Why did American Colonists
want to free themselves from
Great Britain
How did both classical republicans and the natural rights
philosophers influence the Founders’ views about government?
• What are the essential differences between classical republicanism and
natural rights philosophy?
• Why do both classical republicans and natural rights philosophers stress
the need for education and preparation for citizenship?
What are the fundamental characteristics of a constitutional
• In what ways does constitutional government mean limited government?
• Describe at least three provisions of the Constitution that provide a means
of preventing the abuse or misuse of governmental power. Explain how
these provisions work in our system of government today.
What effect did colonial experiences have on the Founders’ views
about rights and government?
• In what ways were 18th century American and British societies similar or
dissimilar in terms of the rights of individual liberty, equality of
opportunity, and property?
• How did early state constitution reflect colonial experiences as well as the
ides of classical republicanism and natural rights philosophy?
Indentured Servant
Checks and Balances Limited Government
Civic Virtue
Natural Rights
Common Good
Rule of Law
Social Contract Theory
Writ of Assistance
Things learned from Ancient and British History
Limited vs. Unlimited Government
Types of Constitutions
Classical Republicanism vs. Natural Rights Theory
Social Contract/Consent of the Governed
Private vs. Public Morality
Age of Enlightenment/Education affects thinking
Magna Carta/Petition of Rights/English Bill of Rights
Habeas Corpus/Trial by Jury
Mayflower Compact
Legislative Supremacy
Key Documents in British History that shifted power from King
Right to Vote/Landownership connected . . . WHY?
Written guarantees in colonial documents
British policies towards Colonies that push colonists toward
Major Objections to British policies by the colonists
Declaration of Independence (basic ideas and arguments)
Basic Ideas in the new State Constitutions
4 Key Concepts (Higher Law, Popular Sovereignty, Legislative Supremacy, Checks and Balances)
Generations of colonists had grown used to little
interference from the British government in their affairs
Several factors will change that
• Large debts incurred in the Seven Years War (French and Indian
• Heavy Pressure to reduce taxes at home in England
 Colonists taxes less to offset the hardships they faced
• Increased control by Crown (Proclamation Act of 1763)
 Illegal to settle lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. Too expensive to protect settlers
• The Stamp Act increased British government control over trade
 Imposed duties (tax) on documents needed to do trades
• 1st Quartering Act in the colonies in 1774
 Required colonists to shelter troops
While some accepted new taxes and other controls, others
did not
New taxes not only meant some colonists would lose money,
it also went against what the colonists had come to believe
about representative government
John Locke had written:
“ The supreme power cannot take from any man part of his property without
his own consent . . . that is, the consent of the majority, giving it either by
themselves or their representatives chosen by them.”
Colonists believed taxes could only be placed upon them by
the assemblies they had elected
Sons of Liberty formed of those set on resisting the actions
of the British government
• Resisted Violence
• Political Agitation designed to encourage crowd action
Stamp Act Congress to organize resistance
• Used boycotts to make their point
• Parliament repealed the Stamp Act but passed the DECLARATORY ACT
asserting Great Britain’s full power over the colonies
The Townsend Acts
• New taxes on tea, paper, and glass
Daughters of Liberty
• New boycotts of English goods
• Urges colonists to become economically independent from England
Parliament gave new power to revenue officials
• Writ of Assistance gave officials broad authority to search and seize
colonial property
• Colonists charged with various crimes were transported to Nova Scotia or
England for trials that were often delayed
• British troops were sent to the colonies to aid in the collection of taxes
The Boston Massacre
• 5 colonists killed when British troops fired on protestors throwing
snowballs and rocks at them
• This incident convinced many colonists their government was willing to
use force against them to force their obedience
Committees of Correspondence (CofC) – organized and publicized
colonial opposition (1st Continental Congress)
• By fall of 1774, 12 of 13 colonies (not georgia) sent representatives to meet and
decide what needed to be done
• Voted to ban colonial trade with Great Britain to force them to change their policies
England saw this action as irresponsible defiance and ordered the
arrest of the leaders of the CofC. Saw as an act of TREASON
Leaders were already preparing for war against England
• They believed it was the right of the people to overthrow an unresponsive
government that was not protecting their rights
They formed a civilian militia called the MINUTEMEN
On April19,1775 700+ British troops marched on Concorde to arrest
the leaders (Sam Adams & John Hancock)
Paul Revere & William Dawes alerted the colonists to the
approaching British troops
Adams and Hancock escaped, the Minutemen pushed back to
British troops
“The Shot Heard Round the World”
November 1775 – the King officially declared the colonies
in rebellion and withdrew his protection
Winter 75-76 – Thomas Paine’s pamphlet “COMMON
SENSE” turned colonial opinion towards independence
By Spring 1776 – it seemed independence the only
solution to the concerns of the colonists
Continental Congress commissioned Thomas Jefferson to
write the Declaration of Independence
The D of I renounced the monarchy itself and stated that
the sovereignty was with the people
1. Natural Right
Rights are self-evident, are unalienable (higher law)
If the government violates these rights, they should be changed
2. Human Equality
All men are created equal (not given right to rule by birth)
Right to Rule must be based on agreement or compact
3. Government by Consent
People will agree to be ruled by a government that protects their rights
4. “A Long List of Abuses”
King George III violated the compact with his people by depriving them
of their rights “Absolute Tyranny”
5. Right of Revolution
* “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of those ends
for which government is created, it is the right of the people to alter or
abolish it”