U.S. Constitution signed - HISTORY
The United States Constitution was written in during the Philadelphia Convention. The old Congress set the rules the new government followed in terms of writing and ratifying the new constitution. .. The "Federal Constitution" was to be changed to meet the requirements of good 4, Nathaniel Gorham, Massachusetts. The delegates included many of the leading figures of the period. The Philadelphia Convention, which met in May , was officially called for by the old written by Constitutional Convention delegate Elbridge Gerry to the Massachusetts. The delegates appointed George Washington as president of the convention | THE American History: Meeting in Philadelphia to Write a Constitution The convention did not just discuss a proposal, vote on it, and move on to other issues. They chose Nathaniel Gorham, a judge from Massachusetts.
Gerry did see some merit in the Constitution, though, and believed that its flaws could be remedied through amendments. Inafter he announced his intention to support the Constitution, he was elected to the First Congress where, to the chagrin of the Antifederalists, he championed Federalist policies.
Gerry left Congress for the last time in and retired for 4 years. During this period he came to mistrust the aims of the Federalists, particularly their attempts to nurture an alliance with Britain, and sided with the pro-French Democratic-Republicans. In President John Adams appointed him as the only non-Federalist member of a three-man commission charged with negotiating a reconciliation with France, which was on the brink of war with the United States.
During the ensuing XYZ affairGerry tarnished his reputation.
American History: Meeting in Philadelphia to Write a Constitution
Talleyrand, the French foreign minister, led him to believe that his presence in France would prevent war, and Gerry lingered on long after the departure of John Marshall and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, the two other commissioners. Finally, the embarrassed Adams recalled him, and Gerry met severe censure from the Federalists upon his return. In Gerry, never very popular among the Massachusetts electorate because of his aristocratic haughtiness, met defeat in four bids for the Massachusetts governorship but finally triumphed in Near the end of his two terms, scarred by partisan controversy, the Democratic-Republicans passed a redistricting measure to ensure their domination of the state senate.
In response, the Federalists heaped ridicule on Gerry and coined the pun "gerrymander" to describe the salamander-like shape of one of the redistricted areas. Despite his advanced age, frail health, and the threat of poverty brought on by neglect of personal affairs, Gerry served as James Madison's Vice President in In the fall ofthe year old politician collapsed on his way to the Senate and died.
He left his wife, who was to live untilthe last surviving widow of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, as well as three sons and four daughters.
His father operated a packet boat. The youth's education was minimal. When he was about 15 years of age, he was apprenticed to a New London, CT, merchant. He quit inreturned to his hometown and established a business which quickly succeeded.
In he wed Rebecca Call, who was to bear nine children. Gorham began his political career as a public notary but soon won election to the colonial legislature During the Revolution, he unswervingly backed the Whigs.
He was a delegate to the provincial congressmember of the Massachusetts Board of Wardelegate to the constitutional conventionand representative in both the upper and lower houses of the legislature, including speaker of the latter in, and In the last year, though he apparently lacked formal legal training, he began a judicial career as judge of the Middlesex County court of common pleas During this same period, he sat on the Governor's Council During the war, British troops had ravaged much of Gorham's property, though by privateering and speculation he managed to recoup most of his fortune.
Despite these pressing business concerns and his state political and judicial activities, he also served the nation. He was a member of the Continental Congress andand held the office of president from June until January The next year, at age 49, Gorham attended the Constitutional Convention.
A moderate nationalist, he attended all the sessions and played an influential role. He spoke often, acted as chairman of the Committee of the Whole, and sat on the Committee of Detail. As a delegate to the Massachusetts ratifying convention, he stood behind the Constitution. Some unhappy years followed.
Delegates to the Constitutional Convention: Massachusetts
Gorham did not serve in the new government he had helped to create. In he and Oliver Phelps of Windsor, CT, and possibly others, contracted to purchase from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 6 million acres of unimproved land in western New York. Gorham and Phelps quickly succeeded in clearing Indian title to 2, acres in the eastern section of the grant and sold much of it to settlers. Problems soon arose, however. Massachusetts scrip rose dramatically in value, enormously swelling the purchase price of the vast tract.
By the two men were unable to meet their payments.
