Philosophical Influences on the American Constitution Essay

  • Length: 4 pages
  • Sources: 6
  • Subject: Philosophy - Philosophers
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #53856197

Excerpt from Essay :

The US constitution is a supreme law guiding the conducts of government, people, and organizations in the United States. The U.S. constitution comprises of seven articles that delineates the form of government. However, before the constitution came into force in 1789, there were philosophical thinking that influenced the compilation of the American constitution.

The objective of this essay is to discuss the philosophical influences on the U.S. Constitution.

John Locke was an English Philosopher and his thinking had the great impact on the American constitution. John Locke believed that all people has alienated rights and they are created equal. John Locke was political philosopher was the early proponent of social contract theory believing that there were certain inalienable rights that people should enjoy. Locke believed that it was people who created the government, and people could overthrow the government if they failed to protect their rights. In his philosophical thinking, Locke revealed that all human is born equal, and they had the natural rights to defend their liberties, life and health. Locke contributed to the development of liberalism and laid a groundwork for the development of the Enlightenment.

Typically, Locke's philosophical thinking influenced the U.S. Declaration of Independence. When the U.S. constitution was being drafted, the lawmakers drew up Locke social contract theoretical frameworks and integrated them into the U.S. constitution. Emphatically, the U.S. constitution is a legal framework that offers protection of natural rights that include right life and property. Locke's philosophical thinking aroused the decision of the lawmakers to integrate the human rights in the constitution. Moreover, John Locke influenced the adoption of 1776 Declaration of Independence that states "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." (History, 2017, p 1).

One of the aspects of the U.S. constitution is the area of the Bill of Rights (1791) that defines that fundamental human rights that people must enjoy. Locke continues by pointing out that when the government fails to protect the natural rights of the citizens, people have the rights to dissolve
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that government. This is reflected in the U.S. constitution where the legislative power can be used to remove the President from the office through two third majority.

John Locke also discussed the power of government, which he believed should be distributed within the different institutions. Locke postulated the separation of power because it will be too risky to entrench all powers on the same individual who will have the power to make law and at the same time power to execute that laws. The doctrine of separation of power is outlined in the U.S. constitution under the Articles I, II, and III that divide the branch of government into three where each branch has equal power, and each of the branches of government has specific functions and their powers do not conflict with one another.


Montesquieu was a French Enlightenment philosopher who postulated the theory of separation of power. Montesquieu postulated that the doctrine of separation of power was essential to prevent one branch of government be too powerful to control. Typically, Montesquieu's theory of separation of power greatly influenced the drafting of the U.S. constitution, and the United States used Montesquieu's theoretical framework to entrench the concept of separation of power in their constitution. Following the U.S. constitution, three branches of governments were formed in the United States: Legislative, Executive and Judiciary. The function of each branch of government is distinct and does not overlap. The function of the legislature is to make law while the function of the executive is to executive the law, and the judiciary is to interpret the law. The separation of power also goes hand-in-hand with the theory of check and balance. In the United States, the legislature can remove the President as the head of the executive using the two-third majority. Moreover, the judiciary can declare the decision of executive unconstitutional. The executive can use the veto power to stop a bill passed by the House. More importantly, the executive and the House make a decision on the appointment of a judge.

Kilman et al. (2000) discuss legislative power under the U.S. constitution. The authors point out that legislative has the sole power to make law, and cannot delegate their functions to other agencies. On other hand, the executive power is vested on the…

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