Continental Congress Analysis

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Thomas Jefferson, along with the second Continental Congress, used great care to ensure that both words and the ideas professed in the Declaration of Independence were precise and symbolic. Upon examination of the list of King George III’s grievances committed against the American colonies appears the term “our constitution.” The reference to “our constitution” is not to a singular written constitution as it may be understood today; it is much more complex. The Continental Congress’ reference to “our constitution” denotes the American interpretation of an assemblage of principles, customs, laws, both common and natural, and precedents blending ideas from their mother country, classical Republicanism, European Enlightenment, and Protestant …show more content…
Colonial leaders were well read on the successes, failures, and ideologies that made up the governments of Greece and Rome. Founders drew their understanding of classical government from philosophers such as Aristotle, from the structure of government and from the virtues of citizens. Drawing on Aristotelian principles, colonists recognized that men by nature are political and brought together by their common interests. While private interests of the ruler or rulers do exist, more important is the need for government to ensure that common interests are advanced. Further drawing on republican principles was the colonist acceptance of a mixed government as an appropriate protection against tyranny. The mixed government of Rome placed some legislative authority in the Senate, where the educated upper class gathered to make decisions. Further legislative authority was given more directly to the people through representatives in the assembly. Lastly, colonists learned desirable characteristics of citizens through reading Plutarch’s Lives. Cicero, one of Plutarch’s subjects is seen as a virtuous man who was “eager for every kind of learning,” “undertook the defence, which he conducted admirably,” and he worked “for the good of the city” (Plutarch, CP, 14, 16, 18) While one root of American constitutionalism is found in antiquity, it is not the sole source of

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