Hofstadter: The Founding Fathers: an Age of Realism

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98 thoughts on “Hofstadter: The Founding Fathers: an Age of Realism

  1. Thesis: Holding fast to their belief that the majority of Americans were unfit to rule over themselves, the Founding Fathers set out to create a government in which the masses had only a bit of say and the privileged exercised the most control.
    • Hofstadter starts off by saying that the constitution’s writers “had a vivid Calvinistic sense of human evil…and believed with Hobbes that men are selfish and contentious.” The Founding Fathers saw men as being victims of human nature and believed that such creatures weren’t capable of presiding over themselves. The Fathers, generally being men of affluence and prestige, saw themselves and other members of the upper class as being the only ones who could run the government successfully.
    • “Government, thought the Fathers, is based on property. Men who have no property lack the necessary stake in an orderly society to make stable or reliable citizens,” Hofstadter states. A decent portion of the male population was property-less; by denouncing the role of these men, the Fathers (most of whom owned an extensive amount of land) secured a place for themselves at the head of the government.
    • The leaders, whether they liked it or not, did have to give some power to the people, though. Hofstadter writes, “The masses were turbulent and unregenerate, and yet…government must be founded upon their suffrage and consent.” The author also notes, “James Wilson…said again and again that the ultimate power of government must of necessity reside in the people.”

  2. The Founding Fathers feared an uprising from the lower classes and the Constitution allowed them to have the power to them and still make it seem to the lower classes that they had many freedoms.
    1. The Founders stressed that they needed to keep lower class rebellions in check so they wouldn’t fear a full-scale revolt.
    2. They believed humanity was evil in a Hobbesian nature and so they needed to established a sort of aristocratic government because “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
    3. They made representation to seem good but in truth, they made it almost to the point where no poor class American could be in Congress or in power.

  3. The American Constitution is reflective of the “realism” of the era, being that common people are irrational and incapable of self-governance.

    1. “There was no better expression of the dilemma of a man who has no faith in the people but insists that government be based upon them than that of Jeremy Belknap, a New England clergyman, who wrote to a friend: ‘Let it stand as a principle that government originates from the people; but let the people be taught…….that they are not able to govern themselves.’”

    2. “‘democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself; There never was a democracy yet that did
    not commit suicide.’”

    3. They though man was a creature of rapacious self-interest, and yet they wanted him to be free—-free, in essence, to contend, to engage in an umpired strife, to use property to get property. They accepted the mercantile image of life as an eternal battleground, and assumed the Hobbesian war of each against all; they did not propose to put an end to this war, but merely to stabilize it and make it less
    murderous.

  4. Thesis Statement: The founding fathers struggled between democracy and a republic, when picking the direction of the government, truly questioning if the people of America were ready to govern themselves and how their decision would affect the nation.
    1.” Let it stand as a principle that government originates from the people; but let the people be taught..that they are not able to govern themselves” (page 9)
    2. “the ultimate power of government must of necessity reside in the people” (pg 9)
    3. “It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government” (pg 10)
    4. “If, in a state that lacked constitution balance, one class or one interest gained control, they believed, it would surely plunder all other interests”(pg11)
    5. “In a small direct democracy the unstable passions of the people would dominate lawmaking; but a representative government would refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens”(pg12)
    All of the quotes above prove that this article was about the choice over if American people should be able to govern themselves and if democracy or a republic was better for the country. The article also goes into how the choice of government affects social, economic, and political issues of the country.

  5. the thesis of hofstader essay is: All men are evil and the writers of the constitution had a calvinistic view of humans and wrote the constitution with Hobbe’s ideas in mind.
    - “Since man was an uchangeable creature of self interest” Page 10
    - “Democracy, unchecked rule by the masses, is sure to bring arbitrary redistrubution of property, destroying the very essence of liberty.” Page 15
    - “…conflict between the ruling classes broke out…” Page !9

  6. The Founding Fathers struggled creating the Constitution.

    - “the people have ever been and ever will be unfit to retain the exercise of power in their own hands” p6
    -”If, in a state that lacked constitutional balance, one class or one interest gained control, they believed, it would surely plunder all other interests” p11
    -”Freedom for property would result in liberty for men-perhaps not for all men, but at least for all worthy men” p15
    -”After the Constitution was adopted, conflict between the ruling classes broke out anew” p19

  7. Hofstader’s thesis is that although the founding fathers believed that men were self-interested or wicked by nature, and that old colonial problems were pressuring them to act; they didn’t just want to come up with any old government but they wanted to come up with the best one possible.
    They looked for “devices that would force various interests to check and control one another.” They came up with 3: 1) control uprisings, 2) keep out personal passions by electing representives, 3) rich and poor have to be neutral so the governments needs a system of checks and balances so they each have their say.

