Orientation and Getting Started
Early Development of the Legislative Branch and the Problem of Representation
Enumerated Powers of Congress
Implied, Expansive, and Limited Powers
The Two Congresses: Representation and Lawmaking
Separation of Powers and Interaction between the Branches
Institutional Development and Change
Congress and the American People

The American Experience

In addition to drawing from historical examples and philosophical ideas, the framers had direct experience with republican governments in America. Representative assemblies were established early in the American colonies, beginning with the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1619. Every state had some form of representative government and a separation of powers, and the Congress under the Articles of Confederation was a representative body. Many of the framers, like Madison, served as representatives in state assemblies and as delegates to the Congress under the Articles of Confederation. They referred to examples from their experiences at the Federal Convention and during the ratification debates. The question was not whether to create a republican form of government, but how to design such a regime that would protect individual liberty while promoting the public interest.