A Hodgepodge of Choices Founding Fathers had to choose from among many different ideas and philosophies about government: e.g. democracy, aristocracy, monarchy. Knew that there are three main divisions: legislative, executive, legislative Knew that governments lasted longer when bound by “higher law”: Rome, Israel, etc.
A Hodgepodge of Ideas (cont.) Knew that, in the words of Acton, “All power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Based upon their research, made two conclusions: Government should serve the people, government itself must be bound by a higher law
Respect the Classics, Man! Majority of political thought until the Renaissance was classical republicanism: fostering of civic virtue, conforming their perception to reality, sacrificing their own good for the good of the many: Dulce est decorum et pro patria mori. Purpose of government is to protect the people and teach them about their duties and responsibilities to others.
Respect the Classics, Man! Judeo-Christian morals changed things: helping others is very important, but even more important is how the individual stands before God: “Clean the inside of the cup, and the outside will be clean also”. Individuals are immortal, and so are more important than any nation. Taken a step further by “natural rights philosophy”
Respect the Classics, Man! Natural rights philosophy was the exaltation of the individual: every man has certain rights that cannot be infringed upon, and the purpose of government is to protect and serve the self. The duty of citizens is to ensure that their government represents their own interests and to protect those interests from being infringed upon.
Respect the Classics, Man! Bacon and Paracelsus are some of the rallying points for the new philosophy: rather than conform our ideas to reality, make reality to conform to our ideas.
Lesson 3 What historical developments influence modern ideas of individual rights?
Judeo-Christian Heritage Insisted on private morality rather than public morality.
Feudalism Based on the principle of land for service.
Renaissance and Reformation During the renaissance and reformation, ideas were formed about human nature and art. Martin Luther argued that all individuals were seen equal in the eyes of God.
Rise of the Nation-States People began to think of themselves as citizens, with rights and duties.
Capitalism People began to choose occupations, and work to own land, and improve their economic position.
Enlightenment inspired American Founders Hobbes and Locke introduced ideas of human nature, which debates are still the center of conflict in many political debates. Montesquieu helped people understand the workings of governmental and social institutions.
What were the British Origins of American Constitutionalism? Lesson 4
Parliament In 1295 King Edward I summoned what came to be called the Model Parliament, which consisted of two representative houses. The house of Lords represented the feudal nobility and major church officials The house of Commons composed from two knights from each shire; two citizens from each borough; two citizens from each city.
Common Law William the Conqueror became king while two different systems of law were in act. He simplified it to require judges publish their decisions so that future judges would know how to make decisions. “Stare decisis” means let the precedent decision stand.
Rights of Englishmen Rights that parliament or the monarch cannot violate In 1100 King Henry I issued a Charter of Liberties, which bound his power while dealing with nobles and church officials. In 1215 King John signed Magna Carta, which ensured Rule of Law, Basic Rights and Government by agreement or contract.
British Constitution Consisted of common law, important acts of Parliament, and political customs. Petition of right of 1628, King Charles I Habeas corpus Glorious Revolution of 1688 English Bill of rights
What basic ideas about rights and constitutional government did colonial Americans hold? Chapter 5
New Experiments In Constitutional Government Royal proprietorships Joint-stock companies The Mayflower Compact
The American Experience Indentured servitude Free laborers Laws from England didn’t make it to the colonies - English law that prohibited sale of land outside male family members.
Unlike in England, being born into a rich or poor family did not ensure you would stay in that class. Ex. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Alexander Hamilton
In colonial charters stated everyone should have Liberties, Franchises and Immunities. Unlike England, in the states a man could not be arrested unless expressed in a law. Not everyone got these liberties, only white male owners. In some cases rights were reserved to only Protestant white males.
Women had the legal status of underage children and when married lost most rights to their husbands under a legal doctrine called coverture. Indentured servants had about the same rights as slaves. Native Americans and African Americans had little to no rights.
First Colonial Constitutions Fundamental rights Rule of law Representative government and right to vote Separation of powers -Legislatures -Governors -Courts
Why did American colonists want to free themselves from Great Britain? Chapter 6
1763 Colonist were used to little interference from England until 1763. From 1763 to 1776 Britain tried to increase there control over the colonies. Proclamation Act The Stamp Act Quartering Act
John Locke said, “ The supreme power cannot take from any man part of his property without his own consent” The colonist used Locke’s thinking to justify there anger for the extra taxes, less protection, and less control.
Colonist formed “committees of correspondence” In 1774 all colonies except Georgia were represented at the First Continental Congress. They voted to impose ban on con colonial trade with Britain to force them to change there policies. In 1775, at the towns of Lexington and Concord, the shot heard around the world was fired.
Declaration of Independence The colonies decided they deserved Independence from England.( Common Sense) Thomas Jefferson writes the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, by rejecting sovereignty of the crown.
What’s in the Declaration of Independence Natural rights Human equality Government by consent Long Train of Abuses from the king Right of revolution
What Basic Ideas about Government and Rights Did the State Constitutions Include? Chapter 7
Colonies returned to a “state of nature” The American Revolution returned the colonist to a state of nature. The old colonial governments under British control no longer existed Revolutionary war, 13 states began to develop their own written constitutions
Six basic ideas state constitutions included Higher law and natural rights 1. Every state constitution was considered a higher law and was based on the idea that purpose of government was to preserve and protect citizens natural rights to life, liberty, and property. Social contract 1. Their government was formed as a result of an agreement among its people to create a government to protect their natural rights. Popular Sovereignty 1. The authority to govern delegated to the government by the sovereign people
Representation and right to vote One of the most significant characteristics was the importance it placed on representation of people in their government. Legislative Supremacy Government in which most of the power is given to the legislature Legislative branch Executive branch Checks and Balances Even though powers in the state governments were unbalanced in favor of strong legislatures, there were some checks provided by their state constitutions.
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