How Did the Framers Guard Against Tyranny?

1729 WordsOct 18, 20127 Pages
How Did the Constitution Guard Against Tyranny? Imagine oneself back at the constitutional convention in seventeen eighty-seven. All of the brightest minds and most respected people in one place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the southeast of the state, near New York. Because it is May, and just beginning to be summer, it is hot, and because all the windows are closed in the interest of secrecy, it is stifling as well. Fifty-five well known thinkers of the age, all white males, have come. They range in age from James Madison, an up-and-comer and a prodigy who is twenty five to Benjamin Franklin, a wise, venerable, learned man who is eighty one. Delegates from eleven states are present, New Hampshire not turning up until July, and Rhode…show more content…
(James Madison, Federalist Paper #51, Document A). Madison is referring to a federalism, where powers are divided between the Central and state governments. In the finalized constitution that resulted, the Central government is able to regulate trade, conduct foreign relations, provide an army and navy, declare wars, print and coin money, and set up post offices. The states governments were permitted to set up local governments, hold elections, establish schools, and pass marriage and divorce laws, and regulate in-state businesses. Both are able to borrow money, set up courts, and make and enforce laws. The delicate balance of distribution of powers prevents either the state or central governments from taking too much control. While the national government deals with foreign and national domestic relations, the state governments deal with almost all local matters, and they both have a few shared powers, resulting in a comfortable balance. (Document A) The constitution makes use of separation of powers in order to prevent tyranny. In conjunction with his view of tyranny, Madison also said “(L)iberty requires that the three great departments of power be separate and distinct” (James Madison, Federalist Paper #47, Document B). This quote alludes quite clearly to separation of powers. Using this philosophy the founders gave each branch a few set jobs to perform. The legislative branch
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