Why and how did Americans conceive a republic built on individual liberty, in an era of oppressive monarchies? Two Revolutions and the Constitution describes how the British revolutions and constitution shaped the political values which were the foundation of the American Constitution.
The author explains how British colonial government, the innovations in the first American constitutions (the State constitutions), and the failure of the States’ first attempt to unite, all influenced the Framers in drafting the final Constitution.
The book tells how developments in England since Magna Carta had enabled liberty and representative government to develop in England and in colonial America. The charges against George III in the Declaration of Independence mirrored the charges against Charles I at the founding of the English republic. The English replaced two kings in their revolutions of the 1600s. Those revolutions led to enduring constitutional changes in Britain and in colonial America.
Philips also considers how the founding charters of the American colonies contained the seeds of American rebellion in the 1760s and 1770s.
James D. R. Philips is a lawyer and visiting lecturer at the University of Sydney’s Law School.
Chapter 1 Before the Revolution: The System of Government in America
Chapter 2 The End of Tyranny? The English Revolution
Chapter 3 The Original Legislature: The Origins of Parliament
Chapter 4 The British Executive: The Prime Minister Supersedes the King
Chapter 5 British Coercion, American Resistance
Chapter 6 The First American Constitutions: The State Constitutions
Chapter 7 The Confederation Was Not Enough
Chapter 8 The Revolution Is Secured: The Constitution Is Born
Appendix 1 The Legal Status of the Colonies
Appendix 2 1790 Census Data
Appendix 3 The Origins of the Common Law
About the Author
Two Revolutions and the Constitution strikes a much-deserved blow at ‘American Exceptionalism,’ a misguided and self-congratulatory myth that persists in our profession. Philips offers a clear and persuasive account of the English roots of America’s constitution and the government that it created. Bravo!
An important book which explains hitherto unrecognized connections between early English Republicans and their common law concepts and the foundations of the United States Constitution. It analyzes the struggles against royalism in both countries, and why America seceded and succeeded with help from British legal history.
A fascinating book for an age which has seen the Capitol stormed and the U.K. at the brink of destruction: there has never been a better time to remind ourselves of how exactly these first, deeply-related, Anglo-American revolutions unfolded.
Two Revolutions and the Constitution demonstrates that the American constitutional system— federalism, checks and balances, etc.—drew on the colonists’ understanding of British laws and government, although the final product grew from what the Founders felt they had learned about effective governance in the course of the American Revolution and the desperate War of Independence. This important book teaches about the building blocks of history. It demonstrates how ideas spring from experience and events, and from what historical actors concluded were earlier mistakes, in this instance the presumed flaws in the first state and national constitutions.
Two Revolutions and the Constitution: How the English and American Revolutions Produced the American Constitution is an analysis of a crucial turning point in history. How did the principle of a republic arise in two nations amid an era of monarchies, and how were those principles codified into a founding document? Written with meticulous attention to detail, yet thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds, Two Revolutions and the Constitution is an utterly fascinating chronicle of advances in liberty and representative government in both England and its New World colonies, from the Magna Carta onward. Two Revolutions and the Constitution is highly recommended for both public and college library history collections.