Yale Center for Parliamentary History

The Long Parliament's Long Shadow

From Aberdeen to Dover and Cork to Londonderry the event the events in Westminster in 1640 and 1641 reflected the interconnectedness of the three Kingdoms. They would have a profound effect on the Atlantic Colonies. Map of England

The records of the Long Parliament elucidate the Anglo-American constitutional tradition, and clarify the roots of democratic and representative governments worldwide. The vocabulary and concepts used by the Framers of the American Constitution have a direct link with seventeenth-century English parliaments. Many of the Founding Fathers did more than read the legal works of Sir Edward Coke and John Selden - key leaders in the parliamentary debates on liberty, government, and human rights. Thomas Jefferson, for example, in drafting the U.S.Constitution as well as the rules of procedure for the new American Congress, referred repeatedly to incomplete printed versions of these debates. These debates, he felt, should be an essential source and touchstone in forming a representative government. In 1810 Jefferson wrote that "Our laws, language, religion, politics, and manners are so deeply laid in English foundations that we shall never cease to consider their history as a part of ours, and to study ours in that as its origins."

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