The Constitutional Convention as the Workings of Power Elites


            Even though the Constitutional Convention and the ratification debates involved only a selected few, their results involve the consideration of the confederation’s welfare. Still, it does not undermine the observation that the debates were exclusive in nature. The people involved in the convention and debates suggest that they were the workings of power elites who sought to formalize the sovereignty of the nation for the welfare of future generations.

            The fact that the people involved in the convention and debates generally include a small group of individuals—the so-called “federalists” and the “anti-federalists”—implies that the fate of the debates primarily rested on their shoulders. Moreover, the people involved in the Convention were not ordinary citizens who were randomly selected out of nowhere. Rather, the groups of people in the Convention involved were individuals who were distinguished by their colleagues and by their ranks in the American society as chosen delegates.

            The United States Constitution as a result of the Convention only stands as proof to the idea that the Convention was aimed at a larger cause, which is for the benefit of the greater number of Americans. However, that is not to be confused with the fact that only fifty-five delegates out of the millions of Americans composed an exclusive group that was about to decide the fate of the country (Zuckert, 1986). The power to determine the course of America’s history at that time was concentrated on a few men whose delegated power to represent their territories became their source of becoming “elite” individuals.

            Generally, the Constitutional Convention and the ratification debates revolved around the power elites precisely because order can hardly be maintained in a crowd that is composed of thousands which can give the debates with no sense of direction.


Zuckert, M. P. (1986). Federalism and the Founding: Toward a Reinterpretation of the Constitutional Convention. The Review of Politics, 48(2), 166-210.