will be slavery, for it cannot be denied that this constitution is, in its first principles, highly and dangerously oligarchical; and it is every where agreed, that a government administered by a few, is, of all governments, the worst.

LEONIDAS


Antifederalist No. 49
ON CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTIONS (PART I)

When the members of the constitutional convention decided to violate their instructions (to suggest amendments to the Articles) and draft an entirely new document, at that point--in the words of Charles Beard--they "performed a revolutionary act." ( An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, New York, 1959, p. 222.) Indeed, the revolutionary implications of conventions were obvious to the Federalists, and they preached a conservative doctrine quite different from their Philadelphia practice. Thus, except for the amendatory process defined in Article V, the new Constitution contained no provision formalizing future conventions to rewrite the basic law of the land (as Jefferson might have desired). Further, the Federalists insisted that the new Constitution be ratified without amendments, rather than risk a limited or qualified acceptance which might require the calling of another convention. "It must be confessed," stated James Madison in Federalist No. 49, "that the experiments are of too ticklish a nature to be unnecessarily multiplied."

The first part of the following essay, by "MASSACHUSETTENSIS" is from The Massachusetts Gazette, January 29, 1788; the second, by "AN OLD WHIG", is from The New-York Journal, November 27, 1787, reprinted from the[ Philadelphia] Independent Gazetteer.

That the new constitution cannot make a union of states, but only of individuals, and purposes the beginning of one new society, one new government in all matters, is evident from these considerations, viz: It marks no line of distinction between separate state matters, and what would of right come under the control of the powers ordained in a union of states. To say that no line could be drawn, is giving me the argument. For what can be more absurd than to say, that states are united where a general power is established that extends to all objects of government, i.e., all that exist among the people who make the compact? And is it not clear that Congress have the right (by the constitution), to make general laws for proving all acts, records, proceedings, and the effect thereof, in what are now called the states? Is it possible after this that any state act can exist, or any public business be done, without the direction and sanction of Congress, or by virtue of some subordinate authority? If not, how in the nature of things can there be a union of states? Does not the uniting of states, as states, necessarily imply the existence of separate state powers?

Again, the constitution makes no consistent, adequate provision for

-138-

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