The History Book Club discussion

365 views
UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION > THE CONSTITUTION

Comments (showing 1-50 of 164) (164 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1 3 4

message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 23, 2009 08:51AM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
This is a discussion thread for discussion of The Constitution of the United States. This is not a non spoiler thread and all members are invited to post and make comments on any aspect of this document for purposes of discussion.

The following url contains the document itself.

http://www.usconstitution.net/const.h...

http://www.billofrights.com/constitut...

THE CHARTERS OF FREEDOM:

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/char...



message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 23, 2009 09:01AM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
SYLLABUS FOR DISCUSSION OF THE CONSTITUTION:

(AMENDMENTS AND BILL OF RIGHTS DISCUSSED ON OTHER THREADS)

Preamble - August 2 - August 8 (2009)

Article I - August 9 - August 22

Article II - August 23 - August 29

Article III - August 30 - September 5

Article IV - September 6 - September 12

Article V - September 13 - September 19

Article VI - September 20 - September 26

Article VII - September 27 - October 3rd



message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Yes, Chris you are reading my mind; I do plan to add the Federalist Papers once we get going. I am glad that you like this theme; I think it is a worthwhile one to pursue; lately it seems there are so many controversies arising concerning constitutional law.


message 4: by Sid (new)

Sid (SidThomson) | 26 comments this sounds very interesting. do we also have a legal mind to join our discussion as well? I would love to hear perspective from different backgrounds and specialities. If not, can we find a guest speaker to join in? ...just kidding. kind of...
I look forward to it.


message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Well we do have some legal minds on the board. If there are some folks that you think we should invite; send me a note and I will invite them. And this thread can be on going beyond the timeline set as issues come up that we would like to discuss that deal with the constitution and/or constitutional law. I think it will be interesting to hear other peoples' perspectives.


message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 26, 2009 11:24AM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Free Videos but you have to sign up:(for those of you who want to get ahead)

http://www.learner.org/resources/seri...#

Discussion does not begin until August 2nd



message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 26, 2009 11:25AM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
For those of you who want to get ahead:

http://www.archive.org/details/Consti...

http://hancock.constitutioncenter.org...

Discussion does not begin until August 2nd.



message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Apr 22, 2009 12:44PM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
TIMELINE OF THE RATIFICATION OF THE CONSTITUTION:

http://www.ucopenaccess.org/courses/A...

GEORGE WASHINGTON AND HIS INAUGURAL ADDRESS (VIDEO LESSON):

http://www.ucopenaccess.org/courses/A...

INCORPORATION:

This is a pretty good video on unalienable rights and incorporation (explains much of the terminology very, very well:

http://www.ucopenaccess.org/courses/A...




message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 22, 2009 12:07AM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
All,

Here is a book that I found which is free on the internet (google has scanned many old books) - free download as well (originally published in 1890).


The origin and growth of the American Constitution By Hannis Taylor


http://books.google.com/books?id=7S6G...
The Origin and Growth of the American Constitution An Historical Treatise in Which the Documentary Evidence As to the Making of the Entirely New Plan of Federal Government Embodied in the Existing by Hannis Taylor

Note: This was quite a controversial book at its time.


message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONSTITUTION AND ITS INTERPRETATION:

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/supremecourt/...



message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
In starting to discuss the American constitution, I thought I would attach a link to a little quiz; in order for folks to see what they know regarding the constitution and some of its basic premises.

http://school.discoveryeducation.com/...


message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Folks,

Here is the preamble to the Constitution of the United States; what does this mean to you?

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[1:] 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.


message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 16, 2009 10:46AM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Some of the preamble's terms should be highlighted for discussion:

Why did the constitution begin with the words "we the people"?
Why did we want to form "a more perfect Union"? More perfect than what?
How do we intend to establish Justice? For whom?
What is meant by "domestic tranquility"? How did the founding fathers mean to ensure it?
How will the constitution "promote general welfare"?

