Two Supreme Coordinate Powers

Gouverneur Morris. Engraving by: J. Rogers.

Coming out of the Philadelphia Convention, many Americans had different perspectives about what had transpired and how effective the Constitution could be as a governing document.

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The Deftness of the Federalists

Patrick Henry. By: Currier & Ives.

As the Constitution was being drafted and ratified, opinions ranged on the prospects for it effectively governing America. Some in the Philadelphia Convention believed it was “nothing more than a combination of the peculiarities of two of the State Governments which separately had been found insufficient.” Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 519 quoting Madison, in Farrand, ed., Records of the Federal Convention, II, 291. Even some Federalists, who favored a strong national government, concluded that there was “a preposterous combination of powers in the President and Senate, which may be used improperly.” Edward Carrington to Jefferson, Oct. 23, 1787, Boyd, ed., Jefferson Papers, XII, 255.

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A Moral Reformation

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Patrick Henry. By: George Bagby Matthews.

As eluded to in Virtue as a Principle and Foundation, vices had come to plague American society shortly after the American Revolution. Patrick Henry said, in 1780, that he “feared that our Body politic was dangerously sick,” as from top to bottom, society appeared to be embracing vice. Patrick Henry to Jefferson, Feb. 15, 1780, Boyd, ed., Jefferson Papers, III, 293.

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