History of democracy of the USA

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THE HISTORY OF DEMOCRACY OF THE USA

WHAT DO AMERICANS MEAN WHEN THEY USE THE WORD “DEMOCRACY”?

Abraham Lincoln, one of the best-loved and most respected of America's presidents, said that the US had a government “of the people, by the people and for the people”. He called the United Slates "a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." No one has formulated a better way of describing the principles of the American political system, as Americans understand it. The Constitution, laws and traditions of the United States give the people the right to determine who will be the leader of their nation, who will make the laws and what the laws will be. The people have the power to change the system. The Constitution guarantees individual freedom to all.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF DEMOCRACY

- Democracy as a form of government disappeared from ancient Greece and, over the centuries, the translation of the principles and ideals of democracy into practice has been very rare throughout the world. Most people have been ruled by kings, queens, emperors or small elite groups and, except for certain members of the nobility, the people have had no voice in their government. That was the situation in Europe in 1492.

- By the 1700s, England had established 13 colonies in the eastern part of what is now the United States.

- Some of the early British colonists had come to the New World in hopes of enriching themselves; others came because. Britain forced them to leave – they were troublemakers or people who could not pay their debts. Some came because of the opportunity, which did not exist for them in Europe, to own land or practice a trade.

- In the course of its long history as a nation, Great Britain had taken several steps toward democracy. England (including Wales) had a parliament winch made laws, and most people enjoyed a degree of individual freedom.

- William Penn, a member of the Religious Society of Friends, founded the colony of Pennsylvania, where he set up laws protecting freedom of religion and speech. Those laws also enabled the Pennsylvania colonists to have a voice in their local government.

- Life in the colonies also helped strengthen democratic ideas. They had to work together to build shelter, provide food, clear the land for farms and in general to make their new home land livable for them. This need for cooperation and sharing, combined with a belief in individualism, strengthened the idea that in the New World people were equal; that no one should have special rights and privileges.

- Each colony had its own government

WAR AND INDEPENDENCE

- The British government required people to pay taxes, but gave them no voice in pausing the tax laws. The British motherland determined what the colonists could produce and with whom they could trade.

- In 1774, a group of leaders from the colonies met and formed the “Continental Congress”, which informed the king of the colonists’ belief that, as free Englishmen, they should have a voice in determining laws that affected them. The king and the conservative government in London paid no heed to the concerns of the colonists, and many colonists felt that this was an injustice, which gave them reason to demand independence from Britain. In 1775, fighting broke out between New England militia and British soldiers.

- On July 4, 1776, Continental Congress issued a Declaration of Independence, primarily written by Thomas Jefferson, a farmer and lawyer from the colony of Virginia. The Declaration described them as "free and independent slates" and officially named them the United Stales of America.The document says that all people are created equal, that all have the right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

-With help from France, England's old enemy, and from other Europeans, the American armies, led by George Washington, a surveyor and gentleman farmer from Virginia, won the War of Independence. The peace treaty signed in 1783.

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