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tv   American Artifacts Drafting the U.S. Constitution  CSPAN  February 23, 2018 11:27am-12:05pm EST

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c-span live coverage begins tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. after the
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washington journal on our companion network, c-span. up next, we visit the national constitution center in philadelphia to learn about the cre is creation of the u.s. constitution in 1787 and see several early drafts. welcome to the national constitution center. as c-span viewers know, this is the only institution in america chartered by congress to disseminate information on a nonpartisan basis. today, i am so excited to show you a new gallery we have just opened, american treasures, which contains the five earliest drafts of the u.s. constitution in american history. not even at the constitutional convention were these five drafts displayed in the same
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place. now, thanks to a great partnership with the historical society of pennsylvania and the wonderful support of david rubenstein, we have been able to open this gallery, display these drafts together and tell the story of the evolution of the text of the constitution into the draft that was ratified september 17th, 1787. it is so excited. in many ways, this gallery tells the story of the underappreciated hero, james wilson, of the constitution. we have all heard of james madison and alexander hamilton, the rap star of the moment and president washington. in many ways, james wilson was the intellectual architect of the central idea behind the constitution that we the people of the united states as a whole have the sovereign power. that was the big idea eventually
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embodied in the preamble to the u.s. 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 and many of them insisted that we, the people, of each state are sovereign. wilson horks h wilson, who had served in the continental congress, saw that they were too weak to achieve centralized purpose and wanted a 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 that the south had no ability to succeed without the people of the united states as a whole. it is the foundation of the idea in the preamble, the popular sovereignty rests in we the people. we're going to see the evolutions of wilson's draft.
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he was born in scotland and went to st. andrews university and came to america and studied at ben franklin's new college of philadelphia. he served in the con nent tall congress where he became concerned that the central government didn't have strong enough powers. he was initially opposed to independence, which got him in trouble with the philadelphia mob, who came to his house to denounce him. he was anti-slavery and a pennsylvania delegate. it says wilson and madison were the two leaders. wilson is in favor of popular sovereignty by we the people. madison believes that the people can degenerate into demagogues and mobs.
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wilson and madison had a big debate. wilson became a very distinguished u.s. supreme court justice and died alas in debt. we are 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. every important document has a first draft. this is it. it was drafted on june 24th, 1784. >> it begins on may 25th.
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may 25th, two months later, was the first time that the committee created this draft of the constitution. how did it end up here? it belongs to the historical society of pennsylvania. james wilson died in 1789, the year the bill of rights was proposed. he gave this document, along with a bunch of others 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 the historical society of pennsylvania. their president said, hey, all of these documents are here at the historical society. wouldn't it be wonderful if americans could see them. the historical society is lending them to the constitutional center to be displayed here on a long-term
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loan. 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 that anyone really tried to set down the ideas of the constitution occurred in this draft. there air couple of really significant parts about it. there is no preamble. it doesn't begin, we the people of the united states, as thanks to wilson the final drafts would begin. it shall consist of a legislative, judicial and executive branches. that was the first words of the very first draft of the u.s. constitution. we know congress doesn't have specific powers listed. it says congress can make laws for the general interest of the union and address problems the
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statein states can't handle on their own. if there is a single term, that's going to change. we can look at wilson's beautiful handwriting. we want all of you wonderful c-span viewers and all americans to be able to study the evolving text of the constitution. we have created this great online tool i want you to check out. not now because i'm talking but after you finish watching the show. we have it here on a touchscreen. you can get if online at constituti we are talking about the july 24th version. we just saw the original. you can now see that this is the very first words of the u.s. constitution committed to paper resolved that the government of the united states ought to consist of a supreme, legislative, judiciary and executive branch.
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if there is nothing else we know about the u.s. constitution, let's remember that it has three branches. what's number two? that the legislature of the united states ought to consist of two branches. that was a huge struggle. the delegates spent the first two months of the convention disagreeing about whether there would be a single legislative body or a by cameral legislature, which is what they agreed about. there was this crucial question about how the two branches would be elected. representatives of the big states said, we want popular election. representatives of the small states like new jersey said, no, no, we want each state to have two representatives. roger sherman in the connecticut compromise decided to mix and match. the house is popularly elected and the senate has two representatives per state. you see that in the first draft. we resolve that the first branch ought to be elected by the
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people for two terms and that members of the second branch should be chosen by the individual legislatures. until the passage of the 17th amendment, it was state legislatures, not the people, that chosentors. on the side here, you can compare --
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it says there should be ratification and the people choose representatives. that represents wilson's belief that we, the people, is sovereign.
