Constitutional convention of 1787

Constitutional convention of 1787

On May, 1787, thirteen states sent delegates to Philadelphia to participate in the constitutional convention. The constitution of the United States, which is supposed to replace the Articles of Confederation, has been written. The constitution has mapped out a new plan for government and clarified the new government’s powers and duties. (Pence D. etal, pg 9) The delegates debated on many political issues: whether political representation should be based on population or equality or whether slavery should be allowed and how to account for the slaves in determining population levels. Other issues were the heated debates concerning the powers of the central authority, such as whether the main economic focus of America should be mercantile or agriculture, and whether the foreign policy of the new nation should be insular or internationalist. (Singh Robert, pg 27)

 As a federalist, I fully support the formation of a new constitution. There have been weaknesses on the performance of the government under the Articles of Confederation, concerning both the domestic affairs and the foreign affairs. The delegates in the convention had no authority to adopt anything, except to propose the new government that every American should consider. The anti federalists claim that the new system of government will be impossible to exercise over such a large area as thirteen states, with a potential to expand. They have also said that the new constitution is too consolidated and too national. But I would rather view the system as partly national and partly federal, not to mention that the states and the national authorities will now have a chance to preserve liberty by keeping one another in check. The new government system will need the confidence and the affection of the Americans for it to remain strong. (Ralph Ketcham, pg 21) The division of the authority between the national authority and the states appears to be a further way of accommodating the republican government to a large nation.  Some of the major issues that the federalists are supporting are discussed below.

Separation of powers

This system will have a more complex governing system that will consist of three branches, as opposed to the legislative branch which was the only branch of under the Articles of Confederation. (Hardaway Robert M, pg 185)The new government will have the legislative branch, which has the power to make law and consists of the house of senate and the house of representatives, the executive branch which has the power to carry out the laws and is made up of the president and the vice presidents and the judicial branch which has the power to make decisions regarding laws, consisting of the lower federal courts and the U.S supreme courts. The new system will provide for more checks of the government that will be important in the preservation of liberty. (Wren J. Thomas, pg 39)

Although the new government will grant the increased powers that are necessary for the congress to possess, it will guard against these powers not only by counter posing strong executive and judicial branches, but also by dividing the new congress into two branches. There will be the smaller size of the senate, and the longer terms of the senators; to enable them to resist temporary currents of the public opinion and provide greater wisdom and stability than would otherwise be possible. There are also concerns that the presidency will lean towards a monarchy, such as the one rejected by the colonists in the Great Britain. This will not be so, as the presidency will be determined through the Electrol College, where Americans will have a chance to determine the person to rule them. The president will also be largely independent of the congress. The federalists have also pointed out the terms of the presidency and have stated that they are essential for the strength and the accountability of the foreign affairs.  (Vile John R., pg 275)

The constitution has ensured that none of the branches would have too much power, and that each of the three branches will have power over the other two. For example if the congress makes a law, and the president decides to veto it, then the congress can cancel out the veto if two thirds of both the senate and the house of representatives vote to keep the law. Another example is the right of federal courts to decide that a law passed by the congress, is unconstitutional or against what is written in the constitution. The power of the court is limited by the rights of the president to choose federal judges, and that the senate has the powers to approve of the judges chosen by the president. (Pence D. etal, pg 9)

 The bill of rights

The anti federalists are also criticizing the formation of the new government because it does not contain a bill of rights. They however fail to notice that the entire structure of the new constitution serves as a kind of bill of rights. (Vile John R., pg 275) The bill of rights to the constitution is not only necessary, but it can also be dangerous. There are two reasons why the bill is unnecessary, first because the structure of the constitution is designed to protect the rights of the people through the principles of delegation, representation, the separation of powers, bicameralism checks and balances and federalism. The other reason is because the constitution is composed of delegated powers and powers not given will be retained by the people. The bill of rights can be positively dangerous because to list some rights may suggest that the rights than are not listed will not be retained or claimed by the people. (Jillson Cal, pg 41)

Reasons why the Americans should accept the proposed new central government

Instead of America being ruled by many people, it would be better for them to be ruled by one person, which would be an advantage. Such advantages can be the calling upon of the resonance of ancient beliefs and feelings the ordinary people may have towards the person who rules them. It will also be easier for the people to respond to a solitary figure of eminence than to a large and cumbersome congressional plurality. If the American citizens stand in awe of this president, giving their respect and obedience, their compliance may promote a general state of harmony and peace in society. (Meyer Jeffrey F., pg 111)

Americans should also accept the constitution in order to form a better and perfect union, to establish justice and to ensure that there is domestic tranquility. They should also consider the need for them to promote the general welfare of the nation, and also be aware that the creation of a new government will be a part of the social contract to establish political order for the better protection of their liberty. (Safire William, pg 655) Finally, the idea of forming a new government rather than supporting the existing one is more viable, because with it, a new and better perception of the governing system will be achieved. Furthermore, living in such times as these, America requires extraordinary measures to be undertaken, like the formation of a more organized ruling system. (Knight Peter, 300)

Works cited

Hardaway Robert M., No price too high: victimless crimes and the Ninth Amendment,

Greenwood Publishing Group, (2003), pg 185

Jillson Cal, American Government: Political Change and Institutional Development, 4th

edition, Routledge, (2007), pg 41

Knight Peter, Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO,

(2003) pg 300

Meyer Jeffrey F., Myths in stone: religious dimensions of Washington, D.C., pg 111

(2001) University of California Press

Pence David, White Nancy, Weinberg Francine, Get Ready! for Social Studies: Civics

Government and Citizenship, pg 9, (2002)  McGraw-Hill Professional

Ralph Ketcham, The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates,

Signet Classic, (2003), pg 21

Safire William. The New York Times, The New York Times Guide to Essential

Knowledge: A Desk Reference for the Curious Mind, 2nd edition, Macmillan, (2007), pg 655

Singh Robert, American Government and Politics: A Concise Introduction, pg 23 (2003),


Vile John R, The Constitutional Convention of 1787: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of

America’s Founding, (2005), ABC-CLIO

Wren J. Thomas, Inventing Leadership: The Challenge of Democracy, Edward Elgar

Publishing, (2007), pg 39