Advice and Consent of the Senate
The Constitution’s principle of separation of powers is reflected in the President’s power to make treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Constitution goes on to require that two-thirds of Senators present must approve a treaty before it can be ratified. As “Chief Diplomat” for the nation, the President represents the United States to other countries, and directs our foreign policy. Various Presidents in our history have approached the concept of “advice and consent” differently, and have had varying degrees of success at persuading Senators of the wisdom of the treaties they have negotiated.
George Washington was aware that his actions would set a precedent as to the meaning of the term “advice and consent.” Many of his decisions with respect to Jay’s Treaty also helped clearly define the separation of powers. Woodrow Wilson all but rejected the Senate’s advice of the Treaty of Versailles, and for the first time in American history, the Senate rejected a peace treaty. Perhaps learning from history, Jimmy Carter took a different and more accommodating approach, winning ratification of the initially unpopular Panama Canal Treaties.
Treaty of Paris - Find it on ConstitutionBee.org
England acknowledged the independence of America in this document, which formally ended the Revolutionary War. “His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.”
The treaty was negotiated and signed on behalf of the United States by John Adams Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay. It recognized the thirteen colonies as free and independent, established the boundaries of the US and British North America, gave the US and Britain access to the Mississippi river, granted fishing rights to American fishermen in the Grand Banks and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and specified that the US Congress would encourage the states to pay British subjects back for confiscated property.
Louisiana Purchase treaty - Find it on ConstitutionBee.org
President Thomas Jefferson doubled the size of the United States by purchasing the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million dollars. The price worked out to about 3 cents an acre for over 500 million acres of land. The purchase opened lands west of the Mississippi to settlement, but also resulted in the further displacement of American Indian tribes. Jefferson faced oppositions from those who believed the Constitution did not provide for the purchase of new lands.
The Purchase also eventually raised issues about the expansion of slavery. The Missouri Compromise partially addressed this issue but questions remained as to the powers of Congress and executive authority to regulate slavery in new territories.
Want to learn more?
The resources contained on the ArticleII.org website are just the beginning! The Bill of Rights Institute curriculum, Presidents and the Constitution, explores how various presidents understood and exercised their constitutional powers. By exploring constitutional crises in American history, these interactive, hands-on lessons encourage students to analyze the actions of Presidents in light of the Constitution.
Students will engage with:
▪ 15 ready-to-use, interactive lesson plans
▪ Strong focus on primary source activities
▪ Solid content including historical narrative in each lesson
▪ Scholarly thematic essays that introduce each unit
▪ Contemporary application highlighted with an “Issues Endure” portal in each unit
George Washington was known as a good dancer and an excellent rider. He owned many sets of dentures, but none were made out of wood.