tv American Artifacts Drafting the U.S. Constitution CSPAN February 23, 2018 7:24pm-8:03pm EST
association will host panels to talk about jobs, the opioid crisis as well as the future of agriculture and food availability and c-span's live coverage begins tomorrow after washington journal on our companion network c-span. monday on c-span are span's landmark cases, we'll look at the supreme court case mccullough v. maryland. a case that solidified it the federal government to take actions not explicitly mentioned in the constitution against the legitimate use of this power. explore this case and the high court's riling with the associate law professor farrah peterson and mark killenbeck, university of arkansas law professor and auth are on of "mccullough v. maryland," securing a nation. watch at 9:00 eastern on c-span, c-span.org or listen with the free c-span radio app and for background on each case, order a copy of the landmark cases companion book and it's
available for $8.95 plus shipping and handling and for an additional resource, there's a link on our website to the national constitution center's interactive constitution. >> each week, american artifacts takes viewers into historic sites around the country. up next, we visit the national constitution center in philadelphia. to learn about the creation of the u.s. constitution in 1787 and to see several rare, early drafts. >> welcome to the national constitution center. i'm jeffrey rosen, the president of this wonderful institution which as c-span viewers know is the only institution in america chartered by congress to disseminate information about the u.s. constitution on a non-partisan basis and today i am so excited to show you a new gallery we've just opened. american treasures which
contains the five rarest, early drafts of the u.s. constitution in american history. not even at the constitutional convention were these five drafts displayed in the same place and now thanks to a great partnership with the historical society of pennsylvania and the wonderful support of david rubenstein, we've 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 on constitution day, september 17, 1787. it is so exciting and i can't wait to show it to you. let's go inside and come take a look. so in many ways, this gallery tells the story of this underappreciated hero of the constitutional convention, james wilson. we've all heard of james madison and alexander hamilton and the rap star of the moment and of course, president washington, but 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 embodied in the preamble to the u.s. constitution and 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, but wilson who served in the continental congress saw the articles of confederation were to weak to achieve centralized purposes and wanted a stronger central government and a strong president elected by the people insisted that we the people of the united states as a whole are sovereign and not the people of each state and not the parliament itself as britain. that brilliant idea was what lincoln invoked when he insisted the south had no ability to secede without the consent of we the people of the united states as a whole, and it is the foundation of the idea in the
preamble that popular sovereignty rests on we, the people. in this amazing gallery we'll see the evolutions of wilson's draft and he was the first important signer who put pen to paper and we're about to see his draft and i will tell you about him and he was born in scotland. he went to st. andrews university and he came to america and studied ben franklin's new college of philadelphia. he served in the continental congress where he became concerned that the central government didn't have strong enough powers. he was initially opposed to independence which got him into trouble with the philadelphia mob who came to his house to denounce him, but he changed his mind and became a strong supporter of independence. he was anti-slavery and he was a pennsylvania delegate to the constitutional convention and richard beeman who wrote a book which i want you to read, plain, honest men were the leaders of the convention.
wilson is in favor of popular sovereignty by we, the people, madison believes that the people can degenerate into demagogues and mobs and popular passions have to be checked and the president should be elected by the legislature and not the people in order to ensure that direct democracy doesn't degenerate into demagoguery. so wilson and madison had a big debate. wilson became a distinguished u.s. supreme court justice and he died alas in debt which was very sad to see and we are about to see the very last draft of the constitution written by madison. okay so now we are 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, and this is it. it was it will drafted on july 24th 1787.
remember the constitutional convention begins on may 25th. i remember that because the address of the national constitution center is 525 arch street in philadelphia, and 525 is may 25th 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 on the year the bill of rights was proposed and he gave this document along with a bunch of others to his son bird wilson. bird wilson dies in 1859 and gives it to his relative emily hollingsworth and she gives it to the historical society of pennsylvania and they've had it for a long time and their visionary interim president charles cohen said hey, all of these priceless documents are here at the historical society.
