GED Social Studies section is one you should prepare for. Watch this video to learn more and how to study for the GED Test.
GED Social Studies Test Review [Video Transcript]
Man: The American colonists that made significant contributions to development of our country during the early part of our history, we call those individuals the Founding Fathers. One of the most famous Founding Fathers is Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. Now, Benjamin Franklin was a real special Founding Father and the reason he was real special is because he was advocating and talking about American Independence, and the colonies being an independent nation, even before the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence.
Franklin was in favor of colonial unity. And he also thought that the colonies, one day, should be an independent nation. So Franklin was in favor of colonial unity, the 13 colonies and thought that the colonies should band together to create an independent nation. Here’s another special thing about Benjamin Franklin. He was a world-renowned scientist. He was known throughout Europe, after his scientific research and scientific discoveries. So it was very easy that once the United States was involved in American Revolution against Britain, it was very simple for Benjamin Franklin to serve as a diplomat in Europe.
During the American Revolution, he was a diplomat who went to Europe to secure France’s support for the colonists seeking independence from Britain. Now this was very important because Britain was a major European continental power. It had a large army and a large navy. And the colonists, in order for them to be successful and victorious in a decisive way, they needed to bring in another European continental power to balance or counterbalance against the British. So without the support of France, the colonists would not have successfully gained independence.
Benjamin Franklin, by far, was an instrumental figure during the American Founding era. So Franklin was instrumental in the development of the United States of America. Now, as I’ve stated before, Franklin did go to France, to the European continent, to get support for the American colonists in their struggle against Great Britain for independence. Only a month after his return from France, Benjamin Franklin helped draft the American Declaration of Independence. There’s no doubt that Benjamin Franklin played a significant role in the founding era or the early period of our nation’s history. And this earns him the place in our history as one of the most significant Founding Fathers.
Woman: “The Revolutionary War.” The Revolutionary War was primarily a war between Great Britain and the 13 colonies. And these 13 colonies were supposed to be colonies loyal to Great Britain. The 13 colonies were later declared the United States of America and so later became known as America or as Americans instead of as just colonists.
So the 13 colonies were supposed to be colonies under British rule, but the King of Britain was imposing a lot of really harsh taxes and other laws on the colonists and the colonists rebelled. They said, “If you don’t repeal these intolerable acts…” as those laws and taxes were known, then they were not going to be loyal to Britain anymore. Well, Britain said, “Okay, we’re declaring you guys as not submitting to us and so there will be military repercussions.” And the colonists started forming assemblies in each colony where they would gather weapons and form militias.
Well, in April 1775, the Battles of Lexington and Concord became the first battles in the Revolutionary War. And this occurred when the Massachusetts Assembly was having a meeting and British soldiers were ordered to go break it up. And when they did that, the colonists resisted and they had their weapons and they’d already been forming militias, and so they fought back against the British soldiers and that became the first…well, those became the first battles of the war because they happened in different areas of Massachusetts, namely Lexington and Concord.
Next, you’ve got the Battle of Bunker Hill. And there were other battles but these are some of the key points of the war and important battles, and so these are more of just highlights of the Revolutionary War. There were definitely other battles fought but these are ones that were most important points and most important times during the war. So the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought in June of 1775. So April 1775 was the first battle. June, we’ve got the Battle of Bunker Hill which was one of the bloodiest battles, which means they lost the most men.
The British forced the Americans to retreat, so in the end, the British did win. But they have lost almost half of their troops in the process. So the British won this battle, they were able to force the Americans to retreat, to withdraw from that area but they lost almost half of their troops. So it really wasn’t as huge a victory as it could have been. And this battle proved that the colonists could stand against the professional British soldiers.
The British soldiers have been trained as soldiers. They stood in a line, they fought in a very organized manner. The colonists didn’t do that; they fought in the woods, they fought from horseback. They didn’t just go in a straight line because that way, they weren’t as open and available to be struck down by the enemy. So the British soldiers weren’t used to this kind of a fight and this battle at Bunker Hill, proved that the colonists could stand against the professionally trained British soldiers because they had a different fighting style.
So while the British did win in the end because they just kept going forward in keeping the Americans from advancing and finally forced them to withdraw, they did lose half their troops in the process because their method of fighting was to stand out in the open in lines and march in lines. So it was just like basically shooting down targets in the middle of an open area. While the colonists would hide behind trees and would dodge and move around and they didn’t move in such an orderly manner so it wasn’t predictable how the colonists were going to move. And it was predictable how the British soldiers were going to move. So this battle was important because it was one of the bloodiest battles where the most people lost their lives there. But also because it showed the colonists that they could stand up to those British soldiers.
Now the first victory for the colonists came on December 26th, 1776. So April, then June, now we’re in December 1776. This is over a year and a half later. So it took a while for them to actually get a victory here; they weren’t winning a lot before now. So they were steadily fighting the British soldiers but they weren’t winning yet.
But on December 26, 1776 in Trenton, New Jersey, the colonists got their first victory. General George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Day, and were able to launch this surprise attack on British and Hessian troops. And the Hessians were German soldiers hired by the British to come over and fight the colonists. So they launched a surprise attack. Everyone was still recovering from Christmas day. They were all relaxed, in a holiday mood and while they were still sleeping and resting and unprepared, the colonists launched this surprise attack and had a victory for the first time in the Revolutionary War. So that was an important battle for them.
The Battle of Saratoga ended Britain’s plan to separate the colonies geographically. So they thought, “Okay, if we win this battle at Saratoga, we can separate the Northern colonies from the Southern colonies. If they can’t transfer food and munitions and communicate with each other, then it’s gonna be a lot easier to defeat two small armies than one big army that can join together.” Well, the Battle of Saratoga ended this plan because the colonists won. British General John Burgoyne surrendered which led France to join the war as allies of the Americans.
So this battle is considered a major turning point in the war. So we have this victory here in Trenton, New Jersey and then at the Battle of Saratoga, we have another victory. And this victory is even more important because whenever the British surrendered at the Battle of Saratoga, France said, “Okay, you know what Americans, you’ve shown us that you have the power to beat these British soldiers so we’re gonna help you now.” So France joined the war as allies to the Americans so where the Americans are already winning, now they’ve got even more momentum because they’ve got France who’s going to send French soldiers and the French navy to help fight.
So this battle’s considered a turning point in the war because the Americans have been winning a little bit. But now, they won a battle that was really important and convinced France to join and fight on their side. So on October 19th, 1781, British General Cornwallis surrendered after being defeated at the Battle of Yorktown, Virginia. And his surrender technically ended the war but fighting still continued while peace terms were negotiated. So General Cornwallis was like the main general of all the troops. So he surrendered over 8000 troops at this Battle of Yorktown in Virginia and technically, that ended the war.
At this point, it should have been over but news traveled very slowly, peace terms weren’t 100% negotiated and agreed upon. Fighting still continued for the next two years while peace terms were negotiated. And then the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3rd, 1783. And this Treaty of Paris officially ended the war and recognized the United States of America as an independent nation. So the Revolutionary War was fought mainly between Great Britain and the 13 colonies, later known as the United States of America. And other countries sided with Britain to help fight the Americans and control those pesky colonies.
And then France joined with the Americans to help fight the British because they had a common enemy. And France said, “You know, if the colonies aren’t gonna be ours, we’re gonna help make sure Britain doesn’t get them either.” And so there were other countries, other nations involved in this war but primarily it was between Great Britain and the 13 colonies. And the 13 colonies won independence from Britain. And in the end, they won their independence from Great Britain and signed a peace treaty, the Treaty of Paris, which said that Britain recognized the United States of America as an independent nation.
“Manifest Destiny.” In the 1800s, many people believed America was destined by God to expand West, bringing as much of North America as possible under the rule of the United States government. This idea was known as Manifest Destiny. With the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, over half of the continent became American. So America was well on its way to spanning all the way from East to West, from one ocean to the next, across the whole continent. So Americans were trying to just spread a little bit further and a little bit farther to reach that goal.
However, America’s rapid and continuous expansion brought conflict. When America was taking over these new lands, sometimes they were taking colonies or settlements that were previously said to be owned by European nations or sometimes they were simply taking the Native Americans’ land. And as they moved further south, they were taking the land that had previously been under Mexico’s rule. So they had conflict with Native Americans, Great Britain, Mexico, and Spain.
One result of this conflict was the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848. After the war, Texas, California, and much of the American Southwest joined the nation. So they gained even more land after the Mexican-American War. America had annexed Texas; Mexico wasn’t recognizing the same borderline as America was saying they were entitled to, and so they went to war. Out of that war, America gained even more land, getting all of Texas plus California and much of today’s American Southwest.
