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Founding Fathers as Democratic Reformers Term Paper


A Summary of the YES Authors’ Argument

The founding fathers played a significant role in the evolution of American history. The devising of the Constitution Convention by the democratic reformers pioneered the present American constitutional processes. However, the mannerism in which the founding fathers embraced democratic systems led to controversial arguments amongst various political scientists such as John P. Roche and Patrick Henry, who wrote contradicting arguments. John P. Roche has a strong feeling that the founding fathers were undoubtedly outstanding democratic reformers who led to the American Revolution through the implementation of democratic decisions, which led to the liberalization of the people of America (Roche, 1961).

In fact, he describes them as ‘superb democratic politicians.’ The author affirms that the founding fathers dedicated their efforts to serving the Americans within an autonomous framework that welcomed the decisions of the public. ‘James Madison Defends the Constitution’ (1975) stresses that the founding fathers were indeed a group of pro-independence transformers who sought public opinions before the implementation of their decisions. The autonomous reformers effectively deployed legitimate stratagems to social, political, and economic issues in an attempt to revolutionize America whilst protecting the interests of the people.

Roche (1961) proclaims that the constitution was a conciliation of thoughts of the public across the American States. Indeed, the founding fathers anticipated for a constitution that would ultimately transfigure the American government. In an attempt to bring about a clear understanding of the constitutional reform, Roche explains that the founding fathers were indeed elitists. However, his definition of the elite differs from Henry’s definition in some way. While Henry describes the founding fathers as elites to mean that they had enough wisdom to convince Americans to vote in a flawed document, Roche’s description of founding fathers as elites meant that they were wise to compromise their views to devise a suitable constitution for the Americans. In general, John P.

Roche presents an argument that concurs with Hughes’ (2008) video The Constitutional Convention of 1787 Explained in 10 Minutes as part of course materials. Hughes (2008) provides evidence that the means of implementing the Constitutional Convention was an overall reform process that represented the interests of the Americans, the economy of the state, and government interests on its people and the welfare of the state unions. Roche continues to explain that the founding fathers aimed at implementing a new constitution that would guarantee a better democratic state for the people. The democratic reformists sought representation of every citizen’s needs by compromising between their opinions and public interests.

A Summary of the NO Authors’ Argument

As part of the course readings, Divergent Reactions to Shays’s Rebellion (n.d) proves that the former founders were only autocratic and ego-based people whose agenda was to quench their thirst for material things. It is so clear that the conversation that is evident here is steered by displeased citizens, namely Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who are expressing their dissatisfaction on the rotten path that the founders had adopted in the name of bringing civilization to the US citizens. According to Divergent Reactions to Shays’s Rebellion (n.d),

General Lincoln’s situation must have been very painful to be obliged to march against those men whom he had heretofore looked upon as his fellow Citizens, and some of whom had perhaps been his companions in the field, but as they had by their repeated outrages forfeited all right to Citizenship” (Para. 5).

This excerpt confirms that the founding fathers were not democratic reformers. The author emphasizes that they were just a cartel of wealthy men who had special interests in terms of devising a non-democratic federal government to protect their wealth and businesses. The author outlines a number of reasons why he thinks that the founding fathers were not democratic reformers. At the outset, Henry emphasizes that such people were lawyers and rich Americans who sought identity in loyal families. By virtue of their wealth status, most of these individuals were well educated, thus making them the elites of American society.

Although Henry acknowledges that the founding fathers did not entirely represent all their personal needs in the constitution, he strongly feels that the constitution signified many of their economic and political interests. Henry’s arguments clearly indicated that the constitution lacked certain clauses to account for the needs of American minority groups who were mostly slaves and indentured servants. As part of the course readings, Patrick Henry Speaks Against Ratification of the Constitution (1788) gives clear reasoning behind the need to “amend the old system” (Para. 3).

According to Henry, the omission of such clauses from the constitution meant that the founding fathers favored a social class of American elites in the name of establishing democratic governance. Going by the arguments of Henry, one would think that the founding fathers shaped the constitution in a manner that favored specific economic situations to suit their special interest in the plight of the poor and disadvantaged minority groups. Henry also attests that the founding fathers aimed at safeguarding their civil liberties. Therefore, they had to find feasible ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’ to convince the public that the formulated constitution was indeed a tool for revolution and establishment of democratic systems within the American states. Furthermore, Divergent Reactions to Shays’s Rebellion (n.d) claims that the founding fathers designed the constitution in an effort to counter Shay’s rebellion that was a threat to the establishment of democratic governance.

The judgment of the Historical Debate

Gauging the weight of the two sides of the debate, I think that John Roche’s arguments are more persuasive compared to Henry’s arguments that seem arbitrary and intellectual. Considering the historical progression of American society, the founding fathers seem to have contributed significantly to the American Revolution. Despite the controversies that have fired hot debates in the past, Roche’s sediments hold a strong sense of rational thoughts that vividly explain the factors that could have led the founding fathers to become egalitarian reformers. Roche (1961) claimed that the constitution was a compromise between the views of founding fathers and citizens across the American states.

