Posted: June 27th, 2015
America’s founding principles
Every nation in the world derives its purpose and meaning from the unifying quality, common system and religion, shared history or an ethnic character that is usually unique to them. America, just like other nations, was founded by particular people at a particular time on the basis of particular principles which are equality, personal and political freedom, and separation of powers. Historians have made numerous attempts to explore these fundamental principles and philosophies that defined the America we have to day and also to consolidate them into one central idea. This has seen the development of what has become to be known as the American values that include freedom, equality, and democracy among others (Reel, n.d).
The major founding ideal in the USA was the principle of personal and political rights and freedoms. This was attested by President Sarkozy during his speech to Congress in the year 2007 (President Sarkozy, 2007). The political rights and freedoms gave a form to the principle of political and personal freedom which is the person’s freedom from coercion, physical compulsion, and interference from the rule of government.
The idea of Political and Personal Freedoms developed from the concept of natural rights and freedoms and is viewed as being fundamental to the development of self and nation. It has largely been central to the much advancement that the American society has made over the years (President Sarkozy, 2007). It took a very long time of philosophical and intellectual developments to get political freedom. The founders had a common belief that all men ought to be treated as equals due to the fact that they were all endowed by God with particular unalienable and special rights which are liberty, life, and pursuit of happiness. In order to secure such crucial rights, the governments derive their power from the agreement, as well as the consent of people that they govern. It is also on the basis of this premise that the Bill of Rights and other laws touching on fundamental human rights were drafted. It is clear that the constitution was drafted to exercise power, as well as limit governmental power over its people. One of the immigrant’s main reasons of coming to America was freedom. History clearly shows that there are various immigrants whose lives portrayed both political, as well as personal freedom. Freedom in America means having individual liberty to practice and pursue emotional, spiritual, as well as intellectual goals while being protected by the government.
The immigrants, just like other Americans, have thus been able to enjoy these fundamental rights and freedoms and flourish well in the American society. Though political freedom is a crucial human value, there ought to be economic freedom to guarantee political, as well as personal liberty. Political and individual freedom is very imperative to human beings. Also, economic freedom is critical as it helps in the existence, as well as in the development of political liberty. This is because it helps to check the concentration of too much power in the hands of few people. No person can be entirely free if he/she is still dependent upon other people for basic economic needs. In general, freedom is important to a nation, as people are able to participate fully in matters of religion. There is freedom of speech, assembly, press, education, private ownership, privacy, and right to trial by jury, happiness that is free from any form of racial, religious, and sexual discrimination. However, though personal and political freedom is important to individuals and society, it has its limitations. These limitations are provided for in the constitution which clearly stipulates the circumstances under which an individual may be denied these freedoms and rights.
Legal equality and equality of opportunity is another fundamental principle in the USA that is quite imperative to the development of the American society. It can be considered as one of the most crucial principles in the American constitution. All men are created equal and are independent. Thus, legal equality and equality of opportunity are paramount, and people ought to understand that they are born with similar rights to liberty, life, and pursuit of happiness. All this is enshrined in the American constitution (United States Government, n.d). This implies that the law must never be applied in a selective manner in the society. It should apply equally to all Americans and must not operate to deny certain individuals or groups opportunities on the basis of their racial, religious or social orientations. However, asserting that all people are equal is rather debatable and controversial since this does not necessarily mean that everybody is entitled to have the same income, personal possessions, housing, and health, as the author would like us to believe. What people have is an opportunity to create these things for themselves.
Equality is important to American citizens and the society at large as it gives people an opportunity to achieve their utmost potentials. It is this freedom of opportunity that has made a lot of people to migrate to the USA. The enterprise system has helped a lot to allow people who have a desire to work at a particular job do so without any conflicts. An individual is free to create and ultimately reap all the rewards of his/her work without interference from the government. Legal equality, as well as equality of opportunity helps to ensure that all the people have similar rights, and people are not discriminated on the basis of sexual affiliation, race, or disability. It ought to be noted that though equality is imperative, it does not give everybody the same rights but it rather gives everybody a chance to fulfill their dreams. The fact that we are all equal under the American law gives us an opportunity to fully enjoy our rights. The law accordingly provides the mechanisms through which individuals can agitate for these rights and sets the limits within which the said rights can be granted.
Another crucial principle that is quite important to American people is separation of powers. The principle, which has since been incorporated in many constitutions around the world serves as the ultimate safeguard against excessive use of power by the different arms of government as each, in a way, imposes critical checks and balances on the other (Madison, n.d). This fundamental principle forms a cornerstone of the constitution, as it ensures that there is an effective government where no group or individual are too powerful as compared to the rest. This is because individuals in positions of absolute power are likely to misuse such power to the detriment of the less influential masses. In America, the legislative branch has power to pass laws but it is not as powerful, as the president can decide to veto these laws. Moreover, the president though might be powerful; his word is not final, as the congress is allowed to override his veto (Kesler, n.d).
Consequently, the Supreme Court has power to declare a law that was approved by the president or congress unconstitutional. This principle is quite integral to American citizens and the government, as it helps to prevent people and groups from accumulating too much power in a particular branch ensuring that every branch has power to stop others from being too influential. Moreover, it is important as it encourages personal and political freedom, as well as liberty from people as they can counterattack a law and be free to give their personal opinions (Kesler, n.d).
It is apparent that America’s founding principles are quite integral to the American government, the society, and the lives of American citizens. Freedom, separation of powers, and equality are important principles that continue to govern the lives of American people and it is these principles that govern the day to day operation of the American society today.
Kesler, C.R. (n.d). What Separation of Powers Means for Constitutional Government. Retrieved
on 31st July 2012 from:
Reel, G. (n.d). American Values. Retrieved on 31st July 2012 from:
Madison, J. (n.d). Federalist No. 51. Retrieved on 31st July 2012 from:
President Sarkozy (2007). Speech by President Sarkozy Before Congress November 7, 2007. Retrieved on 31st July 2012 from:
United States Government (n.d). United States Constitution. Retrieved on 31st July 2012 from: http://discoverexceptionalism.com/resources/united-states-constitution/
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