Documents that Influenced the American System of Government Documents that Influenced the American System of Government
Magna Carta, 1215 Document that limited the power of the British king by guaranteeing rights to the people. These rights were: ◦No cruel & unusual punishment (Bill of Rights, Amendment 5) ◦The right to a fair and speedy trial by your peers (Bill of Rights, Amendment 6) ◦The government must have the peoples’ approval to levy (collect) taxes (House of Representatives).
The House of Burgesses, 1619 Written in Virginia in 1619, the House of Burgesses is the first example of an elected representative assembly in the Americas. The House of Burgesses helped advise Virginia’s colonial governor in making laws. The H of B made life more fair for those already living in the Virginia colony and had a role in enticing other new settlers to come to Virginia.
The Mayflower Compact, 1620 Written by the Pilgrims when they landed near Plymouth. It was signed by 41 men before going onshore in Plymouth. It is a contract of self- government organized for the good of the people. Government by the people is a major principle in our Constitution today.
The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, 1636 Considered the first written constitution in the colonies which outlined how government worked and provided for protection of individual rights, voting for representatives, and the use of secret voting ballots. All other colonies modeled their constitutions like it. The United States Constitution contains ideas found in the early colonial constitutions.
English Bill of Rights, 1689 Monarchs William and Mary of Orange agree to allow the parliament (people) power over the monarchy. Additional rights gained: ◦Freedom of speech and debate (Bill of Rights, Amendment 1) ◦No excessive bails, right to petition government and a right to a fair trial (Bill of Rights, Amendments 1 and 5)