Thesis statement on ratifying the constitution

Originally published as 28 Val. For educational use only. The printed edition remains canonical.

Thesis statement on ratifying the constitution

For the values that characterize Western thought are not self-executing.


They have never been universally accepted in the societies most closely identified with them, nor are their implications by any means so clear and unambiguous that the course to be followed in particular situations is self-evident.

On the contrary, these values are potentially contradictory, and the clash of interests to be found in the real world is so sharp that the nature of the governmental structures through which decisions are arrived at is critically important for the actual content of these decisions.

The great theme of the advocates of constitutionalism, in contrast either to theorists of utopianism, or of absolutism, of the right or of the left, has been the frank acknowledgment of the role of government in society, linked with the determination to bring that government under control and to place limits on the exercise of its power.

Of the theories of government which have attempted to provide a solution to this dilemma, the doctrine of the separation of powers has, in modern times, been the most significant, both intellectually and in terms of its influence upon institutional structures.

Such a claim, of course, Thesis statement on ratifying the constitution qualification as well as justification. On the contrary it represents an area of political thought in which there has been an extraordinary confusion in the definition and use of terms.

Furthermore, much of the specific content of the writings of earlier centuries is quite inappropriate to the problems of the mid twentieth century. The doctrine of the separation of powers, standing alone as a theory of government, has, as will be demonstrated later, uniformly failed to provide an adequate basis for an effective, stable political system.

It has therefore been combined with other political ideas, the theory of mixed government, the idea of balance, the concept of checks and balances, to form the complex constitutional theories that provided the basis of modern Western political systems. Nevertheless, when all the necessary qualifications have been made, the essential ideas behind Edition: To substantiate this view it will be necessary to attempt to define and use terms in a more precise way than has been generally the case in the past, and to review the evolution and history of the doctrine, important enough in itself, in order to understand its significance in the past and its relevance today.

In spite of the criticisms which can be made of the idea of the separation of powers, perhaps the most important conclusion to be drawn from such a review is that the problems of earlier centuries remain the problems of today; although the context is different, and the dimensions of the problem have changed, it is nevertheless the continuity of political thought, and of the needs of political man, which emerges as the most striking aspect of the history of institutional thought.


The doctrine of the separation of powers finds its roots in the ancient world, where the concepts of governmental functions, and the theories of mixed and balanced government, were evolved.

These were essential elements in the development of the doctrine of the separation of powers. Their transmission through medieval writings, to provide the basis of the ideas of constitutionalism in England, enabled the doctrine of the separation of powers to emerge as an alternative, but closely related, formulation of the proper articulation of the parts of government.

Growing out of the more ancient theory, the doctrine of the separation of powers became both a rival to it, and also a means of broadening and developing it into the eighteenth-century theory of the balanced constitution.

Thus began the complex interaction between the separation of powers and other constitutional theories which dominated the eighteenth century.

In England, France, and America this pattern of attraction and Edition: The revolutionary potentialities of the doctrine of the separation of powers in the hands of the opponents of aristocratic privilege and monarchical power were fully realized in America and France, and its viability as a theory of government was tested in those countries in a way which all too clearly revealed its weaknesses.

Nevertheless, the separation of powers, although rejected in its extreme form, remained in all three countries an essential element in constitutional thought, and a useful, if vague, guide for institutional development.

That this once revolutionary idea could also become in the course of time a bulwark of conservatism, is understandable, for this is the fate of many political ideas.

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As the nineteenth century developed the social environment became less and less favourable for the ideas which had been embodied in the pure doctrine of the separation of powers. The attack upon the doctrine came in two waves. First, the group which in earlier years had most fervently supported the separation of powers, the middle class, now saw within its reach the control of political power through the extension of the franchise, and the need for a theory that was essentially a challenge to the power of an aristocracy diminished.

However, the lessened enthusiasm for the doctrine took the form, in the period up until the Second Reform Act in England, of a re-examination and reformulation of the doctrine rather than an outright rejection of it.

Any suggestion of an extreme separation of powers had to be denied, but the importance of the idea as a part of the newly emerging theory of parliamentary government was readily acknowledged. The idea of balance, which was now transferred from the earlier theory of the balanced constitution to become an integral part of the new theory, required still a separation of organs and functions, but with a different set of concepts that had to be fitted into the framework of constitutional theory.

The rise and fall of the classical theory of parliamentary government is, therefore, an integral part of the story of the separation of powers. At the centre of this development stands the figure of Walter Bagehot, whose work represents a turning-point in the history of English constitutional thought.

Changing ideas about the role of government and its structure were accompanied by a changing emphasis in ideas about the nature of sovereignty.

In earlier centuries the stress upon the necessity of a single, omnipotent source of power was in general the resort of theorists of absolutism, strongly rejected by liberal constitutionalists. The defenders of liberty against arbitrary government stressed the division of power, and the limitations upon power imposed by the constitution or by a higher law.

If absolute power were in the hands of the people, or their representatives, then it could be stripped of its associations with arbitrary government and formed into an instrument of democratic power.

Patriot Mythology

If the franchise could be restricted to those with a stake in the community then the idea of an unlimited, indivisible sovereign power became for the liberal individualist not a threat, but a safeguard. It became, in the hands of Bentham and Austin, not a means of arbitrary rule but an instrument for the reform of government which would increase the freedom of the individual.

That it could equally well become the instrument of another class, and of a different philosophy of government, was a possibility that, if they acknowledged it, did not prevent them from attacking the earlier ideas of the division and limitation of power.

It is one of the great ironies of intellectual history that those who were most concerned to establish laissez-faire busied themselves with the fashioning of those weapons which were to be used most powerfully to destroy it.

The general context of political development during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries provided, therefore, the framework for a sharp reappraisal of the doctrine of the separation of powers, but there were other equally important, and related, intellectual challenges to the doctrine.

The attack upon the Montesquieu formulation of the triad of government powers, initiated by Bentham and Austin, was taken up by the writers on parliamentary government, and further developed in Germany, France, and America, so that by the early decades of the twentieth century the beautiful simplicity of the eighteenth-century view of the functions of government lay mangled and shattered.

And yet, although the attack seemed overwhelming, it was so far a merely negative criticism that no coherent formulation of the structure of government and the articulation of its parts rose up to take the place of the earlier theory.

As a result the vocabulary of an earlier age continued in use faute de mieux.supporters of the constitution during the debate over its ratification; favored a strong national government Anti-federalist argument against ratification It gave too much power to the national government at the expense of the powers of the state governments, it did not include the bill of rights.

Online Library of Liberty. A collection of scholarly works about individual liberty and free markets. A project of Liberty Fund, Inc. The Preamble to the United States Constitution is a brief introductory statement of the Constitution's fundamental purposes and guiding principles.

It states in general terms, and courts have referred to it as reliable evidence of the Founding Fathers' intentions regarding the Constitution's meaning and what they hoped the Constitution would achieve.

Thesis statement on ratifying the constitution

The British at this time virtually controlled all three ex-colonies, and in their opening move at the conference, they proposed that Ethiopia relinquish “voluntarily” the Ogaden area in the east of the country so that Britain could form and administer a Greater Somaliland in the Horn of Africa. The fundamental flaw in the applicants’ case is that it was premised on the proposition that the government has a constitutional duty to require Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea to comply with the rights contained in our Bill of Rights.

Thesis Statement For The Constitutional Convention

Ratifying the Constitution. Directions: Read all 6 documents, answer, questions, and create 2 thesis statements. Historical Context: Today, over years after it was written ad ratified (approved), most Americans think of .