Traditions from their mother country, England, ideas from the Age of Enlightenment, and colonial experiences
Rights of Englishmen
Right to due process of law, the right to a trial by jury, security from unlawful seizure of one's property, right to petition the government proportional punishment
First written Western document acknowledging the protection of individual rights. The charter limited the king's power and protected specific individual rights of the people like due process of law, property protection, proper taxation. Although many of the rights protected under the Magna Carta only served a small portion of the population (the wealthy nobles) it served as a foundation for future protection of rights for all people.
Petition of Right
Document prepared by Parliament and signed by King Charles I of England in 1628; challenged the idea of the divine right of kings and declared that even the monarch was subject to the laws of the land.
English Bill of Rights
King William and Queen Mary accepted this document in 1689. It guaranteed certain rights to English citizens and declared that elections for Parliament would happen frequently. By accepting this document, they supported a limited monarchy, a system in which they shared their power with Parliament and the people.
Ideas from the Enlightenment
Social Contract, Consent of the Governed (Popular Sovereignty), Natural Rights (Life, Liberty & Property), Separation of Powers, System of Checks and Balances, Freedom of Speech, Press, and Religion, Equality under the Law
British colonial policy during the reigns of George I and George II. Relaxed supervision of internal colonial affairs, contributed significantly to the rise of American self government.
Rule by the people, consent of the governed.
Rule of Law
The people and government officials must abide by a set of laws.
Separation of Powers
Powers and responsibilities are divided to avoid concentration of power. Checks and balances, 3 branches of government.
3 branches of government
Legislative, Executive, Judicial
Natural rights to life, liberty, and property are protected.
Restrictions on the power of government
1620 - The first agreement for self-government in America. It was signed by the 41 men on the Mayflower and set up a government for the Plymouth colony.
Virginia House of Burgesses
Established in 1619, the Virginia House of Burgesses served as the first colonial assembly in the thirteen colonies. Each settlement chose two people to represent their settlement. Membership was tightly restricted to certain families of wealthy landowners. Modeled after English Parliament, imposed taxes and ran the colony.
Colonial Town Meetings
Form of government created by Puritans; gave New Englanders a chance to speak their minds
Fundamental Orders of Connecticut
Adopted in 1639, the Connecticut's constitution protected the individual rights of the Connecticut colonists, yet the well being of the community came before the individual. The constitution also established a religious tolerant government and helped to serve as an example for future colonial constitutions.
Act of Toleration
a 1649 Maryland law that provided religious freedom for all Christians.
Massachusetts Body of Liberties
One of the first written government documents. Liberty is the basis for tranquility. Embodied due process, protection of property, and equality