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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.

Lastly, Mr. Rawlins Lowndes rises in opposition to ratification. A Charleston lawyer, he takes upon himself the mantle 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 a 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…



Let Us Astonish Our Enemies



Over the course of the convention, Gouverneur Morris has lost every single debate, discussion, argument, and point. It would be hard to find any single man who had a less successful direct influence on the direction of the debates. Everything that he wanted or stood for in the new government had been defeated.

Now, as the work draws to its close, the convention turns to the one man in whom they have the utmost confidence to stitch together the final document.

And that man is Gouverneur Morris.

When all is said and done, it is Ben Franklin who rises to the moment. His words of self-sacrifice and putting the nation ahead of oneself ring in our hearts even today. And most of all, let us astonish our enemies.







The Steamship Perseverance


Today, we debate and discuss the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which may, depending on how you read it, give the President the authority to make war, while Congress has not declared a war. Oddly enough, the delegates had exactly the same debate, which is why the Constitution gives Congress the power to DECLARE war and the expected the President to MAKE war… as long as the people approved…

Appletons'_Fitch_John_BoatNeeding a bit of a break, most of the Delegates headed down to the shore of the Delaware River to take a ride on a steamship. Yes… a steamship. Twenty years before anybody ever heard of Robert Fulton. Is it possible that little adventure helped them to empower Congress to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts?”

Roughly a hundred years after the convention, Otto von Bismark will develop his political maxim of the “realpolitik.” He could have learned it from Rutledge, who, in response to Luther Martin’s call to accept the immorality of slavery, reminds the Convention that IF there is to be a Union, it WILL be with slavery. And if there is a Union WITH slavery, non-slave States… will make a whole lot of money…




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