Influences on the Founding of the United States of America

Complete each section of the matrix below. Include APA citations for all borrowed ideas, facts, or definitions.

Documents Summary of Document What was this document’s significance or influence on the values of the American political culture or the ideas for the structure and organization of the U.S. Federal Government?
Magna Carta An agreement that protected individual English freedoms. It influenced the early American colonists in the Thirteen Colonies and formation of the American Constitution, which became supreme law of the land in the new republic of the United States.
Mayflower Compact “A governing document created by the members of the Mayflower to temporarily establish self-government in the Plymouth Colonies in America” (Magleby, Light, & Nemacheck, 2014, p. 2). “The document became an important example to later settlers and revolutionaries of self-government, providing what some have called the “seeds” of later American constitutional government” (Magleby, Light, & Nemacheck, 2014, p. 4).
Declaration of Independence A statement that announced that the Thriteen original colonies were independent states and no longer under British rule. It marked independence from Great Britain and having a voice for human rights.
Articles of Confederation The original constitution of the United States. It provided a good outline in ways to handle the government but it was weak and was replaced with the United States Constitution that provided a much stronger government.
The Virginia Plan The Virginia Plan was notable for its role in the setting of the overall agenda for debate in the convention. Set forth the idea of population-weighted representation in the proposed national legislature.
The New Jersey Plan Small state plan. It was used as a proposal for the structure of the United States government.
The Connecticut Plan An agreement that was reached for both large and small states. This brought legislative structure that would provide both the large and small states to have representation.
The U.S. Constitution Supreme law of the United States of America. It holds the rights and responsibilities and can be amended to meet the changing needs of the nation.
The Bill of Rights First ten amendments of the United States Constitution. Guarantees of personal freedoms and rights, clear limitations of government’s power, and very clear declarations of all powers.
Philosophers Who was this? How did each philosopher’s writings and ideas influence the Founders when developing the ideas and values of the American political culture and the nature and structure of the U.S. system of government?
Thomas Hobbes He was an English philosopher. He was one of the founders of the modern political philosophy and political science. He also brings liberal views that leave interpretation of the law to have people free to do whatever the law does not clearly forbid.
John Locke He was an English philosopher and physician. Locke’s writings influenced the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are noticed/reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.
Montesquieu He was a French lawyer and a political philosopher. His articulation of the theory of separation of powers, which were used or implemented in the constitution.
Selected Founders Who was this? What role did this Founder play in the establishment of the United States of America and its system of government?
Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin was the 6th president of the state of Pennsylvania, an inventor and a printer. He was the very first United States Ambassador to France.
Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton was an American statesman and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was the founder of our nation’s financial system.
George Washington George Washington was the first president of the United States of America. He made sure that our nation was strong and well financed. He established the cabinet system and the inaugural address. He was called the “father of his country”.
Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States of America. He was a part of forming the Democratic Republican Party. Jefferson also wrote Kentucky and Virginia Resolution.
James Madison “James Madison was the fourth president of the United States (1809–1817) and an author of The Federalist Papers“ (Magleby, Light, & Nemacheck, 2014, p. 51). “Madison’s view on a separated system of government in which each branch checks the power of other branches shapes our governmental structure” (Magleby, Light, & Nemacheck, 2014, p. 51).
John Adams John Adams was the second president of the United States, he was also a lawyer, author, statesman, and diplomat. Adams was a Founding Father and a leader of American independence from Great Britain. He was the author of the Massachusetts Constitution and he was assisted in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.
Political Factions What were each of these factions? What were each factions ideas on the power and scope of the U.S. Federal government?
Federalists A group that “argued for ratification of the Constitution, including a stronger national government at the expense of states’ power” (Magleby, Light, & Nemacheck, 2014, p. 58). “The Federalists—who urged ratification of the Constitution and controlled the national government until 1801—generally supported a strong role for federal courts and thus favored judicial review.  They controlled the new federal government until Thomas Jefferson’s election in 1800” (Magleby, Light, & Nemacheck, 2014, p. 58).
Anti-Federalists A group that opposed the creation of a stronger United States government. The anti-federalists were opposed to providing the United States government too much authority, they wanted for the states to have more authority.
Concepts How is this concept manifest in the organization of the U.S. federal government? Why is this concept important in a representative democracy?
Separation of Powers “The first step against potential tyranny of the majority” (Magleby, Light, & Nemacheck, 2014, p. 53). “Constitutional division of powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, with the legislative branch making law, the executive applying and enforcing the law, and the judiciary interpreting the law” (Magleby, Light, & Nemacheck, 2014, p. 53).
Checks and Balances “Farmer’s wanted to find a way to prevent the branches of the government and officials from pooling their authority and acting together, or from responding alike to the same pressure” (Magleby, Light, & Nemacheck, 2014, p. 53). “A constitutional grant of powers that enables each of the three branches of government to check some acts of the others and therefore ensures that no branch can dominate” (Magleby, Light, & Nemacheck, 2014, p. 53).

Part 2 Essay:

Write a 250- to 350-word response below to the following:

Define the terms “direct democracy” and “representative democracy.” Why is the government of the United States of America considered a republic in the context of a “constitutional democracy”?

Include APA citations for all borrowed ideas, facts, or definitions.

A representative democracy is a government where all eligible citizens vote on representatives to pass laws for them. There are several requirements that need to be met in order for a representative democracy to work at its best ability. The first condition is completion; this is where the representatives run for election and try to get majority of the votes. Another condition is that there has to be free communication between both the people and the press. The last condition is that the voters must believe a meaningful choice exists between the candidates and that the policy differences are honestly reflected in each. The effectiveness of a representative democracy depends on the manner as to which these three different factors are presented.

Another type of democracy is called direct democracy. A direct democracy is a government where all of the citizens can come together (assemble) to have discussion, pass laws, and are able to select their officials. “Madison feared that empowering citizens to decide policy directly would be dangerous to freedom, minorities, and property and would result in violence by one group against another”(Magleby, Light, & Nemacheck, 2014, p. 22). However, the United States of America is considered as a republic in the context of a constitutional democracy.

A constitutional democracy is when individual citizens are allowed to exercise governmental power as a result of winning free and relatively frequent elections. A “government that enforces recognized limits on those who govern and allows the voice of the people to be heard through free, fair, and relatively frequent elections” (Magleby, Light, & Nemacheck, 2014, p. 22). The United States of America prides its self upon the voices of its citizens being heard and the best way for those voices to be heard is through voting and elections. There is a set term to different offices that allow for frequent elections and for more ideas and voices to be heard.


Magleby, D. B., Light, P. C., & Nemacheck, C. L. (2014). Government by the people, 2014 elections and update edition. Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.

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