Some other terms we may want to discuss are:

common defense
blessings of liberty
posterity
ordain and establish

Please feel free to begin with any aspect of the preamble. We are beginning the discussion of the constitution.

PS: We have already discussed the Bill of Rights and the Amendments; but of course those discussions truly are infinite; there are new and different discussions, court cases, legislative news that seem to happen every day that keep these threads front and center. Please feel free to continually add to any and all of these threads. Everyone's input is most welcome.


message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 14, 2009 10:52PM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
The Constitution was written to compensate for what the Articles of Confederation lacked. What were some of the pitfalls of the Articles and what were some of the other needs of the young country which necessitated the new constitution?

We are kicking off the discussion of the Constitution so just jump right into the conversation. Everyone's views are welcome.


message 15: by Liz (last edited Aug 16, 2009 10:29AM) (new)

Liz | 119 comments Why did the constitution begin with the words "we the people"?

This phrase has been running through my head since Bentley first made the posting of the preamble. I had never really thought of all the possible interpretations of that phrase . . .clearly the 'we' was not as inclusive as now . . . we the (chosen) people? Chosen by whom? Is it a collective we encompassing all freemen or simply those who signed the Constitution . . .

I'm off to go through Bentley's links. Hopefully they will offer opinions on the interpretation.


message 16: by Liz (new)

Liz | 119 comments Liz wrote: "we the (chosen) people? Chosen by whom? "

Opps, I realize that this could be taken literally rather figuratively. I have been reading
The Wordy Shipmates which makes much of Massachusetts Bay Colonists belief that they were chosen by God. And, hence, superior to all others . . .


message 17: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Liz wrote: "Why did the constitution begin with the words "we the people"?

This phrase has been running through my head since Bentley first made the posting of the preamble. I had never really thought of all..."


Yes, "we the people" can mean as many different things as "we have people" - also no pun intended (smile). You are right in your conclusion that the we was not that inclusive: did it mean African Americans, did it mean Native Americans, did it mean Women...It was very much we the chosen people as you so aptly stated. I guess the folks doing the choosing are the founding fathers or the country's elite at that time. I can't really say that it was the common man or woman; nor was it every man living in the colonies at that time. Even the Northern Evangelicals who wanted all of the slaves to be freed much much later in our history; even they admitted that they never imagined the freedmen and women to ever be at the same status as they were. I guess they were imagining a freed underclass. I am interested to hear what your take is on some of the other terms cited in the preamble.

Bentley



message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 16, 2009 02:58PM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Liz wrote: "Liz wrote: "we the (chosen) people? Chosen by whom? "

Opps, I realize that this could be taken literally rather figuratively. I have been reading
The Wordy Shipmates which makes m..."


Liz, that is a great example and probably very close to the truth; isn't it odd that in all of the world's conflicts for the most part..all of these countries want to believe that God is really on their side and not on the side of their adversary. It just makes sense that the founding fathers also believed that "the new country's" very existence occurred through the will of God and that they and others like them were the chosen ones selected to do his bidding. And that being chosen made you special.

Of course, a lot of them were Deists. Deists tend to reject divine intervention in terms of events, etc. Of course, the Massachusets Bay Colonists would have felt remarkably different. I think most likely the founding fathers wanted to discuss equality among men (men like they were) and justice for all (as long as they were of the social stature of the founding fathers) and we the people probably alluded to those who belonged to their groups already and did not belong to a monarchy or the aristocracy of Europe and it was understood among all of them that it did not apply to slaves or to the Native Americans. Most of them already had slaves so they were not going to rock the boat. And I think many of them were good men; but they did not make the distinction probably between their equality among their groups and the injustice or the inequality in terms of how others were treated. I think it escaped them for the most part.

Great comments Liz.




message 19: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 16, 2009 03:28PM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
I wonder what part or role the education of the founding fathers played in determining the terms and words that were chosen for their documents.

Many of them had studied Classical Greek and Roman writers and philosophers. I wonder if some of them were not referring to Locke's views regarding the natural rights philosophy.

Most if not all read the Bible every day or with great frequency and most practiced some form of the Protestant faith.

