Excerpt for What Might The Founders Think?: Election 2016 by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



Brian Caldwell Fansler

Copyright © 2018 by Brian Caldwell Fansler

All Rights Reserved.



Why Might We Care?

How Did We Get Here?

Where Are We?: The Reunion.

What Is That Contraption?: The Broadcast.

Do They Seek The Office?: The Candidates.

How Tally So Quickly?: First Results

How Choose The President?: People, Legislature, or Electors.

Show Us Your Leader. For Real? The Presidency.

Are They The People?: The Voters.

What is the bane of a Republic?: Factions.

What is the Path to the Future? The West and Debt.

What Say The People?: A President is Chosen.

What Say We To The People?: The Founders Speak.



Why Might We Care?

The Founders’ place

America’s 225+ year history

Degrees of historical separation

America in 1787

Why are the Founders different?

U.S. is unique as a nation

Founders were not superhuman

This book’s attempt


Who are the Founders?

The American Revolution

The Articles of Confederation

The Constitutional Convention

The Constitution Ratification Debates

Federalists and Anti-Federalists

How did the Constitution get ratified?

The creation of the two- major party system:

The First President: George Washington

The end of the Revolutionary Character Era/The Start of the Political Party Era


Independence Hall

They’re Here

John Adams

Benjamin Franklin

Alexander Hamilton

Patrick Henry

Thomas Jefferson

James Madison

George Mason

Gouverneur Morris

Thomas Paine

Charles Pinckney

Roger Sherman

George Washington

James Wilson



The Constitution as an interim plan

The Free Press

Objections to the Constitution

The Bill of Rights

Honor/Reputation of Leaders

Human Nature

Secrecy at the Convention

Another Convention


Campaign promises

Political ambition

Campaigns in the Founders' time

The first “Permanent campaign”

Women and “Minorities”


“Key Race Alerts”

Lessons of War

The Spirit of ’76 and the Constitutional Paradox

Federal vs State Sovereignty

Salaries of Public Officials

Presidential Property/Wealth Requirements


The Popular Vote vs Legislative Selection

The Electoral College

What if no majority in the Electoral College?

Electoral College Alternatives



Presidential Powers and Agenda

Legislative Priority?

The Separation of Powers

A Singular or a Plural Presidency?

Presidential terms of office

Presidential Rotation and Impeachment


“We The People”

Gentlemen in Society

Voting qualifications

Public opinion


Definition of a Faction

Competing Factions

Implications of a Faction

How to Remedy a Faction


The Western States

Native Americans

The Nation’s Capital

Public Debt

Generational Sovereignty



Presidential decision-making

The Presidential standard

The Presidential Title

The Presidential cabinet




John Adams: The Revolutionary generation is not demi-gods. We are all Founders.

Thomas Paine: The Cause of America. We are all Americans.

Thomas Jefferson: A Rebellion every now and then

Benjamin Franklin: The Constitution and a Republic.

George Washington: The national interest and a central government.

Gouverneur Morris: Conduct and country, and the Constitutional meaning.

Roger Sherman: Compromise--the art of the possible.

Alexander Hamilton: The Federalist Papers' Message.

Charles Pinckney: America’s uniqueness. Why haven’t we replicated the Founders?

Patrick Henry: Liberty, the public good, and government limits.

James Wilson: Education and the power of the People.

George Mason: Participate in and own the country.

James Madison: “Co-Father of the Constitution”.


As of Election Night 2016, 240 years have passed since the Declaration of Independence (Declaration). Does anyone remember what they were doing then? The previous Presidential election in 2012 marked the 225th anniversary of what we call today the Constitutional Convention (Convention). The Founders would see it as ironic that we call it the “Constitutional Convention” today. In 1787, the newspapers called it the “The Grand Convention” or “the Convention among the States”. If it had been called a “Constitutional Convention”, about 2/3 of the delegates would have run away. Talk about Kryptonite to Superman.

Despite the idiosyncrasy, the Founders' reputation and accomplishments are still legendary. The Founders caused historic change—a system of government where people govern themselves, rather than by a monarch or a dictator. Since their time, our country and the world have undergone significant changes, and, in ways they never would have even imagined. Perhaps, in some ways, they wouldn’t want to imagine.

The Founders’ unsurpassed place in American history originates from their creating a living, breathing, constantly changing organism, the United States of America. The Founders built this country through the manuals they created: The Declaration of Independence; The United States Constitution; The Federalist Papers; and The Bill of Rights. If anyone were to know how the United States was intended to operate, it would be the Founders themselves. Just don’t ask them when they have had too many pints.

Even today, in a debate, advertisement, opinion piece, letter to the editor, book, classroom, boardroom, political office, blog, website, social media, poll, etc., the question is often asked what would the Founders think or how would they respond to an issue or situation. American political figures have used the Founders’ words and actions as a means of promoting their own political beliefs. We have seen this time and time again especially during a favorite time of year for Americans—election season. It ranks right up there with Americans’ other all-time favorites—public speaking, death, taxes, colonoscopies, and raw liver.

It is reasonable and prudent to ask if the perceptions, wisdom, experience, and biases of white, property-owning, aristocratic men from over 225 years ago would mean anything in the modern world. Despite their remarkable reputations and accomplishments, the Founders were unable to resolve all the issues they faced in their own time. Slavery is the first and the most notable issue but another major issue was federal versus state sovereignty (where does one begin and the other end? Inquiring minds want to know). The Founders knew they were making history as they went and that they would be viewed and judged by subsequent generations of Americans. That might make a good reality show today. The 2016 election certainly felt like one.

The question of the Founders’ relevance is also appropriate because the United States of America, as a single country, is still relatively new to the global stage. Many countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, as well as Central and South America go back hundreds, or even thousands of years. America’s relatively short history stands in stark contrast to the time-comparable histories of much older countries. In the last 225 plus years, France has endured a king’s and queen’s beheading during the French Revolution, five republics, two empires, two kingdoms, and fascism. Germany has been a series of independent countries, an empire, a republic, the Third Reich (1933-1945), and then two republics—one communist (East Germany), ultimately reunited in the early 1990s with its democratic counterpart (West Germany).

Compared to other unified countries and their long histories, the United States is still a child, maybe a teenager at best. America is still growing up under its Stetson hat. Due to the United States’ brief history so far, our Founders are still in relatively close proximity to us and they still cast long shadows over us. Besides, who wouldn’t want to ride those coattails? America’s relatively short history means only a few degrees of historical separation exist between the Founders and today’s Americans. Far older countries like China and India cannot say that about themselves.

Yet, despite a relatively young history, the United States has well-established and continuing institutions. America’s judicial system dates to 1789, only two years after the Convention. The American army has existed since 1775, and Congress has met regularly since 1774. America may still be a relatively young country but our institutions are already well-established. We may be young, but we grew up quickly. Perhaps it really was the Stetson hat.

During my research, I came across Richard Brookhiser’s book “What Would The Founders Do?”. When Mr. Brookhiser was in college, he attended a lecture by Alger Hiss who was later convicted as a spy for communists. As a young adult, Alger Hiss clerked for United States Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. While a young Civil War officer, Justice Holmes scolded President Abraham Lincoln for showing himself over a low wall while visiting the front lines, possibly exposing himself to Confederate bullets. While in his thirties, President Lincoln served in the United States House of Representatives with John Quincy Adams (son of John Adams, our second President). As a boy, John Quincy Adams heard cannon shots at the battle of Bunker Hill from his family’s home in Massachusetts. From the American Revolution to today, it is only a handful of degrees of historical separation.

At the time of the Convention in 1787, America was fragile and uncertain about itself. We were a newcomer, a beggar among nations as our national treasury was empty. Our debts to foreign governments and even our own citizens were unpaid, a severe blow to our national honor and credit. Civil unrest was rampant as there was no unity among the individual states, no national law enforcement force of any sort, and the restoration of law and order was constantly in doubt. Where was “Dirty Harry” then?

In 1787 America, travel could not be taken for granted. The roads that existed then were few and primitive, and the weather added to the hazards of travel. The primary mode of travel, horse-drawn stagecoaches, were bone-jarringly uncomfortable and left passengers physically drained within a few days. On good days, stagecoaches could travel 50 miles. Today, we complain if we travel less than 50 miles an hour. Stagecoaches were also vulnerable to disaster with gaping holes, mud if it rained, raging streams, as well as severe accidents. Sounds like today’s roads and highways, doesn’t it? Especially in the big cities.

The America of 1787 was also not nearly as ethnically diverse as today. In 1787, about 75% of the American population was Caucasian, primarily of British or Irish descent. Sunscreen, if it was available, would have been a major seller back then. Does anyone have a time machine they’re not currently using? I would only need to borrow it for one round-trip. About 85% of the American population spoke some form of English, and the most common religion was Protestant. The American population then was so confined along the East Coast that the population center in 1790 was 25 miles east of Baltimore, Maryland. Today, it is about 2,000 miles further west, at Plato, Missouri. At least both states start with “M”.

At the same time, America’s ethnic diversity was considerable compared to European countries at the time. The majority Protestant population was split into multiple groups. In addition to people of British-Irish descent, there were also people of German, Scandinavian, Spanish, and French descent and about 20% of the American population was of African descent (mostly slaves). America in 1787 was also far more rigidly socially and economically stratified than we are today. It was a “deferential society” where the population granted certain people offices and powers by birthright. In most communities, there was a small group of men who made the basic decisions and almost always were automatically elected. The Kardashians would never have become famous in such a society. So why does the phrase: “I told you so” come to mind? Score one for deferential society.

A few bright young men could rise into the top of American society. More often, those in control were born into power and received schooling to prepare for their roles. The “top people” saw themselves as the naturally selected leaders of their community and the “common people” usually didn’t object. This is in much the same way as Americans look at celebrities today as somehow “larger than life”, or possessing a special knowledge or insight handed down from a higher source. Apparently, the more things change, the more they stay the same. It makes one wonder if the “top people” back then generally behaved better than celebrities today.

Throughout recorded human history, there have been other revolutions and attempts to forge a new nation. In the United States, some of the same men who made the Revolution successful also secured it via the Constitution. For some, the Revolution focused on individual sovereignty depicting government as an alien force, making rebellion against government a natural act. For its part, the Constitution also included sovereignty, but in a collective called “the people”. Government is depicted as the protection of liberty, not the enemy, and, in some cases, values social balance and harmony over individual liberties. It is unprecedented in recorded human history for the same political elite to straddle both viewpoints. Talk about an identity crisis.

The Founders are original in that they brought about a revolution and afterwards they didn’t turn on each other. The Revolution, and the United States founding afterwards, is the only time in recorded human history that the successful revolutionaries did not consume each other, unlike the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution. No Founder died in prison or was hanged by another Founder. There were no purges, coups, guillotines, hangings, or firing squads. The Founders did not destroy each other as the French and Russian revolutionaries did.

Granted, Vice President Aaron Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in an 1804 pistol duel. However, that was over a personal dispute and was considered part of the gentlemanly code of honor for the time. Let’s call it the exception that proves the rule. Besides, a pistol duel? How quaint. Apparently, lightsabers were unavailable at the time. Now that would have been a show.

The United States is a one-of-a-kind country in that it was founded on a set of beliefs and principles, not on a common ethnicity, language, or religion, unlike other nations. The United States is not a nation in the traditional, historical sense of the term. As a result, to establish and maintain our nationhood, we periodically reaffirm and reinforce the beliefs and principles of the men who successfully revolted from England and then developed the Constitution. For as long as the American republic endures, Americans will always look back to our Founders for reflection and guidance.

The Founders remain an extraordinary elite. Their achievements are perhaps unmatched by any other generation in American history. Most Americans believe that the revolutionary leaders constitute an incomparable group of men who had a powerful and permanent impact on America’s subsequent development and history. To be fair, the Founders’ generation achievements might be matched by the “Greatest Generation”, who endured and survived the Great Depression, World War Two, and the “Cold War”. One must admit, that is some triple crown.

