File #3499: "SU-1847_ref.pdf"


And before I enter upon the message that I bring to you I wilh also to
expreas my deep appreciation of the priv11s~e of being with you at the celebration
of the 30th anniversary of your school.

I had been acquainted for some time wUh the

pioneering work in adult education that was being done at SUttolk Law 3chool, but it
is only recently that I have become familiar with the extent of your program, the
high standard.a that are rigidly followed, the feast of epportunities placed before
your students, and, most important of all, the pplendid record of service that atanda
in the achool 'a name through the accomplishments of its alumni.

Thirty year, is not

a long period in 1h• hi story of education in Maasachusetts, where the church came with
the settlers, indeed impelling them to settlement, and where the aohool followed the
church, but when these 1hirty years 1ee an experiment develop into a Tital educational
force, daily increasing in vigor and usefulness, then three decades stand proudly
by three centuries, and the benediction of lovers of truth ard knowledge and educaUoa-

al opportunity f alla upOn them.

Nor am I to forget


I speak not to such a group as I am accustomed to

address, youths in school, oaDiidates for arts and science degrees, but to stud.Erl.ti
who have qualified through special and intensive training for the legal profesaion.
!his is a re-commencement for mani of you, for you have been active and successful
in other fields of endeavor and have added, through utilisation of hours frequently
lost, to the mental tools with which you will attack the problems of tomorrow.


do I congratulate you upon the attainment of your goal, and wiah you every success.
I stand in admiration of the thing you have done.

However, I was brought up in Phila-

delphia, ano:ng lhiladelphia lawyers, and if there is a oertain amoant of u:neasineaa
in my manner; if I look apprehens 1vely behind me from time to t 1me and seem uncomfort-

able with ao maey lawyers about, 1 t is because of that early experience and the


traditional reputation of the Philadelphia lawyer.
It is


understanding that your speakers of other year, have been men

of action in public and official life and the v.orld of affairs,

I come to you as

a scribe only, as one who lives in a house by the side of the road and observes,
the justification of our craft being our own tastes and the belief that for every
Johnson there should be a Boswell, that there is a service to be rendered in aett 1ng
down dispassionately the findings of historical research, in using the essence
of the experience of the past as a guide to the present, and in preserving intact
the spiritual heritage which descends to us from those


have gone before.


the historian is, in modern parlance, Mon the spot", was admitted in the dawn of
lfbglish letters by Venerable Bede,



"The hard condition of the histor-

ian is that if he speaks the truth he provokes the anger of men; but if he commits
falsehoods to writing he will be unacceptable to God,

who will

distinguish in his

judgments between truth and adulation,"
Yet we can exchange the hair shirt which the Venerable Bede felt was the
inescapable garb of the historian for the view of a 100dern historian, John Clark
:Redpath, to whom the romantic, rather than the scientifically accurate, aspects of
his calling appealed,

Writing of history, he saidt

edge recede and sink to a lower plane.

"All other branches of knowl-

Poetry yields its palm, music its harp,

and art its chisel, to the superior claims of that serious and exalted lore in
which the deeds and hopes and sorrow, of the human race are imbedded."

~ere is no topio roore frequently on the lips of debaters of public
affairs in these troubled ~ s than the Constitution ot the United States - its
bearing upon extreme legislation and its defense against the eneroachments of those
who believe that the super-structure is of more importance than the foundation,


League is formed for its protection; the forum; the preea; periodicals; the very
air are full of it; prayers daily ascend that the wi,aaom


strangth of the Sllpreme


Court may be equal to the demands made upon it in the determination of the application of the Constitution to legislation covering new and untried fields.

!he man

in the street speaks of the Oonetitution with a new reverence; the reverence due
the very Ark of the Covenant, and there 1s abroad a conviotion, f61 t rather than
expressed, that nationally we have our baok to the wall, facing a changing world,
and that the wall at our back is the Constitution.

