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Our English Heritage Chapter 2/Section 1
Influences from English Government Many of the rights American citizens have today can be traced back to England • Magna Carta • Parliament-legislative body • English Bill of Rights • Common Law
Magna Carta • King John of England mistreated the nobles (wealthy citizens) • In 1215, they rebelled and forced him to sign the Magna Carta • Magna Carta means “Great Charter” • A charter is an agreement
The Magna Carta guaranteed certain rights to the nobles and eventually these rights were guaranteed to all English citizens • Rights included equal treatment under the law & trial by one’s peers
Parliament-Legislative Body • Henry III (came after King John) met with a group of advisers regularly • Eventually, this group became a legislature known as Parliament • Legislature: law-making body • In mid-1600s, Parliament and King struggled over how much power King should have
Glorious Revolution: In 1688, Parliament removed King James II and replaced him with his daughter, Mary, and her husband, William. • This proved that Parliament was stronger than King/Queen
English Bill of Rights • In 1689, Parliament wrote the English Bill of Rights Stated that • Monarch could not suspend (stop) Parliament’s laws • Monarch could not create special courts, impose taxes, or raise an army without approval from Parliament • Declared members of Parliament would be freely elected & guaranteed free speech • Guaranteed every citizen the right to fair trial & banned cruel and unusual punishment
Common Law • In its early days, England had no written laws • Therefore, they developed certain customs • Custom: a repeated way of handling situations • When judges were asked to decide a case, they looked at precedent • Precedent: ruling in previous similar case • Common Law: a system of law based on precedent & customs
Common Law example If someone were accused of trespassing, the judge would look at previous cases to see how others accused of trespassing had been sentenced. This would help the judge determine what type of punishment was fair and consistent.
Bringing English Heritage to America • America had been settled by the English at Jamestown in 1607 (first permanent English settlement) • Jamestown is an example of an English colony • Colony: a group of people in one place who are ruled by a parent country elsewhere • Colonists had strong ties with England and brought many of the traditions of that country to America
Virginia Charter • The Virginia Company of England was granted a charter to begin colonies in the state of Virginia in America • Charter: written document granting land and authority to set up colonial governments • Charter gave colonists the same rights as English citizens, even though they lived in America
Virginia House of Burgesses • In 1619, colonist chose two representatives from each county in the state to meet with the governor (appointed by England’s king/queen) and his council • Representatives were known as burgesses
These 22 men formed the House of Burgesses *** VA House of Burgesses was first representative assembly, or legislature, and marked the beginning of self-government in America!
Mayflower Compact • In 1620, Pilgrims arrived in America and establish Plymouth colony (in Massachusetts) • While aboard their ship, the Mayflower, they wrote a plan for the government they would establish in Plymouth called the Mayflower Compact • Compact: an agreement/contract among people
Mayflower Compact, continued • Mayflower Compact stated that the government would: • Make “just and equal laws…for the general good of the colony” **Established a tradition of Direct Democracy in New England (Northeast United States)
Early Colonial Governments • By 1773, 13 English colonies stretched from Massachusetts to Georgia • Each colony set up its own government with: • Governor • Legislature • Eventually, the colonists learn to handle things on their own and began doubting the need for help from Great Britain