ERIC Number: ED274608
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1986-Oct-16
Reference Count: 0
We, the People.
Bruening, William H.
The meaning of the Constitution is reflected in its preamble, which lists the reasons for framing the Constitution; but, in turn, the rights of the people are either not mentioned or relegated to some tangential concern. The first three articles of the Constitution reveal that "we the people" is determined by the states as well as the crucial issue of who may vote in our representative form of government. The Northwest Ordinance, taking a more enlightened view, included many of the rights currently taken for granted but not mentioned in the forthcoming Constitution. The Bill of Rights, no matter how necessary they seem for political rights, includes nothing about the definition of citizenship and does not mention Indians or Blacks. Clearly then the Constitution and its first ten amendments excluded many from full participation in the political process. Not until Articles 15 and 19 were ratified could Blacks and women vote. Further discussion centers on the lowering of the voting age to 18 and the failure of an anti-discrimination amendment based on sex. Finally, the notion of representative democracy requires the fullest possible participation, but large numbers of people seldom vote. Yet that refusal to vote is also a right. (TRS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers; Practitioners
Sponsor: Indiana Committee for the Humanities, Indianapolis.
Authoring Institution: Social Studies Development Center, Bloomington, IN.; Indiana Council for Social Studies.
Note: Paper presented at the Roundtable Meeting on the Constitution in the Education of Citizens (Fort Wayne, IN, October 16, 1986).