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1. The labors of the Convention that framed the Constitution of the United States, on many accounts, rendered the era of them remarkable. Other nations, and many individuals at home, had confidently predicted the total failure of the American experiment. The working of the old Confederation; the loose rein it necessarily held on the rival prejudices, interests and factions of different States; the growing disposition to spurn wholesome restraint, and at the same time to dictate, exact, and control,-with perhaps many other exhibitions of unbridled human nature,-all led the enemies of American liberty to hope, and its friends to fear, that anarchy, dismemberment, and despotism, would in a short time exhibit its final catastrophe.

2. The world had never seen such a spectacle before. Other constitutions had been the slow growth of ages. They had, by little and little, resulted from the tumults of revolution, war, and the exactions of

What remark on the labors of the Convention? What had been confidently predicted? What did the enemies of American liberty hope, and its friends fear? What occasioned these hopes and fears? Did such a Convention, on such an occasion, ever assemble before? How had other Constitutions been formed? From what had they resulted?

powerful combinations, and been enforced on the minority by the fear, or the actual presence, of military power. But here a peaceful Convention, in a time of peace, assembled in obedience to the popular will, to form all at once the Constitution by which they were to be governed.

3. The vast extent of the territory, all equally affected by the doings of the Convention, is also to be noted in this connection. Other constitutional governments, even the best, have made a distinction between the home government, and that of their colonies and dependencies. The territory has been comparatively small which has enjoyed the full rights of citizens, while the great majority, both of people and territory, has held but a secondary place in the provisions of the Constitution. The Roman empire was an ancient example; and in modern times the British and French empires show the same distinction. But here is a Constitution intended equally to affect the people from Maine to Georgia, and from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, with provision for an indefinite increase of territory.

4. And, finally, the number of seperate States, and their widely different local interests, some being maritime, others inland; some producing cotton, others sugar; some tobacco, others breadstuff; some beef, pork, and wool, others fish and manufactures; some depending on agriculture, and others upon trade,-the number of States, and the multitude of separate and often conflicting interests to be provided for, rendered the labors of the Convention intensely interesting, and

What difference did the present case exhibit?

What is said of the extent of territory? What distinction have other governments made? How does that distinction operate? What examples, ancient and modern?

How far did the United States' territory extend in 1787? How far does it extend now?

What other circumstances rendered the labors of the Convention interesting?

the era of their performance remarkable. On all these accounts, and many others that might be named, it seems proper to approach the consideration of the United States' Constitution, and the labors of those who framed it, with feelings of peculiar interest. Such feelings are demanded by the gravity of the subject also, in view of the fact that the Constitution is the charter of our liberties; that under its protection we live; and that our dearest interests in this world are safe only so long as that instrument is preserved inviolate.

5. It required but a short experience to demonstrate that the old Confederation did not provide for the exigencies of the Union. Still it was hoped that when the existing topics of war were past, and the employments of peace alone should engross the attention of the people, it would be found better to answer the purposes of its formation. But this was an erroneous calculation. The war was a strong bond of union; and when this ceased to operate, the jealousies, rivalries, and sectional interests of the people began more plainly to appear, and to threaten both the General and State governments with faction, dissolution, and anarchy. The nation was without revenue; of course its treasury was empty, and no way appeared of discharging the sacred debt incurred by the war of the revolution. Insurrection against the State governments was threatened, and actually occurred in Massachusetts, and was with difficulty suppressed. All these, and other evils still, arose from the fact that

With what feelings should we approach the consideration of the United States' Constitution? By what else are such feelings demanded?

What did a short experience demonstrate? What was still hoped? Did the event justify the hope?

What was the war to the Union? What happened when it ceased to operate?

What was the condition of the nation with regard to revenue, etc.? What is said of insurrection?

Congress had no power to regulate trade, to raise a revenue from commerce, or to command the militia of the States; and especially that they could make no requisitions on the States, but merely recommend to them the course they thought best, and then wait the slow process of obtaining their consent, which was often never given at all, and rarely, if ever, more than in part. Still, with all these glaring inadequacies before them, it took a considerable experience to teach the people generally that a change was indispensable. Though the idea of a general Convention for improving the Articles of Confederation had been discussed both publicly and privately, before and after the close of the war, and both in and out of Congress, it was not till the year 1786 that any thing like an important incipient step was taken toward such a result. On the 21st of January, in that year, the Virginia legislature passed a resolution proposing and inviting a meeting of deputies from all the States, and appointing for their deputies Edmund Randolph, James Madison, Jr., Walter Jones, St. George Tucker, and Meriwether Smith, Esquires. But by the express terms of the resolution, the powers of the deputies extended only to the consideration of trade, both of the Union and of the several States. They were also to report to the several States an act, which, when ratified by them, would enable Congress to regulate and provide for the commerce of the Union.

6. This resolution was passed partly in the hope that it might lead to something more to the purpose,

From what did these evils arise? What only could Congress do? For what must they wait?

Was the consent of the States always obtained, even in this way? Did the people immediately learn what was necessary?

In what year was an important step taken?

What resolution was passed by the Virginia legislature? How far did the powers of their deputies extend? What were they to report to the States?

What motives led to the passage of this resolution?

and partly as the only alternative to doing nothing on the subject. It however happened favorably at the then present time that a move had been made toward a uniformity in trade between Virginia and Maryland, by Commissioners appointed to settle the jurisdiction on the waters between the two States. This discussion suggested the necessity that neighboring States should unite with them.

7. The time and place of meeting was left to the Virginia deputies. They determined on the first Monday of the following September, and in order to seem not to be under the influence of Congress, they chose as the place the city of Annapolis in Maryland.

8. Notwithstanding the proposed meeting was favorably viewed, as a general thing, only five States were represented in it. These were Virginia, Deleware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

9. The small attendance seemed to the deputies present to be a sufficient reason why they should not attempt any action on matters of such magnitude as those intrusted to them, and which concerned other States equally with those represented. Besides, in order to have their labors of any avail to their constituents, the concurrence of other States, at least a large majority of the whole, was indispensable. It was seen too, by those convened, that their commission was not sufficiently extensive; and that, instead of being confined to the subject of trade, or a revenue from commerce, the Convention ought to be empowered to act with reference to all the wants of the Union. Indeed, the instructions to the deputation from New Jersey extended to all such purposes. Under these circum

What happened favorably? What did this discussion suggest? What time and place of meeting was fixed by the Virginia deputies? How many, and what States, were represented? How did the small attendance seem to the deputies present? What was necessary in order that their labors should be of any avail?

What else was seen by those convened? How should they have been empowered to act?

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