Alexander Hamilton And The Constitution Essay Research

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Alexander Hamilton And The Constitution Essay, Research Paper What role Alexander Hamilton played in the Consitutional Convention? Constitutional Reformer The economy of the young nation in the years following the Revolution was in bad shape. The United States had accrued millions of dollars in war debt; competitive tariffs between states hampered economic growth while sowing political discord; American shipping struggled to recover from the war; and the Continental Congress was unable to impose taxes in order to drive the country forward out of its financial doldrums. Against this background, the legislature of Virginia in 1786 called for a meeting of the states in Annapolis, Maryland, to deliberate adjustments to the nation’s commercial regulations — a relatively modest

ambition. Hamilton, Receiver of Continental Revenue for New York, attended the September Convention as his state’s representative, only to find that four states had not even bothered to send delegates. The only states represented were Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York, and it became apparent that any measures these five did adopt might not carry sufficient authority for implementation. The whole project appeared headed for failure, and in fact, the only notable success to come out of the episode was Hamilton’s call for a constitutional convention of all the states to meet in Philadelphia the next year. “While phrased blandly — delegates would have the power to make such changes as were “necessary to render the constitution of the Federal

Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union” — the resolution emphasized that everything relating to the government of the United States would be on the table. Advocates of strong central government, as they themselves perceived, would have the chance to overhaul the Articles of Confederation at one fell swoop, rather than tinkering at the edges.” ( Cooke, 53) It was at this point that the Shays Rebellion in Massachusetts lent a vital urgency to the call for a Constitutional Convention and strengthened the public belief that the country needed a much stronger federal government than the one it had. The rioting farmers and debtors, led by Daniel Shays, who closed courts of justice, demanded the nullification of the Massachussets Senate, and insisted violently on

financial reform represented for many political leaders the dangers posed by unchecked public action, by “the mob.” The framers of the Constitution agreed that a republican society depended on the democratic participation of the citizens, but they believed that such participation needed to occur within recognized lawful limits. The rebellion also highlighted the impotence of the Continental Congress, which faced such a serious cash shortage that it couldn’t raise the troops necessary to put down the rebellion (which was eventually suppressed by a contingent of 4,000 Massachusetts militiamen). Citing the weakness of the central government, Hamilton raised the familiar but compelling spectre of a disintegrating republic: “Who can determine what might have been the issue of

the late convulsions, if the malcontents had been headed by a Caesar or a Cromwell? Who can predict what effect a despotism, established in Massachusetts would have upon the liberties of New Hampshire or Rhode Island, of Connecticut or New York?” ( Cooke, 57) Federalist As a New York delegate to the Constitutional Convention, Hamilton initially had to compete with Roberts Yates and John Lansing, Jr., they were two fellow representatives from his state who had been appointed by Governor George Clinton, a staunch opponent of centralized federal power, in order to outweigh Hamilton’s vote. “Hamilton’s role in the framing and ratification of the Constitution was a curious one. He did not prove to be a particularly distinguished or influential delegate at the Convention —