Constitutional Chaff: Rejected Suggestions of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, with Explanatory Argument

Constitutional Chaff: Rejected Suggestions of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, with Explanatory Argument

Constitutional Chaff: Rejected Suggestions of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, with Explanatory Argument

Constitutional Chaff: Rejected Suggestions of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, with Explanatory Argument

Excerpt

It seems like a faithless thing -- to emphasize the differences of opinion, the plans which met disfavor, of a group of men whose greatest wish was for their country's good, and whose conviction it was that this could best be obtained by composing their own divergences, by compromising with one another.

The time has long since passed, however, when knowledge of their contentions could harm their accomplishment. Their argument needs no. apology. More evident, even, than the ingenuity it reveals and the keenness of wit and depth of knowledge is the one thing that no one had to compromise. The aim that was common to all was a government calculated for man's, every man's, happiness.

Because of this, Hamilton, whose own plan diverged more than any other from the finished Constitution, could write in The Federalist argument which today remains a classic exposition of the Constitution. Luther Martin, who believed that the people of Maryland never would, or should, ratify the Constitution, could later become an ardent federalist. Randolph, who would not sign the Constitution, could yet advocate its ratification in Virginia.

Because of this, Franklin could say as the Convention closed: "When you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel. . . . Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. . . ."

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