According to Patrick Henry, "The Constitution represented a counter-revolution." Assess the validity of this statement.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Henry's fundamental idea is that there is a difference between declaring independence and securing it.  In this, the Constitution could be seen as opposite of the spirit of revolution.  Whereas Sam Adams' group of revolutionaries like the Sons of Liberty reveled in creating disturbances and public unrest, these actions ended up being strongly discouraged by the Constitution.  For a nation that prided itself on being radical and causing disruption to the British manner of ruling, the Constitution represented a moment where the framers understood that they had to embrace establishment forms of power in order for the nation to survive.  The intensity and zeal of the revolution was replaced by the Constitution's goals such as ensuring domestic tranquility, promoting the general welfare, as well as ensuring that questioning authority was done in a manner that utilized institutional channels and adhered to rules outlined in the document.  For individuals like Patrick Henry that held so much faith and professed so much loyalty to individual freedom and liberty, the Constitution's assertion of a national government seemed to be an embrace of goals that were antithetical to the spirit of the Revolution.  Henry's belief of "Give me liberty or give me death," is a spirit that helped to inspire the Revolution.  Yet, in the face of the Constitution, such zeal and passion would fly in the face of the established goals and principles of the document.  In this light, the Constitution could be seen as counter- revolutionary.

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