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Explain how they are in tension.

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  • Post Date 2018-11-05T12:27:58+00:00
  • Post Category Essays

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Explain how they are in tension.

The American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence

INSTRUCTIONS:
this paper is more of a answer to a question see below for question.. There is a fundamental tension between the popular democratic sentiment of the Declaration of Independence and the elite democratic Constitution. Describe how these conceptions of democracy are embedded in each of these documents. Explain how they are in tension. In answering this question you should demonstrate a good understanding of the main precepts of elite and popular democracy... Please make sure to make this a full page . you can use this info below to help you if needed... This chapter is about the creation of government in the United States and the formulation of the constitutional rules that structure American politics today. The text pays particular attention to the conflict between democracy and liberty as the new national government emerged. The American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence Initially, the American Revolution was fought more to preserve an existing way of life than to create something new. The colonists wanted to preserve the English constitution and protect their own rights as English subjects in the face of new British policies on trade and taxation that threatened traditional rights of life, liberty, and property. Though it was sparked by concern for liberty, the revolution also stimulated the development of sentiment for popular sovereignty. The tension between these two principles would animate much of American politics for years to come. By the spring of 1776, the colonists concluded that separation from Great Britain was inescapable. Several of the colonial legislatures declared their independence from British control and adopted their own constitutions. In June, the Continental Congress appointed a special committee to draft a declaration of independence and named Thomas Jefferson of Virginia to write the document. With only minor revisions by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, Jefferson`s draft was brought to the floor of the Congress on July 2 and adopted without dissent (New York abstained) on July 4, 1776. The ideas in the Declaration of Independence reflected the political culture of the era and remain part of the American political tradition today. The primary influence on Jefferson`s work was the writing of the English philosopher John Locke, especially his widely read work, The Second Treatise on Government. Both Locke and Jefferson posed the seemingly outrageous argument that legitimate government could only be established by the people and once established, maintained with their consent. The following three statements summarize their viewpoint: (1) Human beings possess rights that cannot legitimately be taken from them. (2) People create government to protect these rights.  (3) If government fails to protect these rights or itself becomes a threat to these rights, people can withdraw their consent from the government and create a new one of their own choosing. The Continental Congress took a practical step toward independence by passing a resolution advising each colony to create a new government free from royal control. Spurred by the outbreak of hostilities, the upsurge in sentiment for independence, and the Declaration itself, revolutionary conventions in eleven of thirteen colonies created new state governments by the end of the war in 1783. Most of the state conventions wrote state constitutions. Many Americans believed that written constitutions were the best safeguard against misunderstandings and transgressions, similar to contracts in the business world. These state constitutions tell us a great deal about the political ideas that prevailed during the period. Most of the constitutions contained a bill of rights, that is, a list of individual rights that could not be violated by government, even by a government based on popular consent. State constitutions also put restrictions on the powers of the executive. It was widely believed that all rulers are tempted by the attractions of power and are prone to tyranny. The states took various steps to guard against the threat of executive tyranny: election of the executive by the legislature; limitations on terms of office; restrictions on the power to make appointments; denial of executive veto power over legislative action; and restrictions on the governor`s role in the budget process. In contrast to the way they treated executives, state constitutions gave a good deal of power to legislatures. The legislature became supreme and took over many of the roles that had belonged to the executive under the British system. Legislatures were given the power to declare war and make peace, grant pardons, and conduct foreign policy. The new state constitutions also required frequent elections. Believing that even an elected legislature can become tyrannical if its members remain in office too long, most states required annual elections for their lower Houses and short legislative sessions. Finally, the states limited voting rights. Although the new state constitutions were far more democratic than anything else then existing in the world, the retention of property qualifications for voting and office holding made these constitutions less democratic than we expect today. Large number of white males (30 to 40 percent) could not vote because they did not own the requisite amount of land, could not afford to pay the poll tax, or didn`t pay the required minimum