Category Archives: Ratification Debates
July 4, 1788 – In Providence the local Federalists have set up a giant barbecue to celebrate both the Independence Day holiday and to read aloud the proposed Constitution. There is little hope that Rhode Island will quickly ratify the Constitution, in fact, as of today, there hasn’t been any move to even call for a convention to consider the document.
The anti-Federalists in Rhode Island aren’t just opposed to the Constitution. They oppose virtually every idea to strengthen the Union. For the past few years they have intentionally/unintentionally sabotaged the Articles of Confederation by using the power of the veto to stop any forward progress. It is in Rhode Island where the rampant use of State issued paper money has resulted in chaos and financial ruin to States and individuals trying to do business with Rhode Islanders
Now, as the few Federalists in Rhode Island gather to celebrate, William West, leader of the Country Party, decides to take action and make sure that the Providence Federalists understand that Rhode Island has no intention of ratifying the Constitution. He means to shut down their celebration and end once and for all the consideration of the Constitution in the Rhode Island…
In the summer of 2016, the idea that an election could be “rigged” didn’t really surprise anybody. At the same time, it also allowed Americans of all political stripes to act like Captain Renault and feign shock at the idea that American democracy could be so callously and easily manipulated.
New Hampshire was the first of the Colonies to establish a government independent of the Crown and to establish its own state Constitution.
In the Spring and Summer of 1788, New Hampshire has a unique opportunity. If she ratifies, she will become the Ninth Pillar, thus establishing the Constitution as the new government of The United States. But she also faces the same problem that South Carolina, Massachusetts, and other States have seen. That is, that the seaboard cities with their heavy mercantile class population support ratification, while the interior country folks are less enamored with the Constitution.
New Hampshire’s problem is that her seaboard is tiny and heavily outnumbered by the country folk. So… if you happen to be an ardent Federalist in New Hampshire in the Spring of 1788, what do you do?
What do you do? Hmmm…..
Virginia – Part 1
Of all the states that – even for a fleeting moment – thought that they might be able to go their own way and reject the Constitution, Virginia is probably the only one that realistically had a chance of success. But Virginia is also the center of The Enlightenment in America; and it is her leaders who have the nations confidence. So much so, that James Madison almost won’t make it home in time to be elected to the Virginia Convention, because he is busy conducting the Nations business which is entrusted to Virginia.
It is here that the most eloquent Anti-federalist of all, Patrick Henry, will probably join forces with George Mason, a man who attended the Philadelphia Convention but refused to sign the final document. Together, they look to face down the Federalists. If they succeed, Virginia will not ratify and it will be likely that other States remaining to consider the Constitution will follow her example.
Patrick Henry will take the lead. He has a long history of being a defender of individual, particularly religious conscience, and States rights. He has opposed Madison and Jefferson before; this time he means to pull out all of the stops to prevent what he sees as a usurpation of power from the people. Mason has become surprisingly (one might say, Samuel Adamsish) passive. Madison, having just made the convention, faces the most important task of his life…