“We The People”

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History is a study of the human story using themes. The following themes are what we use in class in order to keep in mind how important it is to remember these meaningful words.  They are the G.R.A.P.E.S. of history.

  • Geography
  • Religion and philosophy
  • Artifacts
  • Political
  • Economic
  • Social

‘’We the People’’; these are the first three words of the US Constitution.  They are located in the part of the Constitution known as the PREAMBLE. The Preamble is the philosophy of representative democracy and social contract that states the purpose of our US Constitution.  It provides equal power to the government and the citizens.

Below  Thomas Jefferson is quoted in the Declaration of Independence from 1776- this is different from the 1787 US Constitution but it declares the philosophy on which the Constitution is built.

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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

shutterstock-1419574On June 7, 1776, at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Richard Henry made an announcement  that the United States should be completely free of England’s influence and policies. Congress agreed and appointed a committee of five members to write the declaration. However, the duty was given to Thomas Jefferson of Virginia because he had demonstrated a good knowledge of John Locke’s ideas of social contract. The main purpose was to explain that the American colonists wanted to established their own congress and independent government. King George III broke the social contract, so the colonists listed grievances against King George III. The 13 British colonies on the east coast of North America were declared independent by the Continental Congress on 4 July 1776.  Furthermore, the declaration of independence addressed the fact that people have the right to change government if that government becomes controlling.  the biggest challenge in changing government or having a revolution is the ability to put a new stable government in its place.  The founding fathers were successful because they had a stable economy and agreed on the basic ideas of the democratic social contract.

 

Below is a summary of the list of grievances colonists had against King George:

  • The colonists didn’t like the standing British army in their towns and homes.
  • The colonists didn’t like paying taxes without consent or a direct vote of approval.
  • The Americans felt the Parliament was cutting off trade and limiting their business.
  • The Americans felt there was no fair trial under the King because they were guilty until proven innocent.

fc62e7c9ed3499bb36748cc9bdfb0c29The philosophies of John Locke stated that all men are created equal. People have the right to have Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers failed to apply John Locke’s natural rights theory because slaves were property of wealthy land owning whites. None of that was applied to slaves, and they were treated unfairly. Eventually, the economic and social differences between the North and South led to the American Civil War. In addition, the declaration of independence is a very a important document to the United States history because the founding fathers wanted to make sure that the government of the United States would protect the people from a government that was too powerful.  In 1781, the Articles of confederation were written to list out the government powers, but it was replaced by the US constitution in 1789. The constitution was a way of framing the power for the government in a limited and balanced way.

We the people created a government that protects the power in the hands of the people and we are still trying to form a “more perfect union”.