In a debate over whether or not the founding fathers were democratic reformers?

Partially because I feel strongly that the founding fathers had the correct intentions in mind, and partially because I am an overconfident asshole who likes to argue, I volunteered to be a leader of a class wide debate (class wide meaning the entire lecture hall of like 200 people).

I want to defend the fathers in the fact that they had the countries best intentions in mind when drafting the constitution, and did so with the support of the entire nation.

The other side will be trying to defend a statement that the founding fathers had their own personal interests in mind when drafting the constitution and wrote it in such a way that benefited only the rich (in that our FF's were wealthy in slaves and land and money etc.)

Basically I am the defense of the viewpoint that Charles Beard put forth.

While I have a document of like 16 pages in length that was provided to pull facts from, the article is clearly biased towards the later viewpoint all of the way through, and has very little support of my side. So I ask you for some help in some basis arguments that I could use during the debate in order to support our founding fathers. Come on, be a good American and support what has kept us on top for the passed 235 years. Thanks for any help


I think what you are saying holds water, however, you took his words out of the context of the time period in which they were said. At this time, non land owning men, slaves, and women (the majority) had no investment in the new government and thus had nothing to loose if it failed. It would be the equivalent of letting Englishmen vote for our representatives today. They have nothing that requires protection from the government, and thus their only interests would either be malicious, or self serving (and thus removing the value invested in order to benefit themselves). Madison's point in his statement was that the opulent were the ones that needed the protection anyways. The non land owning men were dependent on their landlord for the land, the slaves were dependent on their masters for food and shelter, and the women were dependent on their husbands for everything. Much like the reason we don't let children vote, and we technically should allow no dependents, or anyone else not inves

5 Answers

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    In their day, the framers had to make arguments that did not frighten the monied establishment (i.e. the Federalist Papers)

    But it is clear from reading the works of some major contributors to the convention that the wealthy were not their only concern:

    "if my Countrymen should ever wish for the Honour of having among them a Gentry enormously wealthy, let them sell their Farms and pay rack'd Rents; the Scale of the Landlords will rise as that of the Tenants is depress'd who will soon become poor, tattered, dirty, and abject in Spirit. Had I never been in the American Colonies, but was to form my Judgment of Civil Society by what I have lately seen [in Ireland and Scotland], I should never advise a Nation of Savages to admit of Civilisation: For I assure you, that in the Possession and Enjoyment of the various Comforts of Life, compar'd to these People every Indian is a Gentleman: And the Effect of this kind of Civil Society seems only to be, the depressing Multitudes below the Savage State that a few may be rais'd above it"

    -- Benjamin Franklin; from letter to Joshua Babcock (Jan. 13. 1772)

    "In every political society, parties are unavoidable. A difference of interests, real or supposed, is the most natural and fruitful source of them. The great object should be to combat the evil: 1. By establishing a political equality among all; 2. By witholding unnecessary opportunities from a few to increase the inequality of property by an immoderate, and especially an unmerited, accumulation of riches; 3. By the silent operation of laws which, without violating the rights of property, reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity and raise extreme indigence towards a state of comfort; 4. By abstaining from measures which operate differently on different interests, and particularly such as favor one interest at the expense of another; 5. By making one party a check on the other so far as the existence of parties cannot be prevented nor their views accommodated. If this is not the language of reason, it is that of republicanism."

    -- James Madison; from 'Parties' (1792)

    as well, before the federal constitution, many states had bills of rights which stated:

    "That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people, nation or community; and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single man, family, or soft of men, who are a part only of that community, And that the community hath an indubitable, unalienable and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish government in such manner as shall be by that community judged most conducive to the public weal."

    -- Constitution of Pennsylvania (1776)


    "Government is instituted for the common good, for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people, and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government, and to reform, alter, or totally change the same when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it."

    -- Constitution of Massachusetts (1780)

    Virginia, Vermont, and New Hampshire, had some restatement of this paragraph as well

    hope this helps

  • Peter
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    You should read the constitutional convention debates transcripts and pay particular attention to the words of the main framer, James Madison. He warned in the constitutional convention debates that the new government they were constructing has to be designed in such a way to ward off the unjustice that would come from a functioning democracy. Quoting him "it would have to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation with a variety of devices to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.". Those permanent interests are those of the opulent minority, who have to be protected against the majority. Meaning that democracy has to be a very limited system. That remained the guiding principle from the framing of the constitution up until today, not only here but in the forms of democracy that the US has been willing to tolerate elsewhere. It's easy to be misled by the public rhetoric, in which these ideas are generally framed. So in the Federalist Papers, which people read, which were of course written for a public, kind of a propaganda document, the federalist papers do discuss the rights of minorities and the need to protect their rights. but the discussion is framed in rather abstract and general terms. However, Madison made it quite clear that he had a particular minority in mind - the opulent, who have to be protected against the majority

  • gosman
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    the worldwide had no longer seen a city-state or usa ruled by using a vote casting inhabitants on the grounds that historical Greece and the Roman Republic which ended ~ 27 BC with the 1st Roman emperor Augustus Caesar. So, sure - the yankee government shaped by using the founding fathers exchange right into a reformation of the democratic suited. The argument against early usa being a real democracy is that the vote exchange into in straight forward terms given to adult males - - white adult males in specific. yet - the preliminary historical Athenian democracy from ~ 500 BC exchange into additionally a device proscribing the vote to male voters. women in Athens might desire to no longer vote - nor might desire to slaves or extraterrestrial beings (those from exterior Athens who weren't voters). If Abigail Adams had had her way - if she have been waiting to impact the founding fathers (which incorporate her husband John Adams) to allow women to vote - there might have been some thing nearer to authentic democratic reform.

  • 9 years ago

    some quality's that our founding fathers had that no politician of today have displayed are Passion, for honestly wanting whats best for this country, honesty, and the conviction of staying true to their promises. Today, whether it be republicans or Democrats. they just want whats best to line their pockets.

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    They must have been Democratic because America wasn't destroyed.

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