Which political traditions and thinkers shaped the ideas and aspirations of the American founding? Late eighteenth-century Americans were influenced by diverse perspectives, including British constitutionalism, classical and civic republicanism, and Enlightenment liberalism. Among the works frequently said to have influenced the founders are John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws, and William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England.
Another, often overlooked or discounted source of influence is the Bible. Its expansive influence on the political culture of the age should not surprise us because the population was overwhelming Protestant, and it informed significant aspects of public culture, including language, letters, education, and law. No book at the time was more accessible or familiar than the English Bible, specifically the King James Bible. And the people were biblically literate.
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