After describing how the English Civil War failed due to a disagreement between the center (Cromwell and Ireton) and the left-wing (Rainborough and Wildman), about whether suffrage should be extended only to property-owners or to all men, Davies says that the same basic conflict occurred in Philadelphia in 1787, about whether representation in Congress should be popular or aristocratical. (Elsewhere in the book, Davies, like Abraham Kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism, argues that the left-wing of Calvinism, such as the Levellers and Roger Williams, were the truest of all Calvinists to the fundamental principles of Calvinism. Cf. John Wingate Thornton, The Pulpit of the American Revolution, p. xiv, quoting George Cranmer: "If the positions of the [Protestant] Reformers be true, I cannot see how the main and general conclusions of Brownism [i.e. Independency or Congregationalism] should be false.")
If the London convention had had a Benjamin Franklin to lend his conciliatory genius to settling this dispute, who knows? perhaps England would have set up a successful constitutional republic. And, by the same token, if there had been no Franklin at Philadelphia, it is even possible that the American Republic would never have been established. One vote might have made all the difference, for only one vote carried the compromise plan which saved the Philadelphia convention from dissolution. By such slender threads do the destinies of nations sometimes seem to hang!
England actually came closer to setting up an American-styled republic in 1649-50 than most people realize. While it is, of course, perfectly true, as Charles M. Andrews says, that the seventeenth century shows "only an English world in America with little in it that can strictly be called American," the paradoxical thing is that for a little while the seventeenth century also fosters the illusion of an American world in England with little in it that can strictly be called English! If it is true, and of course it is, that the story of American settlements cannot be properly be understood except as seen against the background of English history, it is no less true that the story of English constitutional experiments in the Commonwealth period cannot properly be understood except as viewed in the perspective of the United States' Constitution. In fact, one might almost call this brief period in English history a sort of prevue of the American idea.
Such a thought would scarcely occur to an English historian concerned with nothing more than the history of his own country. For to him the constitutional developments of the period cannot appear other than as abortive experiments-a dead end so far as the future course of his country is concerned. How differently they appear to an American historian interested in the origins of the American system of government! He sees this same dead end to be a most important link in the chain of development connecting Philadelphia with Runnymede. What is merely an almost irrelevant offshoot of English history to the English historian is part of the main trunk of American history to the American historian.
As George Burton Adams puts it:
It was American, not English, constitutional law which was here making its first beginning, its first essays in imperfect and half-conscious formulation, and it was in America that these principles were developed from this beginning in unbroken growth into the government of a great people. (Constitutional History of England, p. 322.)
The extent to which "American" ideas of government were circulating in England at this time may be best seen by examining the nature of the proposal that was offered in the House of Commons under the title of "The Agreement of the People." What a big landmark in human thought about government this agreement was may be judged from Adams' description of it.
... It implied that the people of England by an agreement formally entered into were to make a written constitution in order to establish a government and define its powers. ... The foundation upon which it rested, the agreement of the people, is the same as that upon which our constitutions rest and it was here proposed for the first time in history as the foundation of a national government. The similar compacts which had preceded it in America, though they came from the same ultimate sources, and were truly intended to establish "a Civil Body Politick," served for little communities of people in which an actual democracy was entirely feasible, and representative institutions, as an expedient for working a democracy on a great scale, had no need to be considered for a long time. The Agreement of the People was seriously intended as the constitution of a great nation. It must be regarded, however, as more than merely the first written constitution proposed for a great state. It was a constitution distinctly of the American type.
Notice how Adams there not only equated the English Civil War's "Agreement of the People" with the American Constitution, but also the New England Puritan town covenants too he related thereto.
(By the way, I am very much enjoying Davies's book, and I highly recommend it. I would say it goes very well with Benjamin Hart's Faith & Freedom: The Christian Roots of American Liberty and Abraham Kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism. I learned of Davies's book in an article by Gary DeMar at American Vision, The Scourge of Unbridled Democracy. I will say that I am myself an anarcho-capitalist, but my inspiration was the writings of the Reformed Christians, perhaps much as Murray Rothbard became an anarcho-capitalist thanks to Thomas Aquinas. To quote A Religious History of the American People by Sydney E. Ahlstrom, "There is much truth in the Roman Catholic claim that if Luther had possessed a profound knowledge of Saint Thomas or even of the full tradition of medieval exegesis of Saint Paul, he would have been spared much anguish. But these points are at best academic, for the assault on Thomism had begun even before the Angelic Doctor's death, and it had contiuned unabated." When I was looking at the recommended reading list in DeMar's God and Government: A Biblical, Historical and Constitutional Perspective, I was amazed to see that in the list of recommended books on economics - where DeMar specifically stipulates that he is including only books written from a Biblical, Christian perspective; even if the non-Christian or non-Biblical books are true and good, he says, they are not included - is listed Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson!! I have no idea how a book based on Frédéric Bastiat is considered Biblical and Christian, but I won't complain! I jokingly asked some fellow Austrian Economics-loving friends of mine, whether they thought DeMar excluded Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard from his list, because DeMar seriously disagrees with them, or because however hard it may have been to justify considering Hazlitt (and therefore Bastiat) as "Christian" and "Biblical", it would have been even harder to include two atheistic Jews, Mises and Rothbard, as such!)