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ceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service."
Mr. Sherman seconded the motion,
Mr. Hamilton, and several others, expressed their apprehensions that, however proper such a resolution might have been at the beginning of the Convention, it might at this late day, in the first place, bring on it some disagreeable animadversions; and in the second, lead the public to believe that the embarrassments and dissensions within the Convention had suggested this mea
It was answered by Dr. Franklin, Mr. Sherman, and others, that the past omission of a duty could not justify a further omission; that the rejection of such a proposition would expose the Convention to more unpleasant animadversions than the adoption of it; and that the alarm out of doors that might be excited for the state of things within, would at least be as likely to do good as ill.
Mr. Williamson observed, that the true cause of the omission could not be mistaken. The Committee had no funds.
Mr. Randolph proposed, in order to give a favorable aspect to the measure, that a seimon be preached at the request of the Convention, on the Fourth of July, the anniversary of Independence; and thenceforward, prayers, &c, to be read in the Convention every morning. After several unsuccessful attempts for silently postponing this matter by adjourning, the adjournment was at length carried without any vote on the motion."
From this minute account, the accuracy of which no one will question, it will be seen that, although the motion was not carried, it was not negatived. The Convention disposed of it by adjournment. It will also be seen that those who opposed the motion, did not argue against the principle of having the Convention opened by prayer. They argued from the inexpediency, as they deemed it, of introducing religious services at that juncture in the proceedings of their body. I regret that they should have taken that view of the case. The reply made to their objection by Dr. Franklin and others, ought to have satisfied them. But still there was nothing in their opposition that can be justly termed avowed irreligion or wanton mockery of the Most High. Had the wise proposition been made when the Convention first assembled, in all probability it would have been passed unanimously.
How far the deliberations of the Convention might have been aided, had Dr. Franklin's advice been taken, it
not for man to say. But admirable as our Federal Constitution is, and unwise as it would be to disturb or derange its great principles, time has shown that it was not so perfect when first formed as to preclude amendment. The speeches delivered on its adoption, prove that some leading members of the Convention were not entirely satisfied with it themselves. When Dr. Franklin arose to move that it should be signed by the members, he said: “I confess that there are several parts of the Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them; the opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die." His hopes, however, seem to have brightened when he saw the general unanimity that prevailed in the Convention before their final adjournment. Mr. Madison relates that “while the last members were signing, &c., Franklin, looking towards the President's chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art, a rising from a setting sun. I have,” said he, “ often and often, in the course of the session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President, without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting; but now, at length, I have the happiness to
know, it is a rising, and not a setting sun.” And the sun has been rising ever since. The clouds which at times have obscured its face, have neither arrested nor delayed its upward course. The nation cannot be too thankful to Him “by whom princes decree justice,” that. the great bond of her Union, the Constitution as it now stands, has led her to a growth in power and wealth which has fully proved its wisdom and excellence; and if prayer was not offered by the Convention who framed it, prayer was offered for them, during all their deliberations, by thousands of Christians throughout the whole nation.
Although this note has already reached an unusual length, I may perhaps be excused if I extend it still farther,
There is a deep sentiment of reverence for the fathers of the Republic pervading the mind of the nation, which to be counted among the best signs of our times; and as the value of the Union cannot be too strongly urged, espocially at the present juncture of public affairs, every friend of his country will feel an interest in seeing how these venerable, wise and upright men felt and spoke on the subject when it came before them in their deliberations. They were statesmen of the right stamp, ornaments, not only of their country, but of their age. They possessed enlarged minds, capable of appreciating the influence of their deeds on the destinies of their own nation and of the world.
A great object of the Federal Convention, as it is usually termed, was to perpetuate and strengthen an Union of the States; so to combine their resources as to promote national prosperity and greatness. The former Confederacy had been found entirely inadequate to meet the wants of the country; and as the Convention was called to meet a crisis which involved the best interests of the nation, the several
States showed a studious care to select as their delegates men of tried worth and ability. We find upon the roll not only Washington, who was unanimously called to preside over its deliberations, but also such men as Rutledge and the two Pinckneys, (Charles and Char.es Cotesworth,) from South Carolina, Randolph and Madison from Virginia, Mar tin and Carroll from Maryland, Franklin with Robert and Gouverneur Morris from Pennsylvania, Paterson and Livingston from New Jersey, Hamilton and Lansing from NewYork, Sherman and Ellsworth from Connecticut, King and Gorham from Massachusetts, with others who had figured conspicuously for their statesmanship and patriotism. solutions, as the basis of a Constitution, were laid before the house by Mr. Randolph; and “the object of the proper plan,” to be considered, was declared by Mr. Madison * to be twofold ;----first, to preserve the Union ; secondly, to provide a Government that will remedy the evils felt by the States both in their united and individual capacities.” In the progress of the Convention, as already stated, the difficulty, of reconciling the conflicting claims of the smaller and larger States was found to be almost insurmountable, and on several occasions a rupture seemed inevitable. Every thing was seen to depend upon a spirit of forbearance and concession; and a dissolution of the Union was deprecated, as an evil to be avoided by every sacrifice.
" Let the union of the States be dissolved,” said Mr. Madison, "and one of two consequences must happen. Either the States must remain individually independent and sovereign; or two or more confederacies must be formed among them.” * “ Either event," he afterwards declared, "would be truly deplorable; and those who might be accessory to either could never be forgiven by their country or by themselves."
In view of such a contingency, Mr. Gorham conceived.
" That a disruption of the Union would be an event unhappy for all; but surely the large States would be the least unable to take care of themselves, and to make connections with one another. The weak, therefore, were most interested in establishing some general system for maintaining order. If, among individu. als composed partly of weak, and partly of strong, the former most need the protection of law and government, the case is exactly the same with weak and powerful states. On the whole, le considered a union of the States as necessary to their happiness, and a firm General Government as necessary to their union. He should consider it his duty, if his colleagues viewed the matter in the same light as he did, to stay here as long as any other State would remain with them, in order to agree on some plan that could, with propriety, be recommended to the people.” Among
"the consequences of a dissolution of the Union" Mr. Hamilton predicted,
* Alliances will immediately be formed with different rival and hostile nations of Europe, who will foment disturbances among ourselves, and make us parties to all their own quarrels. Foreign nations having American dominiou are, and must be, jealous of
Their representaires betray the uimost anxiety for our fate, and for the result of this meeling, which must have an essential influence on it. It had been said, that respectability in the eyes of foreign nations was not the object at which we aimed; that the proper object of republican government was domestic tranquillity and happiness. This was an ideal distinction. No government could give is tranquillity and happiness at home, which did not possess sufficient stability and strength to make us respectable abroad. This was the critical moment for forming such a government. We should run every risk in trusting to future amendments. As yet we retain the habits of union.
. We are weak, and sensible of our weakness, Henceforward the motiveg will become feebler, and the difficulties greater. It is a miracle that we are now here, exercising our tranquil and free deliberations on the subject. It would be madness to trust to future miracles. A thousand causes must obstruct a reproduction of them.''
Mr. Gouverneur Morris