Constitution Sunday: Rawlins Lowndes and Edward Rutledge Debate in the South Carolina Legislature

January 16, 1788 A government must provide its people—all of its people, varied as they are—with a structure that fosters self-preservation. In the South, for a long stretch of time, that sense of self-preservation was crucial. There was no denying that the slave economy was central to its existence that it was therefore always going […]

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Constitution Sunday: John Hancock’s Final Observation

February 6, 1788 Massachusetts Ratifying Convention At the conclusion of the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, John Hancock requested to “close the business with a few words.” He began with an endorsement: the Constitution—amended or not—was destined to deliver political freedom and dignity to the country. This was particularly so given the exhaustive debate that the draft […]

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Constitution Sunday: Nathaniel Barrell, a “Plain Husbandman,” Warns of the Passion for Power, but Favors Ratification

February 5, 1788 Massachusetts Ratifying Convention The draft Constitution had its parts that inspired and other parts that terrified. Nathaniel Barrell, either as a sign of his modesty or as a way to relate to his fellow residents of Massachusetts, claimed that he would not speak with the eloquence of a Cicero but would articulate […]

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Constitution Sunday: Charles Jarvis Supports Hancock’s Strategy on Amendments

Massachusetts Ratifying Convention February 4, 1788 Building consensus is a challenge. In the United States Congress, consensus has always been difficult to build because of the diversity—geographic and otherwise—of its Representatives and Senators, given their assigned districts and states. But when the Constitution was being debated, the stakes were as high as they have been […]

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Constitution Sunday: Isaac Backus on Religion and the State, Slavery, and Nobility

Massachusetts Ratifying Convention February 4, 1788 Some governmental systems are engines of tyranny. They may be dressed up as virtuous systems, ones that account for all members of society, but the consequences flowing from the system always speak louder than the rhetoric its leaders spout. At the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, in February 1788, Isaac Backus […]

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