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A Short Political Biography of Henry Clay

A Short Political Biography of Henry Clay

The Speaker of the House has managed to garner impressive power ever since its creation in 1789, under Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution. Originally, the Speaker was not a position that had much influence.

The first Speaker of the House was Frederick Muhlenberg, and there was little that can be attributed to him in the sense of having impacted the political world of the time. However, it would be Henry Clay that would manage to break the Speaker’s mold as an ineffectual role to one that had active responsibilities and duties.

Henry Clay served for several terms as Speaker of the House, beginning in 1811 and ending in 1825. Henry Clay’s service as Speaker was not in consecutive terms during
that period. The main change that Henry Clay brought to the office of Speaker of the House was that he began to actively participate in debates, which was not done by any of his predecessors. Furthermore, he began to use the position of his office and use his influence to secure the passage of certain matters that he supported, such as the War of 1812.

However, Henry Clay’s influence is most evident in the presidential election of 1824. The
Electoral College did not manage to provide for a majority for any of the candidates up for election during that year. Therefore, under Constitutional law, the President was to be decided by the House. Henry Clay supported John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson, thus giving Adams the victory in the end. Henry Clay proved to deviate as Speaker of the House in terms of the role’s previous responsibilities or powers.

Following Clay’s run as Speaker, the influence, and duties of the role as Henry Clay had affected them reverted back to its original boundaries for a time. It would be at the dawning of the 20th Century that the role of Speaker would once again develop its power and influence, which was all started under Henry Clay’s tenure. The Speaker’s power would begin once the position also entailed being Chairman of the Committee on Rules. After its structure was reorganized in 1880, the position of Speaker was given a
very powerful standing because of the fact that the Committee was one of the most powerful of the House of Representatives.

The rise of power of the Speaker was once again felt under Thomas Brackett Reed, who took the position starting in 1889. Reed managed to effectively end the delay in the passing of bills due to minority opposition. However, it is Joseph Gurney Cannon, who served from 1903 to 1911, who is considered as the most powerful Speaker of the House in the history of the United States. Cannon determined what was to be the agenda of the House, appointed all the members to the various House Committees, as well as their chairmen, and determined what bills were to be heard by which Committee.

However, in the year prior to his stepping down, many of the other House members would be dissatisfied with the control that was exerted by Cannon and many of his powers would be removed. It would not be until fifteen years later that Speaker Nicholas Longworth would institute some, but not all, of those powers and influence. The Speaker of the House does not have its roles in terms of political stance detailed in the Constitution. The position, however, has throughout history developed into taking a partisan role.

The Speaker has, therefore, also been the head of the majority party in the House of Representatives. The Speaker is responsible to ensure that the agenda of the majority party is addressed by helping pass legislation that is in favor of the majority party. They exercise their power and influence to the extent of being able to decide when each bill is to reach the floor.

The power of the Speaker is also evident in the fact that it is second in line to ascend to
the Presidential office only behind the Vice President. If both the President and Vice President was removed by the office, it would be the Speaker that would be next in line to be sworn in as President and assume the office.

What was the Three-Fifths Compromise?

What was the Three-Fifths Compromise?
The proposal for apportionment for the determination of each state’s number of seats in the House of Representatives became an issue when the Constitution was being drafted in 1787. Aside from being a complex system and method for calculating the population through the census and then establishing a number of seats for representation, the issue as to who was eligible to be counted for the population was a topic of controversy. However, it is no surprise that this agreement is known as the Three-Fifths Compromise, for the Constitution itself was born out of a compromise between the Framers of the Constitution.

However, the Three-Fifths Compromise is arguably the most controversial topic, for its delegates that all slaves of a particular state are to be counted as three-fifths of a white person. The population of slaves would be counted as three-fifths in total when apportioning Representatives, as well as Presidential electors and taxes.

The Three-Fifths Compromise was proposed by James Wilson and Roger Sherman, who were both delegates for the Constitutional Convention of 1787. However, the Three-Fifth Compromise has its roots further back in history, dating back to the Continental Congress in 1783. The Compromise was a result of the apportionment of taxes being related to land values.

Initially, taxes were levied not in accordance with the population numbers, but the actual value of the land. Many states began to depreciate the value of the land in order to provide relief from their taxes. A committee was held that would rectify the situation by implementing the apportionment of taxes in relation to the state’s population. However, this idea was met with the dispute over how to consider slaves in the apportionment process and the actual ratio of slaves to free people at that time.

