Opinion: Founding fathers of the United States
Fmr. Sen. George Nodland, R-Dickinson, shares his thoughts on the founding fathers of the United States.
The proposals we are having today to change parts of our federal government purposes caused me to review the history of our founding fathers when they formed our Constitution. Our country is over 243 years old. It is amazing that we have survived that long! But, if you study the process and the time it took to form our Constitution, you can see the intellect and vision our founding fathers had.
There were 13 states at the time the Constitution was formed. They were operating under an Articles of Confederation type of government at the time which was formed on 11-15-1777. Twelve of the states appointed 74 individuals to attend, but 55 individual delegates agreed to attend the sessions with 39 delegates signing the document. Rhode Island refused to attend as they felt there was a conspiracy to overthrow the established government. Most of the states felt that they needed a congress that had enforcement powers, regulate commerce, and print money, but they did not want a central government like Great Britain. There were a few different ideas on what type of government to form. The states disputed over territory, war pensions, taxation and trade.
Almost 4 months of hot debate and working out all the different ideas, they came up with the new constitution condensing twenty three different articles into seven. It was a great achievement of many compromising ideas. The Federalist wanted a strong central government and the Anti-Federalist feared a government style like the one they had just overthrown. They did not want to lose the individual states rights and powers. Thus, the reason for the first ten amendments-The Bill of Rights! The constitution is the shortest constitution in the world-forty four hundred words. The document (completed on 9-17-1787) is the most powerful and successful style of government in the world today!
Some of the most famous and familiar delegates were George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison. George Washington had the military experience to guide the military functions of government. He was well respected by all the delegates for his leadership abilities and war experience. Alexander Hamilton wanted a strong central government with a strong financial position. He became the first Secretary of Treasury and shaped up the disorganized finances of the original Confederation. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest delegate at the age of 81. He used his personality traits and prestige to cool down the hotheads and had the ability to work out compromises in the most contested ideas. James Madison was the most forceful figure at the convention. He attended most of the meetings and worked with the two opposing views until a compromise was completed. He was instrumental in framing and ensured the passage of the Bill of Rights!
It took two years and eight months for the thirteen states to ratify the constitution. The last state to ratify the constitution was Rhode Island on 5-29-1790. Each state took their time to weigh the different pieces of the constitution and major change in the new three separate branches of government-The legislative which makes the laws, the executive which executes the laws and the judicial which interprets the laws.
I have a deep concern that most of our young people have not read or studied our constitution. We need to emphasize the importance of how our country was formed in the beginning. If we lose the purpose and meaning for the United States, we may lose our country!