By Al Benson Jr. On April 2, 2011 at 10:21 PM
by Al Benson Jr.
There were two differing plans submitted to the Constitutional Convention dealing with what sort of government the convention would give us.
One was what was called the New Jersey Plan. According to Mike Crane: "On June 15, Mr. Patterson, a delegate from New Jersey submitted the New Jersey Plan. It was a federated form of government based upon what the Convention had been chartered to do. To propose amendments that would address the weaknesses which all agreed existed in the Articles of Confederation. It delegated specific, expressed powers to the central government ONLY!"
At this point, another plan was also submitted, the Virginia Plan. Mike has observed of this plan that "It was a plan for a national or consolidated government. A motion was made to lay this plan aside and instead work toward an effective government, rather than a national government. This motion to lay aside failed by a tie vote of 4-4. The delegates then voted to affirm the draft model of a national or consolidated government (6-1-1)." Sure didn't take some of these delegates all that long to change their votes from a federal form to a national form of government. I found it ironic that the plan for a truly federated government came from someone in the Northern state of New Jersey, while the plan for a national, consolidated government came from Virginia.
Mike noted of the Virginia Plan: "The objective was for the National Constitution to be paramount to the State Constitutions, that the National Legislature would be Supreme and be able to repeal State laws and that ratification not be by the governing bodies of the States, but by conventions other than the legitimate government of the States."
As many know, in Virginia, the Christian statesman, Patrick Henry, spoke strongly against ratification. Mr. Henry stated: "When he asks my opinion of the consolidation, of one power to reign over America with a strong hand, I will tell him I am persuaded of the rectitude of my honorable friend's opinion (Mr. Mason) that one government cannot reign over so extensive a country as this is, without absolute despotism." Well, guess what folks. As usual, Patrick Henry was right on the money. Look at what we have to suffer today in this so-called "land of the free" and tell me how wrong he was, or more accurately, how right he was.
According to Mike: "In the Virginia Plan the word 'national' was used frequently. National Legislature is used 6 times. National Executive, National Judiciary, National Officers, National Revenue, National Peace and Harmony and National laws are all used once. National is one of the most frequently used words in the document. This was a plan for a national government, a consolidated government; it was not a plan for a federated form of government which shared sovereignty with the States. In this plan the States were reduced to a very subordinate role." Folks, that's something we need to chew on awhile.
We've all been informed, via most of the "history" books we've read, that the framers gave us a federated form of government. Some have, no doubt, told you that the use of the word "national" was just a convenient way of referring to the central government and it really didn't mean anything. How nice if that were only true! But we have to remember that the framers were highly educated men. More so than we today are. They understood political definitions quite well. As Mike Crane again reminds us: "The Framers were educated men and here in the words of the delegates from Virginia, mostly crafted by James Madison, is a plan for a "national" government--a consolidated government--not a Federated government." Or, as the old country boy said "I reckon it ain't what we thunk it was." Not by a long sight, sir, not by a long sight!
To be continued.