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Separation of Powers

Constitution Sunday: Answers to Mason’s “Objections”: “Marcus” [James Iredell] II

Answers to Mason’s “Objections”: “Marcus” [James Iredell] II

Norfolk and Portsmouth Journal (Virginia), February 27, 1788

Following are excerpts from James Iredell’s responses to George Mason’s “Objections” to the Constitution:

IVth. Objection. The Judiciary of the United States is so constructed and extended, as to absorb and destroy the Judiciaries of the several States Continue reading “Constitution Sunday: Answers to Mason’s “Objections”: “Marcus” [James Iredell] II”

The Two Scales and the Hand that Holds it

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Benjamin Lincoln. By: John Singer Sargent.

Benjamin Lincoln wrote a series of articles in the Boston Magazine and Independent Chronicle that would touch on many of the same subjects as John Adams in his Defence of the ConstitutionSee Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 576.

Continue reading “The Two Scales and the Hand that Holds it”

Constitution Sunday: Reply to Wilson’s Speech: “A Democratic Federalist”

Reply to Wilson’s Speech: “A Democratic Federalist”

Pennsylvania Herald (Philadelphia), October 17, 1787

Following are excerpts from the article, published in response to James Wilson’s speech: Continue reading “Constitution Sunday: Reply to Wilson’s Speech: “A Democratic Federalist””

Division and Balancing of Political Power

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Richard Henry Lee. By: Billy Hathorn.

Because the Federalists outmaneuvered the Antifederalists in presenting the Constitution to the American people, the Antifederalists faced a predicament of what to do. As Richard Henry Lee stated, many who wished to change the federal structure of government realized that they had to accept “this or nothing.” Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 547 quoting Lee to Mason, Oct. 1, 1787, Ballagh, ed., Letters of R. H. Lee, II, 438. The Antifederalists were more or less forced to “attack the federal government in those mechanical Enlightenment terms most agreeable to the thought of the Federalists: the division and balancing of political power,” otherwise known as separation of powers. Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 548.

Continue reading “Division and Balancing of Political Power”

The Defense Against Encroachments

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James Varnum. By: John Nelson Arnold.

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.

Continue reading “The Defense Against Encroachments”

The Erosion of Separation of Powers

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Thomas Jefferson. By: Mather Brown. 1786.

In the 1780s, there began to be a distinct erosion of the doctrine of separation of powers.

Continue reading “The Erosion of Separation of Powers”

The Conventional Debate

Dr. William Smith
William Smith. By: Gilbert Stuart. 1801-02.

In Pennsylvania, extraordinary events were transpiring that would shape how people expressed their will. William Smith (“Cato”) and a group of individuals, led by James Cannon (“Cassandra”) in 1776, debated the issue of how institutions should reflect the people’s will, given the Radical Political Experiment unfolding in Pennsylvania.

Continue reading “The Conventional Debate”

A First Principle of Free Government

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The Signing of the Constitution of the United States.

The separation of powers in the government of the United States has “come to define the very character of the American political system.” Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 151. Continue reading “A First Principle of Free Government”

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