property tax. Women, slaves, and "free blacks" (blacks who were not slaves) were denied the right to vote as well. The Articles of Confederation The Founders almost certainly did not foresee the creation of a single, unified nation as the goal of the American Revolution. At most, the members of the Continental Congress and political leaders in the states envisioned a loose confederation between the states, with each state retaining most of its powers and independence. This should not be surprising in light of the prevailing view of the time. Most political theorists of the period believed that government based on popular consent and committed to the protection of individual rights was possible only in small, homogeneous republics where government was close to the people and fundamental conflicts of interest among the people did not exist. This sentiment led to the adoption of America`s first constitution, the Articles of Confederation. The Articles created in law what had existed in practice from the time of the Declaration of Independence: a loose confederation of independent states, with little power in the central government, where most of the decisions about the issues of the day took place in the state legislatures. Each state jealously guarded and exercised it independence during the war, while the Continental Congress tried to coordinate their efforts. Under the Articles, there was a central government of sorts--the Congress. This institution, however, had little to do and virtually no power. It could make war or peace, but it had no power to levy taxes to pursue either goal. The new national government could not regulate commerce between the states or deny states the right to collect customs duties. It had neither a chief execute to carry out the laws it passed, nor a judiciary to adjudicate disputes among the states. The new government was given the power to establish a postal service, set uniform standards of weights and measures, and manage affairs with the Indians. Such powers were almost impossible to exercise, however, in light of the rule that all congressional legislation had to be approved by nine of thirteen states. Finally, any defects in the new constitution were difficult to remedy because amendments to the Articles required the unanimous approval of the states. The Articles did what their authors wanted: preserve the power, independence, and sovereignty of the states, and ensure that the central government did not encroach on the liberty of the people. Unfortunately, however, the Articles were unable to solve many of the nation`s problems. One problem concerned the debt.  The central government relied on states voluntarily to comply with its annual tax assessment. Because many states were unwilling to cooperate, many of the bonds and notes of the Confederate government became worthless and the Confederation`s ability to increase its borrowing was stymied. Another problem had to do with the government`s inability to defend American interests in foreign affairs. Without a chief executive, with veto power in the hands of the states,  and without a standing military, the confederation lacked the capacity to reach binding agreements with other nations or deal with a wide range of problems that originated outside the borders of the new nation. Finally, the government under the Articles was unable to prevent the outbreak of commercial warfare among the states. The result was slow economic growth and the threat of financial chaos. The Constitutional Convention The failures of the Articles of Confederation led most of the leading citizens in the Confederation to believe that a new constitution was needed for the fledgling nation. This was not, however, the only concern of these citizens. Many of the most influential men in the Confederation were concerned about the democratizing and egalitarian tendencies set loose by the Revolution. The common people of the day were convinced by the egalitarian rhetoric that the success of the Revolution would bring substantial improvements in their lives. In contrast, the leaders of the Revolution were not advocates of broad-based voting participation and political equality. The Founders were republicans who believed that government must be based on popular consent, limited in its powers, and insulated against the sometimes rash judgments of the majority. Republicans thought that these objectives could best be obtained by the election of representatives by an electorate based on a restricted suffrage, and by the prevention of the concentration of governmental powers (executive, legislative, and judicial) in a single governing body. Although republicanism was far more democratic than other political doctrines in the late eighteenth century, it was less democratic than we would find acceptable today because of the limitations it placed on participation. The philosophy of republicanism held that political participation should be limited to those men most fit by birth, education, and standing in the community to exercise judgment and wisdom in public affairs. Elected representatives were not to act as delegates or as conduits for popular views, but were instead supposed to exercise their own judgment and deliberate among themselves. To most of the framers, republicanism and democracy were not identical. Republicanism represented a step on the  road to democracy, with its belief in popular consent and indirect election of public officials, yet it retained enough aristocratic or elitist features to keep it well short of the democratic ideal. The Revolution was launched in the name of independence, republicanism, and free trade, but over time it began to engage the allegiance of the common people. In 1776, for example, Pennsylvania created a state government ruled by an annually elected