John Roche - The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action Argued that the Constitutional Convention was rooted in democratic politics. The Constitution was the product of a reform caucus in action (goals and compromises). The primary goal was to create a document that would win the popular vote. Differences in opinion between delegates were not ideological but structural (rural v. urban, state v. federal, etc.) Both sides believed in creating a Constitution. IDs Virginia Plan - Gave representation proportionate to state population. New Jersey Plan - Gave equal representation to all the states. Great Compromise (Connecticut Plan) - Settled on one House with proportionate representation and one Senate with equal representation, bridging the gap between the two sides and allowing the Constitution to be ratified. The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action, John Roche Article discusses the US Constitutional Convention… Roche thesis: “My concern is with the further position that not only were [the founding fathers] revolutionaries, but also they were democrats. Indeed, in my view, there is one fundamental truth about the Founding Fathers that every generation of Zeitgeisters has done its best to obscure: they were first and foremost superb democratic politicians”(799). The founding fathers were politicians whose actions were governed by one specific goal—national acceptance of the constitution. Do not forget that it was designed by a democratic elite. Author continues to explore various struggles and debates amongst the constitutional inventors. Each state had certain needs they wanted satisfied. Delegates were named to attend the Constitutional Convention. Differences in opinion amongst delegates were not ideological, but structural.- Natural division between state and federal rights groups, though both sides stood for the same general agenda. The Virginia Plan (also known as Randolph Plan): Drafted by James Madison, this plan imagined a strong unitary national government dominant over the states. The lower house of the national legislature was to be elected directly by the people of the states with membership proportional to population, a la the current House. The upper house was to be selected by the lower and the two chambers would elect the executive and choose the judges. Met criticism from small states knowing MA, VA, and PA could dominate government. The New Jersey Plan: Led by Paterson and proponents of states-rights, this proposal gave equal representation to states, even hinting at redrawing state boundaries. Exemplified political reality that the Constitution had to be ratified by all states. Nothing really came of it. Connecticut (Great) Compromise: Compromise between the Virginia and New Jersey Plan. Provisions:
Roche’s thesis is that the Founding Fathers were essentially good people and that the framing of the constitution was a fairly democratic process that equally addressed state, economical, and political interests. He says that we should give them credit for the great job that they did. The Philadelphia Convention had to work very hard in order to make everyone happy. They had to do their best to achieve political equality for all the citizens while still addressing all the delicate issues necessary. He goes on to say that although the framers themselves were an elite class of people, they still had the interests of the people at heart. They knew that the Articles of Confederation were too weak and a stronger type of government was needed. They also had to keep all of the states happy. In order to get the states to ratify the constitution, they had to do things to keep them all happy. This was especially hard because many things that one state wanted, another was against.
Roche argues that their greatest success was convincing the men of the states that change was crucial for the success of the nation. The main assets of the framers in convincing the states were that they had George Washington on their side and that they had many of the greatest intellectuals of the time, including Jefferson and Adams. He also thought that Federalism was vital to the success of the state ratifications. He called Hamilton and Madison “inspired propagandists.”I agree with Roche that the framers did have the best interest of the people at heart. They were the smartest men of the time period, and they could see the Articles of Confederation were a failure and that the United States could not last with them.
They gathered together and created a document. Although any form of government will have its’ flaws, they did their best to create a fair and equal government, whose interest was to protect its’ citizens rights. I also agree that the framers had to do some convincing in order to get the states to ratify. A lot of what he calls propaganda was probably more like lies, but I still think that they were doing what was best for the country. Sometimes it is necessary for the intellectually elite to take control and make changes that are necessary for the success of a group or nation, even if the regular citizens do not necessarily see the changes as necessary.
Woll, Peter. American Government: Readings and Cases. 16th ed.