By Jim Surkamp on June 9, 2019 Adam Stephen, Constitutional Convention, George Washington, Jefferson County, Patrick Henry, Virginia Ratifying Convention
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– (Jim Surkamp and image of Shannondale springs from old route 9, 1993 – both by Jim Surkamp).
THE VIRGINIA RATIFYING CONVENTION BEGINS
– (Town Run Community Pub, Shepherdstown, WV – Aug. 5, 2018 – Jim Surkamp)
– (The United States of North America, with the British & Spanish territories according to the treaty Contributor Name: Faden, William, 1749-1836. Created/Published: [London? : s.n.], 1783.
– (Montage Convention site Richmond, Virginia – 1864 Map of the city of Richmond, Virginia Contributor Name: United States Coast Survey. Created / Published: [Washington, D.C.]: U.S. Coast Survey, 1864. – loc.gov 16 June 1997 Web. 19 January 2019). – loc.gov 16 June 1997 Web. 19 January 2019).- (Map Richmond, Va. – 1864 loc.gov 16 June 1997 Web. 19 January 2019).
– (Edmund Pendleton (Caroline county) President of the Convention Author: Henry Bryan Hall – digitalgallery.nypl.org 3 January 1997 Web. 19 January 2019).
6. – (Patrick Henry (Prince Edward County) Artist: George Bagby Matthews (1857 – 1943), after Thomas Sully (1783-1872) Date: circa 1891 – commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 19 January 2019).
– (James Madison, Jr. (Orange County) DATE: 2002 ARTIST: Bradley Stevens (after Charles Willson Peale) CREDIT LINE: Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives – history.house.gov 1 January 2013 Web. 19 January 2019).
– (Edmund Randolph, by Flavius Fisher, Courtesy Library of Virginia – edu.lva.virginia.gov 1 August 2015 Web. 19 January 2019).
– (George Mason (Stafford County) Artist: John Hesselius (1728–1778)
Description: Portrait of George Mason (1725-1792) Date: 1750 – rationalwiki.org 1 May 2019 Web. 19 January 2019).
– (William Darke Berkeley County, incl. today’s Jefferson County Artist: Frederick Kemmelmeyer (1760–1821) Title: General William Darke (1736-1801) at the Battle of the Miami Indians Date: between circa 1791 and circa 1801 Collection: Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts – commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 19 January 2019).
It’s now June, 1788. Of Virginia’s 168 delegates who met at their convention in Richmond, sixteen of them were from the part that is today’s West Virginia. Our guy – Adam Stephen who owned land in both today’s Berkeley & Jefferson County, who, for many years was Washington’s executive officer and later a general in the Revolution – was their spokesman and leader.
– (Bill Caldwell as Adam Stephen – by Jim Surkamp).
Writes Historian Roy Bird Cook: “In this small space, Stephen’s life can scarcely be touched upon. In the story of this constitutional convention, he stands forth as the leader of the western delegates.”
– (Roy Bird Cook, Roy Bird Cook in his office, 1962. Courtesy West Virginia & Regional History Collection – wvencyclopedia.org 17 September 2019 Web. 19 January 2019).
14 & 15.
– (James Madison, Jr. (Orange County) DATE: 2002
ARTIST: Bradley Stevens (after Charles Willson Peale) CREDIT LINE: Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives – history.house.gov).
– (Signing of the Constitution by Thomas P. Rossiter Date: between 1860 and 1870 – commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 19 January 2019).
On one side of the contest was the soft-spoken, walking encyclopedia – James Madison, who was hard to hear – facing the two Bombasts – George Mason and Patrick Henry.
– (Patrick Henry speaking before the House of Burgesses Artist: Peter F. Rothermel (1817–1895) Date: 1851 – commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 19 January 2019).
17 & 18.
– (Benjamin Harrison V Date: 1 January 1968 Author: Unknown Source: Virginia Historical Society – commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 19 January 2019). (Bushrod Washington Reversed image of painting of Supreme Court Justice Bushrod Washington (1762–1829) in the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. Date 1828 Author Chester Harding, 1 Sep 1792 – 10 Apr 1866 – npg.si.edu 24 December 1996 Web. 19 January 2019).- commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 19 January 2019).
– (Patrick Henry (Prince Edward County) Artist: George Bagby Matthews (1857 – 1943), after Thomas Sully (1783-1872) Date: circa 1891 – commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 19 January 2019).