Conflict also rose over the Oregon territory border up in the Northwest. This border was shared by the United States and Great Britain. And they argued over where the border actually should be. In 1846, President James Polk exacted a compromise with Britain, establishing the United States boundary South of the 49th parallel, which is where you see it today. The 49th parallel is a line of latitude across the globe and so they just did it geographically and said, “Okay, we’ll settle for this.” If you’ll notice, he did this in 1846, right before the Mexican-American War.
He didn’t want to be fighting Great Britain and Mexico at the same time so he quickly settled everything here so that he could focus on fighting Mexico. In the end, America did reach its goal. They achieved Manifest Destiny. The United States stretches from the East to the West, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean or from sea to shining sea.
Man: About 150 years ago, from 1861 to 1865, the American Civil War occurred. Now, anytime there’s a civil war, that’s because there are warring factions or different sides that claim allegiance to the same country. In the case of the American Civil War, the war in factions included the Confederacy or the Southern States versus the Union or the Northern States. Now, there is a disagreement between scholars that studied the Civil War period about the specific causes that led to the South seceding or leaving the Union and triggering the Civil War. However, generally, there is consensus about five causes that led to the beginning of the Civil War.
Those causes include slavery, sectionalism, territorial crisis, national elections, and states’ rights. Now, the American Civil War, as all Civil Wars, was and still is today our most bloody conflict. The American Civil War resulted in at least 600,000 deaths. And that’s 600,000 deaths on both sides, North and South. And because most of the Civil War was fought in the South, it literally left many Southern states and communities devastated. Now when we look at the Civil War from a military standpoint, we’re primarily looking at two personalities.
In the South, we had Robert E. Lee. By far, Robert E. Lee was one of the South’s most able military commanders. Now, Robert E. Lee started off as the Commander of the Army of Virginia which was, by far, the South’s largest unit and from the South’s, probably most prominent state, Virginia. Eventually, Lee would be promoted to Commander-in-Chief of Confederate forces. Then for the North, you had General Ulysses S. Grant. At the beginning of the Civil War, Lincoln, who was the president at that time, had to go through many generals in order to find one that could actually come up with a strategy to defeat the South and bring the Union back together.
Eventually, Lincoln would settle on Grant. He would be promoted to be Commander of all Union forces and eventually, he became the 18th President of the United States. Now, looking at the Civil War, there were many battles. Some historians would say that there was an engagement during the Civil War nearly every day, from 1861 to 1865. But we see here in 1860, Lincoln was elected. The South is beginning to realize that because of their economic position, which is translating to their political position, they are losing a lot of influence in the United States when it comes to national elections.
Now, 1861, Southern forces fire on Fort Sumter, where there are Union forces located. This signals the beginning of the Civil War in Fort Sumter, South Carolina. By 1863, we have this great battle in Pennsylvania, called the Battle of Gettysburg. There were many casualties and this battle was a signal of the tide turning from the South to the North and eventual victory by 1865 at the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, where Lee surrenders to Grant and the Civil War ends.
Man: The Reconstruction Era, also known as Reconstruction, was the time period after the Civil War until 1877. During this time period, the US started to adjust to the changes as slaves were freed. This started with Abraham Lincoln, who was president immediately after the Civil War ended and ran through President Rutherford B. Hayes. During this time, slaves were freed through the ratification of the 13th Amendment. In addition, slaves and African former slaves, and African Americans in general, were empowered through the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments which all gave African Americans freedom.
So this started under Lincoln and he proposed a really modern approach, as well as his Vice-President, who then became President, Andrew Johnson did. They were in a modern approach to putting the US back into a normal flow of things, but instead, radical Republicans began wanting a more harsh approach by punishing those who had fought in defense of slavery and giving free men as much power as possible to help them become level with the whites. It ended in 1877, however, as Democrats started coming to power and trying to go against what the radical Republicans had been doing in trying to repeal those acts.
The Progressive Era started in the 1890s and ran through the 1920s. During this time period, the Progressives wanted to eliminate government corruption. They believed they could do this by eliminating political machines and political bosses. One way they wanted to accomplish this was through prohibition. They believed that those political bosses who operated through saloons could no longer be financed if prohibition came about.