For the most part, those who opposed slavery only wanted to consider the free people of a population, while that in favor wanted to include slaves in the population count. This would provide for slaveholders to have many more seats in the House of Representatives and more representation in the Electoral College. Many ratios were considered, such as three-fourths, one-half, and one-quarter. After much debate, it would be James Madison that would suggest the Three-Fifths Compromise. However, the Three-Fifths Compromise would not be adopted until the Constitutional Convention because the Compromise was not approved by all of the states and the Articles of Federation required a unanimous vote.

The implementation of the Three-Fifths Compromise would greatly increase the representation and political power of slave-owning states. The Southern states, if represented equally, would have accounted for 33 of the seats in the House of Representatives. However, because of the Three-Fifths Compromise, the Southern states accounted for 47 seats in the House of Representatives of the first United States Congress of 1790. This would allow the South to garner enough power at the political level, giving them control in Presidential elections.

However, as time moved forward, the Three-Fifths Compromise would not provide the advantage for which the Southern states and slave-owners had hoped. The Northern states grew more rapidly in terms of population than the South. Even though Southern states had essentially dominated all political platforms prior to the Civil War, afterward that control would be relinquished slowly but surely. It would not be until the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was be enacted in 1865 that the Three-Fifths Compromise would be rendered obsolete.

Understanding Enumerated Powers

Understanding Enumerated Powers

The United States Constitution allows for certain powers to be explicitly listed that delegate the extent to which the United States Congress has authority. Congress can be said to have two sets of powers granted to the government body under the Constitution.

Article 1, Section 8 includes the listed powers that are vested to Congress, which are referred to as the Enumerated Powers. However, Congress also has implied powers that are set forth and implemented through the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution, which is also found in Article 1, Section 8. Furthermore, Congress’ authority has also been expanded due to the several Amendments committed to the Constitution.

The Enumerated Powers granted to the United States Congress are various and extensive. There are those who believe that the powers and authority of Congress should remain within the limits of the actual provisions as scripted in the Constitution. That is to say that the Constitution should be interpreted in terms of the actual text and that only those powers written into law in the Constitution should be the actual extent of Congress’ powers.

However, there also others that believe that in order for Congress to effectually carry out its duties within the realm of its granted jurisdiction. These people support the use of the Necessary and Proper Clause to grant Congress a wider breadth in terms of its jurisdictional authority in order to make sure that the Legislative Branch of Government is working effectively and up to its intended purpose.

As mentioned, there are various powers that are included as part of Congress’ Enumerated Powers which are included in the Constitution’s provisions. The following comprises some of the powers that are found in Article 1, Section 8:

● Congress has the power to impose and collect taxes which are to provide for the debts of the United States, as well as for the common defense and welfare of the country. All such taxes are to be implemented equally throughout the nation.

● The power to borrow money on behalf of the United States.

● The regulation of commerce, both on the international and interstate levels. This is also to include Indian Tribes as well.

● Congress has the power to establish currency and coin money.

● The power to establish post offices.

● To provide for and maintain a navy.

● Organize, train, and arm a militia.

● Exclusive powers to legislative matters of the country.

Other powers that have been granted after the original drafting of the Constitution have come in the form of Constitutional Amendments. Three particular Amendments gave specific powers and authority to Congress that were not included under the Enumerated Powers of Article 1, Section 8.

Your Guide to The Bicameral Legislature

Your Guide to The Bicameral Legislature


A bicameral legislature simply refers to a particular body of government that consists of two legislative houses or chambers. In certain variations, a bicameral system may include two parliamentary chambers.

The overall purpose behind the bicameral legislature is to provide for representation for both the citizens of a country, as well as the state legislatures on the federal level or in the central government of a country or nation. Most federal systems of government will most likely employ a bicameral system for their legislature.

There are two inherent arguments over the function and purpose of a bicameral legislature. Experts will often cite the often occurrence of deadlocks or stalemates in this particular system as a deterrent to passing important political reforms, making them more difficult to achieve. Others will argue that the bicameral legislature is necessary to maintain an effective system of checks and balances, which will prevent legislation being enacted into law that would unfavorably affect a certain faction or government or its people.

