POLS 1000 - American Heritage

Depending on your professor you may have a good or bad time. This class focuses on the upbringing of the United States, often times it paints a "positive" image, and may disregard other facts.  Most lectures in this class are "data dumps," which means that you must memorize a lot of information.  The majority of these lectures do not allow for critical thinking debate.

An example of stupid statements in this class:
Professor, "Americans are sovereign citizens."

First of all, there are multiple versions of history, often times the winners write the final story.  So, let me share with you my dislike of the professor's statement.  The terms sovereign and citizen are complete opposites.  By definition, a sovereign is a supreme ruler, or in other words has utmost authority and responsibility, like an employer.  The term citizen means that someone is a party of, or subject of; a subject is a lower ranking individual, such an employee.  To make my case clear, I will substitute sovereign with employer and employee for citizen.  With this substitution, the professor's statement translates to, "Americans are employer employees."  Does that statement make any sense?

In the US Constitution, the term citizen does not mean an "inhabitant" of the land.  It might have meant inhabitant for a long time, but the 14th Amendment changed that.  The amendment dictates the definition as that of being a "subject of the United States."  Most people/citizens/teachers/students are unaware of the proper interpretation of the US Constitution, luckily the government's legislative branch has access to documents that clarify confusing legal wording.

But my opinion does not matter, if you desire to attain the certificate of college completion, you must abide by that system's required version of history.

Some material that may be required:

Expected Assignments:
  • Write chapter summaries.
  • Attend classes consistently.
    • Attend presentations by prominent book writers, and write a summary (extra credit)
    • Congressmen speeches, such as Ron Paul's, may not get you credit, or it may actually deduct attendance points.
  • Do a presentation on something that is "American."
  • Fill a  crossword puzzle from ConstitutionFacts
  • Select a topic related to American Heritage and write a paper on it.

The professor may give you a study guide, but may not base his final examination solely on the study guide.  Such a move may impact grades quite easily, especially for foreign students that have not been exposed to long periods of American culture.  While my tone has been quite critical, the professor is a human being, and we all have shortcomings that we can improve on.

Without further due, here's a study guide.


  • The answers in this document are not definite.  Several sources give different answers and explanations, and the “From class” answers derive from statements by the professor.  These answers were collected by 3 or 4 students.
  • Highlighted answers come from http://quizlet.com/8639609/american-heritage-final-flash-cards/ and they sometimes match with the “from class” answers, although not always.

1. What are the characteristics of democracy?

From class: People have the chance to vote, institutions respect the vote.

People have the final authority, people are directly involved in government, political authority lies within the people through direct participation

(a) Government in which power and civic responsibility are exercised by adult citizens directly, or through their elected representatives.  (b) Democracy rests upon the principles of majority rule and individual rights.  (c )Protects rights such as freedom of speech, religion, the right to organize, and equal protection under the law. (d) Regular elections.

2. What were the attitudes of Thomas Jefferson and William Penn toward religious freedom?

From class: Jefferson said, “Whether my neighbor worships one God or twenty, he neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
When Penn was told that woman was a witch, he said, "There's no law against that!"
In other words, both men were supportive of all beliefs and religions having freedom.

They were tolerant and less paranoid with religious freedom

a. Jefferson believed in religious freedom, and made it clear that the state should not establish a specific state religion.
b. William Penn argued for religious freedom, "no Men hath Power or authority to rule over Men's Consciences in Religious matters."

3. What is the Protestant Ethic?

From class: hard work, resourcefulness, very religious, saving for “rainy days”.

Doing good work will determine your salvation

(a) A concept which emphasizes hard work, frugality, and prosperity as a display of a person's salvation in the Christian faith. (b) The concept that man can be "self-made", he  must have been born of poor parents and made his way up the ladder by sheer ability, self-reliance, and perseverance in the facer of hardship.

4. What was life under the Articles of Confederation like?

From class: government was loosely organized, the country had lots of crime, law enforcement was not funded well, uprisings and protests because government was not strong enough.

A time of social breakdown and tyranny, little sense of a single nation, 13 separate nations.

Large amounts of inflation because each state printed their money, large amounts of debt.

5. Weakness of government under the Articles of Confederation included what?

From class: only unicameral legislature existed, no power to collect taxes from people.

