Am Rev – must-use quotes/text ~ Gr Crourses

January 31, 2018

Note-2-self ~ use these ideas, even use as direct quote, for beginning of Magna Cart chapter

Cyc-Am-Pol-Thght –>

Cycles of American Political Thought (political philosophy course taught by Professor Joseph F. Kobylka, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Political Science, Southern Methodist University; Great Courses-The Teaching Company, 2006 

Course INTRO-Overview

II. In canvassing American political thought, we will touch on five recurring themes:

  1. The first is American exceptionalism, which takes on sectarian and secular forms.
  2. The second is the dynamic malleability of liberalism, which allows one core philosophy to adjust its contours to changes in context.
  3. Third, we will see that rather than having one “founding,” America has experienced at least three “reconstitutions.”
  4. Fourth, we will look at the concept of “the people,” which has been an expansive idea, with pressures for greater inclusion pressing on the polity from the time when 55 white, property- holding Englishmen gathered in Philadelphia to write the Constitution.
  5. Finally, we will explore the distinctly American notion of space, which in the context of the vast virgin continent becomes a multifaceted and central part of the political thought that emerges from it.

In the beginning, there were the Puritans and their conservative attachment to order, hierarchy, and truths defined for the people and imposed on them

Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy. —Margaret Thatcher

@@@ Ch 1: “Garry Wills has noted, America is an “invented” country, … designed by men guided by philosophical and historical “truths” they held to be “self-evident” … and construct of men who consciously built political structures to govern a nation. Its government is framed by a Constitution that embeds some of those “truths” in fundamental law.

” … the concerns of political philosophy … the nature of humans, the sources of legitimate social and political authority, the nature of community, the role of the individual citizen, and the proper ends of social and governmental order.”

 @@@ Ch 2

Before there was an America in the European mind, the seeds of the American experience were sown by what Thomas Paine would later call “the principal ruffian of some restless gang.”

William the Conqueror is the focal point for the genesis of the British state; 450 years later, descendants of that state traveled to the New World. Much had changed in England over those years, and these changes came in the baggage the colonists brought with them to America.

It has been said that “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” It is significant that the British colonized America. The “tree of liberty,” with its conception of rights, law, and legitimate governance, was planted in England and transplanted, with all the growth it had experienced, in America. From this plant grew a uniquely American field of political thought, thought with roots in the British historical experience. To understand where we ended up, we must understand where we started, and to understand where we started, we must look back.


  1. America did not fall from the heavens fully formed.
    1. The first European settlers to the “virgin” continent were English. They brought with them pre-formed conceptions of society and government.2. These conceptions framed their approach to life in the New World.
      3. To understand American thought, we need to unpack the baggage its first settlers brought with them.
    2. The next lecture will look at the theoretical baggage they carried; in this lecture, we look at the historical.
  2. Any thumbnail sketch of historical development will be incomplete, but here, we look at signal events in the development of the British constitution.
  1. signal importance in defining the British norms of governance that the colonists carried to America:
    1. The institution of the English state in 1066.
    2. The Salisbury Oath taken by the barons in 1086.The Oath of Salisbury is an event in August 1086 when William I of England summoned his tenants-in-chief and “landowning men of any account to William I, ‘The Conqueror'” to Old Sarum where they swore allegiance to him and to be faithful against all other men.

      @The Oath of Salisbury August 1086

       @@ @@

      On Lammas Day 1086 [August 1st], William the Conqueror, king of England, summoned 170 of his tenants-in-chief and other landowning men of any account to Old Sarum, where they all swore allegiance in person to him and to be faithful against all other men.

      Statuimus, ut omnes liberi homines faedere et sacramento affirment, quad intra et extra universum regnum Angliae Wilhelmo regi domino suo fideles esse volunt; tenas et honores illius omni fidelitate ubique servare cum eo, et contra inimicos et alienigenas defendere. @@@

      Known as the Salisbury Gemot (oath) in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,  this was the act which first established feudalism in England.

    3. Development of the Curia Regis during the reign of Henry II (1154–1189) A royal curcit court system in which the King’s ministers /justices adjudicated disputes at the local level but soon began to record the cases and the rulings, and to create a body of jurisprudence known as “Common Law” — ie. how specific situations were commonly decied.
      Curia regis is a Latin term meaning “royal council” or “king’s court.” It was the name given to councils of advisors and administrators who served early French kings as well as to those serving Norman and later kings of England.

      Curia regis – Wikipedia

      The acceptance of the Magna Charta byThe name “court” comes from the fact that most kings held court and made judgments. They would hear certain complaints and issues, especially issues between the most powerful barons and lords.King John in 1215.