wouldn't it be wonderful if americans around the country could see them. they're to be displayed here on a long-term loan and that's why you can now come and see them for the first time. okay, so look at wilson's beautiful handwriting which is still legible and let's just pause for a second and the first time anyone tried to set down the ideas of the constitution occurred this draft. there are a couple of 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 drafts would begin. it just says that the government of the united states shall consist of the legislative, executive and judicial branches and that's the most important thing we have to know about the constitution in america and there are three branches of government and those are the first words of the very first draft of the u.s. constitution. we know that congress doesn't have specific powers listed. instead, it says congress can
make laws for the general interests of the union and to address the states can't handle on their own and the presidential term is six years and there's a single term for the national executive and that's going to change a bunch of times during the amendment process. so we can look at wilson's beautiful handwriting and the constitution center we want all of you wonderful c-span viewers and we want you to be able to study the evolving text of the constitution and you can realize how the presidency and judiciary have evolved and that's why we created this great online tool that i want you to check out. not now because i'm talking, but after you finish watching this show and you can get it online at constitution center.org/treasures. this is basically the printed version of each of the texts that we displayed here. so we're talking about the july 24th version and we saw the original and you can now see
that these are the very first words of the u.s. constitution committed to paper resolve that the government of the united states ought to consist of the supreme, legislative and judiciary and executive branch. if there's 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 disagreeing whether there would be a unicammeral or a bicameral legislature which is what they eventually agreed about and there was a crucial question about how the two branches would be elected. the representatives of the big states led by virginia who said we want a popular election because we'll get the seats and the representatives of new jersey said we want to have two representatives and roger sherman and the connecticut compromise just decided to mix and match. the house was popularly elected and the senate has two states -- two representatives per state
and you see that in this first draft. the first branch ought to be elected by the people of the states for the term of two years accident members of the second branch should be chosen by the individual legislatures and until the passage of the 17th amendment it was state legislatures, not the people, who chose senators. on the side here you can compare callouts about how the drafts changed and we've already talked about how there's foe preamble in this draft. we see also that the 3/5 compromise and 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 state's free inhabitants plus three-fifths of other persons and that was early by the continental congress 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 three-fifths is in the draft and it would change a bunch of times and i just wanted two more callouts. we see the senate appoints supreme court justices and we know the president appoints the justices and the senate confirms and the very first draft had only the senate confirming. the amendment process, and they don't decide how they should be passed and it's not until the final days of the convention and on the final draft on september 12th they come up with a process for how to,a mend the constitution and the last provision doesn't have the details of ratification. this is crucial. the framers are proposing a constitution, but it's not until it's ratified in the name of we, the people, as a whole by special ratifying conventions that it achieves the status of
supreme law in the very first draft. it says there should be ratification without a process, but it does say the people choose representatives who decide whether or not to adopt the framers' proposals and that represents wilson's belief that we the people are sovereign and the constitution can only be ratified in our name and our right to govern comes from god or nature, not from government and we have an unalienable right to abolish government whenever it fails to protect the unalienable natural rights that we retain during the transition from civil society and the rights of conscience and these are spelled out in the bill of rights which the constitution doesn't contain, and that is represented by the ratification process. the ultimate contribution of james wilson, the sovereignty of we, the people. okay, so we learn all of that from the very first draft and it's only july now let's look at the second draft and 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 3, 1787 after a ten-day break from the july 24th draft by wilson. it came out of what was called the committee of detail that was a geographically diverse group assembling different resolutions and it's again, just amazing to read wilson's beautiful hand writing and also to see how dramatically the constitution is evolving and 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 and providence plantations and so forth. why did wilson enumerate all of the individual states? after all, he believed that we the people of the united states as a wholor sovereign? some thought that it was a
vestage of time when we the people of the states were e sov? some thought that it was a vestage of time when we the people of the states wer sovere? some thought that it was a vestage of time when we the people of the states wera sover? some thought that it was a vestage of time when we the people of the states werr sover? some thought that it was a vestage of time when we the people of the states were sover? some thought that it was a vestage of time when we the people of the states were sovereign and others that they just wanted to signal how many states were actually ratifying and we'll see in the final draft the language about the individual states is left out and we've become we the people of the united states. once again, let's check out the text because it's so exciting to actually compare the evolution of the preamble and we'll go back over here to this great interactive and you can check it out online at constitution center.org/treasures and here is the manuscript of the committee of detailed report. look, there is the original preamble. we, the people of the states of new hampshire, massachusetts, rhode island, providence plantations, connecticut, new york, new jersey, pennsylvania, delaware, maryland, 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 of that
inspiring language about established justice and provide for the common defense and so forth. it just says ordain, declare and establish the following constitution for the government of ourselves and our posterity. let's scroll down and see what else this next draft says. the style of this government, and in other words, the name shall be the united states of america. gosh, 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 a short preamble. we have congressional powers are getting specified and congress has the power to make and rather than declare war. it would have given congress more day to day decisions in wartime and later the president took a greater role. the necessary and proper clause and this is very important to define congress' powers and the continental congress only has specific enumerated powers.
