DBQ: How Did the Constitution Guard Against Tyranny? Americans desperately fought against tyranny with the best weapon they had, the Constitution. During the colonial times, King George III demanded many things from the colonists that were living in the Americas. This was caused by the aftermath of the French and Indian War. This caused increasing debts for the King and England; therefore the King was forced to raise the taxes of America and England. This increase in tax made the Americans angry which caused more events to unravel.
After many different battles between King George III and America, America declared its independence on July 4, 1776. After this declaration, many things began to heat up over the representation in government. Tyranny was mentioned many times during the course of these events, causing the creation of the Constitution. The Constitution guarded against tyranny in four ways: federalism, separation of powers, checks and balances, and big states versus small states/The Great Compromise. One part of the Constitution that helped the Americas was federalism.
Document A shows that the first step the framers of the Constitution took to protect the Americas from tyranny was using a form of government called Federalism. James Madison’s idea for division of power between central and state governments is known as Federalism. (Doc A). From the chart in Document A, you will notice that this clearly prevents tyranny from happening. The powers that are needed to run a country are given to the federal government such as declaring war, coining money, and conducting foreign relations. (Doc A).
Also, powers that are needed for a state are given, such as holding election and regulating in-state businesses. (Doc A). Powers that are needed by both state and federal law are shared. This prevents tyranny from happening because the states can’t take control of federal powers, and the federal government can’t take control of state powers. They can only take the power shared and the powers that each of them own. The second step the framers took to protect us from tyranny was to divide the central government into three branches.
The section in Document B taken from the Constitution shows the three branches of government and their powers. James Madison said, “ The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elected, may be justly pronounced the very definition of tyranny. ” (Doc B). The Constitution clearly does not put the powers of legislative, executive, and judiciary in one or many hands.
All branches have split power. The legislative branch can only have the powers of Congress. (Doc B). The executive branch has powers vested within the president. (Doc B). Lastly, the judicial branch has its powers vested in the highest court of the nation, the Supreme Court. As you can see, the Constitution prevents any branch to gain power from other branches. The framers of the Constitution created a clever way to prevent tyranny of one branch over other branches, with a system of check and balances.
James Madison said, “The constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that they may be a check on the other. ” (Doc C). The diagram shows the branches have checks on each other. If the president tries to take power of another branch, the legislative branch can then impeach the president. (Doc C). This is the check of the legislative branch on the executive branch. Each branch has a check of every other branch, so if one branch is doing something wrong, another branch can check the wronged branch, and fix the problem.
This explains how another branch can’t take full control and there is always going to be equal checks and balances. One of the last things the framers of the Constitution did to make sure no tyranny would arise was to make sure the smaller states got a fair vote in Congress. In the Constitutional Convention, two plans were proposed called the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan. The Virginia Plan was favored by the large states and was based on population. The New Jersey Plan favored the small states and gave each state an equal amount of votes.
Eventually after all the arguing, they came up with something called the Great Compromise. This proposed Congress would be composed of the Senate and The House of Representatives. The House of Representatives is based on population, which provides fairness to large states. (Doc D). On the other hand, the Senate has two representatives from each state, which provides fairness to the smaller states. (Doc D). Unquestionably, this provides fairness among both large and small states, taking a closer step to ridding tyranny.
To sum it up, the framers of the Constitution protected us from the evil of tyranny using the four methods, Federalism, dividing the government into three branches, a system of checks and balances, and preventing large states from creating tyranny over the small states in Congress. James Madison said, “The accumulation of power in the same hands whether of one, a few, or many, is the very definition of tyranny,” and the Constitution does a great job of preventing that. The framers succeeded in creating a strong built Constitution because all four methods have created security that no tyrant or tyranny would arise.