So it has seemed worthwhile to

me, enjoying your hospitality and your kindly welcome, to make the major part of
irw message to you a recalling to yo·xr mind of the turmoil and travail by whioh


came into posee•sion of this priceless dooument, the distillation of man's governmental wisdom gleaned throughout the agea, described by Gladstone thus,

".&a the

British Constitution is the most subtle organism which has proceeded from progress-

ive history, so the .Amerioan Constitution is the most wonderful work ever struck
off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man."

We are likely to feel that the oriaes of recent years have produced political and social cleavages that will never be healed or forgotten.

I s~y to you that

in comparison •1th the boiling hatreds, the emotion, the irreconcilable viewpoints of 1776 and two decades later, our situation iod&l' is as the howling screech
of a tornado to the wailing of a babe.

We have now a stern duty to perform in

the defense of our national birthright, make no mistake, but history shOws us that
there is no cause for panic, am muoh reason for hopefulness.

Let us sees


thirteen colonies funotioned under the Articles of OOnfederation and the continental
Congresses from tha close of the P.evolution to the adoption of the Jed.era! constitu-


'!he general causes of diaeatisfaction with the Union under the J.rtiolea of

confederation are well known.

Washington, when about to resign the command of the

Continental Arrrq in 1783, addreaaed a circular letter to the governors of the $iates,


perhaps be best described as his first Farewell Address.

ferred to it as his "legacy" to his country.

He himaelf re-

Without dwelling overmuch upon the


defects of the existing government, he aet forth four things which he declared to
be "essential to the well-being, I may venture to say, to the existence of the
United States, as an indepeDlent power."

'lbey were, first, an indissoluble union

of the $tatea under one federal head; second, a sacred regard to public justice;
third, a proper peace establishment; ani fourth, a pacific and friendly diapoaition among the people of the United States.
Washington warned his fellow countrymen in the most aolaL.:Il manner against
the dire consequences of continued failure -o maintain the authority of the general
government, to pay the debt incurred in the war, to provide for the common defense,

to put the general welfare above private and local interests.

During the next

six years, vbioh John Piske aptly termed "the critical period of Jmerioan history,"
Washington returned again and again in his correspondence to the need for a more
perfect Union.

Writing to John J93, in 1786, he declaredr

"I do not conceive we

oan exist long as a nation without having lodged -somewhere a power, which will
pervade the vilole Union in as energetic a manner as the authority of the ~tate
governments extends over the special States."

'1:le evils which moved Washington

to such profound discontent were universal - they W8re felt no less keenly in
lllaasachusetts than in Virginia.
the states as they pleased.

Oongresa, the symbol of union, was flouted by

Even the Peace Cormnissioners at Paris disobeyed Con-

gress and acted as 1hey deemed best in formulating peaoe terms.

When peace was

signed and the colonists turned back to the pursuits of earlier ~s, all the old
oormnercial rivalries, ail the former, bitter boundary dispites revived in full
vigor, and new quarrels arose over the cession of newly acquired territory, over
exports and import tariffs, over inter-oolonial trade, over everything that oould
possibly be a source of disagreement.

'lhe very existence of the new nation was

1hen, as in every crisis in history, it was wisdom of the few which

saved the nation and brought order out of ohaoa.
No government oan function with.out money - 1 t is essential there as



Under the Articles, Congress had no taxing power, but was entirely

. dependent upon reg_uisitions on the states.

If a state did not feel like honoring

the requisition, Congress had no way of enforcing its demands.

When Congress

sought to pay the war debt as it had agreed, albeit without distinct authority, to
do - Georgia, Delaware and South Carolina paid no heed to the request for funds.
·nie financial weakness of this ''government by supplication," as Gouverneur Morris
called it, was but one of its frailties.

It had no common, federal money system.

Fach state issued money of varying standards as it saw fit and in any arrount it

In New libgland the shilling was worth about one-fourth of a dollar, while in

some of the southern states it was worth about one-tentji.
with practically no limit.

