Celebrating 227 Years of Our Constitution
This is Constitution Week, a commemoration of the Constitution of the United States.
In 1787 the newly formed U.S. faced a crisis of external threats existed, and the Articles of Confederation could not provide a steady income to support a common defense. The Confederation government couldn't pay its bills, and former soldiers such as Daniel Shays were in rebellion. Also, there was no financial stability as states were issuing their own currencies and refusing to honor those of other states.
In 1786, the states had called the Annapolis Convention to discuss the problems of commerce; however, the convention fell short of full attendance. The delegates agreed to another meeting in 1787 to amend the Articles, and this time all but Rhode Island participated. Immediately, the delegates went to work with the proposal of two reform plans: 1) the Virginia Plan written by James Madison, and 2) the New Jersey Plan proposed by William Paterson.
Madison spent the year leading up to the Constitutional Convention studying and developing his plan seeking a balance between the tyranny of the few and the chaos of mob rule. Preserving the rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence and constructing a functional government proved to be no mean trick.
Months of studying philosophy and historical outcomes brought Madison to his proposal of a system of checks and balances as well as separation of powers to preserve the consent of the governed without the threat of too much authority in one place. The delegates stalled between the two proposals, and frustration mounted for weeks. Finally, Benjamin Franklin called for a recess to consider divine guidance before reconvening. The move proved to be critical to salvaging the Convention.
Upon reconvening, the Connecticut (or Great) Compromise brought a resolution. It proposed a bicameral legislature (one house of equal representation, the other by population), three branches, and Congressional powers to include the authority to levy taxes, coin money, regulate commerce, and maintain the national defense, all short falls under the Articles. The three branches have provided for the system of separation of powers and checks and balances as we know them today. The powers of one branch are limited by the powers of others (the legislature makes the laws, the executive enforces, and the courts interpret). So far, this system has been instrumental in preserving limited government in our country. As Franklin told George Washington and the other delegates as they adjourned, the sun was rising on the United States. Happy Constitution Week!
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working me to make Missouri a great place to live.