Perhaps, gentle readers, the purpose and thrust of the product of the press may have been obscure. I pray you, however, to be patient, for, as always, I remain the Fool’s Fool, and your servant. In foolishness, questions are oft asked, and words teased from the mind in meanings most intractable, and thus, I pray, that you will forgive this fool his trespasses upon your consciousness and the vandalism with which I sack your thoughts, and burn your conceptions.
There are many contracts in our daily lives, and, writing from a view most centered upon the broken-away Colonies of the United States, I must look at specific contracts related to that august entity, and the creation of its federal system of government. These are my own opinions, and whilst I make apologies for the language in which I put them, I cannot apologize for the impetus that drives me to state them.
The contract in question in this instance is nothing less than the Constitution of the United States of America.
“But wait!” wiser men than I cry. “It cannot be a contract! You fool, do you not realize that it was an institution of government?” To this I must reply simply, as a simple fool might:
What else are establishment of governments by constitution? Are they not an offer, made by the people, of powers, in exchange for specific considerations? When voted upon, is it not an acceptance of those terms?
The interpretation of contract has long and long been one of great contention, but always, always, wrought in the terms and understandings of those at the time. Should those persons be dead, as in the case of government they oft are, are they not required to examine the papers and possessions, to see if the thoughts of those contractors were laid down by the plume? If there be no well of ink dipped into, is it not true that the letter of the law must apply?
But yet, with the Constitution, there are many documents establishing the intent of those framers, the concerns of their opponents, and even documents supplying the negotiations between multiple factions within the greater Convention. These hands raised the hammers with which the Constitutional contract was formed.
There was a specific contract established as well, explaining the terms of the contract to the People (for it is of, by, and for the people that the new government was to be founded). These documents are the Federalist papers, an answer to the concerns of the antifederalists, written in open letters to the concerned parties, explaining both the offer and the consideration.
They laid down in clear tones, in ink and parchment and paper the nature of the problems with the old government, the voids within the Articles of Confederation, and the places those articles left the states, and the people, undefended. They spoke of the dangers of faction, the powers to be established for the new government, and the limitations thereof.
If there was offer, consideration, and acceptance, the constitution must be a contract, and therefore interpreted according to the understanding of those whom drafted, and accepted the contract.
More upon this… in the next article.