A Compound of Aristocracy and Monarchy

In the 1780s, Americans, like John Dickinson, observed that “[p]eople once respected their governors, their senators, their judges and their clergy; they reposed confidence in them; their laws were obeyed, and the states were happy in tranquility.” Dickinson, Letters of Fabius, Ford, ed., Pamphlets, 188. The authority of the government was declining. Gordon Wood, The Creation of theContinue reading “A Compound of Aristocracy and Monarchy”

The Social Debate

The debate surrounding the Constitution was as much a political and governmental debate as it was a social debate. The individuals who debated the Constitution, both for and against the Constitution, focused on the social aspect, making the disagreement “fundamentally one between aristocracy and democracy.” Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 485.

Storms of Sedition

Because the American Revolution was leading to a breakdown of the traditional social distinctions of the Eighteenth Century, groups of individuals were becoming increasingly empowered. Groups, based on “social, economic, and religious interests” were emerging. Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 501.

The Scum Will Rise

The social structure of America was being turned upside down during the Revolution. As James Otis warned in 1776: “When the pot boils, the scum will rise.” John Eliot to Jeremy Belknap, Jan. 12, 1777, Belknap Papers, 104.

The Revolution’s Failure and Excesses

The culmination of beliefs and events that led to the drafting of the Constitution were varied but also generally in agreement about the necessity of having the Constitution.

The Inadequacy of the Confederation

By 1787, the strength and stability of the states was under scrutiny. Shays’ Rebellion had erupted, citizens had become more licentious, and state legislatures appeared to be running rampant, doing significant damage to the health of the country as a whole. See Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 465.

The Defense Against Encroachments

While during the American Revolution, the judiciary was mostly forgotten, in the interest of controlling gubernatorial power by empower legislatures, that began to change during the 1780s.