Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Second Founding by S. S.

The lecture The Second Founding by Joseph Ellis is about how the Founding Fathers had to completely scrap the weak federal government and start over. In the lecture Ellis spoke about the Articles of Confederation. The Articles gave ultimate power to the individual states. The speaker then talks about how the Founders did this on purpose, so that the government would be weaker than the people as they didn't want to become a monarchy or a dictatorship. Unfortunately, this lead to the government having absolutely no authority, and like a naughty child with a soft spoken babysitter, the states began to break the rules laid down by the Articles and the government was unable to do anything about it. The Founding Fathers knew that something big needed to happen as soon as Shays Rebellion started up. The rebellion represented the breakdown of justice and legality, but most of all it represented the breakdown of a new nation. The Founding Fathers began to meet in secret in order to create an improved government. The speaker's main point being that men with absolutely no authority whatsoever, completely changed the nation from one that was divided, to the United States of America. The purpose of this lecture was to educate the listener upon the thought behind everything that lead up to the Constitution being drafted, as well as the aftermath rather than the Constitution itself. There were many voices heard in this lecture however, they were all the voices of the Founding Fathers who were white, property owning men. The voices that we didn't hear were those of women and slaves, and even poor men of the time. These people were completely unaware of what was going on behind closed doors, but the aftermath must have been explosive. I would have loved to hear something from an outsider's perspective looking in. The accompanying letters from John Jay to George Washington were about the same. However, unlike the lecture the letters spoke more of the Constitutional Convention and how the change needed to happen, rather than the change itself. They give the reader more insight as to how these great men thought, and how they assembled to deal with the ever present issue of a new nation divided. One question that was gone over in class was about why the Constitution wasn't as important back then, the reason being that though it would be of great importance later, there were other things to worry about other than a document that was drafted experimentally and not expected to last. Another question that was gone over was how long the Shays Rebellion was. Shays Rebellion was not a complete event. It was a series of protests, carried out by farmers, that occurred over the span of 1786 to about 1787 against state and local enforcement of tax collections and judgements of debt. I was personally left wondering how the people reacted to the aftermath of the convention, were people happy? How did the states react? And if they were how did the Founding Fathers gain enough authority to begin to boss the states around?