In the Declaration of Independence, it states that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” This quote is saying that the power of the government of the United States comes from the people. This idea is seen throughout colonial America through to the creation of the United States when our government was founded on this premise. Why did this become such an important idea for America?
Colonial America first came from Great Britain, which had a monarchy, and was very different than the America established in the Declaration of Independence. Although it may seem strange that such a radical idea like government by the people could come from a monarchy, but it makes sense when you look at the facts. British colonists came to America for a variety of different reasons, but they mostly all came to get away from Great Britain and come to a place where they could prosper. Throughout colonial times, there are many examples of how Great Britain enforced laws on the colonies without their representation or say. These unfair rulings lead the colonists to resent the style of government they had come from. They wanted to have more say in what happened in the government, they wanted the power to come from them.
In the city of Athens in ancient Greece, there was a true democracy. Their government was completely ruled by the people. Every eligible citizen was allowed to participate equally. That idea of complete power from the people was not seen much throughout pre-American history. When American colonists began embracing the idea of a republic, their ideas came from ancient Greece. These powerful ideas helped to fuel the American Revolution and shape America today. Unfortunately, after the American Revolution, people realized that a true democracy would not work. There needed to be some sort of government, so our founding fathers used the idea of representation.
From there, two factions were born: the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. The Federalists argued for a stronger central government while the Anti-Federalists argued for more representation and individual state power. The two parties argued for quite a while on how to from our countries’ government and finally came to a consensus in the Declaration of Independence. It states that the power of the government should stem from the people. This is how that one great idea has come to shape the United States of America, and continues to effect the world today.
Adventures in American Literature