THE GREAT CONVENTION
THE movement to revise the Articles of Confederation began even before they were finally adopted. The need of such revision was strongly felt by Washington and in 1780 his young secretary, Alexander Hamilton, wrote a striking letter in which he boldly suggested that Congress should assume the necessary powers by a sort of peaceful revolution. If it had not the courage to do that, then a federal convention should be called to reorganize the government. In 1781 Congress discussed several amendments, but the only one actually recommended to the states was that authorizing the five-per-cent impost. The failure of this and other amendments proposed during the next three years showed that there was little chance of carrying through any measure which required unanimous consent. Meantime, the idea of something more serious than merely patching up the Articles was spreading. One of the more advanced thinkers on this subject was Pelatiah Webster, of Philadelphia, who published a pamphlet proposing a new federal constitution, with a Congress of two houses which could levy taxes independently of the state governments. By 1785 the plan of a federal convention was very much in the air. It was proposed by New York in 1782 and by Massachusetts in 1785, though the congressional delegates from the latter state threw cold water on the plan.
Plans for rivising the Articles.
The idea of a convention.
The convention idea harmonized well with a movement then under way in Virginia to secure coöperation on certain questions of interstate commerce. Such men as Washington
Virginia and Maryland conferences.