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Friday, January 7, 2011

Peaches!

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James MadisonRumor is that James Madison, our Constitution's expectant father was so excited that he leased a private jet and got to the convention site eleven days before it's scheduled start ... had the waiting room all to himself for ten whole days before the President in waiting arrived to keep him company. With time on his hands, he contemplated how to best get the states to pay their fair share of expenses, respect each other's rights and the authority of Congress itself.W.C. Fields
W.C. himself is credited with saying "Philadelphia, wonderful town, spent a week there one night" ... but it's more likely to have been their reaction ... the anticipation that night before the Convention was to start must have made it seem as if the clock was standing still.
The day had finally arrived!. Monday, 14 May, 1787 ... a forgotten day in history!!
Forgotten ain't quite the word for it ... bet them two were fit to be tied when nobody showed up. It was supposed to be RSVP but evidently somebody forgot to send out the invitations and it had to be postponed for eleven more days. Eleven days early and eleven days late ... guess that's what folks mean when they say it all evens out!
The Convention finally opened on Friday, the twenty-fifth. Their Mamas didn't raise no dummies ... first thing they did was to establish a Rules Committee to set the rules for the danged convention ... Rules Committee
Other than that, It probably wasn't much different than in more modern times, except for being in Philadelphia instead of Las Vegas ... with folks checking into the hotels, saying howdy to friends, getting their badges, messages and stuff ...took 'em all weekend long and Monday too ...
Bright and early Tuesday, right after coffee and scrapple, they got down to business ... with Edmund Randolph presenting the Virginia Plan and Charles Pinckney of South Carolina presenting an opposing alternative. It took that day and the next to read them over ... and then they started debating. I suspect it was a lot like our modern political debates except that there wasn't more that one TV camera and you couldn't give the moderator an approved list of questions limiting what folks could ask.
Still, they must have liked the idea and enjoyed it 'cause before you could turn around, they were debating most everything, those things relating to Representation and the Executive power. Folks were afraid of having a strong Executive Power, mostly because of their recent experiences with King George, methinks ... and they debated on whether we should have one ... or a Committee holding the Power ... as well as how much to give, in both power and pay.
Franklin's Speech Dr. Franklin eloquently addressed the Committee, presenting a well reasoned argument for their consideration ... "The Committee will judge of my reasons when they have heard them ... I see inconveniences in the appointment of salaries; I see none in refusing them, but on the contrary, great advantages.
Sir, there are two passions which have a powerful influence on the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice; the love of power,and the love of money. Separately each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but when united in view of the same object, they have in many minds the most violent effects. Place before the eyes of such men a post of honor, that shall, at the same time, be a place of profit, and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it. It will not be the wise and moderate; the lovers of peace and good order, the men fittest for the trust. It will be the bold and the violent, the men of strong passions and indefatigable activity in their selfish pursuits. These will thrust themselves into your Government and be your rulers. And these too will be mistaken in the expected happiness of their situation: for their vanquished competitors of the same spirit, and from the same motives, will perpetually be edeavouring to distress their administration, thwart their measures, and render them odious to the people."
He argued that those believing that they could never find men to serve in high office without paying them well for their services ... were mistaken ... that "the pleasure of doing good and serving their Country and the respect such conduct entitles them to, are sufficient motives with some minds to give up a great portion of their time to the public, without the mean inducement of pecuniary satisfaction" ... citing examples that included the Office of High County Sheriff in England ... the office of Counselor or Member of their Judiciary Parliaments in France ... and George Washington's little eight year tour of duty as General of our armies.
Concluding with "shall we doubt finding three or four men in all the United States, with public spirit enough to be sitting in peaceful Council for perhaps an equal term, merely to preside over our civil concerns, and see that our laws are duly executed. Sir, I have a better opinion of our country. I think we shall never be without a sufficient number of wise and good men to undertake and execute well and faithfully the office in question" ... my Miss Carol long ago told me what Dr. Ben had said, and since then, I've voted for him every chance I get, from County Sheriff to President. Not sure it's ever done him any good but any man what thinks like that deserves my vote!
