In what ways is the government of the United States contained by having various branches of government and a system of Checks and Balances?
The United States government was formed out of a fear of monarchs. The newly independent Americans, who had just finished overthrowing England and George III, realized that the most effective form of government was not one in which a monarch is the sole authority, but rather where power was distributed across several branches of government. In addition, the founders of the United States government understood that an effective government drew its power from the people. With these things in mind, the founders created a government that was spread across three branches, Executive, Legislative, and Judicial, and possessed a system of checks and balances to prevent any one branch from taking total control. Each branch of the government has a specific set of responsibilities found in the Constitution. It is the duty of the Legislative Branch, the Congress, to create laws and to pass resolutions for the country to follow. The Executive Branch, the President, is responsible for assisting in implementing the laws passed and enforcing the laws across the country. The President is responsible for running the military by acting as the Commander-in-Chief. Finally, the Judicial Branch, the Supreme Court, is responsible for interpreting the law for the country. Each one of these branches is responsible for their job and only their job and cannot intrude on the other branches responsibilities. The branches interact through a system known as checks and balances. Checks and balances are a system of rules built into our government that allows each branch to contain certain power that the other branches cannot take away. To explain the system, it is helpful to view a basic example. If the Congress, the Legislative branch, passes a law, that law is then sent to the Executive Branch, the President, to be signed off on. The President, through checks and balances, has the right to approve and sign the law or to veto the law, or make it void. This is a way that the President can “check” the power that the Legislative Branch possesses. If the president accepts and approves the new law, it is then sent to the Judicial Branch. The Judicial Branch, the Supreme Court, has the ability to determine whether a law is Constitutional or not. If the Supreme Court deems a law unconstitutional, it is not allowed to be passed and must return to the Congress to be re-written. These two systems are designed to spread the balance of power in the United States and to assure that no one branch becomes too powerful.
What issues in France led to the Reign of Terror?
The Reign of Terror was a culmination of chaos and inequality in France during the early 1800s. These problems arose from the Three Estates and Deficit Spending. The Three Estates were how French society was structured during the late 1700s and early 1800s. The first two estates, the Nobles and the Clergy, held most of the power in French society and looked down upon the Third Estate, the lowest of the estates. Though it was the lowest of the Estates, the Third Estate made up the majority of the population and was the economic backbone of the French empire. The Third Estate was responsible for paying for taxes to fund the first two estates and in many ways supported and held up the upper echelon of French society. Another issue that led to the Reign of Terror was Deficit Spending. Deficit Spending is when a government is spending money without receiving any money in return therefore, creating a budget deficit. In the case of French monarchs, they created a budget crisis through participation in the French and Indian War and in supporting the colonists in the American Revolution. Wars, by nature, cause a deficit because you are spending money and are only rewarded if you win the war. In this case, France did not benefit economically from either war. In addition, the French monarch Louis XIV was spending millions on the Palace of Versailles, which was simply a mansion to act as his residence. This again did not bring France any money in return and caused a budget issue. The Third Estate had finally had enough of supporting a monarchy that continually caused them to struggle financially without any hope of bettering themselves. It was for this reason that the Third Estate took part in the Tennis Court Oaths, abolished the Monarchy, and began a revolution on Bastille Day.
How was America’s economy impacted by the rise of big businesses in the United States during the late 1800s?
In the late 1800s, business tycoons like John Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie revolutionized the way that businesses developed and flourished in post-Civil War America. Before this change began to take place, the United States had an economy based heavily upon what region of the country you lived and worked in. In the south, the economy was based on one particular crop, first tobacco, but eventually cotton. The west had some economic diversity through wheat and livestock, but it was in the north that the economy was the most varied. In the north, independent workers farmed, built ships, produced items from factories, and engaged in international trade. This is how the economy functioned for the first half of America’s existence, but that shifted substantially with the rise of the big business. Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller both revolutionized these economies, but differed in their approach to big business. Andrew Carnegie developed a monopoly on steel in the Northwest part of Pennsylvania. Carnegie was able to develop this monopoly through the use of Vertical Integration. Vertical Integration is when a company owns all the means of production and distribution of a particular good. This meant that Carnegie was able to produce and distribute his steel using only his own company’s products and not having to outsource any of his labor. Rockefeller on the other hand possessed a monopoly, but created that monopoly through a process known as Horizontal Integration. Horizontal Integration is when a company buys out any potential competition leaving their product as the only available option for buyers. Rockefeller did this so well that at one point he was selling 95% of all oil used in the United States. Obviously, with this rise came some obstacles and some push-back. First, unions began to develop to try and combat these massive companies. Unions such as the American Federation of Labor and the Knights of Labor formed as a way to fight and unify for the rights of workers. By unifying, workers were able to have more voice and power in their jobs. In addition, the United States government did not like the idea of massive businesses and worked to end these monopolies. One of the most effective ways they did this was through the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. This act effectively tried to regulate and put an end to the rise of monopolies. Overall, the United States shifted from small, diverse economies to large businesses that dominated large portions of the country and controlled industries. This change brought forth some benefits, but was largely unpopular in the United States.