The founding fathers laid down a number of principles for successful governance in the new republic. Among these, in the formal sense, were written constitutions, the division of power among three branches of government, checks and balances to prevent abuse of power, the rule of law, and equality before the law. Most of these ideas were English in origin and had been practiced, in varying degrees, in the colonies. The failure of the colonial polity, the founders believed, had occurred because at times British power in North America had been exercised in opposition to notions of sound governance. In addition, the founders heeded public opinion and accepted, somewhat reluctantly, broad participation by white males in the political process. Having experienced British tyranny, they embraced free speech and a free press. While these various principles, the founders agreed, were ingredients that could produce a republic, such a republic would be viable only if the people and their political leaders possessed virtue.