James Madison Papers

Method of Ratifying the Constitution, [31 August] 1787

Method of Ratifying the Constitution

[31 August 1787]

Mr. Madison considered it best to require Conventions; Among other reasons, for this, that the powers given to the Genl. Govt. being taken from the State Govts. the Legislatures would be more disinclined than conventions composed in part at least of other men; and if disinclined, they could devise modes apparently promoting, but really, thwarting the ratification. The difficulty in Maryland was no greater than in other States, where no mode of change was pointed out by the Constitution, and all officers were under oath to support it.1 The people were in fact, the fountain of all power, and by resorting to them, all difficulties were got over. They could alter constitutions as they pleased. It was a principle in the Bills of rights, that first principles might be resorted to.

Ms (DLC).

1Carroll pointed out that the proposed Constitution would, in effect, alter the Maryland Constitution and that any amendments to the state constitution required the approval of the state legislature.

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