Each state had there own military, no national court system to settle disputes

a. It posed each state as individual republics, instead of a single nation.
b. The articles made it difficult to deal with other nations.
c. No executive authority, just unicameral legislature.
d. Limited government powers
i. Settlement disputes among states.
ii. Foreign affairs
iii. No power to tax or raise money from people, but from states.
iv. No power to enforce decisions upon states.

6. Amending the Articles of Confederation required what sort of majority?

A unanimous vote of the 13 states was required.

7. What are the major provisions of the U.S. Constitution?

From Class:
1) Constitutionalism itself (idea of Supreme Law of the Land)
2) Separation of powers among the 3 branches of government (Leg, Exec, Jud.)
3) Division of Power (Federalism) - separation of power between …
4) Judicial Review
6) Possibility of Amending the Constitution

One more version:
1) Division of Powers (meaning the difference between State and National governments)
2) Separation of Powers (meaning the governments being divided into three branches with different powers: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial)
3) Bicameralism (meaning the Legislative branch has two houses— Senate and the House of Representatives)

Article I - Legislative powers given to the Congress
Article II - Executive powers given to the President
Article III - Judicial powers granted to Courts
Article IV - Titles and immunities of Citizens, admission of new states, and guarantee of republican form of government
Article V - Amendable constitution, and equal representation of the States in the Senate.
Article VI - Oath of Affirmation by officers are a requirement, no religious test is required.

8. What provisions of the original constitution are not subject to amendment?

Article V - no State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Slave trades regulations and state boundaries are not subject to amendment
9. May Congress pass bills of attainder, establish a nobility, and pass ex post facto laws?


Ex post facto laws (punishing someone for something that wasn’t illegal at the time).
Nobility (making someone a Duke or Knighting them).
Bill of Attainder (passing a law making someone guilty without giving them a trial).

10. What did Adam Smith consider to be the economic ideal?

From class: Adam was a catholic, market enthusiast, believed in competition and individualism.  (capitalism)

market system, concern for well being of others

11. Without exploitation of workers during the Industrial Revolution, what worldwide movement may never have come into existence?

From class: revolutionary socialism or in other words marxism/communism.

12. Are political parties, congressional committees, and a president's cabinet provided for in the U.S. Constitution?


constitutional committees and presidents cabinet are NOT PROVIDED in the US constitution

13. In what event did the Abolition Movement have its genesis?

From class:  The Great Revival from 1792-44 (was a religious revival which brought everyone to think of everyone as equals, including slaves)

During the civil war and Missouri Compromise the abolition movement had its genesis.

14. What two levels possess sovereignty in our federal system?

From class: State and National Government OR State and Federal

Legislative and executive possess sovereignty in the federal system.

15. What are the components of the Supreme Law of the Land?

Article VI, Clause 2:
“The Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the Supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

Further components can be observed in answer No. 7

The US constitution limits powers of those elected, laws and treaties that were made; the judges were bound by them

16. What are examples of types of U.S. law?

From class:  Constitutional Law, Statutory Law, and Case Law

constitutional, statutory, case law, and regulatory

17. What were the features of Aristotle's polis?

From class: Citizens would be active in politics.

middle class has the loudest voice in public affairs, rule of law was important

18. On what issues did Jefferson and Hamilton agree?

From class: The dollar should be the unit of American money, land should be available for sale to everyone, and they both were against Aaron Burr.

19. In an impeachment trial of the president, who presides?

From class: Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

20. Who were the authors of The Federalist?

From class: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay

21. What provisions of the U.S. Constitution was violated by the New York prayer?

From class: The establishment clause of the 1st Amendment.

22. What religious organization led out where abolition was concerned?

From class: The Quakers, both in England and later in the United States.

23. Who was the voice of the court in Brown v. Board?

From class: Chief Justice Earl Warren (not always the chief justice)
Earl Warren and Fredrick Vinson

24. What reformer most influenced the Puritan founding of America?

From class: John Calvin

25. According to Aristotle, in what sense is man a political animal?

From class: He no longer lives in the animal world, but in the political world.  Instead of fighting, he has the Government to protect and help him.

Zoon Politikoon
View- man is naturally interested in gov and society- the shaping of character is through political activity

26. What were some of the anti-federalist criticisms of the original constitution?

From class: It was too aristocratic in tone (for the rich, by the rich), there was no mention of Deity and there was an absence of a Bill of Rights.

president would have too much power , vice president wasnt nessesary, and the west would be sold out, too much like an empire

27. Why did federalism win over anti-federalism?

From class: The Federalists were more positive about the future and were more assertive.

because they were FOR the constitution and were more organized and better led

28. What did Alexander Hamilton's legislative plan include?

From class: Re. debt payment accrued during the Revolutionary War, and Hamilton was in favor of central banking.

