SEE: Reflections on the Mt. Vernon Assembly
By Michael Farris
"We are beginning to reach critical mass in our efforts to use Article V of the Constitution to rein in the power of the federal government. The Mount Vernon Assembly is one of the major steps in that effort."
Read Michael’s article and one immediately detects he has no intention to have a productive and respectful discussion on the issue by immediately demeaning his opponents, claiming they have” increased both the loudness and shrillness of their long-standing claims…”
Michael continues: ”Here is why their arguments are doomed to fail: 1. They are based on faulty history. The original Constitution was not adopted as the result of a runaway convention. Their entire argument is premised on this fallacy. 2. They have to convince state legislators that we can't trust state legislators.
Faulty history? The truth is, the convention ignored the agreed upon purpose for which the convention of 1787 was called which was to revise the Article of Confederation to make them adequate to the exigencies of the Union. As a matter of historical fact three of the States [New Hampshire, Connecticut and New York] specifically expressed limiting the convention for “the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation”. They did not authorize drawing up an entirely new Constitution during the convention. And this is what is referred to as a “runaway convention”.
Getting back to the claim of “faulty history”, Michael’s assertion is immediately proved to be false by reading from The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution [Elliot's Debates, Volume 1] which documents the limitations to be followed by the Convention’s Delegates. New Hampshire’s being crystal clear on the purpose being for “the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation”.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE. In the Year of our Lord 1787.
An Act for appointing Deputies from this State to the Convention proposed to be holden in the City of Philadelphia, in May, 1787, for the Purpose of revising the federal Constitution
By his Excellency, James Bowdoin, Esq., Governor of the Commonwealth of [L. S.]Massachusetts.
To the Hon. Francis Dana, Elbridge Gerry, Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King, and Culeb Strong, Esqrs., Greeting:
Whereas Congress did, on the 21st day of February, A. D. 1787, resolve, "That, in the opinion of Congress, it is expedient that, on the second Monday in May next, a convention of delegates, who shall have been appointed by the several states, be held at Philadelphia, for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation, and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall, when agreed to in Congress, and confirmed by the states, render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union;" And whereas the General Court have constituted and appointed you their delegates, to attend and represent this commonwealth in the said proposed Convention, and have, by a resolution of theirs of the 10th of March last, requested me to commission you for that purpose;--
And so, the truth is, there was, what many call, a “runaway convention” which decided to draw up an entirely new Constitution and government, and it ignored the limitation of merely revising the Articles of Confederation as instructed.
Michael also claims opponents of a convention would ”have to convince state legislators that we can't trust state legislators.” That is not the argument Michael. The argument is, should “we the people” really trust state legislatures to convene a constitutional convention when every single one has working in concert with our federal government to undermine and subjugate the defined and limited powers granted to our federal government? Which state legislature has not accepted federal funds in return for imposing federal mandates upon the people within their states which are not within the defined and limited powers granted to Congress? How many states have state pensions which are unfunded and a ticking time bomb? Would state legislatures not welcome the federal government assuming these debts in return for additional powers being granted to our federal government? Let us not forget that part of adopting our existing constitution was made possible by having the federal government assume the various state Revolutionary War debt!
What is very scary about the call for a second constitutional convention is, there are a number of very, very dangerous and well-funded groups behind this call. And they refuse and/or avoid public events in which a spokesman of theirs is paired with an opponent for a spirited debate concerning the pros and cons, and very real dangers of calling a second constitutional convention. For example, Glenn Beck had State Senator David Long on today to sell the calling of a convention with no one knowledgeable to put his feet to the fire. And this seems to be the pattern being followed. The conservative opposition to calling a convention seems to be shut out of the debate, and this in itself is cause for alarm.
In any event, James Madison warned us about calling a convention under Article V as follows:
“You wish to know my sentiments on the project of another general Convention as suggested by New York. I shall give them to you with great frankness …….3. If a General Convention were to take place for the avowed and sole purpose of revising the Constitution, it would naturally consider itself as having a greater latitude than the Congress appointed to administer and support as well as to amend the system; it would consequently give greater agitation to the public mind; an election into it would be courted by the most violent partisans on both sides; it wd. probably consist of the most heterogeneous characters; would be the very focus of that flame which has already too much heated men of all parties; would no doubt contain individuals of insidious views, who under the mask of seeking alterations popular in some parts but inadmissible in other parts of the Union might have a dangerous opportunity of sapping the very foundations of the fabric. Under all these circumstances it seems scarcely to be presumable that the deliberations of the body could be conducted in harmony, or terminate in the general good. Having witnessed the difficulties and dangers experienced by the first Convention which assembled under every propitious circumstance, I should tremble for the result of a Second, meeting in the present temper of America, and under all the disadvantages I have mentioned. ….I am Dr. Sir, Yours Js. Madison Jr”___See Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 25 March 1, 1788-December 31, 1789, James Madison to George Turberville
Do we really want to convene a convention to give those who now hold federal and state power the opportunity to make constitutional, that which is now un-constitutional? Do the countless miseries we now suffer spring from defects in our existing Constitution, or are each traceable to the lack of the America People rising up and demanding their existing Constitution and its legislative intent be strictly observed and enforced by those who hold federal and state power? And who would be in control of a convention should one be called? Would it not be the very snakes who now cause our sufferings?
If the America People do not rise up and defend their existing Constitution and the intentions and beliefs under which it was adopted, who is left to do so but the very people it was designed to control and regulate?