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The Effects Of Enlightenment And Magna Carta On American Colonies And Their Government

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Government plays an essential role in the progression of any developing regime. Whether it is on a larger level such as a country or on a smaller scale such as local governments or maybe even recently established colonies, a functional government provides the basis for everyday acts. These acts can range from something as small and minor like whether your land reaches an extra centimeter or something as large as the process of deciding the leaders that are represented in the government. Great thinkers and documents have influenced how different regimes organize the way their government is structured. To be even more specific, Enlightenment thinkers and the Magna Carta were large influences for many self-governing structures that were seen in some of the colonies. When I delved into this topic, supported by insightful Magna Carta essay examples and a deeper understanding of Enlightenment thinkers, it became evident how influential ideas and historical documents can be in shaping the structure of diverse governing bodies.

The Magna Carta is a very old document that can be dated back to the early 1200s. Due to political unrest in eastern Europe. England, being the center of this political unrest, broke out into a civil war. King John had many oppositions to him and it happens that during this time of civil war his enemies gained power. Cornered and defeated, King John was forced to concede. King John was obligated to sign a document which distributed power to the nobles of England. The Magna Carta can be seen as the first ever formally written constitution made. Major aspects of it included the dropping of over taxation of the people and the distribution of power among high ranking officials. On surface, this document removed the king from a absolute, dictatorial, and supreme position of power and devolved it to the “people”.

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The Enlightenment was a period of time where the use of higher reasoning and social movement was brought into light with regard to government. John Locke, a major enlightenment thinker discussed ideas such as “consent of the governed” and the three natural rights. These rights included life, liberty, and property. John Locke also stressed on the process of removing people from absolute levels of power. These aspects of running a successful government can be seen throughout the colonies as they implemented it into their self governing structures.

Devolution of power can be seen throughout the colonies, this can be seen especially in Connecticut. In Connecticut, leaders are chosen by vote. This is not only a form of devolution of power but it can also be seen as a principle of consent of the governed. As John Locke states in document 2, “all peaceful beginnings of government have been laid in the consent of the people”. It can be seen that voting is a form of this principle which the drafters of the colony of Connecticut implemented into their government structure. The Manga Carta states that “ the decision about creating or collecting taxes will on that day will be made by a decision reached by vote of majority rule of the representatives of the people”. This is also seen in the government of the colonies (specifically Connecticut) as the people also vote for leaders such as the governor. Lastly, In the Mayflower Compact, it states that “the general good of the colony, which we promise… to be chosen by majority rule”. Majority rule from the Mayflower Compact can be seen in the early stages of government for the colonies too.

In conclusion, the colonies have been seen to integrate several self-governing structures that have been evolved and developed from historical documents such as the magna carta and from respectable thinkers such as John locke.

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The Effects Of Enlightenment And Magna Carta On American Colonies And Their Government. (2021, September 30). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from
“The Effects Of Enlightenment And Magna Carta On American Colonies And Their Government.” Edubirdie, 30 Sept. 2021,
The Effects Of Enlightenment And Magna Carta On American Colonies And Their Government. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Feb. 2024].
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