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the constitution can only be ratified in our name. our right to govern comes from god or nature. we have an unalienable right. the pre-eminent rights are the rights of conscious, spelled out in the bill of rights, which the constitution doesn't contain. that is represented by the ratification process. james wilson, the sovereignty of we the people. we have learned all that from the very first draft. it is only july. now, let's look at the second draft and we are going to see the very first time that the constitution expresses the idea of we the people. we will see the second written by james wilson. this was written on august 3rd after a ten-daybreak from the
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july 24th draft. it came out of what was called the committee of details, which was a geographically diverse group that was assembling different revolutions. it is 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, from providence plantations and so forth. after all, he believed that we the people of the united states as a whole are sovereign. the message of the time when we the people of the states were sovereign. others said they just wanted to signal how many states were ratifying. we'll see in the final draft that that language about the individual states is left out and we become we the people of
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the united states. let's check out the text, because it is so exciting to actually compare the evolution of the preamble. we are going to go back over here to this great interactive. you can check it out on line. this is a manuscript of the committee of detail. there is the original preamble. we, the people of the states of new hampshire, massachusetts, rhode island and providence plantation, connecticut, new york, new jersey, pennsylvania, delaware, maryland, virginia, north carolina, south carolina, and georgia, do ordain, declare and establish the following constitution for the government of ourselves and our prosperity. it doesn't have all that inspiring language about established justice to provide for the common defense and so forth. it just says do ordain to establish the following constitution for the government of ourselves and our prossperit.
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the name shall be the united states of america. the first time we see on paper the word, united states of america. let's see what changes are taking place. we now have a short preamble. we have congressional powers getting specified. congress has the power to make residents make war. we are giving congress more day to day decisions and more time. later, the president took a greater role. the necessary and proper klaus. th before the constitutional convention, the continental congress only has specific enumerated powers. it gives congress the flexibility to pass laws necessary and proper to carry out its enumerated powers.
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the scope of that clause remains hotly debated today. we have the ability to appoint supreme court justices. the president has no role in these crucial duties. the election of the president. there is an election. the president is chosen by the legislature. that was james madison's innovation. he is the framer who is afraid of demagogues and the mob. he sees tension between populism and constitutionalism. he feels that a president that communicates directly with the people would be an invitation to demagogues and tyranny. he wants a president-elected by the legislature. that's what happens in this draft over james wilson's objections. he says, no, we need election by the people. later, we will see them settle the compromises. there is a kingly title for the president.
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his sitele shall be his excellency. he shall be elected by ballot by the lense lagislature. the presidential term has expanded from six to seven years. he is limited to a single term. the framers don't want to encourage the executive to seek favor with congress and secure election. he thinks he will be independent the way judges are if he has a single, seven-year term. we begin to see the outlines of an amendment process. two thirds of state legislatures can ask congress to call another convention. that's in 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, remains part of the constitution and the final change ratification. we have more information about
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ratification but a blank space for the number of states required to approve the constitution. this is crucial. the constitution, the 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 the unanimous consent of all 13 states. this provision 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, were invoking their natural or un unalienable right. they incompetent siftsisted the the ratification procedure that was illegal according to the
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existing rules for ratification. that is so exciting. now, we are 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. welcome to draft three of the constitution, september 12th, 1787, five days before the constitution is proposed. 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 extraordinary p extraordinaryly impressive group of members, including alexander hamilton, james madison, widely recognized as the framer of the constitution, and gouverneur morris.
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he was an impressive delegate from pennsylvania. he had a peg leg and he was a very beautiful stylist. he was responsible for the crucial stylistic change, which was also an amazingly important substantive change in the u.s. constitution, which is that in this draft of the 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, and so forth. it says 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 hedged their betts s by keep teei keeping it more concise. others say it was the tangible expression of james wilson's belief that we the people as the united states as a whole are sovereign not we the people of the individual states.
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there are another series of really important changes. congressional power is altered. congress now has the power to declare, rather than make war. the presidential term is finally four years. they illuminated the term limits of the seven-year term. plus, it is election by the electoral college. that was the compromise. wilson wasn't able to get popular election, which is what he wanted. the electoral college was considered a group of wise delegates who, because they would actually know the best candidates, would be able to exercise independent judgment and to choose the finest c candidates in the land. that was obviated by a party system which changed the electoral college from the very start. this draft is signed by jacob broom, a delegate from delaware. it includes his notations. it is really thrilling, isn't it, ladies and gentlemen, to
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read article one, section 8 of the powers of congress. this draft says con grgress mady joint ballot and appointed treasure and it is scratched out and it says the congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, which is the draft we know. it is september 12th and they are just cutting and pasting and scratching word out. let's go back to the interactive and look at some of the crucial changes. let's go down and see it. here we are at the text of the document we just saw. my goodness, let's read the preamble, which is evolving into its final form. we, the people of the united states, in order to form a more perfect union, established justice, ensure domestic tranquility and provide for the common defense and promote the
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general welfare and secure the blessings of our prosperity, do ordain this constitution for the united states of america. isn't it amazing on this draft on september 12th, jacob broom has scratched out the proposition before establish justice so it just says establish justice. so it looks like -- check them out online. we have the idea the senate tries impeachment on oath and affirmation for the benefit of quakers and others who were scrupulously against swearing oaths and the time, place and manner of holding elections and representatives is 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.
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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 anticipate process is almost fully spelled out. congress 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 states 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 legislatures or 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. we're almost there. it's september 12th it, finally, it's time for constitution day. september 17th, we're going to see a very final draft of the u.s. constitution.
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lane ladies and gentlemen, it's constitution day, september 17th. we have the final version printed for the 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 whether to pass the constitution and ultimately, that 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
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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. here are three. the 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 it would to be override veto of three-quarts. finally specified two-thirds of the state legislature will ask for convention picking up on that 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.
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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 government and an amendment provision 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. so here's the very final draft of the u.s. constitution and a couple 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 there there can be no more than one representative for every 40,000 people in the house all know, of cour course, there's 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.
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if you come to the constitution center or go online to 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. so important on constitution day to inspire ourselves with this great call. ben franklin on the last day of the convention encourages unanimous support of the
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constitution and he proposed the final text that was added which included by the unanimous consent of the states present, that allowed the signers to say they were only witnessing what was done at constitution even if they had individual reserves. despite, three delegates refused to sign. you can 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 gerry of massachusetts. i pronounce it garymandering 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
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constitution itself is a bill of rights. it gives congress enumerated powers. suns congress has no power to infringe speech, there's no reason to fear that congress would an bridge free speech. people 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. he was a practical politician. he almost lost a house election in virginia and he came to support the adoption of additional anticipates to prevent misconstruction or 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 lent by the pennsylvania historical society. we're now going to see the first
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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 anticipates that were proposed to the constitution. we know that there were ten that were ratified known as the bill of rights. 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.
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you can also on the rights interactive portion click on any part of the bill of rights and see its antecedents or state constitutions. 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 the massachusetts constitution of 1780, all of them had bills of rights and madison drawing on the list by state ratifying conventions cut and pasted most important 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
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rights of conscience, freedom of the press and trial by jury are so important, so fundamental that the states as well as congress should not be able to an bridge them. madison lost that battle. that amendment did not pass as well as several others. there are 19 on this list. it took the civil wars, the bloodiest in american history to pass the 14th amendment to the constitution which has been constituted today as applying the bill of rights against the states so that today states as well as the federal government are forbidden from an bridging 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, a declaration that all power is originally vested in and consequentlily derived from the people. it goes on to say the government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the
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people which consists in the 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 indubitable, unalienable unfeasible right to reform or change their government whenever it be found adverse to or inadequate to the purposes of itstution. ladies and gentlemen, that is astonishing. what document does that sound like? declaration of independence, sounds very much like the second sentence of the declaration, we hold these truths to be self-evident, unalienable rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. whenever the government becomes destructive of these rights it's the duty of the people to abolish it. sometry cal, such synchronicity, we began the tour of this is the documents by recognizing that
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wilson's to abolish government is an 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 of the five rarest 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 these rare drafts of the bill of rights thanks to the historical society of pennsylvania, thanks to david rubenstein and c-span friends, happy constitution day. you can watch this or other
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american artifact programs at any time by visiting our website here's what's coming up today on c-span 's "american history tv." up next, the herbert hoover presidential library and then a discussion on vehicles used by u.s. presidents. later a look at franklin roosevelt's historic sites. ran join us tonight for "american history tv" in primetime from our american artifacts series, we'll visit the herbert hoover presidential library and museum to review the american president's life portraits exhibit and the enhad i museum in prime time at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span3. tonight book tv has a look at after words. the son of the late justice antonin scalia, christopher,
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shares speeches by his father in his book "scalia speaks." women's march co-chair discusses her book "together we rice," republican national committee spokesperson kailey mcnameny is interviewed on had her book "the new american revolution," and astronaut scott kelly talks about voyages into space in his book "endurance," all this week in prime time. epa administrator scott pruitt and fox news channel jeanine pirro address cpac. live coverage beginning at 8:00 p.m. on our companion network c-span. state governors from across the country are gathering for their annual winter meeting. throughout the day saturday, the national governors association will host panels to talk jobs, the opioid crisis as well as the future of agriculture and food availability. c-span's live coverage tomorro


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