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and to the several legislatures, such alterations and provisions therein, as shall, when agreed to in congress, and confirmed by the several states, render the federal constitution adequate to the exigences of government, and the preservation of the union."
The meeting of this convention, the formation and final adoption of a new system of general government, will be the subject of the succeeding chapter.
General convention meet at Philadelphia---Form rules for their proceedings-Propositions of Mr. Randolph for a new system of government-Amendments of the articles of confederation proposed by Mr. Patterson-Both debated-The amendments of Mr. Patterson rejected---Large majority agree to form a new system of government---To be divided into three great departments, legislative, executive and judicial-Legislative divided into two branches, house of representatives and senateConvention divided on the subject of the representation of the states in the senateSketch of the debate on this question---States equally divided upon it---The subject referred to a large committee---Committee report a compromise between the large and small states---This finally adopted by a majority of the convention---Sketch of the powers granted to congress---General government prohibited from doing certain acts---The powers of the states restricted---The organization of an executive attended with great difficulty---Outlines of the first plan adopted by the convention---This afterwards rejected and a new plan formed and eventually adopted---Powers given to the executive---Judicial department to consist of a supreme court and inferior courts---In what cases they have jurisdiction---Constitution eventually different, in many respects, from what the members first contemplated---Difference between the articles of confederation and the constitution— States divided on the subject of importing slaves, and on the subject of the powers of congress, relative to navigation acts---These differences settled by mutual concessions---General Washington's influence in the convention---Constitution considered by state conventions---People greatly divided in some of the states---Adopted by three states unanimously---By large majorities in four states---Rhode Island refuses to call a convention---The other five states much divided---Doubtful for a time whether they would ratify it without previous amendments---Massachusetts adopts it, and recommends certain amendments---Convention of New Hampshire meet and adjourn---The system strongly opposed in New York, Virginia and North Carolina, without previous amendments---Is warmly debated in the conventions of those states---New Hampshire follows the example of Massachusetts---Virginia and New York adopt it in the same manner by small majorities---North Carolina refuses her assent unless amended.
THE delegates appointed by the states to convene at Philadelphia, agreeably to the recommendation of the commissioners at Annapolis, and the resolve of congress, met at the time and place designated, (with the exception of those from New Hampshire, who did not join the convention until the 23d of July,) and proceeded on the important business of their appointment.
POLITICAL AND CIVIL HISTORY, &c.
George Washington, one of the delegates from Virginia, was unanimously elected to preside in their deliberations. One rule adopted by the convention was, that "a house to do business should consist of the deputies of not less than seven states, and that all questions should be decided, by the greater number of those, which should be fully represented"—another, "that nothing spoken in the house be printed, or otherwise published or communicated, without leave."
The meeting of this august assembly, marks a new era in the political annals of the United States. Men most eminent for talents and wisdom, had been selected and were met to form a system of government for a vast empire. Such an assemblage for such an object, the world had never before witnessed. The result of their deliberations, on which the happiness of so many millions depended, was looked for with extreme solicitude.
From the peculiar situation of the states, the difficulties in forming a new system of general government, were, indeed, of no ordinary magnitude. Since the peace of 1783, political and commercial jealousies had arisen among the states; and to these was added a difference in their extent, wealth, and population, as well as in the habits, religion, and education of their inhabitants. These together, presented obstacles apparently insurmountable. Nothing, indeed, but a spirit of mutual concession and compromise, could have overcome these obstacles and effected so fortunate a result.
The first great question among the members of this assembly, was, whether they should amend the old, or form a new system. By the resolve of congress, as well as the instructions of some of the states, they were met "for the sole and express purpose of revising the articles of confederation." Such, however, were the radical defects of the old government, that a majority determined to form an entire new one.
On the 29th of May, Edmund Randolph of Virginia, submitted to the convention, fifteen resolutions, as the basis of a new constitution.
These resolutions were
"1. Resolved, That the articles of the confederation ought to be so corrected and enlarged, as to accomplish the objects proposed by their institution, namely, common defense, security of liberty, and general welfare.
"2. Resolved, Therefore, that the right of suffrage, in the national legislature, ought to be proportioned to the quotas of contribution, or to the number of free inhabitants, as the one or the other may seem best, in different cases.
"3. Resolved, That the national legislature ought to consist of two branches.
"4. Resolved, That the members of the first branch of the national legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several states, every for the term of , to be of the age of
years at least; to receive liberal stipends, by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service; to be ineligible to any office established by a particular state, or under the authority of the United States, (except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the first branch,) during the term of service, and for the space of after its expiration; to be incapable of re-election for the space of after the expiration of their term of service; and to be subject to recall.
"5. Resolved, That the members of the second branch of the national legislature ought to be elected by those of the first, out of a proper number of persons nominated by the individual legislatures; to be of the age of years, at least; to hold their offices for a term sufficient to ensure their independency; to receive liberal stipends, by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to the public service; and to be ineligible to any office established by a particular state, or under the authority of the United States, (except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the second branch,) during the term of service; and for the space of after the expiration thereof.
“6. Resolved, That each branch ought to possess the right of originating acts; that the national legislature ought to be em
powered to enjoy the legislative right vested in congress, by the confederation; and moreover to legislate in all cases to which the separate states are incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual legislation; to negative all laws passed by the several states, contravening in the opinion of the national legislature, the articles of union, or any treaty subsisting under the authority of the union; and to call forth the force of the union against any member of the union failing to fulfil its duty under the articles thereof.
"7. Resolved, That a national executive be institued, to be chosen by the national legislature for the term of years, to receive punctually, at stated times, a fixed compensation for the services rendered, in which no increase or diminution shall be made, so as to affect the magistracy existing at the time of the increase or diminution; to be ineligible a second time; and that, besides a general authority to execute the national laws, it ought to enjoy the executive rights vested in congress by the confederation.
"8. Resolved, That the executive, and a convenient number of the national judiciary, ought to compose a council of revision, with authority to examine every act of the national legislature, before it shall operate, and every act of a particular legislature before a negative thereon shall be final; and that the dissent of the said council shall amount to a rejection, unless the act of the national legislature be again passed, or that of a particular legislature be again negatived by of the members of each
"9. Resolved, That a national judiciary be established to hold their offices during good behavior, and to receive punctually, at stated times, fixed compensation for their services, in which no increase or diminution shall be made, so as to affect the persons actually in office at the time of such increase or diminution. That the jurisdiction of the inferior tribunals, shall be, to hear and determine, in the first instance, and of the supreme tribunal to hear and determine, in the dernier resort, all piracies