What are the main principles on which the Constitution is based?  

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Constitution is based on several principles. One principle was to develop a better plan of government than we already had. There were several weaknesses with the plan of government created by the Articles of Confederation. There were many things the government couldn’t do. For example, it couldn’t levy taxes, and it couldn’t require people to join the military. The Constitution was written to address these weaknesses.

The Constitution was also written to establish justice. Under the plan of government created by the Articles of Confederation, there was no place where states could resolve disputes. The Constitution created a court system so there would be a place to resolve disputes.

A third principle was to establish peace at home. During the early days of our country, the federal government couldn’t require people to join the army. Thus, when a rebellion such as Shay’s Rebellion occurred, the federal government wasn’t sure if it could respond. Under the Constitution, the federal government responded when a rebellion such as the Whiskey Rebellion occurred.

Another goal of the Constitution was to protect the people from attack. The Constitution allowed the government to require people to join the military. This would help us in dealing with events that threatened our nation. Britain, France, and Spain were all doing things that could have led to war. This included encouraging Native Americans to attack us and interfering with our trade. Having a military would help us dealing with these events, if necessary.

The Constitution also wanted to get the power in the hands of the people. The concept of popular sovereignty would allow the votes of the people to determine actions and to determine who our elected officials would be. We wanted to elect our officials and then give them enough power to run the government effectively.

Finally, the Constitution was created to ensure that the government would protect our rights. There were many steps taken to ensure the government didn’t become too powerful. These steps included a system of separation of powers and a system of checks and balances.