« ForrigeFortsett »
fur the pur
ferent legislatures to send forward delegates, to meet the proposed convention, on the second Monday in May next, at the city of Philadelphia.
The delegates for the state of New York thereupon laid before Congress instructions which they had received from their constituents, and in pursuance of the said instructions, moved to postpone the further consideration of the report, in order to take up the following proposition, viz.
“ That it be recommended to the states composing the Union, that a convention of representatives from the said states respectively, be held at — pose of revising the articles of confederation and perpetual union between the United States of America, and reporting to the United States, in Congress assembled, and to the states respectively, such alterations and amendments of the said articles of confederation, as the representatives, met in such convention, shall judge proper and necessary, to render them adequate to the preservation and support of the Union.”
On taking the question, only three states voted in the affirmative, and the resolution was negatived.
A motion was then made by the delegates for Massachusetts, to postpone the further consideration of the report, in order to take into consideration a motion which they read in their place; this being agreed to, the motion of the delegates for Massachusetts was taken up, and being amended was agreed to, as follows :
Whereas, there is provision in the articles of confederation and perpetual union, for making alterations therein, by the assent of a Congress of the United States, and of the legislatures of the several states; and whereas, experience hath evinced that there are defects in the present confederation, as a mean to remedy which, several of the states, and particularly the state of New York, by
express instructions to their delegates in Congress, have suggested a convention for the purposes expressed in the following resolution; and such convention appearing to be the most probable means of establishing in these states, a firm national government :
" Resolved, That, in the opinion of Congress, it is expedient that, on the second Monday in May next, a convention of delegates who shall have been appointed by the several states, be held at Philadelphia, for the sole and express purpose of revising the articles of confederation, and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures, such alterations and provisions therein, as shall, when agreed to in Congress, and confirmed by the states, render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of the government, and the preservation of the Union.”
This preamble and resolution were immediately transmitted to the several speakers of State legislative assemblies, and they were laid before the representatives of the people in all the States of the confederacy. While a feeling prevailed generally that something must be done to avert the threatened anarchy, toward which governmental operations were tending, great caution was observed in the delegation of powers and in instruction to those who should be appointed members of the proposed convention, However, in compliance with the recommendation of Congress, delegates were chosen in the several states, for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation, and assembled in Philadelphia on the second Monday in May, 1787. All the states were represented except Rhode Island.* Washington who was a delegate from Virginia, was chosen president of the convention. Able statesmen were his associates, and they entered earnestly upon their
* For the names of the Delegates to the constitutional convention, see Appendix.
duties. They had not proceeded far, however, before they perceived that the Articles of Confederation were so radically defective and their powers so inadequate to the wants of the country, that instead of trying to amend the code of the old Confederation, they went diligently at work to form a new Constitution. Edmund Randolph submitted a series of resolutions on the twenty-ninth of May, which embodied the plan of a new Constitution. It was proposed to form a general government consisting of a legislature, executive, and judiciary; and a revenue, army and navy independent of the control of the several slates. It was to have power to conduct war, establish peace, make treaties; to have the exclusive privilege of coining money, and the supervision of all national transactions. Upon general principles this plan was highly approved, but in that convention there were many ardent and pure patriots, who looked upon the preservation of State Sovereignty as essential, and regarded this proposed form of government, as a radical infringement upon those rights. They therefore violently opposed it.
Another plan was proposed by Mr. Patterson, a dele gate from New Jersey. It enlarged the power of Congress, but left it resources and supplies to be found through the medium of the State governments. This plan had that serious defect of the Articles of Confederation,-a dependence of the general government upon the several states, for its vitality. On the 12th of September, the committee to “ revise the Articles," submitted the following resolution to Congress, which was adopted :
“ Resolved unanimously, That the said report, with the resolutions and letters 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."
The following is a certified copy of the Constitution sent to the various states for ratification, together with all its amendments subsequently made, and profusely annotated. It is copied from, and compared with, the Roll in the Department of State.
We the people of the United States, in order to form a
more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Section 1. All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a senate and house of representatives.
Section 2. The house of representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.
No person shall be a representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.
Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers,* which
* The constitutional provision, that direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, to be ascertained by a cen. sus, was not intended to restrict the power of imposing direct taxes to States only.--Loughborough vs. Blake, 5, Wheaton, 319.
shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons:
The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand,* but each state shall have at least one representative ; and until such enumeration shall be made, the state of New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.
When vacancies happen in the representation from any state, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.
The house of representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment.
Section 3. The senate of the United States shall be composed of two senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof, for six years; and each senator shall have one vote.t
Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence of the first election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three classes. The seats of the senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year, of the second class at the expiration of the fourth year, and of the third class at the ex
Acts of 17th
* See laws United States, vol. ii., chap. 124; iii., 261 ; iv., 332. Congress, 1st session, chap. x. ; and of the 22d and 27th Congress.
See art. v. clause 1,