صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

a code of parliamentary rules for the direction of the Convention in the performance of the business before them. The main business of the Convention was then opened. As the Convention had been originated by Virginia, it devolved on Mr. Randolph, from that State, to open the subject on which they had been drawn together. The most important topic in his introductory remarks was the character of the government which it should be their aim to establish. This, he said, should be such as to secure the people, "first, against foreign invasion; secondly, against dissensions between members of the Union, or seditions in particular States; thirdly, to procure to the several States various blessings of which an isolated situation was incapable; fourthly, it should be able to defend itself against encroachments; and fifthly, it should be paramount to the State Constitutions."

15. The student will easily perceive, that in all this Mr. Randolph was quite correct; indeed, there could hardly be a difference of opinion in the Convention with regard to these principles, though the subsequent debates showed that they were much divided about the way in which these ends could best be attained.

16. After commenting on the defects of the Confederation, which we have already considered, and on the danger of the then present state of affairs, Mr. Randolph proceeded to lay before the Convention, in the shape of a series of resolutions, the outline of a Constitution, such as he supposed was called for by the necessities of the nation. To this we shall advert, along with other opinions and plans, as the several

Who opened the business of the Convention? What did he say of the government which they should aim to establish?

What is the meaning of the word paramount?

Was Mr. Randolph correct?

What did the subsequent debates show?
What did Mr. R. lay before the Convention?

topics which it suggests arise. As this plan of Mr. Randolph was first proposed to the Convention, it was naturally the first to be acted on, the basis of subsequent deliberation, and that which especially elicited and drew forth the opinions of the members. Other plans were proposed, as that of Charles Pinckney of South Carolina, William Patterson of New Jersey, and Alexander Hamilton of New York. Mr. Patterson's plan was, like Mr. Randolph's, in the form of resolutions, the others were arranged into heads called Articles.

Who else proposed plans of a Constitution?

6*

PART IV.

CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.

PREAMBLE.

WE, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

There could, of course, be little or no diversity of opinion on the sentiments here expressed. All saw that these were the things that needed to be done. But there were differences of opinion about how far it was necessary to depart from, or go beyond, the Articles of Confederation. This disagreement brought out some statements of the difference between a merely Federal and a properly National compact. The former could not create any supreme power; but left the States in possession of so much sovereignty that no one could be compelled to any measure by any or all the rest. The

Who ordained and established the Constitution? How does it appear to be the act of the people? What were the objects contemplated? Did the Convention agree in the sentiments of the preamble? In what did they disagree?

What is the difference between a federal and national compact?

latter could, and would, furnish supreme legislative and executive power, by which the people of all the States would be bound. It was the evils of the merely Federal union that had called together the Convention. The difference of opinion seemed to be, that while some thought a mere revision and amendment of the Articles of Confederation would be sufficient, others thought they must be entirely set aside, and the union established on an entirely new and different basis.

6

Mr. Randolph's first resolution was in these words: "Resolved, That the Articles of Confederation ought to be so corrected and enlarged as to accomplish the objects proposed by their institution, namely, common defence, security of liberty, and general welfare." Mr. Patterson's first resolution was as follows: "Resolved, That the Articles of Confederation ought to be so revised, corrected, and enlarged, as to render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union." In the course of the discussion, other resolutions were offered, designed to elicit the views of the members on the question of substituting a government, which should have a compulsive operation,-by acting, not on the States directly, but on the people-the individual inhabitants-in the place of a mere compact between sovereign States, where the good faith of the parties was all the bond which held them together. The result was the adoption of the following resolution :-"That a national government ought to be established, consisting of a supreme Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary." This resolution made it apparent that in the view of the Convention, a mere revision of the Articles of Confederation was insufficient, and that something radically different was called for. Mr. Patterson's plan was subsequently proposed, and even after the first action on Mr. Randolph's resolutions, as one more endeavor to make an amendment of the old Articles answer the purpose. He and some others thought that the es

Was the federal character of the union set aside by the adoption of the Constitution? It was not.

What evils had called together the Convention?

State the difference of opinion that appeared in the Convention. What was Mr. Randolph's first resolution? Mr. Patterson's? What other resolutions were offered?

On whom does a compulsive government act directly?

What is the bond of union between States united in a mere compact? [i. e. what is there to keep them from permanently breaking their compact?]

What resolution was passed while the Convention were engaged with these questions? What appeared from this resolution?

What was Mr. Patterson's object in proposing his plan? What did he and others fear?

ARTICLE I.

SECTION 1. All legislative powers, herein granted, shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

tablishment of a government with supreme power would encroach too much on State sovereignty, or perhaps annihilate the State governments altogether.

ART. 1. SEC. 1. This agrees in substance with the plans of Messrs. Pinckney and Hamilton. Mr. Pinckney proposed to call the popular branch of the legislature "the House of Delegates," and Mr. Hamilton proposed to call it "the Assembly." Mr. Patterson's plan was to preserve the old Articles of Confederation, which provided for a Congress consisting of only a single body. Doct. Franklin was also partial to the plan of vesting all legislative power in a single body. But so general was the impression in favor of two branches, that this section excited no remarkable discussion.

The plan of having two branches in the legislature of a State is an improvement on the practice of ancient nations. It is true that the republics of Greece and Rome arrived at great strength and empire, the latter did especially, with single legislative bodies, except so far as the assemblies of the people were such. But it is also true that the check which one legislative body holds over another, where two exist, has a remarkable influence in rendering both cautious, and in preventing hasty, rash, and immature legislation. Great Britain and France, the two governments most worthy of note in Europe, have legislatures constructed in this way.

Repeat Sec. 1. What are legislative powers?
With whose plans does this section agree in substance?

In

By what names did they propose to call the two branches of the legislature?

[ocr errors]

Did Congress under the Confederation consist of two branches or a single body?

What was Mr. Patterson's plan in this respect? What were the views of Dr. Franklin?

What is said of the plan of having two branches? What of the republics of Greece and Rome? And of the check which one legislative body holds over another? What of Great Britain and France?

« السابقةمتابعة »