QUESTION NEEDS TO BE ANSWERED; The delegates to the Constitutional Convention constituted an educational and economic elite—they were not the “common man.” Discuss whether an elite can be representative of people from other strata in society. Consider this question in terms of the modern U.S. Congress which is made up of a core group of elites from the upper crust of society. Is it possible for members of Congress to be representative of constituents from other strata of society, lower economic status? Why or why not? All students must submit one original post and at least two responses to the post of two different students in the class for credit.
ARTICLE NOTES; The Government That Failed: 1776–1787
In 1776, the Congress appointed a committee to draw up a plan for a permanent union of the states. That plan was the Articles of Confederation, which became the new nation’s first governing document. The Articles established a government dominated by the states because the new nation’s leaders feared that a strong central government would become as tyrannical as British rule. In general, the weak and ineffective national government could take little independent action. The Continental Congress had few powers outside of maintaining an army and navy, and had no power to tax or even to raise revenue to carry out that function. The weakness of the national government prevented it from dealing with the problems that faced the new nation.
Making A Constitution: The Philadelphia Convention
The delegates who were sent to Philadelphia were instructed to meet “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.” However, amendment of the Articles required unanimous consent of the states, so the delegates ignored their instructions and began writing a new constitution. Although the men held very different views, they agreed on questions of human nature, the causes of political conflict, and the object and nature of a republican government. James Madison of Virginia (who is often called “the father of the Constitution”) was perhaps the most influential member of the convention in translating political philosophy into governmental architecture.
Pennsylvania delegate Gouverneur Morris was responsible for the style and wording of the U.S. Constitution. Written in 1787 and ratified in 1788, the Constitution sets forth the institutional structure of the U.S. government and the tasks these institutions perform. It replaced the Articles of Confederation.
The 55 delegates at the Constitutional Convention were the postcolonial economic elite. They were mostly wealthy planters, successful lawyers and merchants, and men of independent wealth. Many were creditors whose loans were being wiped out by cheap paper money. Many were college graduates. As a result, it is not surprising that they would seek to strengthen the economic powers of the new national government. As property holders, these leaders could not imagine a government that did not make its principal objective the preservation of individual rights to acquire and hold wealth. A few (like Gouverneur Morris) were even intent on shutting out the propertyless altogether. James Madison claimed that factions arise from the unequal distribution of wealth. One faction is the majority, composed of the many who have little or no property. The other is the minority, composed of the few who hold much wealth. The delegates thought that, if left unchecked, either a majority or minority faction would become tyrannical.
The founders believed that the secret of good government is “balanced” government. A limited government would have to contain checks on its own power. As long as no faction could seize the whole of government at once, tyranny could be avoided. In Madison’s words, “ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”
DO NOT USE BIG VOCABULARY WORDS. PLEASE TRY TO USE SIMPLE WORDS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. THIS BLOG CAN HAVE TWO PARAGRAPHS WITH THREE – FOUR SENTENCES IN EACH PARAGRAPH
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