  8. I believe Hofstader’s thesis was: The founding fathers believed the people of the United States should not have much of a say in their government because they are naturally evil.
    In the beginning of his document he states, “The men who drew up the constitution of Philadelphia during the summer of 1787 had a vivid Calvinistic sense of human evil” (Hofstader 5). The founding fathers believed that everyone was innately evil and so they were wary of that when writing the Constitution.
    Next he says, “Throughout the secret discussions at the Constitutional Convention it was clear that this distrust of man was first and foremost a distrust of the common man and democratic rule” (Hofstader 6). They did not trust the common person to have enough idea of democracy to be able to rule the country.
    Finally he says, “Government, thought the Fathers, is based on property. Men who have no property lack the necessary stake in an orderly society to make stable or reliable citizens” (Hofstader 17). The Founding Fathers, he says, believed that in order to be a reliable person you needed to hold property. They thought you could not be a successful leader unless you owned property

  9. the founding fathers set out to create one of the greatest governments in history

    -”if men were angels no government would be necessary…in creating a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in’ this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself”

    -”the quest of the fathers reduced primarily to a search for constitutional devices that would force various interests to check and control one another”

    -”the second advantage of good constitutional government resided in the mechanism of representation itself. a small direct democracy the unstable passions of the people would dominate lawmaking; but a Representative government, as Madison said, would ‘refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens”

  10. Hofstadter believes that the founding fathers very carefully constructed our government after the Revolutionary war to satisfy the people, but to not let their evil ways destroy the government.

    “Constitution of the United states is based on the philosophy of Hobbes”
    “…the Fathers wished to avoid the prejudices of the people”
    “[the people] were not able to govern themselves”

  11. Thesis – The founding fathers wanted to make a separate government from Britain and give everyone equality, yet wealthy white men were in charge of congress, and many still didn’t believe people could govern themselves.

    1. “The democratic parts of our constitutions…..are the worst of all political evils; Roger Sherman, hoping that the people have as little to do as may be about the government.” (Pg. 6) In this statement from the packet, Hofstader shows that not everyone wanted the general population to have anything to do with the running of government.

    2. “the better kind of people found themselves set off from the mass by a hundred visible, tangible, and audible distinctions of dress, speech, manners, and education. There was a continuous lineage of upper-class contempt, from the pre-Revolutionary Tories…” (Pg. 7) This shows how even though the founding fathers wanted equality between social classes, it still was not reached during their time. The distinction between classes and peoples rights was still there, ether politically, socially, or economically.

    3. “Man was an unchangeable creature of self-interest…” (Pg. 10) This sentence proves how the founding fathers only wanted to do better for themselves before they thought about the rest of the people. By putting the wealthy into government, the rest of the rich population was safe and secured when it came to laws effecting them too much.

    4. “Wealth tends to corrupt the mind and to nourish its love of power, and to stimulate the spirit of the opulent.” (Pg. 11) In this passage, Hofstader shows how some of the wealthier men during that time didn’t agree to letting people govern themselves, because they believed since they were rich, that they were also better than the poorer people.

    5. “with too few exceptions to have any influence on the spirit of the government, will be composed of landholders, merchants, and men of the learned professions.” (Pg. 13) In this statement, Hofstader proves that the government was to only be made up of the rich or educated, and not the poor which still isn’t representing everyone.

  12. Thesis: Torn between humans’ self-absorption and the fact that people should have a say in government, the Founding Fathers established a government with checks and balances so no faction could become to strong.
    1. “To them a human being was an atom of self-interest. They did not believe in man, but they did believe in the power of a good political constitution to control him.
    2. Hamilton said, “the turbulent and changing masses seldom judge or determine right.”
    3. James Madison said “It seems indispensable that the mass of citizens should not be without a voice in making the laws which they are to obey”
    4. “Since man was an unchangeable creature of self-interest…the Fathers relied upon checking vice with vice.”
    5. “A properly designed state, the Fathers believed, would check interest with interest…and one branch of government with another in a harmonious system of mutual frustration.”
    6. Hofstadter says the three advantages of our new government were the government could maintain order “against popular uprising or majority rule,” the people were represented by wiser representatives that they chose, and the government was a blend of aristocracy and democracy that would “neutralize each other.”

  13. Thesis: Human’s are naturally selfish and will do things to benefit themselves, but the fathers knew that they could be controlled by a stable government.
    1) THe fathers believed that a “balanced government” can control the people. (pg 11)
    2) They also believed that the people would be happy with a representative democracy because they will have a say in the government unlike a monarchy. (pg 12)
    3) The writers also believed that aristocracy can and will be neutralized by democracy. (pg 13)

  14. Thesis: It may have seemed on the surface that the founding fathers supported democracy, however they feared the capacity of the middle and lower classes and refused to give them much power.

    Evidence:
    1)Page 5 paragraph 1 Horace White explains the Constitution “is based upon the philosophy of Hobbes and the religion of Calvin”. This proves that the Founding Fathers thought that the average men were naturally evil and belligerent and reflected this by limiting their powers in the Constitution.

    2) Page 12 paragraph 3 says, “In a small direct democracy the unstable passions of the people would dominate lawmaking; but a representative government, as Madison said, would ‘refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens”. This shows that the Founding Fathers felt the regular citizens would be to impulsive to have a say in government and had to limit their power through representative democracy.

    3) On page 17 paragraph 2 it says that 4 men were anxious about the urban working class, “men without property and principle,” rising up sometime in the future. This proves why the founding fathers feared the working class would eventually overpower them and why they in turn limited their say in government.

  15. The Founding Fathers believed that all men were invested in only their own interests and wrote the Constitution accordingly.
    1. The Constitution-makers wanted to create a balanced government that would prevent the rich and poor from stealing from each other.
    2. The Fathers did not try to change human nature, but wrote the Constitution to create less casualties in the war for self-interest.
    3. They used a democratic system to prevent tyranny and aristocracy.

  16. Thesis: The Founding Fathers’ conflicting thoughts regarding mankind were extreme and resulted in a government based on distrust.

    -”They did not believe in man, but they did believe in the power of a good political constitution to control him.” The Fathers believed that men were incapable of making the right decisions for themselves. They thought that mankind was evil, taking the view of Thomas Hobbes that all men are evil.

    -”‘Let it stand as a principle that government originates from the people; but let the people be taught … that they are not able to govern themselves.’” Although they want the people to feel the power and think that they have a say in the government, right here Jeremy Belknap says that the people need to accept their incompetence. That the leaders of the country do not trust the common man so they need to make sure that everything will turn out the way it should according to them.

    - Hofstader says that it was believed by all men who made te Constitution that democracy is only a transitional stage in government; that in the end this could not possibly work. They believed that democracy would inevitably lead straight to tyranny or an aristocracy. It was a common belief that the people couldn’t handle it, with freedom comes responsibility and they believed humans had none.

  17. Clearly Hofstadter believes that the Founding Fathers of the United States felt man was untrustworthy in running government. He argues that during the Constitutional convention, the Fathers had a “distrust of the common man and democratic rule.” (Hofstadter p.6 paragraph 1)He stresses that unchecked power could not be contained by man’s virtues “man was an unchangeable creature of self-interest, and it would not do to leave anything to his capacity for restraint.” (Hofstadter p.10 paragraph 2) Furthermore, the Fathers believed people who owned property would be respectful of government, as “men who have no property lack the necessary stake in an orderly society to make stable and reliable citizens.” (Hofstadter p.17 paragraph 2)

  18. Thesis: The Founding Fathers had trouble determining the new government of the United States because one way or another one of the classes was not getting equally represented in government.
    .” it seems indispensable that the mass of citizens should not be without a voice in making the laws which they are to obey, and in choosing the magistrates who are to administer them.”
    .” This the Fathers commonly accepted, for if government did not proceed from the people, from what other sourcee could it legitimately? To adopt any other premise not only would be in consistent with everything they had said against the British rule in the past but would open the gates to an extreme concentration of power in the future.”
    . ” The fathers were not so optimistic about politics. If, in a state that lacked constitutional balance , one class or one interest gaineed control.”
    . All these quotes talk about the inconsistency of rule and how the great mass of people were only represented by a few people and this got them angry.

  19. Thesis-The Founding Fathers favored a “balanced government” instead of a complete democracy because they doubted the ability of the lower class to govern themselves, but they did think a good constitution could control the people.

