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Economic Interests led to Drafting & Ratification of U.S. Constitution

He maintains that one can understand why particular laws were enacted by exploring which constituencies benefitted from the enactment of those laws (Beard, 1941. p. 19). Essentially, the Constitution was enacted by men of property and the more property men possessed the greater protection they received under the Constitution. Slaves, for example, were granted no protection. On the other hand, as Beard details, farmers and other landed men negotiated for varying degrees of protection of their property interests (1941, pp. 28-30).

Beard also argues that the commercial actors in the United States in the late 1700s looked to a federal Constitution as a means of protection from the vagaries of thirteen different and often contradictory state economic regions (1941, p. 53). He notes that political actors began to call for a centralized political and legal system primarily to protect each region's economic interests. Thus Beard's text argues strenuously that the Constitution was a political document drafted by men with their own economic interests and sold to the people (primarily through the Federalist Papers) through appeals to their economic interests.

Beard states that "action is the immediate interest of the dominant party; and whenever it desires to make an economic gain through governmental functioning, it must have, of course, a system endowed with the requisite powers" (1941, p. 155). As examples, he offers protective tariffs, ship subsidies and other such "paternalistic" legislation. More recent examples would be the American steel tariffs that were challenged by the World Trade organization and agricultural subsidies. Beard contends that such legislation is often justified as being for the general good. But he argues against that justification, maintaining instead that such legislation is meaningless until one examines who in fact benefits from it. Then, he argues "[w]hen [such legislation] is so analyzed, immediate ...

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Economic Interests led to Drafting & Ratification of U.S. Constitution. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:44, August 18, 2017, from
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