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The American Experience in Government

And they took their task very seriously, knowing that their own survival, with the British Empire perfectly willing to reannex its former colonies if it had the chance, and the survival of generations to come, depended on the soundness of the foundations they laid.

The first draft of the new government, the Articles of Confederation, was brilliant in its own way, but the trial run proved that its system was not good enough. Hence, the founding fathers calmly reassembled and created a much more careful second draft. Some aspects of the Constitution are routinely praised: the separation and balance of powers between the legislative, executive, and judicial functions; the compromise that created the bicameral legislature; the balance of power between the states and the federal government; the guarantees of individual rights. However, the most fundamental aspect of the Constitution is almost always overlooked.

This fundamental aspect is the fact that the statement setting forth the political philosophy underlying the Constitution is not within it. Instead, it is in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, where Jefferson, paraphrasing Locke, asserts that while people should not change governments lightly,


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The American Experience in Government. (2000, January 01). In Retrieved 13:28, October 25, 2014, from
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