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Politics & Power

What's new on the American Borders Forum this week? Check out the preview at the bottom of this page.
Show Your Support for People with Autism - Boycott Mattel

Reforming America: Understanding Our Past (Part III – The Constitutional Convention)

In the years following the Revolutionary War, our founders and the original thirteen colonies went through a time of growing pains. The Articles of Confederation were not fully enacted until the early 1780’s. Even then some of our most influential founding fathers such as George Washington and James Madison felt that the Articles were flawed and did not provide enough of a framework to guarantee a sustainable future for America as a nation. Despite several attempts to improve the Articles there was little progress made because unanimous consent was needed by all the States to amend the Articles.

In 1786 James Madison suggested that representatives from all thirteen colonies meet in Annapolis, Maryland to discuss ways to reduce conflicts between the States and improve interstate commerce. At that meeting it was decided that there should be a Grand Convention with all States in attendance the following year in Philadelphia to discuss improving the Articles. All of the thirteen colonies save one, Rhode Island, agreed to send delegates to Philadelphia in May of 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation and deliver a Constitution to Congress.

When the delegates came to Philadelphia it was very warm. Despite the heat the delegates agreed that secrecy was vital to the success of the mission to revise the Articles so they closed all the windows and pulled the drapes in Independence Hall. Inside the hall the temperature was not the only thing that was heating up. There were starkly different ideas among the delegates about the form that the revised Articles would take. There were three main competing plans. There was the Virginia Plan that favored a strong central government with reduced powers at the state level. The New Jersey Plan held that the Articles in principle were better suited to the needs of the nation. It left more power in the hands of the States. The Hamilton Plan proposed by Alexander Hamilton called for even more sweeping powers for the central government than the Virginia Plan and included a provision for a President for life.

Over the weeks that followed the convening of the convention the debate raged on and not much progress was made. On one side you had the proponents of the Virginia Plan that would essentially re-write the Articles and on the other you had the proponents of the New Jersey Plan that argued the Virginia Plan went too far. The proponents of the New Jersey Plan took the position that the Virginia Plan was in violation of the congressionally mandated purpose of the convention to revise the Articles not replace them. For a time there seemed to be no common ground for the two factions.

The Connecticut Compromise brought both sides together by adopting a position that the government should include aspects of both the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan. It contended that the House of Representatives would represent the people in accord with the spirit of the Virginia Plan and that the Senate would represent the States in accord with the spirit of the New Jersey Plan. Having gotten past the impasse the delegates were able to move on and address other issues.

In the months that followed the Connecticut Compromise the delegates tackled issues such as the regulation of slavery and the separation of powers between the state and federal governments and the three branches of the federal government. On September 17, 1787 the delegates signed the Constitution and adjourned. In a speech given on the final day of the convention Benjamin Franklin offered the following words of agreement with the adoption of the Constitution:

”In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution.”

In his wisdom Franklin understood that there was no way that a perfect Constitution could ever exist but that this document was far better than anything that had preceded it. It was a great compromise that gave all something they wanted but none everything. It was the foundation of a republic that could last for centuries to come because it was built on the principle that only through compromise would the government function. There was an assumption that multiple viewpoints would always be a part of the debate and that by its nature this new government of both the States and the people would endure longer than any government solely serving the interests of either.

As we look to the future as Americans we need to remember that spirit of compromise that built this nation. When one small group of people is allowed to control the direction of the nation with no encumbrances from opposing viewpoints our government and our nation stagnate. We grow when the diversity of ideas that is our nation is reflected in the halls of power. When only the elite few are allowed to have a voice there is little innovation or progress. We need to have a government that is reflective of the governed. We need to return to the ideals of the republic that the Founding Fathers envisioned when they created the United States Constitution.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom | Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this column. | Click icon to Digg this article



Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to: stories@reform-america.net



Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to stories@reform-america.net





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