The requirements for an economic interpretation of the formation and adoption of the Constitution may be stated in a hypothetical proposition which, although it cannot be verified absolutely from ascertainable data, will at once illustrate the problem and furnish a guide to research and generalization.It will be admitted without controversy that the Constitution was the creation of a certain number of men, and it was opposed by a certain number of men.The most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property.
The requirements for an economic interpretation of the formation and adoption of the Constitution may be stated in a hypothetical proposition which, although it cannot be verified absolutely from ascertainable data, will at once illustrate the problem and furnish a guide to research and generalization.It will be admitted without controversy that the Constitution was the creation of a certain number of men, and it was opposed by a certain number of men.The most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property.Tags: Medical Receptionist Cover Letter AustraliaArgumentative Essays Against AbortionEssay On Conservation Of Historical MonumentsGraphic Design EssayMughal History Research PapersEnding Essay Words
Different degrees and kinds of property inevitably exist in modern society; party doctrines and “principles” originate in the sentiments and views which the possession of various kinds of property creates in the minds of the possessors; class and group divisions based on property lie at the basis of modern government; and politics and constitutional law are inevitably a reflex of these contending interests.
Those who are inclined to repudiate the hypothesis of economic determinism as a European importation must, therefore, revise their views, on learning that one of the earliest, and certainly one of the clearest, statements of it came from a profound student of politics who sat in the Convention that framed our fundamental law.
In this landmark book, Beard, a professor of history at Columbia University, argued that the Constitution was “an economic document drawn with superb skill by men whose property interests were immediately at stake.” The Founders, then, rather than being patriots, wise lawmakers, or thoughtful students of government, were primarily in the Constitution-writing business to protect their “property interests.” The Founders’ economic motives, according to Beard, were straightforward—they were owed money from their support of the Revolution, and those “public securities” (receipts for loans made to support American independence) were not being repaid under the weak Articles of Confederation. More centralization of power was needed—especially in the executive branch—to change society through needed reforms, such as the progressive income tax.
A stronger governing document was needed to ease the transfer of tax dollars from ordinary citizens into the pockets of the more affluent Founders. Beard made his reputation with his book and went on to an illustrious career: He authored or coauthored 49 books that had sold more than 11 million copies by 1952.
This assault on the Founders, subtle at first, began in earnest almost 100 years ago. It was a product of self-interest that should be interpreted loosely and changed as the Progressives saw fit.
The first historian to challenge the motives of the Founders was Charles Beard in (1913). The constitutional separation of powers, for example, according to Woodrow Wilson—a friend of Beard’s and a fellow Ph. in history—was a “grievous mistake” by the Founders.
Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination, A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views.
The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit and party of faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.” Here we have a masterly statement of the theory of economic determinism in politics.
The Constitution was ratified by a vote of probably not more than one-sixth of the adult males.
It is questionable whether a majority of the voters participating in the elections for the state conventions in New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Virginia, and South Carolina, actually approved the ratification of the Constitution.