There are a lot of questions one can ask when talking about the birth of the USA. Questions such as “who is the father of the constitution?” or “how was slavery in the constitution dealt with?” In order to properly answer these questions and many more, one should do some serious research and take the time to understand why the political and social climate at the time was the way it was. Some questions might be harder to answer than others, but they are all worth asking if it leads to a better understanding of the American political system and the way it was shaped over the years.
Who Is the Father of Our Constitution?
Any nation has a defining moment in its history that will shape it for the years to come. That defining moment was for the USA the 1774 Continental Congress. Although technically still just 13 colonies and not a unitary country, the Continental Congress was the moment that the United States were born. And as any newly born country, it needed a birth certificate. Thus, the Declaration of Independence was written in 1776 and distributed all over the colonies. But it wasn’t going to be that simple to break away from an empire that ruled a quarter of the globe. So the Founding Fathers went to war.
The Revolutionary War would see the newly formed country push back British rule and establish itself as a self-governing country. But a country needs laws and regulations by which to organize itself. And so, on March 1, 1781 the Articles of Confederation were adopted and they served as the first American Constitution. So, when asking who is the father of the constitution, one should consider the Continental Congress as the one that gave us our first Constitution.
But as it happens with many documents on their first draft, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Unity had some serious flaws to them. One of the biggest ones was that they didn’t allow Congress to serve as a national Government. It could not:
- establish a single national currency
- collect taxes in order to cover operating costs
- regulate trade by establishing tariffs and signing treaties
- enforce its laws
- had no national judicial system
In 1787 the Constitutional Convention was formed in order to amend the Articles, but the members of said Convention quickly realized that that was not an easy thing to do. So the best option was to come up with a new Constitution altogether. This is when James Madison, who is the father of the constitution came into the picture. He had a pivotal role in drafting it and getting it ratified in the 9 states needed to make t officially the founding document of the United States of America’s new Government.
Several well-known men of our Nation’s founding participated in the Constitutional Convention of 1871. George Washington presided over Convention, but did not otherwise contribute to text. But, who is the father of the constitution? James Madison is recognized as the Father. He wrote the document that provided the model for the Constitution.
In addition to writing the Constitution, he also wrote the Bill of Rights. This is the first 10 amendments of the Constitution, which list the fundamental human rights that form the basis for all the other deriving amendments. The Bill of Rights was written and adopted on December 15, 1791.
How Is Slavery in The Constitution Represented?
Slavery has almost always been a focal point of discussion in the country when it comes to Constitution and constitutional rights. The way slavery in the constitution is portrayed and when and how exactly was it eliminated remain some of the most ardently discussed topics by historians and statesmen alike. Mostly because the Founding Fathers didn’t eliminate slavery from the Constitution from the get go. In order to understand their arguments, one should firstly understand the socio-economical climate of the time. Slavery was very real back in the 18th century, and it wasn’t something new either. Many civilizations before the USA was even an idea practiced it in order to have access to cheap workforce. Romans did it 2000 before by enslaving the people of conquered tribes.
In the USA, slavery was a bit different. The slaves used usually came from African countries via slave trader boats and were sold at markets in an auction format. Most slaves were sold to southern plantation owners. Because there was no modern farming equipment like today, a massive work-force was needed in order to tend to the huge estates and the large tobacco and cotton fields. That meant that southern states representatives wanted to see that slavery in the constitution is as protected as any other right. Plantation owners had no inclination of renouncing their slaves.
How the US Dealt with Slavery in The Constitution?
Although it was basically protected by the lack of a specific law against it, slavery was eventually abolished. It took Abraham Lincoln several years of armed conflict in order to pass the Emancipation Proclamation and make people understand its importance. When he finally did it in 1862, it abolished the institution of slavery across the country. In response to that, Congress adopted the 13th Amendment, in 1865, making slavery and forced servitude illegal and only acceptable as a form of punishment for a crime.
Although the proclamation and the amendment made slavery illegal in the country and punishable if practiced, some land owners didn’t accept that their slaves were now free and able to leave their plantations. This meant that they needed to fight for their property, and that is exactly what they did. The American Civil War and the Reconstruction that followed are two of the bleakest moments in America’s history. A lot of blood was shed in order for all the people living in the same country to be able to enjoy the same freedoms and be seen as equals.
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