May 31, 2018
While it’s stylish to idolize the U.S. Constitution and worship our Founding Fathers as men united in a single purpose, it’s fake news. The Constitution was created by a handful of delegates who compromised until they had a document the majority could endorse. It was not unanimous, however.
Rhode Island even refused to send
delegates to the convention. Sam
Adams, John Hancock, and Patrick
Henry also boycotted the
proceedings. Two of New York’s
three delegates left in opposition
before the document was finished.
Of the 55 original delegates, only
39 penned their names to the
Four of Virginia’s seven delegates
refused to sign. Of the 13 states,
the only states with unanimous
delegation support were Delaware,
New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and
Once the Constitutional Convention churned out the document, it had to be ratified by nine states to take effect. That led to a battle between the Federalists—those who supported ratification—and the Anti-Federalists. That battle would lead to two political parties once the Constitution was ratified.
But even the parties were not unified for long. Noah Webster launched New York City’s first daily newspaper—a Federalist publication—to support President George Washington. Webster’s then-target was French Minister Edmond Charles Genêt, who was trying to drag the new United States into another war with Great Britain. Alexander Hamilton was one of Webster’s benefactors. But in a fallout over support for John Adams a few years later, Hamilton turned from ally to vicious opponent, waging war with Webster by launching his own daily New York City Federalist daily—which survives today as the New York Post.
The fact is, Americans have never been united in their vision for the country and never will be. The parties have always been composed of men of differing views. The politics of today are much like the politics of the late 18th and early 19th century. Rather than idolize a time that never was, perhaps we should celebrate our participation in a grand American tradition. Argue. Hurl epithets.
It’s the American way.
(Leave a snide comment below.)
Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.