Compare and contrast the argument of Beard and Roche regarding the writing of the Constitution and the motives of the Founding fathers.

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Beard believed that the Founding Fathers were motivated to craft the Constitution in an effort to prevent the mob from taking away their private property. According to Beard, the framers were largely from the elite class of landowners and bondholders and wanted the Constitution to protect their rights as opposed to the rights of the majority of Americans. In his view, the Framers were undemocratic and sought to advance the interests of their class to prevent any type of leveling or greater equality.

Roche, on the other hand, thought that the framers were practical in their approach and wanted to promote nationalism by seeking compromises that resulted in the ratification of the Constitution. In his view, the Constitutional Convention of 1789 was a democratic reform caucus, meaning that the framers, who were at their core consummate politicians, had to work out a delicate compromise to win public approval for their document. While abstract ideas, such as those by Locke and Montesquieu, informed their thinking, the Founding Fathers were committed to working out a compromise in what he describes as a "makeshift affair." He believed that the Constitution was not undemocratic but that it had established a practical type of democracy.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Roche and Charles Beard had differing views about the motives of the Founding Fathers when they wrote the new plan of government created in the Constitution. John Roche believed the Founding Fathers recognized there were different viewpoints about how the government should be structured in the new plan of government they were creating. As a result, he believed the Founding Fathers were being practical in looking for various compromises to resolve some of the differences that existed. He believed the Founding Fathers felt these compromises were necessary in order for the Constitution to be developed and then to be approved.

Charles Beard believed the Founding Fathers were trying to protect the people who owned property. They were all property owners, and they were afraid they might lose their property to the masses of people who didn’t own land. As a result, they saw the development of the new plan of government as a way to protect the interests of the wealthy and of the property owners.

Both men had very different views on the motives of the Founding Fathers when they wrote the Constitution.


rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The difference is a little more stark than that. The Beards indeed argued that the Framers were driven by economic motives, but their motive was not simply to create a strong economy for everyone. Rather it was to benefit their own economic interests, and those of people whom they believed to share their class interests. John Roche dismissed the idea that class had much of anything to do with the framing of the Constitution, suggesting, as the preceding post says, that the document represented a reconciliation of varying interests. He essentially said that though the Framers only represented a wealthy elite, they formed a document that, in its completed form, was reflective of a national consensus. This ideal of national political unity trumped whatever self-interest, or class interest, they may have felt. 

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main difference between Beard and Roche’s theories of the constitution’s creation is the idea of motivation.  Beard believed that the constitution was created for economic reasons, and that its sole purpose was to balance economic interests and create a strong economy.  Roche, on the other hand, believed that the motivation in how the constitution was written was compromise, to make sure all factions and interests were balanced.