Do you think that they were thinking about ancient and modern European history? Were their words a reaction against the divine right of the monarchy and the close interactions between clergy and monarch? What about the Enlightenment in Europe? Did that influence the ideas of the founding fathers?

They most certainly were well read for the most part and some of them had even studied abroad. I am just trying to understand what were the influencers which may have played a role in how the preamble was phrased.


message 20: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
How did the founding fathers plan to form a "more perfect union"?

Why were these words chosen?


message 21: by Joe (new)

Joe (Blues) I had finished, back in early March, "Miracle at Philadelphia" by Catherine Drinker Bowen, and was impressed by her capability to transport her reader into the debates in Philadelphia so vividly while maintaining our interest concerning a subject matter which most of us would find mind-numbing. I also intend to read "Plain, Honest Men" one of these days.

Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen [image error]

What I took away most from "Miracle at Philadelphia" was a realization that our Constitution was created with every word painstakingly scrutinized to the nth degree. Debate was highly passionate which seemed to never end, and there were also abounding doubts that it would ever pass into law after all. It was not a forgone conclusion. With passions so high, debate frequently required the elder respect given to Benjamin Franklin and the distinction of George Washington to bring everyone back from the abyss.

And it might be universally agreed that the exclusion of the subject of slavery was one of it's greatest flaws. But unfortunately, everyone knew that fighting that battle at that time would have ultimately alienated the South, and therefore defeated the whole thing. But we all know that it ultimately took Abraham Lincoln to give true meaning to the Declaration of Independence's "all men are created equal," almost a hundred years later.


message 22: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Response to Joe - Message 23

Joe, what a spectacular post; some great info. And two great recommendations too.

The fact that it took them about five years for the Articles of Confederation alone is mind boggling. From 1776 to 1781 is quite a long time for the AOC (from draft to ratification). The Articles of Confederation were in force from March 1, 1781, until March 4, 1789, when the present Constitution went into effect. Democracy took a long time getting going. Then in early 1787 they thought that they were just going to revise the AOC; but then in September 17th, 1787 the delegates emerged with the new constitution. I guess after living with the AOC all that time; the states and delegates knew what they didn't like and what was missing and/or necessary. Of course, they had worked under lock and key at secret meetings but it did not take long to begin getting the delegate's signatures. However, more was needed and the Bill of Rights came into being two years later in 1789. You have to give them credit or James Madison credit for getting it drafted in about 100 days.

I thought the following was interesting:

Q. Who actually wrote the Constitution?

A. In none of the relatively meager records of the Constitutional Convention is the literary authorship of any part of the Constitution definitely established. The deputies debated proposed plans until, on July 24, 1787, substantial agreement having been reached, a Committee of Detail was appointed, consisting of John Rutledge, of South Carolina; Edmund Randolph, of Virginia; Nathaniel Gorham, of Massachusetts; Oliver Ellsworth, of Connecticut; and James Wilson, of Pennsylvania, who on August 6 reported a draft which included a Preamble and twenty-three articles, embodying fifty-seven sections. Debate continued until September 8, when a new Committee of Style was named to revise the draft. This committee included William Samuel Johnson, of Connecticut; Alexander Hamilton, of New York; Gouverneur Morris, of Pennsylvania; James Madison, of Virginia; and Rufus King, of Massachusetts, and they reported the draft in approximately its final shape on September 12. The actual literary form is believed to be largely that of Morris, and the chief testimony for this is in the letters and papers of Madison, and Morris's claim. However, the document in reality was built slowly and laboriously, with not a piece of material included until it has been shaped and approved. The preamble was written by the Committee of Style.

You are right on the money about the preamble. They had convened a committee (the Committee of Style) of five delegates (all political leaders in their own right) to draft and debate the 51 words which make up the one sentence Preamble.

You are correct in MHO; they all had slaves even the Northerners (John Adams did not); and the South (especially South Carolina which was footing many of the bills) depended upon slavery for their rice crop and other agricultural endeavors.