Paper money was issued

Loans and contracts in one state or another were

likely to be invalidated at any minute by some capricious piece of legislation.

gress had no control of tariffs on exports and imports.


it thought

or nothing at all.


Fach state levied the amount

There was suspicion and fear in every one of

the states that some other state might win advantage.

Dlgland had refused to deal

with .American shipping, and when ll&ssaohusetts and two o tber New England ltatee,
angered at this discriminating legislation, closed their ports to British shipping,
Connecticut, their close neighbor, threw hers wide open and placed a tax on all
imports from a neighbor state.

New York and !hode Island behaved as selfhhly and

badly as the pettiest of human beings could do.

In !bode Island, with the shipping,

the carrying and the fishing industries almost crushed, there wa_s so little activity, or even apparent effort, that as one man says, "nothing was running except
the bars,"

And what oould this timorous, powerless body, Congress, do in the face

of such conditions?

It had no executive power, no courts, no money of its own, and

no oredit a~here.
Naturally there was no more respect abroad than at home for this pseudo

When Congress was unable to PEW the war debt as it had agreed, England

made it the ezcuse for holding the lucrative fur trading posts of the Northwest, part


ot her oess ion to the United States, and Cl>ngress could do no thing about it.
soaroely took the trouble to veil its contempt.


In Paris, Jefferson was told blandly

that there was no use in F.ranoe ma.king agreements with the United States, for the
States oould not fulfill them.
Jlohamnedan pirates of the North Atrioan States levied blackmail on any of
our ships that ventured to sail the Mediterranean.

New Orleans' Spanish GOvernor

announoed to the frontiersmen along the Mia1isaippi River that they might have tree
use of the river if they would renounce allegiance to the United States and recognize Spain as their government.
~sical suffering added its oomplicat ions.
to certain sections of the States.

\\al" brought extreme poverty

The soo.rce of much farmer wealth, in the carry-

ing •rade w 1th ::ehgland A?1d. the West Ind.lea and the great fishing industry, was praoti•
ally gone.

'lhe usual ghouls of food speculators added their efforts to the general

Riots were common in the States.

In New ~gland threats of secession were

heard and in some places a desire for return to monarohioal government was whispered

Everywhere ran the spirit of suapioion, of enmity, of commercial rivalry and


Anarchy threatened.

bad to be done.

On only one thing could the ,·ta tee agree.


'lbe "Something" was done and the embryo nation was saved.

Jlaryland had been the last of the colonies to sign the gUoles ot Confederation, refusing to do so until the six states which had unfixed western boundaries
had agreed to oede their land lying between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi to
the "United States of America."

So this fragile, wobbly, unstable, poverty-struck,

little union owned a vast amount of valuable land and in some way or other it had to
be administered.

'lhe eta tes could not take back the land they had ceded and if the

.. United Sta tea" had a "national domain, tt it had to have some money to run it.
was this situation, handled with skill


bJ a few wise and far-sighted patriots, that

made our real union, the union for which men fought ani died, possible.


were pouring in vast numbers in to this wonderfully rich land, which lay between the
m:>untains and the vast waters o £ the Missiseippi.

!pain oontrolled New Orleans, the


outlet of the great river, and did all in her power to annoy am harass ·1he1e settler,
in their use of 1 ta waters.

'Jb.ey appealed to the "United SV3. tea" for protection ot

their in te:resta, but tm Federal government had no money to finance protection, and
no way to get any,

'lhis was one of the many oompl1cat1on1.

It had been proposed

to 19rmit Ck>ngreas to levy and collect a tax on all import, into the Clluntry, but
New York: was malting too muoh money herself in thi& way to give it_ up for the general
good, and as the oonsent of all the 1tate1 was requisite to amend the A.rticle1, tha\
plan fell through.

It was Washington who conceived a way out of the diff'icul ty.

