Founding Ethos of American Government

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Weldon Sloan
The founding ethos of American government can be characterized by three basic principles, the basis for law, the basis for government, and the duties of the citizen.
The most accurate and best representation of early American society can be found in the early colonial charters which acted as the first governments in America. The first aspect of the founding ethos of American government can be found in the basis for law. The basis for law according to the early Americans was people being in covenant (Mayflower Compact). In the garden of Eden Adam and Eve were governed by an internal law, a law of the heart placed in them when they were made in God’s image (Frame of the Government of Pennsylvania). However, after the fall man was governed by an external law; a law given to Moses by God in a covenant with His people, a law meant for sinful man (Whitehead and Frame of the Government of Pennsylvania). The ethos can also be found in the early American’s basis for social order. This basis, was very similar to the basis for law; the basis for social order is a civil body coming into a covenant, in the presence of God (Mayflower Compact).

The role of government as defined by the early charters is also vital when considering the founding ethos. The role of government was originally defined as maintaining the peace and unity of the people, with its guide being the Bible (Fundamental Orders of Connecticut). The charters say that a government was needed because of man’s sinful nature, if it wasn’t for this every individual could take care of himself (Frame of the Government of Pennsylvania). This also reveals why separations of powers were needed, to keep one evil, sinful man from controlling the whole country (Constitution of Virginia). The Christian base for American government is also revealed in the qualifications and source of authority for civic rulers; a civil ruler must be a member of an accepted church congregation (Fundamental Orders of...
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