It would be erroneous, however, to describe the frame of government, signed by Washington and his fellow-delegates at Philadelphia, as their invention. It is not so much a creation of political theorists as a codification by practical statesmen of doctrines which experience showed had worked well, or were needed for the well-working of government in their country.
Moreover, it did not fully satisfy any of its framers, and the discussion connected with its adoption disclosed a strong popular feeling that it ought to be supplemented by a formal bill of rights. Accordingly, various amendments were prepared and ten of these were ratified within two years after the original Constitution went into effect. All of these were suggested by political experience during the revolutionary and colonial periods, while some trace their origin back through English history to Magna Charta. T is clear that the Convention which drafted our Constitution did not originate with political agitators whose heads were filled with new schemes of government. It resulted from the popular conviction that the existing federal system was a failure, a conviction which was voiced by Patrick Henry 1 and other champions of state sovereignty, as well as by those who "thought continentally." How slowly this conviction matured is shown in the stages by which public opinion advanced towards the goal of the Convention. (Taylor 1998 67)
The Background of the Constitutional Convention
As early as 1643 the colonies of Massachusetts, New Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven drew up "Articles of Confederation of the United Colonies of New England," driven thereto by the dangers which threatened them from the hostile Indians, and from the Dutch at New Amsterdam and Fort Orange ( New York and Albany). The purpose of this confederation was principally that of mutual defence, and matters of internal affairs were expressly left to the several colonies, but nevertheless the commissioners were directed to "endeavoured to frame and establish agreements and orders in general cases of a civil nature wherein all the plant cons are interested for preserving peace among themselves, and preventing as much as may bee all occasions of war or difference with others." (Tucker, 1997 74)
Provision was also made for the return by each colony to the authorities of the others of runaway servants and escaped criminals. Control of the affairs of the confederation was put into the hands of eight commissioners, two from each colony, and in most matters action could be taken by the concurrence of six commissioners. 2 The confederation functioned actively until the conquest of New Netherlands in 1664, and there were occasional meetings of the commissioners for twenty years more, when the organization finally fell apart.
In 1684 representatives of Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, and Virginia met at Albany to provide for measures of defence against the Five Nations, and ten years later representatives from Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey met at the same place to frame a treaty with the same Indian tribes. While in 1721 there was a gathering of New England governors