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WASHINGTON'S VIEWS; THE PEOPLE DIVIDED.
arisen, when attempts have been made to reconcile such a variety of interests and local prejudices as pervade the several states, will render explanation unnecessary. I wish the Constitution which is offered, had been more perfect; but I sincerely believe it is the best that could be obtained at this time. And, as a constitutional door is opened for amendments hereafter, the adoption of it under the present circumstances of the Union is, in my opinion, desirable.”
(for all these blessings will come) will be referred to the fostering influence of the new government. Whereas many causes will have conspired to produce them. You see I am not less enthusiastic than I ever have been, if a belief that peculiar scenes of felicity are reserved for this country is to be denominated enthusiasm. Indeed, I do not believe that Providence has done so much for nothing. It has always been my creed, that we should not be left as a monument to prove, “that mankind, under the most favorable circumstances for civil liberty and happiness, are unequal to the task of governing themselves and therefore made for a master.'”
To the Marquis de Chastelleux, he wrote:
“Should it be adopted, and I think it will be, America will lift up her head again, and in a few years become respectable among nations.”
Again he wrote:
“There are some things in the new form, I will readily acknowledge, which never did, and I am persuaded never will, obtain my cordial approbations; but I did then conceive, and do now most firmly believe, that in the aggregate it is the best Constitution, that can be obtained at this epoch ; and that this, or a dissolution, awaits our choice, and is the only alternative." *
To Lafayette he expressed himself with still greater frankness and carnestness, as follows:
Previous to this time the people had been divided by political opinions into at least two classes, but the issues which then divided them were purely local. There were the opponents and advocates of the impost; there were hard-money and softmoney men, etc.; but both sides were ardent Whigs. There were those, too, who feared the development of the West or disliked the growing power of commercial New England; there were those who opposed the closing of the Mississippi and hated to see the Federal power increased and the complete power to make treaties bestowed upon the central government; there were those again who saw no need for a central government with power of taxation and authority to levy customs duties or to regulate commerce in any way; and, finally, there were those who were liberty blind ” — who had prated so much about liberty that they had either unlearned or forgotten the arguments for government. But now a national issue was raised and the Whig party was split into Federalists and Anti
"I expect that many blessings will be attributed to our new government, which are now taking their rise from that industry and frugality, into the practice of which the people have been forced from necessity. I really believe, that there never was so much labor and economy to be found before in the country as at the present moment. If they persist in the habits they are acquiring, the good effects will soon be distinguishable. When the people shall find themselves
under an energetic government, when foreign nations shall be disposed to give us equal advantages in commerce from dread of retaliation, when the burdens of war shall be in a manner done away by the sale of western lands, when the seeds of happiness which are sown here, shall begin to expand themselves, and when every one under his own vine and fig-tree, shall begin to taste the fruits of freedom, then all these blessings
Sparks, Life of Washington, p. 403; Lodge, George Washington, vol. ii., pp. 38–39.
FEDERALISTS AND ANTI-FEDERALISTS.
Federalists; the two sections of a one together to act on the defensive and time harmonious and powerful party had no feasible propositions to adbegan to draw farther and farther vance as a substitute for the Constiapart, forming the basis of two great tution now before the country for apnational parties, which, under differ- proval. With a few exceptions, the ent names and upon widely different Federalists had the ablest writers platforms, have from that time to and most forcible speakers, and for the present struggled for supremacy.* the next ten months the adoption of That the Federalists might win it was the new Constitution was sharply necessary that nine of the thirteen debated.* States should ratify. That there had Pennsylvania was the scene of the been unanimity in Congress meant first conflict, though she was not the little, for it had been agreed that first to adopt. Hardly a day had they should waive all expression of passed, after the Constitution was approval or disapproval and leave submitted to the people for approval, the sovereign members of the Con- before George Clymer, on September federacy to act as the people should 28, 1787, moved in the Assembly that deem best. The Federalists did not a convention be held to consider the claim that the proposed Constitution Constitution. The Anti-Federalists would remedy every existing evil or raised objections and attempted to nationalize and consolidate the
block the passage of the resolution by Union, but they stressed the point absenting themselves so as to prethat it promised to restore civil order vent a quorum. As the Federalists and bring harmony and order out of lacked the necessary members to chaos. They said that it was the best make a quorum of the Assembly, two obtainable and sought to persuade of the opposition were forced into the people to accept it because with- their seats and the resolution was out it disunion would follow.t The passed by a vote of 45 to 2.7 The Federalists were well organized and date of election of delegates to the acted on the initiative, whereas the convention was the first Tuesday in Anti-Federalists had hastily banded November and November 20 was set
for the convention itself. I After a * On the origin of the terms “ Federalist " and hard bitter canvass by the opposing “ Anti-Federalist," Curtis, Constitutional History, vol. i., p. 627. See also Fiske, Critical
candidates, the elections were held Period, pp. 308–309.