While visiting in the South, (SC) I saw many museum displays where they quoted Abraham Lincoln as making very conflicting statements about slavery as well as succession. There still seems to be some very conflicting opinions even today about the glory of Lincoln and his veracity. I also was brought up to believe everything that I was told about Lincoln and even believed as a child that the Gettysbury Address was the battle cry for the civil war (the reason why it occurred).

However, "the Gettysburg Address was delivered at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, during the American Civil War, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the decisive Battle of Gettysburg". Source - Wikipedia

The Civil War had everything to do with South Carolina and other states wanting to secede from the Union. I am wondering how much on the front burner was equality for the slaves.

I think we agree that every one of the 51 words was selected carefully; therefore what do you think was the intent of the language and the terminology used.

"more perfect union"
"we, the people"
"common defense"
"blessings of liberty"
"posterity"
"ordain and establish"
"establish Justice"
"domestic tranquility"
"promote general welfare"

I am wondering if you would like to take a crack at the above and channel what you think the delegates and the Committee of Style were trying to convey. What do you think they meant and for whom?



message 23: by Joe (last edited Aug 17, 2009 07:56AM) (new)

Joe (Blues) Bentley wrote: "While visiting in the South, (SC) I saw many museum displays where they quoted Abraham Lincoln as making very conflicting statements about slavery as well as succession. There still seems to be some very conflicting opinions even today about the glory of Lincoln and his veracity. I also was brought up to believe everything that I was told about Lincoln and even believed as a child that the Gettysbury Address was the battle cry for the civil war (the reason why it occurred)...."

I don't have the time to respond fully, but as far as Lincoln's conflicting viewpoints on slavery are concerned, I feel his ultimate goal was not conflicting at all. He was such a master at sensing the general political thought of his day, that he crafted his message towards achieving the best result possible, given the circumstances he had at the time. He waited years to finally present the Emancipation Proclamation because he knew it wouldn't fly earlier... but I think that that was his ultimate goal, and driving force. In the end, he was forced to use his army to "preserve the union," which eventually gave him the opportunity to present Emancipation as another means of crippling the South further, thereby helping to end the war sooner. All of his words and actions compiled together were indeed conflicting when looked at individually, but I believe the passions he harbored were based on a solid foundation of ridding ourselves of slavery.


message 24: by Joe (last edited Aug 17, 2009 08:10AM) (new)

Joe (Blues) Bentley wrote: "...I am wondering if you would like to take a crack at the above and channel what you think the delegates and the Committee of Style were trying to convey. What do you think they meant and for whom?"

With backhanded reflection, I think that those terms meant different things to each and every person there. On the one hand, you had Alexander Hamilton fighting for the most powerful central figure possible, with the most powerful central government he could argue for... and on the other hand Patrick Henry (if I remember right, didn't show up in protest) was fighting to defeat the whole thing because the general public's rights were perceived to be taken away and given to only a few elected elite. Therefore, it could be interpreted differently by each and every one of us. That's why it took so much debate to decide on the wording.

The Constitution is a fluid document. One that is able to change with the times. And I believe that's one of it's greatest strengths. But that doesn't suggest that the meanings behind the phrases "more perfect union" or "we, the people" don't deserve reflection, especially with the passing of the events of the civil war. What I would like to suggest is, the events of the civil war changed our national identity to it's core, and our founding fathers wrote those words intending to allow for that change.


message 25: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 17, 2009 08:23AM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Joe wrote: "Bentley wrote: "...I am wondering if you would like to take a crack at the above and channel what you think the delegates and the Committee of Style were trying to convey. What do you think they me..."

I would love to hear what you come up with for these terms which were not obviously just written lightly; we know that they agonized over every single one of these words.

"more perfect union"
"we, the people"
"common defense"
"blessings of liberty"
"posterity"
"ordain and establish"
"establish Justice"
"domestic tranquility"
"promote general welfare

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[1:] 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.

