Congress and the Constitution

All Legislative Powers Herein Granted— The Legislative Process 1789-1860

Clock 135 minutes

In the early republic, Congress was a colorful, exciting, unpredictable, and contentious branch of the United States government. The members constantly quarreled but often deliberated and compromised through persuasive oratory and rational conversation. Congress was divided by party and sectionalism, but was guided through these difficulties by legislative statesmen. The Congress continued to function as the undisputed law making body of the people of the United States. Even during some of its most tumultuous years, from 1789 until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1860, the Congress effectively governed the nation.

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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Representative / Republican Government

Form of government in which the people are sovereign (the ultimate source of power) and authorize representatives to make and carry out laws.

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