AP US Government : Constitutional Convention

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #52 : Ap Us Government

Which of the following were created for the purpose of ending the Articles of Confederation?

Possible Answers:

The First Continental Congress 

The Stamp Act Congress

The Philadelphia Convention 

The Second Continental Congress 

None of the answers are correct 

Correct answer:

None of the answers are correct 

Explanation:

This is another trick question. Honestly, this is a very tricky question, although you hopefully picked “The Philadelphia Convention” as the WRONG answer. Yes, the wrong answer. The Philadelphia Convention, ostensibly, was NOT to get rid of the Articles of Confederation; it was, on the face of things, to AMEND the Articles.

Now, one of the delegates in particular (James Madison) hoped for an incredibly drastic change culminating in the destruction of the Articles of Confederation. And, arguably, since he ended up as one of the chief architects of the Constitution, it is fair to say that he got his wish.

At any rate, Madison (and perhaps one or two others) were alone in their machinations. The majority of the other delegates attended the Convention under the impression that they were to amend the Articles and fix some of the more egregious problems. This, of course, changed fairly quickly, but the original purpose of the Convention was to amend, not destroy.

Example Question #52 : Constitution And Government Foundations

The Constitution mandates which of the following political parties? 

Possible Answers:

The constitution does not mention political parties 

Federalists 

Whigs

Democrats 

Republicans 

Correct answer:

The constitution does not mention political parties 

Explanation:

This is a straightforward question. The Constitution is conspicuously silent about political parties. In fact, the Founders regarded political parties as particularly vulgar and inappropriate. We see hints of this throughout the Constitution itself, along with George Washington’s farewell speech.

The (original, un-amended) Constitution does not mention political parties; indeed, it’s likely that the Framers didn’t even consider their existence. Prior to the ratification of the 12th amendment, for example, the President was elected by receiving the highest number of votes in the Electoral College; the Vice-President, however, was elected by receiving the SECOND-highest number of votes in the Electoral College (this is a bit simplified, but still true).  

When political parties began emerging, you can imagine how many problems this caused (generally it would be the President from one party, and the VP from the opposing party). 

George Washington actually warned about the dangers of political parties during his farewell speech (the speech he gave when retiring from office).

Example Question #11 : Constitutional Convention

How many states did the newly-minted Constitution require for ratification?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

This question is slightly tricky, but not if you pay close attention to the wording. “The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.” This, of course, is the Constitution and a very legalese way of saying that 9 states had to ratify in order for the Constitution to supersede the Articles of Confederation.

This is politically and historically significant for two reasons: one, it removed the unanimous consent rule from the Articles of Confederation (AoC); two, it mandated that ratifying conventions—NOT state legislatures—had to approve the Constitution.

Remember: under the AoC, any amendments to the articles had to be approved by every single state! (Or, more accurately, every single state’s delegates had to approve it). Thus, the constitution purported to replace the AoC—using its OWN mechanism! That said, the Constitution didn’t REALLY take effect until VA and NY ratified it, even though 9/13 states ratified prior to those two.

As for the ratifying conventions requirement, it quite cleverly removed a lot of power from the hands of ardent antifederalists who were holed up in various states’ legislatures, and put it in the hands of the people of the states. 

Example Question #51 : Ap Us Government

"We the people" is a famous quote from which important document?

Possible Answers:

The Constitution

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen

The Bill of Rights

The Articles of Confederation

The Declaration of Independence

Correct answer:

The Constitution

Explanation:

The famous words "We, the People" decorate the top of the Constitution, the formal document drawn up by the representatives of the first 13 states following the American Revolution.

Example Question #53 : Ap Us Government

Which of the following were problems with the Articles of Confederation? 

I. Congress could not levy taxes

II. Could not regulate trade or commerce

III. Could not use expressly delegated powers 

IV. No permanent executive branch

Possible Answers:

II and IV

I, II, and IV

I, II, III, and IV

I, II, and III

I and II

Correct answer:

I, II, and IV

Explanation:

The Articles of Confederation were drawn up in Continental Congress.  Power was placed in unicameral congress. The Articles established no permanent executive or judicial branch. Under the Articles, congress also had very limited power. They could not levy taxes or control trade and commerce between the states. Congress could only use and enforce expressly delegated powers mentioned in the Articles. To increase effectiveness, the Articles would need to be revised.

Example Question #61 : Constitution And Government Foundations

At the founding of our nation, most delegates believed that only which of the
following should be able to vote?

Possible Answers:

all qualified males

married men

White male property owners

native-born citizens

wealthy citizens

Correct answer:

White male property owners

Explanation:

In the early years of the American republic, many Founders believed that only white male property owners were qualified to vote. Blacks were considered slaves and denied the right to vote. Women were not given the right to vote until the 1920s.

