over them.

New England Confederation

1643 - Formed to provide for the defense of the four New England colonies, and also acted as a court in disputes between colonies.

Albany Plan of Union

plan proposed by Benjamin Franklin in 1754 that aimed to unite the 13 colonies for trade, military, and other purposes; the plan was turned down by the colonies and the Crown

Stamp Act

1765; law that taxed printed goods, including: playing cards, documents, newspapers, etc.

Articles of Confederation

A weak constitution that governed America during the Revolutionary War.

Northwest Ordinance

Enacted in 1787, it is considered one of the most significant achievements of the Articles of Confederation. It established a system for setting up governments in the western territories so they could eventually join the Union on an equal footing with the original 13 states

Shay's Rebellion

Rebellion led by Daniel Shays of farmers in western Massachusetts in 1786-1787, protesting mortgage foreclosures. It highlighted the need for a strong national government just as the call for the Constitutional Convention went out.


Group of delegates who drafted the United States Constitution at the Philadelphia Convention in 1787

Great Compromise

agreement providing a dual system of congressional representation

3/5 Compromise

-each slave would count for 3/5 of a person for taxation and representation purposes

Federalist Papers

A collection of 85 articles written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison under the name "Publius" to defend the Constitution in detail.


the pen name that Framers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay used when writing the Federalist Papers; Latin for "public man

Bill of Rights

The first ten amendments to the Constitution