Who wrote the Constitution? A history lesson for Steve Scalise


Who wrote the U.S. Constitution? Well, it wasn’t Thomas Jefferson, despite what Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, told the 2018 National Prayer Breakfast.

In his 19-minute keynote address Thursday (Feb. 8), Scalise touched on his friendship with Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond of New Orleans, his faith, the power of prayer after he was shot June 14 and the belief of the country’s founders in God. “You can’t separate church from state,” he said.

Reaction ranged from the ideological – “Steve Scalise is Wrong About … Everything,” says the headline on patheos.com commentary by Ed Brayton – to the fraternal, as in this observation by Bob Zimmer, a member of Canada’s Parliament and chair of the Canadian National Prayer Breakfast.

Ideology aside, Scalise got one thing wrong when he said:

“This is a nation that was not founded in agnostic views. This was a nation founded with a deep belief in God. Our founding fathers talked about it when they were preparing to draft the Constitution. In fact, Thomas Jefferson, who was the author of the Constitution — if you go to the Jefferson Memorial right now, go read this inscription from Thomas Jefferson: ‘God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?’ You can’t separate church from state.”

Thomas Jefferson, shown in an undated portrait, was overseas in France when the U.S. Constitution was written in 1787. (Photo from The Associated Press archive) 

Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and his philosophy and writings surely influenced the framers of the Constitution 11 years later. But during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, he was overseas serving as U.S. minister to France.

The Constitution was the product of 55 delegates debating over four months in Philadelphia. James Madison of Virginia has been called the “father of the Constitution” for his intellectual leadership and copious notes. But the actual writing was done by two committees, according to Catherine Drinker Bowen’s “Miracle at Philadelphia,” a popular history of the convention:

James Madison, shown in an undated engraving, has been called the father of the U.S. Constitution. (Photo from The Associated Press archive) 
  • The Committee of Detail, which in late July and early August 1787 organized the convention’s work product to that point. It comprised Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut Nathaniel Gorham of Massachusetts, Edmund Randolph of Virginia, John Rutledge of South Carolina and James Wilson of Pennsylvania.
  • The Committee of Style and Arrangement, which drafted the Constitution over four days in September. Members were Alexander Hamilton of New York, William Samuel Johnson of Connecticut, Rufus King of Massachusetts, Madison and Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania.

It was Morris who physically wrote the draft, and gave it some memorable flourishes, including the “We the people”…



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *