Constitution

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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Constitution Sunday: Samuel Nasson’s “Pathetick Apostrophe” to Liberty

Massachusetts Ratifying Convention February 1, 1788 Changing a system—particularly a system about which one is fond—is difficult. For some, the system that the Articles of Confederation created was an ideal one as it permitted states to maintain a level of autonomy that the proposed Constitution would subsume. For Samuel Nasson, at the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, […]

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Constitution Sunday: John Hancock Proposes Ratification with Amendments and Samuel Adams Supports

Massachusetts Ratifying Convention January 31, 1788 John Hancock, at the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, made a motion for the Convention to adopt the Constitution as it was a document that would not only “advance the prosperity of the whole world” but create a form of government that would “extend its good influences to every part of […]

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Constitution Sunday: Reverend Daniel Shute on Religious Tests and Christian Belief

Massachusetts Ratifying Convention. January 31, 1788 Reverend Daniel Shute rose at the convention to speak not for—but against—adding a religious test as a qualification for offices that the Constitution created. He opined that such tests “would be attended with injurious consequences to some individuals, and with no advantage to the whole.”

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Constitution Sunday: Charles Jarvis on the Amendment Procedure: An Irrefutable Argument for Ratification

Massachusetts Ratifying Convention January 30, 1788 Revolutions, civil wars, and coups haunt leaders of all types of governments. The very prospect of these events conjures awful images, and every leader searches for ways to prevent and mitigate them. For some, tamping down dissent with force and papering over the people’s differences through campaigns of nationalism […]

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