tv American Artifacts Drafting the U.S. Constitution CSPAN October 9, 2017 9:58pm-10:34pm EDT
and you can watch our programs any time on our web site. at c-span.org/history. you're watching american history tv. all weekend every weekend. on c-span 3. american history tv is on c-span 3 every weekend featuring museum tours, ar kooifl films and programs on the presidency. the civil war and more. here's a clip from a recent program. >> john full was a upi photo editor and photographer. who worked a weekend. and this was on a saturday or sunday. i think sunday. he called and said they're coming down from the mountain and have a press conference in the east room. we can om have one photographer in the east room, so go. so i grabbed all my gear and stuff and headed to the white
house. got in and finally they took us into the east room. when we got there, here we were one person per organization. ap had two. time magazine had two. news week magazine had two. and the thing about it the israel and egyptians they all had two or three. i was literally the lone person for upi. so when i was standing there looking at what was going to happen, i decided that i didn't want to stand straight in the middle because when they signed the accord and got together they were going to be way too far apart. i did what i usually did and moved way down to the end of the press riser. so i could look back and when they signed it they were kind of compressed.
and then when they embrace came and jimmy smiling was the fact it happened so that was standing in front of the israel flag and in front of the egyptian flag. and carter was beside him. it was a very tight. some of the people later on who had been in the middle had a multiple hand three way handshake in the middle which got play. my picture got the most. it won white house news photographer contest for presidential. it won the picture of the year contest for general news. and it was just -- a lot of people made it. i was the only one that had the angle that put it together and made it work. you can watch this and other american history programs on our web site. where all our video is archived. that c-span.org/history.
each week american artifacts takes viewers into museums and historic sites. we visit the national constitution center in philadelphia. to see several rare early drafts. >> welcome to the national constitution center. i'm jeffrey rosen and the president of the this wonderful institution which as viewers know is the only institution in america chartered by congress to desemi-nate information about the u.s. constitution on a non-partisan basis. totd i am so excited to show you a new gallery we have just opened. american treasures. which contains the five early drafts of the u.s. constitution in american history. not everyone at the constitutional convention. where these five drafts displayed in the same place. and now thanks to a great partnership with the historic kal society of pennsylvania, and
the wonderful support of david rubenstein we have been able to open the gallery, display the drafts together and tell the story of the evolution of the text of the constitution into the draft that was ratified on constitution day september 17, 1787. it's so exciting. i can't wait to show you. let's go inside. so in many ways this gally tells the story of the under appreciated hero of the constitutional convention, james wilson. we have heard of james madison and hamilton. and president washington. in many way james wilson was the intel chul architect of the central idea that we the people of the united states as whole have the sovereign power. that was the big idea eventually em bodied in the preamble. and it wasn't the way things
starred. when the delegates came to ti philadelphia to draft. they came as representatives of individual sovereign states and many insisted we the people of each state are sovereign. wilson who had served in the congress, saw the articles of confederation were too weak to achieve centralized purposes and wanted a stronger central government and a strong president-elected by the people. insisted 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 whout the people as a whole. popular sovereignty rests in we the people. we'll see the evolutions of the wilsons draft. he was the first important signer who put pen to paper.
he was born in scotland. he went to st. andrew university. came to america and studied at ben grank linns college of philadelphia. he serves in the continental congress. he was initially opposed to independence which got iminto trouble with the mob who came to his house. to denounce him. he changed his mind and became a strong supporter. he was antislavery. and he was a pennsylvania delegate to the constitutional convention. a wonderful book, plain honest men. says wilson and madison were the leaders of the convention. they had different yads. wilson is in we the people. madison believes that the people with degenerate into demagogues and mobs and popular passions have to be checked and the president should be picked by the legislature not the people.
