Debating the Constitution
At the time of ratification, the government was in chaos thus the constitution was ratified so as to build a democratic society for the future generations. This essay analyzes the historical context in which the ratification debates were conducted, concerns expressed in speeches prior ratification and differences between Federalists and Anti-Federalists arguments.
First, there are many significant events that led up to the ratification of the Constitution and each one of them played a crucial role in forming a new government that eventually led to a democratic republic where the ideals “ of the people, with the people, for the people, by the people” took shape. Some of the events were the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, Mayflower Compact, the First Continental Congress the Declaration of independence among others. These five events established ideals such as social contract representative government, political equality, voting rights and elections and steps towards the legislative government representing the people. After the American Revolution, citizens created a weak central government thus exposing the country to security threats and hindering the growth of the country. Deficiencies in the government inspired the ratification of the Constitution which formed a powerful central government which in turn stimulated economic growth. The ratification provided stability and positioned the US for further development.
Second, major concerns of different people are clearly manifested in the speeches from the New York ratification convention.
Representation, this was one of the major concerns as it is clear from the speech of Melanchthon Smith and Alexander Hamilton. Melanchthon advocated for a large representation of people of all groups regardless of class in the new system of government (Brown 128). He believed that everyone should have an equal opportunity in becoming representatives and thus opposed the constitution which stated that only the rich should have that right to represented. In his speech, he claimed that the government will fall into the hands of the few and the rich and thus it will be a government of oppression. On the other hand, Alexander Hamilton believed that the poor should not have the right to become representatives as it is evident from his speech. He alleged that the ancient democracies, for instance, Greece were characterized by tyranny and run by mobs and thus believed that there shouldn’t be many representatives. Melancton was not satisfied with the way the new Constitution was to deal with representation; he felt that if only the rich were in government, then it would be a government of oppression and poor people would not be represented fairly.
Democracy, this was another major concern that is evident from the speeches. Melancton Smith wanted to see the type of government that was more democratic and had plenty of representatives whereas Alexander Hamilton wanted a government that was not completely run by democracy as it is evident from his speech Hamilton alleged that the confidence of the people would be gotten through a good administration.
Liberty was another concern that is evident from the speeches. Hamilton argued that security was crucial to the growth of the US and thus it was to be more enforced than liberty. Melanction wanted a government ruled through democracy and liberty; a government which gave poor people an opportunity to be a part of the government. He believed that the liberty of the poor would be taken away if we have a strong central government.
The Federalists desired to get the finished new constitution ratified and the Anti-Federalists disliked the new constitution and believed it should not be ratified, because it was missing several key parts, for instance, the bill of rights. Each side struggled for the power to have their interest and beliefs represented in the new governmental system. The arguments of both the Federalists and the anti-Federalists were premised on politics because they all wanted their views to take precedence in the new system of government.
The Anti-federalists denounced the Constitution as a document that would destroy American liberty and betray the principles of the Revolution because the Constitution had a strong central government that will tamper with the rights of the citizens. The anti-federalists argued that a weak central and strong state government, as it was in the Articles of Confederation was more effective. They thought that if the Government got all of the power, they would lose their rights and freedoms and the gains they had made from the revolution will be lost. The Anti-Federalists argued that all the people regardless of their class or group orientation should participate in activities of the government, for instance, making of laws. The works of the Anti-Federalists shows that they were interested in the idea of having all types of men be represented in government.
On the other hand, the Federalists urged that the nation’s problems were directly linked to the frail, inadequate Confederation and that nothing short of the Constitution would enable the American people to preserve their liberty. They thought this was the only effective way of creating an effective central government. The Federalists demonstrated that most poor people were prone to passion, selfishness and disorder and thus any attempt of people to assemble and debate affairs in direct democracy would degenerate into mob rule (Miroff 127).
Federalists were able to defend the constitution as it was and thus, the document was ratified in all the states of the US hence become the supreme law of the land. These major arguments helped to shape the US by creating the document that has been used for more than two hundred years
Brown, Victoria B. Going to the Source: the Bedford Reader in American History. Boston [u.a.: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. Print.
Miroff, Bruce, Todd Swanstrom, Raymond Seidelman, and Tom DeLuca. The Democratic Debate. , 2014. Print.