(Nash 243-47) Our own Charter of Connecticut were promised the land to the west, stretching unbounded across the Ohio valley. Were we, who had struggle to protect and to perfect that right to have it given away by a monarchy which offered us no token in return, but merely taxation without representation? Fellow citizens, we did not acquiesce in that claim, but joined proudly with our fellow colonists in the late rebellion.
Joining in the new nation, we pledged ourselves to the Articles of Confederation, and as part of the great compromise that made the new government acceptable to recalcitrants, we, along with those other colonies which likewise claimed rights to land in the interior, forewent those claims, transferring them to our new national government, the United States of America. (Peters 4-5) By that compromise, we won the recalcitrants to the new government. (Rakove 81 (the Articles became effective March 1, 1781))
But are we united, fellow citizens? Are we a nation? I say no. We not a nation. Every state puts up barriers to protect its own trade. (Articles of Confederation art. iii) We trade with Maryland as we might with Spain; with New York as we might with old. (Friedman 115; Peters 5) Fortunate we are that the times have been peaceful, for if our nation needed some defense from an invader, we could not respond. (Collier & Collier 4-6) We would be as children, crying for our nurse, hoping hope it was but a dream, not a real enemy. And why?
My fellows, it is because our Articles of Confederation created no nation but a congress of sovereigns, each jealous of its every prerogative. (Articles of Confederation, art. ii) Our neighbor, Rhode Island, despises the burden of membership, and will not attend Congress. This paralyzes Congress, hopeless to do more than plead with its least member to allow it to act, to do anything. (Peters 6; Rakove 47-48) Disputes of maritime law, critical to our trading class, cannot be resolved, because we have made the Congress as our only national court, (Articles of Confederation, art.
ix), and it does nothing. Perhaps for the best. If it acted, would Congress, made of men of diverse interests, act for trade and manufacture classes which are our strength, or would it favor the southern states, dependent on agriculture? (Gibson 10: cf. McDuffie 105-19) We have need of a convention not to amend these Articles, but to replace them altogether! (Bowen 39) Can we amend? I say nay, for amending must be unanimous, and some Rhode Island will either veto amendment, or by reservation make us revert to our present paralysis. (Article of Confederation, art.
ix) Critics say any plan to strengthen our national government will pave the way for a new monarchy more wretched from that whence we so recently rebelled. (Sterling) I say nonsense. The colonies have written constitutions that have served as models of republican government, with governments strong enough to meet our needs, subject to checks and balances. (Larson & Winship 4-5) Where is the King of Delaware? New Jersey set up a royal house? If the many states can do this and remain free, why can we not do so as a nation? (Larson & Winship 4-5)
Further, consider the leaders who will convene in Philadelphia: We have Franklin, whose sage performance made France our ally and benefactor in our War of Independence. (Brands 520-44) From New York, Alexander Hamilton, who youth did not deprive him of honor as our great generals first aide in the late war. (Bowers 5-9; Collier & Collier 39) Our own state will send Roger Sherman, whose wisdom in council has been proven many times over. (Collier & Collier 95-98) And we are resolved that this convention shall have as its president that man who is without peer in our ranks, our revered Cincinnatus, Washington.
(Collier & Collier 43, 79-80) May we not trust that with the guidance of that divine presence which has steered us through our late war, these wise men counsel will give us a compact by which we will become a nation? A Hartford Farmer AUTHORITIES CITED: Articles of Confederation Bowen Catherine. Miracle at Philadelphia. New York, New York: Book-of-the-Month-Club, Inc. , 1986. Bowers. Claude. Hamilton: A Portrait. Alexander Hamilton: A Profile. Ed. Jacob Cooke. New York, New York: Hill & Wang, 1967, pp, 1-24. . Brands, H. W. The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin.
New York, New York: Doubleday, 2000. Collier, Christopher and James Collier. Decision in Philadelphia. New York, New York: Random House, 1984. Friedman, Lawrence. A History of American Law. 2d ed. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985. Gibson, Lawrence. The Coming of the Revolution. New York, New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1954. Larson, Edward & Michael Winship. The Constitutional Convention. New York, New York: The Modern Library, 2005. McDuffie, George. Speech at Charleston, South Carolina, May 19, 1831. The Nullification Era, Ed. William Freehling. New York, New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1967, pp. 104-19.