      1. The decision in Bonham’s Case (1610) by Chief Justice Edward Coke — the first ‘judicial review‘ in a case involving a doctor who was arrested and jailed at the request of the Royal College of Physicians for practicing medicine without being a member of the College
      3. The Petition of Right (1628) presented to Charles I.
      4. The English Civil War (1642–1651), the Interregnum (1649–1660), and the Restoration (1660).
      5. The Habeas Corpus Act (1679).
      6. The Glorious Revolution (1688–1689).
      7. The English Bill of Rights (1689).
      8. The Act of Settlement (1701).

III. English constitutional governance was born of a long political struggle for power.

  1. This struggle created a conception of proper governance.
    1. The power of government is limited.
    2. Citizens have rights against the state that cannot be infringed.
    3. Executive authority must coexist with popular authority.
  2. As Englishmen, American colonists followed and learned from this history.
    1. Many of these events occurred during the early American settlements.
    2. In part, they reflected some of the religious concerns that animated the migration to America.

3. They informed the “English way” of governance.

@@@ Chapter 3

Protestant understandings of social and political life unleashed by the Reformation. Second, we examine the thought of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.

The American tradition was born from an interplay of theory, and history, thought and action. Locke provided the colonists with a logic and vocabulary of politics that grew in importance over the 18th century: liberalism. Central to it were concepts of individualism, rights, freedom, equality, contract, and limited government.

The English (and Calvinist) version of the Reformation arrived in the colonies earlier and brought its own distinct arguments. In these competing visions of liberalism and Calvinism, we find the beginnings of the cycles of American political thought.

Historical events do not exist in a vacuum. As each event occurs, people try to make sense of them. In reaction to this, many competing Protestant sects emerged. One of these, the Puritans, brought the Reformation to the New World.

Historical events do not exist in a vacuum. As events occur, people attempt to make more general sense of them. One way to do this is to create explanations for events that put them in a larger interpretive context. The birth of liberalism was an interpretive response to this historical drama.

In addition to the political tumult that shook England in the 17th century, there was also significant religious ferment.

  1. The Protestant Reformation brought the Catholic Church’s monopoly as the fount of Christianity to an end.
  1. Martin Luther began this process in Germany.
  2. John Calvin challenged Catholic authority in Switzerland.
    1. By 1541, Calvin had essentially become the governing authority in Geneva.3. Institutionalized, Calvin’s teachings held that the role of the state was to enforce the dictates of the church as law.

    4. The moral values of the Old Testament became the basis of the law.

  3. The Reformation in England was formalized by the Act of Supremacy (1534).
  4. After the establishment of the Church of England, dissenters emerged.
    1. Some found Anglicanism insufficient and sought Calvinist practices.
    2. Among these were members of a sect called the Puritans.


1. The Reformation in Europe started in 1517 and by the middle of the 16th century had reached England. Many competing Protestant sects emerged, one of which was a group that came to be known as “the Puritans”. They thought the Church of England was still too “Catholic”; it was their desire to purified the Anglican church that earned them the name: ‘Puritans’. They left Plymouth, England on the Mayflower in 1620 {??}, sailing across the cold Atlantic for two months before landing on a rocky beach in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in a place they named “Plymouth Rock”. In addition to the (??) men, women and children (including the 2 surviving 2 newborns of the 3  birth that occurred en route), as well as having transplanted the Protestant Reformation to the British colony in North America.


F^–>NOTE – the invention of Gutenberg printing press and availability of the Judeo-Christian Bible (both Old and New Testaments)  in the vernacular in 1436 was the underlying historical event that precipitated the break from Catholicism and resulted in the Protestant Reformation on the European continent and the British Isles.

In traditional Catholicism, the Bible was only written in Latin and only available in as manuscripts housed in monasteries.  As a result, only priests and the Church officials had access to and were able to read the Bible. This meant that priests were necessary intermediaries btw the people and the source of their religious beliefs, as well as interpreters for all issues of theology.

AFTER 1436, the bible could be widely read in the vernacular; many formerly complacent Catholics questioned many of the explanations for religion and their own duties to the Church that had been perpetuated by the Church for more than a thousand years. 



Bill of Attainder – Forfeiture of land and civil rights suffered as a consequence of a sentence of death for treason or felony

Federalism is the mixed or compound mode of government, combining a general government (the central or ‘federal’ government) with regional governments (provincial, state, cantonal, territorial or other sub-unit governments) in a single political system.

The terms ‘federalism’ and ‘confederalism’ both have a root in the Latin word foedus, meaning “treaty, pact or covenant.” Their common meaning until the late eighteenth century was a simple league or inter-governmental relationship among sovereign states based upon a treaty. They were therefore initially synonyms. It was in this sense that James Madison in Federalist 39 had referred to the new United States as ‘neither a national nor a federal Constitution, but a composition of both’ (i.e. neither a single large unitary state nor a league/confederation among several small states, but a hybrid of the two).[7