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February 19, 1788 – Fishkill, NY



vanwyckhomestead-270x180In 1788, Fishkill, New York, was a well known and important city, having once served as the Capitol of New York State. It was also the home of the largest supply depot of the Continental Army. And Fishkill had its own newspaper, The New York Packet, later known as Louden’s New York Packet.

It was this newspaper, on Tuesday, February 19, 1788, that published another in a series of essays which were rapidly taking the country by storm. The essays were anonymous and while there was much speculation as to the authorship, only four or five people (not counting the writers themselves) in the entire nation could say with any certainty that they knew who the author – or authors – was. Even George Washington pretended to not know as he praised the essays and proclaimed, “Who is the author?” In fact, he had been directly told by the authors that they were in fact, the authors. Read the rest of this entry

New Hampshire

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.

2344New 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…..

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South Carolina

As the ratification process turns to South Carolina, it is clear that the Federalists who run the State favor ratification. It was South Carolina, after all, that teamed up with James Wilson to cement the 3/5th’s compromise and stuck to the deal as the tides of anti-slavery climbed against it.

But it won’t be as simple as that. First, the State Legislature will do something that no other legislature has done – it will openly debate the Constitution “for the sake of informing the country’s members” of the reasons why the Constitution should be ratified.

Then there is a second issue. South Carolina. like Massachusetts, is concerned about the lack of religious tests for holding offices. As it turns out, South Carolina has an official religion, one that is traditional but quickly becoming an anachronism.

Rawlins_LowndesLastly, Mr. Rawlins Lowndes rises in opposition to ratification. A Charleston lawyer, he takes upon himself the mantel of speaking for those “less accustomed to public speaking,” and he outlines the problems that many in South Carolina have with the overall tone of the Constitution. Which is, of course, the one thing that all of the Southern States, South Carolina most of all, fears the Constitution will do – end slavery.

There is strong majority anti-Federalist sentiment in the State, and indeed, there are many in South Carolina who believe that the State should “go it alone” rather than remain joined to the Union. It is Charles Cotesworth Pickney who puts a final rest to that political heresy.

When South Carolina votes to ratify, it is over the objections and the will of the people of the State. but it is the eighth pillar to be raised in the new government…

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