As great as they were, however, the Founders were not demi-gods or superhuman individuals. They were the products of specific circumstances and a unique moment in time. They were not invulnerable to the temptations that attract most human beings, especially men when it came to the relentless pursuit of women (e.g. Gouverneur Morris, Charles Pinckney). They wanted wealth and status and often speculated heavily to realize their aims. (e.g. George Washington, James Wilson) They were not supportive of a direct democracy (e.g. John Adams). They were not embarrassed by talk of aristocracy or elitism (e.g. Alexander Hamilton). They did not hide their feelings of superiority to the common people (e.g. Benjamin Franklin).

A few Founders believed the people were their source of authority (e.g. Thomas Paine, George Mason, Patrick Henry). As political leaders, they constituted an unusual elite due to their personality or lack of flair (e.g. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Roger Sherman). They were an aristocracy, mostly based on merit and talent, unlike a traditional nobility based on heritage or today’s celebrity-driven society. The Founders, in general, would not be social media celebrities today.

The Founders are admired for what they achieved, not what they hoped to achieve. The country they created offers hope, freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and a chance for a better life. As the Statue of Liberty’s hand-held tablet says: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free”. She could also add “and together, we will build a nation the world has never seen”.

Please do not forget that any dialogue with the Founders is imaginary, for they are physically dead. We cannot Facebook friend, Facetime with, Instagram, Snap Chat, call, instant message, blog, tweet, email, fax, mail, phone, or visit them. It takes an intentional act of creativity to see the current United States through the Founders’ eyes, and sharing their perspective is sometimes not easy nor always what we want to hear.

A question which has been asked among historians, journalists, and others is what would the Founders think of these events and how would they respond? This book’s purpose is a hypothetical attempt to see the 2016 United States’ Presidential Election Day through the eyes of the Founders. What might the Founders have thought? This book attempts to answer that question based on previous research done on the Founders by others, and applying that to the 2016 election night as it happened.


Today, the Founders often evoke a specific image from a painting, portrait, story, or saying: George Washington crossing the Potomac; Thomas Jefferson presenting the Declaration of Independence; Benjamin Franklin and his kite experiment; Alexander Hamilton’s portrait on the ten-dollar bill; Patrick Henry exclaiming “Give me liberty, or give me death!”; James Madison writing his Convention notes.

For this book’s purpose, the Founders include several individuals at the forefront of two major series of events in American history. There are additional individuals who will hopefully be introduced and discussed in future books. The first is the American Revolution (Revolution) from 1775 to 1783. The second is the development and ratification of the United States Constitution (Constitution), including the Bill of Rights (1787-1791). Simply put, without these two major series of events there would be no United States of America and, thus, no Founders. As a home builder might say, you set the foundation before you build the house.

The Revolution included the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, the Declaration of Independence (Declaration) in 1776, the crucial battle of Yorktown in 1781, and the Treaty of Paris signed on September 3, 1783. The Treaty of Paris resulted in England formally recognizing the United States as a sovereign and independent nation. Despite popular belief, the Declaration finalized on July 4, 1776, did not win or secure America’s independence. The Revolution and the Constitution did that.

Ironically, not one Founder, including Thomas Jefferson, really recognized the symbolism of what the Declaration would eventually represent. At the time, the Declaration was not seen as important as uniting the colonies, or forming an alliance with France or Spain against England. Writing the Declaration was not considered to be a major responsibility or honor. One reason why John Adams asked Thomas Jefferson to draft the Declaration was because of Mr. Jefferson’s superior writing skills. Yet another reasons is John Adams, and the other Committee of Five members assigned to write the Declaration, had other things to do they considered more important. In John Adams’ view, the decision to declare independence had already been made. John Adams and Richard Henry Lee were to lead the debate on the Continental Congress floor, which was considered the really important arena.

John Adams decision to ask Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration was the right call. Writing the Declaration suited Mr. Jefferson perfectly. He could do it alone and while isolated from the public. Mr. Jefferson wrote his Declaration draft in a rented room in Philadelphia, now known as the “Declaration House”. The Declaration was finalized on July 4 and signed on August 2nd. Ultimately, Mr. Jefferson distanced himself from the finalized Declaration. The Continental Congress revised Mr. Jefferson’s draft multiple times, causing Mr. Jefferson to refer to his edited draft as “mangled prose”. Mr. Jefferson even hand copied his draft several times and sent them to friends. If you have read the entire Declaration, you know it’s a long document. Now imagine copying it by hand, word for word, several times. Let’s just say Mr. Jefferson was very unhappy with the finalized version of the Declaration.

During the Revolution and before the Constitution was proposed, America tried to govern itself through the Articles of Confederation (Articles). The Articles took five years to ratify (1776-1781) and was based on the Revolution’s principle we know today as the “The Spirit of ‘76”. “The Spirit of ‘76” had two major philosophies--protecting individual rights and ensuring government by consent. The “Spirit of ‘76” represented a rejection of mandated political power of any sort, and a complete fear of the corruption and tyranny which can result when unseen rulers congregate in, and govern from, far-away places.

The Articles represented our country’s first form of government while the Constitution is our second form of government. The Articles was an agreement in which the individual states voluntarily joined and left if they felt the union was not in their best interest. The Articles had the individual states as sovereigns. Under the Articles, the Continental Congress could not act without the unanimous consent from the individual states. This might sound like a libertarian’s or tea partier’s dream today.

The Articles was an alliance among loosely cooperating individual sovereign states, rather than a single government, much like the present-day European Union. Under the Articles, the United States would be plural, not singular, a meaning and impact that would be absolutely foreign to us today. The Articles had a significant flaw as without a central government, the Articles left America vulnerable to attacks from external powers and internal threats. If the Articles had continued, America would have been conquered and her liberties destroyed by a internal power and/or an external power. In hindsight, Mondays at the office don’t seem so bad now.

As James Madison stated during the Convention, other countries’ and civilizations’ freedom was lost because their central government was too weak to exercise power for the good of the country or civilization. The loss of liberty in these countries resulted from internal factions and division leaving them too weak to protect themselves against internal and/or external threats. Earlier examples of where this happened are ancient Greece and Rome. More recent examples are France after the French Revolution (which led to Napoleon Bonaparte) and Germany after World War One (leading to the rise of Adolf Hitler, the Nazis, and World War Two). Let us hope, in America’s case, history does not repeat itself.

