Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


June 12, 2013

Constitution was built on compromise

Editor, Townsman:

Regarding Steve Leet’s letter in the May 30 edition (”Constitution must be enforced”), I feel it is important to point out how the Constitution was created and for what purpose.

The first goal was to replace the Articles of the Confederacy, which was a horribly weak document that disallowed for a strong central government. Since we had just won a war against a strong central authority, there was naturally a concern of replacing one with another. But 13 States with competing agendas cried out for order and control, and that is what the Constitution set out to do.

In order to get the majority of states to agree to ratify the new proposal, accommodations had to be made. There needed to be an assurance that the central government would not be too strong, so three branches of authority were created and no one branch could rule above the others. States’ rights were an important component, and so despite, for example, the Declaration of Independence “… hold these truths to be self-evident, all men are created equal …,” the institution of slavery was left undisturbed. Had it not been, the southern states would not have ratified.

As for the Second, in 1787, we did not have a national army to speak of and the states were suspicious of who would control. A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Through this, it was understood that states could each have their own militia that would obey only the state authority and further, individuals would keep their own weapons, mainly because in 1790, the household gun was as necessary as the cellphone is today. Also, it was the cheapest way to go. In times of trouble, the call would go out and everyone would show up with their musket. This is how a militia was mustered. Even within the states, they were not standing armies.

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