« PreviousContinue »
Massachusetts. Nathaniel Gorman,
Connecticut. William Samuel Johnson,
New York. Alexander Hamilton.
New Jersey. William Livingston,
William Patterson, David Brearly,
Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin,
Thomas Fitzsimmons, Thomas Miffin,
Jared Ingersoll, Robert Morris,
James Wilson, George Clymer,
Delaware. George Read,
Richard Bassett, Gunning Bedford, Jun., Jacob Broom. John Dickinson,
Maryland. James M'Henry,
Daniel Carroll. Daniel of St. Tho. Jenifer,
Virginia. John Blair,
James Madison, Jr.
North Carolina. William Blount,
Hugh Williamson. Richard Dobbs Spaight,
South Carolina. John Rutledge,
Charles Pinckney, Chas. Cotesworth Pinckney, Pierce Butler.
WILLIAM JACKSON, Secretary
Sec. 14. THE ADOPTION OF THE CONSTITUTION, AND THE AJEND
MENTS THERETO. On the same day the Constitution was passed, and signed by the members of the convention, the following resolutions were passed, and the Constitution was transmitted to Congress, with the accompanying letter, signed by the President of the convention. In Convention, Monday, September 17, 1787. Present, the states
of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Mr. IIamilton, from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia:
Resolved, That the preceding Constitution be laid before the United States in congress assembled, and that it is the opinion of this convention, that it should afterwards be submitted to a convention of delegates, chosen in each state by the people thereof, under the recommendation of its legislature, for their assent and ratification ; and that each convention assenting to, and ratifying the same, should give notice thereof to the United States in congress assembled.
Resolved, That it is the opinion of this convention, that as soon as the conventions of nine states shall have ratified this constitution, the United States in congress assembled should fix a day on which electors should be appointed by the states which shall have ratified the same, and a day on which the electors should assemble to vote for the President, and the time and place for commencing proceedings under the constitution. That after such publication, the electors should be appointed, and the senators and representatives elected. That the electors should meet on the day fixed for the election of the President, and should transmit their votes, certified, signed, sealed and directed, as the constitution requires, to the Seo retary of the United States in congress assembled. That the senators and representatives should convene at the time and place assigned. That the senators should appoint a President of the Senate, for the sole purpose of receiving, opening, and counting the votes for President; and, that after he shall be chosen, the congress, together with the President, should, without delay, proQeed to execute this constitution. By the unanimous order of the convention.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, President WILLIAM Jackson, Secretary.
IN CONVENTION, September 17, 1787. Sir: We have now the honor to submit to the consideration of the United States in congress assembled, that constitution which has appeared to us the most advisable.
The friends of our country have long seen and desired, that the power of making war, peace, and treaties; that of levying money, and regulating commerce, and the correspondent executive and judicial authorities, should be fully and effectually vested in the general government of the Union : But the impropriety of delegating such extensive trusts to one body of men is evident. Hence results the necessity of a different organization.
It is obviously impracticable in the federal government of these states, to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all : Individuals entering into society, must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest. The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on situation and circumstances, as on the object to be obtained. It is at all times difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which must be surrendered, and those which may be reserved ; and on the present occasion, this difficulty was increased by a difference among the several states as to their situation, extent, habits, and particular interests.
In all our deliberations on this subject we kept steadily in our view, that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence. This important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed upon our minds, led each state in the convention to be less rigid on points of inferior magnitude, than might have been otherwise expected ; and thus the constitution, which we now present, is the result of a spirit of amity, and of the mutual deference and concession which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensible.
That it will meet the full and entire approbation of every state, is not perhaps to be expected; but each will doubtless consider, that had her interest been alone consulted, the consequences might have been particularly disagreeable or injurious to others; that it is liable to as few exceptions as could reasonably have been expected, we hope and believe; that it may promote the lasting welfare of that country dear to us all, and secure her freedom and happiness,
our most ardent wish.
With great respect, we have the honor to be, sir, your Excellency's most obedient and humble servants,
GEORGE WASHINGTON, President. By unanimous order of the convention. To His Excellency, THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
In accordance with the recommendation of the national convention, the legislatures of all the states, except Rhode Island, at their next sessions, severally passed acts, calling conventions for their respective states, to be composed of delegates to be chosen by the electors thereof, and providing for the election of the delegates, and the times and places of holding the several conventions. Delegates were thereupon chosen in each of the twelve states, and a state convention assembled therein, to consider the proposed constitution, and to approve and adopt the same, in behalf of the people of the state, or to reject it.
There was very great difference of opinion in the country, among the people, and among the delegates to the several state conventions, as to the policy of adopting the constitution, or continuing under the articles of confederation. Many feared that the new government, if adopted, would over-ride and crush state rights and the state governments, and tend to consolidation, national despotism over both states and individuals, and lead to corruption, gross abuses, and tyranny. While the question was pending, a series of articles were written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, published in newspapers in the City of New York, and from thence copied into many other papers and published in the several states, explaining the various provisions of the Constitution. These articles were afterwards collected and published in books, and are known as the Federalist. They laid the principal corner-stones of American constitutional law, turned the scale in favor of the Constitution, and secured its adoptionwhen it is probable that it would otherwise have been rejected.
The opposition to its adoption in many of the states, and particalarly in New York, Virginia, North Carolina and Rhode Island, was violent, and the debates in convention were long and warm. It was to go into effect when adopted by nine states, leaving the other states to act independently by themselves, either under the articles of confederation, or separately. The legislature of Rhode Island submitted it to the electors of the several towns, to pass upon in town meetings, and a majority of the towns rejected it. The convention of North Carolina unanimously adopted it—but on condition that numerous amendments should be made, which was treated as a rejection of it. It was approved and ratified by the other states, in their conventions, as follows, to wit: by Delaware, December 7th, 1787 ; by Pennsylvania, December 12th ; by Now Jersey, December 18th; by Georgia, January 20, 1788; by Connecticut, January 9th; by Massachusetts, February 7th ; by Maryland, April 28th ; by South Carolina, May 25th ; by New Hampshire, June 21st; by Virginia, June 26th ; and by New York, July 26th, 1778.
Eleven states having approved and ratified the Constitution, Congress met in the City of New York and passed the following preamble and resolution:
In Congress, Saturday, Sept. 13, 1788. On the question to agree to the following proposition, it was resolved in the affirmative, by the unanimous votes of nine states, viz: of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia.
Whereas, the convention assembled in Philadelphia, pursuant to the resolution of congress of the 21st February, 1787, did, on the 17th day of September, in the same year, report to the United States in congress assembled, a consttiution for the people of the United States; whereupon, congress, on the 28th of the same September, did resolve unanimously, “ That the said report, with the resolutions and letter accompanying the same, be transmitted to the several legislatures, in order to be submitted to a convention of delegates chosen in each state by the people thereof, in conformity to the resolves of the convention made and provided in that case ;” and whereas, the constitution so reported by the convention, and by congress transmitted to the several legislatures, has been ratified in the manner thereio declared to be sufficient for the establishment of the same, and such ratifications, duly authenticat