Bicameral Legislature Background Overview

Bicameral Legislature Background Overview

The concept of a bicameral legislature has its foundations as early as Ancient Greece and Rome. Though a more modern application of bicameral legislature is most evident in medieval Europe, when two houses composed of the aristocrats and the commoners was developed for representation of the estates within a realm.
The essential purpose of a bicameral legislature was to provide for representation of both the people or citizens of a nation and the collective states or provinces in the government system. The representation of both factions in one body of legislature is to provide for a method of passing legislation or laws by requiring a majority for approval. This concurrent majority provides for the ability of passing or approving legislature that is not one-sided, or favoring a particular faction in a distinct fashion.
The United States bicameral legislature, or Congress, is often cited as a prime example for bicameralism. However, there are different types of bicameral legislatures employed by different governments throughout the world.
The Federal bicameral system is the one that is most commonly associated with the integral concept of bicameral legislation. The United States, Mexico, Australia, Canada, Germany, and the European Union all employ a bicameral system. However, the method or structure in which it is put into effect varies from country to country.
A version of bicameral legislature that is considered as the classical structure is one that consists of having two Houses in which the democratic process and the federalism principle are combined in the sense of representation. The lower House is comprised of members based upon population numbers of each state or province, which are elected by the citizens of each state. The upper House is comprised of an equal number of representatives from each state and are chosen by state legislatures. The United States Congress, as well as Mexico and Australia, employ this particular bicameral system. 

Article 1 Overview

Article 1 Overview

First Article of the Constitution


The United States Federal Government has as its
source of power all vested in the United States Constitution. It is this
historical and priceless document that is at the vortex behind the governmental
power behind the infrastructure of the United States. The first three Articles
of the United States Constitution outline the three branches of government that
are to become the architecture for government of the country.

The First Article institutes
the Legislative Branch and provides for the specific responsibilities and
duties that this branch is entitled to, including exclusive powers resting
solely on the Legislature. The First Article of the Constitution also states
that a bicameral legislation is to be created, consisting of two chambers,
which is to be known as Congress. Congress is divided into two Houses: the Upper
House, known as the Senate, and the Lower House, known as the House of

The Constitution also provides
that the strength of the Federal Government would lie with the Legislature. The
Constitution secures this concept by provides that Amendments cannot be made to
this Article and are entirely restricted as stated in Article 5.

The First Article of the
Constitution is divided into ten sections which set up the regulations and
systematic approach for each the Senate and the House of Representatives,
Congressional elections, bills, the powers of congress, and limits on the

The Senate is the Upper House of the United States
Congress. The scope of this chamber’s authority and related powers are included
under Article I of the United States Constitution. Many of these powers are
exclusive to the Senate and are not delegated to the Lower House of Congress, the
House of Representatives. Among the several powers granted to the Senate, some
include the approval of treaties, the approval of certain types of Federal
officers, such as Federal judges, and the ability to try impeached officials by
the House.

The Senate is considered to be
more of a prestigious position in Congress, which is partly due to its actual
size. The Senate is elected by the states, and each State is provided for two
seats in the Senate. The two State representatives are not contingent to
population numbers of the State in the way the House of Representatives are
assigned. Furthermore, Senate members serve a term of six years compared to
Representatives’ term of only two years. Presiding over the Senate is the ex
officio President of the Senate, which is also the Vice President of the United
States. Currently holding the position is Joe Biden.

Understanding Congress Legislative Power

Understanding Congress Legislative Power

The United
States Constitution grants all legislative powers to Congress in Article I,
Section I, in what is commonly refer toas 
the “Vesting Clause.”  The “Vesting Clause”
exists also in Articles II and III, in which it also delegates the specific
powers that are to be granted to other branches of Government: the executive
branch and judicial branch.

“Vesting Clause” in the Constitution found in Article I, Section I
states: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a
Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of
Representatives.” The language of the text essentially grants all of the
legislative authority of the Federal Government to the United States Congress.
The importance of the “Vesting Clause” being employed in the United
States Constitution is that it provides for separation of powers by giving each
branch of the Government specific powers and authority restricted to that
particular branch. That is to say, that the legislative powers given to
Congress cannot be exercised or employed by the President because he pertains
to the executive branch.

