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Principles of Government
Guide: Why Government?

These resources explain the reasons societies to form governments. Use these resources to help students understand the main ideas and events that influenced why and how societies, particularly the United States, created governments. 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

  • What are three essential reasons societies form governments?
  • What are two of the primary roles of government once it has been formed?


  1. Overview: Why Government?
  2. Visuals: Why Government? (Visual)
  3. Outline: Outline
  4. Transcript: Transcript
  5. Lesson: Introduction
  6. Lesson: 1-State of Nature and Natural Law
  7. Lesson: 2-Purpose of Government
  8. Lesson: 3-U.S. Government
  9. Lesson: Closing
  10. Glossary Terms: state of nature
  11. Glossary Terms: social contract
  12. Photos & Illustrations: Mayflower Compact 1620, The
  13. Reference Articles: Consent of the Governed: U.S. Government
  14. Reference Articles: Enlightenment
  15. Reference Articles: Life, Liberty, Property
  16. Reference Articles: Natural Law
  17. Biographies: Hobbes, Thomas
  18. Biographies: Locke, John
  19. Political, Government & Court Documents: English Bill of Rights (1689), excerpt
  20. Political, Government & Court Documents: Hobbes, Thomas: Leviathan (1651)
  21. Political, Government & Court Documents: Locke, John: Second Treatise of Government (1690)
  22. Political, Government & Court Documents: Magna Carta (1215)
  23. Political, Government & Court Documents: Declaration of Independence (1776), excerpt

MLA Citation

"Why Government?" History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2020, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Content/2156117?cid=256. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

Entry ID: 2156117

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