Revolutionary Reaction: The Constitution

The Constitution of the United States was infused with new revolutionary principles but still managed to inherit a few conservative values from European government. In early post-revolution America, before an actual constitution united the country, the Articles of Confederation were the governing documents as determined by the continental congress. The Articles were written immediately after independence was declared and Americans, particularly the representatives, still radiated with revolutionary fire inspired by new ideas about life and it’s freedoms.

Determined to take a firm stand on stomping down tyranny and empowering the principle of a limited government, authors of the Articles created an extremely weak central government that placed a majority of power in the hands of the states. Ironically, the Articles were too revolutionary to safeguard the efforts of the revolution itself. The failure of the Articles caused the writers of the Constitution to include some extremely dulled down versions of England’s conservative ideas on a powerful central government. Even with independence declared and the revolution underway, some Americans were still skeptical of change and, while miniscule, their presence forced a hint of conservatism to linger within the Constitution. Some aspects of the US Constitution mirrored 18th century England; for example, tax arrangements, Military procedures, slavery acceptance, and the idea of a governing capitol.

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However, for the most part the United States Constitution was centered around very new revolutionary ideology and thought. It was fashioned in direct opposition to the rule of the English Crown; in reference mostly to ideas concerning consent of the governed, limited government, shared power, checks and balances, and the strength of a democratic republic. The flexibility of the Constitution, provided by the Amendment Process, is what sets the document apart from its counterparts and earns it its reputation as a “living document.” Unlike all other governing documents of the time, a revolution was not necessary to make changes. The framers realized that as time went own, each generation would face new trails and encounter new factors that would affect the workability of the Constitution. The Amendment process provided a legal and democratic way of altering or “flexing” the document to meet the needs of an ever-evolving people.

Including the Amendment Process made the United States Constitution truly original.