At the moment we could observe a certain crisis of executive power in the USA. The last elections split the US society into two camps and differences in mentalities and points of view became evident. Being elected by the majority of people, the President still does not possess the support of the whole state and has to act in a complex environment.
The given situation is not new as the USA has already passed through several depressions which introduced questions about the nature of American democracy, its roots, and the way it should be realized. However, every time it managed to pass through difficult times and find a middle-ground solution that was able to satisfy all parties. Besides, the nature of the opposition between different social groups could be traced back to the rise of the American nationhood where different perspectives on the way a young state should choose to become prosperous and guarantee numerous rights to its citizens.
Thus, in the middle of the 1780s, the question about the would-be constitution was extremely topical. The fact is that the US society was not homogeneous and there were different perspectives on the way nations should go to its prosperity. Moreover, being rather independent, different states had their own vision of the character of relations that should bind these very entities into the unified state. The adherers of different points of view suggested their own variants of the Constitution that had to introduce the legal framework for the cooperation of governments and establish the pattern of submission which would guarantee the accomplishment of complex tasks and the ability to unify in a common attempt to promote the countrys growth. Thus, the unique historical importance of the given document triggered vigorous debates about its final version and the most crucial aspects that will serve as the ground for the creation of new nationhood.
Articles of Confederation
Besides, the Articles of the Confederation became the first attempt to introduce a legal framework for the further functioning of the state and its evolution. However, being a pioneer, the progress of their ratification was slowed down by numerous fears related to the shift of authority from states which managed to obtain its independence to the central government (“Articles of Confederation,” n.d.). This factor impacted the document greatly. Thus, when in 1781 it was accepted, a new wave of debates was triggered.
According to these articles, the states that comprised a new country remained sovereign and independent when Congress as the main body of power should serve as the last resort in case some agents were not able to find a solution to a problematic issue on their own. The Congress was also able to make treaties and alliances, manage military forces and coin money (“Articles of Confederation,” n.d.). However, the crucial drawback of the new model was its inability to introduce and manage taxes, regulate commerce questions, and the flow of capital. As a result, the government lacked authority as it was deprived of the main source of income. Moreover, states remained independent and were not able to cooperate in case some threat appeared. For this reason, the appeals to create a new document became topical.
As against the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution presupposed a more powerful government along with the decreased independence of states. At 1787 the convention that was gathered because of the dissatisfaction with the previous document created a plan that was focused on the creation of a strong federal government that would execute its authority through three branches of power executive, legislative, and judicial ones (“The U.S. Constitution,” n.d.). The introduction of the given model was aimed at guaranteeing increased governments ability to impact the functioning of the whole country and assure that all states would follow the course outlined by it.
Moreover, a system of checks and balances to ensure fair distribution of power between branches was also added (The U.S. Constitution,” n.d.). Finally, to satisfy peoples needs for freedoms and protect them, the Bill or Rights with its 10 amendments was also ratified. As it comes from its nature, the given act resulted in the increased power of the central government when states lost its unique independence and were not able to act on their own anymore (“The U.S. Constitution,” n.d.). It is obvious that the new pattern of power distribution was not able to satisfy all parties and could not but resulted in the appearance of vigorous debates.
If to compare these two documents, we could admit that there are many similarities between them and, at the first gaze, they might seem almost the same. Both Articles and Constitution were introduced by the same people with and attempt to create a nationhood. However, if to look at the details, the differences are so significant that they preconditioned the evolution of the state and its current appearance. The most obvious dissimilarity is the power of the government and its authority.
The reconsideration of the Articles was triggered by the fact that the USA remained disunited with its states acting in their own way. The opponents of this very model insisted on the necessity of the powerful government to be able to face all challenges that would appear in the course of its evolution. For this reason, the Constitution provided the government with the unique authority to introduce and collect taxes, maintain an army, determine the legal framework and establish the main vector of the USA evolution.
Drafting of the Constitution
Such great amendments resulted in numerous debates when drafting the constitution. The fact is that there were different perspectives on the most controversial issues like slavery, the presidency, taxes, etc. Southern states were not able to refuse the slave labor because of numerous plantations which served as the main sources of their incomes when the northern tried to get rid of it. Moreover, small and big states wanted to assure that the number of their representatives in the Congress would be appropriate. For this reason, the need for a compromise became obvious.
Thus, Roger Sherman suggested his own plan in accordance to which a lower House of Representatives is organized based on population when the Senate will have equal representation for each state (“The Great Debate.” n.d.). Moreover, a bicameral legislature along with dual representation were suggested (“The Great Debate.” n.d.). The given compromising solution became known as the Great Compromise and saved the Convention contributing to the appearance of the Constitution. Furthermore, to preserve the document, the slave trade was allowed to continue, and the Congress was not able to abolish it till 1808 (“The Great Debate.” n.d.). These debates contributed to the ratification of the document; however, at the same time, they also created the basis for the further deterioration of relations between states and preconditioned the Civil War.
Debates Over the Ratification. Bill of Rights and the Balance
Nevertheless, during these debates, two main positions represented by Federalists and Anti-federalists were formulated. The first one wanted to ratify the document by all means when the second one resisted it. Moreover, being afraid of the oppression that might result from the great power of the central government, Anti-Federalists insisted on the ratification of the Bill of Rights that would be able to guarantee peoples rights (“Federalist Papers,” n.d.). The debates over this document show the differences in the perspectives that existed between these parties. Federalists were sure that that addition was not needed as the new Constitution would be able to guarantee all rights and its power would protect people.
However, their opponents were afraid of the suggested pattern and wanted to limit the great power of the document. Thus, Federalist papers written before and during the creation of the Constitution demonstrate that Federalists were sure that the Constitution would be a perfect solution and it was “indispensably necessary to save our country from ruin” (“Federalist Papers,” n.d.). In other words, they really believed in the great power of this very document and tried to create it in the way that would promote their countrys further rise. For this reason, their unwillingness to ratify the Bill of Rights came from their great belief in the power of Constitution and its ability to protect all citizens of the USA by providing them with unique rights.
Altogether, the ratification of the Constitution was a complex process that triggered numerous debates over the course of the states evolution and its future. Ratification of the document was preceded by the crisis of power that resulted in the necessity of radical changes and creation of the new pattern of the states further rise.
Articles of Confederation. (n.d.)
Federalist Papers. (n.d.)
The Great Debate. (n.d.)
The U.S. Constitution. (n.d.)