legislature chosen by almost anyone who could pay a small poll tax. Although some observers regarded such governments as the most perfect instruments of popular sovereignty, others believed that they would result in poor laws and poor policies. One of the central axioms of the republican doctrine was that in a good society people should be allowed to accumulate, use, or exchange property as they wished, no matter how much they possessed compared to others. Toward the end of the 1770s and the early 1780s, however, this principle stood in conflict with the growing popular mood of hostility toward privilege of any kind, whether in social standing, education, or wealth. A number of state legislatures passed measures designed to protect debtors, thus undermining the financial position of debt holders. Although public opinion favored property rights, it also sympathized with farmers who were hard pressed to pay their debts. Indeed, many citizens believed that many creditors had accumulated notes speculatively or unfairly and were not entitled to full repayment. By 1787, most of America`s economic, social, and political leaders were convinced that the American experiment in self- government was in great danger of failing. The Article of Confederation had not provided a government capable of protecting or advancing the new nation`s interests in the world, paying its debts, guaranteeing domestic tranquility, or establishing a unified national economy. Many Americans also believed that democratic and leveling tendencies were threatening to undermine the republican principles of the new nation. This situation led to calls for a change in the government that resulted in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. The 55 delegates from the states that took part in the convention`s deliberations were not ordinary people. For the most part, the delegates were wealthy, well educated men who held positions of prestige in their respective states. Most were also fairly young (the average age was barely 40) and had been active in the revolution and in the postwar state governments. For years, scholars have debated the motives and intentions of the framers. Historian Charles Beard believed that the framers were motivated by the desire to protect their personal economic interests. He argued that those who controlled the convention and the ratification process were owners of public securities interested in a government that could pay its debts, merchants concerned about the protection of commerce, and land speculators interested in the protection of property rights. In contrast, other historians believe that Beard overemphasized the degree to which the framers were driven by their own financial interests and that he failed to give credit to other, more noble motivations. However, most scholars agree that Beard was close to the mark in suggesting that broad economic and social-class motives were at work in shaping the actions of the framers. It appears that a complex mixture of motives, ranging from the economic to the philosophical, was at play among the delegates. The delegates to the convention agreed with one another on many fundamental points. One was the need for a new constitution to replace the Article of Confederation. Another point of consensus was the need for a substantially strengthened national government. The most important point of agreement was the desire to find a formula for instituting a republican government--one based on popular consent but one whose deliberations and decisions would not be directly or unduly swayed by public opinion. Despite this general agreement on principles, there were several major points of contention among the delegates. One of the most intense debates concerned the so-called Virginia Plan for the organization of a new national government, which was drafted by James Madison. This proposed plan of government created a strong central government controlled, for the most part, by the wealthiest and most populous states: Virginia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. The power of the central government would be in the national  legislature whose seats would be apportioned to the states on the basis of population. Alarmed by what they believed to be a naked power grab by the larger states, the smaller states developed the New Jersey Plan, whose central feature was a single-house legislature in which each state had but a single vote regardless of population size. The New Jersey Plan envisioned a government in which each of the states remained sovereign while the  Virginia Plan envisioned a government in which national sovereignty was superior to state sovereignty. The result of this debate was a compromise plan hammered out by the Committee of Eleven. The Great Compromise or Connecticut Compromise, as it was called, had the key feature  of a two-house national legislature in which each state`s representation in the lower house would be based on population (favoring the large states), while representation in the upper house was to be equal for each of the states (favoring the small states). Slavery was another issue of contention during the convention. Although many non-southern delegates opposed slavery (and some attempted to outlaw it), the delegates ultimately recognized that the southern states (where close to half of the total population of the Confederation lived) would never agree to a new constitution if it outlawed slavery. Non-southern delegates recognized that an attempt to prohibit slavery would jeopardize the entire effort to create a new national union. Indeed, southern bargaining power was so substantial that the delegates added three provisions to the Constitution that explicitly recognized the legal standing of slavery: the three fifths compromise which counted a slave