The Origins of American Government

Topics: Government, Democracy, United States Constitution Pages: 61 (15730 words) Published: September 26, 2014
Study Unit

The Origins of
American
Government
By
Robert G. Turner Jr., Ph.D.

About the Author
Robert G. Turner Jr. holds a B.S. in business and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in sociology. He has more than 20 years of teaching
experience, mainly at the college level, and is currently serving as an adjunct professor at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg. Dr. Turner is primarily employed as a professional freelance writer. His literary credits include two stage plays, two novels, and two nonfiction works, along with an array of publications in academic and

educational venues.

All terms mentioned in this text that are known to be trademarks or service marks have been appropriately capitalized. Use of a term in this text should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.

Copyright © 2003 by Education Direct, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of the material protected by this copyright may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner. EDUCATION DIRECT is a registered trademark used herein under license. Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to Copyright Permissions, Education Direct, 925 Oak Street, Scranton, Pennsylvania 18515.

Printed in the United States of America

In the final part of this unit, you’ll learn that Americans thought of themselves as British subjects for a long time.
When America was born in 1776, British settlers had been
here since 1607. That’s 169 years. Over that period, the
colonists had developed their own customs and ways of
thinking about things. For example, think of the way that
the British and the Americans use the English language.
They both speak English, but there’s a difference. In a way, the colonists were developing their identity as Americans
long before 1776. Then, in the years leading up to 1776,
Americans began to feel hemmed in by Parliament and the
English king. People began to whisper to each other about
independence. When the British made the colonies pay unfair
taxes, that whispering became shouting. American patriots
formed a Continental Congress and openly challenged King
George III of England.

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You’ll begin this unit by thinking
about the nature of government
in general. Although this course
is about American government,
you’ll first look at ideas about
government across time. You’ll
see how governments began.
You’ll see what the basic purposes of government are now and what they’ve always been. You’ll see how modern governments differ from one another. With all of these things in mind,
you’ll then begin the study of American government. Well,
almost. You see, America’s form of government owes much
to English history. You’ll come to understand how English
ideas of representative government were brought to
American shores. You’ll see that England and America
were—and still are—political cousins.

iii

When you complete this study unit, you’ll be able to



Describe the different types of government and give
examples of each



Outline the way in which English government affected the
government in America



Identify and explain the different types of government in
the early American colonies



Describe the events that caused unrest in the
American colonies



Explain the events of the First and Second
Continental Congress



Summarize the provisions of the Articles of Confederation



iv

Define government and explain its purpose

Briefly outline the major events and battles of the
American Revolution

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1

What Is Government?
The Purpose of Government
Types of Governments

1
3
8

AMERICAN GOVERNMENT
BEFORE INDEPENDENCE
The Early Colonists
Magna Carta: Challenges to the King
Parliament: A Check on the Power...
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