Guess the fact that they all loved and trusted General George helped resolve those questions, especially after having made him wait in that hotel room with James Madison for them eleven days.
However, the much anticipated Grande Bataille was to be over representation ... the debates concerning the issues regarding representation were many and more than intense ... it was those what would determine the relative power of each of the state governments, relative to each other ... and to the national one. The lines were drawn, deep into the sand ... the big states, and them what thought they would soon so become, wanted the political power of each state to be population based ... while the others wanted the power distributed equally among the states.
On Thursday, 28 June, a month into the Convention, the debate on representation in the Senate opened, and on the following Monday, Dr. Franklin addressed the ConventionFranklin's Prayer Speech ... for then having an interest, his entire speech is contained in "The Genius Of Genius" Post ... this is the beginning and the end: "Mr. President:
The small progress we have made after 4 or five weeks close attendance and continual reasonings with each other ... our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many 'noes' as 'ays', is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own wont of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it.
I therefore beg leave to move ... that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service
" ... yes, the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega ... he said it all, methinks!
Roger Sherman seconded Dr. Ben's motion ... Alexander Hamilton was concerned that adopting such a rule after the Convention started might perceived as having been proposed because of dissensions within the Convention ... the counter argument being that the past omission of a duty could not justify its continued omission ... and, that the rejection of such a proposition would expose the Convention to more unpleasant criticism than its adoption.
It was asserted by Hugh Williamson that the real reason for the omission was that there were no funds ... Edmund Randolph proposed, with Dr. Ben seconding, that a sermon be preached at the request of the Convention on the Fourth of July, ... and subsequently, prayers be read in the Convention every morning. On 2 July, the Convention adjourned until 5 July, without any vote on the motion.
The 4 July, celebration attended by George Washington concluded with the following prayer ... "We fervently recommend to thy fatherly notice . . . our federal convention... favor them, from day to day, with thy inspiring presence; be their wisdom and strength; enable them to devise such measures as may prove happy instruments in healing all divisions and prove the good of the great whole;... that the United States of America may form one example of a free and virtuous government. May we continue, under the influence of republican virtue, to partake of all the blessings of cultivated and Christian society"
Equal State SuffrageIn addition to the question of equal representation, there were the questions of how both members of the House and the Senate were to be selected. To say that the debates were heated would be like saying Mama's fried chicken was pretty good ... and things slowed down, almost to a halt. You might think that it was just a case of being overwhelmed by so much stuff being thrown at them, all at once like ... you might think that Al Gore invented the Internet too. No, these questions had been thought about, articulated, and discussed by most everybody ... more times than Pearl Harbor was discussed on December 8, 1941. No, the issues were complex ... and there was strong disagreement ... it was no surprise.
Well our forefathers, which four don't matter much, had the weekend to think about it ... Sunday to pray about it too. Roger Sherman When Roger Sherman of Connecticut raised his hand on Monday, folks probably thought he wanted some coffee for permission to go to the men's room but he had something else in mind ... "That the proportion of suffrage in the first. branch should be according to the respective numbers of free inhabitants; and that in the second branch or Senate, each State should have one vote and no more" ... an idea he'd first had back when they were wrestling with another problem ... the question of what to do about King George and the writing of the declaration of what they decided.
New Jersey PlanWilliam Paterson of New Jersey presented a plan ... he wanted to keep the same form of government as it was under the Articles of Confederation, modified to allow raising revenues, regulating commerce and foreign affairs. His plan had a one house legislature with each state having the same number of votes ... and the legislature electing the President.
New Jersey PlanEven Alexander Hamilton submitted a plan ... it called for the Legislative power to be vested in a House and a Senate, subject to the veto of the Executive power ... the house subject to three year terms of office; with Senators, Justicies of the Judicial branch, and the Chief Executive all serving during good behavior ... that is to say; lifetime, except for impeachment and conviction.