For example if Patrick Henry influenced the Committee of Style possibly he was concerned with the "blessings of liberty". I think it is true that these terms may mean and could be interpreted differently by every one of us; but it would be interesting to take a crack at why these terms were included by The Committee of Style; like you said they had to have a reason.

Look forward to what you come up with. I think it is important for us to reflect on these phrases and try to understand what they potentially meant to these men then and why and what they have come to mean to us today. The preamble really is the canopy to the Constitution and explains their mission and their reasons for pursuing this mission and these goals.

PS: Also, even the term "United States" was a new one.

Bentley



message 26: by Joe (last edited Aug 17, 2009 09:15AM) (new)

Joe (Blues) Bentley wrote: "...Look forward to what you come up with. I think it is important for us to reflect on these phrases and try to understand what they potentially meant to these men then and why and what they have come to mean to us today. The preamble really is the canopy to the Constitution and explains their mission and their reasons for pursuing this mission and these goals."

ok, here's my crack at it... I'm not gonna get any work done today at all! LOL

"we, the people"

The crafters of the new Constitution wanted it be made clear, right from the get go, that the general public are the ones who formed (or eventually approved) this new government. Indeed the elite, who were smart enough to write these ideas down, created the Constitution itself, but it would be the public who eventually had the final power to vote it up or down.

"more perfect union"

Up until the Constitution passed into law, the Articles of Confederation was the law of the land. And everyone knew (especially George Washington with his hardships dealing with Congress during the Revolutionary War) that it was greatly flawed and needed to be revised or replaced. Their new document's goal was to be better then the last one... or as perfect as possible, knowing that it can never be absolutely perfect.

"domestic tranquility"

The Shays Rebellion was one of the most prominent events which highlighted the need to meet in Philadelphia to change the government for the better. It needed to be able to cope with extraneous circumstances like the Rebellion, and by doing so, maintaining a general peace.

That's it for now...


message 27: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Joe wrote: "Bentley wrote: "...Look forward to what you come up with. I think it is important for us to reflect on these phrases and try to understand what they potentially meant to these men then and why and ..."

Great start Joe.




message 28: by Joe (new)

Joe (Blues) "establish Justice"

One of the reasons why the Revolutionary War started was to rebel against the British government's nullification of the colonist's Justice system. The new Constitution had to not only solidify the government's rule of law, but also to be fair while doing it. Because of the experiences of previous injustices, our current Justice system is one of the fairest in the world, albeit it's far from perfect.




message 29: by Joe (last edited Aug 17, 2009 11:30AM) (new)

Joe (Blues) "common defense"

George Washington knew better than anyone that the new Constitution needed to include protections against potential adversaries. And to adequately muster up that protection, they knew that the states had to unite to garner a stronger defense mechanism.


message 30: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Joe wrote: ""establish Justice"

One of the reasons why the Revolutionary War started was to rebel against the British government's nullification of the colonist's Justice system. The new Constitution had to n..."



Very true. Galloway did try to present the idea of a parallel system but of course that was nixed by the colonists. When you think about it; there would have been anarchy in the streets without some framework of some kind. The longer that I live the more that I am convinced that nothing is ever perfect; but it can be perfect enough for most of us. There are few governments where the common good and the natural rights of all human beings are protected when you think about it. You are indeed correct.




message 31: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Joe wrote: ""common defense"

George Washington knew better than anyone that the new Constitution needed to include protections against potential adversaries. And to adequately muster up that protection, they ..."


I think this was one of the primary reasons that the colonies/states were willing to come together; they were very worried about their common enemies.




message 32: by Joe (last edited Aug 17, 2009 02:35PM) (new)

Joe (Blues) Bentley wrote: "I think this was one of the primary reasons that the colonies/states were willing to come together; they were very worried about their common enemies...."

yes, but also, many (including Thomas Jefferson) were against a strong military because it might get over zealous and try to overthrow the government.


message 33: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Joe wrote: "Bentley wrote: "I think this was one of the primary reasons that the colonies/states were willing to come together; they were very worried about their common enemies...."

yes, but also, many (incl..."
We are still having the same arguments today; but most do not think that the military could plan an overthrow. When Adams and Jefferson occupied the presidency and vice presidency; there could not be two more uncommon bedfellows.




message 34: by Joe (new)

Joe (Blues) Bentley wrote: "We are still having the same arguments today; but most do not think that the military could plan an overthrow. When Adams and Jefferson occupied the presidency and vice presidency; there could not be two more uncommon bedfellows."

