There were five reasons why the Founding Fathers didn’t want the people to directly elect the president in 1787.

There were five reasons why the Founding Fathers didn’t want the people to directly elect the president in 1787.

   1. At the Constitutional Convention in 1787 some delegates thought the common people weren’t intelligent enough to make good choices for president and would be too easily swayed by a conniving demagogue. (Some people today feel the same way about the average voter.)

   2. But the poor transportation and communication in 1787 was a bigger problem. Most thought the people wouldn’t be knowledgeable enough of presidential candidates outside of their own state to evaluate them effectively.

   In 1787 George Washington went to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia from his home in Virginia by horse drawn carriage. The 150 miles took five days. That’s not 30 miles an hour, that’s 30 miles a day. Imagine how long it would take to travel the 1100 miles from Portland, Maine to Savannah, Georgia.

   The “Mass Media” were 2-4 page weekly newspapers, available only in the larger cities and towns, that could be distributed only as fast as a horse or a sailing ship could travel. And 10% of the people in the Northern states were illiterate and 30% in the Southern states.

   3. There was another problem with direct popular vote for president: slavery. About 30% of the population in the Southern states were slaves and of course couldn’t vote. This meant that Northern states would have more voters to vote for their different interests than Southern states.

   Popular vote for president was voted down 9 states to 1! (Of the 9 no votes 5 were from Southern slave states, three from small (non slave) states and one large state, Massachusetts.)

  4. The wealthy “elites”, just about every delegate at the convention, liked the Electoral College because it prevented the “ignorant poor” from electing a president that favored “Leveling Laws” that redistributed wealth from the “elites” to the poorer “average citizens“ (18th Century version of socialism )

  5. Also, the small states were afraid of always being outvoted by the big population states. In 1787 Virginia, the largest state, was 10 times as big as Delaware, the smallest state. (Today California, the largest state, is 53 times bigger than Wyoming, the smallest state. Those figures are based on representatives in Congress. If you use actual population figures, California is 68 times as big as Wyoming!)

  And that’s why in 1787 the Founding Fathers didn’t want the people to elect the president in a direct popular election.


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