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are merely ideal, and fallacious! Would to God that wise measures may be taken in time avert the consequences we have but too much reason to apprehend.
" Retired as I am from the world, I frankly acknowledge, I cannot feel myself an unconcerned spectator. Yet having happily assisted in bringing the ship into port, and having been fairly discharged, it is not my business to embark again on a sea of troubles. Nor can it be expected that my sentiments, and opinions, would have much weight on the minds of my countrymen. They have been neg. lected, though given as a last legacy, in the most solemn manner. I had then perbaps some claims to public attention. I consider myself as having none at present. The convention before mentioned convened at Annapolis, and upon mature deliberation and reflection, dissolved their session, without even beginning to act, upon the ground, that more extensive powers, as well as a more enlarged body were become of the most urgent necessity to take into consideration the state of the government, and the nation."
This convention made their report to the legislature of Virginia, who proceeded immediately to pass an act for the appointment of deputies to meet such as might be appointed by other states, to assemble at Philadelphia, at the time, (viz, on the 2d of May next,) and for the purpose specified in the recommendation of the convention of Annapolis.
Mr. Madison communicated to Gen. Washington, the intentions of the legislature, of placing his name at the head of the Virginia delegation. To which the general thus replied.
“ Although I have bid adieu to the public walks of life, and had resolved never more to tread that theatre; yet if upon an occasion so interesting as the present, to the well being of the confederacy, it had been the wish of the assembly that I should be an associate in the business of revising the federal system, I should, from a sense of the obligation I am under for repeated proofs of confidence in me, more than from any opinion I could entertain of my usefulness, have obeyed its call; but it is now out of my power to do this, with any degree of consistency; the cause I will mention.
“ I presume you have heard sir, that I was first appointed, and have since been re-appointed president of the society of the Cincinnati; and you may have understood also, that the triennial meeting of that body is to be held at Philadelphia, on the first Monday in May next. Various considerations induced me to address a circular on the 31st ultimo, to each state society, informing them of my intention not to be at the next meeting, and of my desire not to be re-chosen president. The vice-president is also informed of this, that the business of the society may not be impeded by my absence. Under these circumstances it will readily be perceived that I could not appear at the same time and place on any other occasion, without giving offence to a very respectable and deserving part of the community, the late officers of the American army."
· The ligislature took this letter into consideration, and finally concluded to appoint his Excellency George Washington, as one of their delegates to the convention.
The governor of Virginia, Mr. Randolph, who was also elected, made the following communication to General Washington.
“ Sir-By the enclosed act you will readily discover that the assembly are alarmed at the storms which threaten the United States. What our enemies have foretold seems to be hastening to its accomplishment, and cannot be frustratVol. III.
ed, but by an instantaneous, zealous, and steady union among the friends of the federal government. To you I need not press our present dangers. The inefficacy of Congress you have often felt in your official character ; the increased langour of our associated republics you hourly see ; and a dissolution would be, I know to you, a source of the deepest mortification.
“ I freely then intreat you to accept the unanimous ap- . pointment of the general assembly, to the convention at Philadelphia. For the gloomy prospect still admits one ray of hope, that those who began, carried on, and consummated the revolution, can secure America from the impending ruins."
To which the general thus replied.
“Sensible as I am of the honor conferred on me by the gen· eral assembly of this commonwealth, in appointing me one of the deputies to a convention to be held at Philadelphia in May next, for the purpose of revising the federal constitution, and desirous as I am, on all occasions, of. tes.. tifying my ready obedience to the calls of my country; yet sir, there exists at this time, circumstances which I am persuaded will render this fresh instance of confidence incompatible with other measures which I had previously adopted, and from which, seeing little prospect of disengaging myself, it would be disingenuous not to express a wish that some other character, on whom greater reliance may be had, may be substituted in my place, the probability of my non attendance, being too great to continue my appointment.
“ As no mind can be more deeply impressed than mine is with the critical-situation of our affairs, resulting in a great measure from the want of efficient powers in the federal head, and due respect to its ordinances ; so conequently, those who do engage in this important business,
of removing these defects, will carry with them every good wish of mine, which the best disposition towards them can bestow."
At this eventful moment the insurrection in the state of Massachusetts broke out, under Capt. Daniel Shays; filled the country with alarm, and doubtless was one of the principal causes of bringing the convention at Philadelphia to unite in a general system of government.
On the 21st of February, 1787, Congress passed the following resolution.
“ Resolved, that in the opinion of Congress, it is expedient, that on the 2d Monday of May next, a convention of delegates, who shall have been appointed by the several states for the express purpose of revising the articles of confederation, and reporting to Congress, and the several legislatures, such alterations, and provisions therein, as shall, when agreed to in Congress, and confirmed by the states, render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of government, and the preservation of the union.”
This resolve of Congress opened the way for Gen. Washington to give his attendance'at the convention at * Philadelphia, with honor to himself; he therefore concluded to attend the meeting of the Cincinnati, and thus prepare the way for his attendance at the convention, and expressed his determination, in a letter addressed to the governor of Visginia, accordingly,
The states all elected representatives, who met in convention at Philadelphia, at the time appointed, except Rhode-Island. His Excellency George Washington was unanimously chosen president, and the convention proceeded, with closed doors, to the momentous subject be. fore them.
When the convention had accomplished the object of their labours, and agreed upon a form of government, they resolved—“that it should be laid before the United States, in Congress assembled, and from thence be submitted to a convention of delegates, chosen in cach state, by the people thereof, under the recommendation of its legislature, for their assent, and ratification. That as soon as nine states shall have so ratified the constitution, it shall be carried into operation by the United States, in Congress assembled.”
The president was then directed, by the unanimous resolve of the convention, to transmit the same to Congress; which was accordingly done under his signature, with the following remarks.
“ The convention have resolved, that this constitution be transmitted to Congress as the result of a spirit of amity, and of that mutual deference, and concession, which the peculiarity of their political situation rendered indispensable.
66 That it will meet the full, and entire approbation of every state, (adds the president,) is not to be expected ; but each will doubtless consider, that had her interests been alone consulted, the consequences might have been particularly disagreeable, or injurious to others. That it is liable to as few exceptions, as could reasonably have been expected, we hope and believe ; that it may promote the lasting welfare of our country, so dear to us all, and secure her freedom and happiness, is our ardent wish."
Pending the state deliberations, and discussions, of the merits of the federal constitution, in their several conventions, a succession of numbers appeared in the New-York papers, under the signature of the Federalist,* which displayed a strength of character and talents,
' * Written by Col. Hamilton, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Jay.