AP US Government : Constitutional Convention

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

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Example Question #21 : Constitutional Convention

Which of the following was not one of the primary beliefs shared by the overwhelming majority of delegates at the Constitutional Convention?

Possible Answers:

Factions are crucial to allow democracy to properly function.

Wealth disparity is the root of all political conflict.

Government must protect private property.

Limited government is the best way to balance power and prevent tyranny.

Correct answer:

Factions are crucial to allow democracy to properly function.


The delegates at Philadelphia’s Constitutional Convention shared several core beliefs that helped inspire and guide their activities together. One such belief was that human nature is innately selfish, so that all humans have a tendency to act in their own self-interest; therefore, government needed to make sure to account for such aspirations by controlling power and limiting corruption. The best mechanism for such control, they believed, was limited government – a system of checks and balances in which power was spread amongst various branches of government, so that no one individual or branch possessed all control. The delegates also felt quite keenly that this government must protect and respect individual private property rights (such as land and money). Money, or more accurately, the unequal distribution of money, is the ultimate root of all political conflict, second only to religion and loyalty to individual leaders. Perhaps more than anything else, the Convention delegates feared the rise of factions (political parties or interest groups), which they knew political conflicts were sure to engender. They viewed factions as deeply threatening to government, as impediments to proper governmental functioning and as incitement towards instability, corruption, and violence. The delegates recognized that it is impossible to altogether prevent the existence of factions, as people naturally disagree and form associations based on these disagreements and/or on shared commonalities, so they focused their energies on controlling these groups, making sure that no one faction (no matter how popular) would be able to dominate the government and thus become tyrannical.

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