The Constitution Essay, Research Paper
When the framers decided to write a constitution, they were faced with several problems, one of which was how to set up the national government. The framers had to create a government that had strong central power but still maintained civil liberties for the people. Despite one observer s assertion that ” The Constitutional Convention of 1787 is supposed to have created a government of separated powers. It did nothing of the sort. Rather it created a government of separated institutions sharing powers,” the Constitutional Convention actually created a government that has separated powers as well as separate institutions sharing powers. The Framers intended for the national government not to be of one sole entity with sole power, but rather to be a government of several institutions with specific separate powers. Along with the separate powers, the Convention of 1787 intended those separate branches to have specific powers to check the other branches of the national government.
The framers present at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 intended to create a government of separated powers. When the framers spoke of separated powers, they were referring to the division of a national government and its powers. The framers feared granting the same entity all powers of government: legislative, judicial and executive. If one person, group, or branch has all power, the people s liberty is lost. James Madison states, The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny…. the preservation of liberty requires that the three great departments of power should be separate and distinct (Federalist No. 47, Lasser, 9-10). Here, Madison makes it evident that the fear of one entity possessing all governmental power led the framers to establish a government of separated powers; therefore, the national government was divided into three branches.
The three branches of the national government that the framers created are to have separate and specific powers. Each branch has specifically allotted powers that are of importance to the national government. Madison refers to the New Hampshire state Constitution, that the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers ought to be kept as separate from, and independent of, each other as the nature of a free government will admit; or as is consistent with that chain of connection that binds the whole fabric of the constitution in one indissoluble bond of unity and amity (Federalist No. 47, Lasser, 11). Congress is to create laws, the Judicial Branch is to interprets laws, and the Executive Branch is to ensure that the laws are executed. These powers are specifically designated so that no other branch shall take part in the allotted powers of another branch. Madison quotes the Massachusetts constitution, that the legislative department shall never exercise the executive and judicial powers… (Federalist No. 47, Lasser, 12). Madison believed that each branch should indeed be separate with separate and distinct powers.
Next, although the framers had created a government of separate powers, they also wanted to ensure that each branch did not take advantage of its allotted powers. Therefore, the framers instilled the system of shared powers. Each branch was granted the right to check and balance the other branches; this system of shared powers is an essential part of America s government today. Through checking and balancing each other, the three branches are essentially ensuring the preservation of liberty for this country and its citizens. As Madison states in his Federalist Paper No. 51, But the great security against a gradual concentration of several powers in the same department consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others (Lasser, 15). Here, Madison is referring to the fact that each branch will use its own motives to check and balance the other branches. James Q. Wilson also agrees, he says of James Madison: To him and others at the Philadelphia Convention, the proper way to keep government in check while still leaving it strong enough to perform its essential tasks was to allow the self-interest of one person to check the self-interest of another (American Government, Wilson, 22). Madison and the other framers believed that liberty could be preserved by allowing the selfish interest of people to check and balance each other. Hence, sharing powers was also an intended objective of the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
In conclusion, despite one observer s assertion that ” The Constitutional Convention of 1787 is supposed to have created a government of separated powers. It did nothing of the sort. Rather it created a government of separated institutions sharing powers,” the Constitutional Convention actually created a government that has separated powers as well as separate institutions sharing powers. The framers desired to create a government that was divided into branches, rather than having one sole entity control all power. Instead, the framers divided the government into three branches that possessed separate and distinct powers. In addition to the separate powers, the framers granted each branch specific powers to check and balance the other two branches; therefore, America s civil liberties and protection against tyranny was ensured.