Kesha Towne
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American Government

Charters of Freedom
Friday, March 10, 2006 11:10 AM

The founding documents have helped create steps to define the ideals of the United States. Through the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the English Bill of Rights, the Louisiana Purchase, The Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th Amendment, Immigration, the Right of Suffrage, and the Characters of Freedom, the United States has been able to become strong and more ideal.

Jefferson and Madison established the basic government.  This led to the two very famous documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The Declaration of Independence is an important document that showed that the United States is its own nation.  It started as the Constitution stating we have our own government and soon became the Declaration of Independence stating The United States is able to run our own type of government.

The Constitution is also an important document that now states that the United States gives the power to the law, and that the people of the United States are able to help in making decisions.  We are able to vote, and have our say in what goes on through the government.

The English Bill of Rights was also an early document that helped develop government.  It gaurantees free elections and the rights for citizens accused of crime.  It helps gives freedoms to all people of all genders and races.  Things are more equal with the Bill of Rights and are even subject to changing as new equalities arise.

The Louisiana Purchase helped expand the land of the United States that made it what the U.S. is today. We bought 828,000 square miles of land, west of the Mississippi from France for $15 million. Europe believed that by getting this purchase that the United States would crash, when Jefferson believed that it was a “a wide-spread field for the blessings of freedom.” The Louisiana Purchase was a vote of confidence and did not weaken the Union, it strengthened it.

Between 1861 and 1865 the Civil War went on. 623,000 lives were taken which would be equal to 5 million today. The Civil War helped bring the Union and Confederate States together as one. The United States was fighting as a single nation which wasn’t common at all. Americans had questioned the nationhood since the early days of the Revolution, but this helped everyone come together. Patrick Henry addressed Continent Congress, “The distinction between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, and New Englanders are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American.” The Union and Confederate States were no more, it was now the United States.

It took the 4 long years of the Civil War to help end slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation, in 1863, declared that all slaves shall be free, although that didn’t really get through. Although it was part of the law, it didn’t make all slaves be free. The 13th Amendment which was ratified on December 6, 1865, saying all slaves should be free, was written because of the fear that slavery would come back once the Civil War was over.

Much immigration to the United States is found because people are looking for the promise of liberty and opportunity. The Open Door Policy gave way in the 19th century allowing immigrants in. In 1989, Ronald Reagan said that since we have had freedom, we were going to keep it. We were going to allow people to have the freedom they have come to the United States looking for.

The Right of Suffrage allowed women the right to vote. In 1789, during the first presidential election only 6% of the population was allowed to vote. These people being white male property owners. Susan B. Anthony fought for women suffrage and she was convicted of crime. Years after her death, women were granted the right to vote in 1920 when the 19th Amendment was ratified. American Indians got the right to vote in 1924.

The nation’s Founders believed that the United States had a special mission in the world. Being only one of a dozen democracies in 1917, there are over 100 democracies in the world today. People of self-determination and the different Constitutions lead encouragement and credibility to freedom-loving people.

All of these founding documents have helped make the United States the free country we are today. Without all of these determined people, who knows what the U.S. Government would look like now. Many people fought for their rights which have helped develop the freedoms and liberties that we each have in today’s government.