Continental Congress Research Paper

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The government of the United States is a massive and complex organization. Its purpose is to improve and protect the lives of American citizens, both at home and overseas. Because its functions are so numerous and varied, the government operates on several different levels--national, state, and local. At each of these levels the government makes certain demands on its citizens. But this is only to promote the general welfare of the society as a whole. The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal. Most states reduced property-holding requirements for voting; ordinary people demanded titles that were only held for the rich, and employers were not called master anymore, they simply were called boss. Servants and slaves…show more content…
In effect, the Continental Congress was actually asking the colonies to summon themselves into being as new states. The sovereignty of these new states would rest on the authority of the people. Although the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island merely retouched their colonial charters, constitution writers elsewhere worked tirelessly to capture on black-inked parchment the republican spirit of the age. Massachusetts contributed one valuable idea, when it called a special convention to draft its constitution and then submitted the final draft directly to the people for ratification. Once adopted in 1780, the Massachusetts constitution could be changed only by another specially called constitutional convention. This procedure was later imitated in the drafting and ratification of the federal Constitution. In the British, a constitution was not a written document, but rather an accumulation of laws, customs, and precedents. Americans invented something different. The documents they drafted were contracts that defined the powers of government, as did the old colonial charters, but they drew their authority from the people, not from the royal seal of a distant king. As written documents the state constitutions were intended to represent a fundamental law, superior to the transient whims of ordinary legislation. Most of these documents included bills of rights, specifically guaranteeing long-prized liberties against later legislative encroachment. Most of them required the annual election of legislators, who were thus forced to stay in touch with the mood of the people. All of them deliberately created weak executive and judicial branches, at least by present-day standards. A generation of quarreling with His Majesty’s officials had implanted a deep distrust of despotic governors and arbitrary
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