to ensure direct democracy doesn't degenerate. they had a big debate. wilson became very distinguished u.s. supreme court justice and died a sad ending to a heroic career. we're about to see the first draft of the u.s. constitution. written by james wilson. now we're 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. that was the final copy. every important document has a first draft. this is it. it was drafted on july 24th, 1787. the con vngs begins on may 25. i remember that because the address of the national constitution center is 525 arch street. may 25. and two months later was 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. of the year the bill of right was proposed. he gave this document along with a bunch of others to his son, bird wilson. bird dies in 1859. and gives it to his relative. and she gives it to the historical society of pennsylvania. they had it for a long time. and their visionary interim president said all of these priceless documents are here, would it be wonderful if americans from around the doesn't ri could see them? the historical society is lending them to the constitution center to be displayed here on a long term loan. that's why you can see them for the first time. loolk wilson beautiful
handwrite. which is still legible. and let's pause for a second. think about how exciting it is that the first time that anyone really tried to set down the ideas of the constitution occurred in this draft. a couple really 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 draft would begin. it just says that the government of the united states shall consistent of a legislative executive and you dishl branchs. that's the most important thing. three separate branchs of justice. that was the first word of the first draft of the u.s. constitution. we know that congress doesn't have specific power listed. instead it's the congress can make laws for the general interests of the union. and address problems states can't handle on their own. presidential term is six years. and there's a single term for the national exec tef that's going to change a bunch of
times. so we can look at wilsons beautiful handwrite. we want all you wonderful viewers sp americans to be able to study the evolving text. you can learn from it and realize how the presidency and congress and judiciary evolve. that's why we created third-degree great online toll. after you finish watching this show. we have it here on a touch screen. you can get it online at constitution center.org. and this is basically the printed version of each of the texts that we have displayed here. so we're talking about the july 24th version. we saw the original. you can see this is the very first words of the u.s. constitution committed to paper. the government of the united states ought to consist of a supreme, legislative, judiciary and executive branch. if there's nothing else we no about the tus let's remember
that it has three branchs. what's number two? the legislature of the united states ought to consist of two branchs. that was a huge struggle. the delegates spent two months disagreeing about a single legislative body or a. and there was a crucial question of how the two branchs would be elected. representatives of the big states led by virginia said we want popular election. we'll dpet all the seats. representatives of the small states like new jersey said no, we want each state to have two representatives. and roger sherman and the connecticut compromise decided to mix and match. and you see that in the first draft. the members of the first branch are elected by the people for the states for two years. second branch should be chosen by the individual legislature. and remember until the passage
of the 17th amendment it was state legislatures not the people who chose senators. in the side here you can compare call outs about how the draft changed. and we already talked about there's no preamble in the draft. we see also that the three fifths compromise. the infamous compromise that allowed the states that were determined to preserve slavery to accept the constitution but the framers agreed to base representation on the house on the free inhabitants plus three fifths of other persons. to tax the states and although infamous and discredited and thankfully repealed or made no longer relevant by the passage of the 13th amendment. after the civil war. which abolished slavery. this compromise is in the early draft. the six year presidential term
will change a bunch of times. and one or two more kults. we see the senate appoint supreme court justices without involvement from the executive. now we know the president appoints the justices and senate confirms. the amendment process, there should be amendments but don't decide how they should be passed and it's not until the final days of the convention. september 12 they come up wu a process for how to amend the constitution. it doesn't have the details of ratification. this is curabrucial. it achieves the status of supreme law and the first draft says there should be rat if contamination witho ratification. that represents wilsons belief that we the people are sovereign. the constitution can only be ratified in our name. and our right to govern comes
from god or nature. not from government. we have an unalien able right to whenever it fails to protect the rights we retain from the transition from nature to society. the rights of conscience. spelled out in the bill of rights. which the constitution doesn't contain. and that is represented by the ratification process. the sovereignty of we the people. we learn all that from the very first draft. it's only july. now let's look at the second draft. we'll see the very first time that the constitution expresses the idea of we the people. okay. now we'll 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 ten daybreak. from the july 24th draft.
by wilson. it came out of what was called the committee of detail. which was a geographically diverse group assembly different resolutions. it's amazing to read husband beautiful handwrite. and see how dramatically the constitution is evolving. and the most important is wilsons immortal preamble. we the people of the states of new hampshire, massachusetts, rhode island, and plantations and so forth. why did wilson enumerate the individual states? he bloefed we the people of the united states are sovereign. some thought that it was a vestige of a time. others wanted to signal how many states were ratifying. we'll see that language about the individual states is left out. we become we the people.
let's check out the text. it's so exciting to actually compare the evolution of the preamble. we'll go back over here to this great interactive. you can check it out online. at constitution center.org/treasures. this is the manuscript of the committee of detailed report. there's the original preamble. we the people of the state 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 or dane, declare and establish the following constitution for the government of the ourselves and prosperity. doesn't have all the inspiring language about establish defensdefens justice. provide defense. let's scroll down a bit and see
what else this next draft says. the style of this government in other words the name shall be the united states of america. isn't that exciting? the first time that we see on paper the words united states of america. let's see what changes are taking place. we have the short preamble. we have congressional powers are getting specified. congress has the pow to make rather than declare war. making war would have been given congress more day-to-day decisions in wartime. later the president took a greater role. the necessary and proper clause. this is very important to define congresses powers. before the constitutional convention the congress only has specific enumerated power. the flex bt to pass laws necessary and proper to carry out its powers. the scope of that clause remains hotly debated.
