« ForrigeFortsett »
legislated. Under them Congress enacted, not resolved. Each State had one vote, cast by delegates annually chosen by the several legislatures. Societies of men constituting a body politic voted, not men.
The word “Congress” was first suggested by Great Britain, 1695. It was proposed to unite the Colonies for general defence with a general Congress. The Colonies declined.
What is to be understood by the foregoing ?
The Colonists and the people of the thirteen States were in favor of a distribution, not a concentration, of power. New Hampshire, on the 15th of June, 1776, voted that the thirteen United Colonies ought to be declared “a free and independent State.” This consolidation movement was repudiated by the Congress on the Fourth of July following. The Declaration of Independence did not say that these Colonies are and of right ought to be a free and independent State, but “ free and independent States."
Prior to that great State paper being signed, several States had withdrawn from Great Britain and become separate republics. The Colonists were, from the historic era of settlement, decentralists in opinion and in act. Such are the facts of history.
What was the next move to help along constitutional government, in 1786?
Five States met in convention at Annapolis, Md.; namely, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. An address written by Alexander Hamilton of New York was issued that “a convention of all the States should meet at Philadelphia, the second Monday of May, 1787, to consider measures to render the Constitution of the Federal government adequate to the exigencies of the Union.” Virginia, on motion of James Madison, agreed to send delegates, but with the understanding that the proposed measures should be confirmed by the several States.
Congress, in accord with Virginia and other States, declared that a convention should be held at Philadelphia, “ for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation, and report to that body and to the State legislatures such alterations and provisions as will make the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of the Union.”
Such report was to be agreed to by Congress, and confirmed by the States.
What is a Federal Constitution ?
strument framed was not called a Federal Constitution, but the Constitution of the United States of America.
Revision, or creation, or selection ?
In the summer of 1782, Alexander Hamilton, through Gen. Philip Schuyler, whose daughter he had married, proposed to the legislature of New York that each State should proceed “ to adopt the measure of assembling a general convention of the States, specially authorized to revise and amend the Articles of Confederation.” Deputies from every State, except Rhode Island, appointed by the legislatures, began work at Philadelphia, May 25, 1787, and finished their labors on the 17th of September following. The body was called in the “ Journal” in which the proceedings were recorded: “The Federal convention.'
There is a significant first entry, viz.: “In virtue of their appointments from their respective States sundry deputies to the Federal convention appeared, but a majority of States not being represented,” an adjournment took place. Hereafter special mention is made of the personality of the States in the concluding words of the new Constitution.
The members of the convention sat with closed doors, and with agreed secrecy, against which the people demurred, and much bitter feeling followed, as it was said they were framing the constitution of a strong or centralized government. Two deputies from New York, Yates and Lansing, went home, because they agreed that the convention were not revising the Articles of Confederation, but creating a new organic law. Hamilton remained. The convention did not so much revise as select and create. They acted generally on the advice of George Reed of Delaware, who said : “The confederation was founded on tempo. rary principles; to patch it up, would be like putting new cloth on an old garment.”
The deputies disregarded the resolution of the Annapolis convention and the act of Congress, and commenced de novo.
Can you give examples of selection ?
Yes. A perusal of the Articles of Confederation shows that the convention made liberal use of their sections. The.“ Senate" is not a creation, save as to the compromise between the large and small States. The name had been used in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Vermont called the popular branch of their legislatures the “House of Representatives.” Senatorial rotation was taken from New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia. To New Hampshire and Massachusetts is due the provision that all bills for appropriations of money shall originate in the House. The President's message is derived from New York, his oath from Pennsylvania. The method of impeachment came from New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, and South Carolina. The veto of the President is to be credited to the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. The filling of vacancies by the President in the recess of Congress was furnished by North Carolina. The names “president” and “ vicepresident" came from“governor” and “lieutenantgovernor" of the several Colonies. In fact, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and South Carolina had used the name “president,” preferring it to “governor.” Inter-State citizenship was derived from the New England confederation of 1643. So, several other provisions of the Constitution of 1787 might be cited as being derived from the organic laws of the Colonies. But the foregoing are enough to show that the convention dealt largely in selection from the wisdom of the Colonies and the emancipated States. Even the Bill of Rights was substantially taken from State constitutions.