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“We the Wealthy”
October 10, 2000
Many historians believe that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention created the Constitution to protect their own financial interests. There is evidence of this belief written throughout the Constitution and by the intentional secrecy of the Convention. The delegates did not want the general public to know what was said at the convention. They thought that the only way they could only speak their minds freely was in secrecy (Cayton 81). The writing of the Constitution was done in a closed and guarded room, behind their backs of those it was supposed to protect. How could a group of powerful wealthy men protect the interests of the poor, especially without their help? So whom did the Constitution really protect? In the Preamble, the Constitution states that
We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States. (Cayton 936)
In just the Preamble, one can see that it is the wealthy man, not average working family, whose financial interests are most protected. “We the People” really means “We the Wealthy”. The delegates wanted to “insure domestic tranquility” because Shay’s Rebellion demonstrated to them how unstable the peace truly was. They needed to make sure the poor did not have a reason to rebel against them and destroy their property. The delegates also needed to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” because they believed that if the confusion continued they would lose their newly acquired freedoms. The Constitution contains several other issues that were financially advantageous to the wealthy. For example, the Three-fifths Compromise that counted three-fifths of the rich plantation owners’ slaves so that even though the slaves could not vote, the plantation owners’ opinions would have greater representation in congress. This would allow the plantation owners to oppose taxes on tobacco and other crops with greater force that without the compromise. Another example is the Electoral College. This allowed the people to feel like they were participating in the election of the president while ensuring that the actual decision was made by electors or members of Congress (Cayton 85). In this way, the rich congressmen could make sure that the Presidential candidates elected would support their interests. With a foundation like this, it is not difficult to understand why wealthy people continue to control politics even in today’s society.
Cayton, Andrew, Elisabeth Perry and Allan Winkler. America: Pathways to the Present. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1998.
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United States, James Madison, United States Constitution, Three-Fifths Compromise
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