How is the theory of the rights of Englishmen (theory of political rights) significant in the history of the U.S.?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Although the English government did not have a written constitution in the time of the American colonies, English people still believed that they had certain rights that were guaranteed to them by their status as subjects of English crown.  They believed that they had the broadest array of rights available to any people in the world.  This was a point of great pride for them.  Because the American colonists were also subjects of the crown, they felt that they had the rights of Englishmen just as the people in England did.  This made them proud, but it also made them more demanding and more likely to become unhappy if they felt that their rights were being violated.

The rights of Englishmen ended up being one of the most important ideas that caused the American Revolution to come about.  As mentioned in the previous paragraph, American colonists believed that they should have all of the rights that English people had.  In the years after the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, the American colonists started to feel that these rights were being violated.  Even though these rights were not written down anywhere, they felt just as unhappy as modern Americans do when our constitutional rights are violated.  Because the American colonists felt this way, they started to become unhappy with the English government.  This was one of the most important reasons why the American colonists eventually decided that they wanted to break away from England.

Thus, we can say that the rights of Englishmen were very significant in American history.  Their existence (in the minds of the English colonists) helped bring about the American Revolution and, thereby, the very existence of the United States.

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