Well, I think that many were Anti-Federalists because of the fear of a very powerful military... and that fear was very real for a far higher percentage than we have today... or even 100 or 150 years ago. And in the late 1780's, nobody knew that this experiment would actually succeed.

So what kind of conclusions can be made about the culminated parts of the Preamble?

I have never studied the Constitution in this light before, but... they needed to create a document which embodied all of the ideas required of a representative government: "we, the people" , "more perfect union" , "establish Justice" , "common defense" so that the rule of law could prevail in establishing these guidelines. And the Preamble stated their goals for the rest of the document. The remaining sections of the Constitution then laid down how they were going to do that.


message 35: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
That is very true Joe. I am wondering myself after digging deeper how the country made it.

Your rationale seems plausible. I am wondering where are the Committee of Style notes regarding their debate. That would be interesting reading.


message 36: by Joe (new)

Joe (Blues) I do know that James Madison took notes every day during the debates. I wonder if they include the proceedings of the Committee of Style...


message 37: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Joe wrote: "I do know that James Madison took notes every day during the debates. I wonder if they include the proceedings of the Committee of Style..."

He was on the Committee of Style..possibly.




message 38: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 17, 2009 08:52PM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Joe wrote: "Bentley wrote: "While visiting in the South, (SC) I saw many museum displays where they quoted Abraham Lincoln as making very conflicting statements about slavery as well as succession. There still..."

From the Cato Institute:

Lincoln, oddly enough, apparently shared some of these views. In his 1860 inaugural address, he said: "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." Two years later, President Lincoln wrote: "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union (Letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862)." And in 1858 Lincoln had written: "I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races. I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people. There is a physical difference between the white and black races, which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality."

What troubled me is that Honest Abe seemed more like a politician with these statements versus the champion of equal rights and freedom for the slaves; vastly different than his stance after he had already declared war when he gave the speech that so many of us memorized by heart: the Gettysburg Address.

He also has stated that succession was OK and Jefferson had agreed with that as one of the founding fathers too. However, when it finally happened in the case of South Carolina and several other states; Abraham Lincoln's positions seemed to shift too.

I do not want to rain on anybody's parade; I grew up thinking that President Lincoln was a hero too (and I am not saying that he isn't now); but I am wondering whether the series of events that took his life and the Civil War and the fact that the slaves were freed by these events somehow overshadowed everything else. Folks believed he was a hero because of the end result and its outcome versus ALL of his speeches and rhetoric over a period of time. According to HW Brands, the three most popular presidents include Washington, Lincoln and FDR in any national poll, I am wondering about these responses and what they are based on. Maybe in schools, they discuss Lincoln and Washington more than they do the others; or FDR. And believe me I think that Lincoln was a very good man who tried to do his best with an impossible situation. I am just wondering if we are romanticizing his image and his memory. It seems to me he was going to do whatever he had to do to save the union even if it meant forcing folks to stay. I am glad he did; but at the same time I discount the philosophy that freedom for the slaves was his goal.

Bentley




message 39: by Joe (last edited Aug 17, 2009 07:17PM) (new)

Joe (Blues) Bentley wrote: "From the Cato Institute:...."

And do you think if he said anything different, at any given time, he would have succeeded in becoming President? or would have succeeded in winning the support of the people when he needed it? or would have freed any slaves? I believe he knew exactly what he was doing. He even chose to be silent during most of his months as President-Elect because he knew speaking out would only inflame tensions, causing only harm. I believe Lincoln used his words to simply get the job done... and he was craftier at doing that than anyone else before or since. Do you suggest he fell into the Presidency by chance? I suggest that that is highly unlikely.

