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ISBN-10: 1610624416

ISBN-13: 9781610624411

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Example text

The opposition to the new Constitution possessed sufficient force by the time of the Massachusetts Convention in February to threaten the very course of ratification. Their strongest objection, and the one that stalled the Massachusetts Convention, was the lack of a bill of rights. Consistent with the secrecy of the Convention’s proceedings, which permitted only the final document itself to be revealed, the Federalists in Massachusetts refused to consider any changes to the proposed Constitution.

In 1785 they signed the “Mount Vernon Compact,” settling all outstanding issues regarding the Chesapeake and its tributaries, after which the commissioners resolved to propose another meeting, this time for a larger number of states. The next year, Madison passed through the Virginia legislature an invitation to all the states to meet at Annapolis in order to consider matters of commercial interest within the Confederation. 26 • Secular Revelations It was on this Annapolis Conference that Madison settled his hopes for reform.

All attempts to reform the Articles in the direction of increasing Congress’s authority had failed, doomed in advance by the Confederation’s Thirteenth Article requiring unanimous ratification by the states for any proposed alteration or amendment. Reformers counseled each other to remain patient. Many of them hoped that the British themselves, by acting as imprudently as they had before the war and by trying to impose onerous impediments to trade, might encourage a unity among the new states. One of the most active reformers, James Madison, himself forced by term limits from the Confederation Congress, continued to work for reform from within the Virginia Legislature.

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