Friday, April 23, 2010

Constitutional Coup d'État

"The Constitution looked fairly good on paper, but it was not a popular document; people were suspicious of it, and suspicious of the enabling legislation that was being erected upon it," begins Albert Jay Nock in this excerpt from 1926 — Liberty vs. the Constitution: The Early Struggle.

Mr. Nock notes that "the old Articles of Confederation, to which the states had subscribed in good faith as a working agreement, made all due provision for their own amendment; and now these men had ignored these provisions, simply putting the Articles of Confederation in the wastebasket and bringing forth an entirely new document of their own devising."

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Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Nock's perspective is interesting here. The Constitutional Convention was originally convened to amend the Articles, not replace them, but the Convention soon found that the Articles could not be amended in accord with the mandate given to the Convention. The task of the Convention was to amend the Articles to provide for a stronger general government -- there was widespread agreement that the federal government under the Articles was simply too weak. The mechanisms of the Articles, however, were by their very nature incapable of providing for a general government that was strong enough to defend the Union and guarantee commerce between the states.

That's why folks like Hamilton and Madison were in agreement about the need and the structure of the new Constitution once it was drafted. And why there was such overwhelming uniformity among the main Founders (Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Ames, Marshall, Wilson, Iredell, etc.) in favor of the Constitution. It was only a few cranky (and southern) outliers who were opposed.

12:40 AM  
Anonymous mcmlxix said...

it's also true that our current constitution makes all due provision for its amendment, put in practice it has succumb to a creeping change due to frequently being ignored.

1:53 AM  

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