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gress, of a naval force on the Chesapeake Bay, and a uniform tariff of duties on imports, to which the laws of the two States should conform.” This suggestion, made in a private conference at Mount Vernon, was adopted by the Virginia Legislature; and that body proceeded to pass a resolution, “ directing that so much of the report of the commissioners as referred to a uniform tariff of duties, should be communicated to the other States, with an invitation to attend the proposed meeting." This encouraging action was followed up, on the 21st of January, 1786, by another resolution of the Legislature of Virginia, “ appointing commissioners to meet with those which might be appointed by the other States, “to take into consideration the trade of the United States ;' and to consider how far a uniform system in their commercial regulations, may be necessary to their common interest and to their permanent harmony.'
The meeting thus initiated, was to be held at Annapolis, in September, 1786; but, so slowly did the idea of a Federal Union develope itself, that delegates from only five States attended. The only fruit of this conference was the production of a report, setting forth the existing evils in a strong light, and recommending the several States to send delegates to Philadelphia, the following May, to deliberate in a new convention. A copy of this report being sent to the old Congress, which still retained a fruitless existence, and receiving the endorsement of that decayed body, it acquired, in the opinion of scrupulous persons, “ that necessary constitutional sanction, in which the meeting at Annapolis was deficient." Thus, by gradual stages, and through the unwearied exertions of Washington and other influential men, the celebrated “ Federal Convention " was called into being, perhaps the noblest assemblage of patriotic wisdom that ever fashioned a throne for freedom.
The convention assembled on the 2d of May, 1787, and Washington, appearing at the head of the Virginia delegation, was unanimously chosen its president. In anticipation of the responsible work which was to devolve upon the body, “ he read the history,” says Mr. Sparks, “and examined the principles, of the ancient and modern confederacies. There is a paper in his hand-writing, which contains an abstract of each, in which are noted, in a methodical order, their chief characteristics, the kinds of authority they possessed, their modes of operation, and their defects.” During the four months occupied by the sitting of the Convention, Washington watched the development of its work with great solicitude; and his influence was steadily exerted to secure the organization of a strong central government. When the present Constitution of the United States was at length completed, it was unanimously regarded, though not in all respects what its framers could have desired, as being the best instrument of which the state of the country admitted, and as presenting the only possible bulwark against “anar chy and civil war.” Mr. Curtis, in his elaborate history of the Constitution, mentions the tradition, that when Washington was about to sign the instrument, he rose from his seat, and holding the pen in his hand, after a short pause, pronounced these words: “Should the States reject this excellent constitution, the probability is that an opportunity will never again be offered to cancel another in peace; the next will be drawn in blood.””
It is a fact worthy of notice, that this Constitution, under which the United States have achieved such unparalled prosperity, which it has been proposed to amend in order to furnish new guaranties to slavery, was originally framed mainly by slave-holders, when slavery existed in all the States but one; and that it contains, as it now stands, every guarantee in favor of slavery that could be extorted from those who are justly venerated as the architects of our national greatness.
On the 17th of September, 1787, the Constitution was communicated to the old Congress, with a letter from Washington, signed in his capacity of President of the Convention. It still devolved upon the States to accept or reject the Constitution, through the action of their local assemblies; but “it was provided in the instrument itself, that it should become the supreme law of the land, when adopted by nine States.” During the eight or ten months occupied by the holding of the State conventions, which were to decide upon the adoption of the Constitution, Washington never ceased
the measure, by means of private conferences and an extended correspondence, with all the power of his unrivalled personal influence. By the Summer of 1788, the ratification of the nine States was secured; and the American Government, under the beneficent hands of Federal
Union and National Law, dates from that period. It is worthy of notice, that neither Virginia, in which the idea of the government had originated, nor New York, now amongst its most loyal supporters, ratified the action of the Convention, until the Constitution, by the support of nine other States, had already become the supreme law of the land. Virginia was the tenth, and New York the eleventh of the ratifying States.
The Government, whose gradual unfolding we have thus traced, began the career of empire with about four millions of people, with no branch of national industry beyond its infancy, and some of them entirely unknown ; with not one ståte jurisdiction west of the Alleghanies, and with not a single vessel to uphold our flag upon the seas. Within less than three-quarters of a century, the American Union has received thirty-four States under its law-developed a population of thirty-five millions—animated the great valley of the Mississippi with all the elements of civilization--planted two tributary republics on the shores of the Pacific oceanmatured the old branches of industry and discovered new -created a commerce inferior only to that of Englandmand made liberal contributions to the social, educational, and scientific improvement of mankind.
What is it that now threatens to dismember the great Confederacy, and arrest our political development? The question trenches upon ground lately occupied by passionate partizans, but ground, nevertheless, where any patriot may lawfully stand. Without presuming to enter, at the end of this paper, upon a discussion of the great issue that absorbs the national interest, we make the general statement, in which we believe all intelligent men will concur, that the shock which has fractured the Union, came from a resolution of a minority of the States to have slavery perpetuated by force of Federal power and by authority of Federal law. The desire to break up the Confederacy, or to withdraw from its jurisdiction, springs from the belief that the principles and tendency of our government, as it is at present organized, are unfriendly to slavery, and must eventuate in its gradual extinction. The States, therefore, in which slavery has become the paramount interest, requiring new guarantees for the protection of that system, but meeting a stern denial at the presidential election, have rebelled against the authority which they could not make subservient to their purposes. While they have grossly misapprehended the temper and designs of those who elevated Mr. Lincoln to the presidency, they are correct in our judgment, in regarding the government founded by our fathers as essentially hostile to slavery. The sentiments of those who framed the Constitution, and their reluctance to give slavery any decisive sanction under it, are too well known to require more than a passing allusion. The convictions of Washington may be said to represent those of his illustrious peers in the Constitutional Convention; and Washington had resolved, as early as 1786, “not to possess another slave by purchase; and had declared, the same year, in a letter addressed to Mr. Morris, " There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery.” The subsequent liberation of his own slaves by will, shows that the convictions here expressed on the subject, were thorough and final.
Under a government framed by men holding, for the most part, similar convictions—a government administered consistently with the intentions of its founders, slavery can not permanently endure ; and hence, those who would perpetuate the system forever, at any or every sacrifice, must obviously step out of the Union, and take the chance of forming a new polity more congenial to their designs.
Upon his contemporaries, the character of Washington made a profound impression. Lord Erskine said that he was "the only human being for whom he ever felt an awful reverence.” Rufus King, the American minister at London, writing home in 1797, testified that it was a common observation in England, that Washington was not only the most illustrious, but the most meritorious character that had yet appeared. Since his death, the grandeur of his fame has risen, rather than declined, in the esteem of those qualified to appreciate him. It is the judgment of Charles James Fox, that “a character made up of virtues, so happily tempered by one another and so wholly unalloyed by any vices, as that of Washington, is hardly to be found on the pages of history." Lord Brougham pays him a similar tribute, when he styles him “the greatest man of our own or of any age-the only one upon whom an epithet, so thoughtfully lavished by men, may be innocently and justly bestowed.” And Guizot, the philosophical historian, declares that “ of all great men, he was the most virtuous and the most fortunate.'
Thus elevated, by the voice of mankind, to the highest seat in the pantheon of history, let him remain in his glory. Thus enthroned among the immortal benefactors, who have leaped the chasm of oblivion, with no leaf torn from the chaplet of their fame, let him rest from his cares. In that august Senate, serenely sitting above the brawls of parties, the contagion of baseness, the roar of war, securely shrined in grateful love and reverential memory,-shine on, O Chief of Freedom's sons, through the years of unrecorded time. And let the splendor of your name, brightening as it ascends, fire the successive generations with patriotic virtue, till the wide horizon that rings the world, shall flame with
E. W. R.
The Late Rev. Hosea Ballou 2d, D.D.
At the outset of our labor in selecting topics and providing materials for the present number of the Quarterly, it did not enter our thought that we could have occasion to write such a caption as the above. We were indeed aware that for the past year, and especially for the past six months, the health of Dr. Ballou was somewhat waning. We attributed the fact to his excessive labors as President of Tufts' College, and naturally concluded that the relaxation of the vacation weeks would bring back his accustomed strength. A few weeks before his death, incidentally meeting him in a railroad car, he stated to us a fact from which it was obvious that his illness had a more serious cause, than the simple exhaustion of excessive labor. Still, his case did not seem to us an occasion for alarm-he himself evidently did not fully realize its serious nature. When, however, a member