previous next

[147] supplemented by the journal; some Minutes of Yates, a New York delegate; a Report by Luther Martin to the Maryland assembly1; and the letters, many of them still unpublished, of members of the convention. The elaborate publication of documents, debates, and reports which commonly attends a modern state constitutional convention was conspicuously lacking.

While the convention was in session, there was published at Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, in separate editions, the first volume of John Adams's Defence of the constitutions of government of the United States of America. This work, written and first published in London, was occasioned, the author states, by Turgot's sweeping attack upon the American theory of government, contained in a letter to Dr. Richard Price, in 1778, and published by Price in his Observations on the importance of the American Revolution, and the means of making it a benefit to the world (1785). Two additional volumes appeared in 1788.2 The prominence of the author gave the work, especially the first volume, some vogue; but the disorderly arrangement, the verbose and careless style, the many glaring inaccuracies and inconsistencies due to hasty writing and negligent proofreading, a political philosophy nowhere profound, and the characteristic temper of the advocate rather than of the expositor, did Adams no credit; while his frank criticisms of some features of American government opened the way for attacks upon his sincerity and loyalty which followed him throughout his life. To this disfavour the “worship of the Constitution” as a perfect instrument, which began soon after the successful establishment of the government under it, undoubtedly contributed.

With the adjournment of the Convention in September, and the submission of the Constitution to ratifying conventions in the states, the public became for the first time acquainted with the pending scheme of government; and the great debate on ratification began. The newspapers teemed with political essays, and pamphlets multiplied. The Constitution lacked neither friends nor foes. On the side of the Constitution were

1 The foregoing are included in Elliott's Debates and Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention (see Bibliography).

2 Works, IV, v.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Richard Price (2)
John Adams (2)
Robert Yates (1)
Turgot (1)
Luther Martin (1)
Max Farrand (1)
Jonathan Elliott (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1788 AD (1)
1785 AD (1)
1778 AD (1)
September (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: