American Constitutionalism Heard Round the World, 1776-1989: by George Athan Billias

By George Athan Billias

Winner of the 2010 ebook Award from the hot England ancient AssociationAmerican constitutionalism represents this country's maximum reward to human freedom, but its tale is still mostly untold. For over 2 hundred years, its beliefs, principles, and associations prompted diversified peoples in several lands at diversified instances. American constitutionalism and the progressive republican records on which it's established affected numerous international locations by means of assisting them strengthen their very own constitutional democracies. Western constitutionalism—of which the US was once an element besides Britain and France—reached an immense turning element in international historical past in 1989, while the forces of democracy surpassed the forces of autocracy for the 1st time.Historian George Athan Billias lines the unfold of yankee constitutionalism—from Europe, Latin the United States, and the Caribbean zone, to Asia and Africa—beginning chronologically with the yank Revolution and the fateful "shot heard around the international" and finishing with the belief of the chilly struggle in 1989. the yankee version contributed considerably by way of spearheading the force to bigger democracy through the Western international, and Billias's landmark research tells a narrative that might swap the way in which readers view the real function American constitutionalism performed in this period.

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More practically and unsurprisingly, the framers also borrowed freely from the British constitution under which they had achieved so much self-government. ”66 That complaint missed the larger picture, however, for the Americans’ idea of a constitution differed significantly from that of the British. As Oscar and Mary Handlin noted, In the New World the term, constitution, no longer referred to the actual organization of power developed through custom, prescription and precedent. Instead it had come to mean a written frame of government setting fixed limits on the use of power.

Monarchical society,”24 then America’s radical republican ideology and its success were crucial to that destruction and the emergence of modern constitutionalism. The influence of American constitutionalism is to be found also in the decisions of millions and millions of ordinary folk abroad, immigrants who knew little about specific features of American constitutionalism but understood its essential spirit sufficiently to flock to the United States. It is to be sought further in the beliefs and behavior of those who remained behind and participated in the movements for freer constitutional governments in their own countries.

55 The trend toward a more democratic constitutionalism was evident also in the Articles’ requirement of ratification by the states. The same was true of the amending process, although it was more cumbersome in application. Here was the first national constitution in the Western world that was to be adhered to voluntarily rather than by imposition. Moreover, it could be altered only in the same consensual manner. S. Constitution was striking. S. ”56 A few examples should suffice. S. Constitution is worded essentially the same as that clause in the Articles of Confederation.

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