Four American Patriots  by Alma Holman Burton

The Federalist

Of course, the people were sure to disagree about the new Constitution. Governors in the states did not like to have a President who would be greater than they. Militias in the states did not want to be at the beck and call of a President who would be their commander-in-chief. Judges in the states did not care to have their decisions appealed to a supreme court. Merchants did not choose to allow a Congress to put taxes on the goods they imported from Europe.

And so there was a great deal of talking.

Those who favored the Constitution were called federalists, and those who opposed it were called anti-federalists.

Some great patriots were anti-federalists, Patrick Henry of Virginia was an anti-federalist, because he feared the President and Congress might take liberty from the people.

Samuel Adams, of Massachusetts, was an anti-federalist, because he feared one government could not hold so many states together.

Now, this old patriot had much influence. People said Massachusetts would vote against the Constitution if Samuel Adams did.

But some workingmen met in the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston. It was their opinion that if the Constitution was not ratified their trades would be ruined. A committee bore their resolutions to Samuel Adams; and Paul Revere, who had aroused the sleeping towns for the battle of Lexington, handed him the paper.

"How many mechanics were at the Green Dragon?" asked Adams.

"More, sir, than the Green Dragon could hold," answered Paul Revere.

"And where were the rest, Mr. Revere?"

"In the streets, sir."

"And how many were in the streets?"

"More, sir, than there are stars in the sky."

And because Samuel Adams had faith in the judgment of the industrious workingmen, he resolved from that moment to be a federalist.

Nothing that anybody could say changed the mind of Governor George Clinton, of New York. He opposed the Constitution with all his might.

Alexander Hamilton urged the adoption of the Constitution. He wrote, with John Jay, of New York, and James Madison, of Virginia, a series of essays called the Federalist. The Federalist explained the new plan of government.

It had great influence all over the country. But there were so many anti-federalists in New York that people said the state would never adopt the Constitution.

There was talking from morning till night in the taverns and on the corners of the streets.

Hamilton hardly slept or ate, he was so busy trying to persuade the people to agree to the Constitution. At last news came that eight states had ratified it.

When the New York convention met to vote, there was the greatest excitement. Only one more state was needed to make the Constitution a law. Would New Hampshire vote for it? Would Virginia vote for it? Hamilton sent off couriers for reports from these two states. The days seemed very long.

At last a courier came riding at full speed. "New Hampshire has ratified!" he shouted. "Hurrah!" answered the friends of the Constitution, and they hurried to tell that the new government was established.

Would New York join the union, or remain independent? Everybody was asking the question. Now, New York, at that time, was not so great in either wealth or population as Virginia, Massachusetts, or Pennsylvania. But the state was very important, for all that. There it lay, dividing New England from the middle and southern states. You can see very well that, if New York had stayed out of the union, she might have been a troublesome neighbor to the United States of America.

Hamilton argued in the convention while waiting for reports from Virginia. "Let others try the experiment first," said Governor Clinton and his friends. Everybody said that, if Virginia refused to ratify, New York would be sure to follow her example.

It took a long time for news to come from far away Virginia. But at last a horseman brought tidings that Virginia, the "mother of the colonies," had adopted the Constitution.

"Hurrah! hurrah!" shouted the friends of the Constitution. "What will our convention do now?" they asked.

The excitement of the crowds outside the court-house waxed greater than ever. "Hamilton is speaking!" went from mouth to mouth. "Hamilton is speaking yet! He has changed more votes!"

And when the news was carried to the people that their convention had ratified the Constitution, a shout went up all over the state. There was a holiday to celebrate the event. Cannons boomed, bells rang, and thousands marched in line in the streets of New York city.

The portrait of Hamilton with the Constitution in his hand was carried in the parade; a small frigate, called the "Ship of State," bore the name Hamilton in large letters, and on the national flag were pictured the faces of Washington and Hamilton. The celebration closed with a public dinner, where toasts were offered in honor of Hamilton.

It was a proud day for the young federalist.