Did the US Constitution Fulfill the Ideology of the American Revolution?: An Exploration of Presidential Powers

Open Access
Author:
Alleva, Heather Robyn
Area of Honors:
History
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Mark E Neely Jr., Thesis Supervisor
  • Michael James Milligan, Honors Advisor
  • Anne Carver Rose, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • Constitution
  • American Revolution
  • fulfillment
  • presidential powers
  • President
  • Commander in Chief
  • Veto
  • presidential pardon
Abstract:
It is a common belief among those who study United States history that the Constitution was the ultimate ideological fulfillment of the goals of the American Revolution that made the Revolutionary ideals a reality for all Americans. However, it is often overlooked that there are many discrepancies between what the leaders of the Revolution believed and the government that was actually created by the Constitution. This project examines the question of whether or not the Constitution was truly consistent with the ideology of the Revolution by analyzing three presidential powers: the Commander in Chief power, the veto power, and the power to pardon. By comparing the literature from the Revolution with the debates over the ratification of the Constitution regarding these three powers, it becomes clear that the Framers of the Constitution were not as dedicated to bringing the philosophy of the American Revolution to life as most Americans believe. The provisions in the new state constitutions that emerged during the Revolution and the ideas found in the speeches and writings of Anti-Federalist leaders from each state differ greatly from the strong, central government formed by the Constitution. These state-by-state analyses are particularly important to this project not only because state issues were more central in political discourse than national issues at the time, but also because the Constitution was ratified separately by each state. The discrepancies between the Revolutionary ideals and the powerful President created by the Constitution demonstrate that the United States Constitution was not a complete ideological fulfillment of the American Revolution.