The founding fathers originally set up a confederacy (the Articles of Confederation), but it failed, so they made a federal republic. Many were initially afraid of such a government, so included checks and balances between the branches. The founding fathers also included the Bill of Rights to protect our freedoms. Among these was the right to bear arms, and form militias, as well as the right to religion and freedom of speech.
The Founding Fathers might be comparable to modern Libertarians, because they favored "small" government. The terms back then were Federalists and Anti-Federalists. The Anti-Federalists were libertarian, and wanted a smaller government, and rights left to the people. The Federalists wanted a government system strong enough to endure.
Today, although the split is between "left" and "right", and between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats are liberals, while Republicans are conservatives. Too many people over the years did not heed the founders' warnings, and voted for bigger government. While most people think big government is just the ideal of the Democrats, there are also "progressives" in the Republican party : a liberal-authoritarian hybrid that promotes larger government, higher taxes, and changes to our traditional government (the separation of powers and the rights of the individual).
Here's a few documented rights of old English law that were given to the people that really inspired our founding fathers to form a government based on Limited Government, Popular Sovereignty, Checks and Balances, a Representative form of government, and Limited Power, as well as a federal structure in which the national government must work together with the States:
Magna Carta- Limited rights given to the people under English rule.
Petition of Rights- More rights, for the most part it was created to limit power.
English Bill of Rights- aka "the glorious revolution". more restriction on king.
Virginia Bill of Rights- Early version of our BOR.
Bill of Rights- rights expressly given to the people and government.
Most of the US's founding fathers were rather wealthy. They tended to be political figures and some had a military background. Many of the founding fathers in the South, like Washington and Jefferson were slave owners as well. Each of them were aware that their responsibilities were crucial as they were designing a new form of government.
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