As soon as they were implemented, there was widespread disregard for the Articles. There was only the Continental Congress, there was no judicial courts or a chief executive. The Continental Congress frequently lacked a quorum to take any official action and it rarely had any money to pay for any action it might actually take. The weakness of the Continental Congress under the Articles, along with the statistical impossibility of amending them by a unanimous vote, meant many Convention delegates agreed with James Madison and George Washington that America needed a new government with more energy. As Tea Partiers or Libertarians today might say: “be careful what you wish for”.

The development of the Constitution began in the summer of 1787. It continued with the ratification debates resulting in the Constitution’s ratification and the creation of the Bill of Rights in 1791. The Revolution declared American independence, the Constitution declared American nationhood. Let’s call it the American two-step, a nod to the good people of Texas.

The Constitution was developed and formally debated at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, known today as Independence Hall. In total, there were 55 delegates to the Convention from twelve states. The thirteenth state, Rhode Island, did not send any delegates. Perhaps they were too busy vacationing in Warwick. The Convention started in May and ran until September 17, when all but three of the remaining delegates signed the proposed Constitution. That is why September 17 is known as “Constitution Day”. A good question is why is this not celebrated with greater fanfare? Refusing to sign the proposed Constitution was a defining moment for the three delegates, and the definition might be “whoops”.

Of the 55 delegates who attended the Convention in 1787, only about 30 were there for the entire summer. Most of the delegates had family and/or business obligations, and several were accompanied by their wives and children. More than half of the 30 delegates who attended the entire summer came from the three states that led the Convention—Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia. As it does today, leadership begins with showing up consistently. That does not include playing golf or tweeting regularly.

Neither to the delegates, nor to America at large, was the meeting known as the “Constitutional Convention”. The mere mention of a “Constitutional Convention” would have scared away about 2/3 of the delegates. The newspapers of the time announced it as the “Grand Convention in Philadelphia” or “The Federal Convention”. The Continental Congress authorized the Convention for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles, but the Congress also said nothing about formulating a new government. As parents’ today might say: “You give them an inch, and they take a mile”.

After the Convention resulted in a proposed Constitution, the next step was ratifying the proposed Constitution by the thirteen individual states. Ratification required nine of the thirteen states to approve, which led to the Constitutional ratification debates in each state. These ratification debates revolved around whether the Convention delegates properly balanced the Revolution’s two major philosophical principles of protecting individual rights and ensuring government by consent. Talk about a balancing act, Ringling Bros would be proud.

These debates led to two official political groups, or factions, as they were called then, being formed. The factions in the Founders’ time are the equivalent of today’s political parties. One faction was the Federalists, who were the proposed Constitution’s supporters and they wanted a stronger central government. The other faction, the Anti-Federalists, opposed the proposed Constitution and wanted stronger state governments. These two factions emerged with widely different views of the proper role of government power. If political satirists Mark Twain or Will Rogers were alive then, they would have had a field day.

The Federalists were allied with commercial and banking interests. They favored representation by the aristocracy, not by the common people. Today, they might be called elitists, yet they would be proud of it. The Federalists were led by some Founders, such as John Adams and Alexander Hamilton. From their perspective, the Constitution is a natural fulfillment of the Revolution. The core Revolutionary principle is collective, not individual. The Federalists considered themselves the political heirs of the Revolution, and the friends of government by consent. The ideals of human rights and rule by the people required the use of government. The Federalists believed that human ingenuity could devise political mechanisms to protect liberty, allow effective government, and rest on the consent of the people. Needless to say, they never saw Congress in action today.

After securing the Constitution’s ratification, the Federalist party eventually fell apart after the 1816 election. The current Republican Party originally formed as part of the abolitionist (anti-slavery) movement during the 1850s, due to religious objections. This may remind us of the saying: “faith can move mountains”.

The Anti-Federalists, who later became the Jeffersonian-Republicans, were led by some Founders such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. They eventually became the current Democratic party as the last Founders passed away in the 1830s. The term “Democrat” was originally a term of abuse used by the Federalists since they did not like pure democracy, but it is the legitimate name of Thomas Jefferson’s political heirs. Modern terms include “liberal” or “progressive”. Since this is a family show, we will not mention other terms that have been used.

The Anti-Federalists saw the Revolution as a liberation movement. It was a clean break from England as well as from the domination and long-standing corruption of the European monarchies and aristocracies. From the Anti-Federalists’ perspective, the core Revolutionary principle was individual liberty. Any accommodation of personal freedom to government was dangerous and in the more extreme forms, a cause of anarchy. This sounds like some components of the Republican party today.

The Anti-Federalists favored a small republic where independent citizens managed their own affairs and disavowed the power and glory of empire. The Revolution did not mean America as an empire or a world power but pure republicanism instead, retaining the importance of local government where those in power and those not in power saw, knew, and understood each other. The Anti-Federalists were highly suspicious of corruption, greed, and the lust for power. It is safe to assume that the Anti-Federalists would probably not enjoy playing the board game “Monopoly”.

Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the other Anti-Federalists were against a centralized government power and the onset of an American aristocracy. The Anti-Federalists disavowed the Federalist vision of an industrial America. The Anti-Federalists imagined the United States as an agricultural country with independent, farmers, expanding westward, and growing the economy by exporting agricultural goods to the world. The Anti-Federalists saw themselves as a temporary political faction. Their faction was designed to prevent the United States from becoming a Federalist-led, British-backed monarchy. Has there ever really been a temporary political faction though?

The incompatibility of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist viewpoints is reflected in the varying academic papers on the Constitution. Critics of the Constitution argue that its development and ratification was a betrayal of the core principles of the Revolution. That argument has some validity. The Convention was intended only to revise the Articles, not to develop a new form of government as under the proposed Constitution. Maybe the delegates didn’t read the fine print?

