ap gov study guides

⚖️  Unit 2: Interactions Among Branches of Government

🗳  Unit 5: Political Participation

1.0 Unit 1 Overview: Foundations of American Democracy





⏱️  2 min read

written by

Annika Tekumulla

annika tekumulla

June 11, 2020

Understanding the foundations of American democracy is essential to understanding modern debates over government power and political participation. For example, the framers of the Constitution embedded checks and balances into the federal government, but, today, the executive branch has more power than many believe the Founders intended. In fact, some even refer to it as an "imperial presidency." In this unit, you'll learn all about the principles and beliefs that America's government was founded on and the key documents that influenced it.

🎥 Watch: AP GOPO - Foundations of Democracy Live Stream Replay

The most important thing you need to know about this unit:


This unit will review the concepts and ideals that make the foundation for the US Government. It is necessary that you understand the basics and foundations of the government in order to have a strong base to apply to future units. 


Image courtesy of Pixabay

Key Ideas

  • The Constitution set up the blueprint for the structure of the government, and the Bill of Rights provided a basis for Americans' rights in relation to their government. 

  • Over the years, there have been changes to the Constitution in order to keep up with the needs of society.  

  • With these changes, there have been debates and compromises on the balance of power between the national and state governments. 

Important Vocabulary

  • limited government 

  • natural rights

  • popular sovereignty

  • Republicanism

  • social contract

  • The Declaration of Independence 

  • The U.S. Constitution

  • Philadelphia Convention

  • participatory democracy

  • pluralist democracy

  • elite democracy

  • Brutus No. 1

  • Federalist No. 10

  • Anti-Federalist Papers

  • Pluralist

  • Articles of Confederation

  • Shay’s Rebellion

  • Great (Connecticut) Compromise

  • Electoral College 

  • Three-Fifths Compromise  

  • Compromise on the importation of slaves 

  • Article V

  • separation of powers

  • checks and balances

  • executive branch 

  • legislative branch

  • judicial branch

  • Federalist No. 51

  • James Madison

  • Federalism

  • delegated/enumerated powers

  • concurrent powers

  • categorical grants 

  • block grant

  • funded mandate

  • unfunded mandate

  • necessary and proper clause/elastic clause 

  • implied powers

  • tenth amendment

  • reserved power

  • fourteenth amendment

  • McCulloch v Maryland 

  • United States v. Lopez

  • commerce clause

🎥 Watch: AP GOPO - Constitution 101 and Principles

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