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SPEECH OF JAMES WILSON,
ON THE EXPEDIENCY OF ADOPTING THE
DELIVERED IN THE CONVENTION OF PENNSYLVANIA;
NOVEMBER 26th, 1787.*
THE system proposed, by the late convention, for the
government of the United States, is now before you. Of that convention I had the honor to be a member. As I am the only member of that body, who has the honor to be also a member of this, it may be
* Soon after the termination of the war of the revolution, it became apparent that the powers vested in the General Government, by the articles of Confederation, were inadequate, and that the unity which had existed among the states during the war, had resulted rather from the pressure of circumstances, than from any authority of the General Government.
So universal was the conviction that the public welfare required a Government of more extensive powers, that in May, 1787, a convention, composed of delegates from all the states in the union, with the exception of Rhode Island, assembled at Philadelphia, to take the subject into consideration. It continued its deliberations with closed doors until the 17th of the following September, when the Federal Constitution was promulgated. The convention resolved, " That the constitution be laid before the United States, in Congress assembled, and that it is the opinion of this convention that it should afterwards be submitted to convention of delegates, chosen in each state by the people thereof, for their assent and ratification.”
In conformity to the recommendation of the convention, Congress, on the 28th of the same month, passed a resolution directing that the constitution be submitted to conventions to be assembled in the several states.
In the conventions subsequently assembled, the expediency of adopting the constitution was discussed with great ability and eloquence: The wisdom, genius and patriotism of the nation, were here called into action, and their concentrated rays threw over the subject a flood of light which left none of its intricacies unrevealed.--COMPILER: VOL. 1.
BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the seventeenth day of July, in the fifty-serond year of the Independence of the
United States of America, E. B. WILLISTON, of the said District, hath deposited in this Office, the title of a Book, the right whereof he claims as Author and Proprietor, in the words following-to wit: “ Eloquence of the United States : compiled by E. B. Williston, in five
In conformity to the Act of Congress of the United States, entitled, “ An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned.” — And also to the Act, entitled, “ An Act supplementary to an Act, entitled · An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned,' and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving and etching historical and other prints.”
CHA'S A. INGERSOLL,
Clerk of the District of Connecticul. A true copy of Record, examined and sealed by me,
CHA'S A. INGERSOLL,
Clerk of the District of Connecticut.
The Compiler of these volumes was induced to engage in the undertaking, from the conviction that a collection of the kind would be of great public utility and meet with liberal encouragement. He now offers them to the public with much diffidence, arising from an apprehension that he may have been injudicious in his choice of materials, and that the expectations of his patrons will be disappointed.
The work consists of selections from the Deliberative, Forensic and Miscellaneous Eloquence of the United States.
A copious selection has been made from the debates in the several State Conventions on the expediency of adopting the Federal Constitution, which, it is believed, will be found highly interesting at the present time, when so much difference of opinion exists relative to the true meaning and intent of some parts of that instrument.
The Congressional Eloquence of the most interesting period of our history, (during the Revolution;) is irrevocably lost; and such was the condition of the
art of reporting for several years subsequent, that sketches only of the debates were preserved by the reporters.
In the selection of the Speeches in Congress, two objects have directed the Compiler in his choice—the eloquence of the productions, and the importance of the subjects of discussion; and as far as practicable, he has given preference to those which unite both these qualities. He has endeavored, without regard to the political parties which have existed, to make the selection in such manner as to furnish a view of the most important subjects which have engaged the deliberations of Congress. Several speeches, originally reported in the third person, have been changed to the first with as little alteration in the phraseology as possible.
In Forensic Eloquence, great excellence has been attained in this country; but most of the efforts in this department have passed away with the occasions which gave them birth, or exist only in the recollections of those who heard them.
In the prosecution of his undertaking, the Compiler has applied to every source from which he could expect to derive aid ; and takes this opportunity to acknowledge his great obligations to numerous gentlemen, from whom he has received valuable assistance. He still is sensible that, notwithstanding his exertions to render the collection as perfect as possi
ble, it is not improbable that the sin of omission' may be justly laid to his charge.
But when it is considered how various and extensive are the materials from which the compilation has been made, he feels confident that due allowance will be made for any errors of this kind into which he may
Nov. 13, 1827.