In the years following the Revolutionary War, the economic and political condition in the newly declared nation was disastrous. The young states were in extreme debt after the expense of the war, and economic growth was hampered by the fact that each state had its own tariffs and currencies. The Continental Congress was helpless to repair the dilemma because of its inability to tax (Garraty, 1971).
In the middle of all the confusion, however, a commercial dispute, the Oyster War, between Virginia and Maryland was successfully solved with assistance from General George Washington and James Madison. Surprised and delighted, the Maryland delegation suggested a larger meeting, including a few other states, to adopt a uniform commercial system. Madison, however, felt there was the potential for a meeting of all the states to follow in order to explore all commercial concerns and to amend the Articles of Confederation. The resulting Annapolis Convention in 1786 was a disappointment - only five states attended. Frustrated, the states represented sent out a call to all other states for a constitutional convention to meet in Philadelphia the following year (Kauffmann, 1997).
This second convention might also have had little or no result had it not been for the Shays Rebellion. Washington's extreme propaganda on the tax-related minor rebellion emphasized the need for an agreed nation-wide system, rather than individual state procedures (Nat. Archives, 2000). States began to see the possibility that amendments to the Articles of Confederation could be beneficial, and even wise. As a result, eleven of the thirteen states sent representatives to Philadelphia (Kauffmann, 1997). At this Constitutional Convention and cont...
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...sual eloquence that could not be equaled, and that inevitably won people to his point of view.
Perhaps, indeed, Madison would not have been the turning point that he is had he represented any other state. But the fact remains that he was, and is, the man that ensured the support of Virginia, and that fact meant the success of Constitutional ratification overall. He deserved the title bestowed upon him in 1791: "Father of the Constitution". He conceived it, battled hard for its approval, and finally succeeded in the ratification and eventual success of a document that even today retains those main points he instilled in it. His actions to ensure the union of the United States were unequaled by any man.
"The advice nearest to my heart and deepest in my convictions is, THAT THE UNION OF THE STATES BE CHERISHED AND PERPETUATED."
- James Madison (Fendall, 1865)
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