American Constitution and Its Influencing Factors | Free Essay Example

American Constitution and Its Influencing Factors

Words: 785
Topic: History


Magna Carta


The Magna Carta was drawn in 1215 between King John of England and a group of English Barons who opposed the king’s rule. The agreement concerned itself with issues relating to money and property and created no provisions for the majority and peasants in England. Consequently, the document was valid for less than three months.

Its Influence on the Constitution

The document ensured that the king could not put himself above the law hence promoting the supremacy of law over rulers as provided by the US constitution.

Mayflower Compact


The Mayflower Compact was signed in 1620 by the passengers in the Mayflower ship (a group of colonists headed to America) in agreement to be ruled by laws considered best for everyone.

Its Influence on the Constitution

This agreement was the foundation of self-government and self-determination in American history. Its deep religious roots stand out as a secular symbol of American constitutionalism.

Articles of Confederation


These articles were adopted during the revolutionary war and served to weaken the national government. Under the articles, each of the states retained its sovereignty and independence and was entitled to one vote at the national congress (Patterson, 2009).

Its Influence on the Constitution

Initially, the government of the United States was based on the articles of confederation rather than the constitution (Patterson, 2009). The articles of confederation were a stepping stone towards the formation of the US constitution.

Northwest Ordinance


Northwest Ordinance is one of the greatest achievements of the confederation government. It was enacted in 1787 and applied to the region north of the Ohio River bounded by Pennsylvania to the East and River Mississippi to the west (Patterson, 2009). The act sought to organize the region into territories that would be subject to jurisdiction until their admission as states.

Its Influence on the Constitution

This document promoted the expansion of westward regions of the United States.

Declaration of Independence


John Locke’s theory, which held that people had natural rights, heavily influenced Thomas Jefferson’s declaration of independence (Patterson, 2009). The declaration of independence was a call to revolution through ideas such as equality of all men and the right to resist oppressive rule.

Its Influence on the Constitution

According to Patterson (2009), the ideas contained in the declaration of independence, such as liberty, equality, individual rights, self-government, and lawful power, formed the basis for the constitution of the United States.


Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

An English philosopher, author of the book Leviathan, and a political theorist. Leading figures of the eighteenth-century enlightenment. Opposed power of the church over the state and felt that the king had the ultimate authority (Patterson, 2009).

The Influence of His Writings on the Constitution

His writings advocated for a centralized system of governance in which the constitution sought to establish.

John Locke (1632-1704)

Jefferson described him as one of the greatest men that ever lived. He is commonly known for his theory, which proposes that men possess inalienable natural rights and should rebel against rulers who trample on these rights (Patterson, 2009)

The Influence of His Writings on the Constitution

His ideas on life, liberty, and property heavily influenced the formulation of the bill of rights.

Selected patriots

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

He is one of the founding fathers of the United States, a scientist, an inventor, and an American statesman.

His Views on Governmental Structure

Attended the constitutional convention in 1787, where he contributed to the drafting and signing of the United States constitution.

Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)

Essayist and a firm believer in a strong national government. He was the nation’s first secretary of the treasury (Patterson, 2009)

His Views on Governmental Structure

The government structure should be centralized like a monarch for the government to perform effectively.

Patrick Henry (1736-1799)

He is commonly referred to as ‘the voice of the American Revolution.’ Born in Virginia, Patrick spread the spirit of the American revolution across colonies.

His Views on Governmental Structure

Opposed the colonial rule and advocated for freedom in America (Patterson, 2009). He later became a great supporter of the federal government.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

He was the principal author of the declaration of independence (Patterson, 2009). He also drafted the US bill of rights. He was the first president of the US and the founder of the University of Virginia.

His Views on Governmental Structure

He was of the opinion that the general populace would govern themselves.

Comparison of the views of Hamilton and Jefferson

The two patriots disagreed over the direction of national policy. While Hamilton advocated for a centralized government, Jefferson felt that states should govern themselves independently. However, Hamilton and Jefferson agreed on the importance of freedom and independence in America.


Patterson. E.T. (2009). The American Democracy. New York: McGraw-Hill.