Reply To: Mr. Lincoln's War


The three chief Federalist spokesmen in the Richmond Convention were Governor Edmund Randolph, George Nicholas, and James Madison. Nicholas explained this point in great detail at the very end of the Convention — right before the vote on ratification. Randolph had already repeatedly made clear that the new government would have only the powers “expressly” delegated — which of course do not include power to put down secession, raise an army without calling Congress into session, ignore the chief justice’s writ of habeas corpus, conscript soldiers, print paper money, banish political opponents, etc. Besides that, Federalists assumed throughout the Convention that, as Edmund Pendleton explained in his speech accepting the presidency of the Convention at its very beginning, the Virginians were a people — not part of a people. This negates John Marshall’s contention in _McCulloch v. Maryland_ that the Constitution was ratified by one American people. As Nicholas put it, Virginia was to be as one of thirteen parties to a compact.