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Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Single delegates were present from New York and Maryland, but they could not cast the votes of those States.
197. Signing and Adjournment.—Monday, September 17, the Convention met for the last time. The Constitution had been engrossed and was ready to be signed. Only forty-two of the fifty-five members who had attended were present, and three of these had declared themselves in opposition. In the hope that the signatures of all might be secured, a form that made the signers merely witnesses to what had been done, and did not declare their approval, had been adopted. “Done in Convention by the unanimous consent of the States present, the 17th day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth. In witness whereunto we have hereunto subscribed our names.” But the three members still refused to sign. So the thirty-nine men signed, and the Convention adjourned sine die.
198. The Three Compromises.-The history of these compromises is of the greatest interest. It reveals some of the difficulties attending constituting a federal government, and particularly a federal republic, involving, as it does, the adjustment of two jurisdictions. Secondly, it shows the skill with which, in the present case, this problem was solved. And, thirdly, it is a good illustration of the political genius of the English-speaking people, who never press an abstract principle to an extreme, but rather consult the facts of history. The first and third compromises have been denounced as compromises of a moral question. Slavery then existed in most of the States; the Convention could not abolish it, even if such were its wish ; and the members generally thought it as proper a subject for compromise as any other. So far as we can now see, without these compromises no constitution would have been made, and the American Union would have fallen to pieces. Furthermore, they were made at different stages of the Convention's progress as the subjects were reached,
199. Second Convention Proposed.-The last few days of the Convention, the idea of calling a second convention got afloat. The Constitution provided for its own amendment after it should
into effect, but this did not satisfy the men who brought forward this proposition. They insisted that it should be amended before going into effect, or at least that an opportunity for amendment should be given. Governor Randolph twice made that motion, and said he would vote for the Constitution if the motion were carried. Mr. Mason said in favor of one of these motions : " A second convention will know more of the sense of the people, and be able to provide a system more consonant to it.” Mr. Pinckney replied : “Nothing but confusion and contrariety will spring from the experiment. The States will never agree in their plans, and deputies to a second convention coming together under the discordant impressions of their constituents, will never agree.” The motion was lost by a unanimous vote.
200. Spirit of the Convention. The three members who refused to sign were Gerry, of Massachusetts, and Mason and Randolph, of Virginia. They had all taken an active part in the Convention, and Mason and Randolph had supported the strongest features of the Virginia plan. But now that the work was finished, and they could survey it as a whole, they seemed surprised and alarmed at the long step forward that had been taken. Randolph afterwards favored the ratification of the Constitution, but Mason and Gerry opposed it to the end. The three statesmen assigned various and conflicting reasons for their final action, which called out a number of the signers in reply. Franklin said he expected no better constitution, and was not sure but this one was the best. Gouverneur Morris had objections, but considered the plan agreed upon the best one attainable. Hamilton said no man's ideas were more remote from the plan than his own; but, “is it possible," he asked, “to deliberate between anarchy and convulsion on one side, and the chance of good to be expected from the plan, on the other ?" How utterly the three objectors failed to read the future, is shown by the prophecy of Mason that “the dangerous power aud structure of the government” would "end either in monarchy or a tyrannical aristocracy; which, he was in doubt, but one or the other he was sure.
Records and Reports. ----Just before adjourning, the Convention, in response to a question by its President as to the disposition
1 Mr. Madison closes his report of the debates of the Convention with this paragraph : “Whilst the last members were signing, Dr. 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 that it is a rising and not a setting sun'."- Elliot's Debates, Vol. V., p. 565.
to be made of the Journal and other papers, voted that they should all be intrusted to him, subject to the order of Congress if ever organized under the Constitution. In March, 1796, Washington deposited the manuscript volumes containing them in the State Department. Mr. Madison, besides bearing an able rt in the proceed. ings, took copious notes of the discussions, which constitute the only existing report covering the whole period of the Convention, and the principal sources of information on the subject.
RATIFICATION OF THE CONSTITUTION.
Bancroft, Vol. VI. (Formation of the Constitution, 4, 5); Hil. dreth, Vol. 111.; Winsor, Vol. VII., Chap. IV.; Frothingham, Chap. XII.; Pitkin, Chap. XVIII.; Hart, Chap. VI.; Johnston, The Constitution of the U. S., 1.-111. (in Lalor), and The United States, V.; Fiske, The Critical Period of American History; McMaster, Vol. I., Chap. V.; Story, Book III., Chap. I.; Smith, The Movement Towards a Second Constitutional Convention in 1788 (in Essays in the Constitutional History of the U. S., Edited by J. F. Jameson).
Elliot's Debates, Vols. II.-IV. These three volumes contain the reports of the debates in the State Conventions called to ratify the Constitution. See also Journals of Congress, Vol. IV.
202. Constitution Sent to Congress.-The Constitution reached Congress September 20, 1787, accompanied by the two resolutions and the address that the Convention had adopted. This is the first of the two resolutions:
"Resolved, That the preceding Constitution be laid be fore the United States in Congress assembled, and that it is the opinion of this Convention that it should afterwards be submitted to a convention of delegates, chosen in each State by the people thereof, under the recommendation of its Legislature, for their assent and ratification; and that each convention assenting to and ratifying the same, should give notice thereof to the United States in Congress assembied."
203. Action of Congress.—The Articles of Confederation provided that no alteration should at any time be made in them unless it were first agreed to in Congress, and were afterwards confirmed by the Legislature of every State. The document that had been framed and now lay on the table was not a series of alterations in the Articles, but a wholly new constitution; moreover, this constitution did not emanate from the States, as the Articles had done, but from the people of the United States; while the last article ran: “The ratifications of the conventions of nine States shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same.' The Convention did not ask Congress to agree to anything, but only to send the Constitution to the States, and await their action. An attempt was now made under the leadership of Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, to have Congress propose amendments, but this failed. Had it succeeded, some States would have ratified the Constitution as framed by the Convention, and some the Constitution as amended by Congress, and so it would have failed altogether.
September 29 Congress adopted this resolution by a unanimous vote :
“That the said report, namely the Constitution with the resolutions and the letter accompanying the same, be transmitted to the several Legislatures, in order to be submitted to a convention of delegates chosen in each State by the people thereof, in conformity to the resolves of the Convention made and provided in that case."
204. Reception of the Constitution. The Convention had succeeded in keeping its secrets. No part of the Constitution passed its doors until it had completed its work and adjourned. Immediately on its publication, the country was thrown into a fever of excitement that continued to increase until, almost a year later, the eleventh State had given its ratification. The press teemed with pamphlets, books, essays, broadsides, articles, poems, letters, allegories, and squibs. The land resounded with speeches. At first there were three classes of men; the friends of the new plan, its enemies, and those who had not made up their inds. Its ratification was due in the end