democratic and anti-democratic
emaltz at camden.rutgers.edu
Sun Oct 30 13:52:03 PST 2005
The framers did not bypass the sovereign (state) governments, as they would
have if they had provided by a national convention (as proposed by
Gouvernor Morris at the convention), or a national referendum. Instead,
they provided for ratification by separate conventions established by the
state governments, administered by the state governments, whose delegates
were elected by voters whose qualifications were defined by the state
governments. So the conventions were no more democratic than the state
At 01:13 PM 10/30/2005 -0800, you wrote:
>I don't understand how you can use ideal democracy as a yardstick to
>measure ratification anyway. The founders created a post-aristocratic,
>pre-democratic society. They did not support universal suffrage. Suffrage
>was still thought of as a function of the virtuous. Property
>qualifications prevented voting in many states and so did the fact that,
>in some states, you would have to ride on horseback for days to get to the
>polling place. Wasn't it New Jersey that only had four polling places for
>the entire state? Hell, they didn't even have the secret ballot for all of
>the elections yet.
>Remember, voting was just getting started for crying out loud. If you
>wanted to vote for Jefferson after the 1776, you had to attend a barbecue
>on the day of the "election," eat, drink like a pig, and then go to an
>area and pronounce your vote orally. Basically, whichever Planter had the
>bigger pow-wow would be the winner. That was "democracy" in Virginia back
>Given these limitations, ratification was as democratic as it could be.
>You are being entirely presentistic to ask that today's standard of
>democracy being imposed on an election of 1787. My god, the fact that they
>bypassed the sovereign governments of their time (the states) and made the
>ratification go to so many hundreds of thousands of colonists was itself
>quite a "democratic" accomplishment.
>Malla Pollack <mpollack at uidaho.edu> wrote:
>Sorry, even if you ignore that no one now governed by the Constitution was
>given a chance to vote against it, the best scholarship available makes
>clear that the 1787-89 ratification was not democratic.
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