The Constitutional Debate Essay Example
1. What was the Virginia Plan? What was the New Jersey Plan? What does this debate tell us about the issue of state sovereignty?
The Virginia Plan was proposed by James Madison and the plan favors a bicameral legislature for the US where the representation of the states was based on population. The New Jersey Plan was a response to The Virginia Plan and favors one vote per state representation under a single legislative body.
2. How was the issue of slavery debated at the Constitutional Convention? What was the eventual settlement on the issue and how specifically is slavery addressed in the Constitution itself?
The framer of the constitution deliberately avoided the issue of slavery as they believed that it was necessary to get the support of southern states. The issue of slavery was one of the most controversial and contentious in the constitutional debate. Finally, the Three-Fifths Compromise proposed by James Wilson was adopted in the constitution.
3. According to Madison in “Federalist No. 10,” what is the danger posed by faction? What is his solution? Based on his arguments, what is Madison’s view on democracy?
Factions play a crucial role in dismantling the republics. He believed factions cannot be avoided as long as there is liberty and the other way of curbing factions is to create a perfect homogenous society which is impractical so the only effective way to control the damage caused by different factions is to minimize their effects. The only way to prevent majority faction to oppress minority factions is to prevent the existence of same interests in the majority factions or to create many "small interest groups" and factions that they will check one another’s power. Madison was in favor of representative democracy.
4. Compare James Madison’s “Federalist No. 51” and James Winthrop’s “On the Anti-Federalist Argument” in your Voices of Freedom text. Based on your analysis, what are the major differences between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists?
The Federalists favored a strong central federation while Anti-Federalists wanted a decentralized government in the form of a loose confederation. Federalists believed states should enact their own bill of rights, but Anti-Federalist were strong proponents of a national bill of rights to guard the citizens.
5. In what ways does the Constitution promote democracy and popular participation? In what ways is democracy limited?
Constitution promotes democracy by giving the people right to vote for the local and national representatives. The constitution enacted a strong electoral system of representative democracy and popular sovereignty. The creators of the constitution limit the democracy by reducing the extent of the electoral process. People were allowed to elect only the House of representative while the President and Senate were elected by the representatives.
6. Some have described the Constitution as a document written by and for the interests of “rich white men.” Do you think this characterization is accurate? Why?
The constitution was skewed towards the rich white men as the African American people were left in chains of slavery. The constitution in its initial form gave voting rights only to the people who owned property. That clause certainly gave the constitution a touch of an elitist document as both the African Americans and the poor white people were left out as voters.