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Great Debates

The Revolution was over and the Constitution was ratified. But debates about the meaning of government by the people were just beginning.

I, Too, Am Free

I, Too, Am Free

“Moi Libre Aussi” by Louis-Simon Boizot and J. Louis Darcis, Paris, around 1790

Courtesy of John Carter Brown Library at Brown University

Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty

"Liberty,” from a fire hat, Citizen Fire Company, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1836

Would the new, representative form of government truly represent the interests and views of common men and women? How should those people participate to make their voices heard? What would limit the political influence of families of inherited wealth and social standing?

Congress in Chaos

Congress in Chaos

“Congressional Pugilists,” Philadelphia, 1798

Courtesy of Library of Congress

 

 

Who Were the People?

Ratified in 1787, the U.S. Constitution established a new nation, to be governed by "We the People." But who were the people? How would they be represented in Congress? And who could vote? Americans have never stopped debating these questions. This short animation provides an overview of how early Americans tried to answer them.