In the constitution, the laws upholding people’s interests in a country are enshrined. Although the world does not have a global government, there are several separate constitutions around the world. The rules of a nation may, however, be altered at a given moment based on political philosophies (Clark 1421). Congress convened in Philadelphia in 1787 with the primary agenda of amending the constitution of the United States. Delegates from the northern and southern states varied in some ways throughout the conference, and a solution had to be found by consensus. Connecticut, Banking, slave trade, and the three-fifth are some of the compromises. Therefore, this paper focuses on discussing any three political compromises that shaped the American constitution.
The Connecticut Compromise
The Connecticut compromise is also referred to as the Great Compromise (Rakove 424). It provided an avenue for the adjustment of the political power between the House of Representatives and the Senate (Hoar 233). It is believed that this was one of the most challenging problems present in the constitution during those days. In the United States, the Senate represents the individual States in the country while the House of Representatives represent the people.
Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth were the proponents of the Connecticut compromise during the constitutional convention. This compromise was aimed at providing a solution or a way out of the heated debate over the representations in the newly proposed Senate between the smaller states and the larger states (Clark 1423). There was the notion by the larger states that representation should be based on the proportion the individual states made towards defense and the nation’s finances. On the other hand, the smaller states advocated for equal representation as a fair plan. Besides, the proponents of the Connecticut compromise advocated for a bicameral or a dual system of representation. The Connecticut compromise provided for equal representation in the Senate. Also, each state would receive representative proportional to their pupation in the House of Representatives (Clark 1431).
The Three-Fifths Compromise
Slavery has always posed a challenge to the US government even in the modern era. Due to the increase in the number of slaves mainly to the southern states in America before 1787, the American citizens wanted to know the effects the salves would pose in determining the total population for taxing and legislative purposes. In the US, the issue of taxes was a significant challenge especially about the value of land. Initially, the charges were levied according to the actual value of a piece of land (Farrand 483). In this regard, the value of land depreciated and a committee was appointed to come up with a solution. The taxes were then amended such that apportionment of taxes was to be directly related to the population in a particular state. However, the issues of counting slaves arose where some people advocated for slaves to be counted as free individuals while other people wanted only the whites to be included in the process of calculating the population of states.
The slaves’ population was important because in the Connecticut compromise the total population would affect the number of seats in the House of Representatives or the lower house. The delegates had divergent ideas on whether the slaves should be involved in determining political representation in the lower house.
The southern delegates proposed the salves to be counted together with the whites, but the northern representatives opposed the move since they regarded slaves as property. Besides, the delegates of the North believed that the slaves were to receive no representation in the legislation. These controversies led to the three-fifths compromise introduced by James Wilson.
The three-fifths compromise gave the slave a voice for the first time in US. The ability of the slaves to be counted in determining the number of seats in the lower house gave them a new political life. The compromise provided that every five slaves were to be counted as three white persons in the population (Farrand 481). Due to a large number of slaves in the Southern states, they had more seats in the lower house. Besides, they had more power in controlling the presidential elections. The three-fifths compromise was also extended towards laving taxes in America.
The Commerce Compromise
The commerce compromise was a heated debate during the constitutional convention due to the varying points of view from the northern and the southern delegates. Various issues constituted the commerce compromise because the northern and the southern states depended on different goods and commodities for their survival. Thus, the agreement placed taxes on imports (Kelly).
The economic activities differed between the northern and southern states. With the former state producing finished goods while the latter was importing fished products mainly from Britain. Moreover, the states of the north were more industrious than the southern states whose economy depended entirely on agricultural goods. Therefore, to avoid competition for their finished products from foreign countries, the northern states advocated for a ban on the importation of finished good as they wanted to sell their commodities to the southern states. The northern states also wanted the government to increase its revenue collection by introducing export tariffs on the raw goods (Lee). This proposal was met with objection from the southern state since they heavily relied on the export of raw commodities. Therefore, the commerce compromise allowed for tax tariffs to be imposed on the imported goods from foreign countries.
The commerce compromise provided room for the working of the interstate commerce in the United States. However, the interstate business was to be monitored by the government. Besides, the commerce legislation could only be changed when it is passed by two-thirds majority in the Senate (Lee).
In the bid to develop or amend a constitution, members’ present will always have different opinions this is because of the diversity of the human nature. It should be noted that the constitution does not serve the rights of a few individuals but the whole nation at large. Therefore, it is a necessary and sufficient condition to structure the constitution so that the interests of every group are well presented. In 1787, the US delegates while in Philadelphia had to come up with ways of harmonizing the different ideas through what is well known as constitutional compromises. The compromises addressed some of the unclear and challenging problems that were present in the then constitution while adhering to the national interest of the country.
Civil Right Movement
Democracy refers to a type of government system where the citizens are allowed to participate in the electing of leaders or to exercise their power actively. One of the driving principles of democracy is the rule of the majority, in this type of system the minorities have nothing to say since they cannot effect changes to the system because of their numbers. In the US, the whites form the majority population while the blacks the minority group. With democracy in play, the government has consistently faced the lack of equality for the minority group. However, there are some independent groups like the Civil Right Movement that have fought for the voice of the minority groups in the bid to achieve equality (Hall 1234). This section focuses on the quality of the American democracy by analyzing the Civil Right Movement as a test case of the Madison democracy.
The Madisonian democracy works in line with the principles of the Madison model that was suggested by James Madison (Carey 151). The Madisonian democracy advocates for distribution of the federal government power by establishing successful government systems. Another concept of this democracy necessitates the limitation of the majority fractions and development of a system of balance and checks. In this regard, the threat brought about by the majority or the tyranny of numbers has been eliminated by using this system (Carey 154). The Madison democracy lays a foundation for a successful government where the power of the state is no longer in the hands of the majority fraction. In the United States, the Madison democracy is evident in the electoral process since the power of the people has been restricted in making government decisions. The citizens who are the majority group are responsible for electing the representatives in the lower house. The president of the United States is elected by the Electoral College process while the president with the help of the Senate appoints a Supreme Court Judge.
Just like in many countries in the world, the US government is divided into three arms which include the legislature, the executive and the judicial. It should be noted that these arms cooperate by necessity even though they are independent of each other. For instance, the Congress is responsible for passing laws of the country, the enforcing of the law is carried out by the president, and lastly, the courts offer guidance and clarification by interpreting the laws. Therefore, the three branches of government fulfill the Madisonian concept of distribution of government power (Carey 156).
The majoritarian democracy differs from the Madisonian democracy because it advocates for the assent of the majority population in the event of the formulation of policies. In the process of preventing the tyrannical or abuse of power, the Madisonian democracy infringes the rights of the majority hence it does not offer equality. In contrast, the majoritarian democracy allows for the participation of both the minority and the majority groups in the decision-making process.
Quality of Democracy in America
The population in America is made up of the whites and the blacks. The fundamental role of the civil rights movement is advocating for various equality of the whites and the blacks in the US. These equalities included the right to vote, better education and housing, free from racial discrimination, equal opportunity while assessing public, and fairness in job employment. The civil rights movement members often forced the federal government to treat blacks with equality. Also, the reemergence of the judiciary was meant to offer protection against the minority.
To date, the struggle for equality in the American democracy is still a challenge due to the differences in political ideologies of the leaders from one generation to another. Racism and discrimination are the two main factors that contribute to inequality in any system of governance in the world. Also, the minority groups are not looked upon by their government due to their lack of influence towards gaining political power. Most of the leaders who are power oriented fail to recognize the rights of the minority groups.
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Farrand, Max. “Compromises of the Constitution.” The American Historical Review 9.3 (1904): 479-489.
Gilligan, Thomas W., William J. Marshall, and Barry R. Weingast. “Regulation and the theory of legislative choice: The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887.” The Journal of Law and Economics 32.1 (1989): 35-61.
Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd. “The long civil rights movement and the political uses of the past.” The Journal of American History 91.4 (2005): 1233-1263.
Hoar, George F. “The Connecticut Compromise.” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society. Vol. 15. American Antiquarian Society., 1902.
Kelly, Martin. “5 Compromises That Were Key To Creating The U.S. Constitution.” Thoughtco, 2017, https://www.thought.com/compromises-of-the-constitutional-convention-105428. Accessed 11 Oct. 2017.
Lee, Lexa W. “What Is the Commerce Compromise? | Legalbeagle.com.” Legal Beagle, 16 June 2017, https://www.legalbeagle.com/7560850-commerce-compromise.html. Accessed 12 Oct. 2017.
Rakove, Jack N. “The Great Compromise: Ideas, Interests, and the Politics of Constitution Making.” The William and Mary Quarterly: A Magazine of Early American History and Culture (1987): 424-457.