The US Constitution is a remarkable document that represents a victory of democracy, but the victory was also rather biased. The Founding Fathers focused on the interests of a specific group (white middle-class men) when developing the document. On the one hand, the primary goal of the document was achieved, as it defined the scope of the power of the new state (“The Constitution of the United States”).
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On the other hand, the needs of such people as women, ethnic minorities, immigrants, and the poor were left out of consideration almost completely. This approach resulted in the creation of the context for lasting tensions in American society. The US Constitution was a considerable step toward the development of a new nation, but the actual power of the people (which the Constitution proclaimed) was very limited.
The first articles and sections of the document address important aspects related to powers, responsibilities, and rights. The country’s pool of voters is claimed to consist of citizens who have reached a certain age and reside in the corresponding state (“The Constitution of the United States”). This may seem to embody a democratic dogma and represent an illustration of the power of the people. However, the real distribution of power was very different from the written text.
The wording of the oath of allegiance for those who tried to oppose particular laws reveals some gaps in the Constitution. The men were to acknowledge and profess “the authority and power which is or may be vested by their Constituents in the Congress of the United States” (“Oaths of Allegiance from Shelburne, Colrain and Deerfield”). It is clear that the power of Congress is placed far above the individual rights of people.
The authority of the government of a country is rarely subject to scrutiny, as it often ensures the welfare of the entire nation. However, the words written in the US Constitution shed light on some aspects of life in that period. It is important to consider the people behind the words in order to understand the weakness of the document. The Founding Fathers were all wealthy men who represented quite a small group within 18th-century society (“Meet the Framers of the Constitution”).
These people were slave owners, planters, rich businessmen, judges, and members of the wealthiest families in the region. Obviously, such representatives were unlikely to defend the rights of slaves and former slaves, workers, and poor farmers, small traders, and immigrants. The rights of women and children were also absent from their agendas, as they hardly attempted to think about such things.
The way people who lived at that time thought about women’s rights is illustrative. The majority of people (both men and women) shared the views of a person who was known as “Friend of the Ladies.” This author wrote a letter discussing the voting rights of women (“Objections of a “Friend of the Ladies” to Women’s Suffrage in New Jersey” 304). In a nutshell, the author states that elections are not suitable events for women who are to maintain their gentleness.
This letter is similar to the US Constitution in a way. Both documents claim to be written by the people and for the people. However, in reality, they were prepared by people in power so that the rest of the population would follow their rules. The letter reveals a common view that the discussion of women’s voting rights was hardly permissible, as the very process of participating in elections was inappropriate for females. Women had to fight for their rights for over a century, but they managed to earn these rights with the help of the Constitution and its ambiguity.
However, irrespective of its drawbacks and inconsistencies, the US Constitution was a significant historical document that paved the way for the creation and development of a new country. People used their power to become the hosts on their land, even though only a very limited group had almost unlimited power. Although many things remained mere declarations, they became a part of the backbone of the young nation. Later, people managed to win their rights back through protests and even violence. They referred to the Constitution, and, eventually, the USA became one of the most potent democratic societies. Of course, many issues still remain, and they are deeply rooted in this foundational document.
In conclusion, it is necessary to stress that the US Constitution is an important historical document that can be regarded as one of the first steps in the creation of the country. It contained important provisions related to the distribution of power. However, it was written by a very small group of people who possessed a large part of the country’s wealth. Of course, this fact contributed to the inclusion of numerous gaps and inconsistencies in the document. Americans could feel truly empowered, but the tools to ensure this empowerment were not properly described in the primary law of the country. It took decades for the American population to become a mature nation, and the US Constitution developed in the late 18th century was one of the important milestones on its way.
“Meet the Framers of the Constitution.” National Archives. 2018. Web.
“Oaths of Allegiance from Shelburne, Colrain and Deerfield.” Springfield Technical Community College, 2008. Web.
“Objections of a “Friend of the Ladies” to Women’s Suffrage in New Jersey, 1802.” Encyclopedia of Women’s History in America. 2nd ed., 2014.
“The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription.” National Archives. 2018. Web.