The Compromises of the Constitution: Strengths, or Weaknesses?
Without these compromises, our country would be running on a basis designed for a different nation, with different priorities and different needs; in order to be successful, a country needs a foundation with the ability to modify so as to accommodate current issues. Though changes made in the past may be controversial (such as the Three-Fifths Compromise, or the Fugitive Slave Clause), amendments are necessary for a functioning government to stay modern and up to date.
The United States has become one of the most powerful forces on earth; without the compromises that have been made to the structure of its government, this accomplishment would not have been possible. One of the first compromises made to the United States’ system of government was the Great Compromise of 1787; an arrangement made between the smaller states and the larger states during the Constitutional convention, it modified the legislative branch so it would contain two houses of representation.
The Senate would continue to be an equal representation of each state, whereas the House of Representatives was created for proportional representation. This was an essential step for the nation’s government; it ensured cooperation between small and large states, and guaranteed just decisions would be made on behalf of both parties. This compromise clearly outlined the legislative structure and how it would operate; an act that undoubtedly strengthened the Constitution, and laid a path for the future of the legislative branch.
The Three-Fifths Compromise of 1787, however, was a decision that was far less black and white in terms of its capacity to strengthen the Constitution. Slaveholders could gain more power in terms of representation if slaves were counted as inhabitants, since they did not have the right to vote; this would give them more power in the House of Representatives over free Northern states. Though the agreement was reached that a slave only counted as three-fifths of a person, it still increased Southern states’ dominance over free states.
This compromise shows a skewed image of equality; if a slave can be counted towards representation of the population of a state, why does he or she not hold the same rights as another inhabitant of a state? It is not truly representation if one is not able to participate in who represents them. This aspect of the Three-Fifths Compromise did not add to the effectiveness of the Constitution; however, one could argue that it was very beneficial to the Southern states, and that they deserve representation for all of their inhabitants regardless of if they are a slave or not.
Overall, the act of defining a slave as three-fifths of a person added to the view that a black person is not equal to a white person, which in the future years of America did not prove to be anything but a set-back when striving for equality. Another act which was extremely detrimental to the advance of slavery opposition was the Fugitive Slave Clause; it required the return of a runaway slave to its owner, if found by another person.
This clause showed that slavery was still an overall accepted and expected part of American society, and the government expected all states to adhere to this law; even Northern states who opposed slavery. This clause did not strengthen the constitution, because it increased the overarching sense of inequality between blacks and whites which was contradictory to the Constitution’s statement that all men are created equal. It made it harder for slaves to find their way to freedom, and deepened the groove between Northern and Southern states on their standpoints concerning slavery.
Perhaps most disadvantageous to abolishing slavery was the Constitution’s lack of use of the word. This proves that slavery wasn’t addressed as a real issue, and therefore made it even more difficult to argue against it when the word itself hardly appeared in the document. By sidestepping the problem and leaving the word “slavery” out of the Constitution, the framers could protect it through other means (such as referring to it as “servitude” or “person held to labour”) and make it arder for abolitionists to eradicate the act of slavery from the United States. Article Five of the Constitution is crucial to the progression of the United States; it outlined the steps necessary to change the Constitution. It states that amendments may be proposed by either two-thirds of the House of Representatives and the Senate, or by a national convention. In order to become an amendment, the proposal must be approved by three-fourths of the states, or by conventions in three-fourths of the states.
This process made it possible for the Constitution to stay up to date, and applicable to present-day life. As long as amendments can be made to the framework of the government, the Constitution will always be relevant to the modern world. The procedure of ratifying an amendment is also key to the Constitution, because it guarantees that no unjust change will be made; cooperation and agreement among the legislature and the states is mandatory.
This Article is fundamental to the Constitution; without it, the original framework of government would not be compatible with our advancing country. The Bill of Rights was assuredly one of the most important adjustments made to the Constitution in the history of the United States; the straightforward establishment of a citizen’s basic rights created a sense of individual empowerment, and ensured the protection of one’s basic human liberties. Amendment IX also assures that simply because a right isn’t listed does not mean it doesn’t exist; this provides further security.
This factual definition of one’s rights in the Constitution addressed a citizen’s power under the federal government, and limits the state’s authority over an individual. By creating this sense of self-worth and recognition of human rights in one’s government, it strengthened the Constitution and made it relatable on a personal level. These amendments put worth on each individual’s life and rights, therefore making the Constitution relevant on a day to day basis.
Amendments Thirteen, Fourteen and Fifteen strengthened the Constitution because it finally acknowledged and abolished slavery, secured the rights of previous slaves, and deemed it unlawful to prevent a citizen from voting due to their race. This was a major step forward for the United States, and perhaps the greatest change to the framework of government since the ratification of the Bill of Rights. By finally prohibiting slavery, the Constitution no longer contradicted itself through its statement that all men are created equal, and added to its sturdiness.
Unfortunately, these three amendments were not enforced by Congress for several years; because of this, in the South many previous slave owners bent the rules, or found their way around them, and continued to prevent blacks from exercising their new rights. The government’s lack of enforcing these new amendments casts a shadow on the progress they accomplished; however, these amendments were crucial to the beginning of equal rights for blacks in America. Overall, the amendments of the Constitution of the United States of America strengthened our government and ensured the growth of our nation.
Without them, our system of government would not function in accordance to modern society and prove to be useless. They shows how the United States was able to come together as a whole and cooperate towards fixing what didn’t work, and forming the supreme law of the land to fit with demands of changing times. Though some of the compromises made throughout the history of this nation were controversial and did not know the meaning of equality, they map the progress of our country and remind us why we have the ability to create amendments.