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The CONSTITUTION (context and process)

Two of the most important participants in the constitution-making process were James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. . In 1776 Madison was elected to the Virginia state convention, where he made his first remarka le contri ution to the vernacular of the !merican constitutional law " suggesting that the phrase #toleration of religion$ e given a positive turn " eing changed to #the free e%ercise of religion$, an improvement with several conse&uences. 'oth Madison and (amilton made great efforts to reform the e%isting )onfederation, especiall" in finance, ut their efforts failed. In this respect, Madison worked out a three-point reform plan, in which he introduced the concept of popular elections for the first time. Madison who determined the )onvention*s agenda " su +ecting to it the Virginia Plan. (is innovative idea was that the national government, he said, ought to operate directl" on the people ,rather than through the mediating agenc" of the states-, and that it ought to receive authorit" directl" from the people ,rather than from the states-. In other words, the people, whom he proudl" called #.e the people$, delegated authorit" oth to the national government and to the states, there " giving it the power to act independentl" in its own sphere, as well as imposing restrictions on the actions of the states. The !mericans consider this innovation as the second great innovation from the /eclaration of Independence. Madison further proposed that the limiting power should e e%ercised " a federal power of veto on state laws. The principle was, however, accepted and limitations on the power of the states imposed " the federal )onstitution have een accepted as a fundamental principle of the federal s"stem. The )onstitution-making process generated heated de ates and gave rise to two opposing parties0 the federalists on the one hand who wanted a centralised power almost on the lines of 1uropean monarchies, and the anti-federalists on the other, claiming that a strong government would soon fall into the hands of interest-groups who would eventuall" oppress the people. Madison is remem ered as the father of the !merican )onstitution, as roadl" speaking, the Virginia 2lan proposed " him was finall" adopted. !t the same time the audacious (amilton could not pull through his plan of uilding up a strong central government on 1uropean lines. (owever, the disputes etween the two opposing parties were settled in man" compromises, amongst which three were of particular relevance. The first referred to the legislat re. This compromise gave the (ouse of 3epresentatives, directl" elected " popular votes in localities, the control of mone" 'ills, and a 4enate, particularl" charged with foreign polic" and other matters, to represent the states, with two senators for each state, chosen " the individual legislatures. The second compromise regarded the knott" pro lem of sla!er". 5irst, slaver" was not condemned, second, the slave states were given the e%tra power of counting the slaves as voters on the asis of the three-fifths rule, according to which each slave would count as three-fifths of a freeman. 5urthermore, the words 6slave*, and 6slaver"* were omitted from the document, as such a legal document could not encourage the idea of propert" in men. The third compromise was that over the office of presidenc" and its election. !lthough man" other nations attempted in various wa"s to uild a similar federac", some of them were less successful, ut all in all, the" were too proud to admit how good an e%ample of federac" did the 74 provide to the rest of the world, more than 899 "ears ago. Indeed, what the 17 is seeking to accomplish is a federal structure ver" much like that of the 74, ut the 1uropean )onstitution-makers are too proud to look ack at the successful !merican precedent and draw their inspiration from it. The introduction of the rule of ma+orit", as opposed to unanimit", represented another step forward, showing the federalists* determination to create a forceful government. 5urthermore, the s"stem permitted a speed" action. The federalists supported the risk" ratification process hoping that the 'ig 5our ,Virginia, Massachusetts, :ew ;ork, and 2enns"lvania- would ratif" it. It was an

enormous risk, which the federalists took. !n e&uall" great risk was that of insisting on popular ratification. 1ventuall", their plans were all fulfilled. The meetings took place Independence Hall in #hiladelphia, 2enns"lvania. The Constit tional Con!ention was called in order to make revisions to the Articles o$ Con$ederation. <eorge .ashington was immediatel" named the )onvention=s president. This Articles had een shown since their adoption to e ver" weak. It was soon decided that instead of revising the articles, an entirel" new government needed to e created for the 7nited 4tates. ! proposal was adopted on Ma" >9th that stated in part, ?...that a national government ought to e esta lished consisting of a supreme @egislative, 1%ecutive, and Audiciar".? .ith this proposal, writing egan on a new constitution. A % ndle o$ Compromises& The )onstitution was created through man" compromises. The <reat )ompromise solved how representation should e determined in )ongress " com ining the Virginia 2lan which called for representation ased on population and the :ew Aerse" 2lan that called for e&ual representation. The Three-5ifths )ompromise worked out how slaves should e counted for representation counting ever" five slaves as three people in terms of representation. The )ommerce and 4lave Trade )ompromise promised that )ongress would not ta% the e%port of goods from an" state and would not interfere with the slave trade for at least 89 "ears. 'riting the Constit tion& The )onstitution itself was ased on man" great political writings including the 'aron de Montes&uieu=s The 4pirit of the @aw, Aean Aac&ues 3ousseau=s 4ocial )ontract, and Aohn @ocke=s Two Treatises of <overnment. Much of the )onstitution also came from what was originall" written in the !rticles of )onfederation along with other state constitutions. !fter the delegates finished working out resolutions, a committee was named to revise and write the )onstitution. <ouverneur Morris was named the head of the committee, ut most of the writing fell to Aames Madison, who has een called the ?5ather of the )onstitution.? Signing the Constit tion0 The )ommittee worked on the )onstitution until 4eptem er 17th when the convention voted to approve the )onstitution. B1 delegates were present. (owever, three refused to sign the proposed )onstitution0 1dmund 3andolph ,who later supported ratification-, 1l ridge <err", and <eorge Mason. The document was sent to the )ongress of the )onfederation which then sent it to the states for ratification. :ine states needed to ratif" it for it to ecome law. /elaware was the first to ratif". The ninth was :ew (ampshire on Aune 81, 17CC. (owever, it wasn=t until Ma" 8D, 17D9 that the last state, 3hode Island, voted to ratif" it.