Noteworthy under his plan, senators were elected by electors chosen for that purpose by the people, rather that by the legislature or general election, with the states divided into senatorial districts, one per senator. The same group electing the nation's chief executive.
The Executive Power was stronger than under the other plans and included ... veto power over legislation being passed into law and over the execution of all laws alread passed; the direction of wars; appointment of the heads or chief officers of the departments of Finance, War and Foreign Affairs; and the pardoning all offenses except Treason; which required the approval of the Senate. Also, with the advice and consent of the Senate, were included the power of making all treaties and the nomination of all other officers and Ambassadors.
Old Vegetable TruckWhen I was a boy, Louis Lefevre had a plan too ... he and his Vegetable Truck came by with fresh produce twice a week during the late spring, summer and fall. His stuff was fresher and cheaper than what you could get from the grocer ... and Mama was always careful to get his very best. Well, almost always ... I remember once, him having the best looking blackberries and strawberries that I'd ever seen, and doggone if she didn't select some scrawny old peaches, what nobody would want. I was too young to know words like flabbergasted, but that's what I was! Questioning Mama's decisions was risky bussiness, but I was young ... "why did you get these dumb peaches when we could have had those blackberries and strawberries?" ... Peach CobblerMama laughed ... "because I'm fixin' peach cobbler, dummy!"
Some folks would call that "asked and answered" ... but around our house, the proof of the cobbler was in the eating, and it was better than good! Mama always bought the best ... and that day, it was scrawny peaches!
Hamilton's plan had some good stuff, methinks ... but lifetime terms of office for elected officials, and the Chief Executive having a negative on the execution of passed laws ... were foreign to most folk's thinking. Sherman Peaches Maybe that's why they called his the British Plan. However, cobbler was American and Roger Sherman's plan was "peaches" to those of the convention ... it represented a compromise, providing for each state's representatives in the House to be based on population and in the Senate by equal numbers for each state. It saved the day ... folks liked Roger and he could have had most anything he wanted, like Mama's fried chicken, box seats at Yankee Stadium or free insurance premiums for his state ... but, as he was tired of toting it around them 11 years, he gave it to them for free.
Committee Of DetailThe issues still had to be debated and details worked out ... but they had the recipe and on 24 July, established a five man "Committee of Detail" to to create a constitution containing all issues agreed to by the convention.
On Monday, 6 August, the Convention received its first draft for consideration ... extremely important in its own right, as it represented significant accomplishment ... the resultant of over two months of serious discussion, debate, deliberation, reflection and compromise. Lest it be forgotten, it must be again emphasized that these were strong willed men of varied backgrounds, interests, and views. As outsiders looking in, we would be exceptional if we failed to marvel at their virtue ... that they could put aside their own perceived interests and differences and dedicate themselves selflessly to the task of forming the best possible governing mechanism ... one that would endure. Sure, some got mad, took their ball and went home ... some probably held their breath 'til they turned blue, but they were truly a remarkable group ... uniquely defined by their resolve, methinks. I think Dr. Ben was on spot, dead center, when he said that they were actively seeking political wisdom.
It seems so foreign to our accustomed political wranglings ...no, it wasn't their interests and differences ... it was their personal ambitions that were left at home. It was the stove that Ben had invented, not the refrigerator ... and the summer was almost as hot as some of the debates, but that breath of fresh air must have been like cool winter's breeze!
The draft of the constitution provided the opportunity to revisit each of the provisions ... individually and as a collection ... improve the clarity, work out details and work on matters of form ... but some, like the provisions concerning voting qualifications, immigration and presidential veto power sparked additional discussion and debate of considerable substance.
The voting qualifications provision is noteworthy in that it provided that "The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature" ... that's plain enough, passes the common sense test too ... sends a message of love and trust ... that is, "it's not out intent to meddle ... just be consistent with whatever it is you're doing at the State level."
