A Phenomenon of Founding Fathers and Their Ideas

Published: 2021-09-11 05:30:09
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While it can be said that the Founding Fathers had the intention of crafting a new country independent from the will of British rule, it is difficult to assert what the true nature of their goals were, individually. Political scientist John P. Roche makes the claim that establishing a sense of democracy in the fledgling government was the aim of the Founding Fathers, and that their focus as revolutionary leaders was to devise and create a constitution that provided for the needs of the people in the nation, while simultaneously being acceptable to them in the process. This stands in stark contrast to the views of Howard Zinn, who believed that the Founding Fathers were merely a group of elites who had interests that lied in northern conglomerates and southern slaveholding traditions. He believed that Shay’s Rebellion was merely used as a means to create a strong and well-developed central government whose sole purpose was to protect the property rights of the rich. Both of these sides bring interesting context to the debate over the nature of the Founding Fathers’ motives and as a result, provide convincing cases to back their assumptions.
As Roche argues, while it can be said that there were individuals within the Constitutionalists who were advocating for a stronger central government, their main goal was to work with whatever rules were prevailing over their attempt at unification. This meant that they had to appeal to the ideas of each state and the citizens that each state represented in a way that provided the most substantial platform for democracy. Roche believes that if there were any individualistic pursuits among the Constitutionalists, they were by and large suppressed by the remainder of the Founding Fathers’ and by the notion that they needed to uphold whatever was most effective and efficient for the general public. Roche believed that the diplomatic nature of the Founding Fathers’ pursuits was founded on democratically inclined members’ interests in suppressing any abuse of the Founding Fathers towards destroying or corrupting the democratic pursuits.Roche uses the example of Patrick Henry, and the notion that his principle objection with the Convention and the Constitution itself came from the notion that Jefferson was behind it all, and that he didn’t trust Jefferson. Furthermore, as Roche illustrates, many of the people who were either for or against the Constitution believed in their opinion of it mostly due to the fact that the “wrong” group of people stood on the opposite end of the argument. Despite all of this confrontation and disagreement, Roche believes that the men as a collective demonstrated the capacity to compromise many of their own individual interests to make way for an ideal which they themselves were able to craft, one that they collectively felt represented the greatest good for the American society. Roche also acknowledges that they were sure to have their own individual motives, which is to be expected, but this further solidifies the idea to him that their intentions were geared towards established a democratic system.
The greater whole of the nation was what the Founding Fathers wished to preserve, as Roche believed it. He argues that the Founding Fathers implemented a “Continental” sort of approach to issues of the political, military and economic type. Much of what inspired them to act in such a way, as Roche argues, was their wish to get a head start in establishing some sort of government, as compared to the opposition that they faced. Their opponents were not proactive in engaging in any sort of reform which led to infuriating opinions from the general public. As Roche believes, it was the Founding Fathers’ best interest to unify the common people under the idea of what they were propagating, and despite their individual agendas for doing so, they realized the capacity of the general public to assist in building the nation so it was imperative to foster their support. Thus, the Constitution to Roche was a democratic triumph, a means of assuaging the pressures of the time by providing a framework to establish a reformed sense of government.
Zinn sees the actions of the Founding Fathers in an entirely different light. As he believes, the Constitution was drafted as a means to protect the individual property rights of the ruling elite and establish conditions of servitude for all those that didn’t qualify for the right to obtain and hold property. He believed that the aim of the Founding Fathers was to create a government whose principle function was to control the way that the government operated, for their own self-preservation and interests. Zinn’s argument asserts the notion that many of the men who were a part of the Founding Fathers were lawyers in their profession, and almost all of them had some sort of material wealth, such as land, slaves or manufacturing components. Furthermore, he asserts that the majority of them had government-issued bonds and had taken loans out at interest.
Thus, Zinn asserts, by extension of the thoughts of Charles Beard, that it is safe to assume that the makers of the Constitution had some form of direct interest in crafting and establishing a strong, centralized federal government as a means to protect their own assets. While there were some anomalies in the proposed idea that economic gain was at the center of many of the Founding Fathers’ decision to ratify, it was often the case that, according to Zinn, there existed some correlation between overall wealth and support of ratification of the Constitution. Furthermore, the fear of rebellion by farmers and commoners was also a qualifying factor for why Zinn believed that the Constitution was pushed to ratification by the Founding Fathers. One of the examples that he uses cites the uprising in Massachusetts surrounding the property qualifications for voting. This uprising was known as Shay’s Rebellion and Zinn believes that the motivation to create and conceptualize a central government came not just from the wish to protect material assets, but also to protect the elite from the uprising of the poor.
In essence, it is fair to assume that Zinn’s view on the whole idea represents a more cohesive and adequate representation of the goals of the Founding Fathers. While it can be said that there was some push for unification, it is hard to deny the implications that it would have for those with the authority to propagate such a move and enforce it. The power that was bestowed upon each of the Founding Fathers as a result of the ratification of the Constitution essentially protected their assets and guaranteed that a destabilization of the status quo would not occur. The hegemony of the early United States would surely wish to protect themselves as they established a new system of government, given that the principle reason that they established this government originally was to escape economic sanctions and restrictions imposed upon them. Furthermore, providing a framework for a central government successfully curbed the notion that the farmers and colonists could rise up against the established system, as the federal government could militarize all of the states together to suppress whatever rebellion might occur. As such, with all of this information, it is safe to assume that while Roche’s ideals make sense, it is hard to argue against the logic that is utilized by Zinn. This is furthered by his emphasis on showing the correlation between personal wealth and the Founding Fathers’ reluctance or willingness to actively ratify the Constitution. I like attributes of both of their arguments but even Roche agrees that it is safe to assume that each Founding Father had individual agendas, and at the core of these agendas was ensuring that economic and social stability was provided. In order to assure this, it meant that all attributes of rebellion were repressed, which leads me to agree more with Zinn’s understanding of the issue.

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