Was the adoption of the U.S. Constitution a liberal or conservative act?

Fiver

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
3,741
#2
They could, but it would be a pretty inaccurate comparison. In addition to the Left-Right spectrum of liberalism to conservativism, there is another scale about centralization, varying from anarchism to totalitarianism. The government under the Articles of Confederation was so weak it almost wasn't able to gather enough people to ratify the treaty ending the Revolutionary War. The Federalists wanted to strengthen the Federal government. The Anti-Federalists varied between those who thought no change was necesary and those who thought change was necessary, but that the Constitution had gone too far. The Bill of Rights was the compromise offered to moderate Anti-Federalists in order to gain enough support for the Constitution to be ratified. For many Federalists, this was not a concession - they were willing to vote for the Constitution, but adding the Bill of Rights reduced the amount of federalization to a level they were more comfortable with.
 
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Sep 2019
110
Seattle
#5
They could, but it would be a pretty inaccurate comparison. In addition to the Left-Right spectrum of liberalism to conservativism, there is another scale about centralization, varying from anarchism to totalitarianism. The government under the Articles of Confederation was so weak it almost wasn't able to gather enough people to ratify the treaty ending the Revolutionary War. The Federalists wanted to strengthen the Federal government. The Anti-Federalists varied between those who thought no change was necesary and those who thought change was necessary, but that the Constitution had gone too far. The Bill of Rights was the compromise offered to moderate Anti-Federalists in order to gain enough support for the Constitution to be ratified. For many Federalists, this was not a concession - they were willing to vote for the Constitution, but adding the Bill of Rights reduced the amount of federalization to a level they were more comfortable with.
I basically agree. I would say, however, that the "anti-federalists" tended to be many of those (such as Patrick Henry) who had vested interests at the State legislative levels and may have feared a competing new focus of political power. In that context, the Bill of Rights (which most State Constitutions already contained) was the objectionable excuse to vote against ratification. Madison, who initially opposed a Constitutional Bill of Rights, side-stepped the issue and dropped his objections to their inclusion, as long as he got to write them. So...in the sense that the anti-federalists were representatives of the "status quo" in the post-revolution time, I'd count them as the "conservatives," with the Federalists as the "liberal progressives" of their time.
 
Sep 2019
110
Seattle
#6
Both? I think it's a false binary, though.
Perhaps...just as most significant and complex historical events have multi-variate causes and are "false binaries." So...lets narrow the issue and limit it to the context of "temporal change." Certainly, the anti-federalists were by definition "anti-federalists," thus making them essentially protectors of the status quo and hence "conservatives," which would make the Federalists the "liberal progressives," no?
 
Oct 2009
3,605
San Diego
#8
Given today's perception of liberalism and conservatism, may those terms be compared to the anti-Federalist and Federalist factions of the 1787-1789 period?
The American revolution was a liberal movement.
It was Humanist- which was Against the concept of a State sanctioned religion - which would have been the conservative view given every other nation on Earth had a State sanctioned religion.
It was Masonic- which was a group that forwarded the ideals of a classless society and that all men were created equal, which at the time was a radical Anti- Aristocratic view that stated that No man was any 'better' than any other man.

It relied on Neither the Aristocratic privilege, nor religious ordination for its authority ( which is what the conservative Lords and Clergy strove to preserve in europe) but rather on Reason, the Rule of Law and ability of rational men to self govern.

The Constitution was a revolutionarily leftest document and it led directly to revolution in France- ergo -the conservative powers that be All over Europe saw the US constitution as a radical experiment that endangered the established order.
 
Jul 2019
555
New Jersey
#9
Perhaps...just as most significant and complex historical events have multi-variate causes and are "false binaries." So...lets narrow the issue and limit it to the context of "temporal change." Certainly, the anti-federalists were by definition "anti-federalists," thus making them essentially protectors of the status quo and hence "conservatives," which would make the Federalists the "liberal progressives," no?
Well, first of all, the terms "conservative" and "liberal" are fundamentally subjective, as conservativism needs something to conserve and liberalism needs a benchmark to measure against. For example, an American conservative seeks to preserve the ideals of the Founding, which are essentially Classical Liberal ideas when compared to the European monarchies. A European conservative generally seeks to preserve a Throne and Altar Conservatism, which is the antithesis of American conservatism. Meanwhile, in Britain, the Conservatives seek to preserve Whiggish ideals in the face of Labour and other farther left ideologies, as a result of which they would be considered left-of-center in US politics. So the term is highly subjective - it all depends on what one is trying to conserve and what one is trying to liberalize.

The American Revolution and our Constitution are Classical Liberal. Today's Conservatives, who seek to preserve that, are also classically liberal. The "progressives" who have, since Wilson, tried to expand the centralized state for humanitarian purposes, are perhaps closer to the absolutists who preceded the Constitution than to the Founders. That's all I'm saying - the terms liberal and conservative have become so confused as to render them useless.
 
Sep 2019
110
Seattle
#10
The American revolution was a liberal movement.
It was Humanist- which was Against the concept of a State sanctioned religion - which would have been the conservative view given every other nation on Earth had a State sanctioned religion.
It was Masonic- which was a group that forwarded the ideals of a classless society and that all men were created equal, which at the time was a radical Anti- Aristocratic view that stated that No man was any 'better' than any other man.

It relied on Neither the Aristocratic privilege, nor religious ordination for its authority ( which is what the conservative Lords and Clergy strove to preserve in europe) but rather on Reason, the Rule of Law and ability of rational men to self govern.

The Constitution was a revolutionarily leftest document and it led directly to revolution in France- ergo -the conservative powers that be All over Europe saw the US constitution as a radical experiment that endangered the established order.
I tend to agree...but there is also an underlying question regarding whether or not its "humanistic bias" was merely a "tool" for colonial elites objecting to the King's prohibition against westward expansion (a number of the "founders" were also land speculators in the west) and used a rather mild tax (the colonialists were taxed less than those in England overall) as a rallying cry for a popular uprising? And, couldn't the same thing be said about the development of English democracy and the earlier Glorious Revolution of 1688, but just a different rising new elite?
 
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