American History: Meeting in Philadelphia to Write a Constitution
The result was a financial crisis that led to Gorham's insolvency--and a fall from the heights of Boston society and political esteem. Rufus King Massachusetts Image: He was the eldest son of a prosperous farmer-merchant. At age 12, after receiving an elementary education at local schools, he matriculated at Dummer Academy in South Byfield, MA, and in graduated from Harvard.
He served briefly as a general's aide during the War for Independence. Choosing a legal career, he read for the law at Newburyport, MA, and entered practice there in King's knowledge, bearing, and oratorical gifts soon launched him on a political career.
From to he was a member of the Massachusetts legislature, after which that body sent him to the Continental Congress There, he gained a reputation as a brilliant speaker and an early opponent of slavery. Toward the end of his tour, inhe married Mary Alsop, daughter of a rich New York City merchant. He performed his final duties for Massachusetts by representing her at the Constitutional Convention and by serving in the commonwealth's ratifying convention.
At age 32, King was not only one of the most youthful of the delegates at Philadelphia, but was also one of the most important. He numbered among the most capable orators. Furthermore, he attended every session. Although he came to the convention unconvinced that major changes should be made in the Articles of Confederation, his views underwent a startling transformation during the debates.
With Madison, he became a leading figure in the nationalist caucus. He also took notes on the proceedings, which have been valuable to historians. About King abandoned his law practice, moved from the Bay State to Gotham, and enteredthe New York political forum.
He was elected to the legislatureand in the former year was picked as one of the state's first U. As political divisions grew in the new government, King expressed ardent sympathies for the Federalists.
In Congress, he supportedHamilton's fiscal program and stood among the leading proponents of the unpopular Jay's Treaty Reelected to the U. Senate inhe served only a year before he was appointed as Minister to Great Britain The final straw for many came in western Massachusetts where angry farmers, led by Daniel Shays, took up arms and engaged in active rebellion in an effort to gain debt relief.
Troubles with the existing Confederation of States finally convinced the Continental Congress, in Februaryto call for a convention of delegates to meet in May in Philadelphia "to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union.
Few people claim to be anti-liberty, but the word "liberty" has many meanings. Should the delegates be most concerned with protected liberty of conscience, liberty of contract meaning, for many at the time, the right of creditors to collect debts owed under their contractsor the liberty to hold property debtors complained that this liberty was being taken by banks and other creditors? Convention in Philadelphia The room in Independence Hall formerly the State House in Philadelphia where debates over the proposed Constitution took place photo by Doug Linder On May 25,a week later than scheduled, delegates from the various states met in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia.
Among the first orders of business was electing George Washington president of the Convention and establishing the rules--including complete secrecy concerning its deliberations--that would guide the proceedings. Several delegates, most notably James Madison, took extensive notes, but these were not published until decades later.
The main business of the Convention began four days later when Governor Edmund Randolph of Virginia presented and defended a plan for new structure of government called the "Virginia Plan" that had been chiefly drafted by fellow Virginia delegate, James Madison. The Virginia Plan called for a strong national government with both branches of the legislative branch apportioned by population. The plan gave the national government the power to legislate "in all cases in which the separate States are incompetent" and even gave a proposed national Council of Revision a veto power over state legislatures.
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Delegates from smaller states, and states less sympathetic to broad federal powers, opposed many of the provisions in the Virginia Plan. Charles Pinckney of South Carolina asked whether proponents of the plan "meant to abolish the State Governments altogether. The New Jersey Plan kept federal powers rather limited and created no new Congress. Instead, the plan enlarged some of the powers then held by the Continental Congress.
Paterson made plain the adamant opposition of delegates from many of the smaller states to any new plan that would deprive them of equal voting power "equal suffrage" in the legislative branch. Over the course of the next three months, delegates worked out a series of compromises between the competing plans.
Most importantly, perhaps, delegates compromised on the thorny issue of apportioning members of Congress, an issue that had bitterly divided the larger and smaller states. Under a plan put forward by delegate Roger Sherman of Connecticut "the Connecticut Compromise"representation in the House of Representatives would be based on population while each state would be guaranteed an equal two senators in the new Senate.
By September, the final compromises were made, the final clauses polished, and it came time to vote.