St. Louis on the Air
1:05 pm
Thu July 4, 2013

‘We The People…’ UMSL Professor’s New Book Highlights What The Framers Were Really Thinking

Encore Presentation: This program's original broadcast was on March 19, 2013.

Having existed and endured for more than 225 years, the U.S. Constitution and the intent of those who created it continues to be a hotly contested topic.

While the Constitution is often thought of the nation’s founding document, it did not go into effect until 1789, more than ten years after the Declaration of Independence of 1776.  The Articles of Confederation loosely governed the states prior to 1789, though it lacked several key provisions including distinct branches of government and the ability of the government to tax.

David Robertson, University of Missouri – St. Louis Curators’ Teaching Professor of Political Science, is the author of new book which takes a topical look at the creation of the U.S. Constitution.  It is called, “The Original Compromise: What the Constitution’s Framers Were Really Thinking.”

Robertson argues that the Federalist Papers, of which many people believe composes the lens through which we view the ideas behind the U.S. Constitution, represent only one side in a fierce argument that was settled by numerous compromises.

Interview with David Robertson

Intentional Ambiguity

Certain things about the U.S. Constitution were left intentionally vague (i.e. the Necessary and Proper Clause).  The framers also made room to revise the U.S. Constitution with the addition of amendment, of which there have been twenty-seven.

The Word ‘Slavery’ Never Appears in the U.S. Constitution

“They avoided that word scrupulously.  (The Framers) didn’t want to put the word ‘slavery’ in the Constitution, it would be controversial.  They didn’t like the idea that slavery existed.  In the privacy of the convention hall, the discussion over slavery was frank and chilling at times.”

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