“The federal convention ought to have amended the old system; for this purpose they were solely delegated; the object of their mission extended to no other consideration. The distinction between a national government and a confederacy is not sufficiently discerned. Had the delegates who were sent to Philadelphia a power to propose a consolidated government, instead of a confederacy? Here is a resolution as radical as that which separated us from Great Britain. It is radical in this transition; our rights and privileges are endangered, and the sovereignty of the State will be relinquished: and cannot we plainly see that this is actually the case? The rights of conscience, trial by jury, liberty of the press, all your immunities and franchises, all pretensions to human rights and privileges, are rendered insecure, if not lost, by this change, so loudly talked of by some, so inconsiderately by others. A number of characters, of the greatest eminence in this country, object to this government for its consolidating tendency.”
20 & 21.
– – (James Monroe Artist: Samuel Morse Collection: White House – commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 19 January 2019). – (Henry Lee, date: circa 1838 Source: Transferred from de.wikipedia to Commons. Author: William Edward West (1788-1857) – commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 19 January 2019).
“This is not imaginary. It is a formidable reality. If consolidation proves to be as mischievous to this country as it has been to other countries, what will the poor inhabitants of this country do? This government will operate like an ambuscade. It will destroy the state governments, and swallow the liberties of the people, without giving previous notice. If gentlemen are willing to run the hazard, let them run it; but I shall exculpate myself by my opposition and monitory warnings within these walls.”
At one point, Henry goaded the ever-silent western men from over the mountains and Stephen was silent no more:
22 & 23.
– (Bill Caldwell as Adam Stephen – Jim Surkamp). – (Watercolor drawing “Village of the Secotan in North Carolina” – wikipedia.org 27 July 2001 Web 10 December 2018).
“Henry means to frighten us by his bugbears of hobgoblins, his sale of lands to pay taxes, Indian purchases, and other horrors, that I think I know as much about as he does. He continued for a while: If the gentleman does not like this government, let him go and live among the Indians. 1 know of several nations that live very happily; and I can furnish him with a vocabulary of their language”.
– (Warrior of the Secotan Indians in North Carolina by John White (created 1585-1586). Licensed by the Trustees of the British Museum. ©Copyright the British Museum – commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 10 December 2018).
– (Declaration of Independence (1818) by John Trumbull – wikipedia.org 27 July 2001 Web. 19 January 2019). – ((detail) Howard Pyle’s “Take Care, Take Care” illustrating a story by Basil King called Sign from Heaven.” Harper’s Magazine December, 1907 – hathitrust.org 19 September 2008 Web. 19 January 2019(after) p. 184).
– (Patrick Henry speaking – alphahistory.com Date of origin not available). – (Howard Pyle “The Reading Room” Harper’s Magazine, May, 1890 – Harper’s catalogue hathitrust.org 19 September 2008 Web. 19 January 2019). (“In The Reading Room” illustrating “Old New York Taverns” by John Austin Stevens – May, 1890 – hathitrust.org 19 September 2008 Web. 19 January 2019. p. 849).
For three weeks, the debates raged – Patrick Henry hogging vast hours and sessions with rhetoric that was generally free of earthbound factuality – but accurately nailing the Constitution for its complete transference to the federal court the final review of all cases “under the Constitution.”
– (U.S. Constitution Article 3 Section 1 – archives.gov 31 March 2002 Web. 10 January 2019).
28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34.
28. – (Declaration of Independence (1818) by John Trumbull – wikipedia.org 27 July 2001 Web. 19 January 2019). – (Humphrey Marshall – The Life and Times of Hon. Humphrey Marshall by Anderson Chenault Quisenberry – books.google.com 24 November 2005 Web. 19 January 2019 & commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 19 January 2019).
29.– (William Overton Callis Miniature portrait painted by Lawrence Sully, Richmond, VA in the 1790’s – wikipedia.org 27 July 2001 Web. 19 January 2019).
30.(William Grayson – edu.lva.virginia.gov 1 August 2015 Web. 19 January 2019).
31. – (Portrait of George Wythe by David Silvette (1979). At the William & Mary School of Law – lawlibrary.wm.edu 15 April 2013 Web. 19 January 2019).
