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legislative branch to be called the legislature of the United States, with power to pass all laws whatsoever, subject to the negative of the life executive, whose veto was to be absolute; and the governor of each State to be appointed by the general government, and to have the absolute power of vetoing all laws passed by the State legislature.
“In his speech he said: “We must establish a general and national government completely sovereign, and annihilate all State distinctions and operations.
I believe the British government forms the best model the world ever produced.
All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and well born, the other the mass of the people. Give, therefore, to the first class a distinct, permanent share in the government. See the excellence of the British executive.
Nothing short of such an executive can be efficient. . . I would give them [the two legislative branches] the unlimited power of passing all laws without exception [like the British parliament.]'”
National or Federal ?
The summarist continues: “In the discussion, in the Committee of the Whole, of the several
plans which had been presented, the prevailing sentiment seemed to favor a 'national' system. Mr. Patterson's plan, looking to a continuance of a ‘Federal' system, was rejected in committee, and Mr. Randolph's was approved. It bristled all through with the word 'national,' and was pregnant with centralization. The friends of a Federal system, of a union and government of States, and not of consolidated peoples, took the alarm, warned the States of their danger, advised them to look to their safety, called upon them to fill up their delegations with friends of liberty, and effectually aroused public sentiment; so that when the great battle came on, in the convention, for rights against power, they were strong enough to conquer, and they did conquer.
“On the 20th of June, 1787, the question came up in the convention on Mr. Randolph's plan. Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut promptly moved to amend the first resolution by striking out the words 'national government, and inserting in lieu thereof, the words' government of the United States.' So strongly had the friends of the States mustered, and so powerful was public sentiment, that the nationalists made no opposition, and the amendment was unanimously carried. This settled the question; the victory was won, and liberty was saved. Then right on, day after day, the
word national' was stricken out wherever it occurred, and some other form of expression, indicating the Federal origin and character of the system, was substituted.”
Instead of “national government,” the plural United States is used, and in other instances the words “the Union” and “this Union” occur in the Constitution. Both were adopted as republican substitutes. They were opposed by the “ strong government men,” as they were called at that day, and who had made a united effort to secure a majority of deputies from the thirteen States.
Who was Edmund Randolph ?
He was an eminent lawyer of Virginia, and warmly espoused the war for independence. Having filled several honorable offices of the Commonwealth, he was elected to Congress in 1779, and held his seat until 1782. In 1787 he was a member of the convention which framed the Constitution of the United States, voted against the adoption of the instrument, but in the Virginia convention urged its ratification. Mr. Randolph was chosen Governor of Virginia the succeeding year. In 1789 he was appointed Attorney-General of the United States, and in 1794 Secretary of State, which he resigned the year following. He departed this life September 12, 1813.
Mr. Randolph had great command of language and a voice of exceeding oratorical music. To these were to be added fine manners, portliness of person, and handsome features. He was thirtyfour when he sat in convention.
Who was Oliver Ellsworth?
A decentralist of Connecticut, and a deputy to the "Federal convention."
President Washington appointed him second Chief-Justice of the United States, and favored him as a successor in the presidential office. Mr. Ellsworth had been a member of the old Congress, and was a logical and convincing debater there and in the convention.
He was cautious, self-possessed, retiring, but always independent in the expression of his opinions. He came to conclusions with great deliberation, and stood by them, but with gentlemanly tenacity. Although but forty-two, his rich political experience made him very influential among older members. His features were striking and agreeable, while the lower portion of his face denoted will power, and his head gave assurance of intellectuality.
Who was Charles Pinckney?
He was kinsman of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, also a delegate from South Carolina to
the convention. His precocity was remarkable. Twenty-seven years was his age, and yet he spoke with such force and occasional eloquence that his elders gave his argument great attention. He participated in the debates on all important meas
Mr. Pinckney had served four years in the old Congress, was afterwards Governor of South Carolina, three times in the Senate of the United States, and Minister to Spain. He negotiated a treaty with Spain, in which that country renounced all right and title to the territory which the United States had purchased from France.
Who was William Patterson ?
A learned lawyer of New Jersey, and AttorneyGeneral for ten years, and deputy from that State to the “Federal convention." Subsequently he was a Senator of the United States when the Constitution went into operation, and Justice of the Supreme Court. His plan of government brought him into much prominence in the convention.
Who was Alexander Hamilton ?
A native of St. Nevis, West Indies, born in 1756. He was a soldier of the Revolution, an accomplished jurist, an orator, fervid, logical, and