« EelmineJätka »
had been thought expedient. They desired that the State conventions should be at liberty to propose amendments, and that those amendments should be finally acted upon by another general convention.' The nature of the plan, however, and the form in which it was to be submitted to the people of the States, made it necessary that it should be adopted or rejected as a whole, by the convention of each State. As a process of amendment by the action of the Congress and the State legislatures had been provided in the instrument, there was the less necessity for holding a second convention. The State conventions would obviously be at liberty to propose amendments, but not to make them a condition of their acceptance of the government as proposed.
A letter having been prepared to accompany the Constitution, and to present it to the consideration and action of the existing Congress, the instrument was formally signed by all the other members then present. The official record sent to the Congress of the resolutions, which directed that the Constitution be laid before that body, recited the presence of the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. New York was not regarded as officially present; but in order that the proceedings might have
1 Mr. Madison has given the principal grounds of objection which these gentlemen felt to the Constitution. It is not necessary to repeat them here, as they were
nearly all met by the subsequent amendments, so far as they were special, and did not relate to the general tendency of the system. (See Madison, Elliot, V. 552-558.)
all the weight that a name of so much importance could give to them, in the place that should have been filled by his State, was recited the name of "Mr. Hamilton from New York." The prominence thus given to the name of Hamilton, by the absence of his colleagues, was significant of the part he was to act in the great events and discussions that were to attend the ratification of the instrument by the States. His objections to the plan were certainly not less grave and important than those which were entertained by the members who refused to give to it their signatures; but like Madison, like Pinckney and Franklin and Washington, he considered the choice to be between anarchy and convulsion, on the one side, and the chances of good to be expected of this plan, on the other. Upon this issue, in truth, the Constitution went to the people of the United States. There is a tradition, that, when Washington was about to sign the instrument, he rose from his seat, and, holding the pen in his hand, after a short pause, pronounced these words:-"Should the States reject this excellent Constitution, the probability is that an opportunity will never again offer to cancel another in peace, the next will be drawn in blood."1
1 My authority for this anecdote is the Pennsylvania Journal of November 14, 1787, where it was
stated by a writer who dates his communication from Elizabethtown, November 7.