A.P. Civics Notes: Chapter 2
The Problem of Liberty
In the decade that preceded the
, most American
colonists believed that they could obtain certain liberties and still be
a part of the British Empire, liberties such as:
i. The right to bring cases to truly independent judges that
weren’t subordinate to the king.
The right to NOT have British troops quartered in private
The right to NOT have to pay taxes without direct
2. However, by the time war broke out, many colonists had lost faith in
the [unwritten] British constitution, one that allowed liberties to be
violated and abuse of political power to flourish.
3. Colonists believed that English politicians tended to be corrupt, since
they naturally desired power, and that was their explanation of why
the British constitution was insufficient for their American liberties.
The colonists desired protected liberties based not on the king
but on a “higher law” that embodied “
,” such as
those of life, liberty, and property, that were given by God.
These rights could not be taken away from anyone by anyone,
By property, the revolutionaries did not be money, land, or
economics; they meant the idea
of being able to move up in
life, of being capable of improving.
Declaration of Independence
listed man’s “natural rights,” but
it also displayed 27 complaints against the British king.
The “real revolution” was not just the fighting and combat that went
on during the war, but the actual “
radical change in the principles,
opinions, and sentiments of the people
Such revolutionary ideas included: (1) Human liberty exists
before government organization, and is the number ONE
priority; (2) The legislative branch of the government
represents the people and should be more powerful than the
executive branch; (3) Only a written
constitution could allow
political power to be recognized.
6. In 1776, eight states adopted written constitutions, and within a few
years, all states except Connecticut and Rhode Island (who relied on
colonial charters) had constitutions of their own.