Learn American History through 50 pop songs

Constitution Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Synopsis

The Constitution of the United States is a document that outlines the basis of the federal government of the United States. It was drafted in 1787 at the "Constitutional Convention," in Philadelphia. The 55 men at the convention are called the "Founding Fathers" of America, and are also known as the "Framers of the Constitution." Some of the more famous of the framers are George Washington, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton. The US Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation, which were the law of the land from 1781 until 1788.

Lyrics

© Copyright 2010 by Mr. and Mrs. Gillenwater

On May 25, 1787
A new and improved Constitutional Convention
In Philadelphia they gathered 55
With tired old Articles set to revise, yeah yeah yeah

Old Ben Franklin and young James Madison
General Washington and Alexander Hamilton
Met with other delegates to find another way
To run our failing government of the USA, yeah yeah yeah

They knew the central government was feeble and meek
Compared to each state, it was powerless and weak
So the delegates adopted a new federal system
Where the states and the nation split the power between them

Revolution to Confederation to a new solution – Constitution!

Then they went and came up with three separate branches
Legislative, executive, and judicial factions
Because power they realized in one single hand
Could lead to tyranny ruling over the land, yeah yeah yeah

The legislative branch would write laws and vote on them
The executive branch would make sure everyone follows’em
The judicial branch would interpret the laws in the courts
And this separation of powers would avoid a tyrannical course, yeah yeah yeah

Within the legislature the delegates devised
A shared representation called the Great Compromise
This branch would be split into the House and the Senate
And the American people would call these two Congress

Revolution to Confederation to a new solution – Constitution!

In the House would be seated the country’s Congressmen
To be awarded to each state based upon population
Upstairs in the Senate, Senators would preside
Two from each state, regardless of size, yeah yeah yeah

What the delegates drafted in Philly that day
Was a government with branches that all have a say
Because keeping the powers from each of them separate
Meant if one got too bossy the others would check it

Revolution to Confederation to a new solution – Constitution!

This checks and balances safe guarding system
Shapes all the laws of this country we live in
So that’s in a nutshell what our Constitution’s about
A well thought of plan I decided to shout it out, yeah yeah yeah

Vocabulary

The Constitution— The supreme law of the United States. It is the foundation and source of legal authority of the United States of America. It provides the framework for the organization of the US Government. The United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention.

Constitutional Convention— The Constitutional Convention began on May 25, 1787 in Philadelphia. It lasted 16 weeks, and on September 17, 1787, produced the Constitution of the United States.

Philadelphia— Where the Constitutional Convention in 1787 was held.

Ben Franklin— Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) was a printer, author, inventor, diplomat, statesman, and Founding Father. Franklin was an elder statesman at the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

James Madison— James Madison (March 16, 1751 – June 28, 1836) was a Founding Father and was responsible for drafting most of the language of the Constitution.

General Washington— George Washington (February 22, 1732 - February 11– December 14, 1799) served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797 and as the commander of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1783. He presided over the Philadelphia Convention that drafted the United States Constitution in 1787. Because of his significant role in the revolution and in the formation of the United States, he is often referred to as ‘The Father of our country’.

Alexander Hamilton— Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757 – July 12, 1804) was the first United States Secretary of the Treasury, a Founding Father, economist, and political philosopher. He led calls for the Philadelphia Convention, was one of America's first Constitutional lawyers, and co-wrote the Federalist Papers, a primary source for Constitutional interpretation.

Legislative Branch— One of the three branches of government, the legislature makes laws. There are two parts to the legislature: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Together they are Congress.

Executive Branch— One of the three branches of government, the executive enforces laws. It is headed by the President.

Judicial Branch— One of the three branches of government, the judiciary interprets laws. The highest authority in the judiciary is the Supreme Court.

Separation of Powers— The powers of the government are divided between three branches: the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary.

Congress— The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States of America, consisting of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Great Compromise— At the Constitutional Convention, larger states wanted to follow the Virginia Plan, which based each state's representation in Congress on state population. Smaller states wanted to follow the New Jersey Plan, which gave every state the same number of representatives. The convention compromised by creating the House and the Senate, and using both of the two separate plans as the method for electing members of each.

The House (of Representatives)— One of the two parts of Congress, considered the "lower house." Representatives are elected directly by the people, with the number of representatives for each state determined by the state's population.

The Senate— The other of the two parts of Congress, considered the "upper house." Senators were originally appointed by state legislatures, but now they are elected directly by the people. Each state has two senators.

Congressmen— Elected to and preside in the House. (number is based upon population)

Senators— Elected to and preside in the Senate. (two from each state regardless of size)

Checks and balances— Checks and balances is a system by which each of the three branches of the federal government keeps the others from becoming too powerful.

Tiered Questions

Tier 1 Questions

In what year was the US Constitution written at the Constitutional Convention?

In what city was the US Constitution written?

Name four people who were at the Constitutional Convention.

Name the three branches of government.

What two sections did the Great Compromise split the legislative branch in to?

Tier 2 Questions

Answer ALL of the above Tier 1 Questions.

Explain separation of powers.

Explain checks and balances.

Tier 3 Questions

Answer ALL of the above Tier 2 Questions.

Hypothesize why the framers of the constitution created a separation of powers and a checks and balances system.

Test Prep Questions

1) Disagreement at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 over the Virginia and New Jersey plans was resolved by a compromise that

  • (1) guaranteed continuation of the slave trade for at least twenty more years
  • (2) limited the power of the federal government to wage war
  • (3) provided for construction of a new national capital in the south
  • (4) created a Congress made up of a Senate and a House of Representatives

2) The term supreme law of the land refers to which document?

  • (1) Fundamental Orders of Connecticut
  • (2) Constitution of the United States
  • (3) Articles of Confederation
  • (4) Declaration of Independence

3) Which principle of the United States Constitution is intended to ensure that no one branch of government has more power than another branch?

  • (1) checks and balances
  • (2) federalism
  • (3) limited government
  • (4) rule of law

4) Which constitutional principle is the focus of this cartoon?

  • (1) individual liberties
  • (2) separation of powers
  • (3) freedom of speech
  • (4) federalism

5) What was the primary reason for holding the Constitutional Convention of 1787?

  • (1) outlaw slavery in both the North and the South
  • (2) place taxes on imports and exports
  • (3) revise the Articles of Confederation
  • (4) reduce the power of the federal government
  • Congress proposes an amendment legalizing an income tax.
  • The Supreme Court rules that the income tax is unconstitutional.

6) These events illustrate the use of

  • (1) delegated powers
  • (2) checks and balances
  • (3) judical legislation
  • (4) the unwritten constitution