By George Athan Billias
Winner of the 2010 ebook Award from the recent England old AssociationAmerican constitutionalism represents this country's maximum reward to human freedom, but its tale continues to be mostly untold. For over 200 years, its beliefs, principles, and associations motivated various peoples in several lands at varied instances. American constitutionalism and the innovative republican files on which it really is dependent affected numerous nations via aiding them improve their very own constitutional democracies. Western constitutionalism—of which the US used to be a component besides Britain and France—reached a tremendous turning aspect in worldwide historical past in 1989, whilst the forces of democracy handed the forces of autocracy for the 1st time.Historian George Athan Billias lines the unfold of yankee constitutionalism—from Europe, Latin the USA, and the Caribbean zone, to Asia and Africa—beginning chronologically with the yank Revolution and the fateful "shot heard around the global" and finishing with the belief of the chilly struggle in 1989. the yankee version contributed considerably by means of spearheading the force to larger democracy in the course of the Western international, and Billias's landmark learn tells a narrative that would swap the best way readers view the real position American constitutionalism performed in this period.
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Extra resources for American Constitutionalism Heard Round the World, 1776-1989: A Global Perspective
12 When Americans repudiated Britain’s authority, they did so not as individuals but as organized groups. James Kettner’s study of the idea of American citizenship indicates how this practice evolved: They withdrew their allegiance from George III and severed the connection with England in formal, public, and communal acts passed by representative bodies purporting to speak for a united people. The process began even before Congress approved the Declaration. 13 It was during the Revolutionary War that the American concept of volitional allegiance was first developed.
15 The Declaration served also as the constitutional basis for establishing new social contracts between the people and their state governments. 16 With their commitment to natural rights philosophy and the social contract theory of government, the early paragraphs of the Declaration set forth principles close to the heart of America’s documentary constitutionalism,17 and parts of these paragraphs were embedded in the first state constitutions. 18 Traces of the Declaration were evident as well in the Bill of Rights, which therefore should be interpreted in the context of the natural rights philosophy expressed in the 1776 text.
Congress had to determine also how the lands were to be distributed to prospective settlers. Finally, Congress had to prescribe how the new communities would be governed and what their relationship to the original states would be. Many of these questions were addressed in the “ordinances” passed by the Confederation government. The ordinances constituted the greatest contribution to the American cause next to winning the war. They were not constitutional enactments, properly speaking, because they were acts of the Confederation congress, prescriptive in nature and below the standard required of constitutional measures.
American Constitutionalism Heard Round the World, 1776-1989: A Global Perspective by George Athan Billias