This governing stuff is far more complex than first meets the eye ...
I know even less about war than I do governing, 'cept it's easier to spell, ...but I imagine they're alike in that battles is one thing, war another ... what good is it for the general to win the battle, if it costs him the war? That is to say, I think the wisdom of the provision extended well beyond the scope of voting requirements ... certainly there were many well founded points of view and approaches considered ... and reconsidered ... and there were those who strongly felt it important to have uniformity among the states. To my way of thinking, its greater wisdom was that it didn't impose a new set of requirements upon the states ... the currently enfranchised of each state were comfortable with what they had.Rotten Peaches
Can you imagine the reaction to most any other voting qualifications provision, regardless of how well founded, conceived, or intended?
... "I knowed it, I knowed it! First thing out of the box ... them folks is trying to tell us who can and who can't vote!" ... placing ratification on the most endangered list. Rotten peaches, methinks.
Back in Philadelphia, things were progressing .. on 25 August, a second "Committee Of Eleven" was appointed to consider issues related to uniform duties and fees
Uniform Duties & Fees
and on 31 August, yet a third, to address tabled issues and committee reports not yet acted upon
Unfinished Business
On Tuesday, 4 September, this Committee of Eleven began submitting changes, with the Powers of the President being readdressed and further debated ... and on Friday, the Committee submitted its final changes. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, late crops waiting to be harvested, and what with folks getting tired of arguing and living out of suitcases and longing for some home cooking, ... on Saturday, 8 September, a five man committee was appointed to consider and revise the style and arrangement of the Constitution
Committee On StyleI doubt they cheated and worked on Sunday but them boys didn't waste no time ... and on Wednesday, they submitted their draft for the Convention's consideration. Blame them if you don't like the way it looks and is put together 'cause on that same day, they also debated whether to include a a "Bill of Entitlements" ... folks was tired and wanted to go home so they agreed, not to include it, but ... to later add it by amendment ... when folks were fresh and would take time to give it its proper due. Like Roger's Plan, that was "peaches" for the cobbler ... and on Saturday, the final draft was ordered to be written.That is to say, it sweetened the cobbler and took some of the bite out of the argument that the Constitution should not be ratified because it failed to protect the fundamental principles of human liberty ...
The question of how slavery was to be addressed was debated throughout the convention ... but both sides of the issue well knew that prematurely bringing the question before the Convention would serve no good purpose, save those what wanted to go home early. The notion of people being considered as property is repugnant to average folks, especially when the property is the work product of privateers, engaged in abducting folks against their will for the purpose of selling or trading them for profit. Slave MarketWhile not of great relevance to the complex issues facing the Convention, it's less repugnant when the property is part of the spoils of war ... or its object. It would be a mistake to forget that these were virtuous men ...no justification could be given for endorsing slave trading ... common ground, methinks.
It would be a greater mistake to forget that they were men. Regardless of principle, the situation demanded recognition of the complexities .... how slavery was addressed directly impacted the relative power of the states, current and future. That the currently enslaved should be made free men was but the simplistic notion of the zealot, its impact on the balance of power uncertain, and I doubt seriously considered ... the uneducated enslaved, knowing of nothing but enslavement and dependence, are ill equipped to survive in the world of free men without proper acclimation and careful assimilation. True then, truer now.
Slave TradingSlavery runs counter to the republic's definitional building block that "all men, rich and poor, magistrates and subjects, officers and people, masters and servants, the first citizen and the last, are equally subject to the laws" ... at least when you recognize slaves as men. In contrast, "that all men are created equal" is noble, albeit false doctrine, intended to serve good purpose ... for indeed, men are created different ... individually, as well as collectively based on criteria such as the hue of their skin ... the pine, the cedar, the maple, the palm and the oak are all trees ... but certainly they are not the same, nor are they equal, for each is superior to the other, depending upon the situation or use to which it it being put. For them not understanding ... try growing oaks and pines on rocky land ... or putting their sap on your pancakes.
For whatever the reason, God made many kinds of trees and animals ... some similar but all different, and unequal, depending on context ... but, for whatever the reason, there was a reason ... a reason too for having over 40,000 different kinds of spiders ... and a reason why the fruit of the tree of knowledge was forbidden.
PatrickHenry.jpgWhen we abandon or abuse the basic principles upon which our nation was founded, for whatever the reason, we corrupt and undermine the system ... as I've said before and will after ... the violation of principle is the worst of all corruptions, regardless of intent! It's interesting that America's most renown champion of principle, Mr. "Liberty or Death" Patrick Henry, refused to go because he "smelt a rat in Philadelphia, tending toward the monarchy" ... interesting but not too surprising ... and probably for the best, though his was an important opposing voice ... as a leader of the anti-federalists and champion of State Rights and the freedoms of individuals.
Our founders knew the issue of slavery, with its attendant problems, was wrapped in highly volatile, explosive material. It borders on the remarkable that the opposing sides successfully avoided triggering the destruction that might have been wrought. Neither side wanted to win the battle at the expense of losing the war ... same strategy as before, leave stuff pretty much as it was ... and compromise on the indefensible slave trading issue ... a twenty year non-interference guarantee that is, "no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article"...
Clause "1" provided that "the Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person" ... while number "4" said "No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken" ...
It's very difficult to imagine anyone defending slavery on religious, moral or virtuous grounds, but in truth, the slavery issue had little to do with religion, morality or virtue ... it was fabric woven from threads of power and taxation.
The position of those opposing the abolition of slavery was superior to that of those advocating it, methinks ... that is to say, its immediate abolition. Without question, it would have wrecked the economy of not only the southern states, but that of the nation. The slaves themselves were certainly ill equipped to be free and that burden would have been like cruel and unusual punishment ... the influx of Negros into the northern states would have been a burden too heavy to contemplate.
Rufus KingAmong the wisest of the delegates was Rufus King ... perhaps the wisest of all, relative to these issues ... his opposition to the expansion of slavery and the slave trade was one of long standing. It was based on his moral convictions tempered with an understanding of the realities ... he opposed the extension of slavery in the Northwest Territories but willing "to suffer the continuance of slaves until they can be gradually emancipated in states already overrun with them" ... which shows that he recognized the problem. At the Convention he indicated his opposition to the political and economic advantages enjoyed the South and supported compromise for political reasons ... throughout his career, he continued to actively oppose slavery and support gradual emancipation. Rufus King ... lawyer, politician, diplomat ... Senator, Minister to Britain, Federalist candidate for both Vice President and President.
Generally speaking, those opposed to slavery wanted to count only the free inhabitants for purposes of the distribution of taxes and the apportionment of the members of the House ... while those supportive of slavery wanted to include slaves, thus increasing their representation and power in the House and Electoral College. While the issues are as delicate and volatile as they are complex, the position of those supporting slavery seems to be the better founded .... that is, "a State's relative political power in the House of Representatives should reflect its total population, regardless of its rules for enfranchisement" ... especially in view of the Convention's position on voting qualifications.
The compromise, proposed by Roger Sherman and James Wilson ... called for counting slaves as only three-fifths of their actual numbers ... “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons" ... slaves being considered "all other persons."
It may well seem to some that compromises and the failure to address certain issues indicates weakness, corruption and/or prostitution of conviction ... but such things can only be properly considered in the context of that with which they were confronted. Principles, like men and trees, are not created equal ... the Boss Principle is that battles what are certain to lose wars are best not fought ... this war's objective was to render a befitting governing instrument and secure the peace (obtain its ratification), avoiding or deferring battles that would bring about a different conclusion. The failure or inability of our Founding Fathers to deliver the goods would have totally demoralized the people and resulted in chaos ... a greater defeat than suffered by Napoleon at Waterloo or Yellow Hair at Little Big Horn. We would not have long survived ... me posit, not me opine!
