Category Archives: Podcast

New York Pt II: On The Verge of Eternity




After a long public debate in the media, the delegates for New York have arrived in Poughkeepsie to decided if New York will ratify the Constitution. While there is a STRONG Anti-Federalist contingent in the State, there is something else going on. Governor George Clinton is the leading opponent of ratification but even he is beginning to understand that the very purpose of the Constitution supersedes the arguments against its ratification. After Massachusetts and Virginia ratify, it is beginning to dawn on New York that going it alone is an untenable position.

At the convention, Melancton Smith will be the primary speaker for the Anti-Federalist position. He is most likely the author of numerous Anti-Federalist papers, including the “Letters from a Federal farmer.” He is a simple man, a country farmer, not as well polished as Hamilton but he is focused (unlike Hamilton), polite (unlike Hamilton) and he is of “a gentle, liberal, and amiable disposition” (unlike Hamilton). He is so persuasive that the issue in New York is never really in doubt.

The biggest problem now is that the ground has shifted. While the numbers are clearly in favor in the Anti-federalist position, the realization is dawning on the Delegates that New York may have waited too long to ratify. The realization that the only way to get what the amendments that they “require” for ratification, is to be able to send delegates to the new Congress. The realization is dawning that only way to keep New York together is to ratify.

Melancton Smith, the man who will try to broker an acceptable system of ratification, realizes that despite their numbers, Hamilton is right. Not Ratifying is no longer an option. Clinton is furious at him, but at the end of the day, even the future Vice President has to accept what Melancton Smith has accepted – the Ben Franklin cartoon drawn all those years ago still applies. Join or Die. 

And on the verge of eternity, New York ratifies the Constitution…


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The Three Virginia’s




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As James Madison leaves New York City to stand for election to the Virginia Ratification Convention, he is troubled. Overall, the nation is moving towards Ratification, but major hurdles remain, including New York, Maryland and of course, his home State of Virginia. If Virginia and New York reject ratification, the entire enterprise could be placed in doubt.

In Virginia, he finds the distasteful process of just getting elected to the Convention an annoyance. And if he gets elected, he will face off against the man who many believe is the greatest orator of all time, Patrick Henry.

Henry has made it clear that he will not support ratification. Or maybe he will? This is the real issue in Virginia, the three positions taken by the various partisan sides.

First are the Federalists, led by Madison. They support ratification as is. Next come the slightly-anti-Federalists, led by such men as Randolph and Mason, who will support ratification IF, and that is a big IF, they can get amendments included which they believe will safeguard individual rights.

Thirdly, there is Kentucky. Currently, it is part of Virginia. Madison has been fighting a losing battle in Congress for the last two years to make her a State in her own right, but the inertial resistance has led many in Kentucky and around the South, in general, to believe that the proposed Constitution is little more than a Northern power grab.

And overarching it all is Patrick Henry. There are rumors that he has his own ideas about what Virginia should do. Nobody is certain, but the evidence seems to lead to the conclusion that he would not be displeased if Virginia fails to ratify. Where there is smoke, there is fire, and Madison has to find a way to extinguish Henry’s opposition… 


Safety in Numbers


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As the debates rolled on, the nation considered many elements of the proposed Constitution. In Rhode Island, there was grave concern over the idea that the State would not be able to print its own paper currency. In Virginia, the Kentucky Counties worried about the navigational rights on the Mississippi River. But nearly everyone agreed on one issue – the idea that if the nation went to war, it would be stronger united than not.

On April 6, 1917, Congress gathered to vote on whether or not the United States should declare war on Imperial Germany. Four days earlier President Woodrow Wilson had made it clear that the United States was needed and ready for the fight against an evil and depraved monarchy that chose war over peace and threatened the entire world. But, he made he clear, that it would not be, it could not be, his decision alone to send the US into World War I.

Despite the changes in the world since 1787, one thing remained the same. It was that one thing that the Framers had in their prescience foreseen: that no one person should ever be allowed to take the US to war.


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