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Influences on The U.S. Constitution

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What influences do constitutionalism, capitalism, and democracy have on Americans beliefs about liberty, equality, and self-government?
How did earlier documents influence the authors of the U.S. Constitution to divide political power and choose officers, in order to limit government power?
What contributions to government came from the Age of Enlightenment?
Why are elections in the United States longer, more expensive, and more candidate-centered than in European democracies?

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The influences on our beliefs as Americans are extant simply because our nation was founded on the belief of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. One need only look at the preamble to the Declaration of Independence to understand this concept "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." (1) Additionally, the United States (U.S.) Constitution contains the same type of thought or ideal "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." (2)

The result of these documents being the foundation of our government is to allow each American to pursue the ideals of Democracy which is to have a representative government ruled by the populace. The ideal of happiness allows the citizen to pursue a better life economically and socially. Finally the ideal of liberty allows a citizen to have certain rights guaranteed as part of the society.

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Solution Summary

The influences on our beliefs as Americans are extant simply because our nation was founded on the belief of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. One need only look at the preamble to the Declaration of Independence to understand this concept "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

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Influences on the Constitution: Table/Chart

Influences on the Constitution Table

Directions: Use the textbook, Electronic Reserve Readings, and outside sources to complete the following chart. Analyze each item in terms of its influences on the Constitution.

Documents (Summarize what this is. Why is it Notable?)

Magna Carta
Mayflower Compact
Articles of Confederation
Northwest Ordinance
Declaration of Independence

Philosophers (Summarize who this person is and why he is notable. What philosophies influenced him?)

Thomas Hobbes
John Locke
Selected Signers
Benjamin Franklin
Alexander Hamilton
John Langdon
Rufus King
Roger Sherman
William Livingston
David Brearley
Thomas Mifflin
Robert Morris
George Clymer
Hugh Williamson
Charles Pinckney
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
John Rutledge
James Wilson
John Dickinson
Gouverneur Morris

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