the u.s. constitution gives congress the flexibility to pass laws necessary and proper to carry out its enumerated powers and the scope of that clause remains hotly debated today, but the appointment power. now the senate has the treaty-making power as well as the ability to appoint supreme court justices and still the president has no role in these crucial duties. the election of the president, wow, look at this. and there is an election and the president was chosen by the legislature. that was james madison, an innovator afraid of the demagogues and the mobs and he fears that a directly-elected president or a president that communicates directly with the people as he said in federalist 10 would be an invitation to demagogues and tyranny and he wants a president elected by the legislature and that's what happens in this draft over james
wilson's objection. wilson is saying, no, we need election by the people and they settle on the compromise of the electoral college. his title shall be his excellency. and imagine if that prevailed today instead of mr. president. the president will be his excellency and it will be and the president is limited to a single term. the framers don't want to seek favor with congress to secure re-election, they think he'll be an independent the way judges are if he has a single seven-year term. and we begin to see the outlines of an amendment process and two-thirds can ask congress to call another convention and that's in another version of the constitution and even today, a number of states have called for a convention of the states to introduce a budget amendment and
that provision never invoked after the original constitution convention and remains part of the constitution and the final change ratification, we have more information about ratification, but a blank space for the number of states required to approve the the constitution and the ratification of certain numbers of state should be sufficient for organizing this convention and this is crucial. the constitution, and ratification in the second draft is illegal according to the articles of confederation and the articles can only be amended with the consent of all 13 states and this certain 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 unalienable right, and here ate state of nature before we formed civil society and reverting to that
original power and they insisted they could choose a ratification procedure that was illegal according to the existing methods of ratification. all of that just in the second draft and this is so exciting and now we're just in early august, let's now move further along in august and let's see 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 and it's september 12, 1787, just five days before the constitution is proposed and 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 an elegant name and an extraordinarily impressive group of members. they include alexander hamilton,
the rap star of the moment, the rumor happened, and james madison widely recognized as the framer of the constitution and governor morris. governor morris was an impressive delegate from pennsylvania. he had a peg leg and he was a bonn vivant, and he was a very beautiful stylist and 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, but 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 which of the 13 states would actually ratify so they hedged their bets by keeping it more concise plus that was shorter and others disagree and say the change to we, the people of the united states, was the tangible
expression of james wilson's belief that we the people of the united states as a whole are sovereign, not we the people of the individual states. there are another series of really important changes, congressional power is altered. congress has the power to declare rather than make war. the presidential term is finally four years and they eliminated the term limits of the seven-year term, plus it's election by the electoral college and that was the compromise wilson wasn't able to get popular election which was what he wanted so 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 candidates in the land. that hope was soon obviated by the growth of the party system after the election of 1800 which changed the electoral college from the very start. so this draft is signed by jacob
broom. he was a delegate from delaware and it includes his notations and it's really thrilling, 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 treasurer and made by joint ballot appointed treasurer is scratched out by jacob broom and said the congress should have power to collect taxes. isn't it amazing? it's september 12th and they're just cutting and pasting and scratching words out? and they made textural changes. let's go down to see it. here we are at the text of the document we just saw and my goodness, let's read the preamble which is in its final form. we, the people of the united states, in order to form a more
perfect union establish justice, ensured domestic tranquillity and provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this constitution for the united states of america. isn't it amazing that even on this draft on september 12th jacob broom has scratched out to the preposition before established justice and it says established justice. there are annotations throughout. you can check them out online and we have the idea that the senate tries impeachments 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 or alter such regulations except as to the place of choosing senators. that was the last-minute addition. let's take a couple of other
crucial changes on the side. we talked about this crucial change in the preamble, we, the people of the united states, and the aim of forming a more perfect union. 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 and a very important addition of the last minute and the amendment process is almost fully spelled out, and congress can support two-thirds of each house or two-thirds of the state legislature and we don't yet have the provision allowing two-thirds of the state although we saw a version of that in the earlier draft which is now that we see was resurrected and three-quarters are state conventions, ratify and ratification says the people of nine out of the 13 states and we filled in the blank and said that nine states is enough to ratify as long as they call special conventions for the purpose. we are almost there.
