Restricted “One People” Arguments

David Ireland

Nov 29, 2017
What is the evidence for and against the view Chamberlain puts forth here that “one American people” ratified the Constitution, not just the people of the states respectively?

How does one interpret Madison here?

And here

As far as the Union of the States is to be regarded as a league of sovereign powers, and not as a political Constitution by virtue of which they are become one sovereign power, so far it seems to follow from the doctrine of compacts, that a breach of any of the articles of the confederation by any of the parties to it, absolves the other parties from their respective obligations, and gives them a right if they chuse to exert it, of dissolving the Union altogether.”

What evidence is there from the Convention that it was intended for the people of the states to become one people?

What evidence is there against that idea?

Is there any documentary evidence that rebuts the arguments made in this article?

John Winn

Mar 13, 2014
State of Jefferson
Well, I'd have to get out and review my books on the founders to answer your specific questions but I think it certainly was the opinion of most that the Constitution was ratified by states and was a union of states, not the creation of a single nation-state. We can see that in the Tenth Amendment, in the reliance on state militias vs. a real standing army, that the electoral college - i.e. the states - elects the president, and that the Constitution wasn't considered applicable to the individual states (until the 1920s). Even by the outbreak of the war what Lincoln was fighting for was to preserve "the Union" (i.e. of states), not 'the country.' The major divide amongst the founders was how strong a federal government to create and those who feared a strong central government model mostly prevailed. The creation of the Senate (senators being appointed by legislatures and not the voters at large) was specifically to protect the representation of the states from the will of the masses (the common man not being viewed by the founders as wise or educated enough to actually govern); why do that if it's just one country and one people ?

What we have today is, indeed, a far cry from what the founders created and foresaw and has evolved from modern pressures and events. They did foresee that changes would be necessary and included an amendment process but I'd bet they'd all be astonished at where we're at today. I certainly don't advocate having to live in the eighteenth century just because those who did couldn't foresee the twenty-first century. These days we're in many ways one people but also remain divided by region, something we've inherited from our predecessors.
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