Free «Constitutional Debates of the USA» Essay

Constitutional Debates of the USA

One of the most crucial milestones of the history of the United States took place in 1787 in New Hampshire, where the most important document in the entire history of the United States of America was compiled, discussed, and signed by its authors. Naturally, the document sparked a wave of heated debate among those, who were delegated by people of the United States of America to adopt it. A great variety of sophisticated, conventional, and non-conventional political strategies and approaches were discussed by the partakers. Opposite courses of political and state development of the newly born country, the United States of America, were vigorously advocated by both camps. The biggest structural split was the way the future country would be constructed. In particular, it was hotly contested whether the country should be a federal or a unitary state. Other points of intense disagreement among the founders were the aspects of slavery, issues connected with autonomy of the states, and other aspects governed by the Constitution of the United States.                                     

The aim of this paper is to elucidate financial and other incentives that engendered creation of political parties of the United States of America, to provide a comparative analysis of the Constitution of the United States and the Articles of Confederation, and to outline the most fundamental compromises reached by the delegates when the Constitution was being composed. The final paragraphs of this essay provide a detailed analysis of the arguments raised by the federalist and anti-federalist parties, which preceded the ratification of the Constitutions of the United States'.

Literature Review

America's Constitution: A biography

The study conducted by professor Reed neutrally examines the arguments raised and advocated by major participants of the Constitution formation process. Special focus is put on the discussion between federalists and anti-federalists. The book equally addresses the issues connected with the abolishment of slavery and related issues.

The Constitution

This book discusses the factors that influenced formation of the United States of America by major social communities of the United States as well as by newly-formed political parties of this country. The weight and influence of political parties and social institutions, and the way they affected the development and construction of the Constitution have been profoundly analyzed in this book.

The Constitution

With regard to the practical value of this study for the needs of this essay, it must be accentuated that the book is primarily focused on economic drivers of the constitutional completion. To be more precise, it is revealed in this book how economic needs and interests of the society positively and negatively affected the adoption of the discussed fundamental document and whose opinions were considered and whose disregarded.

Harper Collins college outline: The Constitution of the United States.

This study is primarily focused on the role played by prominent individuals in the history of the United States and on contribution they made to the frmulation of constitutional provisions, amendments to the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Individual contribution made by both federalists and antifederalists has been closely analyzed in this study.  Special emphasis has been put by the authors on opinions, inferences, and arguments supported by Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, John Hancock, and other political tycoons of the United States.

Debates over the Constitution and the Articles of Confederation

Prior to the realization of the necessity to adopt the Constitution, the heated debates took place between the radicals and the conservatives. These political groups adhered to drastically opposite ways to bail out the newly-born United States of America, improve living standards of citizens, and achieve international influence and recognition. To succeed in these tasks, the actions and the course of citizens must be unanimous, accorded, and uncontested by their compatriots. The most acceptable and historically substantiated alternative was the adoption and ratification of the Constitution – the document of mandatory legal force, which served as a foundation for the rest of legal framework of the country. However, the Constitution of 1787 was not the first attempt to unite and solidify the nation. The first document, which aimed to create the union was adopted on May 1, 1781 in Maryland and was titled the Articles of Confederation. The document was composed by the proponents and henchmen of the so-called Western “slavery” party.  While both the Constitution and the Articles were created to unite people to achieve specific political goals, the importance and the effectiveness of the Constitution appeared to be bigger due to the big number of various feeble points of the Articles. Among the most vulnerable points of the Articles, which eventually led to the derailment of the Confederation were the following:

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  • No executive elements of state agencies were designed to exist. Therefore, the enforcement of the acts and decrees issued by state agencies could not have been forcibly guaranteed;
  • The national system of judicial authorities was not provided by the Articles of Confederation. To be more specific, no courts or similar dispute-resolution agencies of the federal level were prescribed to exist. Therefore, disputes connected with the adoption and fulfillment of laws and bylaws could not have been resolved effectively;
  • The most important factor resulting in collapse of the articles was the absence of the provision, which mandated the creation of unified armed forces of the country;
  • Each state was empowered to formulate its own external policy and coin its own currency.

Moreover, substantial differences between the Articles and the Constitution were connected with the formation of state bodies of the newly-formed USA. For example, under the Articles it was proposed to create a unicameral legislature, hereby changing the voting system and the adoption of laws. Moreover, the Articles did not outline the existence of the executive branch headed by the President. With regard to tax policy, the Articles proposed to give full autonomy regarding this issue to the states, whilst the Constitution explicitly stipulates the existence of federal level of taxes.

Compromises of the Constitution

Having arrived in New Hampshire, delegates of the states discovered that the majority of their interests were completely different. Major controversies were caused by the issues of slavery and type of the state structure.

The major compromises reached by the delegates in the course of seemingly never-ending negotiations and hot disputes included the well-known Great Compromise, an initiative elaborated and designed by Roger Sherman. Creation of the bicameral parliament of the United States is primarily his achievement due to the fact that it was the only way to equalize the role played by big and by small states. While big states safeguarded their dominance in the House of Representatives, the smaller ones got their instruments in the Senate of the USA, where each state is equally represented by the two senators. Another important concord reached by the partakers was the well-known three-to-five compromise. The objective of this agreement was to give states the liberty to consider whether the slaves should be considered during the counting of the population.  Besides, the scope of the compromise included the right of states to determine whether slave trade should be allowed on the territories of the states or not.

Contention between Federalists and their Opponents

When the Constitution was finally agreed upon and signed by the delegates, it was ultimately discovered that another mechanism to influence it remained in the arsenal of opponents. Anti-federalists decided not to ratify it. Anti-federalists raised the following arguments:

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  • The Constitution gave too much power to the national government, while the state power was seriously limited;
  • The national government was allowed to keep armed forces in the peacetime;
  • Rights of the individuals were neither recognized nor guaranteed under the provisions of the Constitution;
  • The balance of powers was seemingly swayed because the Congress and the President held too much power.

The arguments of anti-federalists were efficaciously challenged and ultimately beaten by their opponents, although the necessity to protect the rights of individuals led to creation of the Bill of Rights, a document which encapsulated the first ten amendments to the Constitution.                                                                                                                               

The rest of the arguments were successfully refuted. In particular, the statement concerning excessive concentration of power was contradicted by the statement that the division of powers established an effective system of check and balances.

Summary

Having summarized the major points of this essay, several inferential conclusion can be made. In particular, it must be emphasized that the process of the Constitutional formation was full of intricacies. Arduous efforts were contributed by the founders to make it an effective tool to unite the nation and achieve solidarity of all American people.

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