it's september 12th and it's finally time for constitution day, september 17th and we will see the very final draft of the u.s. constitution. ladies and gentlemen, it's constitution day, september 17th and we have the final version of the constitution which is printed for the delegates to debate as well as to share with congress and the states. how exciting to think that this printing of which only a handful of copies survived is more constitutionally significant than the copy in the national archives because this is the copy that the delegates themselves debated in deciding whether pass the constitution and we, the people, decided to ratify it. upstairs of the constitution center we have a copy of the constitution printed in the pennsylvania packet newspaper on september 19th, two days after that draft and this draft that was widely circulated among the people.
it was the most dramatic expression of the people's ability to ratify the constitution in their name. a couple of really important changes at the very last minute. i mean, isn't it stunning to think of how much you can do with a deadline from may 25th to september may 25th to september, the entire constitution is drafted. it's really important that it's done in secret. the windows are closed. there are no leaks. there is no twitter. you can't undo compromises and you can actually make them because people are able to shift them because they're not being called out by their partisans at 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 3/4 to 2/3 of each house of congress. imagine how hard it would be to override a veto with 3/4. the amendment process is finally specified, 2/3 of the state legislatures can ask for a convention. picking up on that early suggestion of wilson. this is really important, article v says that an amendment
can never deny a state equal representation in the senate without that state's consent. that's an unamendable provision of the constitution. 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 amend the constitution whenever they want. let's save that for another wonk session. now let's go wonk out and also inspire ourselves patriotically by returning to the text and seeing the final two weeeaks in very last draft of the u.s. constitution. so here is the very final draft of the u.s. constitution, and a couple of 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 can be more more than one representative for every 40,000 people in the house. of course now there is less.
before signing, george washington wanted a motion the number be changed to 30,000. that was the only time during the convention he voiced his opinion and the other delegates unanimously agreed. 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 congresspeople 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 it 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 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 by the convention, even if they had individual reservations. despite this, three delegates present refused to sign, and you can see who those are by going upstairs to signer's hall at the national constitution center. in the back of the room are the three who refused to sign. elbridge gerry of massachusetts. you draw voting districts that are so funny shaped they look like salamanders to protect incumbents. that's what he did in massachusetts. also two virginia delegates. edward randolph of virginia and george mason of virginia, one of the most under appreciated of the founder.
