Evolution of Constitutional Law the Essay

  • Length: 8 pages
  • Sources: 2
  • Subject: American History
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #5976757

Excerpt from Essay :

" (Sage, 1) This is a matter of its emergent identity, which echoed so many of the trespasses of the British Crown. Indeed, we can see that in its vying for independence, the United States would still demonstrate in some ways its immediate cultural relationship to Europe while explicitly seeking an evolution in the terms surrounding this culture.

Most certainly, the manner of treatment to which Native American inhabitants were subjected is considerable evidence of the American connection to racialist British values which drove colonialism and slave trade throughout the world. But there is also direct evidence in the debates that would unfold following the revolution between federalist and anti-federalist ideologies that the United States would still have to work to be freed form many of the vestiges of its oppressive parent nation.

The murmurings that would give rise to the American Revolution, in fact, were less a matter of principal than economic practicality. The degree to which British incursion was negatively impacting the lives and livelihood of colonists would be a greater motivator than the ideological prerogatives which would ultimately become attached to the conflict.

American Revolution

As the war would unfold, the principles that were attached to it would become of growing importance. The rhetoric at the center of the war began to paint the influence of the British Crown as an oppressive one based on the primitive nature of the decaying feudal system. With many of its core doctrines, and most importantly with the Declaration of Independence, the United States would initiate its war effort by standing on the philosophical ground that human rights inherently entitled the citizens of the United States to life, liberty and the pursuit of justice.

This ideal would also be echoed in the propoganda distributed by American supporters of the war effort, who aimed to drum up impassioned sentiment amongst settlers about the ethical trespasses committed by the British. Most prominent amongst such propagandists would be Thomas Paine, who would make a point of characterizing the essential differences between a monarchy such as that represented by Great Britian and a democracy such as that represented by the fledgling nation. In Paine's estimate, the differences between these ideals was so irreconcilable as to make war an absolute necessity. Accordingly, Paine would declare that "men of all ranks have embarked in the controversy, from different motives, and with various designs; but all have been ineffectual, and the period of debate is closed. Arms, as the last resource, decide the contest." (Paine, 82)

Paine's call to action would also be analyzed for its invocation of a divine right to resist kingship. According to Hall (1999), Paine would use the argument that God perceived monarchy as a gross suppression of individual rights to improve the support of the war effort amongst religious settlers and leaders. This would demonstrate the continued importance of religion in shaping the worldview of many colonists and, thus, the role of God's proclaimed approval of the war effort. This justification would also be important in inflaming the passions of the American colonists against their better-armed, trained and resourced British military counterparts.

Paine's approach would be echoed in other critical doctrines which encapsulated the war struggle. According to Hall, "Thomas Jefferson grounded the "unalienable rights" of the Declaration of Independence on the "law of nature and nature's God." Leaders such as George Washington and John Adams continued publicly to insist that religion alone could inculcate the virtue necessary to preserve republican government. To be sure, many hoped that Enlightenment reason would purify religion of notions and traditions they saw as superstitious, contradictory, and outmoded. Still, most clung to belief in a supreme being Benjamin Franklin addressed as 'powerful Goodness.'" (Hall, p. 1)

It is ironic to note here that though the American Constitution would strongly espouse Enlightenment era values of individual rights and representation, it would be borne out of many efforts aimed at tying the approval of God to the war effort. Again, this speaks to the tendencies within the context of the fight for independence to attach and detach various philosophical ideals as they are or are not useful to the practical end of dispatching the British Crown from the emergent United States.

Works Cited:

Dorsey, B. (1685). Edward Randolph's Description of King Philips's War. Swarthmore.edu.

Hall, T.D. (1999). The American Revolution and the Religious Public. Central Michigan University.

History.com. (2011). The Mayflower Compact. A&E Television Networks.

Horne, C.F. (1998). The Code of Hammurabi: Introduction. Fordham.edu.

Paine, Thomas. (1776). Common Sense. Penguin Classics.

Sage, H.…

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