Guest Post: The Success of the Constitution

The Blog-a-Fault-Line Contest results are in! We received so many fine entries that we have three winners. Two blogs will be posted in May and one in June. First up: Boris Ardemasov  His teacher is Aaron Hull. Thank you to both Boris and Aaron for participating!

A document written to create compromise between Northern and Southern values, the Constitution sufficiently resolved all issues besides slavery, something that was purposely left out of the document.  Establishing precedent for political representation, freedom of speech, and a sound governmental system, the greatest drawback of the document was its neglect of action against slavery. As would be seen through Bleeding Kansas, abolition, and the Missouri Compromise, the issue of slavery would create a deep rift in society, one that

would not ever go away. With respect to the enslaved population, the Constitution did not “establish justice” or “secure liberty”; however, one has to let go of modern bias and look at the issue from a historical perspective in order to really see the whole picture. Ultimately, the Constitution achieved an atmosphere and a society in which fundamental change was possible and encouraged laws.

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Allowing for systematic subjugation of a race, the Constitution was far from perfect; however, one cannot overlook the tremendous progress that was made through this document. First, the Constitution granted individuals freedom of speech through the First Amendment, something which would allow for change in governmental policy in the future. One of the Founding Fathers’ greatest accomplishments was creating a document that enabled the nation to grow with the progression of time. Although not able to resolve the issue of slavery right away, the Constitution allowed for gradual change. Frederick Douglass—one of the most prominent abolitionists—stated,If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”  The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments demonstrate a clear evolution of American legislation, something that was achieved through “struggle” and established “justice.” The Founders saw that an overly progressive document would not go through Congress, therefore creating a document which enabled the nation to change.

Although the story of Anthony Burns is one that was really common during the early nineteenth century, the success of the Constitution is embodied by the gradual progression of legislation through current day. Commencing with the enslavement of 2.3 million people, and evolving into the Black Codes following the Civil War, the fates of the African-American people might have seemed pretty grim. However, the history of the United States is one of constant progress. As can be seen through the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the tremendous civil rights movement and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, American government has gradually allowed for the holistic sharing of all rights.

If looked at through the scope of the eighteenth century, the Founders’ allowance of slavery as a practice is not surprising. The practice was embraced throughout the world, making claims that the writers of the Constitution did not extend sufficient rights uninformed. Did they allow for the oppression of people? Was this the norm of the time? These are the questions that have to be asked, keeping in mind that the Founders were trying to unify the nation, the single biggest accomplishment of the Constitution. By the standards of the time, the Constitution secured the most liberties of all documents of the time.

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Boris Ardemasov attends Greenwich High School in Greenwich, Connecticut. 

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