American Democracy & the U.S. Term Paper

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Thus, the members of the Convention assumed that, although power was a necessary evil, it was also dangerous, especially when provided to the wrong person who might take advantage of this power for his own gain. In essence, the members attempted to compose a constitution that would insure effective power for the government when needed but that would also place reliable checks and safeguards on the use of that power. Once again, this aim can be traced back to Montesquieu's essay in which he states "to prevent the abuse of power, 'tis necessary that by the very disposition of things (that) power should be checked... " (Leone 37).

But the members were also much too experienced in the ways of politics to take for granted that conscientious and moral men would always be elected to office. To them, human nature was universally fallible and only built-in safeguards could be counted on. James Madison had a few choice words to say concerning this situation -- "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition (which) may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government" (Leone 167). With this observation, it is clear that Madison feared that the time might come when the majority of Americans, owning no property of any kind, might wish to destroy the rights of property and public liberty. For this reason, at least in Madison's mind, the poor must be controlled. Yet even wealthy Americans were forced to acknowledge that "wealth tends to corrupt the mind and that rich men as well as poor would use power to their own advantage if given the opportunity" (Leone 231). Certainly, because of these viewpoints, the "Founding Fathers" were not democrats, due to the fact that the Democratic Party was not founded until the early years of the 19th century. Essentially, the "Founding Fathers" were democratic constitutionalists, meaning that they adhered to the principles in the Constitution regardless of their individual political views. Of course, there were Tories and Whigs in England whose views did eventually filter into the colonies and create separate political parties.

In today's world, the U.S. Constitution has come under attack, especially when attempting to unravel exactly what the framers had in mind concerning certain aspects of the document. Unfortunately, only an incomplete record of what the participants said at the 1787 Convention exist, and when it was ratified by the states, it is impossible to determine what the framers thought they were adopting. In short, one cannot attempt to adhere to the original intent of the framers because we do not know what they truly intended in every circumstance.

The Constitution that finally emerged from the Convention of 1787 fully provided for a system in which all Americans, regardless of class or social standing, could be represented. And in the present world, the aims of the U.S. Constitution and the principles of American democracy appear to be spreading, just like the democratic ideals of the ancient Greeks that so long ago spread across the globe and created new systems of government for all concerned.

Bibliography

Barzun, Jacques. From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.

The Constitution: An Enduring Document." U.S. Constitution: Drafting the Constitution. Internet. 2005. Accessed February 6, 2005. http://www.usconstitution.com/DraftingtheConstitution.htm.

Leone, Bruno, Ed. The American Revolution: Opposing…

Sources Used in Document:

Bibliography

Barzun, Jacques. From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.

The Constitution: An Enduring Document." U.S. Constitution: Drafting the Constitution. Internet. 2005. Accessed February 6, 2005. http://www.usconstitution.com/DraftingtheConstitution.htm.

Leone, Bruno, Ed. The American Revolution: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1992.

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