Unit Two Assignment: The United States Constitution
Analyze the excerpts located in the last pages of this assignment, from key primary source documents from the Federalist and Anti-federalist debate over the ratification of the Constitution, and respond to the question.
Reading: Keep in mind, these documents were written hundreds of years ago. Take your time as you read, and be active highlighting passages or taking notes. Needing to reread a document several times does not mean you are slow; it means the reading is complex! Finally, you do not need to understand 100% of every document to answer the questions.
Evidence: Use specific evidence from the document to support your answer, either short quotes (6-8 words), or paraphrases
Quoting: When using a quote, be sure to also explain what it means in your own words. Quoting is only a first step; you must demonstrate your understanding of the document. Your own writing and explanations should make up most of the paragraphs.
Citations must be used to earn credit. When paraphrasing or quoting within your writing, use American Psychological Association (APA) format, or the Author’s last name and year of publication (Example, 2012).
Formal citations are not required for the reference section. Simply include the article name and the complete website address at the bottom of your analysis.
Refer to the scoring guidelines below before you start writing, and compare your writing to it afterward and make revisions as needed.
Using the Federalist Papers and Elbridge Gerry’s letter, write a four to five paragraph essay evaluating the arguments for and against ratification of the Constitution. In at least one paragraph each, explain both sides, and then create a perspective on which makes the most persuasive case, and why.
Critical Area for Improvement
Comprehension & Meaning
Knowledge: The writer demonstrates an accurate grasp, in-depth command, and comprehensive understanding of both the explicit and inferred ideas and details they are writing about.
Little to no understanding
Development and Elaboration
Evidence: The writer develops the topic thoroughly with the most significant and relevant facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.
Development: The writer [addresses the prompt and] produces clear and coherent writing in which the style is appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Illuminating focus on task, purpose, and audience
Clear focus on task, purpose, and audience
Some focus on task, purpose, or audience
No discernible focus on task, purpose, or audience
Organization and Focus
Introduction: [The writer provides an introduction that frames the topic clearly and provides focus for what is to follow].
Underdeveloped or ineffective introduction
No recognizable introduction
Coherence: The writer organizes complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions so that each new element builds on that which precedes it to create a unified whole.
Offers purposeful logical organization
Offers sufficient logical organization
Inconsistent logical organization
Little or no logical organization
Conclusion: The writer provides a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented.
Underdeveloped or ineffective conclusion
No recognizable conclusion
Language and Clarity
Vocabulary: The writer uses precise language, domain-specific vocabulary, and [rhetorical] techniques to manage the complexity of the topic.
Compelling use of precise language and vocabulary
Clear use of precise language and vocabulary
Ineffective use of language and vocabulary
Use of unclear language and poor vocabulary
Tone: The writer establishes and maintains a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
Consistent use of formal style and use of conventions
Sufficient use of formal style and use of conventions
Inconsistent use of formal style and use of conventions
Lacks formal style and use of conventions
Transitions: The writer uses appropriate and varied transitions and syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships among complex ideas and concepts.
Little or no transitions
Conventions: The writer demonstrates a command of grammatical English and mechanical conventions.
Few if any errors
Sources: The writer uses an appropriate number sources, avoids plagiarism, and follows a standard format for citation
Ample properly cited sources
Several properly cited sources
Some sources, improperly cited
Plagiarism of sources
1. A feeble executive implies a feeble execution of the government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever may be its theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 69, March 14, 1788
2. A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to the full accomplishment of the objects committed to its care, and to the complete execution of the trusts for which it is responsible, free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to the sense of the people.
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 31, January 1, 1788
3. But as the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the State governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, EXCLUSIVELY delegated to the United States.
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 32, January 3, 1788
4. Constitutions of civil government are not to be framed upon a calculation of existing exigencies, but upon a combination of these with the probable exigencies of ages, according to the natural and tried course of human affairs. Nothing, therefore, can be more fallacious than to infer the extent of any power, proper to be lodged in the national government, from an estimate of its immediate necessities.
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 34, January 4, 1788
5. Energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good government. It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks; it is not less essential to the steady administration of the laws; to the protection of property against those irregular and high-handed combinations which sometimes interrupt the ordinary course of justice; to the security of liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of faction, and of anarchy.
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 69, March 14, 1788
6. Government implies the power of making laws. It is essential to the idea of a law, that it be attended with a sanction; or, in other words, a penalty or punishment for disobedience.
