We The People The Origins Of The Constitutuion

1137 words - 5 pages

"When did the story of the Constitution begin? Some might say it began over 2500 years ago in the city-states of ancient Greece. Others might place its beginnings nearly three-quarters of a millennium back in the fields of Runnymede. Still others might say the Constitution had its origins three centuries or so ago during the tumultuous years of the seventeenth-century English revolutions. Or others, more patriotic perhaps, might date the beginnings of the Constitution from events in the Western Hemisphere, from the Mayflower Compact, the Massachusetts Charter of 1629, or from any number of charters and constitutional documents that the colonists resorted to during the first century and a half of American history. More likely, the story of the Constitution might begin with the imperial crisis and debate of the 1760s. It is just possible that the forty years between 1763 and 1803 in America were the greatest era in constitutionalism in modem Western history. Not only did Americans establish the modem conception of a constitution as a written document defining and delimiting the powers of government, but they also made a number of other significant constitutional contributions to the world, including the device of a convention for creating and amending constitutions, the process of popular ratification of constitutions, and the practice of judicial review by which judges measure ordinary legislation against the fundamental law of the constitution. During these brief forty years of great constitutional achievements between 1763 and 1803 the story of the Constitution of 1787 is only a chapter. But it is a crucial and significant chapter". (http://www.apsanet.org/CENnet/thisconstitution/wood2.cfm, Gordon S. Wood)Noah Webster referred to the constitution as 'a collection of the wisdom of all ages'. He is correct in saying this. While writing the constitution, the writers considered the flaws of previous countries, as well as their successes. Greece was the first democratic country.The writers of the constitution also listened to many of the great philosophers of that time, such as John Locke and Baron de Montesquieu. From John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the constitution took the words "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.""Earlier philosophers Aristotle, Plato, and Niccolò Machiavelli--described a utopian political system that included a separation of powers. English political theorist John Locke gave the concept of separation of powers more refined treatment in his Second Treatise of Government (1690). Locke argued that legislative and executive powers were conceptually different, but that it was not always necessary to separate them in government institutions. Judicial power played no role in Locke's thinking.""The modern idea of the separation of powers. Montesquieu outlined a three-way division of powers in England among the Parliament, the king, and the courts, although such a division did not in fact exist at the time.""The...

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