He saw that the Potomao River was the natural means of access to the western lands.


however, that what affected the POtomac River, affected not only his own

state, Virginia, but Maryland and Pennsylvania.


therefore p~opoaed to the Vir-

ginia Legislature that a meeting of the three states be called to consult on trade
relation, and regulations.

And as they met at Alexandria, someone proposed that

all the state, be invited to send delagates to a later meeting in hope that they
could all reach some agreement in commercial matters.

His suggestion was adopted.

when the time arrived, only :tive of the States eent representativea

to the meeting at Annapolis, November, 1785.

Among them, however, waa a young man

not yet thirty, born and bred in the West Indies and therefore without the jealous,
provincial view-po int whioh colored the opinions of mo st of the oi tizena of the

Alexander Hamilton, representing New York, suddenly rose and proposed that

all the states be invited by Congress to send delagatea to Philadelphia, eighteen
months later (in May, 1787), for the purpose of making "provisions as should appear
to them necesaary to ra1der the Conati tution of the Jederal Govermnent adequate
to the exigemies of the Union. 11

None of the states wa, at all enthuaiastio over

the plan, but the fact that anarchy was steadily inoreasing am that the idol of
them all, George W&shington, agreed to come as delegate trom Virginia, influenced
them to promise to send representatives to Philadelphia.
And so the great J'ederal oonvention met in 1787.

the delegates were


nervous and apprehensive, suapicio'll:s of eaoh other and tom between hope and tear.
'lb.ey knew that by them the Union wou.ld either be oemmted or dissolved.

'Jhey sat -

fifty-five men - from~ until the middle of September behind closed doors.


discussed their animosities, their grievances, the,ir enmities, gaining confidence

in eaoh other as they gained knowledge of each o
v.hen the seoond Monday of J,ay, 1787, the date for whioh the convention
was called, arrived, the only delegates to appear were those of Pennsylvania a:rii

.A.t the end of two weeks no others arrived except those from Delaware and

New Jersey.

i'inally twelve St?:. tee were represented, and 1 t became one of the moat

meIIX>rable assemblies the world has ever known.

Bhode Island did not elect delegate,.

John Bach MoMa.ater gives an interesting account ot Vlashington•s arrival in Philadelphias

"At ab.ester he was met by the Speaker of the Assembly a.nd by ma?\V' of the

first characters of the place and escorted to May's Perry.
horse met his carriage and accompanied him into town.

~ere the city light-

It was the evening of Sllnday,

the thirteenth, yet the most straitlaced forgot their devotions, poured out of their
houses, and, as the little cavalcade moved down the streets of the city, every
church bell sent forth a joyous din, and every voice sent up a shout of welcome to
the American Fabius.

His first act was a graceful tribute to genius and worth,

for he went with all haste t? pay his respects to Franklin, who then filled the

chair of President of the Commonweal th of Pennsylvania.


over, ltobert MOrris

oarried him home to his house."

a una.aimous vote Washi~ton was called to the chair.

was Secretary.

Major Jaokson

!he convention sat in seoret because of the fear


the dt.a.tea·

in losing their sovereignty am of the· citizens of their infringement of individual

'lhe journals were deposited in the cusody of the president, General

washington, as, if suffered to be made publio, unjust use


uld be of them

by those opposed to the adoption of the Constitution.
Professor Charles Warren, in his book "Congress, the Constitution,



the Supreme Court", ha1 written,

"It is well known that historians - American, English

and foreign - have long agreed that no political assembly ever contained a larger proportion of members possessing high character, intellectual ability, political sagacity,
and far-sighted statesmanship."

jure the Philadelphia convention was revolutionary, and the Constitution

was drafted as the first step in a coup d'etat.

Patriots of the type of Patrick Henry

declined eleotion to the Philadelphia·convention, and subsequently opposed the Constitution.

