Why I suspect non-European cultures influenced the U.S. Constitution more than most people think

April 1, 2024 by Joshua
in Leadership

Writing my book has led me to learn more about how the U.S. Constitution was written. I started learning about influence from other cultures than European. For example, this peer-reviewed article, American Indian Constitutions and Their Influence on the United States Constitution.

It said “Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Wilson, John Adams, Thomas Paine, and other Founding Fathers were acquainted with Indian peoples, tribal governments, and indigenous theories of governance.” Indigenous wisdom contributed to the Enlightenment and American democracy. It continued, “Indian nations and peoples impacted the formation of the current U.S. government, the Constitution that created it, and several specific provisions in that document … The hundreds of years of interactions between native nations and English and American colonies, states, leaders, and the United States Founding Fathers shaped the political thinking of both sides and even influenced the development, drafting, and ratification of the U.S. Constitution.” That sounds like serious influence.

The United States Constitution
The United States Constitution

The book The Dawn of Everything described how Indians influenced the entire enlightenment, and more than most people expect.

Still, it’s easy to think people today are rewriting history. Until recently, I happened to hear some Gregorian Chant. While it’s from a few centuries before Europeans settled North America, compare it (or later music, from the Renaissance) to blues, jazz, and rock and tell me North American music wasn’t heavily influenced by music from outside Europe.

If music could be influenced so heavily by outside cultures, why not politics?

What if our political structure was influenced as much or more than music was by non-European cultures?

How much might our politics derive from outside Europe compared to how many of us were taught?

Might our government (and the Enlightenment) come more from outside Europe than anyone gives it credit for?

So music and how much it changed is why I suspect non-European cultures influenced the U.S. Constitution more than most people think. I suspect I’d find similar developments in other areas of culture, but just started with music. I mean, Gregorian chant doesn’t have a back beat, nor could I see it evolving to develop one.

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