|Further Reading||Could The U.S Have Survived With The Articles Of Confederation and Declaration of Independence: The 3 Reasons For Its Creation|
One of the most profound documents in the world was created in secret in 1789 to replace the U.S’s previous form of government under the Articles of Confederation. The creation of the U.S Constitution was heavily influenced by 3 major previous events in world history.
There are 3 major influences that helped create the U.S constitution. First, was the English Magna Carta of 1215. Second, was the dissolution of the mos maiorum during the late Roman Republic. Third, was a combination of the enlightenment ideals of John Lock, Thomas Hobbs, and Montesquieu.
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Without further ado, here are the 3 influences which helped create the U.S constitution.
The Influence Of The English Magna Carta On The U.S Constitution
The English Magna Carta of 1215 remains one of the largest influences upon the creation of the U.S constitution.
In 1215 a group of Barons in England decided to rebel against King John of England. This was because the government of England was authoritarianism in which the monarch held absolute power.
This presented several problems for the English barons who often had to work against the king to provide for their servants, estates, families, and knights.
Historians generally agree that there existed an unwritten constitution that a group of lords or barons could overpower the king’s decision process. However, since there was no written constitution over time more power would begin to go towards the monarchy with less power reserved for the lords.
The Magna Carta itself provided for clear delineation of powers between the Monarch and his subjects. While it’s doubtful that this document held any power upon its creation overtime it has been referred to as one of the first written down constitutions.
Such powers as separation of church and state, limitations on taxation, protection from illegal imprisonment, swift justice, and the right to be judged by one’s peers stem from the magna carta. All of these rights have extended down to influence the creation of the U.S constitution in some capacity.
In particular the Magna Carta heavily influenced the creation of the U.S constitution’s separation of powers of state. Today the United States has a separation of powers among 3 branches of government.
As such the Magna Carta remains one of the primary influences in the creation of the United States.
The Dissolution Of The Mos Maiorum Of The Late Roman Republic Helped To Influence The Creation Of The U.S Constitution
One of the main influences that helped to create the U.S Constitution was the slow decay of the mos maiorum during the Late Roman Republic.
The mos maiorum roughly translates to “social norm.” This was an unwritten constitution that all Romans were expected to follow.
Historians have long noted that over during the transition of the late Roman Republic to the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC there was a profound change in power. This heavily influenced the creation of the U.S constitution.
The reason why is because over the course of the late Roman Republic civil liberties of the Romans were slowly taken away. At the start of the late Roman Republic the people of Rome could vote on laws and legislation.
However, since the Romans did not have a written down constitution. Because of this ambitious politicians could begin to bend the rules until they broke and formed a new government, the Roman Empire.
Today, we can see the influence of the late Roman Republic in the creation of the U.S constitution by looking at the first 5 amendments of the Bill of Rights.
Some of the first liberties taken away from the Roman people during the late Roman Republic was the freedom of speech, the right to arm themselves, forcing soldiers into the forum, the right to private property, right to due process of law.
As such one of the first things the founding fathers did when creating the U.S constitution was to put in place the Bill of Rights to secure for the U.S people their individual liberties.
Simply put, the late Roman Republic heavily influenced the development of the U.S constitution.
Influence of Enlightenment Ideals Of John Locke, Thomas Hobbs, and Montesquieu
The British political philosophers of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke each discussed the concept of the ideal government. In their models of government power comes from the people and not from the monarch or state.
Both Locke and Hobbes recognized the need for a strong central government. For Locke this came in the form of a republic where people were elected. For Hobbes this was in the form of an absolute monarchy where the monarch would have to earn the respect of the people.
Montesquieu on the other hand believed that there were 3 forces that needed to be balanced in every government in order to achieve peace and prosperity. For Montesquieu this took the form of a separation of powers to preserve people’s liberties. Simply put, if the state’s powers were fragmented among competing entities that the people controlled it would prevent tyranny.
Each one of these 3 enlightenment thinkers had a profound impact upon the development of the modern U.S constitution in their own way.
First, Locke’s theories of a Republic where power came from the people is incorporated into the U.S Elective Branch. Second, for Hobbes the power of a ruler who can command the state efficiently is seen in the U.S Executive Branch and the office of president. Third, Montesquieu’s version of a balance of power can be seen in the creation of the U.S judicial system which seeks to balance power between the 3 branches.
As a result, one of the 3 main influences that helped to create the U.S constitution was the enlightenment thinkers of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Montesquieu.
There you have it; an entire article dedicated to the 3 influences which helped create the U.S constitution.
Constitutional law and history remains one of the most fascinating subjects of discussion and research. Everyday new articles are published that go over different theories of governance. Prospective graduate students will find substantial material to build out a thesis by looking at the inspirations of constitutional thought.
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