|The Scene at the Signing of the Constitution, oil painting (reproduction) by Howard Chandler Christy, 1940|
In drafting the Constitution, the delegates consulted the wisdom of the ages, sifting through the contemporary political tracts of their own day, as well as the histories of ancient civilizations. They understood power to be corrupting and humans to be subject to their worst instincts.
The debates inside the meeting room were heated and contentious. The
delegates examined every phrase of the constitution through the prism
of the conflicting interests they represented: large states and small
states, states with commercially based economies versus states with
slave-based agricultural economies. History, political theory, their
own interests, and devotion to the American experiment, all informed
their thinking, as they hammered out a practical scheme of government.
Courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol, Washington, DC