A Realist's Look at Our Nation's Founding
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A Realist's Look at Our Nation's Founding
To say that the Founding Fathers "...were impelled by class motives..." is a statement that is purely speculative. To
say that we know what motivated these men to write the Constitution is totally false. We do not know whether their reasons
for drafting the document were personal, moral or political. All we do know is that, through their actions, the most influential
document of our country's history was created.
The politics of the Constitutional Convention were, at best, shady. When I say this I mean that the common
conception (or mis-conception as the case may be) of the wisest men in the country at the time donning their powdered wigs
and heading off to change history is a bit overly-dramatized. What actually occurred was a very different scenario. It began
with the larger states recognizing the weaknesses of the Articles of the Confederation and attempting to change the way things
were being run. Their first problem was that, in order to get the changes made, they would have to get the approval of at
least some of the small states. Whether they gained that approval through straight-forward agreement or through default was
of little consequence to the large states, so they called for a meeting, a "Convention", of sorts. The larger states knew that it
would be difficult to get the smaller states to attend such a convention because the small states liked things the way they were,
with a large amount of the power lying in the hands of the individual states themselves. In order to solve this problem the
larger states announced that a Constitutional Convention was being held with the purpose of amending the current problems in
the Articles of the Confederation and that if a state was to not attend then they would then forfeit their say in what changes
were to be made. This move forced the smaller states into attendance and set the stage for the most important summer of our
When the Constitutional Convention began each of the states was looking out for their own concerns. The larger
states wanted a government which had a strong central executive branch and that had a congress which represented each
state due to population. The smaller states, fearing a loss in influence, wanted the representation to be equivalent across the
board, with each state having an equal number of congressional representatives. The southern states wanted to count their
slaves as citizens for the purpose of population figures, but not for taxation. The northern states said that if the slaves were
counted for population then they should also be counted for taxation. This was the way it was at the beginning of the
convention. Many delegates became angry and went home. Delegates such as Luther Martin, from Maryland. Martin was
an avid supporter of states rights and became agitated and left in disgust before the signing of the Constitution. New Yorkers
Alexander Hamilton, John Lansing and Robert Yates were all nationally prominent leaders. Hamilton was constantly upset by
the lack of support for his proposal of a constitutional monarchy. Both Lansing and Yates voted for the ill-fated proposal of
weak central government. All three became overly disturbed by the way things were going and left before work was
completed on the drafting of the Constitution. Such was the way things were going. It appeared that with each state
harboring their own agendas a plan, suitable to at least a strong majority of states, was not to be.
The outlook was grim on the delegates coming to a decision on the framework of the new government. It was
obvious that all sides would have to begin making provisions if an agreement were ever to be made. This is exactly what
happened. The decision was made that there would be a Congress but the question of representation remained. Most states
wanted proportional representation, however, the smaller states wanted equal representation for all. A compromise was
made. In fact it was to be referred to as "The Great Compromise." The Great Compromise said that there were to be to
houses of the Congress. The lower houses representation was to be proportional (One representative for every 40,000
citizens) while the representation in the upper house would be equal for all states. Once this compromise had been made the
convention made steady progress.
The next issues faced did not take as long to solve. The admission of new states posed a problem as did
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United States, Connecticut Compromise, Three-Fifths Compromise, Luther Martin, United States Constitution, Constitutional Convention, Alexander Hamilton, Robert Yates, United States House of Representatives, United States Congress, James Madison, No taxation without representation
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