The constitution as we know it, was created from many different things. It all started in 1215, with the signing of the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta was signed by King John when the people forced him to sign due to his harsh treatment to the community. The Magna Carta was the first document to restrict the King’s power against the community, and granted more power to the nobles and landowners. The Magna Carta also guaranteed that no one would be above the law, not even the King or Queen.
In 1607, the first English colony was set up by King James I. Jamestown (Now known as Virginia) was organized as a joint-stock company, which provided money for the King. Jamestown was managed by a governor and council appointed by the Virginia Company. However, in 1619 the colonists of Jamestown created the House of Burgesses. The House of Burgesses was the first representative legislature, the beginning of self-government in Colonial America.
Shortly after the House of Burgesses was formed in 1620, a group of people known as the Pilgrims arrived in America. They created a colony in Massachusetts called Plymouth. The Pilgrims needed a form of Government before, and after they landed in America. The Pilgrims created the Mayflower Compact. The Mayflower Compact was the first direct democracy of Colonial America.
Nineteen years later, the Pilgrims were being persecuted for their religious beliefs. (The exact same reason that they left England) The Pilgrims decided to leave Plymouth in search of religious freedom once again. They created a Colony now known as Connecticut and created the First Constitution, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut.
In 1689, Parliament created the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights was the second document that restricted the Monarch’s power. The Bill of Rights guaranteed the people to free elections to Parliament, the right to a fair trial, and the elimination of cruel and unusual punishments. Philosophical influences such as John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Baron de Montesquieu were known as enlightenment thinkers. They thought that God had created an orderly universe and that the laws of the universe could be found through human reason.
In 1733, Great Britain created 13 colonies, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. The Thirteen Colonies were nowhere near Great Britain and could do anything that they wanted. The Colonies were starting to think of revolting. King George III took the throne and changed his policy toward the American Colonies.
After the battle between French and the English, Britain was drained of money and resources. King George started to tax the Colonies to gain more money for England. Several acts formed tensions between the Colonies and England. The acts that “sealed the deal” were the Intolerable/Coercive acts, the tea act, the sugar act, and the stamp act. The colonists decided to hold the first Continental Congress, which formed a document that sent to King George which demanded their rights restored. King George did not really like their offer, and decided to respond with force. In April 1775, two battles between the British and colonial soldiers took place in Massachusetts at Lexington and Concord, which started the revolutionary war.
In May 1775, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to solve the turmoil brought on by the British. Not all of the members favored independence from England, but the majority decided that something needed to be done about them. Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson were two huge contributions to the cause. Paine wrote “Common Sense”, which stated that it was common sense for a man to want freedom and liberty. Thomas Jefferson was the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence. ON July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met and signed the Declaration of Independence with a few changes.
After the Revolutionary war, the Colonies started to turn into states. Each state was creating their own constitutions. The first state to complete their constitution was New Hampshire. Constitutions had a bicameral (Two house) Legislature, a Governor to enforce laws, and Judges to interpret the laws. The first national government was the Articles of the Confederation. The Articles was a weak government were all of the power was in the states. In 1786, a rebellion was formed in Massachusetts, called Shay’s rebellion. The group formed because farmers were starting to lose their land because they could not pay off their debt. The rebellion failed at destroying the government but it showed people that their government was too weak and that they needed change.
In response to all of the unrest about a change in government, the people held the Constitutional Convention. The constitutional convention was only created to revise the Articles, but instead we came up with a different government. Two plans were talked about during the convention, the Virginia Plan, which favored large states, and the New Jersey plan, which favored smaller states. Everyone finally got into an agreement except for the Southern States. In order to keep them happy, we created the 3/5 compromise, which stated that for every 5 slaves, 3 would be counted towards population. After everyone was in agreement, the members of the Constitutional Convention signed the United States Constitution and added in the Bill of Rights, which are now the first 10 out of 27 amendments.