Ratification Debate Essay

1247 words - 5 pages


The author of the Ratification Debates document is Edmund Pendleton, written in 1787. His intended audience is James Madison, as it says in the document that Pendleton's letter is addressed to Madison. The purpose of this whole document is to show to the delegates whether the new Constitution conforms to the republican principles of government. Pendleton's contribution to the ratification debate was to provide his opinion on the subject matter and to counter the arguments of those who find fault with the Constitution.

In the document, Edmund Pendleton voices out that the Constitution is imperfect and any attempts to make it perfect is futile. He "recollect[s] the very sensible observations of Sir William Temple 'that none was ever perfect, or free from very many & just exceptions.... An absolute monarchy ruins the people; one limited endangers the Prince; an aristocracy is subject to emulations of the great, and oppression of the poor; and a democracy to popular tumults & convulsions.' His conclusion is 'A perfect scheme of government seems as endless and as useless a search as that of the universal medicine or the Philosopher's stone.'" (Pendleton). Constantly striving to make a perfect government through reforms is not helpful because it is impossible to get perfection. Pendleton favors the divided powers and how they balance not only the powers of the Federal government, but also the powers between the State and Federal governments. Pendleton reviews the Constitution and does not find any traits in it that may violate the American form of government, since all or most power is derived from the people. The people are mostly to be represented by the House of Representatives, who are then balanced out by the Senate and the President, so as to not cause any sort of tumult whatsoever. The President's power to veto and override two-thirds of the votes of both houses of Congress keeps the powers of House of Representatives and Senate, striking out a "happy balance between an absolute negative in a single person, and having no stop & cheque upon laws too hastily passed" (Pendleton). Pendleton believes that the Constitution is well constructed enough to stand without any further reforms because of the checks and balances system.

The document also reveals how the Constitution is stronger than the Articles of Confederation. In Edmund Pendleton's letter to James Madison, Pendleton states that even if the Constitution is imperfect, it is still acceptable that the Constitutional convention met because the Articles of Confederation had the Union in an awful state. According to John N. Murrin et al. in Liberty, Equality Power: A History of the American People, the Federalists, which were supporters of the Constitution, "were willing to risk destroying the Union in order to save and strengthen it" (261). Pendleton's letter to Madison is a window into the...

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