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Constitution Thursday – Maryland, My Maryland

Luther Martin - Attorney General of Maryland

Luther Martin – Attorney General of Maryland

Over the course of the Convention, Luther Martin (Maryland) had been a petulant opponent of the plan and an irritant to pretty much everybody there – even those who agreed with him. Now that his State, Maryland, is taking up ratification, he will continue to adamantly and vociferously oppose the Constitution. He is the very embodiment of the Anti-Federalists.

Pretty much nobody will listen to his ranting, and Maryland will easily vote to ratify.

It’s what happens after that is so fascinating to me. Because of our own historical myopia, we tend to only see the good and heroic sides of the Framers and Founders. We don’t relate to them as people just like us, facing difficulties and crises. Consequently we don’t learn from their example of how to deal with and even overcome those difficulties.

The rest of Luther Martins’ life will be spent in various pursuits as a lawyer – including defending Aaron Burr against charges of treason – and in the bottle. But by 1807, he will be called, “The Federalist Bulldog,” by no less than Thomas Jefferson. What drives a man who is virulently anti-Federalist to change his mind? Was it the ultimate “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?” Or did Luther Martin discover something about human nature in his later years?

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Constitution Thursday – The Two Anchors

As the convention reaches the end of the first week of September, it seems, at least on the surface of things, that all their work is about to come undone. Luther Martin is convinced that the only way the American people will agree to this Constitution is to be hurried into it by surprise.  Edmund Randolph of Virginia declares that yet another full convention be held – AFTER the states are given the opportunity to make amendments to the draft.

It seems like there is a movement to undo all that has been done.

What is left to hold the Convention together? Two men. Perhaps the only two men in all of American history to whom every citizen will listen…

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Constitution Thursday – The Steamship Perseverance

Today, we debate and discuss the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which may, depending on how you read it, give the President the authority to make war, while Congress has not declared a war. Oddly enough, the delegates had exactly the same debate, which is why the Constitution gives Congress the power to DECLARE war and the expected the President to MAKE war… as long as the people approved…

Appletons'_Fitch_John_BoatNeeding a bit of a break, most of the Delegates headed down to the shore of the Delaware River to take a ride on a steam ship. Yes… a steam ship. Twenty years before anybody ever heard of Robert Fulton. Is it possible that little adventure helped them to empower Congress to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts?”

Roughly a hundred years after the convention, Otto von Bismark will develop his political maxim of the “realpolitik.” He could have learned it from Rutledge, who, in response to Luther Martin’s call to accept the immorality of slavery, reminds the Convention that IF there is to be a Union, it WILL be with slavery. And if there is a Union WITH slavery, non-slave States… will make a whole lot of money…

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