This week we are going to look at the Constitution of 1797. After reading 2 of the articles by Holton, write
a 3-5 page essay that does the following:
- Summarize Holton�s argument for why the constitution was written.
- Analyze the argument. Where do you think it is strong? Where do you think it is weak? Why do you feel
it is either weak or strong?
In this essay, be sure to make reference to Holton�s arguments and to address them specifically.
Constitution of 1797
Woody Holton argues that the average Americans were the very true creators of the
constitution that is present today. Holton begins by providing an account of what people know
about the challenges people knew when formulating the first constitution of the United States.
The average Americans had an impact on the framers of the constitution. In fact they forced the
framers to revise the constitution to become better. This is the document used today. The
document that was put forth and revised after average Americans intervened. The framers had
initially met in 1797 in Philadelphia to formulate with a constitution. Their main aim was to
ensure that the country never slide again back to the post revolutionary era. They had to shift
gears from the post revolutionary war directly into democracy. The framers of the constitution
were majorly focused on protection of civil liberties and nothing else. This is the main reason as
to why majority of the farmers so a need to revise the constitution. To the farmers, they were
deeply concerned that middling Americans had very the time expressed a lot influence of
national policies and state (Estes and Woody 837)The framers were only successful in
implementing and curtailing citizen rights and liberties. Their main aim for formulating the
Constitution was only to protect the freedoms of people and civil liberties.
Abraham Lincoln and the rest of the crew who formulated the Constitution wanted
America to remain a nation that was respected among other nations. The problem was that the
United States were notorious in the preceding years and more especially in 1978. The United
States at this point had failed to pay the debts incurred in war to the involved parties. The
wartime loans were supposed to be repaid to France. However, a strength that pushed it was the
significant structural flaws kept the state from paying this loan. The United States commonly
known as the Confederation Congress required the permission of all the nine states before
settling any debt. However, during the period between 1786 and 1787 when farmers fought
against the states, no delegation was present to represent the interest of the nine states, which
served as an advantage. This became a key point of departure from the initial thinking.
Holton argues that there were numerous concerns regarding the weak Congress.
However, more concerns were being vetted out on the weak government. The founders of United
States had a grave concern for democratic state legislature and decided to solve the money
problem by printing money to pay away all the debts. Most federalist especially those who
framed the Constitution would argue that this was a lazy way of luxury living people to cheat
most of the creditors (Estes and Woody 837). The state and all its machineries never accepted
this form of paying away loans instead opting to ensure that people paid more direct taxes to the
government. They even went forth to introduce poll tax paid by all adults. Anyone who failed to
pay the direct taxes would have their land taken away from them and spend time in prison. This
was what the famers were against because they only had land, they believed investing in land
was much better than paying taxes and as a consequence most resisted paying any form of tax.
Later in several states started printing currencies (Beard 23).The loans would then be repaid in
form of taxes by individual states. Holton a major argument was that the main aim of
formulating the constitution was to ensure that America became a better place to invest.
Holton strongest argument is how the confederation states is depicted. Holton focuses on
the weakness of the confederation state to pay its taxes to show how the farmers were right in
agitating for their rights in the country and more specifically how constitutional reforms would
have been important for the country. The weakness of the confederation state makes Holton
argument to be strong.
Holton’s argument is weak in certain aspects. A look at what people wanted necessitates
change. Holton argues that federalists managed to manipulate all state convections and asked all
those who doubted the government to accept since they would lower taxes. However, a close
look at the state ratification debates suggests a different view. Most of the delegates present in
these states saw the undemocratic clauses and provisions present in the current constitution. All
of them wanted to be part of a nation that could be respectable and at the same time pay all of its
bills and defend interests in such a way that numerous confederations had failed to do in the past
(Estes and Woody 837). Many people voted for the new ratification hoping that such clause
would finally be removed from the constitution.
The second major weakness is failure of Holton argument to establish the presence of the
Bill of rights as another major factor determining the constitution. Five states ratified the
convention but only one had formulated the Bill of Rights. The remaining five states asked all
members of the legislature to levy direct taxes before federal governments would come in and
reign on them. Secondly, there was a second issue revolving around adequate representation with
no taxes. Some states that were adequately represented never in any way paid any form of tax.
They were mostly protected by the Bill of Rights. To overcome such mentalities it became
necessary to have in place a Bill of Rights to be followed by all people. This as well provides a
better explanation on why the constitution was enacted.
Beard, Charles A. An economic interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. Simon
and Schuster, 2012. Print
Estes, Todd, and Woody Holton. “Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution.”
(2008): 836-839. Print