U.S. History 1877-Present 1: The Third Great Awakening
That's right folks, another Great Awakening. We're never going to get any sleep at this rate...
|U.S. History||U.S. History 1877-Present|
so we don't recommend repeating that. [a baseball player blowing a chewing gum]
Montesquieu's biggest hit was a book called...
The Spirit of Laws.
It was published in 1748, right before...
the American Revolution. [a group of men riding horse]
Well, Montesquieu's writings had a big influence on...
the founders of the United States...
as they tried to brainstorm a system of government... [Jefferson and his men at the court]
that could promote freedom.
It helped them keep on track when Thomas Jefferson...
said stuff like, "Let's call it Jeffyland."
Eh, would've been cool. [picture of a circus tent and a giant wheel]
One of Montesquieu's big things was examining...
how different kinds of government go... [a lab with microscope, funnels and test tubes for experiment]
bad. How talks about how monarchs can...
become big, bad tyrants if they stop.. .[Montesquieu examining sample in the microscope]
following the law. You know,
absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Yeah, we're looking at you King George. [image of King George]
Montesquieu also talked about how democracies can...
stop being democratic if, for example, [Montesquieu examining another sample in the microscope]
one group takes advantage of another.
Yeah, read Animal Farm, if you're wondering about this.
Unfortunately, the Founding Fathers... [an animal farm with pigs, hen and a cow]
didn't quite take the idea to heart when they kept...
slavery legal in the newly minted Land of the Free. [a maid serving beverage to guests]
The free white men.
Anyway, one solution Montesquieu came up with to keep...
the government from goin' rotten was... [Montesquieu performing another experiment]
to create a separation of powers.
His big idea was that government's ought...
to split up political authority between legislative,
executive and judiciary branches. [images split into 3 parts as legislative, judicial and executive]
That way each branch could,
you know, keep the other honest-ish.
If the government were sliced up like a...
pie, the whole thing would be less likely to be ruined by one... [man throwing a slice of pie in the trash bin]
bad slice. Sound familiar?
It should. This is exactly how...
the U.S. is set up, with Congress...
as the legislative branch, the office of the president is the... [Obama giving a speech]
executive, and the Supreme Court...
as the judicial. Well,[ judge slamming the hammer]
seems like the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution...
with Montesquieu crib notes scribbled on their hands. [some information written on a person's palm]
Good thing they didn't have sweaty palms.
Of course, Montesquieu didn't think there was only... [image of crown]
one good form of government. He recognized[
that people around the world were different,
and he thought that each group of people should pick whatever form of... [image of flags of different countries]
government best fit their culture, religion,
and climate, you know, whatevs.
The importance thing wasn't democracy vs. monarchy. [Uncle Sam and Queen Elizabeth in a boxing ring]
It was that people felt protected from...
harm, both from other citizens...
and from their own government. [man hiding under his blanket]
So how does Montesquieu weigh in on the whole state of nature debate?
Well, it's kind of complicated, but mostly he emphasized...
the importance of balance.
Montesquieu said that in most situations... [man offering cookies to Obama]
people are pretty selfish.
But with the right mix of patriotism,
personal liberty, and respect for chosen leaders, people are...
able to think about the greater good. [crowd clapping after speech]
In other words, people in democracies have the right...
to pick their leaders and replace those leaders... [man pointing at Obama]
if they do a bad job.
But they don't get to make every decision ever.
That's like another form of self-interest. [man pointing at the woman and laughing]
This balance is very delicate.
It's like the country is a tightrope walkers at a circus. [image of American Flag with wheels balancing on a rope]
One misstep in either direction, and...
Our peaceful democracy is transformed into...
a gory pancake.
And when the clown comes to clean up the mess, [a clown entering the stage]
well they aren't gonna laugh, and...
ugh what a mess. Where are the clowns? C'mon.
Send in the clowns. [some more people entering the stage]
Oh, don't bother. They're here.