In 1787, the sentiment in America was against a proposed Constitution or a strong central government. So then why did the Federalists succeed and the Anti-Federalists fail? There were three major reasons for this. The first was due to an image makeover. Campaign consultants, marketers, and public relations specialists, you might want to take notes because you’re going to love the first reason.

The first reason is, in the Founders’ time, the term “Federalist” represented a confederacy or a looser league of states like the Articles. Due to Alexander Hamilton’s political skill in calling the proposed Constitution’s supporters Federalists, the Federalists made the Anti-Federalists appear to be against the political ideals the Anti-Federalists embraced. This was an image victory for the Federalists during the ratification debates. This image issue meant the Anti-Federalists were on the defensive from the beginning of the ratification debates. The Federalists supported ratification of the proposed Constitution and were advocates of a strong national government, whose authority decreased the independence and power of the states. This was the exact opposite of Federalism then. The Federalists’ political opponents, the Anti-Federalists, were really the true Federalists. The Anti-Federalists supported a league of friendship and cooperation among independent states, consistent with a confederacy like the Articles. Over time, the term Federalist represented a strong central government as included in the Constitution. Apparently, timing is everything.

The second reason is the Anti-Federalists had the culpability of urging people to remain loyal to a form of government they admitted needed fixing. The Anti-Federalists wanted a new government, but not the one in the proposed Constitution. Their problem was the Anti-Federalists did not have an effective alternative to offer, an organized critique, or agreed to set of objections to the proposed Constitution. During the Convention, the Federalists fine-tuned their arguments, made compromises, and reached consensus over months of lively debate. This resulted in the Federalists understanding every argument and counter-argument about the proposed Constitution. A valuable lesson that can be applied today.

The third reason is due to a single individual. From the start, most Americans opposed the proposed Constitution and feared the potential power of the proposed new government. However, they were willing to give the proposed Constitution a chance because they assumed that George Washington would be the first President. Mr. Washington’s reputation for personal integrity, his fame and reputation as a national hero, and his staunch commitment to the country made him the only man people trusted to take the reins of the new government. In short, Americans trusted a government headed by Mr. Washington.

Even the Anti-Federalists voiced few concerns regarding the possibility of George Washington as America’s first president. This is how revered Mr. Washington was throughout America. Today’s celebrities like Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump are nowhere close to Mr. Washington’s popularity, and that’s not “fake news”. Any new government without George Washington as its chief executive would have lacked credibility and the people’s trust.

The Founders thought the emergence of political factions was not a good thing. Does this sound familiar today? The Founders struggled to prevent a political faction system from forming in the 1790s. The Founders would have regarded the formation of political factions as a great curse. Full-fledged political parties with modern national platforms, permanent campaigns, and national conventions did not emerge until the 1830s, but they are also regarded as one of the most significant and enduring legacies of the Founders. If he read the last half of the previous sentence, Thomas Jefferson would consider it an absurd joke. As it turns out, the joke is on Mr. Jefferson and the other Founders.

Despite their opposition to partisanship, neither the Federalists nor the Anti-Federalists factions accepted the legitimacy of the other. This time-honored political tradition continues today, especially on social media and talk shows. Must we put both parties in timeout? The Federalists and Anti-Federalists factions degenerated into political warfare where each saw the other as a traitor to the core principles of the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson described this as a fundamental loss of trust between friends, ironic since Mr. Jefferson himself contributed to that breakdown of trust and a total disavowal of bi-partisanship. Mr. Jefferson rejected his friend’s offer, from President-Elect John Adams’, to renew the old partnership by serving in the Adams administration. In all fairness, this was standard operating procedure for Mr. Jefferson to lament the distance between long standing colleagues while at the same time building up walls between them. In other words, “do as I say, don’t do as I do”. Today, some might call it a “Trumpism”.

Today's political parties have learned the behavior of demonizing each other all too well, especially recently. In the Founders’ time, partisan feelings ran very high. As an example, the bitter clash between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in the 1790s was more than just political, their conflict was also mutual and personal. The 1790s was one of the most passionate and divisive decades in American history and was the closest America came to civil war until the American Civil War began in April, 1861. The 1790s still makes modern partisan elections look like a sorority pillow fight. A Clinton Trump debate pales in comparison. For starters, Clinton and Trump didn’t have a duel with pistols, or lightsabers.

A major difference of opinion during the Constitution ratification debates was whether America should become a nation-state. The debates were a clash between those favoring a sovereign federal government and those wanting to preserve state sovereignty. Although a compromise was reached, this argument was never fully resolved but built into the Constitution. It’s fair to say that the United States was founded on this contradiction. Knowing this, it’s amazing we only have two major political parties.

The Constitution proposed in 1787 and ratified in 1790 was a product of compromise and adaptation since no single argument won out. The Constitution that emerged from the complicated political process that followed, originated from multiple Founders and was a team effort. The Constitution created the framework in which federal and state authority engage in a never-ending dance for supremacy. This makes the Constitution an argument without end. The compromise reached at the Convention, especially the confusing line between federal and state jurisdiction, created a framework that made the development of political parties inevitable. The Founders wouldn’t like this at all but it is the result of their efforts.

Basically, what happened during the Revolution is that two different groups came together in a common cause to overthrow the reigning British regime. After winning the Revolution, the two groups discovered they had fundamental differences and irreconcilable goals. The interesting result of the Constitution, is that neither side triumphed. To this day, Americans are fighting the same political and philosophical battles, just as members of the Founders’ generation fought among themselves. In a nutshell, it's a debate without an end. No wonder we feel like somebody moved the cheese.

More than any other Founder, George Washington held the divided country together as the first President. With leaders of the two political factions, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, in his administration’s cabinet, President Washington used his immense prestige and good judgment to restrain fears, limit infighting, and hold off opposition that might have led to serious infighting. Imagine today if Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton served in the same cabinet in a Bernie Sanders administration. Grab a front row seat and enjoy the show, ladies and gentlemen, but bring a change of clothes and an umbrella just in case.