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15, 1787
7. I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 84, 1788
8. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788
9. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?
James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788
10. Among the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.
James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787
11. An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.
James Madison, Federalist No. 58, 1788
12. As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought in all governments, and actually will in all free governments ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs, when the people stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career, and to suspend the blow mediated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice and truth, can regain their authority over the public mind?
James Madison (likely), Federalist No. 63, 1788
13. As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.
James Madison, Federalist No. 55, February 15, 1788
14. But the safety of the people of America against dangers from foreign force depends not only on their forbearing to give just causes of war to other nations, but also on their placing and continuing themselves in such a situation as not to invite hostility or insult; for it need not be observed that there are pretended as well as just causes of war.
John Jay, Federalist No. 4
Of the 42 delegates who stayed to the end of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, 39 signed the document. One who did not sign the Constitution of the United States was Elbridge Gerry, a delegate from Massachusetts. Below, he justifies decision in a letter to his state legislature.
Elbridge Gerry, A Letter to the Massachusetts State Legislature
Gentlemen : I have the honor to enclose, pursuant to my commission, the Constitution proposed by the Federal Convention.
To this system I gave my dissent, and shall submit my objections to the honorable legislature.
It was painful for me, on a subject of such national importance, to differ from the respectable members who signed the Constitution; but conceiving, as I did, that the liberties of America were not secured by the system, it was my duty to oppose it.
My principal objections to the plan are, that there is no adequate provision for a representation of the people; that they have no security for the right of election; that some of the powers of the legislature are ambiguous, and others indefinite and dangerous; that the executive is blended with, and will have an undue influence over, the legislature; that the judicial department will be oppressive; that treaties of the highest importance may be formed by the President, with the advice of two thirds of a quorum of the Senate; and that the system is without the security of a bill of rights . These are objections which are not local, but apply equally to all the states.
As the Convention was called for “the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation, and reporting to Congress, and the several legislatures, such alterations and provisions as shall render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of government, and the preservation of the Union,” I did not conceive that these powers extend to the formation of the plan proposed; but the Convention being of a different opinion, I acquiesced in it, being fully convinced that, to preserve the Union, an efficient government was indispensably necessary, and that it would be difficult to make proper amendments to the Articles of Confederation.
The Constitution proposed has few, if any, federal features, but is rather a system of national government. Nevertheless, in many respects, I think it has great merit, and, by proper amendments, may be adapted to the “exigencies of government, and preservation of liberty.”
The question on this plan involves others of the highest importance: 1. Whether there shall be a dissolution of the federal government; 2. Whether the several state governments shall be so altered as in effect to be dissolved; 3. Whether, in lieu of the federal and state governments, the national Constitution now proposed shall be substituted without amendment. Never, perhaps, were a people called on to decide a question of greater magnitude. Should the citizens of America adopt the plan as it now stands, their liberties may be lost; or should they reject it altogether, anarchy may ensue. It is evident, therefore, that they should not be precipitate in their decisions; that the subject should be well understood;–lest they should refuse to support the government after having hastily accepted it.
If those who are in favor of the Constitution, as well as those who are against it, should preserve moderation, their discussions may afford much information, and finally direct to a happy issue.
It may be urged by some, that an implicit confidence should be placed in the Convention; but, however respectable the members may be who signed the Constitution, it must be admitted that a free people are the proper guardians of their rights and liberties; that the greatest men may err, and that their errors are sometimes of the greatest magnitude.
Others may suppose that the Constitution may be safely adopted, because therein provision is made to amend it. But cannot this object be better attained before a ratification than after it? And should a free people adopt a form of government under conviction that it wants amendment?
And some may conceive that, if the plan is not accepted by the people, they will not unite in another. But surely, while they have the power to amend, they are not under the necessity of rejecting it.
I have been detained here longer than I expected, but shall leave this place in a day or two for Massachusetts, and on my arrival shall submit the reasons (if required by the legislature) on which my objections are grounded.
I shall only add that, as the welfare of the Union requires a better Constitution than the Confederation, I shall think it my duty, as a citizen of Massachusetts, to support that which shall be finally adopted, sincerely hoping it will secure the liberty and happiness of America.
I have the honor to be, gentlemen, with the highest respect for the honorable legislature and yourselves, your most obedient and very humble servant,
To the Hon . Samuel Adams , Esq., President of the Senate, and the Hon . James Warren , Esq., Speaker of the House of Representatives, of Massachusetts.
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