We need to look beyond the myths and rhetoric of the U.S. Constitution.
The first principle of politics is that all political behavior has a purpose.
The revolutionaries were guided by many purposes.
Most of the nation's founding fathers were not political theorists.
They were from compromise to hardheaded and pragmatic.
The Constitution dependence on a colonial power, one that did not treat them as full-fledged citizens of the empire, was intolerable.
The Fight for Ratification was a consequence of the decision to break away from Britain.
Many of the most active in the initial days of the Revolution felt backed.
The amendment left the colonists to make their own decisions.
The years of substantial local con were the result of Reflections trol and home rule--institutional arrangements that suited merchants, farmers, and planters in the separate colonies.
The British presence became more burdensome as the war with France ended.
Collective action was instigated by this experience.
Protests erupted throughout the colonies against the Stamp Act after English attempts to extract tax revenues to pay for the troops that were sent to defend the colonial frontier.
Mass meetings, parades, and other demonstrations were held by the colonists to show their displeasure with the act.
A stamp agent in Boston was hanged and burned in effigy, leading to his resignation.
The lieutenant governor's home was sacked because of a rumor that he supported the Stamp Act.
By November 1765, newspapers were being published without stamps and the detested law was repealed.
The Stamp Act Congress that took place in October 1765 led to war and the establishment of a new nation, as a result of the protest and nonimportation agreements that the colonists subsequently adopted.
In the present chapter, we begin our story here.
The political backdrop of the American Revolution is assessed first.
The history principle shows how the colonial administration of London produced a set of expectations that later British actions violated.
After a bumpy experience in self-government just after the Revolution, the Constitution emerged as the basis for America's government.
The document is an institutional arrangement that encourages peaceful conflict resolution and facilitates collective action.
We conclude with a reflection on the founding period and emphasize the lesson that politics generally involves struggles among conflicting interests.
The framers of the Constitution had conflicting goals and interests that led to intensive political bargaining, negotiation and compromise.
The first attempt at a new arrangement for self-government relied on institutions that were too weak to achieve collective action.
The power of the federal government was divided between states and the federal government through a set of rules and procedures embodied in the Constitution.
The policy process is often guided by the framework provided by the Constitution.
The Antifederalists fought the Federalists in 1787.
The Democratic and Republican parties represent different economic, social, and sectional interests.
The weapons developed by competing interests are often political ideas.
The merchants in New England cared more about lower taxes than expanded representation.
Representation is one of the foundations of American democracy.
We see that institutions matter as we try to understand American politics.
The institution principle tells us that institutions shape politics and affect the results of political conflicts.
The policy principle tells us that institutional procedures help determine policy outcomes, what the government can and cannot do.
The Constitution is the most important institution in the United States.
Key questions are addressed in this chapter.
The history principle suggests that the events of the colonial and founding periods affected the Constitution.
America's basic law was shaped by the events that preceded it.
In revolutionary America, competing ideals reflect competing interests.
The American Revolution and the Constitution were expressions of a struggle between the economic and political forces of the colonies.
The New England merchants, the southern planters, the "royalists", and the shopkeepers were all important in colonial politics.
The groups differed over issues of taxation, trade, and commerce.
The southern planters, the New England merchants, and the royal officeholders and patent holders maintained a political alliance that held back the more radical forces representing shopkeepers, laborers, and small farmers.
The British tax and trade policies split the elite after 1750.
Debts and other financial problems forced the British government to look for new revenue sources.
This search led to the Crown's North American colonies, which paid little in taxes to the mother country--particularly given that the colonies accounted for a large portion of their debt during the recent French and Indian War.
The British government thought it was reasonable to impose new taxes on the colonists because they would pay less in taxes than residents of England.
The British regime only had ways to collect revenues.
In the twentieth century, the income tax became the most important source of government revenue.
The Stamp Act was one of the taxes that the British turned to during the 1760s.
The colonists were used to managing their own affairs.