Despite the intense partisan feelings that existed, America did not lose respect for its political leaders. This allowed President Washington to reconcile, resolve, and balance clashing interests within his own cabinet and administration. Americans’ trust in President Washington enabled the new government to survive. President Washington’s actions and behavior as the leader of a republic, not as a monarch, was most responsible for making the Presidency the respected and powerful national office it has become. That is an example to follow.

President Washington served two terms, then voluntarily stepped down, choosing not to run for a third term. This resulted in the Election of 1796 being the birth point of an opposing political faction, an alternative political agenda, and a different perspective of what the American Revolution meant. The version of non-partisan politics and political leadership, demonstrated by Presidents Washington and Adams, died after the 1800 election. Up until that point, the long-term collective interest of the American republic was removed from partisanship and immune to political factions. Until the 1800 election, it was the duty of the American President to ignore the partisan pleadings of his constituents. Resistance to partisan politics depended on a statesman’s revolutionary credentials and statesmen were trusted to act responsibly. Compared to what we see today, that seems like a long time ago.

However, as time went on and as the memory of the Revolution faded, so did that trust. At the end of his Presidency in 1796, George Washington was completely disgusted with American politics. The new political conditions of party politics would make his candidacy irrelevant in future elections. In the new era of political parties, personal influence and character no longer mattered. Now it’s Twitter or Facebook. The election of 1800 marked the end of an era. Since that election, the American president has been the head of a political faction, or party. A sad reflection of where we are today.

Over time, the Constitution established the first nation-sized republic. There were republics before, most notably in Ancient Greece and Rome, but they were small compared to the United States in terms of land and population. The Constitution created multiple and overlapping state and federal jurisdiction in which this blurriness became an asset, not a liability. As it turns out, “The People” were a subjective and ever-changing idea from one generation to another, staring in the Founders’ own time. Would you like to buy a vowel?

The Constitution represents a centralized federal government with adequate powers to compel obedience to the national laws, while also remaining true to the republican principles of “The Spirit of ‘76”. At its heart, the Constitution attempted to solve an apparently insoluble problem since sovereignty resided with “The People”, not the states. Yet who were “The People” was anybody’s guess, even for the Founders, who themselves never actually answered the question.

The most important item to consider is the Constitution, and the United States itself, is built on a contradiction between the “Spirit of '76” principles and the strong central government outlined in the Constitution. What this means is debated by each American generation, but that is also the key. As long as Americans debate the Revolution’s and the Constitution's meaning, then Americans will continue our legacy of self-government. If Americans stop debating, the meaning is dictated to us by a domestic faction or by a foreign power. Let us hope the debate never ends. Divided We Fall, United We Stand. Let’s roll, America.


BONG!!! BONG!!! BONG!!! BONG!!! BONG!!! BONG!!! The bell tower at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall strikes six o’clock in the evening on November 8, 2016, the second Tuesday in November. 240 years have passed since the Declaration. It is election day, when America elects its 45th President. A thunderstorm surrounds the city, rain falls in puddles, lightning strikes temporarily light up the early fall sky, and rolling thunder is heard throughout the city, but most especially around Independence Hall.

In the Founders’ time, Independence Hall was known as The State House in Philadelphia. As you approach, you see a large clock on the east wall. If you stand underneath, you must look upward to tell the time. Inside the Hall is the Assembly Room, a high-ceiling chamber, about 40 feet by 40 feet, where the Declaration and the Constitution were debated and revised. Every American should visit at least once in their lifetime, especially in the summer. Imagine being in that room for hours at a time during a summer afternoon’s heat and humidity, wearing wool, with no air conditioning, no deodorant, and no daily shower, surrounded by type A personalities. Sound like fun to you?

The Assembly room has 13 tables covered with a green cloth arranged in an informal semi-circle. Each table includes several Windsor chairs which are more formal than comfortable. The chairs angle toward the high-backed presiding officer’s seat, on a raised platform. During the Convention, the delegates sat together according to their state, in geographic order, with the Northern States on one side, the Middle States in the center, and the Southern States on the opposite side. The delegates sat in pairs at the tables covered with the cloth, adorned with candles and quill pens, the feathers curved lightly upward from the inkwells. The presiding officer’s desk is covered with a Spartan cloth.

The staff charged with maintaining and overseeing Independence Hall has left for the day. The building is empty, but in a haste to leave before the thunderstorms hit, a television has been left on just outside of, but visible from, the Assembly Room. The live broadcast of the election is the only noise coming from inside the building, for now. The excitement of the historical evening will draw attention from some very interested, yet unseen, stakeholders.

As the thunderstorm continues and the thunder rolls, gradually, in the Assembly Room, a series of thirteen orbs begin to appear among themselves, unseen to anyone else. The orbs are an energy form, appearing more solid in the center and varying in color. These thirteen pinpoints of light dart around the room like white flashes of energy. The orbs each begin appearing as its own vortex--cylindrical tubes and coils, the coils actually have fluid areas within them. They hover and move vertically and as the room’s temperature begins to turn colder, thin strands begin appearing with each tube and coil, much like string.

As the room temperature lowers and the string-like manifestations continue developing, they gradually evolve to an ectoplasmic formation. Imagine the library scene in “Ghostbusters”. The manifestations have drawn sufficient energy from the room to take on a sub-physical form. Grey swirling smoke begins to appear. The thirteen manifestations each begin resembling a face and figure. Scents from the Founders’ time, such as candles, alcohol, and cologne would be detected by the living, if the those living could witness this. The manifestations begin to invoke a psychic breeze, a kind of link to the manifestations’ lifetimes. The room begins reverberating with raps, knocks and footsteps, undetected by the living since the building is empty—supposedly.

Finally, there is enough energy drawn for the thirteen entities to manifest fully. Each apparition is a huge amount of energy, looking physically real and appearing solid as they did in life although thin with a transparent appearance. The entities now appear human, with limbs, a shapely mass and in black and white (sorry, color television was not available in the Founders’ time). In life, each manifestation was a Founding Father. Some of their names echo through recorded human history while others, for various reasons, only reverberate with a few historians and scholars, if at all. Let us now individually meet the thirteen, alphabetically.

