There were many issues
but the most
critical weaknesses of the first
constitution, the Articles of Confederation to me. Especially the part about should slaves
be counted for the purposes of deciding Congressional representation? Everybody
seems to gets this wrong, it was the anti slavery people who wanted
the slaves to count less. The
pro slavery people
who wanted slaves
to count more for this purpose.
That does not matter too much of the New Jersey plan had been followed
as that has no elected President and all States
represented equally in the Congress. The Virginia Plan that was followed, and that means representation by population so do slaves
count? Both for the election of electors to elect the
President, and to elect the House of Representatives. The Convention eventually
decided that slaves should count as three fifths of a person. The
whole proposal by saying if slaves
were people they should be allowed to leave their
“masters,, and if
they were not
people then they should not count for
the purposes of representation.
And what about the basic principle of Common Law that a
slave who escapes from a place of slavery to a place where the legislature has
not established the institution of slavery they recovered their natural
freedom? The Constitution avoids the use of the word “slavery,, but
says people “held to labour” in one State must be returned if they escape. I think this turned
the principle of the Common Law on its head. It’s a odd way of resolving the
issue. This mess over slavery still remain the failure to really resolve the
issue at all led eventually to Civil War and bitterness and division that lasts to this day.
legal drafting is weak in various places. For example Article One, Section
Eight lists many things that the Congress may spend money on, but it starts
with a preamble that contains the words common defense and general welfare.
Does that mean that the Federal Government
·can spend money on anything
it says is for the
general welfare? Modem courts say yes it does. This means the Constitution really
puts no limit on Federal spending. This makes long term bankruptcy inevitable and making the Tenth Amendment meaningless.
And what does regulate
interstate commerce mean? At the time the Founders said it meant ensure free
trade over States lines. But modem courts have said it
justifies almost any Federal Government regulation. There are thousands of
pages of Federal regulations controlling every aspect of life. I feel these matters are far from being resolved. I’m okay
in a sense these events alarmed Founders like
George Washington, James
Madison and Alexander Hamilton to the point
where delegates from five states met at Annapolis, Maryland in September 1786 to discuss changing the Articles of Confederation.