However, the
“Vesting Clause” dictates that the powers granted under Article I of
the Constitution are exclusive to Congress. The vesting clauses found in the
other two articles do not include the words “herein granted,” which
enumerates the powers and authoritative provisions in Article I. The other
branches of Government are not explicitly restricted by the text and are open
to exercise certain “implied” powers that may fall under their

However, Congress has employed a power that was
not strictly enumerated in the Constitution, which is investigations. The
Supreme Court has long ago validated and affirmed these powers as a contingency
of Congress’ legislative powers. It is important to note that such
investigations are limited to the realm of legislative functions. Congress cannot
simply undertake an investigation or compel for cooperation in an investigation
simply for the purpose of uncovering information at random. Investigations by
Congress are to be bound within their legislative powers and authority. This
prevents Congress from overstepping its boundaries and journeying out of its
imposed jurisdiction because it would violate the doctrine of separation of

On the other
hand, the courts have provided for quite a broad interpretation of Congress’
powers for investigation. The question of whether Congress is involved in an
investigation for ulterior motives would not be questioned by the courts. The
only concern of the courts would be to determine if such investigation is
within the realm of Congress’ authority of power and regulation.

All those
required to cooperate with a Congress investigation are liable to be punished
by law if refusal is given. Under the Constitution, Congress has the authority
to levy a punishment of contempt to those who refuse cooperation with a Congressional
investigation. All those participating in such investigations are protected by
the Constitution and are guaranteed the rights as found under the Bill of

First Article of the Constitution

First Article of the Constitution

Constitution of the United States of America is where the United States Federal
Government derives its power. The Constitution is considered to be the supreme
law of the United States. The first three Articles of the Constitution define
what was to become the three branches of government in the United States, with
each addressing each branch. The First Article of the Constitution provides for
the structure of the Legislative Branch. It also delineates the powers and
responsibilities that the Legislative Branch is to have.

The First Article is divided into ten sections,
each addressing aspects of the Legislative Branch in terms of composition,
member eligibility, and duties. First Article establishes The Congress, which
is to become the ruling body of the Legislative Branch. Congress is a bicameral
legislature, consisting of two Houses known as the Senate and the House of
Representatives. The legislative process requires that both Houses act
together, for any procedure requires approval of both.

Congress as
it is constructed in the First Article is a deviation from the Congress of
Confederation that was set up by the Articles of Confederation in 1781. The Congress
of Confederation was a unicameral legislative body that had minimal authority
when compared to the power granted to the states. The reason that this
structure was implemented was out of the fear and prevention to allow a central
body of Government to maintain all the power and authority, thus creating for
the possibility of a tyrannical government.

After the
American Revolution, an oppressive and all-controlling government is exactly
what the United States wanted to avoid. However, a unicameral legislative
branch prove to be ineffective. The Constitution’s First Article would call for
a bicameral legislature, in which each House would have specific and unique
powers and authority in order to maintain a balance.

The House of Representatives, also referred to as
the lower House of Congress, was created to provide for representation in the
Federal Government that would be proportional to each State’s population. For
example, California currently has the highest population in the United States,
and therefore, has the most representatives in House, with 53 representatives.

The House of
Representatives is to be comprised of no more than 435 members, with each State
having at least one representative. The presiding officer of the House of
Representatives is Speaker, who is elected by the other members. The
Constitution allows for the specific powers to initiate revenue bills, the
authority to impeach officials, and elect the President of the United States in
case there is a discrepancy or stalemate in the Electoral College. However, the
most important power granted to the House by the First Article of the
Constitution is the ability to pass legislation at the Federal level, which
will have effects on the nation as a whole. However, bills must also be
approved by the Senate and the President before being enacted into law.

The United States Senate, which is also known as
the upper House of Congress, is also implemented with the idea of allowing for
State representation at the Federal level. Unlike the House of Representatives,
however, representation is not contingent upon population numbers of each State.
In the Senate, each State is represented by two senators. The leader of the
Senate is called the President of the Senate, but is actually also the Vice
President of the United States. However, the Vice President does not have the
authority to vote on matters, unless there is a tie in the polling process.

The First Article
of the Constitution grants certain powers to the Senate, which are not given to
the House. Generally speaking, it is considered for the State to be more
prestigious because of the fact that there are less members and offers more
deliberative decisions. The Senate has the power to approve treaties as a
condition for ratification, as well as the approval of Federal officials, such
as Cabinet secretaries, Federal judges, military officers, and other Federal
uniformed officers. The Senate also has the power to try Federal officials that
are impeached by the House of Representatives.

Another important factor of the First Article of
the Constitution, besides creating and enumerating powers for Congress, is that
it also implements limits of power of the states. The states are explicitly
prohibited from making their own money, taxing goods from other states, and
entering into treaties, alliances, or confederations. The states are also not
allowed to create their own navies nor enter into war. It is also addressed in
the First Article of the Constitution that any limits placed on Congress, such
as suspension of habeas corpus, titles of nobility, and ex post facto laws, are
also prohibited to the states.