24 August 2017
How Did the Constitution Guard Against Tyranny?
When many imagine the United States, they envision a place of freedom and choice. How did it get that way? After the American Revolution, it was up the citizens of the newly formed country to create a government system that would not support the possibility tyranny, a cruel and oppressive rule. The first written document stating the framework of the government was the Articles of Confederation, which was written in 1777, but this system quickly fell apart because the Articles did not give enough power to the central government. When the delegates realized this, they knew that they could not just revise the document. They had to create an entirely different one, and they called it the Constitution. During the summer of 1787, fifty-five delegates met in Philadelphia for the Constitutional Convention to reevaluate the entire country’s framework. They had to build a strong central government that would not allow for any one person, or group of people, to get too much power. Through time and debate, the final Constitution was able to provide this because of a four main principles.
As a part of the Constitution, a federal government was established because the delegates knew that the country needed a stronger central government that still protected against tyranny. A federal government is a system in which the state and the national government are assigned specific powers and powers that they both share. In Federalist Paper #51, James Madison said, “In the compound republic of America, the power surrendered by the people is first divided between two distinct governments…. The different governments will each control each other and at the same time allow for each to be controlled by itself” (Document A). What Madison meant by this was that the government would be split into two parts allowing them to both work independently and together to maintain stability. The Constitution also stated that the powers not given to the central government but not denied of the state government belongs to the states (Jefferson). This system of government allows for a fair divide of power and ensures that the majority remains in the hands of the people.
To protect against the abuse of power, the separation of powers concept was also applied. The idea of the separation of powers was originally thought of by the philosopher Baron de Montesquieu during the Enlightenment Period. This idea suggests that the government be split into three branches: the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. The executive branch consists of the President, and their job is to enforce the law. The legislative branch has...