Timeline of U.S. Government

History of American Government

Magna Carta


The Magna Carta was a psuedo-Bill of Rights that prevented the King from punishing his subjects unless they broke the law. This was the first attempt by the citizens to limit the King's powers.

Creation of Parliament


Over time, the English Parliament limited the powers of the English monarchy, and after the English Civil War, Parliament's power was supreme over the monarchy. The King and Queen had to sign the Bill of Rights before taking the throne. This shows a progression to a more democratic system of government, a model that the U.S. would emulate.


1350 - 1500

This led to less reliance on the church as far as governmental authority, and more reliance on the King. People placed more emphasis on the individual, and less on the class. This helped give birth to the idea of social mobility and and that social classes weren't important.

Classical Republics

1375 - 1475

These republics placed emphasis on small uniform communities, and the people to work together to combat problems as a group. Citizenship,civic virtue, and moral education were other values that were of importance during these times. The founding fathers of the United States would look to have our new country follow this role model.


1500 - 1600

This was the religious argument as to what the people should believe in. This led to religious persecution and the eventual departure of groups to America. This would lead to the future American policy of establishing and enforcing religious freedom.

Colonial governments

1605 - 1776

They set the groundwork for a democratic system of government in which the people rule themselves through an equal opportunity system of voting in elections. Though the governments had flaws, they progressed beyond and executed far better than other governments in the world at the time.

Mayflower Compact


The Mayflower Compact called for equality amongst people and the provision of equalccess to rights and resources. The Constitution follows the same lines as far as providing citizens with inalienable rights and ensuring equality.

Petition of Right


This was set up to limit the monarch's power and establish that their power was not divine. This also empowerd the citizens to challenge laws the King brought around.

Age of Enlightenment

1650 - 1800

Advances in technology occured rapidly, as people began to believe that they could solve problems themselves, including disease and feats of engineering. This led to a level of confidence that carried over to government, with people believing that human behavior could be understood and controlled, and therefore a government should tailor itself to its nation's unique circumstances.

John Locke wrote the "Two Treatises of Government"


John Locke wrote "Two Treatises" to support his idea that government should respect and ensure basic rights. Locke also believed in a system of checks and balances, and the seperation of powers. These ideas would later be used to construct our government as we know it today.

English Bill of Rights


This helped estaqblish a judicial system of courts that must be equally fair to those being tried. The English Bill of Rights also mirrors the American Constitution in that the person in power(our President) must faithfully execute the laws.

Continental Congress

1774 - 1789

This was a response to the Intolerable Acts. They convened to decide on how to respond and possibly form their own nation. They believed this would work because, for the most part, the colonists had governed themselves, and this would merely provide a formality and more structure.