† Madison said: “I have for some time been Schouler, United States, vol. i., pp. 61–62. persuaded that the question on which the proposed † Sharpless, Two Centuries of Pennsylvania His. Constitution must turn, is the simple one, tory, pp. 227–228; Wescott, Historic Mansions, whether the Union shall or shall not be continued, p. 124; Bancroft, vol. vi., p. 391; Fiske, Critical There is, in my opinion, no middle ground to be Period, pp. 310-312; Thorpe, Story of the Contaken.” — Madison's Works (Congress ed.), vol. stitution, pp. 151–152. i., p. 381; Gay, Life of Madison, p. 116.
I McMaster, United States, vol. i., pp. 455-457.
THE DEBATE IN PENNSYLVANIA.
and resulted in the success of the Ahmed, our august Sultan - the Federalists.* An acrimonious debate Senate will be his divan — your
in the press and in the shape of standing army will come in place of pamphlets on both sides of the ques- our janizaries — your judges untion had meanwhile been carried on checked by vile juries might with and every conceivable argument was great propriety be styled cadis." * used both in favor of and against the Pelatiah Webster and a few others adoption.t There were papers by put forth some powerful arguments “Homespun," "American Citizens,” in favor of the Constitution, and “ Turk,” “ Tar and Feathers," James Wilson made a speech before “John Humble, Secretary,'
a mass meeting in the state house at “ Briton,'
“ One of the People," Philadelphia " remarkable among " Federal Constitution” and scores the speeches at that troubled time for of others. The Anti-Federalists were coolness of reasoning and dignity of assisted by Richard Henry Lee, who language." | Wilson did not have published a series of papers entitled Hamilton's political genius nor MadiLetters from the Federal Farmer, son's talent for debate and constituthousands of copies of which were tional analysis, but in the comprescattered throughout Pennsylvania. hensiveness of his views and in the His chief objections were that he saw perception of the necessities of the in the proposed plan the seeds of country he fully equalled them and democracy and centralization; that in was one of their most efficient and the National legislature the vote was best informed coadjutors. I to be by individuals and not by On November 20 the Convention States; that this body had an unlim- assembled and a stormy session ited power of taxation; that the Fed- began, the members at various times eral judiciary had too much power; almost coming to blows. Wilson and that the members were to be paid out Thomas McKean led the Federalists; of the National treasury and would the Antis were led by Robert Whitethus be independent of their own hill, John Smilie and William FindStates; that an oath of allegiance to ley. So obstructive did the tactics of the Federal government was the Antis become that the Federalquired; and that no bill of rights was ists grew enraged. Hour after hour included. I
was wasted by each side in abusing President general will greatly resem- the other and whole days were spent ble in his powers the mighty Ahdul
• See McMaster, pp. 458_460.
† Fiske, Critical Period, p. 312; McMaster, pp. 461-472.
| Fiske, Critical Period, pp. 313–314.
McLaughlin, The Confederation and the Constitution, p. 281.
† McMaster, United States, vol. i., p. 463. See also Thorpe, Story of the Constitution, p. 153.
# Curtis, Constitutional History, vol. i., p. 642. 8
PENNSYLVANIA AND OTHER STATES RATIFY.
in discussing the meaning of simple voted for delegates to the convention, words. In this way three weeks and because though 46 delegates had quickly passed. The chief objections voted to ratify, these 46 represented to the Constitution were the omission only 6,800 constituents. Several riots of a bill of rights and because the ex- occurred between the adherents of the istence of the States was endangered two parties and a number of dinners by the consolidation of the govern
and processions were held to express ment. *
The Antis also inveighed joy at the favorable action.* * against the infrequency of elections, In the meantime, on December 7, the exclusive authority of Congress
the Constitution was unanimously and the powers of the judiciary. ratified by Delaware (the first State Wilson bore the brunt of the contest to ratify), and she was followed on and made some remarkable speeches. † the 18th of the same month by New After three weeks of discussion, Jersey without a dissenting voice,
, the Anti-Federalists offered fifteen and by Georgia on January 2, 1788, amendments and proposed that the without an amendment or an adverse convention be adjourned so that the vote. On January 9, 1788, the Conpeople of the State might discuss and necticut convention, after a stormy approve or reject them. The Feder session of five days, also gave a large alists resisted all such dilatory tac- majority in favor of adoption, the tics, and by insisting upon an immedi- vote standing 128 to 40. On April 28, ate rejection or ratification finally 1788, after a sharp struggle, Marysucceeded, December 12, 1787, in land ratified by a vote of 63 to 11 obtaining a ratification by a vote of (the minority, however, proposing 28 46 to 23.6 Excitement was high and amendments); South Carolina ratiit was claimed by the Anti-Federal- fied May 23 by a vote of 140 to 73 ists that the convention was illegal (with 4 amendments proposed).+ because of the use of force in the
The chief struggles were in MassaLegislature to secure a quorum to chusetts, New Hampshire, Virginia, pass the resolution for calling the
New York, and North Carolina, while convention, because only 13,000 out of 70,000 voters in the State had
* McMaster, United States, vol. i., pp. 472–475.
See also McMaster and Stone, Pennsylvania and McMaster and Stone, Pennsylvania and the the Federal Constitution, p. 429. Federal Constitution, 1787–1788 (1888), p. 268. † For the details of the conventions in these
† For some of the important features of these States, see Bancroft, vol. vi., pp. 381-395, 415speeches, see Elliot, Debates, vol. ii., p. 422; 420; McMaster, vol. i., pp. 474–476, 485-489; McMaster and Stone, Pennsylvania and the Curtis, Constitutional History, vol. i., chap. xxxiv. Federal Constitution, pp. 221, 227, 316, 415. See also Orin G. Libby, The Geographical Distri
† Elliot, Debates, vol. i., p. 319. See also bution of the Vote of the Thirteen States on the Sharpless, Tuo Centuries of Pennsylvania History, Federal Constitution, 1787–1788, in University of p. 228; McLaughlin, The Confederation and the Wisconsin Bulletins in Economics, Political Constitution, pp. 285–287.
Science and History, series i., no. i. (1894).
MASSACHUSETTS CONVENTION OPENS.
Rhode Island refused to call a con- One of the members 'speaks of the vention.*
opposition as follows: The convention of Massachusetts
“Never was there an assembly in this state opened in January 1788, and the in possession of greater abilities and information, Constitution was discussed para
than the present Convention; yet I am in doubt
whether they will approve the Constitution. There graph by paragraph. It was sup- are unhappily three parties opposed to it. 1. All posed that if the Massachusetts con
men who are in favor of paper money and tender
laws. These are more or less in every part of vention should ratify, the other the state. 2. All the late insurgents, and their States would be greatly influenced to
abettors. We have in the Convention eighteen or
twenty who were actually in Shays's army. 3. A act favorably upon this important
great majority of the members from the province question. Most of the prominent men of Maine. Many of them and their constituents of the State were members of the are only squatters upon other people's land, and
they are afraid of being brought to account. They convention, such men as James Bow
also think, though erroneously, that their favorite doin, Rufus King, and Fisher Ames plan of being a separate state, will be defeated.
Add to these, the honest doubting people, and advocating the Constitution, while
they make a powerful host.” * opposed to them were men of no less courage and ability. John Hancock The proceedings began with gave the Federalists only lukewarm desultory debate on the various parts support. Samuel Adams strongly of the instrument, which lasted until opposed the Constitution, while Na- January 30,6 the friends of the Conthaniel Dane had denounced it and stitution having carefully provided at Gerry had refused to sign it.f As the outset that no separate question Schouler says, the very preponder- should be taken. After discussion ance of learning, wealth, renown, and social respectability of the Federal- * See also Fiske, Critical Period, pp. 316–320. ists more closely united the opposi
† In the debate concerning the army, one of
the Maine delegates said: “ Had I the voice of tion forces, jealous of city cliques,
Jove I would proclaim it throughout the world; whose votes and influence could not and had I an arm like Jove, I would hurl from be ignored. The subject was de
the globe those villains that would dare attempt
to establish in our country a standing army." bated for an entire month and even Fear was expressed that the government would then it was uncertain as to just what
come into the hands of knaves, but Samuel West,
a delegate from New Bedford, said: “I wish that course the convention would follow.|| the gentlemen who have started so many possible
objections would try to show us that what they * Richman, Rhode Island, p. 254; Bates, Rhode 80 much deprecate is probable.
Because Island and the Formation of the Union, p. 162 power may be abused, shall we be reduced to
anarchy? What hinders our state legislatures + See McLaughlin, The Confederation and the from abusing their powers! May we not Constitution, pp. 292–293; Thorpe, Story of the rationally suppose that the persons we shall Constitution, p. 154; Curtis, Constitutional His- choose to administer the government will be, in tory, vol. i., p. 648 et seq.
general, good men?" Abraham White of Bristol, | Schouler, United States, vol. i., p. 67.
however, said: “I would not trust them though ll On the proceedings see Bancroft, vol. vi., pp. every one of them should be a Moses." See Fiske, 395-408; Elliot, Debates, vol. ii.
Critical Period, pp. 321-324.