The author terms the constitutional convention as a ‘democratic reform caucus’ to imply that the founding father’s purpose for devising the constitution was to better the American system of governance whilst preserving the democracy of the previous revolution. John Roche acknowledges the constitutional biases that often led to unending debates about the fairness of the document. Nonetheless, although the constitution had some design flaws, Roche noticeably explains that the founding fathers had strong self-will to the point of compromising their own ideas to deliver a better constitution that would serve all Americans equally.

For that reason, I would also reiterate Roche’s words that say that the founding fathers were, in fact, ‘superb democratic reformists.’ The intentions of the founding fathers to deliver a better constitution were an attempt to establish democracy in the united states. Overtly, Roche elucidates that the plans of the founding fathers were to initiate constitutional reforms that would revolutionize the governance system rather than shaping the constitution to satisfy their special interests.

In a real sense, the Confederation Articles were too meager to form the foundation of a meaningful governance system because they were short of the indispensable legislative supremacy to support the creation of a purposeful democratic government. The United States could not meet international economic standards since the united states lacked functional democratic systems to enforce sound legislation. I suppose that the founding fathers had the knowledge that the actuality of democracy required the existence of a solid central government.

Contrastingly, Henry’s views contradict the function of a central government in the establishment of a democratic state. In particular, he claims that the founding fathers failed to deliberate on the impact of instigating reform strategies on the prevailing democracy in the name of establishing social equality in centrally governed American states. In his argument, Henry affirms that their intentions would just appease the populace of the United States as opposed to preserving the democracy that prevailed at the time.

In my opinion, Henry’s argument is rather abstract and fictitious since it fails to figure out the supremacy of a central government in terms of controlling the alignment of the existing government structures in democratic lines. Nonetheless, the founding fathers had already conceptualized that the central government would play a crucial role in supporting democratic systems within the framework that they had devised for reformation. The founding fathers encountered severe political restrictions that daunted their determinations to devise and implement a serviceable constitution. For instance, Federal Papers blatantly examined the constitution under weak lines of argument whose analysis would instead lead to converse propaganda pertaining to the intents of the founding fathers.

Furthermore, the fact that opponents’ argument revolves around the wealth and selfishness of the founding fathers who used their wits to service their self-interests makes their explanations too superficial to challenge a constitution that has served the Americans for a long time. I think the compromise of views was a better way of creating a constitution that would accommodate the interests of all people and not the special interests of the founding fathers. If the framers of the constitution were too blatant to conform to Henry’s interpretations of the essence of reform, the founding fathers would never deliver the constitution to the Americans.

Ideally, Roche’s arguments explicitly show that the founding people had the interests of the United States populace in mind during the construction of the constitutions, rather than shaping it to suit special interests as opponents claim. At the start of his essay, John Roche describes the Constitutional Convention as a ‘democratic reform caucus.’ Common sense would tell any political elitist that the constitutional reforms were not meant for destruction of the democratic climate that had prevailed in the United States over the previous years. In fact, the democratic reformers had pure intentions of reforming the constitution to establish an efficient and democratically sensitive government.

The convention was to preserve the civil rights of every citizen by instrumentally implementing sound political theories. In addition, the founding fathers understood that the convention presented many aspects that were universal across the United States of America. Therefore, there were minimal chances of encountering a divisive power that could further restraint the plans for conducting the reforms. Nonetheless, the constitution still undergoes regular amendments to remain a valid governing tool for a modern American society.

Reference List

Divergent Reactions to Shays’s Rebellion. (n.d). Web.

Hughes, K. (External producer). (2008). The Constitutional Convention of 1787 Explained in 10 Minutes. [DVD]. Bendigo, Vic.: Video Education Australasia. 2008. DVD.

James Madison Defends the Constitution. (1975). In J. Elliot (Ed.), The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company. Web.

Patrick Henry Speaks Against Ratification of the Constitution. (1788). In J. Elliot (Ed.), The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company. Web.

Roche, P. (1961). The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action. American Political Science Review, 15(4), 139-61. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020, June 18). Founding Fathers as Democratic Reformers. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/founding-fathers-as-democratic-reformers/

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"Founding Fathers as Democratic Reformers." IvyPanda, 18 June 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/founding-fathers-as-democratic-reformers/.

1. IvyPanda. "Founding Fathers as Democratic Reformers." June 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/founding-fathers-as-democratic-reformers/.


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IvyPanda. "Founding Fathers as Democratic Reformers." June 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/founding-fathers-as-democratic-reformers/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Founding Fathers as Democratic Reformers." June 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/founding-fathers-as-democratic-reformers/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Founding Fathers as Democratic Reformers'. 18 June.

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