Essay, Research Paper: Constitution


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With the Constitution the elite society protected rights for every American that
would secure and ensure our nation’s existence for hundreds of years. Under
the Articles of Confederation, the United States’ government was in a state of
chaos. To end the existing chaos and build a stronger democratic society for the
future, the government would need to be more powerful and centralized. Thus, the
elite class established the rules and boundaries that would protect the rights
of all citizens from a suppressive government. The Articles created a weak,
almost non-existent government had neither an executive or judicial branch,
which meant that it lacked enforcement powers. The newly formed government had
neither and executive or judicial branch, which meant that it lacked enforcement
powers. There were three problems that existed under the Articles of
Confederation that would spawn and act of change. First, under the Articles of
Confederation the government could not protect property and other rights of the
citizens. Second, the society created under the Articles of Confederation lacked
a means of advancing commerce and interstate trade. Third, government lacked the
money and power to provide and adequate national defense (Dye 65-66). Traders
and commercial men found their plans for commerce on a national scale impeded by
local interference with interstate commerce. The currency of the states and the
nation were hopelessly muddled. Creditors everywhere were angry about the
depreciated paper money, which the agrarians had made and were attempting to
force upon those whom they had borrowed specie. Poor, small landowning farmers
could not sell or trade goods that they produced on their land to other states.
The “muddled currency” in 1786, led to the loss of land in Massachusetts.
During this time Continental army veterans were unable to pay their debts with
the paper money that they were supplied with by the Continental Congress. This
bankruptcy led to the loss of land and a great rebellion led by Daniel Shays.
The Shay’s rebellion was ended easily enough but it was the lack of national
government that frightened people. Had Daniel Shays gathered a larger number of
people and had more firepower the small amount of farmers and townspeople might
not have been able to squash this rebellion. Anarchy in the States could not be
tolerated (ShaysNet). However it was James Madison that stated that the way to
abolish the rule by faction is to abolish liberty but that liberty is essential
to a faction as air is to fire. Madison continues to state that, “The
interference to which we are brought is, that the causes of faction cannot be
removed and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its
effects.” Madison understood that to take away liberty was to stop a faction
and therefore if a hindrance or boundary on liberty was established of liberty
and therefore the most reasonable decision were to place boundaries on it.
Madison and the elite class noticed how the Articles of Confederation disrupted
the majority of the American people and created a system of government where
liberty was so free that it hindered society. The decision to create a new
system of government was in the best interest of all the people in America
(James). In creating the Constitution there were many conflicting views of how
the newly created government should function. Alexander Hamilton, wanted a
strong central government in which a Senate and executive power were chosen for
life by indirect election; therefore creating an aristocracy. George Mason, an
anti-federalist, objected to the final document because of the possibility that
this new government would create aristocracy. Mason also proposed that, “there
is no declaration of Rights” and the “Legislature cannot prohibit the
further importation of slaves,” which he felt was destructive of the
country’s moral fiber (Virginia). On the Bill of Rights issue, the government
did not need regulations that stated what it couldn’t do because a government
cannot act unless it is stated within the law. If there was not a law that
stated that they could censor the press then it is illegal for them to do so.
Mason and many other anti-federalists were opposed to the Constitution because
it allowed the importation of slaves for at least another twenty years. Without
this clause in the Constution it never would have been ratified because the
South would not have voted for ratification denying the Constution the
three-fourths vote that it needed. Although the importation of slaves in the
Constution was not ideal there was not a way to ratify the Constitution without
the South’s vote on this issue. Charles A. Beard critizes the creators of the
Constitution deeming that: "I believe in the infallibility, all-sufficient
wisdom, and infinite goodness of the late convention; or in other words, I
believe that some men are of so perfect a nature that it is absolutely
impossible for them to commit errors or design villainy. I believe that the
great body of the people are incapable of judging in their nearest concerns, and
that, therefore, they ought to be guided by the opinions of their superiors . .
. I believe that aristocracy is the best form of government . . . I believe that
trial by jury and the freedom of the press ought to be exploded from every wise
of government . . . I believe that the new constitution will prove the bulwark
of liberty --- the balm of misery --- the essence of justice --- and the
astonishment of mankind(Anti-Federalist). Another anti-federalist, Patrick Henry
gave a speech at the Virginia Convention, which is telling the founders that
their new Constution will have the same rule of the land that does not differ
from the former rule of England. Below is a small section of the speech from
Patrick Henry: THIS, sir, is the language of democracy--that a majority of the
community have a right to alter this! How different from the sentiments of
freemen that a contemptible minority can prevent the good of the majority! If,
then, gentlemen standing on this ground are come to that point, that they are
willing to bind themselves and their posterity to be oppressed, I am amazed and
inexpressibly astonished. If this be the opinion of the majority, I must submit;
but to me, sir, it appears perilous and destructive. I can not help thinking so.
Perhaps it may be the result of my age. These may be feelings natural to a man
of my years, when the American spirit has left him, and his mental powers, like
the members of the body, are decayed. If, sir, amendments are left to the
twentieth, or tenth part of the people of America, your liberty is gone forever
(Yesterday‘s). There were a few problems within the Constution of the United
States of America, but the effects that it produced in society was far more
positive than that of the Articles of Confederation. The chaos that was
constructed under the Articles was legally banned under the Constution. The
slave trade and acts of slavery would last many more years but finally it was
ended very bloodily. Although the history of the United States has not always
been a happy on the ratification of the Constution still is on of America’s
best accomplishments.

BibliographyDye, Thomas R. (1998) Politics in America - Third Edition. New Jersey:
Prentice, Inc James Madison University. James Madison: His Legacy. Trans. Devin
Bent. Online. James Madison Center. Internet. 26 February 2000.
ShaysNet. Shay’s Rebellion. Trans. Peg Larson. Online. Wintergreen Associates.
Internet. 26 February 2000. The
Virginia Anti-Federalist. Online. Internet. 26 February 2000.
Yesterday’s Anti-Federalist. Online. Internet. 26 February 2000.
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