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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 temporary 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 Representa
tives." 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.
What was the first work of the convention ?
Pennsylvania proposed George Washington should be President; Dr. Franklin was to have made the motion, but a storm of rain prevented him. Robert Morris was selected to act in his place; and John Rutledge, on behalf of South Carolina, seconded the motion of Pennsylvania.
Give the best description of the President.
General Washington is described by one of his biographers, Aaron Bancroft, who modelled his work after Marshall's “ Life,” “as exactly six feet in height; he appeared taller, as his shoulders rose a little higher than the true proportions. His eyes were of a gray, and his hair of a dark brown color. His complexion was light, and his countenance serene and thoughtful. His limbs were well formed, and indicated strength.” He had long and muscular arms, and General Lafayette said his hands were the largest he had ever seen on a human being. Washington was fifty-five at this time.
Who was the youngest, and who the oldest, deputy in the convention ?
Nicholas Gilman of New Hampshire was the youngest, being twenty-five; and Dr. Franklin of Pennsylvania was the oldest, being eighty-one.
One-third of the number were under forty years, and but seven of the fifty-five deputies exceeded sixty years.
Name the plans of government submitted to the convention.
Edmund Randolph, deputy from Virginia, offered a series of fifteen resolutions on the 29th of May, 1787, which looked to a “national” system of government, executive, legislative, and judiciary. Charles Pinckney, deputy from South Carolina, submitted a mixed plan, as it has been called. Both plans were referred to the Committee of the Whole on the same day. On the 15th of June, 1787, William Patterson, deputy from New Jersey, offered a plan to amend, in some particulars, the Articles of Confederation, but preserving the Federal features of the system. This, also, was referred to the Committee of the Whole.
Judge Joseph R. Flanders of New York, in “ A Sketch of Political Parties and their Principles,” thus summarizes the Hamiltonian plan: “On the 18th of June, 1787, Alexander Hamilton of New York made a speech in the convention, in which he read a paper expressing his ideas of a suitable plan of government, the prominent features of which were: A President for life; a Senate for life; a lower House elected for three years; the