Creating the Constitution
Creating the Constitution
The constitution convention
In 1787, the Congress summoned all states in Philadelphia for the reason of reviving the articles of confederation (page 267). The time of summoning only five states had delegates ready for the meeting, and six more states had acted. Delegates from New Hampshire delayed until July while the Rhodes Island remained unsupportive about the idea. Patrick Henry from the state of Virginia was always paranoid of the central government and hence did not show up for representation (page 268). On May 25th, 29 delegates from nine states commenced the work and four months later after deliberations a new federal constitution was drafted, and 39 signed the document except for two members who refused. Those who created the draft were relatively young with an average age of 42 years. Most of them had survived the American Revolution and had practical experience. They were lawyers, political philosophers, bankers and some were merchants. In all the deliberation, although he was a rare participant in the debating process, George Washington was the presiding officer. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest member but spoke very little (page 268).
Drafting the constitution
Benjamin Franklin spoke very little from the floor but with his vast experience in the political world he was very resourceful. In the group James Madison and Elbridge Gerry, who was the member with the most prowess in matters of political philosophy (page 269),. James Madison was the main person whom the delegates looked up to for guidance as he never missed any of the debating sessions. During the delegates meeting, there were narrow disagreements based on varying philosophies but the general had a common ground on specific important constitutional aspects. For instance, the government should act on the best interest of the minority and protect citizens from the minority in power. To control power by the government, three branches were established. The first one was the executive, the legislature, and the last one was the judiciary.
The Virginia and New Jersey Plans
Virginia plan was a draft by James Madison of the delegates’ discussion on the draft constitution whole central idea was a revolution. The delegates were to out to do a revision of the articles of confederation and provide an entirely different document that will comprehensively guide the states. Madison’s plans were to come up with a general government that guided the three bodies of the government that will make legislation to guide the states and its citizens (page 270). There would be a new Congress that will consist of the lower house elected by the citizens and upper house for senators whose members are appointed by members of the legislature. Delegates became critical of some aspects of James proposals, and the result was. The plan sort to keep equal representation in the Congress that will have the power to control tax collection and regulate business activities. The new plans brought a dilemma whether to amend the articles of confederation of to draft an entirely document. The first conversion was in support of the James idea for establishing a new national government. There were issues linked to states powers; the states were not supposed to wage war, issue money, and the signing of treaties which led serious disagreements among the delegates. Northern and southern delegates entirely disagreed on matters that concerned slavery and its future; this was the most controversial issue of all amendments and drafting process. In the states of the South like Virginia and Carolina, agriculture had flourished based on the slaves’ man power and this reason they were not ready to abolish the slavery. A third of people who lived in the southern states were blacks who were being enslaved. The constitution had been drafted and never considered slaves as individuals with the right but protected the interests of white Americans. George Mason was a slave holder but was against the idea of slave trading; he mentioned of the wrath of God punishing Americans and other persons who supported slavery. The delegates never listened to his idea of divine punishment. As a result, the Congress decision succumbed to the interests of many and decided to levy a $10 per head on imported Africans page 272). The constitution articles never mentioned the term slaves but rather used free persons and other persons to represents states of different citizens.
Separation of powers
The duties of the government elicited minor debates although there were concerns by larger and smaller states and the southern and northern states. The new constitution was designed in a way that minorities from the leadership class will have power but be regulated by the various systems established within the government (page 273). Although contested, James suggested that the union should have one executive officer and that many executive officers from different states would bring leadership difficulties within a union. He stated that the president would be the chief executive and would have a veto vote on the bills passed by the Congress. At the same time, the president powers on some issues that included declaring war on other states outside the union or make peace once war has been declared were rested on the Congress. The president will be the most senior political head but can be impeached or removed from office by two-third majority votes (page 274). After presentation with various options on how to elect a president, they rested on the option of allowing the Congress to determine the model for each state to elect the president. The judicial body was another contested post, both in the Virginia and New Jersey plans. The Congress was mandated to appoint the other justices apart from the chief justice whose office is the Supreme Court. However, the judicial system was given the power to settle issues that involved both houses. The courts had implied powers to review the judiciary. For any draft to be accepted all states had to ratify before its implementation.
The fight for ratification
During the drafting 13 states were presented and to pass an amendment, at least 9 of those states were required to approve the change for ratification process. September 28, 1787, the new document led to the convening for a debate representing the interest of various American states (page 276). During the discussion, some were considered federalist for supporting and anti-federalism for opposing the federal constitution. Amid all the disagreement, the two groups culminated in the idea of a central national government.
The Federalist and decision of the States
Fabius was a collection of essays drafted by Hamilton, James, and Jay, the 85 pages document, was published in support of the Supreme nation authority (page 277). By 1787, all ratification actions for the new constitution had taken place with smaller states feeling satisfied since their representation in the Senate was according to their expectations. For instance, Georgia and Delaware voted in support of the new Constitution unanimously. 13 states including New Hampshire, which was the ninth state to sign the ratification, led to the adoption of the federal constitution. The Congress was notified of New Hampshire signing and the process of shifting power based on the federal constitution started. On September 1788, the Congress selected Newyork as the capital city and election dates were set. Benjamin Franklin and George washing were pessimistic towards the anticipated success of federal constitution. The constitution lasted longer than expected and had led to tremendous success socially, politically, and economically. The new constitution was useful input among the Americans but did not clearly define the issue of slavery, which led to a continuous struggle between federalist and conformists.
In conclusion, New Hampshire was the last states that signed the new constitution and it became into effects, by 1787 many local newspaper groups had published the new constitution (page 281).
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