History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 4

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV.
THE CONSTITUTION IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, MARYLAND, AND SOUTH
CAROLINA.
FROM FEBRUARY TO 23 MAY 1788.

LANGDON, the outgoing chief magistrate of New Hampshire, and Sullivan, his successful competitor, vied with each other in zeal for federal measures; but when, in February 1788, the convention of the state came together there appeared to be a small majority against any change. In a seven days’ debate, Joshua Atherton of Amherst; William Hooper, the minister of Marbury; Matthias Stone, deacon of the church in Claremont; Abiel Parker, from Jaffrey, reproduced the objections that had been urged in the neighboring state; while John Sullivan, John Langdon, Samuel Livermore, Josiah Bartlett, and John Pickering explained and defended it with conciliatory moderation. When zealots complained of the want of a religious test, Woodbury Langdon, lately president of Harvard college, but now a minister of the gospel at Hampton Falls, demonstrated that religion is a question between God and man in which no civil authority may interfere. Dow, from Weare, spoke· against the twenty years’ sufferance of the foreign slave-trade; and to the explanation of Langdon that under the confederation the power exists without limit, Atherton answered : “It is our full purpose to wash our hands clear of becoming its guarantees even for a term of years.”

The friends of the constitution won converts enough to hold the balance; but these were fettered by instructions from their towns. To give them an opportunity to consult their constituents, the friends of the constitution proposed an ad·

-409-

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