Most often when discussing the Constitution of the United States, different factors that influenced the constitution are overlooked. One of the reasons for this neglect is that intellectuals and scholars focus on one aspect of the Constitution only such as when was it written and what points have been discussed in it. However, there is more to the Constitution of the United States that has been researched over the years. Before delving into the main purpose of the current research paper, a brief overview of the Constitution will be given. The Constitution of the United States was documented and approved in Philadelphia around the year 1787 (Lutz). It should be noted that the Constitution is a contract of the government that was sanctioned by all the states. The document is seen to be still functional and is considered to be the supreme law of the land. It has played a significant role in the history of America and in spreading the democratic principles around the globe. The present paper examines the different documents, philosophies, and thinkers that influenced the writers of the Constitution.
There are various documents, philosophies, and thinkers that are known to have impacted the founding fathers of the Constitution (Morison). However, the paper will begin with the thinkers whose influence can be seen in the Constitution such as James Madison. His ideas can be found in the Constitution and he is most often termed as the Father of the Constitution. The reason for this title is based on James efforts throughout the year 1787 in which he worked tirelessly on presenting his perspectives on why a charter was required. It should be noted that the process of Constitution formulation took months in which various delegates stepped forward and presented their ideas. Other influential people besides James who contributed to the Constitution are Oliver Ellsworth, Nathanial Gorham, Edmund Randolph, John Rutledge, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and many others. The Constitution was created as a result of the delegates being dissatisfied with the charter that was being used and asserted that changes be made in it.
Hence, another document was made which turned out to be the Constitution of the United States. The new document turned out to be history changing the document as it encompassed a wide range of points that were applicable as well as beneficial to the citizens of the United States. While discussing the influential thinkers, two people that need to be mentioned are Thomas Paine and John Locke. As mentioned previously, the Founding Fathers of the Constitution are considered to be a group of men with exceptional talents. Thomas Paine and John Locke played an important role in the founding of America. Thomas Paine is known as a political activist, an author and a revolutionary who came to the United States in order to provide support to the delegates on their fight for freedom and separation from the British rule (Paine).
On the other hand, John Locke was an English philosopher and a physician. He is considered to be one of the most influential individuals among the Enlightenment thinkers. John Locke’s ideas and perspectives have played a crucial role in the development of the political philosophy (Locke). Thomas Jefferson is known to have utilized John Locke’s writings while creating the Constitution of the United States. Similarly, Voltaire who was a French philosopher is known to have written influential work based on the notions of freedom, be it freedom of speech, freedom of expression and the freedom to live one’s life the way he or she wants. His ideas can be found in the Constitution that states that people have the right to express their thoughts freely.
In addition to this, the purpose behind the creation of the Constitution was to grant freedom to the citizens of the United States as they had previously suffered from living under the influence of British political system. The colonies of America wanted sovereignty as living under one supreme power had proved to be fatal and therefore, the Constitution granted them their wishes. There are numerous documents whose influence can be found in the Constitution such as the Manga Carta that was written in 1215. This document restricted the power of the King by allowing rights to the people which included the right to a fair trial, the avoidance of cruelty and inhumane punishment (Holt et al.). Another document that has left its impact on the Constitution is the document of the House of Burgesses which was written in Virginia in the year 1619. It is considered to be one of the first examples that are based on the elected representative assembly in the United States. Similarly, the Mayflower Compact written in the year 1620 by the Pilgrims is another example of an influential document as it was based on the notion of a self-government where the government works for the good of its people.
From the above discussion, it is evident that there have been various thinkers, philosophes, and documents that have left an impact so much so that they were used during the founding of the Constitution. It should be noted the Constitution of the United States while worked towards providing its people with numerous rights such as the right to freedom of speech, right to vote, right to residency, all the points mentioned in the document had been taken from the works of important philosophers and influential documents. John Locke, Voltaire, Thomas Paine are among the most influential thinkers and philosophers whose works have played quite a role in the formulation of the Constitution. The Constitution is an embodiment of the works and ideas of different people and has been effectively used for the good of the people.
Holt, James Clarke, et al. Magna Carta. Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Locke, John. Locke: Two Treatises of Government Student Edition. Cambridge University Press, 1988.
Lutz, Donald S. The Origins of American Constitutionalism. Louisiana State University Press Baton Rouge, 1988.
Morison, Samuel Eliot. Sources and Documents Illustrating the American Revolution, 1764-1788: And the Formation of the Federal Constitution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1965.
Paine, Thomas. Rights of Man. Broadview Press, 2011.