The compromise, along with several others, allowed for the Convention to do what it came to do ... the fragile infant would soon be stronger and better equipped to deal with issues that would have earlier proved fatal ... it gave both sides time to better prepare for what was to come. Indeed, at the end of the 20 year guarantee, the Constitution was amended and slave trading was effectively abolished. There is no question that the South generally failed to take advantage of the time afforded by the compromise to effectively address the dilemma with which it was faced ... indeed it was incumbent on both sides to join together in finding and effecting a peaceful, honorable and enduring resolution. That they failed to take advantage of the opportunity, doesn't detract from the wisdom of its having been afforded.
Certainly everyone does not agree ... in 1987, the Convention's Bicentennial, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall chose a San Francisco Patent and Trademark Thurgood  MarshallLaw Association seminar as a platform for publicly interjecting himself, his thoughts and his feelings, into the arena of the political ... rejecting an invitation to participate in the Celebration.
In declining the invitation, he added "Nor do I find the wisdom, foresight, and sense of justice exhibited by the Framers particularly profound. To the contrary, the government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and momentous social transformation to attain the system of constitutional government, and its respect for the individual freedoms and human rights, we hold as fundamental today."
It was certainly his prerogative to decline the invitation for the reason or reasons of his choice ... however, the attendant assertion that the resultant government was defective because it failed to address existing, well entrenched social inequities to his satisfaction, suggests a more limited understanding than one would have hoped or imagined ... that, or a flagrant disregard for the consequences of arbitrary action. That the resolution of such problems ... slavery, women's suffrage, and many others ... took, in his words, "momentous social transformation," is proof positive of its complexity and the wisdom of our founding fathers, methinks.
That he would choose to so denigrate our founders and their efforts was, to me, as inexplicable as it was despicable and misguided ... but certainly he was and is not alone ... perhaps he felt it was his obligation. I think it goes to the point that we are usually better served in the judiciary by those of virtue than by zealots and champions of cause.
Monday, 17 September 1787, is widely considered the last day of the Constitutional Convention. The final draft of the Constitution presented for signature ... Dr. Franklin once again asked permission to address the Convention ... James Wilsonbut wasn't strong enough to deliver his speech, which was read for him by fellow Pennsylvania Delegate, James Wilson ... and once again, this is but the beginning and the end ... and yes, the entire speech can be found in "The Genius Of Genius" ...
Mr. President:
I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others.
Constitution SigningOn the whole, Sir, I can not help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.
Prized Peach
More peaches ... but not scrawny ones like Mama bought ... the best of the best!
On Wednesday, it was published in the Pennsylvania Packet, America's first daily newspaper ... and on Friday, 28 September, 1787, Congress approved the Constitution and it was sent to the states for ratification.
For them not old enough to remember, it was almost a nine months before New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify and make it official ... 21 June, 1788 to be precise ... a date only slightly better remembered than 14 May, 1787. Virginia quickly followed, and on 2 July, Congress was informed of the Constitution's being ratified. Later that month, not wanting to be left out, New York joined the wagon carrying the band ... becoming the magical eleventh.
It was decided by Congress to start the new government effective 4 March, 1789 ... and so it was ... these 11 United States Of America!
James Madison presented the Bill Of Entitlements to the First United States Congress in 1789 as a series of legislative articles ... and they became Constitutional Amendments on 15 December, 1791. For those unfamiliar with our constitution, they are a series of limitations on the power of the government that specifically guarantees certain freedoms including freedom of speech, a free press, free assembly, and free association ... and reserves for the people, all rights and powers not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.
I oppose bills ... especially them I get in the mail ... and would have preferred a more general framework of guidelines with attendant rules and measures of strict accountability to safeguard against abuse, rather than a specific list of "Dos and Don'ts." I believe in the freedoms ... it's what it's all about ... but as privileges with inherent responsibilities, rather than absolute rights ... for it is when we cannot be held accountable for our actions that we cease to be virtuous and become both defiant and irresponsible.