The New England merchants and the southern planters were most affected by the Stamp Act and other taxes on commerce.
Two groups engaged in collective action to address the problems because of their interests.
Under the famous slogan "No taxation without representation," the merchants and planters together organized opposition to the new taxes; these groups broke with their royalist allies and turned to their former adversaries--the shopkeepers, small farmers, laborers, and artisans, all of whom had their own grievances against The merchants and planters helped organize demonstrations and boycotts of British goods that forced the Crown to repeal most of its taxes.
The British government's decision to eliminate most of the hated taxes was a victory for the merchants and planters.
In the midst of the unrest, a confrontation occurred between British soldiers and colonists in front of the 2 Parliament, which was enacted as part of the British settlement with Native Americans.
The right of colonists to settle lands west of the Allegheny Mountains was withdrawn.
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Boston customs house on the night of March 5, 1770 resulted in the Boston massacre.
Five people were killed and eight others were wounded when British soldiers opened fire on a mob.
The news of the event quickly spread throughout the colonies.
The merchants and planters supported the British government's efforts to restore order.
Most respectable Bostonians supported the actions of the British soldiers.
John Adams, a pillar of Boston society and a future president of the United States, defended the soldiers in their trial.
Despite the efforts of the British government and the colonial elite, it proved difficult to end the political unrest.
The forces representing shopkeepers, artisans, laborers, and small farmers continued to push for political and social change.
These "radicals" believed that people like themselves were just as fit to govern as members of the colonial elite because they had a decent trade or skill but little political influence.
The British revenue-raising policies backfired so dramatically because of colo nial resistance, because the radicals asserted that British power supported an unjust political and social structure within the colonies, and they began to advocate an end to British rule.
The Stamp Act costs more to enforce than it brings in.
The rationality principle requires that people act in the best interests of themselves.
There are bound to be unforeseen factors that can't be taken into account.
The revenue-raising policies seemed sensible to the British before they actually were.
The British tried to raise revenue and adapt their strategy because of the unrest, but it was difficult to get over the damage caused by their initial misreading of the situation.
Resistance to the British authorities required a lot of support.
The campaign against the British imperial power required strategic planning, coalition building, bargaining, persuading, compromising, and coordinating--all elements of the give-and-take of politics.
Encouraging and cultivating cooperation was needed.
It was clear that leadership was needed.
The Tea Act of 1773 gave the East India Company a monopoly on the export of tea from Britain, eliminating a lucrative trade for colonial merchants.
The East India Company wanted to sell tea directly in the colonies.
The British actions posed a mortal threat to the New England merchants because tea was an important commodity.
The Boston Tea Party was led by Samuel Adams.
The protesters wanted to undermine the authority of the British government.
The Boston Tea Party was a turning point in American history.
The merchants did not seek independence from Britain.
Samuel Adams and the other radicals wanted the British government to take actions that would hurt its supporters and lead to a rebellion.
Adams and his followers wentaded the British into implementing harsh reprisals by closing the port of Boston to commerce and providing for the removal of accused persons to Britain for trial.
This course of action by British politicians looks puzzling in retrospect, but at the time a show of force appeared reasonable.
The toleration of lawlessness and the making of concessions would only lead to more radical elements taking liberties and demanding more concessions.
The British drew a line in the sand.
Their repressive reactions made it clear that dissatisfied colonists could rally around them.
There is an extensive discussion of how misunderstandings and incorrect beliefs caused the situation to spin out of control.
The Congress called for a boycott of British goods and began to consider independence from British rule.
The Declaration of Independence was the result.
In 1776, the Second Continental Congress appointed a committee consisting of Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, John Adams of Massachusetts, and Robert Livingston of New York to draft a statement of American independence from British rule.
The Declaration of Independence was written by Jefferson, who drew many ideas from John Locke, a British philosopher.
The Declaration was adopted by the Second Continental Congress.
