The Critical Period of American History, 1783-1789

By John Fiske | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
CROWNING THE WORK

IT was on the 17th of September, 1787, that the Federal Convention broke up. For most of the delegates there was a long and tedious journey home before they could meet their fellow-citizens and explain what had been done at Philadelphia during this anxious summer. Not so, however, with Benjamin Franklin and the Pennsylvania delegation. At eleven o'clock on the next morning, radiant with delight at seeing one of the most cherished purposes of his life so nearly accomplished, the venerable philosopher, attended by his seven colleagues, presented to the legislature of Pennsylvania a copy of the Federal Constitution, and in a brief but pithy speech, characterized by his usual homely wisdom, begged for it their favourable consideration. His words fell upon willing ears, for nowhere was the disgust at the prevailing anarchy greater than in Philadelphia. But still it was not quite in order for the assembly to act upon the matter until word should come from the Continental Congress. Since its ignominious flight to Princeton, four years ago, that migratory body had not honoured Philadelphia with its presence. It had once flitted as far south as Annapolis, but at length had chosen for its abiding-place the city of New York, where it was now in session. To Congress the new Constitution must be submitted before it was in order for the several states to take action upon it. On the 20th of September the draft of the Constitution was laid before Congress, accompanied by a letter from Washington. The forces of the opposition were promptly mustered. At their head was Richard Henry Lee, who

The new Constitution is laid before Congress and submitted forthwith to the several states for ratification

-327-

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The Critical Period of American History, 1783-1789
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Preface to the First Edition viii
  • Contents xi
  • Notes on the Illustrations. xxi
  • Chapter I Results of Yorktown 1
  • Chapter II - The Thirteen Commonwealths 50
  • Chapter III - The League of Friendship 92
  • Chapter IV - Drifting Toward Anarchy 139
  • Chapter V - Germs of National Sovereignty 203
  • Chapter VI - The Federal Convention 249
  • Chapter VII - Crowning the Work 327
  • Bibliographical Note 377
  • Members of the Federal Convention 383
  • Presidents of the Continental Congress 386
  • Index 387
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