The Week That Was: October 29, 2016 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project
Constitutional Tug-of-War: During the turmoil following the Revolutionary War, which ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, it became evident to many of the political leaders that the central government under the Articles of Confederation was not working as hoped. A stronger central government was needed. In a 1787 prolonged meeting, later called the Constitutional Convention, many leaders participated to form a new charter to make a more effective central government. Of the many participating, one of the most important was James Madison, a scholar of history and political theorist. During the process from the drafting of the Constitution in May 1787, to its adoption in September, and its implementation in 1789, many ideas emerged. During the period of ratification, Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton wrote the very influential essays now called the Federalist Papers. Others, opposing ratification of the Constitution, wrote essays now collected and called the Anti-Federalist Papers. Probably, the now best-known of the anti-Federalists was Patrick Henry. These skeptics gave rise to the Bill of Rights, which articulate specific human rights upon which the central government cannot infringe. Madison did not perceive a need for the Bill of Rights because he believed human rights are many, broad, and well-established and that the proposed Constitution clearly restricted the powers of the Federal government so that it could not interfere with those rights.