AP Government and Politics: Chapter 2 Terms


Those who favored strong state governments and a weak national government; opposed the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

Articles of Confederation

The compact among the thirteen original states that was the basis of their government. Written in 1776, the Articles were not ratified by all the states until 1781.

Bill of Rights

The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which largely gurantee specific rights and liberties.

Checks and Balances

A governmental structure that gives each of the three branches of government some degree of oversight and control over the actions of the others.

Committees of Correspondence

Organizations in each of the American colonies created to keep the colonists abreast of developments with the British; served as powerful molders of public opinion against the British.


Type of government where the national government derives its powers from the states; a league of independent states.


A document establishing the structure, functions, and limitations of a government.

Declaration of Independence

Document drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1776 that proclaimed the right of the American colonies to separate from Great Britain.

Enumerated Powers

Seventeen specific powers granted to Congress under Article 1, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution; these powers include taxation, coinage of money, regulation of commerce, and the authority to provide for a national defense.

Federal System

System of government where the national government and state governments share some powers, derive all authority from the people, and the powers of the national government are specified in a constitution.

The Federalist Papers

A series of eighty-five political papers written by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison in support of ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

First Continental Congress

Meeting held in Philadelphia from September 5 to October 26, 1774, in which fifty-six delegates (from every colony except Georgia) adopted a resolution in opposition to the Coercive Acts.

Full Faith and Credit Clause

Section of Article 4 of the Constitution that ensures judicial decrees and contracts made in one state will be binding and enforceable in any other state.

Great Compromise

A decision made during the Constitutional Convention to give each state the same number of representatives in the Senate regardless of size; representation in the House was determined by population.

Implied Powers

Powers derived from the enumerated and the necessary and proper clause. These powers are not stated specifically but are considered to be reasonably implied through the excercise of delegated powers.


An economic theory designed to increase a nation's wealth through the development of commercial industry and a favorable balance of trade.

Necessary and Proper Clause

The final paragraph of Article 1, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the authority to pass all laws "necessary and proper" to carry out the enumerated powers specified in the Constitution; also called the elastic clause.

New Jersey Plan

A framework for the Constitution proposed by a group of small states; its key points were a one-house legislature with one vote for each state, the establishment of the acts of Congress as the "supreme law" of the land, and a supreme judiciary with limite

Second Continental Congress

Meeting that convened in Philadelphia on May 10, 1775, at which it was decided that an army should be raised and George Washington of Virginia was named commander in chief.

Separation of Powers

A way of dividing power among three branches of government in which member of the House of Representative, members of the Senate, the President, and the federal courts are selected by and responsible to different constituencies.

Shay's Rebellion

A 1786 rebellion in which an army of 1,500 disgruntled and angry farmers led by Daniel Shays marched to Springfield, Massachusetts, and forcibly restrained the state court from foreclosing mortgages on thier farms.

Stamp Act Congress

Meeting of representatives of nine of the thirteen coloines held in New York City in 1765, during which representatives drafted a document to send to the king listing how their rights had been violated.

Supremacy Clause

Portion of Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution mandating that national lawa is supreme to (that is, supercedes) all other laws passed by the state or by any other subdivision of government.

Three-Fifths Compromise

Agreement reached at the Constitutional Convention stipulating that each slave was to be counted as three-fifths of a person for purposes of determining population for representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Virginia Plan

The first general plan for the Constitution, proposed by James Madison and Edmund Randolph. Its key points were a bicameral legislature, and a judiciary also named by the legislature.