North Carolina, had held a ratification convention in July, 1788, adjourning on 4 August after voting "neither to ratify nor reject the Constitution proposed for the government of the United States." Its ratification would come on 21 November, 1789 ... submitted with its recommended "Declaration of Rights" and list of "Amendments to the Constitution" ... and then we were 12.
It would be another six months before becoming thirteen ... Saturday, 29 May, 1790. Three years and four days from when the Convention officially convened, Rhode Island finally surrendered ... unconfirmed rumor has it that our War Department's having established a regular army on the same day as Congress adjourned, 29 September of '89, had absolutely nothing to do with their decision.
They had refused to participate in the Convention ... perhaps for reasons known only to Mr. Cranston, currently retired to somewhere in Tibet and unavailable for comment, ... but certainly, they preferred the looser form of the Articles Of Confederation to a stronger more centralized form of government ... and, as expected, had rejected the Constitution by formal referendum dated 24 March, 1788. Personally, I think it more likely that Hamilton's proposal for the federal government to assume state debts incurred during the Revolution is what did the trick ... on 26 July, 1790, with them on board, his proposals for funding the debt passed the House in a close vote.
All conventions must have entertainment ... it's written in the Book. It would have been unconstitutional, not to have entertainment ... Kate, Al and Edgarbut I could find no such evidence ... no mention of Kate Smith, Al Jolson or Edgar Bergen ... nobody! No doubt they amused themselves and Philadelphia was not without its taverns ... I'm a bit surprised nobody thought of asking Bob Hope ... but my choice would have been Don Ho!
You come away with the feeling that the 1787 Convention would not have been the destination of choice for folks wanting to stay in the shadows, observe, "enjoy the entertainment" ... go home and tell everybody of their grand adventure ...how they helped found the nation. No, this was not the place for the timid, the bashful, the faint of heart, or the lazy ... them what were there were there to actively participate ... to work ... and that they did! Those who ever had the opportunity and pleasure of meeting or being entertained by the incomparable Don Ho know the feeling, methinks ... suck 'em up!
Don HoDon Ho was good people! For them what don't know, he was an Air Force fighter pilot who never forgot those who served ... a patriot. Don was of Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, German and Dutch descent ... an American. Ho No, not a European or Asian American ... an American. He started at his Mama's place "Honey's" ... a bit before my time, but his style was always the same, methinks ... soft, relaxed, sleepy, like the barber Perry Como. Whether it was Duke Kahanamoku's, the Sands, or just a private party... it was uniquely Don at the organ, his scotch, cigarettes and wit ... and most always Tiny Bubbles and Pearly Shells!
The things folks will most remember, methinks, is their own participation ... uniquely dreaded and eagerly anticipated at the same time! It was expected of the audience to join in, which everyone eagerly did ... but each and every performance, men, young and old alike, were selected from the audience by hula dancers to join them on the stage ... sans their belts ... for dancing, hugging, kissing, good natured teasing and embarrassment. There was no refusing ... the spotlight was on you! When you ventured into the world of Don Ho to be entertained, it was at your own risk ... you might well become the entertainment. Yes, I suspect it was much the same in 1787.
Unlike Thurgood Marshall, John Adams and Tom Jefferson and I declined our invitations to participate without ado ... we had previous commitments and could not attend ... but our presence and influence were strongly felt. Upon receiving my letter of declination, I'm told that Dr. Franklin offered it to the Convention as proof positive that God answers prayer.
The bottom line is ... They got 'er did!!
As I look as the paintings of our founding fathers I find myself marveling ... is it possible that Dr. Ben also invented the camera? My brief encounter with John Adams and his friends leads me to believe that our best interests might be well served ... if we would but remove American History from the curricula of our schools, and replace it with the required reading and study of the writings of those who lived it.
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