The Evolution Of The U.S. Constitution, 1781 – 1789

2109 words - 8 pages

Politics began to play a bigger role in the lives of American colonists during the beginning of a growing country. After the Declaration of Independence was written in 1776, the country was challenged with the problem of creating a process for governing the states. The Patriots were concerned about forming a centralized Parliament, like in Britain, because power was abused by the wealthy. Initially, the vision was to give states governing authority and leave minimal power to a national Union. But as the years passed and conflicts arose, there was a need to create a national government using the U.S Constitution as the blueprint.
The focus of the paper is to learn what led to the formation of the U.S. Constitution. First, it’s important to explore the historical milestones, between 1781 and 1789, which explain how the state and federal governments evolved. Second, it’s essential to understand how these milestones influenced Congress to write the U.S. Constitution.
At the beginning stages of creating a government, Congress asked each state to build a republic which was a “government in which the people elect their own representatives” (Isemann, Amstutz, 11). There were two views on how to design a state republic. First, strong democratic Patriots recommended a unicameral legislature or “one with a single house, whose members were elected by the people” (Lapsansky-Werner, Levy, Roberts, Taylor, 134). A few states, like Pennsylvania and Georgia, agreed to this plan. The other view was to vote in a strong governor and form bicameral legislation which is “a governing body with two houses – a Senate and a House of Representatives” (Isemann, Amstutz, 11). The idea was to have a counterbalance of power with the House represented by common voters, and the Senate represented by the wealthy and well educated gentlemen.
The bicameral legislative concept ran into a number of roadblocks. The main disagreement was deciding who had the right to vote. Democratic Patriots wanted equal rights for all free men, even those who were poor. In most states, conservatives disagreed and felt strongly that poor men should not vote because their vote would “confound and destroy all distinctions and prostrate all ranks to the common level” (Lapsansky, 134). As the debate lingered, most free men qualified to vote because they owned farms, but slaves and women were not given voting rights.
Another debate centered on religious freedom. Most states supported freedom of religion in their constitution, and with time “religious liberty, without the interference of the state, became common from state-to-state with the exception of Massachusetts and Connecticut” (Lapsansky-Werner, Levy, Roberts, Taylor, 135). The religious controversy was aided with the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786 which was written by Thomas Jefferson. This was extremely influential legislation because “it became the forerunner of the first amendment protections for religious...

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