It is more than doubtful that the Philadelphia convention could be held

were 'lhomas Jefferson not abroad at the time.

'!he convention was as revolutionary

and as radical from a purely constitutional point of view with reference to the
A.rtioles of Confederation as would be a oonvent ion to overturn the present Constitution of the Uni tad States.

Some of the delegates elected to the Ibiladelphia

convention, including Lansing of New York, went home when the oonvent1on resolved
itself into a body to draft a new constitution rather than to propose amendments
to the Articles of Confederation, which was 1he function assigned by Congress.


two of sixty-one delegates elected did not sign the Constitution, including aJIDng
these El.bridge Gerry of Massachusetts and Wmund Randolph of Virginia.
phia Convention was not a harmonious body.

'!he Philadel-

'lb.ere were wide differences of feeling

among the colonists and these were reflected by their representatives in Philadelphia.
In the body of the Oons ti tu tion there are evidences of the compromises whiah were

necessary to ha.nnonize tb9se difficulties.


a matter of fact, throughout the meet-

ing of the Constitutional Convention and almost up to its final adjournment the opinion
prevailed in the body outside that agreement was substantially impossible.


from the statesmen of the period to their friends i:r.dicate almost despair.

:Most or

the members of the oonvention were relatively young men and Newton D. Baker has
suggested that the body might be regarded as our first ttBrain Trust.'!
was present a man more than 80 years old


Bllt there

sat sagely through the disputes and

oontroversies of his younger associates and every now and then, with some captivating bit of humor, or, in very grave controversies, with a sentence of solemn pr~er,

-10oalled them baok to the business in hand.

In the heat of one of these controversies,

franklin said, ttGentlemen, we were sent here to oonfer, not to contest with one
A viewpoint that now seems to us unique was introduced by the Massachusetts
delegation, which proposed that the number of representatives from the new States,
whioh would be formed in the western territories, sb:>uld be so limited as never to
exceed the number from the original thirteen.



seemed most concerned at

the danger from the expected growth of the West, feared that the westerners, if they
acquired power, would "like all men" abuse it.

"Th8J' will oppress commerce," he

declared, "and train our weal th into the Western country. tt

ihen Sherman pointed

out that the western settlers would be their own children and grandchildren, Gerry
replied that ttthere was a rage for emigration from the Fastern States to the Western country and he did not wish those remaining behind to be at the mercy of emigrants.
Besides foreigners are resorting to that country·, and it is uncertain what turn
things may take there."

Gerry was supported by King, but his motion was rejected

by the Convention, five States against four.

'lbe State• s:>uth of the POtomao were

solidly against the proposal, evidently expecting to gain more than they would lose
by the ezpected emigration.

And so the frontier was happily left to exert whatever

influence in American politics its inhabitants might fairly ~laim.
Gorham, of Massachusetts, at best was not sanguine concerning the future
of the Union.

On one occasion he put the question (manifestly expecting a negative

"Can it be supposed that this vast oountry, inoluding the Western territory,

will 150 years hence remain one nation?"


his ready allusion to the prospect of

disunion, if the camnerc.e power were 1Do much fettered by 11ml ta tions and restraints,
reveals the intensity of the feeling which these sectional oontroveraies provoked.
Ist us turn to some of the debate in the convention
the thought of a few of the delegates.

•o gain an idea of the trelil.


J'reah from the rough an::l tumble of our present

legislative halls, the language in many instances will sound stilted and fcrmal,


although direct enough on occasion.
June 30, 17871

Mr. Bedford, of Delaware is speaking, on Saturday,

"That all the states at present are equally sovereign and independent,

has been asserted from every quarter of this house.

Our deliberations here are a

confirmation of the position; and I ~ add to it, that eaoh of them aot from interested, and

from ambitious motives.


Look at the votes whioh have been given on

the floor of this house, and it will be found that their numbers, wealth and local

views, have actuated their determinations; and that the larger states proceed as
· if our eyes were already perfectly blinded.

