Skip to comments.The Great Gamble: Our Beloved Constitution
Posted on 02/05/2018 12:32:28 AM PST by Jacquerie
In 1787 the future of free government was dim. The spectacle of insurrection in Massachusetts, the state with the unquestionably best constitution, did not bode well for the Federal Convention.
Where other state senates of the day featured senators chosen by either the lower house or popular election from large districts, the Massachusetts senate purposely represented the wealth of the state. If set side-by-side, the 1780 Massachusetts constitution and our federal Constitution of 1787 are strikingly similar. Both have three branches and a bicameral legislature. The senates of each sought to quell rash measures expected from the peoples representatives. In this, the Massachusetts constitution served its purpose; it stood athwart paper money, debt cancellation, and other levelling schemes. The structure of government predetermined a draw in the eternal contest between rich and poor factions.
While the division of power between rich and poor neutralized the effect of faction in government, it ground government to a halt. It not only prevented bad laws, but also good laws essential to the general welfare. Shays Rebellion was in part the price for the absence of good laws.
If factional turmoil wracked the society of republican Massachusetts, what sorts of improvements to the Articles of Confederation could possibly prevent similar life-threatening nationwide disturbances?
This was the great gamble of our Constitution. If the Framers got it wrong, if government simply prevented rich or poor factions from overwhelming one another, civil war and dissolution were a near-certainty as the pressure of unresolved social pressures built without peaceful release.
The hoped-for solution was a high-toned government built on a wide foundation of the people, yet not too close to the people. What the Framers sought was republican government with an aristocratic air, and in America, that meant government served by
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Thank you for another thoughtful reminder, “we the people” not the ruling elite.
You bet. My pleasure.
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