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248                             POLITICAL  SCIENCE.
ciples of the federal constitution.". Yet, as Mr. G. T. Curtis
remarks, " the federal constitution did not, at that very mo-
ment, make the United States one nation for this purpose." *
The years during which the confederation dragged out its
New constitute Hfe, especially the last ones, were years of com-
and reasons for it. mercjai distress, of distrust and apprehension,
of debate as to what should be done to put the United States
on a better foundation. In this light they brought with them
a precious experience, leading all thinking men to the convic- '
tion that some government with larger powers was needed,
which, by offering hope of relief to distressed classes, could
secure their aid. That a convention should be called for a
revision of the constitution, rather than that the congress of
the confederation should take this matter in hand, was a very
important step. Had the other way of getting at a better
form of government been pursued, the amendments, proba-
ably, would have been partial remedies of defects acknowl-
edged by all, and another abortive constitution would have
been given to the United States. The convention, however,
itself was rather felt to be necessary than likely to be a great
step forward. Thus, the debates themselves were of the
highest value in fixing the opinions of the delegates in favor
of a government with powers so new and vast that • they
would have frightened the colonies had such a polity been
seriously urged at the time when the old constitution was
established. The convention met May" 14, 1787, agreed
on a constitution Sept. 17, and resolved (October 4), that it
should be sent to the legislatures of the states in order to be
submitted to conventions chosen by the people. Eleven
states were present—all but North Carolina and Rhode Island
—and twelve had been represented in the convention—all
but Rhode Island. When it came before the state conven-
tions it met with objections in some of them. New York
and Virginia gave their assent with the understanding that
*Hist. of the Constit, u. s«, ii., 287. We acknowledge our obli-
gations to this author for material aid in regard to the defects of the