Tag: Constitutional Convention

Compromises at the Constitutional Convention: Principled?

When is compromise right? When is it wrong? When I look at historical compromises, I try to apply this rule: A compromised principle leads to unrighteousness, but a principled compromise is a step closer to the principle’s ideal. Let’s take the Constitutional Convention as an example. The delegates who comprised the convention that led to our current Constitution had to grapple with a number of controversial issues. The two most prominent were how to carry out proper representation and how… Read more »

Rule of Law & the Constitutional Convention

In our era, when the rule of law seems to be weakening, it’s instructive to look back at how our cornerstone document, the Constitution, came into being. The 1780s, under the Articles of Confederation, saw a loose-knit assemblage of states that were in danger of splitting apart permanently. Those with concern for the rule of law and who had a vision for a better system urged a meeting of all the states to address the governmental crisis. Twelve of the… Read more »

Principle & Compromise: Not Always at Odds

I’ve called this blog Pondering Principles because I’m dedicated to laying a principled foundation for whatever subject I scrutinize. I also want to see principles—Biblical principles—become the basis for all public policy. Those of us oriented toward principles have a natural aversion to compromise; we have a tendency to see all compromise as a step backward. I would like to argue that is not the case. Let’s start historically and work our way to present-day issues. At the Constitutional Convention,… Read more »

Snyderian Truism #12

The word “compromise” can give off both positive and negative vibes. Is it a good word or one to avoid? Well, the answer is “yes.” What do I mean? It depends on the particular compromise. Here’s how I try to encapsulate it in one pithy statement: A compromised principle leads to unrighteousness, but a principled compromise is a step closer to the principle’s ideal. This comes up when I teach about the Constitutional Convention. At one point, the Convention was… Read more »

Madison’s Montpelier

Having toured Jefferson’s Monticello on Tuesday, it only made sense to visit the home of his compatriot, James Madison, which he called Montpelier. There are many accomplishments to attribute to Madison and, in my opinion, he holds a higher place of honor than Jefferson in the saga of the Founding. Madison attended the College of New Jersey—now Princeton—and studied under its president, John Witherspoon, a clergyman who arrived from Scotland prior to the Revolution. Witherspoon is called by some “The… Read more »

Constitutional Liberty

Rick Santorum has a concept of freedom that is closer to the Founding Fathers’ definition than anyone else running for president. It’s also a concept that is in line with Biblical presuppositions. In his book It Takes a Family, he lays it out clearly [I urge you to read this rather lengthy quote carefully]: The freedom talked about at our Constitutional Convention did not mean the village elders’ self-centered, No-Fault Freedom. It wasn’t a freedom that celebrated the individual above… Read more »

Finding the Truth Too Late

When dealing with the religious beliefs of America’s Founding Generation—those who participated in the Revolution and the creation of the Constitution—one must draw a clear distinction between those who were genuine Christians and those who were merely religious in a general sense. As I tell my students incessantly, early America was a society built on a Biblical framework of thinking, even though some of the prominent individuals may not have been what evangelicals call “born again.” Yesterday’s post dealt with… Read more »