as three-fifths of a person for purposes of representation, a provision forbidding the enactment of federal legislation against the slave trade until the year 1808, and a requirement that officials in non-slaves states cooperate to return runaway slaves to their owners in the slave states. The delegates essentially postponed hard decisions on slavery in the interest of forming the new union. The issue of the presidency posed another problem for the delegates. Although most delegates agreed that a single executive was necessary, they could not agree on how a chief executive would be selected. The compromise eventually struck involved the selection of an electoral college, based on the total number of representatives from each of the states in Congress. This electoral college would then elect a president. The Constitution contains seven different parts or Articles, each dealing with a different aspect of the national government`s structure or power. The first three Articles lay out the organization of each of the three branches of the national government: legislative, executive, and judicial (in that order). Article IV deals with interstate relations, requiring that full faith and credit be given other states` acts and that criminal fugitives be returned to the states in which they are charged. Article V establishes procedures and ground rules for amending the Constitution. Article VI assumes the debt of the Confederation. It also makes the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the U.S. the supreme law of the land and requires an oath of office for U.S. and state officials. Article VII provides that the Constitution will be established when ratified by conventions in nine states. The Constitution was based on a different philosophy of government than was the Articles of Confederation. The Articles of Confederation envisioned a national structure as a union of politically independent units, with little power in the hands of the central government. In contrast, the Constitution fashioned a federal system, in which some powers were left to the states, some powers were shared by the states and the national government, and some powers were granted exclusively to the central government. Although federalism requires a sharing of powers, the Constitution tilts authority toward the center. The supremacy clause in the Constitution states that the central government is the ultimate power in the nation. The Constitution centralizes power still more by exclusively assigning the following important powers and responsibilities to the national government: the power to regulate commerce, provide a uniform currency, establish uniform laws on bankruptcy, raise and support an army and navy, declare war, collect taxes and customs, and provide for the common defense. Finally, the elastic clause in the Constitution states that Congress has the power to "make all laws which shall be necessary and proper" for carrying out its specific powers and responsibilities. This particular provision of the Constitution became one of the foundations for growth of the federal government in the twentieth century. By creating a republican form of government, the framers structured a government based on popular consent and some popular participation that limited office holding, restricted the right to vote, placed obstacles in the path of majoritarian democracy, and limited the purposes and powers of the government. To ensure that the new government would not overstep the limits of power set by the Constitution, the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, specifically delineated the rights which government could not abridge. Separation of powers with checks and balances further ensured that the federal government would not exceed its bounds. To avoid the leveling tendencies and tyranny of unbridled democracy, the framers created a structure of government in which people ruled only indirectly. The framers attempted to check the unbridled passions of the people (as the framers saw them) through the electoral process, by providing that representatives, senators, and the president be elected by different methods, for different terms of office, from different constituencies, and (often) at different times. Moreover, they established a cumbersome method of amending the Constitution. In this way, the framers hoped to ensure that the popular will in the short run could not overwhelm those who governed. Balanced government was another central feature of the new Constitution. The central idea of balanced government was that concentrated power of any kind is dangerous. The solution they adopted to the danger of concentrated power was to divide power among legislative, executive, and judicial branches. To further ensure that power could not be exercised in a tyrannical fashion, the framers saw to it that the legislative, executive, and judicial branches would check one another. Each branch of government was given its own power, but no branch was able to exercise all of its power on its own. Each branch had a check on the power of the others. The framers were particularly worried that a system which is too democratic might eventually threaten private property. Consequently, they included several provisions in the Constitution to protect property rights. One constitutional provision prevented states from helping debtors by inflating money, forgiving debts, or otherwise infringing on the property of creditors. Another provision stipulated that debtors could not escape legal and financial obligations by fleeing to another state. This provision is known as the "full faith and credit" clause which says states must honor the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of other states. In addition, the Constitution said that the new government would honor debts incurred under the Articles of Confederation and pay all creditors. Finally, the Constitution even protected the private property of slaves by requiring states to return escaped slaves to their owners. The Constitution created a national economy regulated by government. Congress was given the power to regulate international and interstate commerce, coin money and determine its value, establish laws governing bankruptcy, and protect the financial fruits of invention by establishing patent and copyright laws. At the same time, the Constitution broke down trade barriers by forbidding states from imposing taxes or duties on other states` exports, entering into foreign treaties, coining money, or laying any duties on imports or exports. Ratification Once the Constitution was written and accepted by the Congress, the document was sent to the states for ratification. Under Article VII of the new Constitution, the approval of nine of the thirteen states was required for ratification. Much of the debate that had taken place during the constitutional convention shifted to the individual state conventions where Federalists (those who wanted the Constitution) and Anti-Federalists (those who opposed the Constitution) squared off over the question of ratification. The Federalists did a better job of making their case than the Anti-Federalists. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote a number of influential essays in support of the new Constitution under the pen name "Publius." These essays were subsequently published as the Federalist Papers and stand today as important commentaries on the document. Opposition to the Constitution came mostly from less wealthy, rural interests; from those who advocated a small scale decentralized republican government; and from those concerned about the absence of a bill of rights. The latter argument proved to be the Anti-Federalists strongest point. The Federalists initially argued that a bill of rights was unnecessary because state constitutions had bills of rights. Moreover, they said, the national government created by the new Constitution would not be powerful enough to threaten individual rights. In order to win support for ratification, however, the Federalists promised to support the addition of a bill of rights after ratification. Ratification of the Constitution was close. Most of the small states quickly approved, attracted by the formula of equal representation in the Senate. In the largest and most important states, the vote was exceedingly close. Despite the passions that were released during the debate over the refashioning of the nation`s fundamental law, Americans quickly accepted the new order and eventually came to venerate the Constitution. The Constitution in American Politics The framers believed that liberty and popular sovereignty were contradictory. Because they especially valued liberty, they tried in a variety of ways to control the play of popular democracy in American political life, using constitutional mechanisms. The founders did not fully appreciate, however, the extent to which liberty, popular sovereignty, and political equality are compatible.   The framers` contribution to the advance of democracy then is ambiguous. While the framers tried to control popular sovereignty and political equality, they made an important contribution to democracy by strengthening and protecting political liberty. In the long run, the framers` efforts to contain democracy were not successful in that our political life has become considerably more democratic than the framers imagined or wanted. There are several ways by which the Constitution can change. The most obvious, of course, is by formal amendment. Amendments can be proposed either by a two thirds vote of Congress or by a constitutional convention convened after petitions from two thirds of the states. Amendments must be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures or by special conventions called in three fourths of the states. The Constitution can also change through judicial interpretation. The main interpreter of the fundamental law of the land, at least since the time of Chief Justice John Marshall in the early nineteenth century, has been the Supreme Court. The doctrine of judicial review, claimed by Justice Marshall and the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison (1803), holds that it is the exclusive responsibility of the high court to determine if the actions of the states and the other branches of the federal government conform to the Constitution.  Finally, the Constitution can change through political practices. Historical practice and legislative actions have changed the constitution in ways totally unanticipated by the framers. Contrary to expectations, the election of the president is not the outcome of the deliberations of an actual electoral college or action by the House of Representatives but of democratic elections--a change brought about by the spread of popular democracy, the broadening of the franchise, and the rise of political parties (none of which are even mentioned in the Constitution).
CONTENT:
Name:Tutor`s Name:Course/Grade:Date:Fundamental tensionFundamental tension has continued to exist between the colonists and the Americans concerning the American Revolution. The aim of the British colonists was to establish a new constitution which safeguarded their interest in trade and taxation. However the same constitution threatened the traditional rights to life and liberty of the American people. And as the American gained independence, they saw a need to set some things straight between them and their British colonists.The tension was vividly seen in the declaration of independence made by the Americ...

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