Impartiality, with them, is already

out of the question - the reported plan is their political creed, and they support
it, right or wrong.

Even the diminutive state of Georgia has an eye to her future

wealth and greatness - South Carolina, puffed up with the possession of her wealth
and negroes, and North Carolina, are all, fran different views, united with the
great states.

And these latter, although it is said they can 11ever, from interested

viewa, form a coalition, we find closely united in one scheme of interest and ambition, notwithstanding they endeavor to amuse ua with the purity of their principles
and the rectitude of their intentions, in asserting that the general government mu~t
be drawn from an equal representation of the people.
are never wanting.

Pretences to support ambition

'lheir o-ry is, where is the danger? And they insist that altho

the powers of the general govemment will be.increased, yet it will be for the good
of the whole;


although the three great states fonn nearly a majority of the

people of America, they never will hurt or injure the lesser states.
gentlemen, trust


_ljg_ not,

If you possess the power, the abuse of it oould not be

checked; and what then would prevent you trCJJ1 exercising it to our destruction?
You gravely allege that there is no danger of combination, and triumphantly ask,
how could oombinatione be effected?

"'lhe larger statas, n you say, "all differ in

productions and canmerce; and experience ahowa that instead of combinations, they
would be rivals, and co1l?lteraot the views of one an:>ther,"
language calculated only to a.muse us.

1bis, I repeat, is

Yes, sir, the larger states will be rivals,


but not against eaoh other - they will be rivals against the rest of the states.


1t is urged that suoh a government w:>uld suit the people, and that its prinoiples are
equitable and just.

How often has this argument been refuted, when applied to a

federal govemment.

the small states never oa.n agree to the Virginia plan; and why

then is it still urged?

But it is said that it is not e%peoted that the state govern-

Imnts will approve the ·proposed system, and that this house must directly oarry it
to THE PEOPLE for their approbation!

Is it oane to 'this, then, that the sword must

decide this oontroversy, and that the horrors of war must be added to the rest of our

:a:a.t what have the people already aaid?'We find the oonfederation defect-

ive - go, and give additional powers to the oonfederation - give to it the imposts,
regulation of trade, power to collect the taxes, and the means to discharge our foreign and domestio debts.•


Can we not, then, as _their delegates, agree upon these

their ambassadors, can we not olearly grant those powers? Wh1' then,

when we are met, must entire, distinct, and new grounds be taken, and a government,
of which the people had no idea, be instituted?

And are we to be told, if we 10n't

agree to it; it is the last moment of our deliberations?

Is~, it is indeed the

last moment, if we do agree to this asswnption of power.

The states will never

again be entrapped into a measure like this.

'!he people wl 11


the small sta·tes

would confederate, and grant further powers to congress; but you, the large states,
would not.
justify us.

'.lb.en the fault will be yours, and all the nations of the earth will
But what is io beoome of our public debts if we dissolve the union?

Where .is your plighted faith?
left unmolested?


Will you crush the smaller states, or must they be

sooner than be ruined, there

foreign powers .!!!Q. :!.ll.,l



I say not this to threaten or intimidate, but tli&t we should reflect

seriously before we aot.

If we once leave this floor and solemnly renounce your

new project, what will be the oonsequenoe? You will annihilate your _federal government, and ruin must stare you in the faoe.

Let us then do what is in our power -

amend and enlarge the oonfederation, but not alter the federal system.

1he people

-13expeot this, and no more.

We all agree in the neoessity of a more effioient govern-

ment - and cannot this be done?

Al though my state is small, I know and respeot its

rights, as muoh, at least, as those wb> have the honor to represent any of the larger
To this Mr. King, of Massachusetts, made replys


who wish

"I am in sentiment with

the preservation of state governments; but the general govenunent may

be so constituted as to effect it.

