Founding Fathers Fear of Mass Movement Leading to Dangerous Leveling in Society Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

founding fathers and their fear of "dangerous leveling" in the society. It will furthermore explain the problem of equalization of the society and would thus lead to the reduced inequalities of wealth, income, talents and virtues. The paper will highlight the issues as discussed in the book

The Irony of Democracy" by Thomas R. Dye and Harmon Zeigler.

United States of America got its independence on 4 July 1777. The first task for the governing committee was to set up principles on which to govern the country. Thus a committee was set up which was to write down the first constitutional plan of the country. The committee consisted of some of the most prominent men of America, these men were related to every walk of life and were thus aware of the problems being faced by the people of the country i.e. The general population and citizens of the state.

The constitution consisted of just few basic points and was given by just a group of men who wanted to have a written code of principles and ethics of which they as well as future governments should be able to run the country

American Constitution

The American constitution when presented consisted of only seven articles; some of the articles had further clauses. The constitution was so small that I could be read in half and hour. Through the years changes have been made into the original constitution and the present constitution consists of 27 amendments. The constitution begins with the preamble which states that:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America"

Thus the constitution states various articles each dealing with different aspects of a citizen's life. The founding fathers prepared a draft that covered all aspects of human life and gave equal rights and opportunities to all the citizens of the country. The amendments in the constitution have also been made so as to help in the progress of the country and all the states of the country.

Theories of the Founding Fathers

American constitution in reality as made by just a few common men, who were not even related to politics but were just interested in making a set of laws on principles on the basis of which the country could be ruled. Thomas Jefferson, who later on went to become the President of United States, held one of the most prominent roles in constitution making. Jefferson was believed to be a staunch advocate of equality between all men and women and that no discrimination should be made on the bases of race or sex. The founding fathers were believed to have provided a platform for equality of all mankind. But when we observe the constitution closely we can see some problems in it concerning equality of mankind.

Admirers of Thomas Jefferson have long quoted his statement about black men and women that is inscribed on the Jefferson Memorial: "Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free." But they and the inscription, omit Jefferson's subsequent clause: "Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government." Those who write about the troubling aspects of the Jeffersonian heritage are often criticized as naively applying today's standards to the past. But critics' assessment of Jefferson should not forget the deceptive inscription on the memorial

One of the major problems that were faced by the founding father was that of "Slave holding" But it was expected that slaveholding would be ingrained in the Founders' psychology and outlook, as Jefferson himself recognized in an often-quoted passage.

The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it.... If a parent could find no motive either in his philanthropy or his self-love, for restraining the intemperance of passion towards his slave, it should always be a sufficient one that his child is present. But generally it is not sufficient. The parent storms, the child looks on, catches the lineaments of wrath, puts on the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves, gives a loose to the worst of passions, and thus nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities. The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and morals undefined by such circumstances." (Thomas Jefferson)

Slaveholding was a common practice during those days. As slaveholders, George Washington, James Madison, Patrick Henry, John Marshall, and James Monroe, were no less exception than Jefferson, they too belonged to the same category of men who were slaveholders. Not only did a slaveholder draft the Declaration but a slaveholder -- Madison - also drafted the Bill of Rights and was the principal author of the Constitution. Americans elected slaveholders, to the presidency for thirty-two of the first thirty-six years of that office's history. Indeed, it is impossible to understand how the Founders conceived of liberty, equality, and self-government without reference to slavery, which deeply and disturbingly embedded itself in their consciousness. Jefferson first proposed that the Great Seal of the new country depict "the children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day and a pillar by night" (this was the same imagery, ironically, that black Americans applied to their own plight); he accepted Franklin's alternative of Moses causing the waters to cover the Pharaoh and his chariots as they pursued their slaves. This made the analogy between white Americans and escaped slaves even clearer. Furthermore, racism, as the historian Edmund Morgan argues, "became an essential, if unacknowledged, ingredient of [America's] republican ideology." The equality and unity of white Americans of different ethnic and religious backgrounds and classes were built largely on a common hatred and fear of black Americans.

Even Abraham Lincoln had a dream for the United States that was at once democratic and tragically limited. It was to be a place where "white men may find a home... An outlet for free white people everywhere, the world over in which Hans and Baptists and Patrick.. may.. better their conditions in life." An America that had originally thrown up a host of political and social distinctions based on birth and property became a far more open and free society for all those above the racial line. The same northern state constitutions that restricted black suffrage regardless of property qualifications expanded the suffrage to include property less whites.

Thomas Jefferson diverged from the mainstream in stating a belief in the intrinsic intellectual inferiority of blacks, as most authors correctly argue, he was much more in line with contemporary thought in his fear of blacks as alien and dangerous. To Jefferson, blacks were crudely sexual creatures, and he presented as a fact, requiring no evidence or support, their sexual preference for whites, which was as great as that of "the for the black woman over those of his own species." Such fears, which led Jefferson to argue that the freed slave had to be literally removed beyond the reach of mixture or he would soon be staining the blood of his master, seem to have formed the core of the prejudice against blacks shared by nearly all white Americans. Thus, Jefferson wanted the free slaved to be kept separated from the white society so that they could not influence the people. He wanted a white society in which the black had no role or freedom to do anything and perform any acts.

As early as 1790 George Washington's dependent Ferdinando Fairfax expressed what would prove to be the great obstacle in the minds of many whites to the liberation of African-Americans and, later, to granting them full civil rights. Fairfax, who wrote the first detailed plan for the liberation and immigration of slaves, argued for the latter measure on the grounds that:

There is something very repugnant to the general feelings even in the thought of their being allowed that free intercourse, and the privilege of intermarriage with the white inhabitants, which the other freemen of our country enjoy.... And as a proof, where is the man of all those who have liberated their slaves, who would marry a son or a daughter to one of them? And if he would not, who would? Prejudices, sentiments, or whatever they may be called, would be found to operate so powerfully as to be insurmountable."

Thus, Fairfax wanted to provide the blacks with freedom and equality so as to let them be able to intermingle in the society and be provided with civil and fundamental rights which are the right of every citizen…

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