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traditions, in their institutions, and in their struggles the inalienable rights of their race, with its love for liberty, for order, and for law. They knew that unless they gave to the nation powers competent to all general purposes, the distresses they had encountered, the debts they had incurred, the blood they had spilt in the course of eight years of war would avail them nothing. They knew that rational liberty could only be secured through self-restraint, that the safety of the minority lay in curbing the wild impulses of the majority, and even that the well-being of the majority could only be secured by a government of checks and balances. They dreaded speculative idealism as much as the torch and the sword. They believed that “obedience without liberty was slavery,” but they knew also that "liberty without obedience was confusion.”
Merchants, financiers, shoemakers, farmers, doctors, soldiers, judges and lawyers; one-half of them college graduates, and the remainder self-taught, rich, poor and middle class, they constituted a rare union of the best talents, information, probity and public influence that the country afforded. Of a total active membership of fifty-six, thirty-nine had been members of the Continental Congress; seven had signed the Declaration of Independence; thirty-one were lawyers by profession, of whom four had studied in the Inner Temple, and one at Oxford under Blackstone; ten had served as state judges, of whom four were still upon the Bench; one had been a judge in the old Federal Court of Appeals in cases of prize and capture; seven had served as judges in cases of disputed boundary lines between the states; eight had helped to frame the constitutions of their respective states; three had aided in the codification and revision of their own state laws; eight had been governors of states; five had been members of the Annapolis Convention; one had been a member of the Albany Convention; and three were universally regarded as oracles upon public or international law. All of them—whether lawyers or civilians—had witnessed the practical operation of our institutions as colonies under the Crown and under the Articles of Confederation, and had enjoyed the best opportunities of observing the merits and defects of both systems. “Altogether, they formed the goodliest fellowship’ of law givers, 'whereof this world holds record.'”
The problem was not merely vast, but the most stupendous as well as delicate that up to that time had ever engaged the minds of men. It embraced not only the welfare of individuals, but the preservation of the separate autonomies of the states and the creation of a nation complete in all its parts, with powers as inexhaustible as mountain lakes fed by glaciers, but so restrained by distributive channels through three well-balanced departments as to guard against the destructive dangers of inundation. No single brain, however capacious or inventive, could have sketched out in advance the final plan; no single life could have supplied all the experience necessary to an adequate comprehension of what was required; no single eye, however far seeing, could have so forecast the future; no single character, however exalted, could have so prevailed over prejudices. Not Washington with all his calm sagacity; not Franklin with all his practical philosophy; not Hamilton with all his constructive genius; not George Mason with all his zeal for democracy; not James Wilson with his vision of the entity of the People of the United States as beyond and above the people of the states; not Madison with all his learning, steeped in the lore of Achean Leagues and the Amphictyonic Council; not Dickinson with all his skill in drafting state papers; not Randolph nor Paterson nor Pinckney with their respective plans could have successfully attempted the task alone. But these men and their associates, in the majesty and strength of their combined and co-ordinated representative wisdom, in the chamber which had seen the signing of the Declaration of Independence with the walls whispering of sacrifice in the cause of liberty, on the edge of a chasmic crisis, after hot, angry and even acrimonious debates were so controlled by a high sense of duty as nobly to dare and successfully to achieve. It was through the deliberation of many minds, the patient comparison of many views, the reconciliation of diverse interests, the surrender of stubborn personal predilections, the balancing of forces, the matching of the centripetal against the centrifugal, the action and reaction of true debate that broader visions and deeper sympathies were engendered and the final result was reached.
The manner of the submission of the Constitution for ratification by the people was marked by the same excellence of juagment
and adherence to the representative principle. The document as completed was transmitted to the Congress, and after debate by Congress was transmitted to separate popular conventions. In all these successive stages it became the subject of debate, and the discussions, particularly in the state conventions, were conducted on both sides by men of signal ability representing every interest and every shade of opinion. Besides these debates there was the fullest and ablest discussion by renowned pamphleteers. Nothing was lacking to the people or to their representatives in the opportunities afforded for an intelligent and deliberate judgment. Hence the conclusion was both sane and sober.
