Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States

By Charles C. Tansill; Library of Congress Legislative Reference Service | Go to book overview

LETTER OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL CONVENTION, DATED SEPTEMBER 17,1787, TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS, TRANSMITTING THE CONSTITUTION.1

IN CONVENTION, SEPTEMBER 17, 1787.2

Sir,

We have now the honor to submit to the consideration of the United States in Congress assembled, that Constitution which has appeared to us the most adviseable.

The friends of our country have long seen and desired, that the power of making war, peace, and treaties, that of levying money and regulating commerce, and the correspondent executive and judicial authorities should be fully and effectually vested in the general government of the Union: But the impropriety of delegating such extensive trust to one body of men is evident--Hence results the necessity of a different organization.

It is obviously impracticable in the federal government of these states, to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each., and yet provide for the interest and safety of all: Individuals entering into society, must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest. The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on situation and circumstance, as on the object to be obtained. It is at all times difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which must be surrendered, and those which may be reserved; and on the present occasion this difficulty was encreased by a difference among the several states as to their situation, extent, habits, and particular interests.

In all our deliberations on this subject we kept steadily in our view, that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence. This important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led each state in the Convention to be less rigid on

____________________
1Reprinted from Documentary History of the Constitution, Vol. II ( 1894). pp. 1, 2.
2From Washington's copy of the Journal of Congress (Vol XII, p. 164).

-1003-

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