Democracy-government by the people, or directly responsible to them-was not the object which the framers of the American Constitution had in view, but the very thing which they wished to avoid. In the convention which drafted that instrument it was recognized that democratic ideas had made sufficient progress among the masses to put an insurmountable obstacle in the way of any plan of government which did not confer at least the form of political power upon the people. Accordingly the efforts of the Constitutional Convention were directed to the task of devising a system of government which was just popular enough not to excite general opposition and which at the same time gave to the people as little as possible of the substance of political power.
-from "Chapter III: The Constitution Reactionary Document"
It was written a century ago, in 1907, but this rethinking of the legacy of the American founding fathers continues to inspire historical revisionists today.
The opening salvo in what was to become a cottage industry of conspiracy theories, this startling and angry work posits that the American Constitution is not, in fact, a bastion of power-to-the-people philosophy but is, rather, the result of a political plot by the economic elite of the colonies to retain as much supremacy as possible for themselves.
A shattering blow to the iconic images of the men who made America, this is a provocative and shocking read.
OF INTEREST TO: readers of American history, students of the culture wars
JAMES ALLEN SMITH (1860-1926) was professor of political science at the University of Washington.