In addition, they were in favor of women’s suffrage, the right for all women to vote and in modernization. They believed that in all areas of society, old was bad because it was probably inefficient. So they were always searching for a new way to do things that they thought would be more efficient. One way in which they tried to do this was by mimicking what was going on in Western Europe. They followed new advances in Western Europe very closely because they believed that what was going on over there was good and efficient.
One example of this is the Federal Reserve System, an idea that America got from Europe. Followers of the Progressive Movement were mainly middle-class Americans and it started in the local arena. Then the Progressive Movement moved to the state level and then finally, ended up in the national arena. They believed in scientific approaches to many things including theology, school and family life, as well as government. So it was kind of a new thought this time and just as the name implies, they were progressive, looking for new ways to do things.
Woman: “The Egyptians.” The Egyptians lived in a concentrated area along the lower parts of the Nile River, around 3000 BC. And they were able to predict flooding and control irrigation which made the Nile River Valley a very fertile area. And since they grew surplus crops, the Egyptians had time to pursue other interests. So the Egyptians lived in the Nile River Valley, the lower part of the, well…the land along the lower part of the Nile River. And they could predict when floods would occur and they also had control of irrigation techniques.
So they were able to farm a lot of that land and grow enough crops that they had plenty to spare. They had some to store up for the future, for times of drought or famine, and they had time to do other things. So they were definitely a farming community but they had lots of other interest because their civilization developed in a very fertile area that made for an easier life than some of the other civilizations that were developing around the same time period. So the Egyptians developed writing, they had that extra time. They developed a system of writing.
They farmed minerals from the valley in surrounding desert. So they figured out what minerals they could use from the ground and they would go and farm them as well or mine them out because they had all this extra time. They farmed the land but they also farmed the minerals. They developed a vast trading network. So they have all this extra food, they’ve got these minerals, they can write, they can make jewelry, pottery. They had a lot of art, and their art and architecture were modeled throughout other civilizations in the surrounding areas as the Egyptians developed more and more.
So they had a vast trading network. They would trade very far away from where they lived and people would come from far away to trade with them. They developed a military to defend against attacks. So you can imagine living in this fertile valley, other civilizations are going to say, “Hey, that spot looks really great. I wanna live there. I want our people to live there.” So the Egyptians did have to defend Egypt against attacks because this Nile River Valley was a pretty popular place. And people saw that it was good land and they tried to make it their own so Egypt had to develop a military.
They formulated an effective system of medicine. So they were able to record symptoms and say, “Oh, this looks similar to when this other person was sick. This is what we gave them and it made it better. This person doesn’t look like they’re getting better; they may have this much time to live. This person has a wound. If we put this medicine and wrap it up, it will get better.” So they had an effective system of medicine.
They organized collective construction. In fact, one of the Egyptian’s greatest achievements were their pyramids. And the pyramids were not something that just a few people could build. These took lots and lots of time, and lots of manpower to build. So the pyramids are something that a lot of people associate with Egypt even today. Back then, remember I said that a lot of other people modeled the Egyptian’s art and architecture? One of their architectural things that people wanted to copy were the pyramids.
They were very impressive. Even now, they’re very impressive. But for them to be able to make it back then without all of the modern equipment that we have was very impressive. So pyramids were originally built as burial sites for pharaohs who were the leaders in Egypt. And they were believed to continue ruling in the afterlife. So they made these huge pyramids and they buried the pharaohs in there after they died.
And they buried them with food, and with servants, and with animals, with gold, and jewels. They wanted them to be entertained and fed and have plenty to drink and have plenty of people to wait on them in the afterlife as well. And so they buried all this with them, thinking it would all go with the pharaoh to the next life.
Peasants worked on the pyramid in exchange for food and shelter. So for people who maybe didn’t have their own area of land, people who wanted these pyramids built would say, “Okay, you come build on the pyramid. We’ll feed you and make sure you got a place to live.”
The shape of the pyramids is meant to symbolize the slanting rays of the sun. And if you think about the way that the pyramids slant down, and the sloping sides were also thought to help the souls of the pharaohs climb to the sky to join the other gods. So slanting rays down from the sun but also it slants up toward the sun from the ground, so the pharaoh’s soul was supposed to be assisted by the sloping sides. It could make its way up toward the sky to join the other gods.
And just to give you an example of how much time and how much labor a pyramid might take, the largest pyramid from this time took around 20 years and around 100,000 laborers to complete. So if a pharaoh came into power, he better start getting his pyramid built really quickly because by the time that it was done, it will be about the time he was going to be needing it.
