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American Constitutionalism Heard Round the World, 1776-1989A Global Perspective$
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George Athan Billias

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780814791073

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814791073.001.0001

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First Echo

First Echo

Europe, 1776–1800

Chapter:
(p.53) 3 First Echo
Source:
American Constitutionalism Heard Round the World, 1776-1989
Author(s):

George Athan Billias

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814791073.003.0003

This chapter examines the influence of American constitutionalism in Europe during the years 1776–1800, the so-called first peak period, or echo, of American constitutionalism abroad. It first considers two myths that emerged in the United States regarding American constitutionalism and their impact on European experiments in republicanism: the “cult of the constitution” and the “American Dream.” It then turns to the ideas of Thomas Paine, who proclaimed his principles of American constitutionalism first in Common Sense, published in January 1776, as well as the constitutional controversy pitting Paine against Edmund Burke. It also discusses the influence of American constitutionalism on European constitutions during the period 1787–1800, including those of France, and concludes with an analysis of the origins of the American Bill of Rights tradition and the influence of American constitutionalism in the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy.

Keywords:   republicanism, American constitutionalism, Europe, cult of the constitution, American Dream, Thomas Paine, Edmund Burke, European constitutions, France, American Bill of Rights

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