One of the things that I believe we (corporately, not you specifically) have lost connection with our history, is that our Framers and Founders were people, not demigods (Thomas Jefferson notwithstanding). In 1865, George Washington will be featured in a painting that is hung in the dome of the US Capitol, visible through the oculus of the dome. The painting portrays Washington being elevated to the status of a deity. The idea of portraying Washington as a god really does not offend most Americans.
On occasion, it’s worth our time to talk about and recall the realities of these men and women. They lived, they loved, they got mad, they had joys. They traveled and they discussed. They argued and they liked and disliked each other. They wrote copious letters to each other in a flowery language that both complemented and occasionally berated each other. They saw things differently. Some favored one way, others favored another.
On March 30, 1788, six of the necessary nine States have ratified the Constitution. The debate is leaning towards Ratification in Maryland, and in South Carolina, the resistance of the country folk is being dealt with. In New Hampshire, the efforts to manipulate things by the Federalists are being indefatigably resisted by the anti-Federalists in Convention. New York has not gathered in convention as yet, but already more than seventy letters have been published as “The Federalist Papers” arguing for the ratification. Likewise, dozens of anti-ratification letters have been published. The debate, while hopeful, is still in doubt. There are many who believe that there will be a new United States that will not have all of the original States as a part.
In Bath, England, Abigail Adams begins her trip home to The United States after three years in Paris and London.
Over the past six months, a couple from Alexandria, John and Elizabeth O’Conner, have been corresponding and even in early February, visiting the Washington’s. Mr. O’Conner is a “barrister,” from Ireland, who plans to write a topographical and geographical description of The United States. Elizabeth has opened a small school for girls in Alexandria.
At Mt. Vernon, George Washington sends a letter to Mr. O’Conner, thanking him for his kind words and invitation to a speech. A presentation on eloquence by Mr. O’Conner which Washington clearly had no intention of attending. Probably because he knows what the O’Conner’s are really (probably) up to…
The Convention is over, and the delegates disperse home. George Washington can hardly wait to get out of town and on his way back to Mt. Vernon. He is so anxious to leave, that it almost costs him his life.
The issue is now before the States to decide. Ratification and Union or reject the proposed Constitution and try to go it alone or in small groups.
Two opposing ideologies will coalesce around the debate. One Conservative and liberty minded. The other, radical and focused on a much different – and much bigger – goal. Can only one succeed and push the other into the pages of history?
Or is there yet still room for compromise?
As the convention reaches the end of the first week of September, it seems, at least on the surface of things, that all their work is about to come undone. Luther Martin is convinced that the only way the American people will agree to this Constitution is to be hurried into it by surprise. Edmund Randolph of Virginia declares that yet another full convention be held – AFTER the states are given the opportunity to make amendments to the draft.
It seems like there is a movement to undo all that has been done.
What is left to hold the Convention together? Two men. Perhaps the only two men in all of American history to whom every citizen will listen…