John Adams of Massachusetts was a short, stout, candid to a fault, New Englander, highly emotional, combative, a mile a minute talker, and his favorite form of conversation was an argument. If he were alive today, he would likely “blow up” Twitter and Facebook. In today’s world, Mr. Adams might have been prescribed Prozac but as stubborn as he could be, he likely would refuse to take it. Imagine the personality of a Rush Limbaugh, but with an actual track record supporting said personality.

Mr. Adams had the type of personality which allowed him to succeed policy wise but fail politically. In other words, he could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Mr. Adams was one of the most astute political analysts ever. This helped him shape the country without equal, but for political thinking of the self-protective sort, he was worse than naïve. Today, it might be referred to as political correctness or sensitivity.

Mr. Adams was an intensely sensitive and thin-skinned public figure. He often took criticism as a personal insult. Mr. Adams was insecure, ambitious, and erratic. He was pretentious, opinionated, didn’t accept counsel well, and he was prone to fits of anger. As can be imagined, Mr. Adams did not have good people skills. Perhaps this sounds familiar to us today.

Mr. Adams served in the Continental Congress and took the lead in promoting American independence even before the Revolution. Mr. Adams strongly believed that the emphasis on one date, one document, one man (e.g. the Declaration) distorted the true history of the Revolution. Mr. Adams argued that multiple dates regarding the Revolution, not just July 4, should be remembered. Mr. Adams helped draft the Declaration, which was finalized on July 4th, 1776. He was appointed by the Continental Congress on June 11, 1776, to a committee known as the Committee of Five charged with drafting the Declaration—along with Roger Sherman, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Robert R. Livingston. Most of these gentlemen will be introduced later.

Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania was an extraordinary man—an inventor, scientist, philosopher, writer, and a statesman. He was one of two Americans in his time with international fame, the other was George Washington. He was a masterful self-publicist and was constantly in newspapers which he often published himself. With social media today, he would have a field day. Dr. Franklin had the greatest common touch of all the Founders. Dr. Franklin believed in the power of a few reasonable men, like himself, to run affairs. Dr. Franklin regarded the common people with a patronizing amusement unless they rioted, then he would regard the common people with disgust. At the time of the Convention, Dr. Franklin was much older than the other Founders. Dr. Franklin helped draft the Declaration. Like Mr. Adams, Dr. Franklin was also appointed by the Continental Congress to the Committee of Five.

Dr. Franklin was the greatest diplomat America ever had. He brought France onto America’s side in the Revolution and got America multiple loans from the impoverished French government, as well as much needed weapons, gunpowder, uniforms, soldiers, and the French navy. France was a major reason why America won its independence from Britain. At the critical 1781 Battle of Yorktown, there were as many French troops engaged against the British as there were American troops engaged against the British. This is one reason why, when arriving in France in World War One and World War Two, some American soldiers were quoted as saying: “Lafayette, we are here”. (in reference to French general Marquis de Lafayette during the Revolution). It was a short way of saying we are here to help France in her time of need, as she helped us in ours. Perhaps we should not rename “French fries” then.

By the time of the Convention, Dr. Franklin had a giant contrast between his titanic public reputation and his surreal appearance. During the Convention, he was described as a short, fat, trenched, old man in plain Quaker dress and short white locks. He usually dressed in a simple brown and white linen suit with a fur cap and no wig. Yet Dr. Franklin, with his disarming wisdom, cheerfulness, and maturity contributed as much as anyone to the Convention’s success. Dr. Franklin’s talent for compromise helped the Convention through its most difficult days. Dr. Franklin was less concerned with specifics than not having a Constitution at all. At the Convention, he sometimes spoke not to engage but to defuse. He told jokes and suggested prayer—kind of a cross between Jeff Dunham and Al Sharpton today. He could see all sides of human nature and appreciated other points of view. Imagine the influence that perspective and ability would have today.

If there is one criticism about Dr. Franklin, it is that he did not have the same success with his family. He remained in Europe while his wife Betty died and he became estranged from his only son over the Revolution. One can imagine the feedback that would occur on today’s tabloid magazines, internet sites, and social media.

Alexander Hamilton of New York was one of the most interesting and important persons in American history. Like George Washington, he was physically brave almost to the point of foolishness. Mr. Hamilton was always ready for a duel or battle, thus his nickname was “Little Mars” (after the Roman God of War, not the planet). He was brilliant, a man of intense passions that unlike George Washington, Mr. Hamilton never felt called upon to check. Mr. Hamilton rushed headlong into friendships, battle, love, affairs, and causes. As President Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Hamilton established a supportive relationship of government and business that continues to this day. A prime example of this is the National Bank, or the Federal Reserve today.

Mr. Hamilton was known for his great charm and good looks. Today, he could adorn the cover of Gentlemen’s Quarterly. He would probably be on “The Bachelor” as well. Mr. Hamilton had deep blue eyes, auburn hair, clear skin, rosy cheeks, stood 5’7 (above average height for the time), was small boned, and a delicate image. Mr. Hamilton had a fair complexion, a high bridged nose, and sensitive nostrils and mouth. Mr. Hamilton’s blue eyes turned black when he was angry, and his face was full of light when speaking. Mr. Hamilton was slightly taller than Mr. Madison, but was also heavier set, more muscular, and had the golden looks of the Greek idol Adonis. Mr. Hamilton was a ladies’ man and he didn’t even bother trying to hide it. Unless, of course, her husband came home early.

Mr. Hamilton was the first to express the need for a convention, even before George Washington or James Madison. Mr. Hamilton was the primary author of the “Federalist Papers” written after the Constitution was proposed, and both before and during the Constitutional ratification debates. Mr. Hamilton’s speeches were considered the stuff of opera and he was one of the most active speakers of his generation. Today, he would feel right at home as a television or radio host. Mr. Hamilton’s strong views on the new government were out of sync with most Convention delegates. Today, Mr. Hamilton would likely be called a monarchist. In Mr. Hamilton’s view, if applied today, a Presidential executive order would be more like a royal decree and there simply couldn’t be enough of those.

Patrick Henry of Virginia was the first governor of Virginia and the most important civilian leader of the Revolution. He was a champion of religious freedom, and instrumental in the development and approval of the United States Bill of Rights, Mr. Henry had an active and important role, as a leader of the Anti-Federalists during the Constitutional ratification debate in Virginia, the largest and wealthiest state at the time. Mr. Henry attended the first Continental Congress in Philadelphia, during which he gave his famous “give me liberty, or give me death” speech on March 23, 1775. Mr. Henry was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1765.

Mr. Henry had dark piercing eyes and a long, straight nose. Mr. Henry stood 6’0 tall, about 160 pounds, with dark and curling hair, deeply set, well-shaded hazel and blue eyes. Mr. Henry’s powerful voice and gestures commanded an audience’s attention. Mr. Henry relied on emotional appeals and a tendency toward theatrics to sway his audience. To sum it up, Mr. Henry was never dull.

Mr. Henry was the greatest speech maker and lawyer of his generation. If alive today, he would bring major ratings to a Presidential debate. Sorry, Donald, Hillary, and Bernie, you’ve been demoted. If alive today, Mr. Henry might be considered the actual “Father of the Country”, instead of George Washington, since Mr. Henry fathered at least eighteen children and had seventy-seven known grandchildren. Now that’s an active social life. Imagine the child support payments though.

Thomas Jefferson of Virginia is best known for drafting the Declaration which was finalized on July 4th, 1776. Mr. Jefferson was appointed by the Continental Congress to the Committee of Five. Mr. Jefferson also founded the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, was our nation’s third president, and wrote the Virginia Bill of Religious Freedom. Mr. Jefferson served as the nation’s first Secretary of State in President Washington’s administration and also served as America's ambassador to France after Benjamin Franklin. To say the least, Mr. Jefferson liked to stay busy. Today, an Outlook calendar and Franklin Planner would serve him well.

Mr. Jefferson was tall, about 6’2, slender, and elegantly elusive. Mr. Jefferson had a reddish-freckled complexion, bright hazel eyes, copper colored hair, which he wore un-powdered. Mr. Jefferson was reserved, self-possessed, and incurably optimistic. Instead of a glass half-full, Mr. Jefferson would say three-quarters full. Mr. Jefferson’s facial skin was taut and tight. Mr. Jefferson’s hair was full and cut to cover his ears, tied in the back to fall just below his collar. In his younger days, Mr. Jefferson had clear and pure skin, in his later days Mr. Jefferson was red-faced and freckled. Mr. Jefferson had a scrawny, thin face and bright, luminous eyes. In Mr. Jefferson’s younger days, his eyes would be hazel or green. In Mr. Jefferson’s later days, his eyes were clear blue. Mr. Jefferson was straight bodied, erect on his feet, square shouldered, and formal. Despite this, Mr. Jefferson was known as a very able dancer of the minuet.

Mr. Jefferson had an attraction for isolation and an aversion to the public eye. Mr. Jefferson was a listener and observer, uncomfortable in the spotlight, and shy. Mr. Jefferson’s most glaring weakness was the skill most valued in his time—public speaking. Mr. Jefferson would never give a speech with today's constant media glare. If Mr. Jefferson spoke in public today, he would need the best microphones and acoustics possible, just to have a chance of being heard.

Mr. Jefferson also didn’t talk about anything he didn’t want to talk about. Perhaps we all can relate to that. Sarah (Sally) Hemmings is known as a black slave owned by Mr. Jefferson but Miss Hemmings was also Martha Jefferson’s half-sister and the daughter of Martha’s father. Mr. Jefferson had six kids over a 37-year relationship with Miss Hemmings. Yet, Mr. Jefferson never mentioned Miss Hemmings or their six kids in the thousands of letters he wrote in his lifetime. For over two hundred years, this relationship was never discussed by some of Mr. Jefferson’s descendants. Despite this silence, the relationship between Mr. Jefferson and Miss Hemmings was confirmed earlier this century by DNA testing. Better late than never, one supposes.

James Madison of Virginia spearheaded the Convention and took copious notes of its discussions which remain a primary source of information today. We might consider him the WikiLeaks of his day, except Mr. Madison was generally much more accurate and thorough. Short-hand would have been a wonderful invention for Mr. Madison then, as he often hand wrote ten pages of notes daily. Mr. Madison co-authored the Federalist Papers with Mr. Hamilton and Mr. John Jay. Mr. Madison was also our nation's third President during the War of 1812.

Mr. Madison was stunningly adept at politics, twisting arms, and counting votes. In that regard, Mr. Madison would fit right in today’s political world. Mr. Madison knew political science, government, constitutionalism, and books. Mr. Madison’s power lay in the grasp of a subject at hand and the ability to compare one political system to another. This knowledge helped Mr. Madison when spearheading the Convention and writing the Federalist Papers. Yet Mr. Madison was also typically very shy in public probably because he had a constant fear of rejection.

Mr. Madison was small in stature, slightly built at about 130 pounds, with pale skin and a soft, quiet voice. Mr. Madison stood about 5’5, was often described as “no bigger than half a piece of soap” but his health was excellent as he lived to the age of 85. Mr. Madison had a ruddy, sensitive face with large pale blue eyes, dark brown hair, and a small, delicate mouth. Mr. Madison carried his clothes with style, usually wore black and was often dressed in blue with ruffles at the chest and wrist. Mr. Madison walked with a quick bouncing step, characteristic of men with remarkable energy. In that way, Mr. Madison would make Napolean proud.

On paper, Mr. Madison was extraordinarily bold but when speaking in public, Mr. Madison could barely be heard. The key to this paradox was Mr. Madison’s deep-seated fear of power. Mr. Madison was uncomfortable dominating and almost unheard in public, but Mr. Madison was also afraid of domination by others. When Mr. Madison felt threatened, he fought with energy and intensity.

Mr. Madison had a lifelong contradiction between the dramatic boldness of thought in the quiet of his study writing with his pen, compared to his incredible shyness with public speaking. A lot of Americans today can relate to this. More than one survey has shown that Americans’ top fear is public speaking. Death itself is second. If this is true, many Americans would literally rather die than have to speak in public. Talk about stage fright.

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