Influences on the Constitution

The Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ratified by conventions in eleven States. It went into effect on March 4, 1789. The historical influences behind the constitution included Aristotle, the Magna Carta, the writings of John Locke, and the English Bill of Rights from 1689. The Magna Carta was written in 1215.It was the first document to challenge the authority of the king, subjecting him to the rule of the law and protecting nobles from feudal abuse. When Englishmen went to the colonies they were given charters that guaranteed them and their heirs would “have and enjoy all liberties and immunities of free and natural subjects. ” The document clearly stated that no free man could be prosecuted by any means other than the law of the land. The Magna Carta’s fundamental rights and principles included due process of law and trial by jury.Taking a cue from the document more than five centuries later, American revolutionaries incorporated many of the Magna Carta’s basic ideas into another important piece of parchment – the U. S. Constitution. Another important document was the Mayflower Compact. Drawn up by the 41 adult males from the Mayflower, the new settlers from Plymouth created a contract with fair and equal laws, for the “general good”. They had traveled across the ocean on the ship Mayflower which was anchored in what is now Provincetown Harbor near Cape Cod, Massachusetts.The Mayflower settlers knew from previous attempts without some type of government they would fail. It allowed them to practice Protestant instead of the Church of England and other liberties without command. The Mayflower Compact was drawn up with fair and equal laws, for the general good of the settlement and with the will of the majority. The Constitution was based on the same principles of the Mayflower Compact. All men are created equal and endowed with unalienable rights.Agreed to by the Continental Congress on November 15, 1777 and in effect after ratification by Maryland, March 1 1781, the Articles of Confederation served as a bridge between the initial government by the Continental Congress of the Revolutionary period and the federal government provided under the Constitution for the United States in effect March 4, 1789. It was an agreement among the 13 founding states that established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states. The Articles were replaced with the US Constitution.The new Constitution provided for a much stronger national government with a chief executive (the president), courts, and a federal Congress. The Northwest Ordinance was an act of the Congress of the Confederation of the United States passed July 13, 1787. The primary effect of the ordinance was the creation of the Northwest Territory, the first organized territory of the United States, from lands south of the Great Lakes, north and west of the Ohio River, and east of the Mississippi River.Arguably the single most important piece of legislation passed by members of the earlier Continental Congresses other than the Declaration of Independence, it established the precedent by which the federal government would be sovereign and expand westward across North America with the admission of new states, rather than with the expansion of existing states and their established sovereignty under the Articles of Confederation.The Northwest Ordinance laid out the details of the admission process. When a territory reached 60,000 people it could create a constitution and apply for statehood. This procedure was first applied to Ohio in 1803, and served as a continuing model for the remainder of the United States.Many of the guarantees in the Constitution and Bill of Rights were anticipated by the Northwest Ordinance: Freedom of religion, Habeas corpus, the right to bail and trial by jury, no cruel and unusual punishment, right to enter freely into private contracts and right to compensation for eminent domain The Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the 13 American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire.American presidents and civil rights leaders have invoked it throughout our history. The Declaration of Independence remains the most succinct statement of America’s constitutional ideals. Within the context of our country’s history, the document articulated those constitutional values which had relevance for all mankind. Constitution-makers throughout the world referred to the document in precisely such terms during the past two hundred years. Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher best known for his work on political philosophy.He wrote the book “Leviathan” which established the foundation for most of Western political philosophy from the perspective of social contract theory. Hobbes’s view of society and its leaders was founded on pessimism. He saw people as weak and selfish, and thus in constant need of the governance that could save them from destruction. These ideas profoundly affected the Federalists during the early formation of U. S. law. The Federalists turned to Hobbes’s work for justification for passage of the U. S.Constitution as well as for intellectual support for their own movement in the years following that passage. Today, Hobbes is read not only for his lasting contributions to political-legal theory in general but for the ideas that helped shape U. S. history. John Locke was a British philosopher, Oxford academic and medical researcher. Locke’s monumental An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) is one of the first great defenses of empiricism and concerns itself with determining the limits of human understanding in respect to a wide spectrum of topics.Locke exercised a profound influence on political philosophy, in particular on modern liberalism. Thomas Jefferson adopted some of John Locke’s ideas in to the constitution such as; The four basic rights: life, liberty, equality, and pursuit of happiness; The representatives: The government arises from the consent of the governed; the power of government should be distributed among different institution; The responsibility of government must protect those rights; if the government infringes those rights, it needs to be changed.Locke was involved in the writing of the fundamental constitution of the Carolinas. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the U. S Constitution, and negotiated the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which marked the end of the Revolutionary War. He was suspicious of strong central governments and governors, be they kings or presidents. Franklin advocated a three-person presidential committee rather than having a single president.Of the proposal to have a one-man president, he said, “The government is likely to be well-administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism. ” Alexander Hamilton was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was chief of staff to General Washington, one of the most influential interpreters and promoters of the Constitution, the founder of the nation’s financial system, and the founder of the first American political party. He believed that elected officials needed to govern on behalf of people who were not educated enough to govern.Patrick Henry was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Patrick Henry was an American attorney and served as the 1st and 6th governor of Virginia. He was regarded as most influential champions of “Republicanism” and an invested promoter of the American Revolution and its fight for independence. He was notably remembered for his “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech. A radical democrat, he supported combining the executive and the legislative into a single elected body and opposed the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.He was the 3rd President of the United States and principal author of the Declaration of Independence. He also represented Virginia in the “Continental Congress”. He believed that the preservation of natural rights and consent of the governed was a crucial part of the social contract. The views of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson compare and contrast in many different ways. Here we describe a few. In comparison, Hamilton and Jefferson foresaw the new nation as a great future power, and both had very different maps of how to get it there.Both were members of George Washington’s cabinet. In contrast, Jefferson believed the nation’s strength lay in its agricultural roots. He favored an agrarian nation with most powers reserved for the states. He was very opposed to a strong central authority and believed that the people were the final authority in government. Jefferson also encouraged active support for the French Revolution. Hamilton favored a strong central authority. He believed a strong government was necessary to provide order so that business and industry could grow.He envisioned America becoming an industrial power. To this end he sought to establish a national bank and fund the national debt in order to establish firm base for national credit. Hamilton believed that the government should be run by those who were educated and wealthy rather than by “the mob. ” Reference : http://www. archives. gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/ http://www. livescience. com/2458-magna-carta-changed-world. html http://www. barefootsworld. net/aoc1777. html http://www. americanhistoryusa. com/northwest-ordinance-1787-effects/)

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