32. – (Description: A portrait of Kentucky legislator Green Clay, who also served in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The original oil painting hangs in Cassius M. Clay’s White Hall estate, now part of White Hall State Historic Site. According to the curator at White Hall State Historic Site, the portrait was donated to the site by a Clay family descendant between 1968 and 1971. Date Unknown date; the portrait is undated, but it is believed to have been created in the early 19th century – whitehallclermontfoundation.org 9 May 2008 Web. 10 February 2019 & commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 19 January 2019).
33.(Governor Wilson Cary Nicholas of Virginia Date: 1805 Source: Cleveland Museum of Art Author: Gilbert Stuart, 1805 – commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 19 January 2019).
34.(George Clendenin Courtesy Of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America – wvencyclopedia.org 17 September 2019 Web. 19 January 2019).
– (Patrick Henry – Prince Edward County – Artist: George Bagby Matthews (1857 – 1943), after Thomas Sully (1783-1872) Date: circa 1891 commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 19 January 2019).
And the tough question remained: do we ratify first with the express intention of creating the bill of rights next or not ratify the Constitution until the bill of rights is all finished? The second alternative was a trap because each state could have its own ideas of the bill of rights. For Patrick Henry just about every comma in the Constitution was a conspiratorial dagger:
“At the Revolution, it must be admitted that it was their sense to set down those great rights which ought, in all countries, to he held inviolable and sacred. Virginia did so, we all remember. She made a compact to reserve, expressly, certain rights. She most cautiously and guardedly reserved and secured those invaluable, inestimable rights and privileges which no people, inspired with the least glow of patriotic liberty, ever did, or ever can, abandon. She is called upon now to abandon them, and dissolve that compact which secured them to her. Will she do it? This is the question. If you intend to reserve your unalienable rights, you must have the most express stipulation; for, if implication be allowed, you are ousted of those rights. If the people do not think it necessary to reserve them, they will be supposed to be given up. If you give up these powers, without a bill of rights, you will exhibit the most absurd thing to mankind that ever the world saw, — a government that has abandoned all its powers, — the powers of direct taxation, the sword, and the purse. You have disposed of them to Congress, without a bill of rights, without check, limitation, or control. And still you have checks and guards; still you keep barriers — pointed where? Pointed against your weakened, prostrated, enervated, state government! You have a bill of rights to defend you against the state government — which is bereaved of all power, and yet you have none against Congress — though in full and exclusive possession of all power. You arm yourselves against the weak and defenseless, and expose yourselves naked to the armed and powerful. Is not this a conduct of unexampled absurdity?”
– (Jim Surkamp Aug. 5th 2018 – by Jim Surkamp).
It’s coming down to the wire and a final vote, Patrick Henry is volcanically railing for hours and even days against ratification. Up jumps Stephen:
(Bill Caldwell as Adam Stephen – by Jim Surkamp).
1. Let the popularly-elected Congress – with all states represented – develop the bill of rights after the constitution is ratified.
2. The federal system preserves states’ rights while providing strong central government.
– (Bill Caldwell as Adam Stephen – by Jim Surkamp).
“I was sent hither to adopt the constitution as it is, but such is my regard for my fellow citizens, that I would concur in amendment. The gentlemen on the other side have adduced to reasons or proofs to convince us that the amendments would become a part of the system before ratification. What reason have we to suspect that persons who are chosen from among ourselves will not agree to the introduction of such amendments as will be desired by the people at large? In all safe and free governments, there ought to be a judicious mixture of three kinds. But the democratic kind preponderates as it ought to do. The members of one branch are immediately chosen by the people and the people also elect in a secondary degree the members of the other two. At present we have no confederate government. It exists but in name.”
– (Endymion on Mount Latmus by John Atkinsons Grimshaw 1879 – wikiart.org 30 May 2008 Web. 19 January 2019).
“The honorable gentlemen asked where is the genius of America? What else but that genius has stimulated the people to reform that government, which woeful experience has proven to be totally inefficient. What has produced the unison of sentiments in the states on this subject? I expected that filial duty and affection would have impelled him to inquire for the genius of Virginia, -that genius which formerly resisted British tyranny and in the language of manly intrepidity and fortitude said to that nation-thus far and no farther shall you proceed. What has become of that genius which spoke that magnanimous language-that genius that produced the Federal Convention?”
– (Portia Wounding her Thigh Artist: Elisabetta Sirani (1638–1665) – commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 19 January 2019).
