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The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action

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1 The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action
John P Roche 1961

2 Introduction Was the Constitution a mastery of government theory?
Was is a lucky stroke at the right time? Was it the work of political skill and democratic approbation? It was a national reform caucus of skilled political enemies working out a definitive goal.

3 Summary The view of the founding fathers has changed, making them more conservative than they really were. They were clearly revolutionaries and democratic as well. They were not idealistic or divine, but practical politicians. They were, in fact acting on behalf of the people they represented.

4 Summary The convention could not have endeavored to change the union unless the states had not first agreed. Everyone had their own agendas, and all the politics behind it. All gave up some interests in order to get the compromises. Being in the body made them more national in their approach.

5 Summary Support for the Constitutional cause came in
George Washington Their communication skills Their pre-emptive work The collective purpose of the revolution They worked hard to create a following It is easier to argue for some kind of reform than to oppose none

6 Summary The organized opposition and the use of the state legislature appointments prove that the process was more democratic. Madison’s Virginia plan got the group moving toward a new document. There were no clear ideological differences. The secrecy of their meeting prove a certain amount of discourse.

7 Summary We should not see the balance of federalism as newly invented but as a settled argument. It was not what Madison wanted at all. He preferred national power and authority to punish states. He even got initial approval for his plan. The push back came form the small states He had no choice but to relax his nationalist point of view.

8 Summary Delegates were representing the views of their constituents and ended up compromising the ideal. Even those in opposition to the Constitutionalists preferred to strengthening the government. The opposition only wanted fairness for the other states.

9 Summary Compromise was difficult because of self-interest.
They needed more compromises to get policy-making away from the mob. Hamilton stepped out of negotiations frustrated. The real difference only in counting representation.

10 Summary After weeks of debate, they put a committee to work on the representation issue. The committee was made up of moderate compromisers. The framers were not wedded to a political theory. Once compromise on representation was reached then the original central plan moved forward.

11 Summary The position of the executive was a tough issue.
The electoral college was a win for all parties. Most thought the electoral college would never get a majority and the president would always be elected by the House. The electoral college was a political compromise meant to help the negotiations move on.

12 Summary There were economic and political problems over the issue of slavery, but morality was not contested. They traded the slave count on one side over a super majority on navigation on the other. The compromise would reconcile the south to the east. The legislature seemed to have great freedom and no challenge from the courts.

13 Summary These were busy men, with other work, set on getting the job done. Only personal hang ups kept people from endorsing the draft. They had to work to get ratification. It was political maneuvering that got the Constitution that got the Constitution ratified. Madison used great rhetorical skill to win.

14 Summary Working out the details came next.
We still wonder about the intent on the document, but must remember the context of its writing. Ambiguity was a weapon for completing the work. Be careful not to elevate the men or the words.

15 Summary Rather than ideal political philosophy, the Constitution was great politics. Political scientists today see more philosophy than the framers did. It is better for others to copy the process than the document.

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