The creation of the United States Constitution: was it based on compromises, or consensus?

Essay by en_gallopHigh School, 12th grade May 2006

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Although the US Constitution was created moderately with consensus, it was largely established on compromises. There was much rebelling and it was realized that a new, stronger constitution was necessary. It was indispensable to bring several hot issues to compromise, including elections, slave importation, and the bill of rights. The authors of the Constitution were building for the future as well as the present. They were keenly aware of the need for a structure of government that would work not only in their lifetime but for generations to come. Hence, they included in the Constitution a provision for amending the document when social, economic, or political conditions demanded it.

Election by the people was a highly debated topic. Roger Sherman, a member of Continental Congress, stated that the people immediately should have as little to do as may be about the government, saying "they [lack] information and are constantly liable to be misled."

Many agreed with Sherman, and felt that it was easy for the citizenry to get information wrong and be easily misled. However, others agreed with the opinions of men like George Mason of Virginia, who argued strongly for an election of the larger branch by the people. Mason was an important and intelligent man, but refused to sign the Constitution, which represented the ideas of some men. He felt that "by requiring only a majority [of Congress] to make all commercial and navigation laws, the five Southern states, whose produce and circumstances are totally different from that of the eight Northern and Eastern States, may be ruined. ...will enable the merchants of the Northern and Eastern states not only to demand an exorbitant freight, but to monopolize the purchase of the commodities at their own price, for many years, to the great injury of the landed interest...