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"Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States" by artist Howard Chandler Christy The Constitutional Convention.

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Presentation on theme: ""Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States" by artist Howard Chandler Christy The Constitutional Convention."— Presentation transcript:

1 "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States" by artist Howard Chandler Christy The Constitutional Convention

2 Philadelphia’s State House, scene of the 1787 Convention

3 Delegates from 12 states met in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.” 74 delegates had been appointed 55 eventually showed up Noticeably absent were: –John Adams – he was in London; He’d written the MA Constitution, the state constitution that corresponds most closely with the eventual US Constitution. –Thomas Jefferson -- he was in Paris; –Patrick Henry – he “smelt a rat;” –Sam Adams – he was skeptical.

4 The delegates, despite their youth, had much experience. Twenty-one had fought in the Revolution. Nearly ¾ were in Continental Congress. Many had been in state legs. and/or had helped write state constitutions. Seven had been state governors. Eight had signed the Declaration. TJ, writing from Paris, called them an “assembly of demi-gods.”

5 Among greatest contributors Madison – VA Plan; extensive research; extraordinary effort as note taker Washington – his presence, steadiness Franklin – his presence, endorsement Wilson – strong federalist; strong constitutionalist; anti-slavery but acquiesced, to promote union

6 The Federalists James Wilson George Washington Alexander Hamilton James Madison Gouverneur Morris Henry Knox John Jay Robert Morris

7 The “Nationalists” (later known as Federalists) favored stronger national government, were concerned about the dangers of democracy, feared the “mob” thought state legislatures had become despotic

8 Federalist Beliefs Civic Virtue of people cannot be relied on alone to protect rights and promote common good Shays rebellion--people are selfish majority factions or self interested individuals will deny rights of some and not promote common good The way government is organized will protect rights A strong National govt. with representation, separation of powers and checks balances is the best way to promote goals of republicanism Large size of nation will make factions weaker Complicated law making system

9 States Righters George Mason Elbridge Gerry Patrick Henry Samuel Adams George Clinton Richard Henry Lee

10 The “Staters” (later known as anti-federalists) agreed the Articles needed modification argued for stronger states’ rights were more skeptical of strong national government

11 Anti-Fed Beliefs Republicanism BEST served by sticking to historical convention govt in small uniform communities, govt CLOSE to the people Nurture and foster civic virtue Legislature elected by the people Legislative supremacy Republicanism WORST served by Strong national govt, states too weak (exec. too strong; Congress too strong cuz necessary and proper clause) A government that serves a diverse nation Officials removed from the people

12 Assumptions & Guiding Principles Articles Of Confederation were inadequate WHY? Practice / experience / pragmatism over theory or morality Compromise between –slavery and freedom –fear of mobocracy –belief in people’s capacity for (and right to) self- government –States rights and central authority –Republicanism and national gov’t Natural rights

13 North-South Division Madison noted on June 30 that real division was between N and S, slave and free states, not between large and small. But N. England shipping interests supported Deep South on issue of slave importation. Oliver Ellsworth

14 The Great Compromise VA plan: two chambers, both based on population NJ plan: one chamber; equality of states Compromise saved convention Lower chamber (House) with representation based on population (proportional) –Incorporated 3/5 clause Upper chamber (Senate) with equality for states

15 A Covenant with Death An Agreement with Hell Central questions: –Why did the framers agree to protect slavery in the Constitution? –How do we reconcile this fundamental flaw in the Constitution with the grand principles of the Revolution and the Constitution? the enlightenment principles to which the founders adhered? –Were there other options?

16 Franklin, after the final affirmative vote, said to members sitting close by, as he gazed toward the President’s chair, beyond which a rising sun was painted, that “painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun. I have said he, often and often in the course of the Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting: But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun.”

17 Final comment from Madison’s Preface: “... there never was an assembly of men, charged with a great & arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives, or more exclusively or anxiously [devoted to the object committed to them, than were the members of the Federal Convention of 1787, to the object of devising and proposing a constitutional system which would best supply the defects of that which it was to replace, and best secure the permanent liberty and happiness of their country.]”


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