DMPQ- What were the factors that worked in the drafting of the American Constitution? Do you agree the US constitution being an Economic Document?

. In May 1787, fifty‐five delegates from twelve of the thirteen states met in Philadelphia. Among them were George Washington (chosen as the chair), Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. As a group, the delegates were men in their thirties and forties, many were lawyers, and most had served in Congress. Although the stated purpose of the Convention was to “revise” the Articles of Confederation, the participants quickly moved to develop a new structure of government.

The early constitutional debates focused on a proposal submitted by James Madison that became known as the Virginia plan, or “ large‐state” plan. It called for a bicameral legislature empowered to make laws and levy taxes with the representation in both houses based on population.

Opposition to Madison’s proposal developed immediately.. The New Jersey plan, or “ small‐state” plan, kept the one‐house legislature of the Confederation Congress but expanded its powers to include raising revenue and regulating commerce. The members were chosen by the state legislatures and each state was given one vote. A multi‐person executive elected by the legislature was proposed.

The New Jersey Plan was rejected, but the apportionment of representation in Congress continued to divide the Constitutional Convention. The large states wanted proportional representation (based on population), and the small states demanded equal representation (one state, one vote).

In 1913, Charles A. Beard consolidated various scholarly views of the Constitution and, in the process, offered what became identified as “the” economic interpretation of the Constitution. Beard argued that the formation of the Constitution was a conflict based upon competing economic interests – interests of both the proponents and opponents. In his view, the Federalists, the founders who supported a strong, centralized government and favored the Constitution during its drafting and ratification, were individuals whose primary economic interests were tied to personal property. They were mainly merchants, shippers, bankers, speculators, and private and public securities holders, according to Beard.

Robert E. Brown’s (1956) criticizes Beard’s views that eighteenth-century America was not very democratic, that the wealthy were strong supporters of the Constitution, and that those without personal property generally opposed the Constitution. Brown examines the support for the Constitution among various economic and social classes, the democratic nature of the nation, and the franchise within the states in eighteenth-century America. He maintains that Beard was plain wrong, eighteenth-century America was democratic, the franchise was common, and there was widespread support for the Constitution.

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