Principles of American Democracy

Declaration of Independence

American government is founded on the principles of democracy. The United States was not always the grand and mighty country it is today. In fact, it started as a colony (or territory) of Great Britain. Great Britain's king and government imposed laws and violated the right of the colonists. Which is why on July 4, 1776, Americans declared independence from Great Britain. Our Founders wrote a document called the, "Declaration of Independence," which declared our independence from Great Britain and gives everyone the rights of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Constitution

Gaining freedom from Great Britain wasn't the only challenge. The Founding Fathers also had to create a document that governed the people and made sure no one would ever violate our rights. This document that governs is called the Constitution. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. All other laws come from the Constitution. The Constitution says how the government should work. The Constitution does three things:
1. Sets up the government
2. Defines the government
3. Protects the basic rights of Americans

The Constitution ultimately sets up a government for the people and by the people. This idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution which are, "We are the People." The Constitution establishes the supremacy law or, "rule of law, which means that EVERYONE including leaders and government must obey the law. No one is above the law. No one.

The writers of the Constitution knew their creation was not perfect and that at later times, other people would have good ideas for the Constitution. They also knew times would change and new laws need to be made or changed. This is why they added the amendment process. An amendment is either a change or and addition to the Constitution. It is not easy to change the Constitution. Even though, over 9,000 amendments have been proposed, only twenty-seven (27) have been approved. The first ten (10) are called the "Bill of Rights". A Bill of Rights is a list of rights that belong to people and that the government cannot break. The First Amendment grants Americans five basic rights or freedoms which are:
1. Speech
2. Religion
3. Assembly
4. Press
5. Petition the Government

Speech, religion, assembly, press and petition!



Now, time for a song that wraps this up! Feel free to sing along :)

Lyrics:

In 1787 I'm told
Our founding fathers did agree
To write a list of principles
For keepin' people free.

The U.S.A. was just startin' out.
A whole brand-new country.
And so our people spelled it out
The things that we should be.

And they put those principles down on paper and called it the Constitution, and it's been helping us run our country ever since then. The first part of the Constitution is called the preamble and tells what those founding fathers set out to do.

We the people,
In order to form a more perfect union,
Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,
Provide for the common defense,
Promote the general welfare and
Secure the blessings of liberty
To ourselves and our posterity
Do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

In 1787 I'm told
Our founding fathers all sat down
And wrote a list of principles
That's known the world around.

The U.S.A. was just starting out
A whole brand-new country.
And so our people spelled it out
They wanted a land of liberty.

And the Preamble goes like this:

We the people,
In order to form a more perfect union,
Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,
Provide for the common defense,
Promote the general welfare and
Secure the blessings of liberty
To ourselves and our posterity
Do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
For the United States of America...

Economy

Americans are also free to buy and sell things from whomever they want. Government cannot force prices on goods or services. For example, the government cannot pass a law saying all apples should cost $1 or force people to buy apples. This type of economy is called a capitalist or market economy.

Quiz on American Democracry