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[146] many who were now to set the United States forward in the next stage of its career.

For the replacement of the Articles of Confederation by the “more perfect” union of the Federal Constitution, private correspondence, as in the case of the Revolution, did much to prepare the way. Jefferson and John Adams were absent from the country on diplomatic service, the former in France, the latter at the Court of St. James; and Franklin, prince of American diplomatists, was not, in the larger field of government, a constructive statesman. But Washington, Madison, Jay, Hamilton, Patrick Henry, and other leaders were busy with their pens, discussing with one another, particularly in the interval from 1785 to 1787, the defects of the Articles, the need of a firmer national organization, and the practical possibilities of united action. Prominent in this epistolary discussion were such questions as the protection and encouragement of American commerce, retaliation against England for its imperfect observance of the terms of peace, the adjustment of the opposing interests of large and small states, and the provision of an adequate revenue for the payment of the revolutionary debt and the maintenance of the Federal establishment.

In May, 1787, the Federal Convention met at Philadelphia. In anticipation of its deliberations, Madison set down his opinion as to the Vices of the Political System of the United States,1 and prepared a summary view Of Ancient and Modern Confederacies.2 The former noted most of the important points around which the debate later turned, but there is nothing in the Constitution to show that the latter had influence with the convention. The convention was preeminently a practical body. The sources of the Federal Constitution are in the government of England, the constitutions of the states, the Articles of Confederation, and the experience of the country and of Congress under the Articles. The Journal of the convention comprises only a bare record of proceedings, and does not report debates; the proceedings, moreover, were behind closed doors. For our knowledge of what was said, as distinguished from what was voted, we are dependent upon Madison's elaborate Notes, taken down at the time and corrected and

1 Writings, ed. Hunt, II, 361-369.

2 Ibid., II, 369-390.

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