The One, the Few, and the Many

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Portrait of John Adams. By: William Winstanley.

At the time of the American Revolution, it was commonly believed amongst Americans that formulating the ideal government would require a different system than any previously conceived. The Founding Fathers had their own ideas.

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Preventing and Facilitating Tyranny

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Virginia State Capitol. By: William Goodacre.

As the American Revolution became more and more inevitable, states began contemplating the role and responsibilities of their legislatures. Those contemplations centered around curing the perceived ills and shortcomings of the English constitution.

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A Complicated Relationship

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The Peale Family, 1771-1773. By: Charles Willson Peale.

In the 1760s and 1770s, Americans had a complicated relationship with the English constitution. The English constitution was both a model for government, in some respects, and the strongest wedge being driven between the colonists and the English.

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The Essence of Representation

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View of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., circa 1800.

While revolution was necessary to reinvent the American system of government to best meet the needs of Americans, another key element was necessary. The early Americans realized that “[p]eace is seldom made, and never kept, unless the subject retain such a power in his hands as may oblige the prince to stand to what is agreed.” Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 24 quoting Foster, Short Essay on Civil Government, 29-30.

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The Pyramid of Tyranny

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Signing of Declaration of Independence. By: Armand Dumaresq.

Tyranny, one of the early Americans’ greatest fears, may seem to contemporary Americans an unjustified fear. Perhaps that is because the early Americans’ precautionary actions relegated the threat of tyranny to the 18th Century. Perhaps not. Read more

Laboratories of Democracy

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Governor’s Palace. Williamsburg, Virginia.

In the months leading up to the Declaration of Independence, the states began the process of adopting their own constitutions. These constitutions, being drafted in 1776, approximately 13 years before the United States Constitution would be ratified, had to confront many of the same issues as the United States Constitution, with various approaches being taken. Read more

The Real Revolution

 

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Washington’s Army Marching Toward Valley Forge. By: William B. T. Trego.

The American Revolution is a topic that has been dissected, analyzed, and retold by every generation of Americans. The political theory of the American Revolution is conventionally believed to be centered on the revolutionaries’ genius. Read more