The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification, Part One: September 1787 to February 1788 (Library of America, Volume 62)
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Here, on a scale unmatched by any previous collection, is the extraordinary energy and eloquence of our first national political campaign:
During the secret proceedings of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the framers created a fundamentally new national plan to replace the Articles of Confederation and then submitted it to conventions in each state for ratification. Immediately, a fierce storm of argument broke. Federalist supporters, Antifederalist opponents, and seekers of a middle ground strove to balance public order and personal liberty as they praised, condemned, challenged, and analyzed the new Constitution Gathering hundreds of original texts by Franklin, Madison, Jefferson, Washington, and Patrick Henry—as well as many others less well known today—this unrivaled collection allows readers to experience firsthand the intense year-long struggle that created what remains the world’s oldest working national charter.
Assembled here in chronological order are hundreds of newspaper articles, pamphlets, speeches, and private letters written or delivered in the aftermath of the Constitutional Convention. Along with familiar figures like Franklin, Madison, Patrick Henry, Jefferson, and Washington, scores of less famous citizens are represented, all speaking clearly and passionately about government. The most famous writings of the ratification struggle — the Federalist essays of Hamilton and Madison — are placed in their original context, alongside the arguments of able antagonists, such as "Brutus" and the "Federal Farmer."
Part One includes press polemics and private commentaries from September 1787 to January 1788. That autumn, powerful arguments were made against the new charter by Virginian George Mason and the still-unidentified "Federal Farmer," while in New York newspapers, the Federalist essays initiated a brilliant defense. Dozens of speeches from the state ratifying conventions show how the "draft of a plan, nothing but a dead letter," in Madison's words, had "life and validity...breathed into it by the voice of the people." Included are the conventions in Pennsylvania, where James Wilson confronted the democratic skepticism of those representing the western frontier, and in Massachusetts, where John Hancock and Samuel Adams forged a crucial compromise that saved the country from years of political convulsion.
Informative notes, biographical profiles of all writers, speakers, and recipients, and a detailed chronology of relevant events from 1774 to 1804 provide fascinating background. A general index allows readers to follow specific topics, and an appendix includes the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution (with all amendments).
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the states are now subject to no such actions; and this new jurisdiction will subject the states, and many defendants to actions, and processes, which were not in the contemplation of the parties, when the contract was made; all engagements existing between citizens of different states, citizens and foreigners, states and foreigners; and states and citizens of other states were made the parties contemplating the remedies then existing on the laws of the states—and the new remedy proposed to be
to the bar in 1771. Married Abigail Wolcott of East Windsor in 1772. Finding it difficult to earn money in law, he supported himself by farming and woodchopping. Moved in 1775 to Hartford, where his practice soon increased. Representative in general assembly in 1775 and 1776. Justice of the peace and state’s attorney for Hartford County in 1777. Delegate from Connecticut to the Continental Congress 1777–83. By the time Noah Webster came to study law in his offices in 1779, Ellsworth had between
11–member select committee whose members include Sherman and Madison. On July 28 the committee reports the June 8 Madison proposals in slightly altered form, and the House begins considering them on August 13. Gerry moves on August 18 that they also consider amendments recommended by the state conventions, but his motion is defeated, 34–18. South Carolina Antifederalist Thomas Tudor Tucker moves that amendment reserving “powers not delegated” to the states be changed to read “powers not expressly
Constitution, leaving the original text unaltered. His motion is approved, and on August 22 Sherman and two others are appointed to arrange the amendments. They report 17 articles on August 24 that are substantially similar to Madison’s original proposals (revisions to preamble are omitted), and the House sends them to the Senate. Aug. On August 22 and August 24 President Washington visits the Senate chamber to ask for its advice concerning instructions for commissioners negotiating a
a spirit of resentment, the innocent were after a while confounded with the guilty in indiscriminate punishment. The complaints of the merchants kindled a violent flame throughout the nation, which soon broke out in the house of commons, and was communicated from that body to the ministry. Letters of reprisal were granted and a war ensued, which in its consequences overthrew all the alliances that but twenty years before had been formed, with sanguine expectations of the most beneficial fruits.”