Taking Sides (Issue 7)
During the colonial period, the issue whether the Founding Fathers were democratic reformers was raised. The historian Roche insisted that the Founding Fathers utilized their powers to create a constitution that supported the needs of the nation and was acceptable to the people. While, the historian Zinn claimed that the northern economic interests and the southern slaveholders made up the Founding Fathers. Also, this self-interested elite group used Shays’ Rebellion as a catalyzation to admit a strong central government into power. Both historians have strong arguments that provide an answer to this issue that demonstrates which argument holds the answer to whether the Founding Fathers were democratic reformers.
Roche’s argument is ...view middle of the document...
Therefore, the people of the nation were always in the Founding Fathers best interests according to Roche. Roche’s argument focused on the Founding Fathers willingness to give the people of the nation acceptable rights and laws. However, in Zinn’s argument, the Founding Fathers are self-motivated and only want what is best for each one of them. Zinn stated that the Founding Fathers were only interested in balancing the dominant forces at that specific time (159). They were not interested in creating equality among slaves, Indians, women, and those who did not own property. If equality was not a motivation than only the interests of the Founding Fathers were looked at. The Constitution can be seen as a document solely focused on giving and preserving privileges to certain groups. This could easily be done by the Founding Fathers. All that was required was to allow the people of the nation just enough rights and liberties to guarantee popular support (156). Zinn’s argument is based upon the self-interest of the Founding Fathers that promoted them to establish a government based upon their wants and requests.
Both Roche and Zinn provided strong arguments; I feel that Zinn posed a stronger argument. The Founding Fathers wanted to appeal to the public, but self-interest was their chief priority. If the northerners needed to make sure their economy was going to survive, the Constitution needed to be reformed. If the southerners wanted to deal with slavery on their terms, the Constitution needed to be reformed. The Founding Fathers used Shays’ Rebellion to make a logical reason for reformation. Although many, like Roche, believe the Founding Fathers wanted to support the nation, others, like Zinn, argued that they were motivated purely by self-interest.