tv American Artifacts Drafting the U.S. Constitution CSPAN October 9, 2017 10:00am-10:37am EDT
destroy our ability to save and invest. or as we have seen our rising standard of living depends on a constant flow of savings dollars into our business system each year. in the future of our country, waves of destructive forces will continue to batter against our foundation. when any force weakens inner locked blocks of our political and economic freedoms, as good citizens we must be quick to use our tools the constitution gives us and repair any cracks that may appear. >> you can watch this and other american history programs on our website where all our video is archived. that's c-span.org/history. >> each week american artifacts
takes viewers into archives, museums and historic sites around the country. up next we visit the national constitution center in philadelphia to learn about the creation of the u.s. constitution in 1787 and to see several rare early drafts. >> welcome to the national constitution severe. i'm jeffrey roczen, the president of this wonderful institution which c-span viewers know is the only institution in america chartered by congress to disseminate information about the u.s. constitution on a nonpartisan basis. today i'm so excited to show you a new gallery we've just opened, american treasures which one ta -- contains five early drafts of u.s. constitution in american history. not even at the constitutional convention were these five drafts displayed in the same place. now, thanks to a great partnership with historical society of pennsylvania and the wonderful support of david
rubenstein, we've been able to open this gallery, display these graphs together, and tell the story of the evolution of the text of the constitution spot draft that was ratified on constitution day september 17th, 1787. it's so exciting, i capital wait to show it to you. let's go inside and take a look. so in many ways this gallery tells the story of that underappreciated hero of the constitutional convention james wilson. we've all heard of james madison and alexander hamilton, the rap star of the moment and, of course, president washington. in many ways james wilson was the intellectual architect of the central idea of the constitution that we the people of the united states as a whole have the sovereign power. that was the big idea embodied in the preamble to the constitution. it wasn't the way things started. when the delegates came to
philadelphia to draft the constitution, they came as representatives of individual sovereign states. many of them insist we the people of each state are sovereign. wilson, who served in the cont nem congress, saw that the articles of fed wags were too weak and wanted a stronger central government and strong president elected by the people insisted that we the people of the united states as a whole are sovereign, not the people of each state, and not the parliament itself as in britain. that brilliant idea was what lincoln invoked when he insisted the south had no ability to secede without the consent of we the people of the united states as a whole. it is the foundation of the idea in the preamble that popular sovereignty rests with we the people. popular gallery we'll see evolutions of wilson's draft. he's the important signer that put pen to paper. we're about to see his draft. i'll tell you a little about
him. he was born in scotland, went to saint andrews and came to america and studied in ben franklin's new college of philadelphia. he served in continental congress where he became central government didn't have strong enough powers. he was initially opposed to independence which got him in trouble with philadelphia mob who came to his house to denounce him and changed his mind and became strong supporter of independence. he was anti-slavery and pennsylvania delegate to the constitution. richard beaman, a wonderful book i'd love to you read, said wilson and madison were the writers. wilson we the people. madison believes the people can degenerate to demagogues and mobs and popular passions have to be checked and the president should be elected by legislature not the people in order to ensure that direct democracy
doesn't did egenerate into demagoguery. wilson became a supreme court justice and died in debt. it was a sad ending to a heroic career. right now we're about to see the very first draft of the u.s. constitution written by james wilson. now we are going to see the rarest draft of the u.s. constitution in american history, the very first draft. many of us know the copy of the constitution in the national archives, but that was the final copy. every important document has a first draft and this is it. it was drafted july 24th, 1787. remember the constitutional convention begins on may 25th. i remember that because the address of the national constitution center is 525 arch street in philadelphia. 525 is may 25th. two months later is the first time that the committee created
this draft of the constitution. so how did it end up here? it belongs to the historical society of pennsylvania. and james wilson died in 1789, the year the bill of rights was proposed. he gave this document along with a bunch of other of his papers to his son bird wilson. he dies in 1859 and gives it to his relative emily hollingsworth and she gives it to historical society of pennsylvania. they had it for a long time. their visionary interim president charles coen said, hey, all of these presidents documents are here at the historical society. wouldn't it be wonderful if americans from around the country could see them. so the historical society is lending them to the constitution center to be displayed here on long-term loan and that's why you can now come and see them for the first time. look at wilson's beautiful handwriting, which is still
legible. let's just pause for a second and think about how exciting it is that the first time anyone really tried to set down the ideas of the constitution occurred in this draft. there are a couple of significant parts about it. there's no preamble. it doesn't begin we the people of the united states as thanks to wilson the final drafts would begin, it just says that the government of the united states will consist will legislative, executive and judicial branches. that's the most important thing to know about the constitution. three separate branches of government. very first words of the first it draft of resolution. we know congress doesn't have specific powers listed. congress can make powers for the general interest of the union and to address problems the states can't handle on their own. six years, a single term for national executive.
