George Mason was a significant politician of the USA and one of three delegates, who refused to sign the Constitution in 1787. Being the author of the Bill of Rights, George Mason insisted on thoughtful objections to the Constitutions, which demonstrated disadvantages of the general law for both the American majority and a particular individual. Mason argued that the Constitution had to be substituted by the appropriate Declaration of Rights, which had to be more sufficient and beneficial, than the common law.
The main thesis, made by Mason, was that “the Declaration of Rights in the separate States are no security” (Mason “Objections to the Constitution”). The politician insisted that despite the Constitution was the common law, it could not guarantee the security and protection for all American population. The Constitution was constructed not for the general benefits, but for the benefits of those, who was an actual minority in the USA.
In his objections, Mason presented the main disadvantages of the US political branches. He insisted that the US Congress had the major financial power, including the money bills, appropriations of money, and salaries for the Senate’s officers. However, Mason highlighted that despite such a power, the Congress could not become a representative of the whole American popularity, which was marked in the Constitution.
Mason made the emphasis that the great variety of the powers, possessed by the Congress in accordance with the Constitution, could destroy the balance of the US government. The greater power the Congress would have, the more usurpations it would bring for the American individuals. Mason argued that the rights and the liberties of ordinary people had to be far more important for the government, than the power of the Congress.
Mason was sure that the Constitution of the United States would affect the juridical system negatively as well. Based on the common law, the judiciary of America became too extended that could destroy the juridical system of the particular states. Judiciary under the Constitution would make the laws’ design too expensive and rendering, that is why, the justice could be unattainable. Mason concluded that justice, understood by the Constitution, could lead to the oppression of the poor by the rich.
Mason also argued that the functions of the President, depicted by the Constitution, were too unbalanced and limited by the Senate. A safe government implied that the President had to be the Constitutional Council as well. The US Constitution lacked this significant function for the President, which would lead to the lack of support and appropriate advice. The Constitution would cause wrong directions for the President, based on the minions’ and favorites’ pieces of advice. The general law would make the President either a tool of the Senate, or a Council of the State, which would be even worse. The Senate as the branch of legislative power and the President as the executive one would be in the fatal dependence, which would lead to the improper power in the country.
The Constitution as the common law would be beneficial for the majority of the states, but not for all the country. Mason provided the example of the five Southern states, “whose produce and circumstances are totally different from that of the eight Northern and Eastern States” (Mason “Objections to the Constitution”). The general laws for all the states could ruin the infrastructure and production of the Southern States in favor of the Northern ones. Rigid and premature regulations were not appropriate for such a large country, as the USA was. They would lead to inability of the particular states to demand an exorbitant freight, establish own monopolies and prices of the commodities. The Constitution would affect the interests of the land and impoverishment of the population negatively in these states.
Mason was sure that establishing the requirement of the majority in both Houses of the US government would lead to the lack of fair objection, which would appear necessarily. The power of the majority in the Congress would cause the establishment and support of the particular monopolies, which would be beneficial for the officials only. Constitution of the new crimes, severe punishments, and extension of the particular powers would lead to unfair trade and commerce throughout the country.
The politician also worried about the lack of the declaration for preserving the liberty of the press, the trial, and the standing armies during the peace time. Besides, he mentioned that the Constitution eliminated the government to make the laws post facto. Mason made the emphasis that these laws were especially important for the public safety, since they would prevent the occurrence of negative aftermath and social instability.
According to Mason, the Constitution would establish not a democracy, but a moderate aristocratic power. Due to unstable laws and inappropriate power functions, the Constitution would turn into monarchy or tyranny. As well as Mason was against slavery, he argued that further importations of the slaves would make the USA weaker, vulnerable, and not capable of defense in the nearest future. Obviously, according to him, it would be better not to sign the Constitution, presented as the common law in 1787.
Mason’s objections to the US Constitution appeared to be highly important, since they contributed to the appearance of the Bill of Rights, which took effect in 1791. Mason highlighted that despite the significance of the common law, the Constitution of 1797 lacked the norms, which regulated the civil rights. Precisely these norms appeared to be one of the main reasons of the political debates after signing the Constitution. The fears, provided by the objections to the common law, “led Mason to his supreme effort of demanding a bill of rights by included in the Constitution” (Wakelyn 135) The US states presented their own propositions, which aimed at extension of the common law’s articles.
The Bill of Rights consolidated such civil rights as the liberty of religion, freedom of speech, the press, the assemblies, the right to keep and bear arms, freedom of the personal security and house, an ability to have a fair administration of justice and the trial of jury. The new rights implied the significance of safety of an American individual and eliminated the government to oppress the citizens. The Bill of Rights appeared to be a sufficient addition to the common law, since it consolidated the protection of a person by the American officials.
The Bill of Rights allowed the people to consider the Constitution the law, which aimed at safety, benefits, and wellbeing of everybody in the country. Besides, it consolidated the power of the individual to complain and defend own social position, basing personal argumentation on the law and own liberties. Obviously, Mason’s objections to the US Constitution can be considered one of the most important steps in building the US democracy.
- Mason, George. “Objections to the Constitution.” Gunston Hall. Web. http://www.gunstonhall.org
- Wakelyn, Jon L. Birth of the Bill of Rights: Biographies. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004. Print.