What few modern-day Americans realize,however, is that the framers did their best to ensure that we would never know the details of their deliberations. All the participants in the convention were sworn to life-long secrecy, and when the debates were over, those who had taken notes were asked to hand them in to George Washington, whose final task as chairman of the convention was to get rid of the evidence. American’s first president, it appears, was also its first shredder.

What was revealed was neither divine nor diabolical, but simply human, an all-too-human exercise in politics. Merchants, bankers, shipowners, planters, slave traders and slaveowners, land speculators, and lawyers, who made their money working for these groups, voiced their interests and fears in clear, uncluttered language; and, after settling a few, relatively minor disagreements, they drew up plans for a form of government they believed would serve these interests most effectively.

Even before the Constitution was officially adopted, many people, known to history as Anti-Federalists, questioned whether what was good for the property-owning factions that were so well represented in Philadelphia would be as good for those who owned little or nothing. Then as subsequently, the main questions raised dealt with the limitations on suffrage, the inadequate defense of individual rights and freedoms, the acceptance and even strengthening of the institution of slavery, and the many other benefits given to men of property.

good to know about the founding fathers