we can look at the beautiful handwriting but at the constitution center we want all you wonderful c-span viewers to study and learn and realize how president and congress and judiciary evolved. that's why we've created this great online tool i want you to go check out. not now because i'm talking but after you watch this show. you can get it online constitution.org/treasures. this basically the printed version of each text displayed here. talking about july 24 version. we just saw the original. can you now see the very first words of the u.s. constitution committed to paper. ought to exist of supreme, legislative and judicial branch. if there's anything else we know, remember there's three
branch branches. number two, ought to consist of two branches. a huge struggle. spent first two months disagreeing whether there should be a single legislative body, or bicameral legislative body, which is what they eventually agreed about. then a very crucial question of how the two branches would be elected. representatives of the big states led by virginia say, hey, we want popular election because we'll get all the seats. representatives of small states like new jersey said, no, no, we want each state to have two representatives. roger sherman and connecticut cop myself decided to mix and match. the house is popularly elected and senate has two representatives per state. you see that in the first draft, members of the first branch ought to be elected by the people of states for the term of two years. the second branch should be chosen by individual legislatures. remember, until the passage of the 17th amendment it was --
state legislature was not the people who chose senators. on the side you can compare how the draft changed. we've talked how there's no preamble in this draft. we see also that the 3/5 compromise, infamous compromise that allowed the states that were determined to preserve slavery to accept the constitution. the framers agreed to base representation of the state's free inhabitants plus 3/5 of others, continental congress attacks the state. infamous and discredited and thankfully repeals are made no longer relevant by passage of 13th amendment after civil war abolished slavery, compromises in the third draft. sixth year presidential term which will change a whole bunch
of times. two more callouts. senate appoints supreme court justice without involvement from executive. now the president appoints justices and senate confirms. very first draft had only the senate confirming. the amendment process. this should be amendments but they don't decide how they should be passed. it's not until the very final days of the convention in the final draft we'll see on december 12th they come up with a process on how to amend the constitution. let's look at the last provision. it doesn't have the details of ratification. this is crucial. the framers are proposing a constitution but not until its ratified in the name of we the people as a whole by special ratifying conventions that it achieves the status of supreme law and very first draft says there should be ratification without a process. it does say people choose representatives to decide whether to don't proposals, we the people are sovereign, constitution can only be ratified in our name. our right to govern comes from
god or nature not from government. we have unalienable right to alter and abolish government whenever it fails to protect unalienable natural rights we attain during transition from state of nature to civil society, preeminent unalienable rights, rights of conscious, spelled out in bill of rights which constitutional government doesn't contain. represented by process, sovereignty of we the people. okay. so we learned all that from the very first draft and it's only july. now let's look at the second draft. we'll see the very first time the constitution expresses the idea of we the people. okay. now we're going to see the second rarest draft of the constitution in american history also written by james wilson. this was written on august 3rd, 1787, after a 10-daybreak from july 24th draft by wilson.
it came out of what was called committee of detail, geographically diverse group assembling different resolutions and, again, just amazing to read wilson's beautiful handwriting but also to see how dramatically the constitution is evolving. the most important evolution in this second draft of the constitution is wilson's immortal preamble. we the people of the states of new hampshire, massachusetts, rhode island, providence plantations and so forth. why did wilson enumerate all the individual states? after all he believed we the people of the united states as a whole were sovereign. some those it was a vestige of a time when we the people of the states were sovereign. others wanted to signal how many states were actually waratifyin and see in the final draft individual states left out and we become we the people of the
united states. let's check out the text because it's so exciting to compare the evolution of the preamble. we're going to go back over here to this great interactive. you can check it out online, constitution center.org/treasures. here this is the manuscript, a detailed report. look, there's the original preamble. we the people of the states of new hampshire, massachusetts, rhode island and providence plantations, connecticut, new york, new jersey, pennsylvania, delaware, maryland, virginia, north carolina, south carolina, and georgia, to ordain, declare and establish the following constitution for the government of ourselves and our prosperity. it doesn't have all that inspiring language about establish justice, provide for the common defense and so forth. it just says ordained, declare and establish for the government of ourselves and our posterity. now scroll down a little and see what else this next draft says.
the style of this government, in other words, the name shall be united states of america. gosh, isn't that exciting? the first time we see on paper the words united states of america. but see what changes are taking place. we now have the short preamble. we have congressional powers we're getting specified. congress has the power to make, declare war, would have given coping more day to day decisions, more time. later the president took a greater role. the necessary and proper, important to define congress's powers. before the convention continental congress had specific enumerated powers. it gives flexibility to pass laws necessary and proper to carry out its enumerated powers. the scope of that clause remains hotly debated today. but of the appointment power, now the senate has the tree
making power as well as the ability to appoint supreme court justices. still the president has no role in these crucial duties. the election of the president, wow, look at this. there's an election, but the president is chosen by the legislature. that was james madison's innovation. remember, he's the framer, who is afraid of demagogues. he sees tension between populism and constitutionalism. he fears a directly elected president or a president who communicates directly with the people would be an invitation to demagogues and tyranny. so he wants a president elected by legislature. that's what happens in this draft over james wilson's objection. he says, no, we need an election by the people. the compromise is the electoral college. also kingly title for the president. his title shall be his excellency. imagine if that was today. instead of mr. president, the president would be his
excellency. he should be elected by ballot by the legislature. amazing. the presidential term is now expanded from six to seven years. the president chose another legislature is limited to a single term. the framers don't want to encourage the executive to seek favor with congress to secure re-election. they think he'll be independent the way judges are if he has a single seven-year term. and we begin to see the outlines of an amendment process. two-thirds of state legislate is going to ask congress to call another convention. that is the final version of the constitution and even today a number of states have called for a convention of the states to introduce a balanced budget amendment. that provision, although never invoked after the original convention in american history remains part of constitution and final change ratification we have more information about ratification but a blank space for the number of states required to improve the constitution, ratification that
certain numbers of states shall be currently for organizing the convention. this is crucial, constitution, ratification process specified even in the second draft is illegal according to the ratification process of the articles of confederation. the articles say they can only be amended with unanimous consent of all 13 states. a certain number less than possibly the whole will be sufficient to ratify the constitution in the name of we the people. it was illegal because the framers led by wilson were invoking their natural or unalienable right, all of us in the state of nature before we formed civil society and reverting to that original power they insisted they could choose a ratification procedure that was illegal according to the existing methods of ratification. so all that just in the second draft. this is so exciting. now we're just in early august.
let's now move further along in august and see in the next draft the preamble that we know and revere today, we the people of the united states. let's go see it now. so welcome to draft three of the constitution and september 12th, 1787, just five days before the constitution is proposed and an awful lot of really important, crucial changes are being made at the very last minute. these changes come out of the committee of style. that is a committee with a very elegant name and an extraordinarily impressive group of members. they include alexander hamilton, the rap star of the moment. james madison, recognize the framer of the constitution. and morris. an impressive delegate, a peg
leg, a very beautiful stylist. he was responsible for the crucial stylistic change, which was amazingly important substantive change in the constitution that in this draft of committee of style the preamble for the first time says we the people of the united states, not we the people of the states of massachusetts, rhode island, so forth. but we the people of the united states. why was that change made? some say it was merely a stylistic change because the framers didn't know exactly which of the 13 states would actually ratify so they hedge their bets keeping it more concise by keeping it short. others disagree. they say change we the people of the united states was tangible expression of we the people of the united states as a whole are somp not we the people of the individual states. there are another series of really important changes. congressional power is authored. congress now has the power to
declare rather than make war. presidential term is finally four years. they eliminated the term limits of the seven-year term. plus it's election by the electoral college. that was the compromise will sentence wasn't able to get popular election, which is what he wanted. so the electoral college was considered a group of wise delegates, because they would actually know the best candidates would be able to exercise independent judgment and to choose the finest candidates in the land. that hope was soon obviated by the party system after election of 1800 which changed electoral college from the very start. so this draft is signed by jacob bedroom. read article 1 section 8 with powers of congress. this draft says congress made by joint ballot may appoint a
treasurer. it's scratched out by jacob and instead says congress shall have power to lay collect taxes, which is what we know. isn't it amazing. september 12th and they are cutting and pasting and scratching words out. let's go back to the interactive constitution center.org/treasures and look at the crucial textural change. let's go down and see. so here we are at the text of the document we just saw. my goodness, let's read the preamble, the final form. we the people of the united states in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for common defense, promote general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity do ordain and establish this constitution for the united states of america. isn't it amazing even on this
draft on september 12, jacob scratched out to establish justice and just says establish justice. so it looks like -- check them out online, try empeechlt on oath and affirmation for the benefit of quakers and others who were scrupulously against squaring oates. the representative prescribed in each state, congress can make regulations except in the place of choosing senators. let's look at a couple crucial changes on the side. we talked about crucial change in the preamble, we the people of the united states, with the aim of forming a more perfect union. finally the president has the power to make treaties and appoint supreme court justices along with the senate although
the senate provides advice and consent. ladies and gentlemen, that was september 12th, a very important addition at the last minute. the amendment process almost fully spelled ow. coping can propose amendment with two-thirds of each house or two-thirds of the state legislature but we don't yet have the provision allowing two-thirds of the state to call convention in the final text although we saw a version in the earlier draft we see was resurrected and three-quarters of the legislature state conventions ratify and ratification says the people of nine out 13 states. finally they filled in the blank, crucial blank, say nine states is enough to ratify as long as they call special conventions for the purpose. almost there. september 12, finally time for constitution day. september 17th, we're going to see a very final draft of the u.s. constitution.
it's constitution day, final version printed for delegates to debate as well as to share with congress and the states. how exciting to think this printing of a handful of copies survive is more constitutionally significant than the copy in the national archives because this is the copy that the delegates themselves debated in deciding where to pass the constitution. ultimately we the people debated in deciding whether to ratify it. upstairs at the constitution center we have a copy of the constitution printed in the pennsylvania packet newspaper on september 19th two days after this draft. that draft actually widely circulated among the people was the most dramatic expression of the people's ability to ratify the constitution in their name. a couple of important changes at the very last minute. isn't it stunning to think how much you can do with a deadline from may 25th to september 17th, the entire constitution is drafted. it's really important it's done
in secret. the windows are closed. there are no leaks, no twitter. you can't undo compromises and you can actually make them because people are able to shift their positions because they are not being called out by partisans every moment. and we see some very important changes as a result at the very last minute. three, veto override. the number of people necessary to override the president's veto is lowered from three-fourths to two-thirds each house of congress. imagine how hard to override. finally specified two-thirds of the state legislature will ask for convention picking up on early suggestion of wilson. this is important, article 5 says the amendment can never deny a state equal representation in the senate without that state's consent. that's unamendable provision of the constitution. our law students love having late night dorm debates about whether or not an unamendable
constitutional provision is itself a violation of the people's natural right to alter and abolish whenever they want. save that for another wonk session. now let's wonk out and inspire patriotically by returning to the text and seeing the final tweaks in the very last draft of u.s. constitution. the very final draft of the u.s. constitution and a couple of crucial changes made at the last minute. we've already talked about some of them. here is one we haven't talked about yet, representation in congress. originally the text says no more than one representative for every 40,000 people in the house, although now, of course, it was less. before signing george washington wanted a motion that the number be changed to 30,000. that was the only time during the convention that he voiced his opinion. the other delegates unanimously agreed. if you come to the constitution center or go online for the interactive constitution you'll see that the very first amendment to the constitution
that was proposed but not adopted in what became the bill of rights said there should be one representative in congress for every 30,000 inhabitants. had that passed, there would be 4,000 congress people today. a couple of other really crucial changes. here it is, the appointment power. the framers finally decide to allow the president, the courts or department heads to directly appoint inferior officers as designated by congress without the senate's approval. that's the source of the president's power to appoint some people without congressional approval, without that nowadays would be very hard for any president of either party to get anyone appointed. one last detail. a call for unity. inspire ourselves with this great call. ben franklin on the last day of the convention encourages unanimous support of the consideration. he proposed the final text added included by unanimous consent of
the states present, love the signers to say they were only witnessing what was done by the convention even if they had individual reserve aigings despite this. three delegates present refused to sign. can you see who those are by going upstairs to signer's hall at the national constitution center. the back of the room were the three that refused to sign, gary of massachusetts. i pronounce it gary mandering instead of gerrymandering. randolph and george masson, unappreciated founders who refused with the other three because it didn't contain a bill of rights. why not? because james madison, among others, said a bill of rights would be unnecessary or dangerous. unnecessary because the constitution itself is a bill of rights. it gives congress enumerated
powers. since there's no powers of free speech there's no power to bridge free speech. might assume if a right wasn't written down it wasn't protected. they believe they come from god and nature not government and to try to reduce them to a single list would be folly. in the face of objections from the three anti-federalists and state ratifying conventions madison changed his mind. avenues practical politician. he once lost a house election in virginia and came to support the adoption of additional amendments to prevent miss construction of further abuse of powers. we're now going to do in the final section of this wonderful american treasures gallery, we've been seeing these incredibly rare priceless, earliest drafts of the constitution by the california historical society. we're now going to see the first public printings of the bill of rights led by david rubenstein and see how madison's original list of 19 amendments was
whittled down to 12 proposed and the 10 that were actually passed. let's go see those now. we're now about to see the first 19 proposed by the constitution. know their 10 rat fade known as bill of rights but madison originally proposed 19 and they appear in the gazette of the united states on october 3rd, 1789. you can find them online at the interactive constitution. this is this amazing new online tool that the national constitution center has launched 11 million hits since it launched a little more than a year ago where you click on any provision of the bill of rights or constitution and see the leading liberal and conservative scholars describing what they agree about and disagree about. you can also on the interactive portion click on any part of the bill of rights and see antecedents or state
constitution. when he made the list, he didn't make it out of thin air he had beside him state constitutions like george masson's virginia declaration of 1776, where constitution was 1880. proposed by state ratifying conventions cut and pasted most important lar amendments to create his original list of 19. so there was one amendment in the list that madison thought was the most important in the bunch. here it is. it says, no state shall violate the equal rights of conscious or the freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases. this is revolutionary. the final bill of rights that was passed only applies to congress. we know the first amendment says congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech. it doesn't say the state shall make no law. madison thought these basic rights of conscious, freedom of press and trial by jury are so important, fundamental that the states as well as congress should not be able to abridge
them. madison lost that battle. that amendment did not pass as well as several others. there were 19 on this list. it took the civil wars, the bloodiest in american history to pass 14th amendment to the constitution which has been construed as applying bill of rights against the states so today the states september 11th the federal government are forbidden from abridging basic rights including those in these lists. this list of 19 is fascinating for all sorts of reasons. it was created in the order provisions were supposed to be inserted in the constitution. so the very first proposed amendment says first that there be prefix to the constitution, declaration that all power is originally vested in and consequently derived from the people. it goes on to say the government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people which exists in enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property and generally of pursuing and attaining happiness
and safety. it goes on to say that the people have an in dub itable, unalienable unfeasible right to reform or change their government whenever it be found adverse to or inequality to the purposes of its institution. ladies and gentlemen, that is astonishing. what document does that sound like? declaration of independence, sounds very much like the second, hold these truths to be self-evident, unalienable rights, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. whenever the government becomes destructive of these rights it's the duty of the people to abolish it. such siynchronizitsynchronizity abolish government is unalienable right that comes from god or nature and not government. here we see the very first amendment madison proposed would have declared the right of amendment to be unalienable.
it didn't pass but that right was embodied in the constitution in article 5. so go online, check out interactive constitution, check out constitution center/treasures for evolving texts and drafts of the constitution. most of all come to the national constitution center, it's such an inspiring and beautiful place. a place for citizens of all perspectives to come and unite around this amazing document of human freedom that unites us, the u.s. constitution, how exciting. what a privilege it is to share with you the five rarest drafts of the constitution assembled for the first time ever in american history in one place to show you these bill of rights. thanks to historical society of pennsylvania, thanks to david rubenstein and c-span friends, happy constitution day. >> this or other american artifact programs at any time by visiting website c-span.org/history.
american history tv on c-span3 is prime time. from tonight national constitution center in philadelphia, discussions on landmark supreme court cases, including brown versus board of education. tuesday night life and influence of william "buffalo bill" cody on the 100th anniversary of his death. wednesday night anniversary of little rock central high school's integration with former president bill clinton. thursday night a discussion on lead up and response to forced desegregation of little rock central high school. friday night from american history tv's oral history series interviews with prominent photojournalists who documented major events throughout american history. watch american history tv ts