the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Failure were more prosaic than profound basically the

Info icon This preview shows pages 113–115. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
failure were more prosaic than profound: basically, the delegates were exhausted after a summer of intense work and wanted to go home. During the ratification debates, both Madison and James Wilson developed elaborate political arguments to justify the absence of a bill of rights, essentially insisting that there was no need for such a thing because the Constitution gave only enumerated powers to the new federal government, making explicit guarantees of personal rights (i.e., the right to a jury trial, freedom of the press, freedom of speech) unnecessary since they were already embedded in the state constitutions. Madison added the somewhat strained argument that assembling such a list of rights was actually dangerous, because one could never know if the list would be sufficiently comprehensive and complete. But as the debates in the state ratifying conventions demonstrated, many reluctant delegates did not buy that argument, and the major reason given by those opposing ratification was the absence of a bill of rights that would provide a clear zone of immunity from federal intrusion into their private lives and into the more proximate authority of their local and state governments. Of the 124 different amendments proposed by six states, the vast majority focused on fears of federal power, which a bill of rights would have considerably mollified. 12 If Hamilton took the lead in ensuring that Washington would be the first president, Madison took the lead in correcting the mistake that he and the other delegates in Philadelphia had made by failing to provide a bill of rights. His motives were almost entirely political. While we tend to regard (and capitalize) the Bill of Rights as a secular version of the Ten Commandments handed down by God to Moses, Madison saw it as a weapon to be wielded against opponents of the Constitution, like Henry and Clinton, who were pushing the second convention proposal, which Madison regarded as a thinly veiled attempt to undo all that he and his fellow collaborators had accomplished. 13 There would be no need for a second convention if the first Congress passed a bill of rights that addressed the legitimate concerns of those who had opposed ratification. He announced a shift in his
Image of page 113

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
position in January 1789. “Whatever opinion may be entertained at this point,” he wrote, “it is evident that the change of situation produced by the establishment of the Constitution, leaves me in common with the other friends of the Constitution, free, and consistent in espousing such a revisal of it, as will either make it better in itself, or without making it worse, will make it appear better to those who now dislike it.” The first Congress, not a second convention, was the proper place to amend the Constitution, and he vowed to lead that effort: “It is, accordingly, my sincere opinion, and wish, that in order to effect these purposes, the Congress, which is to meet in March, should undertake the salutary work.” By having the
Image of page 114
Image of page 115
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern