As the debate moved into the specifics of the new government, Alexander Hamilton and others of his persuasion would have to accept something less. By the end of June, debate between the large and small states over the issue of representation in the first chamber of the legislature was becoming increasingly acrimonious. Delegates from Virginia and other large states demanded that voting in Congress be according to population; representatives of smaller states insisted upon the equality they had enjoyed under the articles. With the oratory degenerating into threats and accusations, benjamin Franklin appealed for daily prayers. Dressed in his customary gray homespun, the aged philosopher pleaded that "the father of lights. Illuminate our understandings." Franklin's appeal for prayers was never fulfilled; the convention, as Hugh Williamson noted, had no funds to pay a preacher. On June 29 the delegates from the small states lost the first battle. The convention approved a resolution establishing population as the basis for representation in the house of Representatives, thus favoring the larger states.
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That we should at some admission time or other have a king." Newspaper accounts appeared in the summer of 1787 alleging that a plot was under way to invite the second son of george iii, frederick, duke of York, the secular bishop of Osnaburgh in Prussia. Alexander Hamilton on June 18 called the British government "the best in the world" and proposed a model strikingly similar. The erudite new Yorker, however, later became one of the most ardent spokesmen for the new Constitution. Strongly militating against any serious attempt to establish monarchy was the enmity so prevalent in the revolutionary period toward royalty and the privileged classes. Some state constitutions had even prohibited titles of nobility. In the same year as the Philadelphia convention, royall Tyler, a revolutionary war veteran, in his play the contract, gave his own jaundiced view of the upper classes: Exult each patriot heart! This night is shewn. A piece, which we may fairly call our own; Where the proud titles of "my lord!" "Your Grace!". And plain Sir give place. Most delegates were well aware that there were too many royall Tylers in the country, with too many memories of British rule and too many ties to a recent bloody war, to accept a king.
The nationalists wanted to bring the issue before "the people where ratification was more likely. Hamilton's Plan, on June 18 Alexander Hamilton presented his own ideal plan of government. Erudite and polished, the speech, nevertheless, failed to win a following. It went too far. Calling the British government "the best in the world hamilton proposed a model strikingly similar an executive to serve during good retrolisthesis behavior or life with veto power over all laws; a senate with members serving during good behavior; the legislature to have power to pass. Some members of the convention fully expected the country to turn in this direction. Hugh Williamson of North Carolina, a wealthy physician, declared that it was "pretty certain.
The new Jersey plan, this nationalist position revolted many delegates who cringed at the vision of a central government swallowing state sovereignty. On June 13 delegates from smaller states rallied around proposals offered by essay new Jersey delegate william Paterson. Railing against efforts to throw the states into "hotchpot paterson proposed a "union of the States merely federal." The "New Jersey resolutions" called only for a revision of the articles to enable the congress more easily to raise revenues and regulate commerce. It also provided that acts of Congress and ratified treaties be "the supreme law of the States.". For 3 days the convention debated Paterson's plan, finally voting for rejection. With the defeat of the new Jersey resolutions, the convention was moving toward creation of a new government, much to the dismay of many small-state delegates. The nationalists, led by madison, appeared to have the proceedings in their grip. In addition, they were able to persuade the members that any new constitution should be ratified through conventions of the people and not by the congress and the state legislatures- -another tactical coup. Madison and his allies believed that the constitution they had in mind would likely be scuttled in the legislatures, where many state political leaders stood to lose power.
Randolph then outlined a broad plan that he and his Virginia compatriots had, through long sessions at the Indian queen tavern, put together in the days preceding the convention. James Madison had such a plan on his mind for years. The proposed government had three branches-legislative, executive, and judicial-each branch structured to check the other. Highly centralized, the government would have veto power over laws enacted by state legislatures. The plan, randolph confessed, "meant a strong consolidated union in which the idea of states should be nearly annihilated." This was, indeed, the rat so offensive to patrick henry. The introduction of the so-called Virginia plan at the beginning of the convention was a tactical coup. The virginians had forced the debate into their own frame of reference and in their own terms. For 10 days the members of the convention discussed the sweeping and, to many delegates, startling Virginia resolutions. The critical issue, described succinctly by gouverneur Morris on may 30, was the distinction between a federation and a national government, the "former being a mere compact resting on the good faith of the parties; the latter having a compleat and compulsive operation." Morris favored.
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Well versed in philosophical theories of government advanced by such philosophers as James Harrington, john Locke, and Montesquieu, profiting from experience gained in state politics, the delegates composed an exceptional body, one that left a remarkably learned record of debate. Fortunately we have a relatively complete record of the proceedings, thanks to the indefatigable james Madison. Day after day, the virginian sat in front of the presiding officer, compiling notes of the debates, not missing a single day or a single major speech. He later remarked that his self-confinement in the hall, which was often oppressively hot in the Philadelphia summer, almost killed philosophie him. The sessions of the convention were held in secret-no reporters or visitors were permitted.
Although many of the naturally loquacious members were prodded in the pubs and on the streets, most remained surprisingly discreet. To those suspicious of the convention, the curtain of secrecy only served to confirm their anxieties. Luther Martin of Maryland later charged that the conspiracy in Philadelphia needed a quiet breeding ground. Thomas Jefferson wrote john Adams from Paris, "I am sorry they began their deliberations by so abominable a precedent as that of tying up the tongues of their members.". The virginia plan, on tuesday morning, may 29, edmund Randolph, the tall, 34-year- old governor of Virginia, opened the debate with a long speech decrying the evils that had befallen the country under the Articles of Confederation and stressing the need for creating a strong.
Other Americans also had their suspicions. Patrick henry, of the flowing red Glasgow cloak and the magnetic oratory, refused to attend, declaring he "smelt a rat." he suspected, correctly, that Madison had in mind the creation of a powerful central government and the subversion of the authority of the state legislatures. Henry along with many other political leaders, believed that the state governments offered the chief protection for personal liberties. He was determined not to lend a hand to any proceeding that seemed to pose a threat to that protection. With Henry absent, with such towering figures as Jefferson and Adams abroad on foreign missions, and with John jay in New York at the foreign Office, the convention was without some of the country's major political leaders.
It was, nevertheless, an impressive assemblage. In addition to madison and Washington, there were benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania-crippled by gout, the 81-year-old Franklin was a man of many dimensions printer, storekeeper, publisher, scientist, public official, philosopher, diplomat, and ladies' man; James Wilson of Pennsylvania-a distinguished lawyer with a penchant for ill-advised. There were others who played major roles - oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut; Edmund Randolph of Virginia; William Paterson of New Jersey; John Rutledge of south Carolina; Elbridge gerry of Massachusetts; Roger Sherman of Connecticut; Luther Martin of Maryland; and the pinckneys, Charles and Charles Cotesworth. Franklin was the oldest member and Jonathan dayton, the 27-year-old delegate from New Jersey was the youngest. The average age was. Most of the delegates had studied law, had served in colonial or state legislatures, or had been in the congress.
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To madison it represented the line supreme chance to reverse the country's trend. And as the delegations gathered in Philadelphia, its importance was not lost to others. The squire essay of Gunston Hall, george mason, wrote to his son, "The eyes of the United States are turned upon this Assembly and their Expectations raised to a very anxious Degree. May god Grant that we may be able to gratify them, by establishing a wise and just government.". The delegates, seventy-four delegates were appointed to the convention, of which 55 actually attended sessions. Rhode Island was the only state that refused to send delegates. Dominated by men wedded to paper currency, low taxes, and popular government, Rhode Island's leaders refused to participate in what they saw as a conspiracy to overthrow the established government.
Embellished day after day in the press, the uprising made upper-class Americans shudder as they imagined hordes of vicious outlaws descending upon innocent citizens. From his idyllic mount Vernon setting, washington wrote to madison: "Wisdom and good examples are necessary at this time to rescue the political machine from the impending storm.". Madison thought he had the answer. He wanted a strong central government to provide order and stability. "Let it be tried then he wrote, "whether any middle ground can be taken which will at once support a due supremacy of the national authority while maintaining state power only when "subordinately useful." The resolute virginian looked to the constitutional Convention to forge. The convention had its specific origins in a proposal offered by madison and John Tyler in the virginia assembly that the continental Congress be given power to regulate commerce throughout the confederation. Through their efforts in the assembly a plan was devised inviting the several states to attend a convention at Annapolis, md, in September 1786 to discuss commercial problems. Madison and a young lawyer from New York named Alexander Hamilton issued a report on the meeting in Annapolis, calling upon Congress to summon delegates of all of the states to meet for the purpose of revising the Articles business of Confederation. Although the report was widely viewed as a usurpation of congressional authority, the congress did issue a formal call to the states for a convention.
of economic disaster. The evidence was overwhelming. Congress was attempting to function with a depleted treasury; paper money was flooding the country, creating extraordinary inflation-a pound of tea in some areas could be purchased for a tidy 100; and the depressed condition of business was taking its toll on many small farmers. Some of them were being thrown in jail for debt, and numerous farms were being confiscated and sold for taxes. In 1786 some of the farmers had fought back. Led by daniel Shays, a former captain in the continental army, a group of armed men, sporting evergreen twigs in their hats, prevented the circuit court from sitting at Northampton, ma, and threatened to seize muskets stored in the arsenal at Springfield. Although the insurrection was put down by state troops, the incident confirmed the fears of many wealthy men that anarchy was just around the corner.
Suffering from rheumatism, despondent over the loss of a brother, absorbed in the management of mount Vernon, and doubting that the convention would accomplish very much or that many men of stature would attend, washington delayed accepting the invitation to attend for several months. Torn between the hazards of lending his reputation to a gathering perhaps doomed to failure and the chance that the public would view his reluctance to attend with a critical eye, the general finally agreed to make the trip. James Madison was pleased. The Articles of Confederation, the determined Madison had for several years insatiably studied history and political theory searching for a solution to the political and economic dilemmas essay he saw plaguing America. The virginian's labors convinced him of the futility and weakness of confederacies of independent states. America's own government under the Articles of Confederation, madison was convinced, had to be replaced. In force since 1781, established as a "league of friendship" and a constitution for the 13 sovereign and independent states after the revolution, the articles seemed to madison woefully inadequate. With the states retaining considerable power, the central government, he believed, had insufficient power to regulate commerce.
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A more perfect Union: The Creation of the. May 25, 1787, freshly spread dirt covered the cobblestone street in front of the pennsylvania state house, protecting the men inside from the sound of passing carriages and carts. Guards stood at the entrances to ensure that the curious were kept at a distance. Robert Morris of Pennsylvania, the "financier" of the revolution, opened the proceedings with a nomination-gen. George washington for the presidency of the constitutional Convention. The vote was unanimous. With characteristic ceremonial modesty, the general expressed his embarrassment at his lack of qualifications to preside over such an best august body and apologized for any errors into which he might fall in the course of its deliberations. To many of those assembled, especially to the small, boyish-looking, 36-year-old delegate from Virginia, james Madison, the general's mere presence boded well for the convention, for the illustrious Washington gave to the gathering an air of importance and legitimacy but his decision to attend the. The father of the country had almost remained at home.