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America’s Beginnings


English & French Influences
◦ English Common Law- law based on customs of the people
◦ Magna Carta- Trial by Jury, No taxation w/o consent
◦ English Bill of Rights- No taxation w/o consent of Parliament, no suspension of
law or elections, protections of freedom of religion and right to petition the government

◦ Rousseau
◦ The Social Contract is with each other not the ruler
◦ Legitimacy is based on popular sovereignty (Majority rules)
◦ Montesquieu
◦ Limit the Government’s power by dividing the power up (Separation of powers)
American Revolution- CAUSES
Economic & Political in nature
◦ Economic- Argument: $$$! England raises taxes to pay
debts. Colonists see taxation as a burden, profits and trade
interfered with by Government. (“No taxation w/o
◦ Political- Argument: Who has the right to govern the
colonies? (England or Colonial legislatures?) Colonists
believe Governing belongs at local levels and civil rights/
liberties are violated by British soldiers/ officials.
PARTIOT: Thomas Paine’s Essay Common
What ideas lead to
Sense (1775-76) circulated copies
Revolution &
Independence? convincing many colonists that
Independence was the best course of

His Essay declared the

Colonies should be free
and independent from

About 500,000 copies

circulated the colonies
shifting the mood in
favor of Independence.
Social Contract Theory--- What ideas lead to Revolution & Independence?

Created by Thomas Hobbes

Free people unite to form a contract or compact to
create a government
Enlightenment influence

Free people give up certain rights and powers to the

Once people enter into the contract the government
has absolute power, the contract cannot be broken.

Revised by John Locke in the 1770s

•People are the source of all rights and
power for a Government
•People create governments for their own
benefit and protection
•When a government stops serving the
people and begins to abuse its powers, the
people have the right to break the contract
and create a new government.
What ideas lead to Revolution
& Independence? Written by Thomas

the colonists formally
Ideas of announced their
separation from
John Locke England

7 influenced the
Declaration of

7 1) Govt is a contract between ppl & leaders.

2) All ppl have natural rights of life, liberty and

6 property that cannot be taken away.

3) A govt violating these rights can be destroyed
or altered by the people.
Treaty of Paris 1783 1) America’s Boundaries: Atlantic to
Mississippi River; Great Lakes to
2) American’s get fishing rights off
Canada’s coast
3) Loyalists will be compensated for
lost property
4) British Troops will withdraw from
5) BR Recognize American

1) A New Nation is now in the
world’s balance of power
2) Never before had a group of
colonists throw off a powerful
mother country and create their
own independent nation- this
became a spark for other
Results and significance of Independence
revolutions around the world
The First Government
Established a Confederacy because of they valued
sovereignty and autonomy over centralized authority
◦ Articles of Confederation did not establish a successful
◦ Problems suffered after the Revolution caused the call
for revisions to the Articles
◦ Inflation/ too many forms of currency
◦ Tariffs between States cause trade stagnation
◦ Inability to negotiate with foreign nations
◦ Riots (Shays Rebellion) over economic troubles (taxes and bank