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Ideas Behind the Constitution

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Tina Tosto

on 11 December 2012

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Transcript of Ideas Behind the Constitution

The Constitution reflects ancient traditions, Enlightenment ideas, and American’ experience. Big Idea: How does the Enlightenment and past governments influence the American government? Ideas Behind the Constitution Rome •The Founding Fathers looked to Ancient Roman Republic •republic- government in which citizens rule themselves through elected representatives
•admired virtues of independence and public service found in Rome •took warning from Rome because became a dictatorship (government where one person or small group holds complete authority)
•Founding Fathers believed Rome fell when they began valuing luxury and comfort more than independence •Founding Fathers valued Britain's tradition of freedom•2 ideas in the Magna Carta influenced American government: even the king had to obey the law
state nobles had certain rights (later these rights were extended to all people in all classes) •English Bill of Rights further protected rights of citizens
Parliamentary elections held regularly, trial by jury, right to bear arms
habeas corpus- idea that no person could be held in prison without first being charged with a specific crime American Experience • there is a tradition of representative government in America

• written documents that defined powers and limits of government (Mayflower Compact) •Founding Fathers remembered the king and wrote the Constitution to make sure abuses of power never happened again
•Constitution made elected president "commander in chief of army, navy, and civilian militias"
•Constitution set up a court system independent of the president and legislature
•much of Constitution came from state constitutions or the Articles of Confederation Enlightenment Ideas wrote "Two Treaties of Government" - all people had natural rights to life, liberty, and property
government is an agreement between the ruler and the ruled John Locke framers (writers) of Constitution wanted to protect peoples natural rights and limit power of government French Enlightenment thinker

wrote "The Spirit of the Laws"

separation of powers- powers of government should be clearly defined and divided up Montesquieu 3 separate branches:

• legislative



idea of checks and balances designed to prevent an person or group from gaining too much power

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