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Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Carlson, Marybeth (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Virginia (1)
8 (1988)

Introduction,   pp. xxiii-xxxix


Page xxxix

Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts moved that a committee be appointed
"to prepare a Bill of Rights," and Mason seconded the motion. The
Convention defeated the motion by the unanimous vote of the states.
On the 15th, Mason seconded Randolph's motion for a second con-
stitutional convention and warned against "the dangerous power and
structure of the Government, concluding that it would end either in
monarchy, or a tyrannical aristocracy ....." (See "George Mason and
Edmund Randolph in the Constitutional Convention," 12-15 Septem-
ber, I below.) On the 17th, Mason, too, refused to sign the Consti-
tution.
Although John Blair attended the entire Convention, there is no
record that he spoke. The records do reveal that Blair opposed a single
executive and supported the congressional veto of all state laws. James
McClurg attended the Convention as late as 20 July. Writing from
Richmond on 5 August, McClurg stated his reluctance to return to
the Convention (Farrand, III, 67). George Wythe, the chairman of the
rules committee, left the Convention by 4 June, "being called home
by the serious declension of his lady's health" (Madison to Jefferson,
6 June, ibid., 35), and on 16 June he resigned (ibid., 59-60). There is
no record that he spoke.
Virginia's seventh delegate, George Washington, was elected Presi-
dent of the Convention on 25 May. Since the Convention often met
in the Committee of the Whole, Washington was frequently not in the
chair, but still he did not speak in debate until the last day (CC:233).
Outside of the Convention, Washington, like other Virginia delegates,
advocated a strong central government to replace the one under the
Articles of Confederation.
Even though Washington spoke in debate only once, his presence
was critical to the success of the Convention since it gave that body
a stature that it could not have attained otherwise. "Harrington" (Ben-
jamin Rush), in a widely circulated newspaper essay, expressed this
idea well: "Who can read or hear, that the immortal WASHINGTON has
again quitted his beloved retirement, and obeyed the voice of God and
his country, by accepting the chair of this illustrious body of patriots
and heroes, and doubt of the safety and blessings of the government
we are to receive from their hands?" (Pennsylvania Gazette, 30 May,
CC:29).
INTRODUCTION
XXXiX


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