the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

39 washington sensed the emerging pessimism and in a

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39 Washington sensed the emerging pessimism, and in a letter to Hamilton, who had left the convention on June 30 to attend a meeting of the Manumission Society in New York, he confessed his doubts about lending his prestige to such a problematic venture: “I almost despair of seeing a favourable issue to the proceedings of the Convention, and do therefore regret at having any urgency in the business.” Franklin, also sensing that this was the critical moment, proposed that the delegates invite a chaplain to read a prayer before their deliberations. This seems strange coming from America’s most prominent deist, but it happened. Legend has it that Hamilton rose to oppose the proposal, saying he “saw no reason to call in foreign aid.” But this clever retort is surely apocryphal, since Hamilton was not present in Philadelphia at the time. It was now clear that the convention was on the verge of dissolution unless some compromise could be hammered out on the question of representation in both houses of the new Congress. 40 The crucial vote came on July 16. Madison and Gouverneur Morris each delivered a passionate plea for proportional representation in both branches of Congress, Morris somewhat melodramatically predicting civil war if the new government did not accurately represent the will of all its citizens. The nationalists were destined to lose this debate because voting in the convention followed the state-based model under the Articles that they were rejecting for the new Constitution. The so-called Great Compromise, also called the Connecticut Compromise because its chief sponsor came from that state, was a classic split-the-difference solution, making representation proportional in the House and state- based in the Senate, with two representatives for each state. 41 Both Madison and Washington interpreted the compromise as a devastating defeat, because the principle of state sovereignty had been qualified but not killed. Writing in code to Jefferson in Paris, Madison shared his deep disappointment at the outcome, which blasted his hopes for a fully empowered national government. “I hazard an opinion,” he lamented, “that the plan should it be adopted will neither effectively answer the national object nor prevent the local mischiefs which everywhere excite disgust agst the state governments.” The new political framework was going to be partly national and partly federal, thereby leaving the all-important sovereignty question inherently ambiguous. He had not been able to keep his promise to Washington that only a radical, wholly national solution would be acceptable. 42 Washington was slightly more sanguine. In a letter to his beloved Lafayette, he viewed the hybrid character of the proposed constitution as an inherently equivocal document that almost invited contradictory interpretations: “It is now a child of fortune to be fostered by some and buffeted by others.
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What will be the General opinion on, or reception of it, is not for me to decide, nor shall I say anything for or against it.” Given the diversity of opinions at the convention, however, Washington believed that “it
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