Constitution Sunday: “A Political Dialogue”

“A Political Dialogue”

Massachusetts Centinel (Boston), October 24, 1787

Following are excerpts from an article published in the Massachusetts Centinel, which purported to capture a conversation between “Mr. Grumble” and “Mr. Union”:

“Mr. Union. Well, but neighbour, what are your objections to the new Constitution?”

“Mr. Grumble. Why, as to the matter, I can’t say I have any, but then what vexes Read more

Constitution Sunday: Rebuttal to “An Officer of the Late Continental Army”: “Plain Truth”

Rebuttal to “An Officer of the Late Continental Army”: “Plain Truth”

Independent Gazetteer (Philadelphia), November 10, 1787

Following are excerpts from an article with an unknown author, published as a rebuttal to a reply by an officer of the late Continental Army to James Wilson’s speech:

“Congress may ‘provide for calling forth the militia,’ ‘and may provide for organizing, arming and disciplining it.’—But the states respectively can only raise it, Read more

Constitution Sunday: Reply to Wilson’s Speech: “An Officer of the Late Continental Army”

Reply to Wilson’s Speech: “An Officer of the Late Continental Army”

Independent Gazetteer (Philadelphia), November 6, 1787

Following are excerpts from an article with an unknown author, published in response to James Wilson’s speech:

“That of the senate is so small that it renders its extensive powers extremely dangerous: it is to consist only of 26 members, Read more

Constitution Sunday: Reply to Wilson’s Speech: “Cincinnatus” [Arthur Lee] I

Reply to Wilson’s Speech: “Cincinnatus” [Arthur Lee] I

New York Journal, November 1, 1787

Following are excerpts from the article, published in response to James Wilson’s speech:

“Your first attempt is to apologize for so very obvious a defect as—the omission of a declaration of rights. This apology consists in a very ingenious discovery; that in the state constitutions, whatever is not reserved is given; but in the congressional constitution, whatever is not given, is reserved. Read more

Division and Balancing of Political Power

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Richard Henry Lee. By: Billy Hathorn.

Because the Federalists outmaneuvered the Antifederalists in presenting the Constitution to the American people, the Antifederalists faced a predicament of what to do. As Richard Henry Lee stated, many who wished to change the federal structure of government realized that they had to accept “this or nothing.” Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 547 quoting Lee to Mason, Oct. 1, 1787, Ballagh, ed., Letters of R. H. Lee, II, 438. The Antifederalists were more or less forced to “attack the federal government in those mechanical Enlightenment terms most agreeable to the thought of the Federalists: the division and balancing of political power,” otherwise known as separation of powers. Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 548.

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War Between the Governors and Governed

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James Madison. By: Gilbert Stuart.

The debate surrounding the adoption of the Bill of Rights revealed to many Americans the stark differences between Federalists and Antifederalists. Edmund Pendleton, in the Virginia Convention, stated that opposition to the Constitution “rested on ‘mistaken apprehensions of danger, drawn from observations on government which do not apply to us.'” Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 543 quoting Pendleton (Va.), in Elliot, ed., Debates, III, 36-37. Pendleton pointed out that many governments in the world were ruled by dictators. Id. Those governments had “bred hostility between ‘the interest and ambition of a despot’ and ‘the good of the people,’ thus creating ‘a continual war between the governors and the governed.'” Id. Pendleton believed that these beliefs led Antifederalists to demand a bill of rights and to have other unfounded fears about the Constitution. Id.

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