The manner in which the Constitution was framed and the manner in which it was adopted constitute the finest vindication of the wisdom and value of representative government that the annals of our race contain. It was like the building of a vast cathedral, not a mere aggregation of chapels and of shrines, but an all inclusive over-arching structure, with deep foundations, massive walls, and springing dome, with aisles and nave and transept and chancel, and a great organ on which skilled hands might play the symphonies of the ages, through whose pipes the sobs of centuries, the wild voices of the storm, and the rude blasts of war were to be subdued to the sanctity and stillness of the Altar.
It was a Constitution that was framed, and not a statute subject to repeal. The distinction was important, and well did the Fathers understand the difference. They might have tacked together a rocking cradle for the sick infant nation, but they were more than upholsterers. They were builders in state craft of the order of Michael Angelo in architecture. They aimed at strength, stability and endurance. Every syllable of the majestic preamble proclaims the sincerity of their faith that they were building for the ages. They were wise enough not to believe themselves all wise, and hence provided that their work might be amended, but they were careful to prescribe the mode of amendment. They did not deface, weaken, and deform their masterpiece with definitions, details and regulations. They did not enact political or social economy, or mistake nervous twitchings for reform. They did not countenance the theory of the initiative, the referendum and the recall. They did not place it within the power of a
small fraction of the people to keep the remainder in constant agitation, and government shuddering at every irritable cough. They did not believe that it was the function of a Constitution to control personal habits or behavior. They did believe in responsible, representative government, virile but not oppressive, stable and uniform but not unchangeable, protecting majority and minority alike, and leaving it to the citizen to give bonds to conscience and that sense of duty which result in beauty of conduct and the uplifting of the soul.
For these reasons the Constitution is not a boulder of sandstone to be chipped and marred by the impatient chisels of over-ardent sciolists, but stands as a citadel of principles, a rock of defence in times of trouble, unshaken and sublime.
My Countrymen : We are what we are, because our Fathers were what they were. We can no more ignore or change our political parentage than we can ignore or change the physical structure of our continent, or the chemical and electrical qualities of the soil we tread or of the air we breathe. We have not been given the features of Caliban, the appetite of Moloch, the delirium of Saturn, nor the wickedness of Satan. We persecute no class; we throw no bombs; we seek no man's blood. We kindle no fires to scorch the stars of faith, humanity and justice. We forge chains for no man, but we will allow no man to forge chains for us. We dictate no creeds, but we will defend our own altars. The dragon of Bolshevism, with flaming eyes, poisonous fangs, flapping wings and cruel claws cannot cow us. human beings of that particular type of self-governing men known as Americans. Our form of government is American, and by the God of our Fathers American it shall remain.
THE ANCIENT PROBLEM.
SIR AUCKLAND GEDDES,
BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
It is a pleasure, as it is a privilege, to be permitted to address you today. I thank you for the opportunity of saying some things which, though you have heard them many times before, should I think be said again and yet again. I know how wearying it is to listen to threadbare platitudes, so I shall not inflict more on you than the occasion demands or courtesy dictates. Our two nations have much in common, we know it and you know it; but we each have much that is not shared by the other. We are different peoples with interests which do not coincide in every detail: but we are also co-trustees of a heritage which I believe to be very precious, and it is of that heritage I wish to speak, because it has seemed to me that nationally we have each in our dealings with the other sometimes forgotten that we were responsible to the future, to our children and to theirs, for the safeguarding of a possession won at unbelievable cost in blood and tears.
With your permission I shall plunge into the blood-stained past in an attempt to recall to you in outline the history of our heritage.
Humanity is very old. How old, it is naturally impossible precisely to say in terms of years, but speaking of ages and periods the mind gets some idea of the mass of its family tree. I do not mean of the evolutionary tree of humanity but of what I may, perhaps without risk of being misunderstood, call our postAdamite ancestry. Even modern man, men and women who, if we may judge by their bones and skulls and the size of their brains, would physically pass without remark in, perhaps would even adorn, the best society of London, Paris or New York, lived so long ago in Europe that it is impossible to say when, how or whence they came. If you will allow me to say that physically modern up-to-date men, handsome good-looking fellows like ourselves at the end of a fishing or hunting trip, a bit tanned by