AP US Government : Political Figures and Constitutional Framers

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Constitution And Government Foundations

Which of these best describes the position of Anti-Federalists on the Constitution?

Possible Answers:

They supported the adoption of the Constitution because it contained a written Bill of Rights.

They opposed the adoption of the Constitution because it centralized power in the hands of the Federal government.

They opposed the adoption of the Constitution because it contained a written Bill of Rights.

They supported the adoption of the Constitution because it centralized power in the hands of the Federal Government.

They supported the adoption of the Constitution because it ensured the continued supremacy of the states.

Correct answer:

They opposed the adoption of the Constitution because it centralized power in the hands of the Federal government.

Explanation:

Anti-Federalists were opposed to the adoption of the Constitution for two major reasons. The first was that they feared that the Constitution placed power too firmly in the hands of a centralized Federal government. The second was that the Constitution contained no prescribed Bill of Rights. As only the first of these two concerns is an answer choice, it must be the correct answer.

Example Question #1 : Political Figures And Constitutional Framers

Charles Beard famously argued that __________.

Possible Answers:

the Constitutional Framers were primarily motivated by the preservation of their economic advantages when writing the Constitution

The Civil War was not about slavery at all, but about the economic interests of the wealthy in the North and the South

since the Constitutional Framers were, for the most part, slave owners, their claims to represent freedom and liberty are somewhat ludicrous

The United States should not try to break away from the British Empire, because such an act would represent economic suicide

The United States has a duty to intervene in the rest of the Western hemisphere to prevent the expansion of European colonialism

Correct answer:

the Constitutional Framers were primarily motivated by the preservation of their economic advantages when writing the Constitution

Explanation:

Charles Beard is a famous writer and historian who argued that the Constitutional Framers, far from being motivated by universal human rights and liberty, were instead motivated by preserving the economic interests of the upper class from which they came.

Example Question #2 : Political Figures And Constitutional Framers

Which one of these Founding Fathers was least likely to be alarmed by Shays’ Rebellion?

Possible Answers:

Thomas Jefferson

John Adams

George Washington

John Jay

Alexander Hamilton

Correct answer:

Thomas Jefferson

Explanation:

The correct answer is Thomas Jefferson. He famously responded to the uprising in Massachusetts by saying that "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." You do not need to remember this quote, but you do need to remember its sentiment. Jefferson believed that rebellions were not detrimental to the maintenance of the American government; on the contrary, he felt that they were necessary toward preserving the concept of liberty and individual freedom. In this he was in the minority among the Founding Fathers—George Washington in particular felt that Shays’ Rebellion conclusively demonstrated the need for a stronger Federal government.

Example Question #4 : Constitution And Government Foundations

The Declaration of Independence was written by __________.

Possible Answers:

Benjamin Franklin

James Madison

Thomas Jefferson

James Monroe

George Washington

Correct answer:

Thomas Jefferson

Explanation:

The Declaration of Independence, in which the colonies formally listed their grievances against the British government and King George, was written by Thomas Jefferson, in 1776.

Example Question #5 : Constructing The Constitution

Which of the Founding Fathers primarily sponsored the Virginia Plan?

Possible Answers:

John Adams

Alexander Hamilton

George Washington

Benjamin Franklin

James Madison

Correct answer:

James Madison

Explanation:

The Virginia Plan, as opposed to the New Jersey Plan, was intended to establish a legislative branch where the representation was divided proportionally among the states, based on their respective populations. It was primarily sponsored by James Madison.

Example Question #5 : Constitution And Government Foundations

The Federalist Papers were written by all of the following individuals EXCEPT __________.

Possible Answers:

Alexander Hamilton

John Jay

None of these individuals contributed to The Federalist Papers.

James Madison

All of these individuals contributed to The Federalist Papers.

Correct answer:

All of these individuals contributed to The Federalist Papers.

Explanation:

The Federalist Papers is a collection of essays written by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison advocating for the ratification and adoption of the United States Constitution. These essays were published primarily in New York state newspapers in 1787 and 1788 during the debate over Constitutional ratification.

Example Question #3 : Political Figures And Constitutional Framers

According to James Madison in Federalist No. 51 (1788), in a republican government, which institution "necessarily predominates?"

Possible Answers:

The legislative authority

The executive authority

The presidential authority

The judicial authority

Correct answer:

The legislative authority

Explanation:

In Madison No. 51 he uses the specific phrase “necessary predominates” when referring to the Legislative branch of government. The reason for this, according to Madison, is that the legislative branch is more representative of the people therefore it should have a greater say in government affairs.

Example Question #7 : Constitution And Government Foundations

Who authored the Federalist Papers?

Possible Answers:

(I),(II), (III)

(III) James Madison

(IV) George Washington

(II) Alexander Hamilton

(I) John Jay

Correct answer:

(I),(II), (III)

Explanation:

John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison wrote the collection of papers that we now refer to as the Federalist Papers. Essentially, these papers laid out the inner-workings of the proposed federal government, along with some pretty compelling political theory to back it up. Most students remember that Hamilton and Madison wrote the Federalist Papers—some even remember they both did—but relatively few people remember that John Jay actually wrote a few as well. Unfortunately, John Jay has been relegated to a relatively obscure part of the annals of history—he was also the first Supreme Court Chief Justice, but was so massively eclipsed by John Marshall’s fame that everyone forgets that too.

At any rate, the easiest way to remember that all three men wrote the Federalist Papers is to remember this: Hamilton wrote the most, Madison wrote the best, and Jay wrote . . . five

Example Question #8 : Constitution And Government Foundations

Federalist 10 (the 10th Federalist Paper) is Madison’s response to the Anti-Federalists objection that large republics cannot survive for long, due to competing “factions.” What solution did Madison advocate?

Possible Answers:

Destroy the causes of factions

Expanding the sphere—that is, make the republic as large as possible to include as many factions as possible

None of the answers are correct

 Make the republic smaller and thus control the number of factions present

Prevent people from speaking freely and having their own interests

Correct answer:

Expanding the sphere—that is, make the republic as large as possible to include as many factions as possible

Explanation:

Madison penned a brilliant response to the anti-federalist objection regarding a large republic and factions. The anti-federalists stir up fear regarding a particular faction taking over the government and subjecting everyone else to that faction’s interests. Madison responds by turning the argument on its head. Madison says we can do one of two things: (1) control the effects of factionalism—that is, ensure everyone has the same opinion (belongs to the same faction)—or, (2) expand the sphere and include every faction you could possibly think of.

The expansion theory makes sense if you abstract it. Take a room of 10 people—would it be easy or hard for one particularly vociferous person to “convert” or sway a majority of those people to her will? Relatively speaking, it would be easy, right? What if there were 100 people? 10000? 1000000? It becomes exponentially harder to sway people to your will when there are more voices there.

Example Question #9 : Constitution And Government Foundations

Federalist 51 advocates for which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Life-long executive

A parliamentary/unitary form of government

Expanding the sphere

Separation of powers

Totalitarian government

Correct answer:

Separation of powers

Explanation:

Federalist 51 includes one of the most famous quotations in all of political science: “if men were angels no government would be necessary.” Madison goes on to explain that men, in fact, are not angels, and thus government IS necessary. But since men are inherently sinful/greedy/generally bad, how do we ensure that the government we created doesn’t turn upon the people?

Separation of powers, that’s how. By splitting the government into three branches—each of which jealously guards its own power—we ensure that the government will be too busy fighting against itself to turn a totalitarian eye to the people.

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