The Declaration was remarkable for its assertion that certain "unalienable rights" could not be changed by the government.
This was a dramatic statement in the world of 1776, when some kings still claimed to rule by divine right.
The Declaration was remarkable because it focused on grievances, aspiration, and principles that might unify the various colonial groups.
The Declaration of Independence was an attempt to articulate a history and a set of principles that might help forge national unity.
The Declaration is often called a libertarian document and the Constitution a more conservative text by scholars.
Locke believed that the purpose of government was to protect life, liberty, and property.
These ideas are used in the Declaration to justify overthrowing a government.
The goal of the Constitution is to create a government that will guarantee the achievement of these goals.
America's founding documents have the same philosophy but apply it to different purposes.
The colonies began to fight the British in the 18th century, most notably at Concord, Massachusetts, where colonial militias acquitted themselves against British soldiers.
The task of defeating Britain seemed impossible.
British regulars and German mercenaries were sent to maintain their hold on the colonies.
The colonists were not united in their opposition to British rule.
Many colonists refused to fight against the king because they were loyal to the British.
The war was brutal and bloody, with tens of thousands of casualties among the colonists, British troops, and Native Americans who fought on both sides.
The cost of fighting a war thousands of miles from home became too much for England to bear.
British forces had to bring food and supplies from Europe because of the militias.
The British's will and ability to fight waned as the colonial forces prevented them from defeating them.
The colonists fought until Britain had had enough.
The 13 American colonies were granted their independence after the Treaty of Paris was signed.
The colonies needed to establish a governmental structure after declaring their independence.
The United States' first constitution was written.
None of the 13 first written constitutions had the advantages of cooperating with the others.
The first constitution of America was the Accordingly, the Articles of Confederation, which gave a central government of defined and limited power to the individual states.
The central government was based in the Congress until 1789, when they were replaced by the Confederacy.
The Constitution was not intended to be a powerful government.
Execution and interpretation of its laws were to be left to the individual states.
The Congress had little power.
The members were just messengers from the state legislature.
They were paid out of the state treasuries and subject to recall by state authorities.
Each state had a single vote.
The 13 states had to agree on the amendments to the Articles.
Congress had the power to make peace, make trea ties and alliances, coin or borrow money, and regulate trade with Native Americans.
The senior officers of the United States Army could be appointed.
It couldn't regulate commerce among the states.
The nation's armed forces were composed of state militias and the army officers it appointed had no army to serve in.
The relationship between Congress and the states under the Articles of Confederation was very similar to the relationship between the United Nations and its member states.
There was no executive or judicial authority to enforce Congress's will.
Each state was an independent nation-state.
The Articles of Confederation were not an adequate basis for collective action.
Institutional arrangements that are designed to accomplish collective purposes by creating routines and processes aren't always well suited to these tasks.
The Declaration of Independence was not enough to hold the nation together as an independent and effective nation-state.
After the end of the British's rule in 1783, moves were afoot to reform and strengthen the Articles of Confederation.
There was a concern about the country's international position.
Competition among the states for foreign commerce allowed the European powers to play the states against one another, creating confusion on both sides of the Atlantic.
John Adams, a leader in the struggle for independence, was sent to negotiate a new treaty with the British, one that would cover disputes left over from the war.
The British government said it would negotiate with each of the 13 states separately because the United States could not enforce existing treaties.
Without the protection of the British navy, American shipping was easy prey for pirates and predator nations.
There was no help offered by the government under the Articles.
The New England merchants and southern planters were troubled by the influence of populist forces in the Continental Congress.
The end of British rule in the Revolutionary War meant the end of political power within the new states.
The royal land, office, and patent holders were stripped of their economic and political privileges.
Many of the people who considered themselves loyal British subjects left for Canada after the British surrender.
The prerevolutionary radicals became controlling forces in several states, where they pursued economic and political policies that struck terror in the prerevolutionary political establishment.
