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DIRECTOR GENERAL BLOOM'S ADDRESS

651

Long delays, for various reasons, prevented ratification of the Articles by the delegates of other states. New Jersey's delegates did not ratify until November 26, 1778. Delaware delayed until May 5, 1779. Maryland instructed its delegates not to ratify the Articles until a satisfactory settlement of the western land question could be found; but the enemies of independence circulated reports of the early dissolution of the Union and defeat in war, and Maryland finally directed its delegates to ratify. They signed the Articles on March 1, 1781, and the next day the Congress assembled under its new powers.

The war had been conducted all this time under direction of committees of Congress. These committees were rudimentary departments of Foreign Affairs, Treasury, War, and Marine. The Congress exercised legislative, executive, and judicial functions.

The Confederation had been in existence only seven months when Cornwallis surrendered to Washington on October 19, 1781. From the day when Congress prepared for confederation until the Articles went into effect, four years and nine months elapsed. These were the years when the fate of the Revolution hung in the balance. Then followed eight years of unhappy and unfortunate efforts at government under the Confederation-the period from March 1, 1781, to March 4, 1789, when the Constitution went into operation. These were the years of doubt, when it seemed that a people who had won their independence were incapable of preserving it.

The men who framed the Constitution had been through the war and the agonizing years of demoralization under the Confederation. They remembered that it had taken nearly five years to bring the states into the Confederation, and that after they were confederated all efforts to perfect the government were blocked because of the objections of one or two states. They were agreed upon two fundamental propositions: First, that a more perfect Union must be established; and second, that the rule of unanimity must be abolished. One state had, indeed, refused to take part in framing the Constitution.

The Articles of Confederation provided that they should never be altered unless "agreed to in a congress of the united states, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislature of every state."

For the sublime purpose of forming a more perfect Union the framers of the Constitution boldly proposed to set aside this provision of the Articles of Confederation. They proposed that conventions, and not legislatures, should have power of ratification; and that the conventions of nine states, and not thirteen, should have

power to establish the Union. They provided that the Constitution itself should be subject to amendment by the vote of three-fourths of the states instead of all the states.

This bold action was denounced in all the states by individuals who described it as revolutionary. The objectors were in the majority in some states. So, if the rule of unanimity had been observed, it is safe to say that the Constitution would not have been established. But the practical common sense of the people supported the makers of the Constitution. Charges of "revolutionary action" and "usurpation of power" were dismissed with this argument: "Are we not masters? Do we not have power to form a more perfect Union if we choose? Let the will of three-fourths of the states be the expression of our will."

The people in state conventions proceeded to consider the draft of the Constitution. The discussions were exceedingly penetrating and informative. Great patriots opposed the Constitution. Indeed, one Virginia delegate who voted against ratification was afterward elected President of the United States-James Monroe. The vote in many states was very close.

Delaware, by unanimous vote, was the first to ratify, on December 7, 1787. Pennsylvania followed, by a vote of 46 to 23. New Jersey and Georgia were next, with unanimous votes. Connecticut ratified by a vote of 128 to 40. The struggle in Massachusetts was prolonged until February 6, 1788, when the vote for ratification was recorded, 187 for and 168 against. Maryland and South Carolina ratified by substantial majorities, while Virginia and New York were locked in doubtful debate.

Then, on June 21, 1788, 150 years ago today, New Hampshire's delegates by a vote of 57 to 47 crowned the years of trial by ratifying the Constitution. Thereupon it was transformed from a blueprint into an everlasting structure.

Congress on July 2 received official word of the action of New Hampshire. It discussed ways and means for putting the Constitution into operation. It fixed the first Wednesday in January, 1789, as the day for choosing presidential electors; the first Wednesday in February for balloting for President and Vice President; and the first Wednesday in March for the commencement of the government under the Constitution.

Although delays occurred which prevented President Washington from taking the oath of office until April 30, it has been judicially held that the United States government came into operation on March 4, 1789.

RATIFICATION OF THE CONSTITUTION

653 From that day to this, the history of the United States has been one of Liberty Triumphant. We honor ourselves and our posterity when we celebrate today, the birthday of the more perfect Union without which our liberty would be but a hopeless dream. Throughout the shifting time-flood of 150 years, when nations have been engulfed like sand, and humanity has clung to the wreckage of governments, the Rock of American Union has withstood the battering-rams of accident and war. This Rock of Union is the foundation upon which Liberty, as from a lighthouse, flashes its beams throughout the world. Storm-tossed millions in many lands see this eternal light and renew their courage. The message goes forth: "Do not despair. We, like you, were engulfed in trouble. Seek liberty in yourselves, in your own Union. Base your union upon the rock of individual liberty, pull together, and you will be saved."

Observance of the Sesquicentennial

of the Congress

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 4

[Submitted by Mr. BLOOм of New York]

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That in commemoration of the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the First Congress of the United States under the Constitution, begun and held at the city of New York on Wednesday, the 4th of March 1789, the two Houses of Congress shall assemble in the Hall of the House of Representatives at 12 o'clock meridian, on Saturday, March 4, 1939.

That a joint committee consisting of five Members of the House of Representatives and five Members of the Senate shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate, respectively, which is empowered to make suitable arrangements for fitting and proper exercises for the joint session of Congress herein authorized.

That invitations to attend the exercises be extended to the President of the United States and the Members of his Cabinet, the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, the Diplomatic Corps (through the Secretary of State), the General of the Armies, the Chief of Staff of the Army, the Chief of Naval Operations, the Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Commandant of the Coast Guard, and such other persons as the joint committee on arrangements shall deem proper.

That the President of the United States is hereby invited to address the American people at the joint session of the Congress in commemoration of the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the First Congress of the United States under the Constitution.

Adopted February 1, 1939.

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