U.S. History 1
6 April 2013
Everyone makes mistakes every once in a while, but doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t fix them. That’s why a pencil is made with an eraser in its other end. When drafting the constitution, the founding fathers included this pencil in the form of the elastic clause. This would later come to be seen as a way to get by laws and rules mentioned in the constitution. When George Washington was selected on April 1789, he formed a presidential cabinet consisting of the secretary of state, Thomas Jefferson; secretary of war, Henry Fox; and secretary of treasury, Alexander Hamilton. He also chose Edmund Rudolph to be attorney general, in order to gain trust with the Anti-Federalist, and Samuel Osgood to be postmaster general, to avoid the conflicts with Massachusetts. Alexander Hamilton arguably had the toughest job in the cabinet. At the time, the United States owed $12 million to foreigners and $44 million to Americans that they borrowed to fund the war. So Alexander Hamilton proposed to things. First, he wanted to enact a 5 percent tariff on imports which would act as an ice breaker. His second proposal was to create a national bank for the United States. In 1792, Hamilton’s Bank of the United States passed congress with a twenty year charter as a private institution. Jefferson was not found of the idea of a national bank though. He fought against it by telling George Washington that creating such an institution was not mentioned in the constitution. Hamilton simply countered that the constitution didn’t mention they couldn’t do it. In the end, Washington sided with Hamilton stating that a national bank that would maintain a dependable currency would benefit everyone. And the elastic clause made it legal as long if it was necessary and proper while providing for the general welfare. The hostility between Jefferson and Hamilton would remain throughout Washington’s first term. But they weren’t the only ones hostile at the time. At the time of George Washington’s first year in office, France had sparked a revolution. The Americans were rather fond of the Idea of a revolution in France. But for the Americans it would only be a one way street when it came to helping them out. In 1793, The French declared war on the British and wanted the United States to help them under the 1778 treaty. But the Washington administration was weary of entering a war against Britain as such a young and fragile nation; so they set out to become uninvolved in the war and found a loophole that would allow them to be neutral in it. The British would not like this idea of a neutral America and would seize American ships that carried trade goods to France, under the Rule of 1756. In order to retrieve the seized ships and cool down war tension Washington sent Chief Justice John Jay to appeal Britain for a settlement. Under Jay’s treaty, Britain compensated the seized American ships, allowed trade in the Indians, and would vacate the six forts it had in the Northwest Territory. In exchange they would get favor trading in America and wanted prewar debts paid. This would cause an uproar with the south and western states as the north was the major gainer in the treaty. France was also angered by the treaty and order American that American ships should be seized. France had seized 300 ships by the time John Adams took office in 1796. Aside from having international problem, John Adams also had several domestic issues at hand. The Jeffersonian Republic opposed any preparations for war and questioned John Adam’s administration. As a result, Adams issued The Alien and sedation Acts. This in turn extended the time someone needed to be a resident to become a citizen and would allow the government to deport anyone who was “dangerous to the peace and safety of the united states”. This was in turn that most migrants end up becoming republicans. The sedation Act would provide fines and prison sentences to anyone who published slander about the government. Jefferson and Madison declared them unconstitutional and a violation of the Bill of Rights. Although the newly formed nation was fragile under the constitution, it managed to establish itself and was pretty successful in doing so. It faced several obstacles in its way to the 1800 elections such as evading war and domestic partisan affairs. And they also made mistakes by enforcing the Alien and Sedition Acts. But with the elastic clause and the cooperation of congress, necessary and proper changes were made forth, greater good. Today, the constitution still stands and would argue that that’s proof enough of its success in establishing a republic.