“Yonder she is in mournful attire, her hair disheveled – distressed in grief and sorrow – supplicating our assistance against gorgons, fiends, and hydras, which are ready to devour her and carry dissolution through out her country. She bewails the decay of trade and neglect of agriculture-her farmers discouraged-her ship-carpenters, blacksmiths, and all other tradesmen unemployed. She casts her eyes on these and deplores her inability to relieve them. She sees her eyes on these and the profits of her commerce goes to foreign states.”
41.(Farmer – hampton.lib.nh.us 1 February 1998 Web. 19 January 2019). 42. (Ship builders – hampton.lib.nh.us 1 February 1998 Web. 19 January 2019).
The waterfront in Old New York by Howard Pyle – Along the Water Front in Old New York, illustration from ‘The Evolution of New York’ by Thomas A. Janvier, pub. in Harper’s Magazine, May, 1893 (litho) – hathitrust.org 19 September 2008 Web. 19 January 2019. p. 820).
“She further bewails that all she can raise by taxation is inadequate to her necessities-She sees religion die by her side, public faith, prostituted and private confidence lost between man and man. Are the hearts of her citizens so deaf to compassion that they will not go to her relief? If they are so infatuated that dire consequences may be easily foreseen.-Expostulations must be made for the defection of Virginia when Congress meets.”
– (Northwest-territory 1787 – commons.wikimedia.org 5 June 2004 Web. 19 January 2019).
45. – (The Federal Pillars – raising Virginia’s pillar, May 23, 1788: South Carolina ratifies 149-73 (South Carolina) – teachingamericanhistory.org 6 January 2002 Web. 19 January 2019).
“They will inquire where she has lately discovered so much wisdom-she that gave us an immense tract (Northwest Country) to relieve the general distresses?-Wherein constitutes the superiority to her friends of South Carolina and the respectable state of Massachusetts, who to prevent a dissolution of the Confederacy, adopted the Constitution and proposed such amendments as they thought necessary, placing confidence in the other states, that they would accede them?”
46 & 47.
– (Bill Caldwell as Adam Stephen videotaped by Jim Surkamp); – (Declaration of Independence (1818) by John Trumbull – wikipedia.org 27 July 2001 Web. 19 January 2019).
WE ARE ABOUT TO DETERMINE WHETHER WE SHOULD BE ONE OF THE UNITED STATES OR NOT!”
– (candle in lamp by Jim Surkamp).
– (Montage – Document of the Virginia Ratifying – edu.lva.virginia.gov 1 August 2015 Web. 19 January 2019).
On June 25, a Wednesday, the final vote: 89 YES ratify 79 NO don’t ratify.
– – (Montage – Document of the Virginia Ratifying – edu.lva.virginia.gov 1 August 2015 Web. 19 January 2019).
Of the sixteen delegates of what is today West Virginia – all but ONE voted for ratification, providing the margin needed for it to pass and guarantee a new nation. John Evans was on the wrong side of history.
– (All states (pillars) approved the Constitution, courtesy of the Center for the Study of the American Constitution and John Kaminski. Professor Kaminski contracted with Paul Haas in 1990 to draw this final pillar rendition as part of the Rhode Island bicentennial celebrations. Professor Kaminski owns the original artwork and has graciously given permission to use it for our Pillar story. – teachingamericanhistory.org 6 January 2002 Web. 19 January 2019).
– (Jim Surkamp August 5th, 2018 – by Jim Surkamp).
Of the 16 votes from today’s West Virginia who Stephen spoke repeatedly and passionately for – fifteen were “AYE,” one was “NAY.” Virginia became part of the United States. And the nation was truly born, crucially because of Adam Stephen and fifteen of our West Virginia brethren. Pretty nice. You all pumped up. I love it.
– (Adam Stephen’s grave site – findagrave.com 5 December 1998 Web. 19 January 2019).
A marker marks where Adam Stephen is buried today in his town, where he died in July 16, 1791.
(What has become of that genius which spoke that magnanimous language-that genius that produced the Federal Convention? . . She sees religion die by her side, public faith, prostituted and private confidence lost between man and man. Are the hearts of her citizens so deaf to compassion that they will not go to her relief? Singing “And we’ll all go together to pluck wild mountain thyme” WE ARE ABOUT TO DETERMINE WHETHER WE SHOULD BE ONE OF THE UNITED STATES OR NOT! (singing) all around the bloomin’ heather. Will ye go Lassie go?”)
– (Bill Caldwell matte as Adam Stephen – by Jim Surkamp).