The Ideas that made the United States

A collection of references, and, of introductory comments on those references.


In 1651 Thomas Hobbes publishes Leviathan.
Hobbes contradicts himself many times, the causes are; Although his logic is consistent, he often starts from contradictory premisses, he is working with a hand-written manuscript, and, he has no proof-reading team.

Hobbes' conceptual starting point is an individual, not part of any society, and having the "right to exist". Hobbes argues that having the right to some end, must include the rights to the means to that end, using the example that, having the rights to a piece of land logically includes the rights to walk on that land, to plant crops, and to harvest the crops on that land. Hobbes further argues that persons create a society, and surender some of their rights to that society, in order to obtain rights from the society that are more valuable than the rights they surender, and, that certain rights are so valuable, that they are "UN-Alienable", so valuable that no argument can be made that they were intended to be surendered.


In 1689 John Locke publishes his Second Treatise of Government

Locke builds on both Hobbes, and, all the debates in Parliament on the topic to that time, and, he includes an analysis of why "Democracy" is such a pernicious form of government.


In January of 1776, Thomas Paine publishes Common Sense

Paine's central argument is that the British Colonial government is corrupt, there must come a day that the colonies separate from Britain and become an independent Nation, and that the best time, from the point of trends in power and in levels of oppression, is NOW.


In July of 1776, a team of lawyers, including Thomas Jefferson, prepare the US Declaration of Independence

This was a team of lawyers, all of them graduating from law schools established by the Parliament of Great Britain, and, all of them familiar with both the works of John Locke, and, the debates in Parliament on the topic of Natural Rights.

The Declaration is a Legal Brief intended for the Government of Great Britain, including Parliament, and, it is phrased as a part of the debate over Natural Rights, accepting that such rights exist, and, asserting that the right to form a government for the purpose of defending Rights, was itself, an un-alienable Natural Right A "means" required by the Right of Self Defense.

de Tocqueville

In 1835, between the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson and the United States Civil War, Alexis de Tocqueville, Studying how the United States managed to ordain the first working Republic EVER, so that his beloved France could follow our example, wrote several volumes of "Democracy in America", the most concise being American Institutions and Their Influence

de Tocqueville observes that the American tradition, dating from the first setlements, of stucturing power from the town council UP to county and then collony councils, which later became state Legislatures, no level of government concerning itself with a matter that could be handled at a level closer to the people, is crucial to establishing a working Republic, and, that the French tradition of the King deciding which day of the week was proper for doing laundry, would have to be changed, if France were ever to become a Republic.

de Tocqueville further observes that the United States courts follow British custom, that our "Law of the Land" is Case Law, built on precedent, and that American Judges do not, ever, do what French judges do routinely, decide a case solely on their personal interpretation of the law, without considering what other judges decided in prior cases.

Also listed as an "American trait" important to the existance of a Republic, was Self reliance, the American habit of picking up axe and rifle, and marching into the forrest to build a cabin and found a new town, as David Crocket did so often.


We have provided several links into the Gutenberg Litteracy Project book list, with enough introduction to each that you can understand why they are on a "Fundamentals of American Government" reading list.

You might also be interested in The Bill of Rights, it's origin and Meaning, by Irving Brant, and, Miracle at Philadephia, by Catherine Drinker Bowen.

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