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see no good in making the central authority efficient, who had always opposed the extension of national authority, and knew not how else to act. There were men of wide influence, like Samuel Adams, who had said so much about liberty that they were not conversant with the arguments for government. There were those who had already begun to cherish sectional antagonism, fearing the development of the west, or disliking the growing power of commercial New England. There were the papermoney men and the discontented needy, who saw in the Constitution a prohibition of bills of credit and of laws impairing the obligations of contracts—a party which had just been successful in controlling the legislatures of seven states. There were those who had been indignant at the proposition to close the Mississippi and were in no mood to see federal power increased and the full right to make treaties bestowed on the central government. There was the body of the people who for a generation had listened to the enchanting oratory of liberty and could be easily aroused to dread. There were those who, living away from the busy sources of trade, saw no need of a central government with wide power of taxation and authority to regulate commerce. No one of these elements was dangerous alone, but together they constituted a party of opposition which was aided, of course, by the big body of hesitants who at such times pause and shake their heads and wonder if it would not be best to let well enough alone. Fortunately, to leave bad enough alone was the alternative, and every day was sure to bring a few thoughtful reluctants to the support of the new Constitution.
As the days went by, difficulties disclosed themselves. The Federalists, as the supporters of the Constitution called themselves, to indicate that they were for union and a federal government, and their opponents for disunion, were evidently strong in the central states. But in New York the country districts, under the guidance of Clinton and the state office - holders, were rallying to defeat ratification. In Massachusetts there was grave uncertainty. Virginia had among her counsellors not only Lee, but Mason and Patrick Henry, two powerful men, whose energy might yet be sufficient to defeat national union in the state of Madison and Washington. Recognizing the influence of Henry, Washington, on his return to Virginia, sent Henry and one or two others a copy of the Constitution, and delicately yet forcibly suggested the need of adoption. “From a variety of concurring accounts,” he said, “it appears to me, that the political concerns of this country are in a manner suspended by a thread, and that the convention has been looked up to, by the reflecting part of the community, with a solicitude which is hardly to be conceived; and, if nothing had been agreed on by that body, anarchy would soon have ensued, the seeds being deeply sown in every
Elliot, Debates, V., 569.
soil."1 Henry answered that he could not bring his “mind to accord with the proposed constitution."
In Pennsylvania there was undoubted enthusiasm for the new system, especially in Philadelphia and vicinity, and the Federalists without much difficulty passed through the legislature a resolution calling a convention. Gouverneur Morris was partly right, however, in fearing the “cold and sour temper of the back counties " and the opposition of those who had “habituated themselves to live on the public" under the old system. Before the convention assembled, a torrent of newspaper articles and pamphlets supporting or defending the Constitution issued from the Pennsylvania press. The people were seriously in earnest. There were papers by "Homespun" and "American Citizen" and "Turk" and “Tar and Feathers" and a score of others. Turk thought he saw in the Constitution a resemblance “to that of our much admired Sublime Porte.” “Your President general," he said, “will greatly resemble in his powers the mighty Ahdul Ahmed, our august Sultan-the senate will be his divan-your standing army will come in the place of our janizaries—your judges unchecked by vile juries may with great propriety be styled cadis." There was a heavy bit of satire signed by“ John Humble, Secretary," and purporting to be the address of the “low-born" to their fellow
· Washington, Writings (Ford's ed.), XI., 165.
slaves throughout the United States; in other words, to "all the people of the United States, except 600 or thereabouts,"—those who were well - born. The low-born multitude professed themselves ready to allow the well-born to establish the divine Constitution which had just been laid before them. Another writer, gifted with powers of prophecy, depicted the condition of the Union in case the new Constitut on was rejected. Such items as this, he said, would appear in the public press: “On the 30th ult., his Excellency, David Shays, Esq., took possession of the government of Massachusetts. The execution of — Esq., the late tyrannical governor, was to take place the next day.” 1
On the other side an "American Citizen" argued that the ludicrous papers signed by "Turk" and
Gaul and “Briton” were but cunning tricks to make the readers believe that the opposition came from foreigners, a “thread-bare piece of political jockeyism,” when in reality British and foreign agents everywhere were “bellowing forth” the praises of the proposed Constitution. A great deal of solemn nonsense was printed and some sound sense. From Pelatiah Webster and a few like him who could think with directness came vigorous arguments for the Constitution. The ablest single presentation of the whole subject was made by James Wilson in a speech before a mass-meeting 1 McMaster and Stone, Pa. and Fed. Const., 121, 159, 173. Ibid., 164.
gathered at the Philadelphia state - house. The opponents of the Constitution, however, could not be silenced by argument, for in mere power to pour out words they surpassed the Federal leaders. Wilson was answered by being called "Jimmy" and "James de Caledonia."
The Pennsylvania state convention met November 21, 1787. The Federalists were well led by Wilson and Thomas McKean; the Anti-Federalists by Robert Whitehill, John Smilie, and William Findley. The debates were able: the Anti-Federalists were sometimes bitter, but they argued with strength and acumen till overborne by superior numbers. They attacked the Constitution because it did not have a bill of rights and because it endangered the existence of the states, or because, as they said, it established "a consolidated government." 1 These were the chief objections; but the infrequency of elections, the danger of an established aristocracy, the want of a proper guaranty of jury trial in the federal courts,' and, in general, the exclusive authority of Congress, were grounds of criticism and complaint. The Federalists asserted that a bill of rights was not an essential, and Benjamin Rush went so far as to say, "I consider it as an honor to the late convention, that this system has not been disgraced with a bill of rights.” "Would it not be absurd," he said, "to frame a formal declaration
1 McMaster and Stone, Pa. and Fed. Const., 268.