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Constitutional Law I
SUNY Buffalo Law School
Kannar, George

Liberty Film Series

George Washington was very highly respected, but his conquests were in reality few and far between; however, his status as a Virginian put him into his role as General
The film explained the American and British psyche that led up to the revolution; the British seemingly treating the Americans as ‘unruly children’
Film did not emphasize the intelligence of the colonial American leaders; they were well read in ‘British Political Theories’ such as the worldview which conspirator theory in which the Americans constantly felt that any actions the British took had an underlying theme of conspiracy, in a malicious sense
The press (free press) fueled the Revolution; power of the pen such as Thomas Payne’s Common Sense and Crisis; representation or misrepresentation of events such as the Boston Massacre (which was grossly exaggerated); Federalist Papers, etc.
Contingency of history – it all could have not happened; Declaration of Independence refers to being driven to declare their independence from the King; if the King had been more responsive, it may have all been very different
Abigail Adams – supportive of women’s rights
Slavery; ‘the British are going to treat us the way we treat our slaves’
British Military efforts in Southern colonies; entered into a culture they didn’t know or understand; stepping into complex societies elsewhere
Washington understood the importance of not losing; he realized the goal was to maintain a sufficient American military, minimize human loss
Colonial army created a sense of nationalism, represented a united national entity; a step towards building a unified country with a united identity
Saratoga Battle; Benjamin Franklin was an incredible diplomat who was ‘charming’ the French, he used America’s success at Saratoga as they key to get the French involved in the war on America’s side; huge turning point in the American Revolution
American Loyalists – loyalist properties confiscated and restored by treaties, the restoration resulted in litigation

Constitution (…and the films)
o Constitution followed after the creation of the article of confederation
o Why shift from the articles to the constitution? The articles didn’t establish a unified government and there was no means of collecting money for the nation and therefore could no provide for national defense
o Continental congress could declare what monies each state should contribute, but could not demand payment and therefore there was no national defense, and could not repay the existing debts from the Revolution
o Conceptual models had been developed previous to the creation of the United States Constitution, the continental congress was a bringing together of people and solidifying of ideas and proposals
o 55 people attended, 37 of which were lawyers
o And the convention the 55 went inside the room and shut the doors for complete secrecy; people outside were fearing that they were creating a King or Emperor who they expected would be George Washington, not true
o Washington returned to his farm after the war
o Benjamin Franklin responded to a woman who asked, ‘what do we have?’ by saying ‘ a republic if you can keep it’
o Government was c

tes towards slave states
Article II – electoral college, not a direct election
US Senate; in California there are two senators even though it would take 20 states to total California’s population
By virtue of population, Senate is hugely undemocratic – California has a huge population with only two senators

There is no religious test for office; this is highly unlikely for the 19th century

What did you find surprising?

The census is a constitutional requirement; if system of apportionment of seats in legislature is based on population, than a federal census would aptly be necessary
Specification of governmental employee’s salaries
Patents, copyright discussed
Oath for office are specified, they words are dictated by the constitution
References to slavery – slaves are 3/5 of a person; preservation of the slave trade ensured in the constitution, includes the fugitive slave trade act which requires anyone to return a slaved who has escaped

Thought the convention was secret and the constitution does imply that secret congressional meetings my need to be held, the constitution requires a public journal be kept with the proceeding of the legislature and this should be open to the public