The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action

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Transcript The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action

The Founding Fathers: A
Reform Caucus in Action
John P. Roche
Virginia Plan
• The first general plan for the
Constitution, proposed by
James Madison. Its key points
were a bicameral legislature, an
executive chosen by the
legislature, and a judiciary
named by the legislature.
New Jersey Plan
• A framework for the Constitution
proposed by a small group of states.
Its key provisions included a onehouse legislature with one vote for
each state, a multi-person executive,
the establishment of the acts of
Congress as the supreme law of the
land and supreme judiciary with
limited power.
Great Compromise
(Connecticut Compromise)
• The decision during the
Philadelphia constitutional
convention to give each state
the same number of
representatives in the Senate
regardless of size and
representation in the House
determined by population.
writ of habeas corpus
• Court order requiring
explanation to a judge why a
prisoner is being held in
• Main Argument:
• Roche views the Constitution “as a
democratic reform caucus.” (The Setting of… 3)
• Roche points out how the framers
were “practical politicians who knew
that ratification required a certain
ambiguity of phrasing so that both
federalist (nationalists) and states’
rights advocates could be assured
that their respective interests would
not be submerged.” (Lecture Summaries 4)
Bottom Line
• “the Constitution was for both
political and linguistic reasons
one enumerated not defined
(Lecture Summaries 4)
Constitutional Vagueness
• Article 1
• Powers of Congress
• Commerce power
− Began with Gibbons v. Ogden
– Constitutional interpretation
1. textual
2. based on original intent
3. normative, that is incorporating the
values of the justices.
• Power to tax and spend
• War power
− Power to raise and support armies
− Declare war (not make war)
(Lecture Summaries 4)
Roche’s Reasoning:
• Constitutional principles – “based on
political tradeoffs among state interests.
• Framers were nationalists
• Convention = compromise
(The Setting of… 3)
• Roche revises two previous notions of the
Constitutional framers:
• “as all-wise Platonic guardians adhering to
abstract principles of political theory”
• “an economic elite protecting their economic
(The Setting of… 3)
Roche’s Marco Picture:
• “Madison, Hamilton, Franklin and the other
delegates wanted a strong national
(Lecture Summaries 4)
What was Roche’s “one fundamental
truth about the Founding
• He believed that the Founding
Fathers were excellent
“democratic politicians.”
According to Roche, what was
the Philadelphia Convention?
• He believed it was a “nationalist
reform caucus” (pro-selfgovernment reorganization
convention) to achieve popular
Briefly explain Roche’s opinion of the
problem the Founding Fathers
confronted and the “solution they
• Lethargy (weariness) and
paradoxically (ironically) –
• 1st a call for a Constitutional
• 2nd delegates appointed;
• 3rd recommendations for reform;
• 4th acrimony (bitterness);
• 5th ratification: Solution =
Explain at least two compromises
made throughout the
Constitutional Convention.
• (1) Great Compromise (Virginia
Plan v New Jersey Plan) – equal
state representation
• (2) Executive
• (3) Slavery
What was the overall intent of John
Roche’s article?
• An attack on the various views
that the Constitution was not a
“practical political document,”
but an “expression of elitist
views” based on political
philosophy and economic
Roche’s comment, “The
Constitution, then, was not an
apotheosis of “constitutionalism,” a
triumph of architectonic genius; it
was a patch-work sewn together
under the pressure of both time and
events by a group extremely
talented democratic politicians.”
Works Cited
Woll, Peter. Lecture Summaries. Brandeis University. 10
Aug 2005.
Woll, Peter. The Setting of the American System.
Brandeis University. 9 Sept 2005