Example Question #62 : Constitution And Government Foundations

What was the subject of the Great Compromise?

Possible Answers:

the form of the executive branch

the number of states in the Union

legality of slavery

the form of the judiciary branch

the form of the legislative branch

Correct answer:

the form of the legislative branch

Explanation:

At the Constitutional Convention the structure of Congress was contentious. Smaller states argued for equal representation among states while larger, more populous states, argued for representation based on population. The Great Compromise was the decision to create two houses of congress, the House, based on state population, and the Senate, each state gets two representatives.

Example Question #63 : Constructing The Constitution

Which model of Congressional structure and representation was ultimately chosen by the delegates at the Constitutional Convention?

Possible Answers:

The Three-Fifths Compromise 

The Connecticut Compromise

The Virginia Plan 

The New Jersey Plan 

Correct answer:

The Connecticut Compromise

Explanation:

At the Convention, the delegates were deeply divided over the best method of structuring and according representation in the newly-created Congress. Delegates from small states (such as New Jersey or Rhode Island) advocated for the New Jersey Plan, which would have given each state an equal number of Congressional representatives, regardless of population. Quite naturally, larger states objected to this plan; they urged adoption of the Virginia Plan instead, which based representation on each individual state’s population. In the end, the Convention settled on the so-called Connecticut Compromise, combining elements from both the New Jersey and Virginia Plans. Under the Connecticut Compromise, Congress was comprised of two sections, each based on different methods of representation: the membership of the House of Representatives was determined by each state’s population, while each state, regardless of size, would each be granted two Senators. However, the issue of how to count enslaved individuals, who were concentrated in the larger Southern states, soon arose. This matter was decided by the Three-Fifths Compromise, which stated that representation and taxation both were determined by each state’s free residents, as well as three-fifths of the state’s total enslaved population. The Three-Fifths Compromise did not directly make mention of slaves – to avoid conflict among the delegates, the Compromise instead referred to slaves as “other persons,” but the true meaning of this phrase was glaringly obvious.

Example Question #11 : Constitutional Convention

Please select the sole principle and/or practice that, according to the Founders, could accord a government necessary legitimacy.

Possible Answers:

Majority rule 

A body of standing laws 

Natural rights 

The consent of the governed 

Correct answer:

The consent of the governed 

Explanation:

The Founders, including such prominent men as Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Monroe, believed that in order for any governmental system to be legitimate, it absolutely needed one essential quality: the consent of the governed. Political power, as Jefferson and John Adams both wrote, is dangerous and requires careful handling, so that it may both respect and uphold the natural rights of its citizenry without claiming any of the poisonous controls of divine right or hereditary might that were espoused by many monarchs. To this end, the people who live under a government must first consent to the operation of that government, agreeing to allow leaders and institutions to function. If such consent was not secured, or if it was first received but then abused, the Founders held that it was perfectly justifiable for the people to withdraw their consent and to dismantle their governmental structure – “to throw off such tyranny,” as the Declaration of Independence so beautifully states.

Example Question #64 : Constructing The Constitution

Which of the following is not one of the primary weaknesses of the Articles of the Confederation?

Possible Answers:

The national government had no power to administer any of its vast federal lands

The national government was unable to engage directly with its citizens

Congress was not permitted to tax the citizenry

States were not required to send delegates to the Confederation on a regular basis

Correct answer:

The national government had no power to administer any of its vast federal lands

Explanation:

While the Articles of Confederation were undeniably and hopelessly flawed, they did at least allow the national government to properly provide for the administration of the new country’s vast federal lands out West (although many historians argue that this is hardly just compensation). In 1787, the national government passed the Northwest Ordinance, an act that helped foster new exploration and settlement of the lands immediately adjacent to the thirteen colonies (these lands were seen as being “out West,” aka farther West than the Eastern shore). These lands were rich in resources, including timber, fresh water, fertile farming lands, wild animals, and minerals. However, despite this salient administration of federal lands, the Articles were overwhelmingly a failure, almost from the very beginning. Under the Articles, the national government was so weak that it was essentially entirely dependent on the states’ governments; for example, Congress was unable to pass any taxes and had to obtain any funds from the states, which were not at all compelled to provide any money. Additionally, Congress could not control domestic or foreign trade, the national government was cut off from engaging with the citizens, the states were not obligated to send delegates to the government on a regular basis, and Congress was unable to maintain its army and navy. The states were permitted to govern themselves unchecked, without any deference or synchronicity with the national government.

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors