Chapter 9 PART 2: The Constitutional Convention and the Debate Over Ratification
A Convention of the Demigods
1. What was the goal of the delegates at the Annapolis Convention? Why didn’t they succeed?
- to resolve the problems with interstate commerce (states were fighting over)
- only five states show up; only thing they agree to do is meet in Philly the following year to discuss commerce AND other issue
2. Why was the Constitutional Convention a “Convention of Demigods”? What type of people attended it? Why were they that type?
-“demigods” b/c the delegates were chosen by the state legislatures (except RI); state legislatures were elected by property holders; delegates were “propertied”/wealthier and so they were consciously or subconsciously motivated by their financial interests. Most were lawyers with experience in constitution making for the states. Many of the radical patriot leaders did not attend. Patriots in Philadelphia
3. Which group was not represented at the convention? Why is this significant?
- No poor, landless, or debtors attended; plan of government designed without consideration of their views or their voices!
4. Describe what is meant by the statement “Fear occupied the fifty-sixth chair.”
All the delegates were nationalists- they all hoped to design a republic- representative democracy, in an effort to curb complete democracy, avoid anarchy like that exhibited (allegedly) in Shays’ Rebellion; Afraid of chaos and failure!
Hammering Out a Bundle of Compromises
5. How did delegates at the convention defy Congress? Why did they defy them?
They were instructed by Congress to revise the Article of Confederation, instead they get rid of them and draw up a new plan of government; they were determined to peacefully overthrow the government; fear (see #4)
6. Explain each debate that occurred at the Constitutional Convention. Describe the issue and how it was resolved.
VA proposed “large state plan”- representation in both houses of bicameral Congress based on population
“GREAT COMPROMISE”- House of Rep.- based on population; Senate- 2 per state; all tax bills or revenue measures ($) must originate in house
b) Executive Branch
Strong, independent executive; military commander-in-chief, appoint offices & judges, veto legislation; indirectly elected by the Electoral College- votes per state # House rep.s + 2 (senators); If no candidate wins majority in EC, vote goes to House, and each state has one vote (1880, 1824)
c) How to count slaves in a population
South wanted to count states for population but not taxation; North wants the opposite; 3/5 COMPROMISE- counts each slaves 3/5 for both
d) The slave trade
Most states want to end slave trade; SC and GA protest; Congress could end in 1807
7. Why did the framers of the Constitution feel safeguards were necessary?
Manhood-Suffrage democracy was something to be feared- “unrestrained masses”, fear #4
8. What kind of safeguards did they create? Identify at least 3. CHALLENGE: Do these safeguards persist today?
- Federal judges appointed for life- yes
- President elected by the Electoral College- yes
- Senators chosen by state legislatures- no, ends 1913
- Only ½ of 1/3 (1/6) of the gov’t chosen directly by the people!
PAGE 181 chart
9. What democratic elements does the Constitution contain? Identify at least 2.
- Powers of gov’t limited by written constitution
- gov’t by consent of governed
The Clash of Federalists and Anti-Federalists
10. Briefly describe the type of people who were Federalists, their views on government, and their core beliefs.
Favored Constitution & strong federal government; wealthier, more cultured; many former Loyalists, more conservative; more often live in cities and coastal regions
11. Briefly describe the type of people who were Anti-Federalists, their views on government and their core beliefs.
States’ Righters; poorer; mostly live in backcountry/frontier regions, many small farmers and artisans; less-educated, some illiterate; many debtors
- fear Constitution- believe it is a plot against lowly commoners; fear it was aristocratic & ant-democratic; want a bill of rights and annual elections; object to standing armies, a federal district for a capital, omitting references to God, and ratification by 2/3 of states; more concerned with individual freedoms
The Great Debate in the States
12. How did states go about ratifying the constitution?
Through special elections for candidates to serve as member of “ratifying conventions”; elected on basis of being for or against the Constitution
13. Why was the debate over ratification in Massachusetts so significant? How was the debate ultimately resolved, and why?
If the Const’n failed in MA, it may not have been ratified; strong presence of Anti-Fed.s, home of Shays’ rebellion; Fed.s assure that a bill of rights will be added later through amendment; there was no other alternative plan from Anti-Fed.s, it passes 187 to 168
14. Why did the “four laggard states” eventually give in and ratify the Constitution?
Virginia- NH was about to ratify, making the Constitution official, and VA didn’t want to be independent
New York- Federalist papers, propaganda printed in newspapers to gain support widely published and read (Fed. No. 10 most famous, defended idea republican government (representative democracy) could best protect minority rights); same as VA
North Carolina & Rhode Island- don’t ratify until after government in functioning for months! Couldn’t exist on their own either!
A Conservative Triumph
15. How was the Constitution a “conservative triumph”? How did it balance liberty and order?