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Origins of The United States Government

  • 1215

    The Magna Carta

    The Magna Carta
    The English Royals coerce King John to sign the Magna Carta. Time went by, and it was then reflected as a source of promise to the English citizens, in that they would have liberty from limited government and inquetiable taxes. This later became a source American delegates drew inspiration from.
  • The Old and New Testament

    The Old and New Testament
    Departure of Christian colonists from Europe to America occurred, taking morals such as natural rights and limited power from The Old and New Testament with them.
  • The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

    The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut
    America’s first “Constitution”, created by the Connecticut Colony council. Stated the powers and limits of government.
  • Leviathan is Published

    Leviathan is Published
    Thomas Hobbes’s book, Leviathan (1651), discusses a social contract and an absolute ruler. He wrote that destruction and a state of nature is only prevented by a powerful, united government.
  • The European Enlightenment

    The European Enlightenment
    Spanning from the late 1600s to 1700s, a period of social, religious, and political discovery occured in Europe following The Middle Ages. Philosophers such as Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Rousseau scuritinized the Monarchs legitimacy. Instead, they proposed ideals similar to the Democracy our government is based on to this day.
  • The English Bill of Rights

    The English Bill of Rights
    Decreed by the Parliment of Great Britian, the English Bill of Rights formed a Consitutional Monarchy. In this document, Rights were given to the People such as freedom of speech, exemption from unfair taxes and punishment, due processing, and free election. These rights proved to be crucial to the American Founders when they later wrote the Articles of Confederation, Declaration of Independence, and The Constitution.
  • John Locke

    John Locke
    Coined the “Father of Liberalism”, John Locke was an English philosopher who greatly influenced Thomas Jefferson’s writing of the Declaration of Independence. How? His “Essay Concerning Human Understanding” (1689) and The “Two Treatises of Government” (1690) suggested government be created by collective unison. Furthermore, he declared the People had the power to remove the King if he no longer had their assent, reflecting a State of Nature and Social Contract.
  • Montesquieu

    French philosopher Baron de Montesquieu’s “On the Spirit of Laws” (1748) described his view of a well functioning government. Montesquieu pointed to dividing the government into three branches, or "separation of powers." Coincidentally, each branch may limit the power of the other. A single branch could not abuse the rights of the people in order to preserve said rights. These ideas emerged as the foundation for The Constitution.
  • Voltaire

    French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire supported liberalism, individual freedoms, and the separation of church and state. Candide (1759) was Voltaire’s most significant publication. In his writing, he utilized satire to express his views of Europe’s dwindling society. Voltaire strongly believed a rectification was needed.
  • Rosseau

    French philosopher and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau contributed a great deal to our democratic government today through his publication of “The Social Contract, Principles of Political Right" (1762). He quotes, “Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains" (49), meaning we progressively lose our freedom. Rosseau believed politics re-established this freedom and could only be achieved collectively, not unlike Hobbes’s and Locke’s prior philosophies.
  • The French-Indian War

    The French-Indian War
    Across the Northeast colonies of Britain and France, the British and the French battled for land in North America. It was intergrated into The Seven Years War. On February 10, 1763, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the war ended. Alas, all was not well. British government was deep into debt, thus taxes were issued on American colonies, bringing forth “no taxation without representation”. Conflict was rising, and those conflicts would eventually lead to the American Revolution.
  • The Stamp Act

    The Stamp Act
    Decreed by British Parliament on March 22, 1765 onto American colonists, each item of printed paper such as legal documents, liscenses, newspapers, and playing cards were taxed. The British justified this tax because they had been defending the American frontier. Although, this Act was was not approved by the colonial legislatures. Panic set in as colonists wondered what was next. Patrick Henry's Stamp Act Resolves stated Americans obtained equal rights, but only four were adopted.
  • The Boston Tea Party

    The Boston Tea Party
    Colonists protested unjust taxes placed on them by the British, known as the Tea Act in the Boston Harbor. They refused to pay taxes on the tea, requesting it be returned to England. They attempted to deceive the British by masquerating themselves as Mohawk Indians, though this proved unsuccessful. They tossed 342 chests of tea overboard, due to it’s large revenue to the East India Trading company. Their actions were justified, as colonists were unrepresented in Parliament.
  • The First Continental Congress

    The First Continental Congress
    The Intolerable Acts of 1774 were punishing laws passed by Parliment following the Boston Tea Party. Attempting to avoid war, delegates such as Samuel Adams, Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, and Patrick Henry sent a petition to King George III as a last resort, only to be accused of treason. They gathered once more, making the risky though necessary decision to enact an embargo on British goods.
  • The Battles at Lexington and Concord

    The Battles at Lexington and Concord
    Samuel Adams and John Hancock took up residence in Lexington while the American Amey supplied artillery in Condord. The British Army rushed to capture both men and artillery. Upon their approach to Lexington, the British charged at a fired gunshot — source unknown. It is regarded as the beginning of the American Revolution. The British continued onto Concord, but were defeated by the Americans. Due to their gained confidence from the battle, they continued to rebel against the British.
  • Thomas Paine

    Thomas Paine
    Thomas Paine was an American writer who intensely supported America’s independence from Britian. In his book “Common Sense” (1776) he highlighted the importance of this separation. Proving to be highly effective, his publication sold almost 500,000 copies. In addition, Paine’s “American Crisis” pamphlets convinced Colonists to pursue the separation by the American Revolution. His works also influenced the Declaration of Independence.
  • The Second Continental Congress

    The Second Continental Congress
    Richard Henry Lee brings forth The Lee Resolution to be considered by Congress in Philadelphia, calling for a Declaration of Independence, assimilation of foreign unions, and a arrangement for a Confederation.
  • Drafting the Declaration

    Drafting the Declaration
    Congress requests John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Livingston, Thomas Jefferson, and Roger Sherman to write a Declaration.
  • The Lee Resolution

    The Lee Resolution
    The Lee Resolution is passed by Congress, initiating the Colonies as United and free from British rule. His Resolution was critical to breaking Britain’s clutch on the Colonies.
  • The Declaration of Independence

    The Declaration of Independence
    On this day, Congress approves the Declaration of Independence, becoming The Fourth of July. The Declaration was regarded as acknowledgment that the American colonies and its people were free from British rule rather than than a legal document, for it did not supply any real rights such as voting or true equality. Though, Thomas Jefferson’s principles and writing was heavily relied on when the Founders were creating The United States Constituion down the road.
  • British Surrender

    British Surrender
    Ultimately, it took the British five more years to ultimately surrender at Yorktown. This marked the end of The American Revolution and established the United States of America. Conflict in the colonies was on the horizon as they would face the disorginization of their new country.