The Founders intended to create a dominant but passive federal regime that would leave the rich safely in possession of their property. The central authorities established by the proposed Constitution would, they hoped, be rendered relatively immobile, and therefore harmless, by the separation of governmental powers, and also by the push and pull of the numerous competing special-interest groups to be found in the country as a whole.


National policies would be moderate compromises that would not threaten the position of the social elite. Here, it is claimed, can be found the germ of the distinctively pluralist American political system, and it is all explained in Madison’s renowned Federalist No. 10. The original formulation of this variation of the argument of Publius is to be found in Charles Beard’s Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, first published in 1913. This study appeared at a time when progressive-minded Americans were becoming increasingly concerned about the problems associated with industrial monopolies, and also about the unresponsive legislators and reactionary jurists who seemed to be shielding these economic concentrations from the righteous wrath of the public.


Beard’s analysis purports to show that the Constitution of the United States has been specifically designed to lead to this outcome.