who refused to sign the constitution because it didn't contain a bill of rights. why not? james madison among others said a bill of rights would be unnecessary or dangerous. unnecessary because the constitution itself is a bill of rights. it gives congress only innumerated powers. there is no reason to fear that congress would abridge free speech. dangerous madison said because people might assume if a right wasn't written down, it wasn't protected. our framers believe our rights come from god or nature and not the 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 the state ratifying conventions, mattson 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 amendments to prevent further abuse of powers. what 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. the first public printings of the bill of rights lent by david rubenstein and see how the original amendments were whittled down to the 12 proposed and the 10 that were actually passed. let's go see those now. we're now about to see the first 19 amendments proposed to the constitution. we know that there were 10 that were ratified, known as the bill of rights, madison originally proposed 19. they appear in the gazette of the united states. you can find them online at interactive constitution. this new amazing online tool that the national constitution center has launched. 11 million hits since it
launched a little more than a year ago. click on any provision of the bill of rights and see the leading liberal and conservative scholars describing what they agree about and disagree about, but you can also in the rights interactive portion, click on any part of the bill of rights and see -- so when madison made this list of 19 amendments, he didn't make it up out of thin air. he had beside him the state constitutions like george mason's virginia declaration of 1776 or the massachusetts constitution after 1780. all of them had bills of rights. madison drawing on the list proposed cut and pasted among the most popular amendments to create his original list of 19. there was one amendment in the list that madison thought was the most important in the bunch. here it is. it says, so state shall violate the equal rights of conscience 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, it doesn't say the state shall make no law. madison thought basic rights of conscience are so important, so fundamental that the states as well as congress should not be able to abridge them. madison lost that battle. that amendment did not 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 to the constitution, which has been construed today as applying the bill of rights against the states so that today states as well as the federal government are forbidden from abridging basic rights, including those in these lists. this list of 19 is fascinating for all sorts of reasons. it was created in the order in which the provisions were supposed to be inserted in the contusion. so the very first proposed amendment says, first, let there be prefix to the constitution a declaration that all power is
originally vested in and consequently derived from the people. it goes on to say, the government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people, which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty with the right of acquiring and using property and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. then it goes on to say that the people have an indubtable unalienable right to reform or change their government whenever it be found adverse to or inadequate to the purposes of its institution. ladies and gentlemen, that is astonishing, that what document does that sound like? the declaration of independence. it sounds like very much the second sentence. we hold these truths to be self-evident. all men are created equal, endowed by their creator. it is the right and duty of the people to alter and abolish it. so symmetrical, isn't it? such sink thisity that we begin
this amazing tour of these documents -- recognizing james wilson's belief the right to alter and abolish government is an inalienable right that comes from god or nature and not the government. here we see the very first amendment that madison would have proposed would have declared the right of amendment to be on ailable. it did not pass, but that right was embodied in the constitution in article v. go online. check out the interactive constitution. check out constitutioncenter.com/treasures for the five rarest drafts of the constitution. come to the national constitution center. such an inspiring, 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 you 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 american artifacts programs at any time by visiting our website, c-span.org/history. join us saturday at 9:30 a.m. eastern on "american history tv" on c-span3 at the american civil war museum in richmond, virginia. for live coverage of the civil war's impact on americans. speakers include peter carmichael, director at gettysburg college civil war institute. james robertson. author of "the untold civil war." jane schultz. author of "women at the front" and amy morill taylor. at 8:00 p.m. on electionures in history from the georgetown university law centre. thomas west talks about his book "the political theory of the
american founding." >> in a republican form of government, namely based on consent elections, virtue is needed in more than in any other form of government because in a republic, the people themselves pick the rulers. >> sunday at 4:00 p.m. on "real america," the 1956 film "a city decides" about the historic supreme court decision brown v. board of education. >> intergroup youth had delegates from all the high schools in st. louis. >> well, all i know is at our school some kids just don't like colored people. >> well, heck, some of the kids at our school don't like white people either. >> i think it's the individual that counts. how are you going to get to know a person unless you meet them? >> when the supreme court ruled that segregation was illegal, these children were ready. >> and at 6:00 p.m. on "american artifacts." we look at a selection of popular political cartoons from
the early 20th century. >> continued to draw for and the washington evening star" for the next 42 years. his cartoons appeared almost daily, usually on the front page of the paper. very prominently placed. . >> watch "american history tv" every weekend on c-span3. governors from across the country are gathering in washington, d.c. this weekend for their annual winter meeting. throughout the day saturday, the national governor's association will host discussions on jobs. the opioid crisis and the future of agriculture and food availability. our live coverage starts saturday at 10:00 a.m. eastern right after "washington journal" on c-span. this week on "american artifacts," we tour the american presidents life portrait exhibit at the
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