Let the conati tut ion we are about forming be

considered as a cormniaaion under which the general government shall act, and as such
it will be the guardian of the state righta.

the rights of SOotla.nd are secure from

all danger and encroachments, although in the parliament she has a small representation.

Ua.y not this be done in our general government,

Since I am up, I am concerned

for what fell from the gentleman from l>elaware - 'Take a foreign power b;.r the ha.ndl'
I am sorry he mentioned it, and I hope he is able to excuse it to himself on the score
of passion.

Whatever may be


distress, I never will court a foreign power to assist

in relieving myself from it."
A. letter from Elbridge Gerry to James Madison, dated Philadelphia, June 11,

1787, shows the anxiety that pressed upon the mind and heart of that gentleman as
he sat in those grave cCJlllloila a "'l'he Convention is proceeding in their arduous
undertaking with eleven states under an injunction of seoreoy on their members the object of this meeti~ is very important in II\V mind - unless a system of government is adopted by compact, Force I expect will plant the standard, for such an
anarchy as now exists cannot last long.

Gentlemen seem to be

impressed with the

necessity of establishing some efficient system, and I hope it will secure


against domestic as well as foreign invasions ...
When Benjamin Franklin had almost given up hope of a successful termination
of the efforts of the convention, he used the following language in addressing the

••we have gone baok to ancient history for models of government and exam-

ined the different forms of those republics, which, having been formed with the seeda
of their own dissolution, now no longer exist, and we have viewed modern states all

-14round Europe, but find none of their constitutions suitable to our oircumstancea."
He then suggested appealing t.o}the :rather of Light to illumine their understandings.
He saids

"I have lived a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing

proofs I see of this truth, that GOd governs in the affairs of men.

We have been

assured in the sacred writings that except the Lord build the house they labor in
vain that build it.•

~e appeal and the high standard of Dr. Franklin prevailed.

While the name of God does not appear in our federal Constitution, as it does in the
~flower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, and the Articles of Confederation,
the lpirit of Jehovah, of justice, mercy, liberty, and brotherly love, as expressed
by the Master, are evident throughout the document.
Washirgton and Franklin watohed with keenest anxiety the progress of events.
~ey had been identified with every aiep of progress that the colonies ha.d made in the
last twenty years and they wall knew that ttie action of this convention meant either
the final crown of hopes or the fulfillment of all fears.

Washi~ton struck the key

note of the Convention when, rising from his president's chair, he declared in a voice
husky with suppressed erootion, "It is too probable that no plan we propose will be


Perhaps another dreadful conflict is to be sustained.

If, to please the

people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how oa.n we afterward defend our work?

Let us raise a standard to vtiich \he wise and t~e honest oa.n repair; the event is in
the hand of God.••
When the great document was at last drafted and was all prepared for signature,

the aged Franklin produaed a paper, whioh was read for him, as his voice was weak.
follows 1
"Sir• I agree to this Cons ti tut ion, with a 11 1ts faults, if they are suoh,
because I think a general government necessary for us, and there is no
form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, further, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other
forms have done before it, when t.he people shall become so corrupted as
to need despotic government, being incapable of any other. I doubt, too,
whether any other convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better
Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men, to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with thoae men all
their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their looal
interests, and their selfish views. It therefore astonishes me, sir,



to find this system approa.ahing so near to perfection as it does; and
I think it will astonish our enemies, wlx> are waiting with confide~e
to hear that our counsels are confounded, like those of the builders of
Babel, and ended in separation, only to ~aet, hereafter, for the purpose
of cutting one another's throats."
Janes Wilson, of whom the historian, Governor Samu.el


Pennypacker, of

Pennsylvania, said "he was the most learned lawyer in the convention, and perhaps,
more than any other merJi>er, effected the results reached," added his comment to that
of Franklin when he said:


After a lapse of 6,000 years _since the creation of the

world, America now presents the first instance of a people assembled to weigh deliberately and to decide leisurely and peaceably, upon the form of government with which
they will bind themselves and their posterity." ·To Franklin, who for thirty-three
years had been trying to fonn sane federal uhion of the thirteen colonies, it was
the supreme moment of his eighty~one years.

As the meeting broke up he said, pointing

to the back of the chair in whioh W&shington had sat and on which was carved a gilded
half sun, .. As I have been sitting here all these weeks, I have often wondered whether
yonder sun was rising or setting.

Now I know that it is a rising sun."

'Die process of ratification was not easy or unanimous except in the ama.11
states of Delaware and New Jersey, and by Georgia, none of them self-reliant from
long experience with demooraoy.

In Pennsylvania the order for a constitutional con-

vention was rushed through an expiring legislature, lest the next one eeleoted by the
people be opposed; the vote against the Constitution in Pennsylvania was one-third
of the membership.

Connecticut was ccmplaisant, but Massachusetts was militant in

'lbe vote in Massaohuaetts was 187 to 166, the victory a triumph for the

political ambitions of Adams and Hancock; had districts opposed to the Constitution
sent delegates to vote no, instead of refusil'€ to send delegates at all as a protest,
the Massachusetts convention vrould have rejected the ())nsti tut ion.
state, voted 63-11 for the Cons ti tut ion.
73, a.s did New Hampshire, 57-46.

Maryland, a small

South Carolina fought the battle out, 140-

The struggle in Virginia was worthy of a common-

wealth that produce,J a ".iashi:ngton, 119.diso.n and !~tlrshall supported the Constitution;


Patrick !Ienrj and Randolph opposed it; Jefferson was anti-federalist, and abroad.

single vote oast by Governor Collins in Rhode Island



break a tie and order a con-

vent ion had its parallel in Virginia, where ti."1-:le Governor, who had been hostile to the
Constitution, was persuaded overnight b:r the pleadings of Washington to change his
attitude and cast a favoring vote.

Patriok Henry fought valiantly against ratification,

and then, noble warrior that he was, was equally vigorous in sustaining the Constitution.

In New York the opposition of l}Overnor Clint on went down before tra eloquence

of .Alexander Hamilton.

'lhere was a glorious opposition to the Constitution, and greater

glory in the good feeling with vtlioh the contest ended.

No state need feel shame for

standing with the opposition, includit¥s as it did great Americans.
But this recital of things we have known and perhaps forgotten has served
its purpose if it has reminded us of the faot that we gained this Constitution that is
the bulwark of our liberties through suspioion, distrust, selfishness, struggle, threats
of war, obstruction, delays, ref~sals to compromise, and finally, by the graoe of
God, through the conquering of diametrioally opposite views in a final determination
to stand or fall in the 1 igh t of 1-iberty and in the strength of union.
From the past we come again to our problems of the present.

We have in our

public servioe and available for it men and women of high vis ion, wi. o realize that the
American plan is oapa.ble of indefinite expansion to meet the situations of world dislocation in eoonomios, in sooial concepts, in politioa.l experiments.

We had an example

of its operation in what was termed tta noble experiment" in our 18th .Amendment, and
its subsequent ranoval from the frame-work of the Constitution.

Regardless of what

you or I think, history will write whether the experiment or the people working it
lacked in nobility - the point is that we have an instrwnent strong and everlaatingly
dependable that stands and must stand between us and undemooratio influences, between
us and demagoguery, between us and diotatorship.

All that we need do is to keep from

despair because foes arise; all that is demanded of us is that we bring to its preservation the fidelity, breadth of viewpoint, and dauntless courage of those who gained

-17it for us.
'lhe great room has in its center tablets of stone, on which.are graven the
rules (the law) by which men live together.

Around the walls of that room history

has hung great murals, whioh show why man oame to out those rules upon the stone

Study the stones until weary, JI\V friends, an:i then lift your eyes to the

walls, to the murals of history that give their meaning, yea, their enduring strength,
to the stones.