Between 1783 and 1785, a legislature dominated by representatives of small farmers, artisans, and shopkeepers instituted economic policies that frightened businessmen and property owners throughout the country.
The central government was powerless to intervene.
Several states borrowed money to finance their Revolutionary War debts as commerce within the states stagnated.
Americans were facing their first debt crisis.
Many Americans were considering whether their newly adopted form of government already required revision because of the international weakness and domestic economic turmoil.
Many state leaders accepted an invitation from the Virginia legislature to attend a conference of representatives from all the states.
The delegates from five states attended.
In the fall of 1786, a conference was held in Maryland.
One positive result was a resolution calling on Congress to send Commissioners to Philadelphia at a later time in order to make the Constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union.
Alexander Hamilton, a New York lawyer who had served during the Revolution as George Washington's secretary, drafted the resolution that was used to form the new government in the 1790s.
The resolution didn't say that there was a desire to do more than improve and reform the Articles of Confederation.
It is possible that the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia wouldn't have taken place if Shays's Rebellion hadn't happened.
Shays's Rebellion was a focal event like the Boston Tea Party.
In 1787, Daniel Shays led a group of farmers in a rebellion against the government of Massachusetts.
Their goal was to prevent foreclosures on their debt-ridden land by keeping the county courts of western Massachusetts from sitting until after the next election.
The state militia dispersed the mob, but for several days Shays and his followers terrified the state government by attempting to capture the federal arsenal at Springfield, provoking an appeal to Congress to help restore order.
Within a few days, the state government regained control and captured 14 of the rebels.
Some of the farmers' demands were granted by the Massachusetts legislature.
The effects of the incident lingered and spread.
Shays' Rebellion shows that Congress was unable to act in a time of crisis.
It made people afraid and convinced them that something needed to be fixed.
The states were asked to send representatives to Philadelphia to discuss constitutional revision because it prompted collective action by providing critics of the Articles of Confederation with the evidence they needed to convince a broader public that the Articles were insufficient.
Rhode Island was the only state that sent delegates.
The state governments gathered in Philadelphia in May 1787 to pick delegates.
The delegates realized that there were fundamental flaws in the Articles of Confederation that needed to be fixed in order to create a legitimate and effective national system.
Americans have learned a lot from the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, such as the fact that executive power is a necessary component of effective government and that without an army or navy the government could not protect its citizens' interests.
Americans' experiences under the Articles helped shape the new Constitution.
Scholars disagree about the motives of Philadelphia's founding fathers.
The economic interpretation put forward by Charles Beard and his disciples is one of the most controversial.
The Constitution's lofty principles were little more than masks for venal interests to enrich themselves.
There is some foundation for Beard's arguments.
The economic interests of the north and south feared slave revolts.
Capital investment and its protection were weak under the Articles because of inflated currencies, limited credit markets, and outstanding public debt.
Also, manufacturers needed protection from foreign competition, and exporters needed the security of safe passage for their cargo on the high seas.
Beard's approach is contrary to the view that the Founders were con cerned with ethical ideas.
There was a suspicion of a distant central government.
The core argument was used to undermine the authority of Parliament and the British monarch.
The interests and ideals of the founding fathers were reinforced by their principles.
New England merchants organized the convention.
The delegates hope to benefit from an increase in the value of their securities by breaking the power of their radical foes and establishing a system of government that is more compatible with their long-term economic and political interests.
In line with the rationality principle, the framers wanted a new government that could promote commerce and protect property.
They wanted to remove the power of individual states and corrupt politicians from the national government.
They wanted a government that was less susceptible to populist forces that were hostile to the elite's interests.
These politicians were motivated by ideals and interests.
Collective action and rationality were part of the Constitutional Convention.
The first shot was fired by the proponents of a new government on May 29, 1787.
They settled on an institutional arrangement that gave the large states more weight in the House of Representatives and the small states more representation in the Senate.
Lesspopulous states have disproportionate influence in the legislative process because of the Great Compromise.
The civil rights movement was slowed by senators because of individual preferences.
This principle resents small-population states.
The 582,000 inhabitants of Wyoming, as well as 626,000 Vermonters and 723,000 North Dakotans, have the same right insti as any political actor.
The groups and interests are over policy for a long time.
The struggles at the far out of proportion to their states' populations are illustrative of this idea.
The small amount of delegates in the Senate is one reason why smaller states get more federal aid per capita than larger states.
In a recent year, residents of Wyoming received the states of Virginia, Massachusetts, and New York at $4,180 per capita, while Texans and Californians received the states of New York, and Pennsylvania at $1,700 per capita.
The delegates believed that immigration reform would change the U.S. climate policy and increase the likelihood of serving those states' interests.
Representatives of both groups failed to pass because senators from other states did not agree that a majority of the votes in the Senate would be for a new government.
The Great Compromise continued the Articles of Confederation and was willing to affect public policy in the United States after producing better policies.
The Virginia Plan was a proposal by James Madison that provided for a system of representation in the national legislature.
The Virginia Plan appeared to be biased in favor of the large states because of their large size and wealth.
The Virginia Plan was being opposed by delegates arriving in Philadelphia while the convention was debating it.
The New Jersey Plan did not oppose the Virginia Plan point for point.
It focused on weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation rather than replacing them.
Their opposition to the Virginia Plan's scheme of representation made it necessary for them to send their proposals back to the committee.
If representation were to be determined by population, delegates from the less populous states of Delaware, New Jersey, and Connecticut said that the more populous states of Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Massachusetts would dominate the new government.
Smaller states argued that each state should be represented in the same way.
The issue of representation was threatening to wreck the entire constitutional enterprise.
tempers flared as delegates maneuvered.
The small-state delegates were told by James Wilson of Pennsylvania that they should disrupt the Union.
He said that the large states did not want the confederation to be dissolved.
Many people shared these feelings.
The Convention of 1787 gave each state an equal bargained and made attempts at persuasion in order to get the number of senators they wanted.
The House of Representatives would be apportioned according to population size in the first chamber of Congress.
There is no record of the debates, but Madison kept full notes and was present for most of the deliberations.
Madison's notes, along with the somewhat less complete records kept by several other participants in the convention, are available in a four-volume set.
populous states had the greatest representation in Congress.
The compromise wasn't satisfactory to all of the Census Bureau.
The plan to break up the Union was accepted by both sides.
The consequences of the Great Compromise might have surprised the framers.
The top five most represented states in Congress from 1789 to today are shown in the Timeplot above.
The states with the most House seats and Electoral College delegates in 2010 did not exist at the time of the nation's founding.
Many of the conflicts facing the Constitutional Convention were reflections of the fundamental differences between slave and non slave states, differences that pitted the southern planters and the New England merchants against each other.
This was the first time that a conflict would almost destroy the Republic.
populous states had the greatest representation in Congress.
The majority of slaves resided in five states.
The Census Bureau is located in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
Were they counted as part of a state's population?
The place of slavery in the general scheme would have to be addressed if the Constitution were to embody any principle of national supremacy.
The delegates from the northern states were against counting slaves in the distribution of congressional seats.
Wilson argued that if slaves were citizens, they should be treated the same as other citizens.
The delegates from the south said that the Northerners would never agree to the new government if they refused to give in.
James Madison and George Mason, both of Virginia, believed that slavery was immoral.
Slaves were included in the allocation of congressional seats.
The number of representatives would be apportioned according to the number of slaves.
The agreement was accepted by both Northerners and Southerners.
Although some delegates considered slavery wrong, an evil institution that made mockery of the ideals and values congressional seats on the ideals and values of the Constitution, expedience, not morality, was the main factor that caused the framers to support or oppose.
Only three-fifths of slaves in the north agreed to continue the slave trade.
The war broke out when the two sides couldn't agree on anything.
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