today. the appointment power now the is that the has the tree making power as well as the ability to appoint justice is. still the president has no role in the 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 es innovation. he's the framer who was afraid of demagogues and the mob. he sees a tension between populism and constitutionalism. he fears a directly elected president or communicates with the people would be an invitation to demagogues and tyranny. he wants a president-elected by the legislature. and that's what happens in the draft. over objections. he's says no we need election by the people. and later we see the settle on the compromise is the electoral college. there's a kingly title. it shall be his excellent si. imagine if that prevailed.
instead of mr. president. he shall be elected by ballot by the legislature. amazing. the presidential term is now expanded from six to seven years. the president is limited to a single term. the framers don't want to encourage the executive to seek favor with congress to secure reelection. they think he'll be indpen the way judges are if he has a single term. and we begin to see the out lines of an amendment process. two third of state. -- called for a convention of the states to introduce balanced budget amendment. that provision although never invoked of a the original constitution in american history remains part of the constitution. and the final change. we have more information about ratification but a blank space for the number of states required to approve the
constitution. the ratification of certain numbers of states shall be sufficient for organizing this convention. this is crucial. the constitution the ratification process specified ech in the second draft is illegal. according to to the ratification process of the articles of confederation. they can only be amended with the unanimous consent of the 13 states. this says a certain number of states 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 was invoking their natural right to alter and abolish government. which they felt adheres in all of us in the state of nature before we form civil society. and reverting to the original power. 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 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 the draft three. of the constitution. and it's a september 12th, 1787. five days before the constitution is proposed and an awful lot of really important changes are being made at the very last minute. these changes come out of the committee of style. that is a committee with al elegant name and extraordinarily impressive group of members. they include hamilton. the james madison. widely recognized as the framer of the constitution. and governor mor ris. he was a impressive delegate from pennsylvania. he had a peg leg.
and he was a very beautiful stylist. and he was responsible for the crucial stylistic change which was the amazingly important change in the u.s. constitution. which is in this draft the preamble for the first time says we the people of the united states. not we the people of the states of --. we the people of the united states. why was that change made? well, some say it was merely a stylistic change because the framers didn't know exactly which of the 13 states would ratify. so they head to the bets by keeping it concise. and it was shorter. others disagree and say the change was the tangible expression of james wilson belief that we have the people as a whole are sovereign. not individual states. there are another series of really important changes.
congressional power is altered. koj congress has the power to declare rather than make war. the presidential term is finally four years. and they eliminate the term limit of the 7 year term. plus, it's election by the electoral college. that was the compromise wilson wasn't able to get popular election. so electoral clenl was considered a group of wise delegates who because they would know the best candidate would be able to exercise independent judgment and choose the finest candidate in the land. that hope was soon ovuated by the growth of the party system. after the election of 1,800. this draft is signed by jay jacob broom. it's really tliing isn't it? ladies and gentlemen. to read article 1 section 8 with the powers of congress. and this draft says congress
made by joint ballot appointed treasure. is scratched out. and says the congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes. which is the draft we know. it's amazing september 12th and just cutting and pasting and scratching words out. let's go back to the interactive and look at a couple of the other crucial textural changes. here we are at the text of the document we just saw. and my goodness, let's read the preamble. which is evolving into final form. in order to form a more perfect union. establish justice provide for the common defense, and secure the blessings of liberty.
for the united states of america. isn't it amazing on this draft on september 12 jacob broom scratched out to the proposition before establish justice? so it looks -- there's other fascinating annotations throughout. you can check them out online. we have here the idea of that the senate tries impeachments on oath and affirmation for the benefit of the quakers and others who were against swearing oaths. and the time place and manner of holding elections and representatives is prescribed in each state. congress can make oral regulations except the place of choosing senators. that was a last minute addition. a couple other crucial changes on the side. the crucial change in the preamble. we the people of the united states. and also the aim of forming a more perfect union. finally the president has the power to make treaties and
appoint justices. along with the senate. although the senate provides advice and consent. that was september 12th. a very important addition at the last minute. amendment process is almost fully spelled out. congress can propose amendments. but we don't yet have the provision allowing two third of the state to call a convention. we saw a version of that in the earlier draft. which was now we see was resurrected. and three quarters of the legislation ratify, and then ratification says the people of nine out of the 13 states. they filled in the blank. and said nine states is enough to ratify. as long as they call special conventions for the purpose. we're almost there. it's september 12. finally time for a constitution day. september 17. we'll see the final draft. of the u.s. constitution. ladies and gentlemen, it is constitution day september 17.
and we have the final version of the constitution. which is printed for delegates to debate as well as to share with congress and the states. how exciting to think this printing of which only a handful of copies survive is more constitutionally significant than the copy in the national archive? because this is the copy that the delegates themselves debated and deciding whether to pass the constitution, and that we the people debated into deciding whether to ratify it. upstairs we have a copy of the constitution printed in the pennsylvania pack ket newspaper on september 19, two days after this draft. that draft which was widely circulated among the people was the most dramatic expression of the peoples ability to ratify the constitution in their name. a couple really important changes at the last minute. isn't it stunning to think of how much you can do with a deadline? from may 25 to september 17.
the entire constitution is drafted. it's important it's done in secret. the windows are closed. no leaks, no twitter. you can't undo compromises and can make them. because people are able to shift positions because they're not being called out by partisans at every moment. and we see very important changes as a result. at the last minute. here are three. veto over ride. the number of people necessary to over ride the president's veto is lowered from three-fourths to two third. imagine how hard it would be to over ride with three quarters. amendment process is specified. two-thirds can ask for a convention. and this is really important. article 5 says an amendment can never deny a state equal representation in the senate without that states consent. that's an unamendable provision. law students love having late night dorm debates about whether
or not an unamendable constitutional provision is itself a violation of the peoples right. but let's save that for another session. let's go wonk out and inspire ourselves by returning to the text and seeing the final tweaks in the very last draft. here's the very final draft of the u.s. constitution. and a couple crucial changes made at the last minute. we have talked about some of them. here's one we haven't. representation in congress. originally the text says there can be no more than one representative for every 40,000 people in the house. although now of course there's less. before signing george washington wanted the number changed to 30,000. that's the only time he voiced his opinion and the other delegates unanimously agreed. if you come to the center or go online, you'll see the very
first amendment to the constitution that was proposed by not adopted in what became the bill of rights said there should be one representative in congress for every 30,000 inhabitants. and had that passed there would be 4,000 congress people today. a couple other crucial changes. 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 approval. that's the source of the president's power to appoint some people without congressional approval, without that now days it would be hard for any president to get anyone appointed. one last detail. a call for unity. so important to inspire ourselves. with this great call ben franklin on the last day of the convention encourages unanimous support. and proposed the final text added which included by the
unanimous consent of the states present. that allowed the signers to say they were only witnessing. even if they had individual reservations. despite this, three delegates present refused to sign. you can see who they are by going upstairs to signers hall. and in the back of the room where the three who refused to sign. gary of massachusetts. i have voting districts that are so funny shaped. that's what he did. two virginia delegates. and george mason of virginia. one of the most under appreciated of the founders who refused to sign. because it didn't contain a bill of rights. why not? because james madison said a bill of rites would be unnecessary or dangerous. unnecessary because the constitution itself is a bill of rights. it gives congress only
enumerated powers. sips congress has no power to infringe speech there's no fear. because people might assume if a right wasn't written down, it wasn't protected. and the framers believe our rights they come from god or nature. not from government. and to try to reduce them to a single list would be folly. in the face of objection from the three, madison changed his mind. he was a practical politician. and came to support the adoption of additional amendments to prevent misconstruction or further abuse of power. what we'll do in the final section of this wonderful american treasures gallery. we have been seeing these incredibly rare, priceless, early drafts of the constitution. lent by the pennsylvania historical society. we'll see the first public printings of the bill of rights lent by david rubenstein.
and see how madisons original 19. were down to 12. and the ten that passed. we're about to see the first 19 amendments that were proposed to the constitution. we now of course know that there were ten ratified. the bill of rights. madison proposed 19. and they appear in the gazette of the united states on october 3, 1789. you can find them online at the interactive constitution. this amazing new online tool. 11 million hits since it launched a year ago. you can click on any provision of the bill of right of constitution and see the leading liberal and conservative scholars on what they agree and disagree about. you can click on any part of the
bill of rights. so madison made the list of 19 amendments he didn't make it out of thin air. he had beside him the state constitutions. or the massachusetts constitution of 1780. all had bills of rights and madison drawing on the lists proposed by the convention cut and pasted among the post popular. to create his original list of 19. so there was one amendment in the list that he thought was the most important in the bunch. here it is. it says no state shall violate the equal rights of con she thinks or freedom of press. or try by jury in criminal cases. this is revolutionary. the final bill of rights passed only ampplies to congress. it doesn't say the state shall make no law. he thought these basic rights of conscience, freedom of the press and trial by jury are so important that the states as
well as congress should not be able to abridge them. he lost the battle. it didn't pass. along with several others. there are 19 on this list. and it took the civil war the bloodiest in american history to pass the 14th amendment. which has been construed today as applying the bill of rights against the state so today states as well as the government are forbidding from abridging basic rights. this list of 19 is fascinating. it was created in the order in which the provisions were supposed to be inserted in the constitution. the first proposed amendment says first that there be prefix to the constitution a declaration all power is origin hi vested in and derived from the people. it goes onto say the government is constituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people. which consistents in the adjoinment of life and