I do need to better understand what you mean about the conflicting themes about the Gettysburg Address. I have yet to spend much time with it, but I intend to.

Bentley wrote: "He was on the Committee of Style..possibly...."

And yes, Madison was part of the Committee of Style... as was Gouverner Morris.

Since Gouverner Morris from Penn. wrote most of the document, I dug up PG 352 in "Plain, Honest Men" by Richard Beeman to present a letter written by Morris as a "general description and justification of the revolutionary actions that had occurred in Philadelphia."

He "aggressively defended the magnitude of the change the delegates were proposing. The true 'Friends of our Country,' the letter declared 'have long seen and desired the Power of making war Peace and Treaties, that of levying Money & regulating Commerce, and the correspondent executive and judicial Authorities should be fully and effectually vested in the general Government of the Union.' To achieve those ends, the letter continued, the nation required 'a different Organization' altogether. Noting the impossibility of giving 'all rights of independent Sovereignty' to each of the states while at the same time providing for the 'interest and safety of all,' Morris asserted that 'Individuals entering into society must give up a Share of Liberty to preserve the Rest.' ... Morris insisted that 'our Prosperity, Felicity, Safety, [and:] perhaps our national Existance' depended upon the 'consolidation of our union.'"


message 40: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
I absolutely agree Joe that he said what he had to in order to get elected. And I guess many politicians have to do that (that is why there is such a difference between campaign promises and what actually gets done after the election).

But I think that I would prefer to be told exactly what a person's positions are and not doubt their veracity after the fact. Yes he was shrewd; no doubt about it. And I do not want to rain on anybody's parade; I just see why the South and others may have thought they were hoodwinked.


message 41: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 17, 2009 07:17PM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Regarding the Committe of Style and Morris:

You can see where Morris is heading: War, Defense, Military, Trade and Commerce, Executive and Judicial Branches, Union (United States), Safety, Happiness, Success...giving up a share of liberty is one powerful idea. Very interesting Joe, thank you for that post.


message 42: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 17, 2009 07:22PM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
I was reading the Amazon reviews on Plain, Honest Men and the folks who bothered to read it seemed to like it:



message 43: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Did the author cite where these documents came from or where they are being stored and maintained? (Morris's letters, etc) and/or the notes from the Committee of Style?


message 44: by Joe (new)

Joe (Blues) Bentley wrote: "I absolutely agree Joe that he said what he had to in order to get elected. And I guess many politicians have to do that (that is why there is such a difference between campaign promises and what ..."

I apologize, but I can't let that go... The South was hoodwinked?

Lincoln told the South in his 1st inaugural address that he would not interfere with slavery, or use force to get them back into the union. I believe if the South had used cooler heads, and not insisted in firing the first shot at Fort Sumter, that they could have kept their slaves. For how long, who knows... but the South was too riled up to do anything else but go to war. But Lincoln did it in a way which put the blame entirely upon the South. Hoodwinked or not, the South did it to themselves.


message 45: by Joe (new)

Joe (Blues) Bentley wrote: "Did the author cite where these documents came from or where they are being stored and maintained? (Morris's letters, etc) and/or the notes from the Committee of Style?"

In the Notes section, it says:
27. Morris's letter of transmittal is in Farrand, vol 3, 583-84

Max Farrand, ed., The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, 4 vols., rev. ed. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1937 repr 1966)


message 46: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Joe wrote: "Bentley wrote: "I absolutely agree Joe that he said what he had to in order to get elected. And I guess many politicians have to do that (that is why there is such a difference between campaign pr..."

You are making me smile now. In Charleston and other locations in South Carolina, there are quite a few museums which have some of Lincoln's quotes front and center. They may have thought they were hoodwinked; if they were told that they could secede if as a state they wanted to. They felt their way of life was going to be threatened. That is the only point that I see. Again I am trying to understand their point of view.

Yes, I visited Fort Sumter too and some of those quotes were there as well (smile). The South obviously felt very threatened and they did not like Abraham Lincoln (no doubt about it). They also were financing a lot; South Carolina was wealthy at that time: Charleston was one of the richest and one of the most thriving locations in this country at that time.

This seems pretty close to their rendition about Sumter.

http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/su...

Do I think that the Confederates were right; do I think that the Union was right; I wasn't there. If I had been alive, I would have of course been on the side of the Union based upon where I would have been living.

You may be right that the South risked everything to make their point. I do think they did feel tricked and thought that they had the right to leave the Union if that is what they wanted to do without a Civil War.

Obviously, Lincoln and the Union felt differently. End result was the Civil War. I am one who would want to avoid war no matter what; especially when you are fighting your own countrymen.

It was a very sad time in our history. Yes, the slaves were freed and that was a good thing that came out of the difficulties; but it still was a very difficult time and I think there were some bad decisions made and many misunderstandings on both sides (there always are enough to go around when disaster strikes).

I respect where you are coming from.


message 47: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Joe wrote: "Bentley wrote: "Did the author cite where these documents came from or where they are being stored and maintained? (Morris's letters, etc) and/or the notes from the Committee of Style?"

In the No..."


Terrific find...great. :-)



message 48: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 05, 2010 05:54PM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
Joe and others,

There are some free on line versions of this source:

Max Farrand, ed., The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, 4 vols., rev. ed. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1937 repr 1966)

Thanks to Joe for this find.

Here is one:

http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=co...

Google:

http://books.google.com/books?id=02sL...

The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, Volume I by United States Constitution Convention


The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 1937 Revised Edition in Four Volumes, Volume 2 (Records of the Federal Convention of 1787) by Max Farrand


The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 Vol. 3 by Max Farrand



The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, Vol. 1 by Max Farrand



Supplement to Max Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 by James H. Hutson


message 49: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 17, 2009 09:04PM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
They certainly followed detailed rules and procedures (quite stringent actually); law and order certainly prevailed at these sessions.

James Madison was a prince to keep these notes: kudos to the official secretary too

Volume 1 covers May 14 to July 13, 1787. The records of the Federal Convention which was held in Philadelphia between May and September 1787. The sessions were secret but the proceedings were reconstructed from notes kept by the official secretary and some participants, most notably James Madison.


message 50: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 17, 2009 09:13PM) (new)

Bentley | 31922 comments Mod
It must have been quite something to travel in that day and age coming such distances to get to Philadelphia (they never seemed to know when folks were finally going to get there for these sessions); travel must have been so precarious. It seems obvious that once they all were there; that it was easier to make some headway. Getting and keeping them there must have been a frightful task.

The official authorization of the Federal Convention was a resolution of the Congress of the Confederation, adopted February 21, 1787:

“Resolved, That in the opinion of Congress, it is expedient, that on the second Monday in May next, a convention of delegates, who shall have been appointed by the several states, be held at Philadelphia, . . .”1

The second Monday in May, 1787, fell on the fourteenth, and on that day delegates from several of the states gathered in the “long room” of the State House in Philadelphia.2 It was not until the twenty-fifth, however, that a sufficient number of delegates appeared to constitute a representation of a majority of the states. On May 25, the Convention organized and remained in continuous session until September 17, with the execption of one adjournment of two days over the Fourth of July and another of ten days, from July 26 to August 6, to allow the Committee of Detail to prepare its report.



« previous 1 3 4
back to top

unread topics | mark unread


Books mentioned in this topic

The Origin and Growth of the American Constitution: An Historical Treatise in Which the Documentary Evidence as to the Making of the Entirely New Plan (other topics)
The Wordy Shipmates (other topics)
Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (other topics)
Miracle at Philadelphia (other topics)
Supplement to Max Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 (other topics)
More...

Authors mentioned in this topic

Thomas Geoghegan (other topics)
Richard A. Posner (other topics)
Stephen G. Breyer (other topics)
Ron K.L. Collins (other topics)
Michael Kammen (other topics)
More...