So the Egyptians were a very accomplished people. They were very ahead of their time, both in architecture and art. And they lived in the fertile Nile River Valley around 3000 BC.
Man: The Middle Ages was a time period between the 5th and 15th centuries. It started at the collapse of the Roman Empire. Now, we can split the Middle Ages up into three main sections: the Early Middle Ages, the High Middle Ages and the Late Middle Ages. And each section has its own particular characteristics.
The Early Middle Ages were characterized by social and political changes. Remember, the Roman Empire had just collapsed, so there was a lot of land up for grabs at that point for countries to take that the Roman Empire used to hold. So a lot of conflict at that time, as countries tried to gain and acquire that land for themselves.
During the High Middle Ages, lots of population growth in Europe, lots of technological advances also in Europe. The Crusades took place at this point, as Western Christians tried to regain the Holy Land from the Muslims. Also, Feudalism was very common at this time which is where a peasant would live on a piece of land owned by a noble, in exchange for working for that noble.
The Late Middle Ages were a very depressing point of the Middle Ages. The Black Death occurred at that point which was a disease that killed millions and millions of Europeans. There’s also a controversy in the Church and some cases of heresy. Now, just like the Middle Ages came after the Roman Empire, the Renaissance came after the Middle Ages. So the Middle Ages, in some way, set the stage for the Renaissance.
The Renaissance was a time of cultural transformations and advances in many areas of study. It was thought to have begun in Florence, Italy in the Late Middle Ages. So I want to highlight a few of the areas that significant advances were made in during the Renaissance. One area was science, in which scientists began to understand the value of observation in making scientific discoveries. Also advances were made in education. These reforms were somewhat slow, but people began to favor a more classical education.
Advances were also made in politics, especially in the art of diplomacy. And then finally, art; lots of advances were made in art. And that’s why I left it for last because it’s considered the most important part of the Renaissance or at least the most well-known. Painters at this time began to portray a more natural reality in their painting. Great painters at this time were Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci who both contributed greatly to the artistic advances during this time period.
A term that came out at the Renaissance was the term Renaissance Man, who is someone who has expertise in several areas of study. So if someone had expertise in science, education, politics, and art, we would refer to them as Renaissance Men. And in fact, Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo were perhaps the first Renaissance Men and had set an example of what a Renaissance Man would be like.
Printing at this time and advances in printing really were essential in helping bring about the Renaissance. This time, paper became more available and the invention of metal-movable type happened during this time period. And without those two things, the ideas that came out of the Renaissance could not be spread easily to other areas. So the advances in printing are essentially what helped spread on the Renaissance, as it moved to different areas away from Florence, Italy.
Today, historians debate the role of the Renaissance. Some historians believe that it was not as significant as others make it out to be. But the most confirmed resources that we have, say that the Renaissance was a very important time following the Late Middle Ages.
Woman: “The Declaration of Independence.” The Declaration of Independence is a statement that was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776. And it was adopted by the 13 American colonies who formed the Continental Congress. Now, the Declaration of Independence said that King George III of Britain had violated the rights of American colonists. He had put into effect different laws and taxes on the American colonists that seemed unfair to them and took away some of their rights. So the Continental Congress convened to try to come up with a solution. Fighting had already been going on for over a year at the time that this second Continental Congress occurred, and they decided there wasn’t going to be a peaceful way to solve things with Britain.
So they declared themselves independent. They said King George had violated the rights of these American colonists. And therefore, it announced that the 13 colonies considered themselves as independent states; no longer part of the British Empire. Instead, they said that they formed a new Union of those 13 states, to be known as the United States of America. So they had tried to work things out peacefully.
King George did not take back those laws and taxes. Instead, he fought the American colonists whenever they rebelled against following those laws and paying those taxes. And so after a year of fighting, the Continental Congress met again and they formed this Declaration of Independence. They declared that they were independent of Britain and that they were their own nation now to be known as the United States of America. They were no longer part of the British Empire.
John Adams was a leader at the Continental Congress and he pushed for independence. So at first, not everyone was for independence. They felt that was a little radical, they thought maybe they could still make things work with Britain. But after a year of fighting, John Adams was still pushing independence, and it was sounding better to everyone. So on July 2nd, 1776, all 13 colonies unanimously approved this idea to declare themselves independent from Britain.
