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Origins of American Government
Guide: Roots of U.S. Government

These resources highlight the political philosophies and events that influenced the creation of the U.S. government. Use these resources to help students learn about the important ideas, people, and events that created American government. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Theme Key Understandings

  • Societies need government to promote harmony, reduce conflict, and increase economic productivity
  • Governments come in many forms, including rule by one, rule by a few, and rule by many
  • Philosophical thought often influences a society's form of government
  • New political systems are shaped by emulating and opposing older systems of government
  • Founding documents are a result of compromise and the direct experiences of those drafting them
  • Democratic governments derive their power from the consent of the governed
  • Protection of individual rights and liberties is central to American democracy
  • Democratic governments strike a balance between majority rule and minority rights

Key Questions

  • Identify the three most important ways Enlightenment thinkers influenced American government.
  • How are the British system of government and the British violation of promises to the colonists central to the formation of the new American government?


  1. Overview: Roots of U.S. Government
  2. Visuals: Roots of U.S. Government (Visual)
  3. Outline: Outline
  4. Transcript: Transcript
  5. Lesson: Introduction
  6. Lesson: 1-Influence of British Law
  7. Lesson: 2-Political Ideas for Revolution
  8. Lesson: 3-Classical and Enlightenment Influence
  9. Lesson: Closing
  10. Key Question: Classical Influence on the Founding Fathers
  11. Background Essay: Classical Influence on the Founding Fathers (Background Essay)
  12. Dilemma Perspective: Classical Influence on the Founding Fathers (Perspective 1)
  13. Dilemma Perspective: Classical Influence on the Founding Fathers (Perspective 2)
  14. Doing More: Doing More
  15. Glossary Terms: consent of the governed
  16. Glossary Terms: no taxation without representation
  17. Glossary Terms: divine right of kings
  18. Photos & Illustrations: Declaration of Independence presented to Congress
  19. Reference Articles: Life, Liberty, Property
  20. Reference Articles: Due Process
  21. Biographies: Locke, John
  22. Biographies: Paine, Thomas
  23. Political, Government & Court Documents: Locke, John: Second Treatise of Government (1690)
  24. Political, Government & Court Documents: Paine, Thomas: Common Sense (1776)
  25. Political, Government & Court Documents: Declaration of Independence (1776)

MLA Citation

"Roots of U.S. Government." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2020, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Content/2156114?cid=256. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

Entry ID: 2156114

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