Friday, June 10, 2016

Fiddling with the Constitution..........................

........................................has never been easy.   Passage of the first ten amendments, aka The Bill of Rights, was not even a sure thing.  To wit:

Madison, himself, in his election campaign against James Monroe for the new U.S. House, vowed to fight for a bill of rights. He informed the Congress on May 4, 1789, that he intended to introduce the topic formally on May 25; but on May 4, the Congress was embroiled in a lengthy debate on import duties, and when May 25 rolled around, the debate continued. He rose again on June 8 to introduce the subject, but he was blocked, with other members noting that the Congress had more pressing matters to attend to. Stifled, Madison rose again to say why he thought the time was right for the introduction of his list of amendments - and then presented them to the Congress anyway.

For a little slice of American history, here is James Madison, as excerpted from this speech before the House of Representatives on June 8, 1789:

"It cannot be a secret to the gentlemen in this House, that, notwithstanding the ratification of this system of Government by eleven of the thirteen United States, in some cases unanimously, in others by large majorities; yet still there is a great number of our constituents who are dissatisfied with it; among whom are many respectable for their talents and patriotism, and respectable for the jealousy they have for their liberty, which, though mistaken in its object, is honorable in its motive. There is a great body of the people falling under this description, who at present feel much inclined to join their support to the cause of Federalism, if they were satisfied on this one point. We ought not to disregard their inclination, but, on principles of amity and moderation, conform to their wishes and expressly declare the great rights of mankind secured under this constitution. The acceptance which our fellow-citizens show under the Government, calls upon us for a like return of moderation. But perhaps there is a stronger motive than this for our going into a consideration of the subject. It is to provide those securities for liberty which are required by a part of the community..."

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