John Adams convinced the committee to allow Thomas Jefferson to write the draft. So Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. Congress edited the draft and the final version was ratified, which means approved. Everyone agreed to it, and it was ratified by all 13 colonies or states as they were to be known on July 4th, 1776. So this date is our date of independence. The day we celebrate as Independence Day was the day that our Declaration of Independence had been edited and everyone signed it and approved it, everyone who was there from the 13 colonies as representatives at this Continental Congress.
Now, Jefferson was influenced by John Locke, who was a 17th-century writer, and this was evidenced in his ideas about natural rights. John Locke had written about natural rights and Jefferson included this in his declaration. Jefferson asserted that people have natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So John Locke had said people have the right to life, liberty, and private property. So Jefferson subbed happiness for private property.
Well, of course, I’m sure he still meant that people could have private property. He put it in a little bit broader terms. Everyone is entitled to life, everyone is entitled to liberty, to be free, and everyone is entitled to pursue happiness. And they felt like King George had infringed on some of those natural rights. So Jefferson was using most of what John Locke had written, whenever he wrote life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is natural rights that were being violated in the Declaration of Independence.
Now, Jefferson felt and had the declaration reflect that the purpose of government was to protect the rights of people. Individual rights were more important than the individual’s obligations to the state. King George had the opposite idea and he was trying to force his laws and his taxes on the colonists. So people who were signing the Declaration of Independence were agreeing that people’s individual rights were more important than their obligation to the state or to their government. So people’s individual rights should come first and then their obligations to the state. And that is what Jefferson was trying to reflect in the Declaration of Independence.
So on July 4th, 1776, all 13 colonies, all representatives from those 13 colonies to be known as states, ratified the Declaration of Independence which declared that King George had violated rights of American colonists. And now, those 13 colonies were to be known as the United States of America, a separate, new nation that was no longer tied to the British Empire.
Man: A fundamental belief held by Founding Fathers was that our basic individual liberties originated from God or came from God. This is one reason the Bill of Rights is part of our US Constitution. The Bill of Rights is composed of the First 10 Amendments to the United States Constitution. Now, the Bill of Rights was part of a compromise between the federalist and the anti-federalist. The federalist approved of ratifying the US Constitution while the anti-federalist were opposed.
One reason the anti-federalist opposed ratifying or approving the US Constitution among the states, was because the US Constitution as drafted out of the 1787 Convention in Philadelphia did not have a listing of rights as the state constitutions had and still have today. The anti-federalist stated, “How can you have a Constitution which bounds or restricts government but not have rights listed that government should guarantee or protect?”
So what the federalist promised or compromised is that if some anti-federalist would agree to ratify the US Constitution, one of the first acts of Congress would be to ratify a listing of rights or the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution. The Bill of Rights were ratified in December 15th, 1791. Now, let’s look at these Amendments, the Bill of Rights, the First 10 Amendments to the US Constitution. The First Amendment lists five basic freedoms: the freedom of religion, speech, press, peaceful assembly and government petition.
With the freedom of religion, is the idea that the people would be able to worship as their heart and as they see fit. And there would not be any government-sponsored church. Freedom of speech and press gives individuals the right to express their beliefs and feelings about government even if those beliefs are contrary or against the government. And the reason we’re able to have a free press that is newspapers, today televisions, radio is because the First Amendment protects the right of the people to express their beliefs. Then you have freedom of peaceful assembly, the idea that the people collectively can come together and protest their government. And government petition, petition meaning to ask or demand from their government.
The Second Amendment, the right to bear arms or the right of the people to own firearms for their individual protection and if need be, to prevent government tyranny. We would say, the first five freedoms listed in the Bill of Rights mean nothing without the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms.
The Third Amendment provides a protection of the people from the quartering of soldiers in private homes except by law during war time. Before the American Revolution, during the French and Indian War, the American colonists were forced by the British government. And even after the French and Indian War, they were forced into quartering or housing soldiers in their private homes without a law. It was just a military edict. The Third Amendment protects the people from that type of abuse.
Then you have the Fourth Amendment, which is a protection from unreasonable search and seizure. The idea that people can find peace and privacy in their person and among their papers and in their homes.
The Fifth Amendment provides for due process and protection from double jeopardy and self-incrimination. Due process — that if someone is charged with a crime, there is a process, a rule of law, in order to find that person either guilty or innocent. Protection against double jeopardy — you cannot be found guilty for the same crime multiple times. And self-incrimination — the government cannot force you to take the testimony stand and testify against yourself.
