Constitutional Decisions

Blog 2: Constitutional Decisions

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We’ll be discussing the Constitution in class.

What did the Founders discuss as far as public participation and representation? James Madison kept the definitive notes for the Constitutional convention. You can read a day by day description of the discussions here: https://teachingamericanhistory.org/resources/convention/summary/ (Links to an external site.)

Now, I have done the work for you of pulling out a discussion. This discussion is about how we should elect the members of the House of Representatives. It takes place on Thursday May 31. Here is the transcript: Constitutional Convention Representation remarks.pdf

What I have here is more extensive than the online version, though still short. What you’ll see under May 31 is first a bit of housekeeping – a resolution that passed (two houses in our congress) and now the resolution be debated is how the members of the House of Representative should be chosen. think for a minute – how do we chose members of the House? Now read the debate by several speakers on their thinking, at the time, of how to do it. Remember there is no Constitution at this point, they are writing it, so this is ‘behind the scenes’! Here is what I would like you do to:

1. Read the three pages, making note of the discussion about how they should be chosen. Some favor election, some favor appointment. Recap the following:

  • Mr. Sherman’s feelings on the matter (which state was he from?)
  • Mr. Gerry’s feelings on the matter (Where From?)
  • Mr. Mason’s feelings (where from?)
  • Mr. Wilson, same
  • Mr. Madison, same

On page 41, they voted – ay and nay. Which won?

What is your impression about how the framers felt about the average person and democracy? Does any of their opinions surprise you?

Write clearly – you do not need to write a lot, but enough to demonstrate your command of the debate.

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