The drafting of the United States Constitution displayed the concept of self-interest and was shaped by the founding father's personal views about economic affairs, by their distrust of a purely democratic rule, and by their belief that man's Hobbesian nature could only be neutralized with a balanced government. When the Constitution of the United States was drafted, the founding fathers secured their own economic interests which revolved around their view that liberty was defined as the right to own property, not as democracy. Since the founding fathers were all part of an elite group of wealthy landowners, they made it one of their main priorities to secure this significant and surely powerful status in colonial society. They were aware that the right to own land was a key role to their success, and that to remain landowners their rights needed to be protected. With prior laws from England that caused disturbance in America such as the Proclamation of 1763, the founding fathers knew the value of the right to be able to claim and settle on land. Their view of liberty was mainly an economic one; they saw that as people immigrated into America, land became scarce, and landowners became prosperous by renting out their land.
The Head right system is an example of the colonists' interest in gaining economic prosperity through property. One of the liberties the founding fathers hoped to obtain were freedom from economic insecurity that had been previously caused by laws such as the Currency Act, the Sugar Act of 1764, and the Stamp Act of 1765. Another liberty they hoped to obtain was freedom from attacks on the landowning class such as Bacon's Rebellion, the Salem Witch Trials, and the Regulator Movement. They secured these liberties in the draft of the Constitution, but had to add amendments in order to secure certain liberties for the rest of society.
The liberties that they failed to secure in the draft were those such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech and press, and protection from unwarranted search and seizure. These liberties would prevent occurrences such as the John Peter Zenger trial, religious persecution and protect the masses from the results of the Quartering Act. It would do the founding father's no good to write a constitution in which the larger part of society could legally take away their precious land, therefore taking away their liberty. They did not believe, contrary to our present patriotic views, that liberty was non-existent without democracy. In fact, they believed that democracy was a threat to their self-regarding view of liberty.
The founding father's distrust of a purely democratic government played a significant role in the drafting of the United States Constitution while demonstrating the concept of self-interest. It is widely believed that the main concern of the United States Constitution drafters was to preserve the democracy of America, but that was very much the opposite of their goal. Democracy did not seem respectable to the "cultivated" class which happened to be made of the founders of the constitution. They thought that democracy was a danger to their liberties. In the minds of the founding fathers, a purely democratic government could only have resulted in the masses greedily voting land away from the landowners, which would have put an end to their personal definition of liberty. Even agreements such as the Fundamental Orders and the Virginia Bill of Rights were only partly democratically arranged for landowning citizens.
During the French Revolution the founding fathers had also witnessed the effects of a frustrated majority lower class. This violent mobocracy was something that the founding fathers wanted to avoid. They did not want small landowners to be able to vote away the founding fathers' property under a purely democratic government. It was partly through these thoughts that the idea of a partly democratic government emerged. Another factor that affected the constitution was the founding father's belief that man was a self-interested being. The founding fathers based the Constitution of the United States on their belief that in order to govern man's Hobbesian nature it could not be changed, but that it could be neutralized by a balanced government.
Thomas Hobbes, a philosopher, believed that man was a creature of self-interest that needed to submit to any sort of government in order to survive peacefully among society. He also believed that man was at constant war with his surroundings. Using Hobbes' philosophy to classify man's nature, the founding fathers realized that man could not govern himself or it would result in chaos. Nevertheless, it was their belief that people from society needed to be a part of the government, but that they could not, as a whole, govern themselves, as stated by Jeremy Belknap, a New England clergymen, "Let it stand as a principle that government originates from the people; but let the people be taught... that they are not able to govern themselves". The founding father's recognized that the "poor mob" could "plunder" the landowners, but the landowners could also "plunder" the poor if they chose to. Therefore, they needed to create a government in which the rich would be neutralized with the poor and no such "plundering" would occur.
They did not trust man's capacity to govern himself, but did trust a good political power to control man. They believed in political powers such as the Stamp Act Congress of 1765, the New England Confederation and the Continental Congress of 1774 to make decisions for the colonists. The founding fathers did not want rely on man's self-interested nature to make laws, but they also did not want to go to Hobbes's ends of saying that any government should be accepted. They had been through enough in their own war for independence to know that just any government would not satisfy the colonials. Therefore they had to work to give man an essence of freedom, while man's predatory nature was being neutralized by a fair government of checks and balances. They wanted to evade the overuse of leadership that English parliament had used against the colonies such as the Tea Act, the Intolerable Acts, and the Declaratory Act.
By preventing the government from overusing its power the founding fathers could insure that the colonists did not react as they reacted during the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party. This way, uprisings could be controlled by the government and the people could insure no corruption within the government. The founding fathers' personal views as wealthy landowners on economic affairs, their distrust of a purely democratic rule, and their belief that man's Hobbesian nature could only be neutralized with a balanced government shaped the draft of the United States Constitution while displaying the concept of self-interest. These three significant points helped show the concept of self-interest that shaped one of the United States of America's first influential documents. They also proved that by insuring a balance of self-interests between the government and the governed, the drafters of the United States Constitution were able to construct a document that would in the future become a source for the American identity.