Was the US Constitution Radical?

We, the Aristocratic Elite.

It was a bloodless coup d’état against an unresisting Confederation Congress. The original structure of the new Constitution was now complete. The Federalists, by use of propaganda, chicanery, fraud, malapportionment of delegates, blackmail, threats of secession, and even coercive laws, had managed to sustain enough delegates to defy the wishes of the majority of the American people and create a new Constitution. The drive was managed by a corps of brilliant members and representatives of the financial and landed oligarchy. These wealthy merchants and large landowners were joined by the urban artisans of the large cities in their drive to create a strong overriding central government – a supreme government with its own absolute power to tax, regulate commerce, and raise armies. These powers were sought eagerly as a method of handing out special privileges to commercial groups; navigation acts to subsidize shipping, tariffs to protect inefficient artisans stampeded by national depression from foreign manufactured goods, and a strong army and navy.

But government, by its nature, cannot supply bounties and privileges without taking them from others, and these others were to be largely the hapless bulk of the nation’s citizens.

Slavery was driven into the heart of the Constitution: in the three-fifths clause, in the protection of slave importation, in the fugitive slave clause, and even in the congressional power to suppress insurrections within the states. The fact that the words “slave” and “slavery” do not appear explicitly in the Constitution does not change unduly this judgement. Indeed, the habitual use of such terms as “other persons,” such person,” or “Person held to … labor,” instead of “slave,” were simply shamefaced evasions by men who knew that they were betraying anti-slavery principles dominant in their constituencies.

~ Murray Rothbard