Confederation and Constitution
After the American Revolution, a new government had to be established. The Constitution that was written took power away from the people. It led to rebellions from poor people and farmers.
Daniel Shays, a former Revolutionary Army captain, led a rebellion with farmers, against laws which were not fair to the poor. They protested against excessive taxes on property, polling taxes which obtained the poor from voting, unfair actions by the court of common requests, the high cost of lawsuits, and the lack of a stable currency. They wanted the government to issue paper money, since it is cheaper then gold and silver coins.
Once retired George Washington heard of this, he immediately went to Massachusetts to stop it. He was completely shocked to see the people fighting against the country which fought to free those men. “What a triumph for the advocates of despotism to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal and fallacious.” (George Washington Expresses Alarm 1786) He said this to the rebels who then stopped and the rebellion was crushed.
After Shays rebellion collapsed, the government realized that they need a new constitution and to strengthen the Articles of Confederation. This was a long and hard decision on whether to give the people the right to voice their opinions or not. Mixed views on the subject were given so it was very difficult to come to a conclusion. Mr.
Sherman of Connecticut “opposed the election by the people, insisting that it ought to be by the state legislatures. The people, he said, immediately should have as little to do as may be about the government. They want [lack] information and are constantly liable to be misled.” (The Debate on Representation in Congress 1787). Mr. Sherman is saying that people should not have anything to do with what the government has to do.
They only get information wrong and can be misled and misdirected into something that can be bad for the country.
Mr. Gerry of Massachusetts believes “the evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy.” While Mr. Mason of Virginia “argued strongly for an election of the larger branch by the people.” The representatives of these states viewed different ideas on democracy. Some wanted the people to have more of a say while others wanted to do the saying for the people.
Thomas Jefferson’s views changed in 1787. At first his comments about Shays rebellion was “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.” (Thomas Jefferson Favors rebellion 1787) He was saying that rebellion is good every once in awhile so the government doesn’t think they are omnipotent. Later, he said “God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always well informed.”
(Jefferson is Unenthusiastic 1787) Here he is saying...