The Sixth Amendment, the right of the accused to a speedy, public trial before an impartial jury. The idea is that if you are accused of a crime, the trial will be speedy, quick as possible, and it will be a public trial. You will not be allowed to languish in jail and the trial will be public where people can see that, again, going back to Amendment Five, that due process is being adhered to. And then the case is laid out before an impartial jury, a jury that is just going to look at the merits of the case and decide either guilty or not guilty.
The Seventh Amendment protects the right of the people to a civil trial by jury in accordance with common law. Now, civil law or a civil trial is different from a criminal trial. In a civil trial, we’re dealing with disagreements between individuals or different groups of people. A criminal trial is a crime, a harm…is a trial that attempts to write a crime or a harm done against someone else such as murder, theft, a burglary. A civil trial is a disagreement, maybe a business disagreement between two individuals concerning a contract. Well, the Seventh Amendment protects the right of the people that if you seek redress in a civil court, you have a right to a trial. And that trial by jury is conducted in accordance with common law.
Then we have the Eighth Amendment, the idea is that the people are protected from cruel and unusual punishment and excessive fines and bail. This is pretty self-explanatory. The Eighth Amendment protects the people from the government imposing very cruel and unreasonable punishments on the people. The punishment should fit the crime.
Amendment Nine preserves rights not mentioned. In other words, any right not mentioned in the Bill of Rights is automatically preserved and reserved to individuals.
And then the 10th Amendment is the preservation of the rights of states and individuals; the idea that any powers that are not given to the national government in the Constitution or any rights not given to the national government in the Constitution are automatically reserved to the states and the individuals respectively.
Woman: Geographical Features. There are many commonly identified geographical features. Plateaus are elevated but they are flat on top. Some plateaus are very dry such as the Kenya plateau because surrounding mountains prevent them from receiving moisture, either in the form of rainfall or simply cloud and humidity being able to develop in that area. So some plateaus are very dry but not all of them. All plateaus are going to be elevated areas that are flat on top. Plateau, flat; remember plat, flat. And that will help you remember, plateaus are the flat areas and that is what makes it a very specific geographical feature is that they are flat on top.
Deserts are another common geographical feature and deserts will receive less than 10 inches of rain per year. So that’s what classifies an area as a desert. Where you may receive a couple of inches of rain over a night, a desert is only going to see 10 inches of rain or less per year. And they’re usually large areas; you won’t usually find a small area that’s classified as a desert. It’s usually going to be a really large area such as the Sahara Desert in Africa or the Australian Outback. Because if there’s an area that’s only receiving 10 inches of rain per year, it’s usually going to be a geographical location that’s spread out over a large area, and then slowly transitions into areas with more rain. You usually won’t find just one little spot.
Deltas occur at river mouths and because rivers carry sediment, down to the delta, these areas are often very fertile. So deltas of rivers would be good areas to grow crops because lots of sediments with new, fresh nutrients would constantly be transported down to that delta area.
Mesas are flat, steep-sided mountains or hills, and this term is also sometimes used to refer to plateaus. So a mesa is different in that it’s at the top of a steep-sided mountain or hill where plateaus could be elevated but they don’t necessarily have to be at the top of the mountain or a hill. They could just be raised up and then go for a really long way without being at the top of a mountain or a hill. They could just be a big break in elevation. Now, the term plateau can still be used for mesas because plateaus are flat areas of land.
Basins are areas of low elevation where rivers drain. So you’ve heard of river basins probably and where river winds its course, the basin is the area that’s carved out by the river. And that is a lower elevation than the surrounding land.
Foothills are the transition area between the plains and the mountains; so flat, lower land and high mountains. And they’re usually made up of hills that gradually increase in size as they get closer to the mountain range. So foothills, you have a flat plain and then slowly you have higher and higher hills until you get to the mountain peaks.
And last, we have marshes and swamps. These are also low lands like your basin. But they are very wet and usually spread out, and they are largely covered in vegetation such as reeds and rushes. Where river basin could still hold shrubbery and trees, marshes and swamps are going to be so saturated with water almost year round. So that the only things that can grow there are water plants such as reeds and rushes.
Now, there are other geographical features. We’ve mentioned mountains, we’ve mentioned rivers. We’ve mentioned plains, all of those are geographical features. These are just some that you might not see as commonly but they’re still important for you to know.