October 10, 2000
Many historians believe that the delegates to the Constitutional
Convention created the Constitution to protect their own financial
interests. There is evidence of this belief written throughout the
Constitution and by the intentional secrecy of the Convention. The
delegates did not want the general public to know what was said at the
convention. They thought that the only way they could only speak their
minds freely was in secrecy (Cayton 81). The writing of the Constitution
was done in a closed and guarded room, behind their backs of those it was
supposed to protect. How could a group of powerful wealthy men protect the
interests of the poor, especially without their help? So whom did the
Constitution really protect? In the Preamble, the Constitution states that
We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect
union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…and secure the
Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and
establish this Constitution for the United States. (Cayton 936)
In just the Preamble, one can see that it is the wealthy man, not average
working family, whose financial interests are most protected. “We the
People” really means “We the Wealthy”. The delegates wanted to “insure
domestic tranquility” because Shay’s Rebellion demonstrated to them how
unstable the peace truly was. They needed to make sure the poor did not
have a reason to rebel against them and destroy their property. The
delegates also needed to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and
our Posterity” because they believed that if the confusion continued they
would lose their newly acquired freedoms. The Constitution contains
several other issues that were financially advantageous to the wealthy.
For example, the Three-fifths Compromise that counted three-fifths of the
rich plantation owners’ slaves so that even though the slaves could not
vote, the plantation owners’ opinions would have greater representation in
congress. This would allow the plantation owners to oppose taxes on
tobacco and other crops with greater force that without the compromise.
Another example is the Electoral College. This allowed the people to feel
like they were participating in the election of the president while
ensuring that the actual decision was made by electors or members of
Congress (Cayton 85). In this way, the rich congressmen could make sure
that the Presidential candidates elected would support their interests.
With a foundation like this, it is not difficult to understand why wealthy
people continue to control politics even in today’s society.
Cayton, Andrew, Elisabeth Perry and Allan Winkler. America: Pathways to the
Present. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1998.