Congress and the Constitution

The Constitutional Powers of Congress

Clock 70 minutes

The weakness of the national legislature under the Articles of Confederation meant that were unable to effectively govern the country. To fix this deficiency, the Philadelphia Convention in 1787 created a stronger legislature with more adequate powers with which to govern. These powers, enumerated in Article I, Section 8, continue to be the foundation for Congressional authority. In the debate over ratification, the Federalists and Anti-Federalists discussed at length the extent of the powers that should be given to the national legislature. This lesson explores the foundation of these Congressional powers.

Founding Principles

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Federalism

The people delegate certain powers to the national government, while the states retain other powers; and the people, who authorize the states and national government, retain all freedoms not delegated to the governing bodies.

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Limited Government

Citizens are best able to pursue happiness when government is confined to those powers which protect their life, liberty, and property.

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Separation of Powers

A system of distinct powers built into the Constitution to prevent an accumulation of power in one branch.

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