    1) General Knox wrote to Washington, “men-actual men possessing all the turbulent passions belonging to that animal.”

    2) Hamilton advised to “check the imprudence of democracy.”

    3) “Let it stand as a principle that government originates from the people, but let the people be taught. . . that they are not able to govern themselves.”

  20. Thesis Statement: The founding fathers all shared the fear of how man is corrupt and how they needed to create a constitution to keep those men in line and that, that was the only way that they can prevent human self interest and worry about the entire country and each persons individual rights.
    Example 1: They did not believe in man, but they did believe in the power of a good political constitution to control him.
    Example 2: Let it stand as a principle that the government originates from the people; but let the people be taught… that they are not able to govern themselves.
    Example 3: Since man was an unchangeable creature of self interest, it would not do to leave anything to his capacity for restraint, it was too much to expect that vice could be checked by virtue; the Fathers relied instead upon vice checking vice.

  21. Thesis: Richard Hofstader writes that the founding fathers interperted rights and liberties promised in a way that would keep the evils of human nature out of the government.
    1.) The founding fathers were afraid of the poor overpowering the rich, but they also knew that the rich could take advantage of the poor. So, they set up a balanced government so no one group could take over another.
    2.) The founding fathers interpreted liberty as owing land. They disregarded this for indentured servants and slaves. If liberty meant land, then land owners coul trade and such and make more money an be more free.
    3.) “Democracy, unchecken rule of the masses, is sure to bring arbitrary redistribution of property, destroying the very essence of liberty” The author is saying how most of the public was uneducated and could make some very stupid poitical moves when allowed to vote., and most people-even adams- believed that a democracy couldn’t work. So they came up with the idea of having groups of elected officials vote on laws(house/senate).

  22. Thesis: The Founding Fathers did not trust the common man to have any part in the government.
    1. The founding fathers thought that the people could not govern themselves so they needed the upper class to step in to be the leaders.
    2. only men with land were allowed to vote because they thought that they had more stature since they held and cared for land.
    3. The founding fathers knew that corruption would occur if the common people were to govern themselves so they limmited what the people had.

  23. Distrust of humans and the belief that humans are naturally selfish creatures are two of the concernes the writers of the Constitution had, and their dread of humans, more specifically the landless public, played a big part in how they formed the Constitution.

    pg. 11 “The Fathers, of course, were especially fearful that the poor would plunder the rich.”
    pg. 17 “Men who have no property lack the necessary stake in an orderly society to make stable or reliable citizens.”
    pg. 20 “They were impelled by class motives more than pietistic writers like to admit.”

  24. Thesis- The founding fathers based the constitution on the fact that people are naturally evil and they need a strong constitution to control them.

    The article said- Representatives chosen by the people were wiser and more deliberate than the people themselves in mass assemblage. which mainly means that to protect the nation the people choose the most capable people to run it.

    “They aimed to create a government that would act as an honest broker among the variety of propertied interests, giving them all protection from their common enemies and preventing any one of them from becoming more powerful”

    To keep the most capable people in line for spots in government they used amount of land one had. the people with more land held spots in government and had a little more power in choosing who would rule but they also made sure the small land oners had some say in he government making it a democracy.

  25. Thesis: Althought the Founding Fathers wanted people to run the government, they did not trust them and set up buffers to protect from letting majority of the people have the most power.

    - Jeremy Belknap says, “Let is stand as a principal that government originates from the people; but let the people be taught…that they are not able to govern themselves,” (9).
    - Madison also states how a representative government would “refine” the public views by having to go through a representative. They were afraid to give power to each individual so they had elected representatives.
    - Hofstader states, “…men who met at Philadelphia were not interested in extending liberty to…Negro slaves and the indentured servants,” (14).
    - The article also goes on to say that, “Goverment, thought the founding fathers, was based on property,” (17). This shows how they only wanted white land-owning males to have the most (if not all) say in the government.

    In conclusion, it is clear that the Founding Fathers did not trust the people to govern themsleves nor give liberties within the government to Slaves, women, or citizens without property.

  26. Thesis: Establishing a government requires lots of caution.
    -”The members of the Constitutional Convention were concerned to create a government that could not only regulate commerce and pay its debts but also prevent currency inflation and stay laws.” (Page 6) The Fathers knew that they had to make it so everything was perfect or there could have been trouble.
    -Trying to be as cautious as possible, the Fathers had to keep some things that they knew they couldn’t turn their back on like republicanism which shows that they had to be cautious when writing the Constiution. (Page 8)
    -They had to be cautious because small landowning farmers had been troublesome in the past years so they had to make it so they would be happy too and wouldn’t cause any more trouble. (Page 18)

  27. Authors Thesis: The Founding Fathers believed that humans were naturally evil, and that based off of this belief created the Constitution to try to govern the colonists.
    Details:
    1. The Founding Fathers were afraid of an uprising of the poor colonists aka the majority of people in the US and needed a strong government to opress them.
    2. A search for democracy was on! The Founding Fathers established a democracy but were unsure about how the people would play out in it. They did not want their democracy crash and burn like other previous areas have.
    3. The Founding Fathers were scared that this new system of government democracy would interfere with their idea of liberty. Their idea of liberty consisted of property.

  28. Thesis: Establishing a society that benefits everybody and displays equality is a difficult task that must be executed with caution.

    1. On pages 8 & 9, Hofstadter explains how the Founding Fathers “wished to avoid the prejudices of the people.” Later he states through the words of James Wilson that the ultimate power of the government must reside out of necessity of the people. The Founding Fathers had to create a strong government, but without using the idea of a military dictatorship, that would make the people happy.

    2. The founding fathers needed to create a government that was balanced to ensure equality. On page 11, Hofstadter states that the Foundering Fathers believed that “a properly designed state would check interest with interest, class with class, faction with faction, and one branch of government with another.” They knew that equality would be an important part to the constitution to keep the people happy.

    3. On page 14, Hofstadter goes on about restricting the idea of “liberty” for the people. People wanted to be entirely free from “attacks on property” and other things of that sort. However, the Founding fathers could not give the people too much power and still have a powerful economy.

  29. While writing the Constitution, the Founding Fathers borrowed the ideas of some of the greatest thinkers of all time and came to the unjust conclusion that men are not to be trusted in government.
    1. Pg. 5: “The men who drew up the Constitution… had a vivid Calvinistic sense of human evil and damnation and believed with Hobbes that men are selfish and contentious… They did not believe in man, but they did believe in the power of a good political constitution to control him.”
    2. Pg. 7: “Nowhere in America or Europe- not even the great liberated thinkers of the Enlightenment- did democratic ideas appear respectable to the cultivated classes. Whether the Fathers looked to the cynically illuminated intellectuals of contemporary Europe or to their own Christian heritage of the idea of original sin, they found quick conformation of the notion that man is an unregenerate rebel who has to be controlled.”
    3. Pg. 20-21: “From a humanistic standpoint there is a serious dilemma in the philosophy of the Fathers, which derives from their conception of man. They thought man was a creature of rapacious self-interest, and yet they wanted him to be free- free, in essence, to contend, to engage in an umpired strife, to use property to get property.”

  30. Thesis: The upper class soicety realized that setting up a government was difficult because they did not know whether to grant the lower clases with power but didn’t want to the rich to have to much power.
    Points: 1. A new England clergy man said ” Let the government be run by the people, but let the people be taught….that they are not able to govern themselves.” ( Page 9 ) Even clergy member didn’t beleive in the people.
    2. Gouvnerneur morris who was extremely rich said “Wealth tends to corrupt the mind and nourish its love of power” (page 11 ) Even the rich agree that they can let power corrupt them
    3. Founding Fathers came up with a statement saying “If, in a state that lacked constitutional balance, one class or one interest gained control, they believed it would surely plunder all other interests” ( page 11). They said that one class could simply ovethrow if they wanted to.

  31. The Founding Fathers: An Age of Realism
    By Richard Hofstader

    Thesis: The Founding Fathers, these men are known as the framers of the Constitution which was suppose to be a people’s government but instead was made into a government that only represented the wealthy, not the people.

    • In the Founding Fathers: An Age of Realism we can look at the founding fathers who took away the idea of a “people’s government” when they suggested the representative government which would “refine and enlarge the public view by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens. When they say “refine” they mean the upper class which were considered wiser and more deliberate than the lower classes but the wealthy don’t represent the lower classes when we won’t have a real say when they are doing the real voting.

    •But why would we put the upper classes in the position of deciding our laws to benefit us or not. The quote by Governor Morris explains that the wealthy will be corrupted by the power given to them ” wealth tends to corrupt the mind and to nourish the love of power, and to stimulate it to oppression.

    •Since the upper class would be in charge then small property owners would have an independent and far from negligible voice. Then James Madison suggested “that the interests and rights of every class should be the duty represented and understood in public councils.” If this was the government we used then all of the people wealthy or poor will have a voice in any elections or votings on laws.

  32. Thesis: The writers of the constitution struggled with social problems when considering its contents.

    Three Main Points:
    1. Hamilton was attacked by ‘Mobs’ upon arriving at the convention, representing the proletariat’s distaste of the social elite.
    2. While writing the constitution, many considered how to count a ‘person’ (e.g. slaves)
    3. Despite the constitution, many still lived in poverty.

    • Good–can you strengthen your thesis a bit by saying WHAT the struggles were or the content? Also, specific quotes from article would be needed to illustrate your three main points.

  33. When drawing up the Constitution, the Founding Fathers were not as prolific as they appeared, unable to decide what kind of government they really wanted.

    1. “General Knox wrote in disgust to Washington after the Shays Rebellion that Americans were, after all, ‘men – actual men possessing all the turbulent passions belonging to that animal.’ Throughout the secret discussions at the Constitutional Convention it was clear that this distrust of man was the first and foremost a distrust of […] democratic rule.”

    Yet, “James Madison told the delegates that the […] citizens should not be without voice in making the laws[…] and choosing the magistrates who are to administer them.”

    2. “The fathers found quick confirmation that man has to be controlled.”

    Yet Hofstadter also points out, “Having recently experienced a bitter revolutionary struggle […] they were in no mood to follow Hobbes to his conclusion that any kind of government must be accepted.”

    3. “Jeremy Belknap, a New England clergyman, […] wrote to a friend: ‘Let it stand as a principle that government originates from the people.’”

    Yet it is also true that “the Fathers believed […] democracy, unchecked rule by the masses, is sure to […] destroy the very essence of liberty.”

  34. Author’s Thesis: Although the Founders supported a strong, balanced constitutional government, they cared more about their personal benefit than the liberty and well being of others.

    Supporting Points:
    1. “They did not believe in man, but they did believe in the power of a good political constitution to control him.” Pg. 5 Paragraph 1
    2. “The Fathers, of course, were especially fearful that the poor would plunder the rich…” Pg. 11 Paragraph 1
    3. “The people who own the government ought to govern it.” Pg. 20 Paragraph 2

  35. Thesis- The Founding Fathers were afraid of democracy and in favor of government based on property, because they did not think they could trust common people to rule.
    - “Government, thought the fathers, is based on property. Men who have no property lack the necessary stake in an orderly society to make stable or reliable citizens.”
    -”But the Founding Fathers thought that the liberty with which they were most concerned was menaced by democracy. In their minds liberty was linked not to democracy but to property.”
    -”‘The people have been and ever will be unfit to retain the exercise of power in their own hands.’”
    -”Nowhere … did democratic ideas appear respectable to the cultivated classes.”

  36. Thesis: The Constitution makers had unrealistic dreams regarding future conflicts such as democracy and property rights.

    The only people who would have suffrage would be all men “having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with and attachment to the community”, according to George Mason. In other words, the only people who could vote and have a slight say in the “democratic” government would be white, land-owning males.

    The conflict of owning land and who it belonged to was sure to make itself apparent in the future of the United States through the use of democracy. An example of this in the text said, ” Democracy, unchecked rule by the masses, is sure to bring arbitrary redistribution of property, destroying the very essence of liberty.”

    Even John Adams had discrepancies when it came to believing in America’s future democracy. He wrote that,”Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

  37. Contrary to popular belief, the founding fathers had absolutely no intentions of setting up a democratic government.
    - The author describes how Hamilton that masses seldom and he advises “a permanent governmental body to ‘check the imprudence of democracy’” (Hofstader 6).
    - The author also describes that property was on the minds of the founding fathers “Government, thought the Fathers, is based on property. Men who have no property lack the necessary stake in an orderly society to make stable or reliable citizens (Hofstader 17). The idea that someone needs a significant amount of property in order to be reliable is absurd and undemocratic.
    - The author also mentions “A cardinal tenet in the faith of the men who made the Constitution was the belief that democracy can never be more than a transitional stage in government…” (Hofstader 16).

  38. Thesis: The founding fathers set up for government in the Constitution was not centered around the ideas of democracy for all and rights for the everyday man but more to benefit the wealthy men at the top and make sure not one person got all the power.
    1. page 10 top of the page he explains that the founding fathers thought that men can not control them selves therefore they must set up a system of checks and balances.
    2.On the top of page 8 Hofsadter says that the fathers were reluctant to turn back to a monarchy where they weren’t in control but they also did not want the government to be at the hands of the every day man. so they turned to a republic.
    3. At the bottom of page 17 their is a quote that shows what John Adams thinks about democracy,” Democracy never lasts long… it soon murders itself ” this shows that most of the founding fathers never intended for a democracy.

  39. Thesis: Richard Hofstader argues that the Founding Fathers believed that the people of the U.S. are evil and should not be part of the government.
    - the Founding Fathers did not trust the common man and Washington urged the delegates to not write a document that would “please the people” for that reason
    - the Founding Fathers were fearful of an uprising from the lower class, so they tried to hold on to power and not let the lower class be part of the government
    - the Founding Fathers belived that “government is based on property.”They didn’t want people who didn’t own land or have money to run the government, or the focus of the government would be on the lower class, not the upper class

  40. Author’s Thesis
    -”The men who drew up the Constitution in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787 had a vivid Calvinistic sense of human evil and damnation and believed with Hobbes that men are selfish and contentious.” (Hofstader 5)
    –This presents the argument that the writers of the Constitution had very specific views that for the most part represented the writings of Thomas Hobbes and John Calvin.
    3 Supporting Points
    -As said by Charles Pinckney, “no one be president who was not worth at least on hundred thousand dollars…” This shows that he is just after what will benefit him in the end and will ensure that only the rich will be able to hold office in government which can also lead to evil seeing as he suggests it as such a subtle change when truly it could have completely changed the outcome of the United States of America.
    -As seen on pages 12-13 in the article, The men creating the Constitution had 3 advantages set up to help fend off what they believed all men to be. The first was that a federating government must be in place and have the majority rule over the country. The second was that of having a good constitutional government that has fair representation for all classes. And finally, the third advantage was that the government must be split into separate branches of power so that no one branch will have more power than the others. These 3 advantages that were laid out by the creators of the Constitution set the country up for success and truly prevented the characteristics present in Calvin’s and Hobbes’ writings.
    -On page 14 in the article in the second paragraph, Hofstader spoke about how the men who were meeting in Philadelphia that were so interested in liberty could care less about those of other races or even those seen as indentured servants. This shows greed in the fact that they want to keep all the power to themselves and it shows evil through them singling people out by the color of their skin or their place of birth because they are different.

  41. Author’s thesis: The founding fathers wanted freedom and liberty, however they wanted to protect their own wealth and property.
    1. Created the system of checks and balances to check interetest with interest, class with class, and fraction with fraction, they wanted to keep everyone in their proper places, therefore allowing them to keep their wealth.
    2. They wanted to make sure no one unwealthy could be in charge and change how they were living, so Charles Pinckney proposed to make a law that no one could be president if they were not worth 100,000 dollars. Also, only allowing property owners to have any influence in the government. By doing this it allowed them to keep their land because other property owners would not take away their land.
    3. The founding fathers kept their self-interest in mind, they wanted to be independent and free, while still being capable of keeping all of their property, this is a reason they feared the idea of complete democracy.

  42. Thesis: Richard Hofstadter argues that the Founding Fathers’ Constitutional principles were set forth out of their fear of a unstable central government and the abomination of the “liberties” that the “people” of the United States possess would cause social change amongst the classes.

    Example 1: “William Livingston, saying that ‘the people have ever been and ever will be unfit to retain the exercise of power in their own hands’” (Hofstadter 6). Livingston is saying that if the “people” of the United States ran the government themselves, it would be weak and have no authority over the people. This is why the “people” can vote for educated men to run the country for them, rather then them running it themselves.

    Example 2: Property ownership played a big role in the Convention’s discussions. “Freedom for property would result in liberty for men-perhaps not for all men, but at least for all worthy men” (Hofstadter 15). The author is saying that all men, that they considered worthy, should have the right to hold and own land. If this right was denied, the Founding Fathers thought that the common folk of the country would rebel against them.

    Example 3: The Founding Fathers believed that government is based on property. “George Washington, Gouverneur Morris, John Dickenson, and James Madison spoke of their anxieties about the working class that might arise in the future” (Hofstadter 17). Hofstadter points out that some of the Founding Fathers shared the same fear of the middle/working class would soon overthrow the rich, wealthy class in America. Out of this fear, Madison later wrote about future times that are closely related to the ideas of communism and fascism. The thought of people being landless and having no ownership of property scared the Founding Fathers.

  43. The Founding Fathers created a government to control the masses, not to promote freedoms.
    1.”The men who drew up the constitution in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787 had a vivid Calvinistic sense of human evil and damnation and believed with Hobbes that men are selfish and contentious….To them a human being was an atom of self interest. They did not believe in man, but they did believe in the power of a good political constitution to control him.”
    2.”Since man was an unchangeable creature of self-interest, it would not do to leave anything to his capacity for restraint. It was too much to expect that vice could be checked by virtue, the Fathers relied instead upon checking vice with vice.”
    3. “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition…It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels no government would be necessary.”

  44. Thesis: The founding fathers thought all men were selfish and evil, yet wanted to make these classes free to stabilize America and help guarantee a better future for the country, while keeping the rich in power still.

    1.The founding fathers used capitalism to give the poor hope of a better life

    2.The founding fathers had to think of a type of government in which they would not be hypocritical to the declaration they signed, while keeping control of the country

    3.The founding fathers created the buffer idea to check the power of the rich and poor against each other to keep the country stable

  45. Thesis: The founding fathers believed the popular vote would be the death of America.

    • Madison said, “It seems indispensable that the mass of citizens should not be without a voice in making laws which they are to obey, and in choosing the magistrates who are to administer them.”
    • Madison also said in Federalist number 51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary…”
    • John Dickinson described the common people as, “Nen without property and principle.”

  46. The author is trying to say that the founding fathers did not take the ambtions of equal rights by the common people
    Pg 7 paragraph 1 last 2 sentences upper classes didn’t want equal rights for lower classes founding fathers were mostly upper class
    Pg 11 paragraph 1 “fearfull rthat the poor would plunder the rich but most of them would have admitted that the rich would plunder the poor”
    Pg 20-21 paragraph 3 misconception of the common people “use to get property

    • What do you mean by “did not take the ambitions of equal rights…? Did not follow-through? Did not implement?

      Could explain the quotes a bit more in context, too.

  47. The authors thesis of the article is that there is a lot of distrust and tension between the ruling class and the lower class.
    -”the turblance and follies of democracy and that the great danger lay in the democratic parts of the constitution speaking of democracy as the worst of all political evils.mthis is showing that the rich white men did not feel secure with the lower class being able to have a say.
    -”turblent and changing masses seldom judge or determine right” Hamilton.
    Hamilton and many others believe that the lower class is either not educated enough or do not care enough to be trusted with a say, they think it is better to have more of a monarchy.
    -”the mob begins to think and reason. Poor reptiles… They bask in the sun, and ere noon they bite, depend upon it. The gentry begins begin to fear. This also shows that the rulers were condescending and distrustful twords the common people.

  48. Thesis: The Founding Fathers cared more about their own well being, while drafting the constitution, than the well being of others.

    1. “the advantage of a federated government in maintaining order against popular uprising or majority rule”

    2. “the unstable passions of the people would dominate lawmaking, but a representative government [...] would refine [...] public views.”

    3. “Adams believed that the aristocracy and democracy must be made to neutralize each other”

  49. Hopefully, this (late) is worth 1/2 credit.

    Thesis: The Founding Fathers, fearful of both unchecked democratic and aristocratic control, drew up the Constitution as to achieve balance by checking such opposing “factions” against each other in a facilitated manner.

    Support: 1. “If they feared the advance of democracy, they also had misgivings abut turning to the extreme right” (Hofstader 7-8).
    2. “Since man was an unchangeable creature of self interest, it would not do to leave anything to his capacity for restraint. It was too much to expect that vice could be checked by virtue; the Fathers relied instead upon checking vice with vice.”(Hofstader 10).
    3.”What the fathers wanted was known as a ‘balanced government,’ an idea at least as old as Aristotle and Polybius. … as John Adams put it, that governments could be ‘erected on the simple principles of nature.’ Madison spoke in the most precise Newtonian language when he said that such a ‘natural’ government must be so constructed ‘that its several constituent parts may, by their natural relations, be the means of keeping each other in their proper places.’ A properly designed state, the Fathers believed, would check interest with interest, class with class, faction with faction, and one branch of government with another in a harmonious system of mutual frustration.”(Hofstader 11)

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