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The Constitution and its Roots

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The Constitution and its Roots

A case for the connection of America's colonial and

revolutionary religious and political experiences to the basic

principles of the Constitution can be readily made. One point in favor

of this conclusion is the fact that most Americans at that time had

little beside their experiences on which to base their political

ideas. This is due to the lack of advanced schooling among common

Americans at that time. Other points also concur with the main idea

and make the theory of the connection plausible.

Much evidence to support this claim can be found in the

wording of the Constitution itself. Even the Preamble has an important

idea that arose from the Revolutionary period. The first line of the

Preamble states, We the People of the United States... ." This implies

that the new government that was being formed derived its sovereignty

from the people, which would serve to prevent it from becoming corrupt

and disinterested in the people, as the framers believed Britain's

government had become. If the Bill of Rights is considered, more

supporting ideas become evident. The First Amendment's guarantee of

religious freedom could have been influenced by the colonial tradition

of relative religious freedom. This tradition was clear even in the

early colonies, like Plymouth, which was formed by Puritan dissenters

from England seeking religious freedom. Roger Williams, the proprietor

of Rhode Island, probably made an even larger contribution to this

tradition by advocating and allowing complete religious freedom.

William Penn also contributed to this idea in Pennsylvania, where the

Quakers were tolerant of other denominations.

In addition to the tradition of religious tolerance in the

colonies, there was a tradition of self-government and popular

involvement ...

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