Government should fund entire debt, assume state debts, tariff to protect domestic manufacture, trade agreement with great Britain and a national bank

29. What was the primary concern of James Madison as expressed in Federalist #10?

From class: Madison was concerned with political parties/factions overturning the government.

30. What arguments did John Marshall use in justifying judicial review?

From class: Superior authority should review legislation passed by the congress to test its constitutionality.  As of right now only real cases in courtrooms are constitutionally tested.

Wikipedia - he reinforced the principle that federal courts are obligated to exercisejudicial review, by disregarding purported laws if they violate the Constitution. Thus, Marshall cemented the position of the American judiciary as an independent and influential branch of government.

31. What sort of economic system did Adam Smith prefer?

From class: Capitalism (free market and mercantilism)

market system, concern for well being of others

32. What are some of the features of American electoral politics?

From class: Two party system, winner take all, every fourth year major conventions take place.

33. What are some of the provisions of the 14th amendment?

From class: Due process of law, equal protection of the law, privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States.  States may not harass or persecute minorities or groups of individuals.

citizenship state representatives, congress power to enforce, due process

34. Compare the life chances (opportunities in life) of the 19th and 20th Century women.

From class: 19th century women had in some respects more security because their families were slightly less likely to divorce.  20th century women have more opportunities, such as voting, better education, and being self standing.

35. What has been an unintended consequence of Women's Liberation?

From class: Decrease in economic stability and security.

36. Who is most likely to be poor today?

From class: Single mothers, young people, and non-working.

37. According to deTocqueville, what are some of the features of American family life?
From class: Affection between parents and children, working hard in the farm, aspirations for the future, belief that the future is bright.

ties of affections, less rivalry, they need each other and are sympathetic to the habits of the heart

38. And 39. What are some of the features of our national character?

From class: Competitiveness, religiosity, commercialism, belief in the future.

optimistic, self reliant, innovative, practical, relentless, idealistic, materialistic, god fearing and suspicious

40. Who was Andrew Jackson's protégé who succeeded him in office?

From class: Martin van Buren

41. With what political leader is the democratization of American politics most closely associated?

From class: Andrew Jackson

42. Whose vision was that of America as a city on a hill?

From class: John Winthrop.  He was a highly religious Christian.

43. What is the human predicament?

From class: (same as below)

to choose between tyranny or anarchy

44. Where in the Constitution can be found the president's authority to make treaties?

From class:  Article II, Section 2, Clause 2

45. What U.S. Supreme Court case provides for mutual tax immunity?

From class: McCollough vs Maryland, established mutual tax immunity (prevents the states from taxing against the government, U.S. gov may not tax state-issued bonds)

46. And 50. What are some of the strengths of American democracy?

From class: Character, integrity, the party system.
the public good, creativity, wisdom, virtue and redemption

47. Does your instructor consider the U.S. to be a western, liberal, pluralistic democracy?

From class: Yes

48. What are the dynamics of the American two-party system?

From class: Winner take all system that makes it extremely difficult for third parties to come in and have a say. For the most part, Republicans and Democrats always win.
legitimacy, moderation, predictability and responsibility are the dynamics of american two party system

49. What are some of the weaknesses of American democracy?

From class: Excess in many things such as too much wine, propaganda, etc.

leadership, manipulation, trivialization

Economic Dilemmas

  • Hamiltonian vs. Jeffersonian
The Hamiltonian economic program was the set of measures that were proposed byAmerican Founding Father and 1st Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in three notable reports and implemented by Congress during George Washington's first administration.

Jeffersonian democracy, named after its leading advocate Thomas Jefferson, was one of two dominant political outlooks and movements in the United States from the 1790s to the 1820s. The term was commonly used to refer to the Democratic-Republican Party which Jefferson founded in opposition to the Federalist Party of Alexander Hamilton.

  • First Report on Public Credit - pertaining to theassumption of federal and state debts and finance of theUnited States government.
  • Second Report on Public Credit - pertaining to the establishment of a National Bank.
  • Report on Manufactures - pertaining to the policies to be followed to encourage manufacturing and industry within the United States.

Published: Mar 22, 2013

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