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peared to them, “ that the aid of the federal government is necessary, to stop the progress of the insurgents, that there is the greatest reason to believe, that unless speedy and effectual measures shall be taken to defeat their designs, they will possess themselves of the arsenal at Springfield, subvert the government, and not only reduce the commonwealth to a state of anarchy and confusion, but probably involve the United States in the calamities of a civil war.” Under these circumstances, the committee were of opinion, that the United States were bound by the confederation and good faith, as well as by principles of friendship and sound policy, to be prepared to extend such aid as should be necessary to restore constitutional authority in Massachusetts, and to afford protection to the public stores there deposited. For these purposes, the committee recommended that a body of troops be immediately raised.* The same committee made a public report, in which they recommended the raising of thirteen hundred and forty men,t ostensibly for the purpose of protecting the frontiers against the hostile movements of the Indians, but really, to aid in quelling the insurrection in Massachusetts. These reports were accepted by congress, and the troops were to be inlisted principally in the four New England states.

For the support and payment of these troops, the states were called upon to pay into the public treasury, by the first of June, 1787, their proportion of five hundred thirty thousand dollars in specie, and a loan of half a million of dollars, was authorized to be opened immediately. It was expected the money might be obtained from individuals in Boston. Fortunately the state of Massachusetts, by the firmness of its governor and legislature, and the patriotism of individuals, with four thousand militia, under the command and direction of general Lincoln, was

* Secret Journals of Congress, vol. 1, p. 268. * These troops were apportioned among the states as follows :

New Hampshire, 260,
Rhode Island,

Infantry and Artillery.
Connecticut, 181,
Maryland and Virginia, each sixty Cavalry.

| Public Journal, vol 11, p. 180.



able to suppress the insurrection, without the aid of the federal


The spirit of insurrection was not confined to Massachusetts alone, but was manifested, by partial risings, in New Hampshire and Connecticut ; but an immediate and firm interposition of the governments of those states, arrested its progress.

These scenes in Massachusetts were deeply felt throughout the union. By no one, however, more than by general Washington. In a reply to one of his correspondents on this subject, his feelings are thus expressed—“ It is with the deepest and most heartfelt concern, I perceive, by some late paragraphs, extracted from the Boston papers, that the insurgents of Massachusetts, far from being satisfied with the redress offered by the general court, are still acting in open violation of law and government, and have obliged the chief magistrate, in a decided tone, to call upon the militia to support the constitution. What, gracious God, is man! that there should be such inconsistency and perfidiousness in his conduct. It is but the other day that we were shedding our blood to obtain the constitutions under which we live-constitutions of our own choice and making. And now we are unsheathing the sword to overturn them. The thing is so unaccountable, that I hardly know how to realize it ; or to persuade myself, that I am not under the illusion of a dream.” In this alarming and almost desperate state of public affairs, the proposition of conferring upon congress the power of levying duties on imports, came again before the legislature of New York, and though supported by the talents and eloquence of Mr. Hamilton, was again rejected by a majority of fifteen. The final decision of New York, on this important question, in addition to the insurrection in Massachusetts and the distressed state of the country in general, rendered the necessity of a convention of the states, for the purpose of enlarging the powers of the general government, more apparent. New York, though she refused the impost, still appointed delegates, to meet the other states in convention at Philadelphia. They were appointed, however," for the sole and express purpose of revising the articles of confederation and reporting to congress

and to the several legislatures, such alterations and provisions therein, as shall, when agreed to in congress, and confirmed by the several states, render the federal constitution adequate to the exigences of government, and the preservation of the union.”

The meeting of this convention, the formation and final adoption of a new system of general government, will be the subject of the succeeding chapter.


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General convention meet at Philadelphia---Form rules for their proceedings-Propo.

sitions of Mr. Randolph for a new system of government-Amendments of the arti. cles of confederation proposed by Mr. Patterson—Both debated—The amendments of Mr. Patterson rejected--- Large majority agree to form a new system of goverment---To be divided into three great departments, legislative, executive and judicial-Legislative divided into two branches, house of representatives and senateConvention divided on the subject of the representation of the states in the senateSketch of the debate on this question---States equally divided upon it--- The subject referred to a large committee---Committee report a compromise between the large and small states---This finally adopted by a majority of the convention---Sketch of the powers granted to congress---General government prohibited from doing certain acts--- The powers of the states restricted---The organization of an ex. ecutive attended with great difficulty--- Outlines of the first plan adopted by the convention--- This afterwards rejected and a new plan formed and eventually adopted---Powers given to the executive---Judicial department to consist of a supreme court and inferior courts--- In what cases they have jurisdiction---Consti. tution eventually different, in many respects, from what the members first contemplated---Difference between the articles of confederation and the constitution States divided on the subject of importing slaves, and on the subject of the powers of congress, relative to navigation acts--- These differences settled by mutual concessions---General Washington's influence in the convention---Constitution considered by state conventions---People greatly divided in some of the states---Adopted by three states unanimously---By large majorities in four states--- Rhode Island refuses to call a convention--- The other five states much divided---Doubtful for a time whether they would ratify it without previous amendments---Massachusetts adopts it, and recommends certain amendments---Convention of New Hampshire meet and adjourn---The system strongly opposed in New York, Virginia and North Carolina, without previous amendments--- Is warmly debated in the conventions of those states---New Hampshire follows the example of Massachusetts---Virginia and New York adopt it in the same manner by small majorities---North Carolina refuses her assent unless amended.

The delegates appointed by the states to convene at Philadelphia, agreeably to the recommendation of the commissioners at Annapolis, and the resolve of congress, met at the time and place designated, (with the exception of those from New Hampshire, who did not join the convention until the 23d of July,) and proceeded on the important business of their appointment.



George Washington, one of the delegates from Virginia, was unanimously elected to preside in their deliberations. One rule adopted by the convention was, that "a house to do business should consist of the deputies of not less than seven states, and that all questions should be decided, by the greater number of those, which should be fully represented"-another, “ that nothing spoken in the house be printed, or otherwise published or communicated, without leave.”

The meeting of this august assembly, marks a new era in the political annals of the United States. Men most eminent for talents and wisdom, had been selected and were met to form a system of government for a vast empire. Such an assemblage for such an object, the world had never before witnessed. The result of their deliberations, on which the happiness of so many millions depended, was looked for with extreme solicitude.

From the peculiar situation of the states, the difficulties in forming a new system of general government, were, indeed, of no ore dinary magnitude. Since the peace of 1783, political and commercial jealousies had arisen among the states; and to these was added a difference in their extent, wealth, and population, as well as in the habits, religion, and education of their inhabitants. These together, presented obstacles apparently insurmountable. Nothing, indeed, but a spirit of mutual concession and compromise, could have overcome these obstacles and effected so fortunate a result.

The first great question among the members of this assembly, was, whether they should amend the old, or form a new system. By the resolve of congress, as well as the instructions of some of the states, they were met“ for the sole and express purpose of revising the articles of confederation.” Such, however, were the radical defects of the old government, that a majority determined to form an entire new one.

On the 29th of May, Edmund Randolph of Virginia, submitted to the convention, fifteen resolutions, as the basis of a new constitution. Vol. II.


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