Category: Constitutional Influences

Constitutional influences are the documents that led to the creation of our founding governmental documents.

The Magna Carta was granted by King John on June 15, 1215, under threat of civil war and reissued, with alterations, in 1216, 1217, and 1225. By declaring the sovereign to be subject to the rule of law and documenting the liberties held by “free men,” the Magna Carta provided the foundation for individual rights in Anglo-American jurisprudence.

The Mayflower Compact was a set of rules for self-governance established by the English settlers who traveled to the New World on the Mayflower. When Pilgrims and other settlers set out on the ship for America in 1620, they intended to lay anchor in northern Virginia. But after treacherous shoals and storms drove their ship off course, the settlers landed in Massachusetts instead, near Cape Cod, outside of Virginia’s jurisdiction. Knowing life without laws could prove catastrophic, colonist leaders created the Mayflower Compact to ensure a functioning social structure would prevail.

The English Bill of Rights was an act signed into law in 1689 by William III and Mary II, who became co-rulers in England after the overthrow of King James II. The bill outlined specific constitutional and civil rights and ultimately gave Parliament power over the monarchy. Many experts regard the English Bill of Rights as the primary law that set the stage for a constitutional monarchy in England. It’s also credited as being an inspiration for the U.S. Bill of Rights.

The Declaration of Independence was the first formal statement by a nation’s people asserting their right to choose their own government. When armed conflict between bands of American colonists and British soldiers began in April 1775, the Americans were ostensibly fighting only for their rights as subjects of the British crown. By the following summer, with the Revolutionary War in full swing, the movement for independence from Britain had grown, and delegates of the Continental Congress were faced with a vote on the issue. In mid-June 1776, a five-man committee including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin was tasked with drafting a formal statement of the colonies’ intentions. The Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence—written largely by Jefferson—in Philadelphia on July 4, a date now celebrated as the birth of American independence.

The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was the first written constitution of the United States. Written in 1777 and stemming from wartime urgency, its progress was slowed by fears of central authority and extensive land claims by states. It was not ratified until March 1, 1781. Under these articles, the states remained sovereign and independent, with Congress serving as the last resort on appeal of disputes. Significantly, The Articles of Confederation named the new nation “The United States of America.” Congress was given the authority to make treaties and alliances, maintain armed forces and coin money. However, the central government lacked the ability to levy taxes and regulate commerce, issues that led to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 for the creation of new federal laws under The United States Constitution.

declaration of independence

Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence is one of the constitutional influences featured in the KTB Prep American Government and Civics series designed to acquaint users with the origins, concepts, organizations, and policies of the United States government and political system. The goal is greater familiarization with the rights and obligations of...

English Bill of Rights

English Bill of Rights

The English Bill of Rights is one of the constitutional influences featured in the KTB Prep American Government and Civics series designed to acquaint users with the origins, concepts, organizations, and policies of the United States government and political system. The goal is greater familiarization with the rights and obligations...

mayflower

The Mayflower Compact

The Mayflower Compact is one of the constitutional influences featured in the KTB Prep American Government and Civics series designed to acquaint users with the origins, concepts, organizations, and policies of the United States government and political system. The goal is greater familiarization with the rights and obligations of citizenship at the local,...

magna carta

Magna Carta

Magna Carta is one of the constitutional influences featured in the KTB Prep American Government and Civics series designed to acquaint users with the origins, concepts, organizations, and policies of the United States government and political system. The goal is greater familiarization with the rights and obligations of citizenship at the...