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If A Convention of States Can Be So Dangerous, Why Was Article V Put in the Constitution in the First Place?

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Published on: February 21, 2015

Publius Huldah was recently asked, “If a Convention of States can be so dangerous, why was Article V put in the Constitution in the first place?” She provided a short and concise answer.

Having gone through James Madison‘s journal of the federal convention of 1787, which she displayed while providing her answer, she pulled out every reference to Article V of the US Constitution and wrote on the development of Article V.

“Madison’s journal doesn’t say why the convention met that was put in,” she said. “It was added on the last day of deliberations, September 15, 1787. There was no discussion as to why it was put in,” she continued. “It may have been put in to try to get George Mason and his two friends, Mr. Randolph and Mr. Gerry to sign the Constitution, because they wanted all of the delegates who were at the convention to sign it.”

She went on to explain that Mason wanted a method of amending the Constitution that Congress had nothing to do with.

“The convention method was put in, but since Congress calls the convention and because of the ‘necessary and proper’ clause, Congress still controls it,” she said.

Publius says that Mason and his two friends were the only delegates to the convention that did not sign the Constitution.

In the end, Publius said that we really don’t know why Article V was actually put into the Constitution. After all, if it was to appease these three men, it failed to have its effect.

However, she did say, “Just because something is in the Constitution, doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea and we ought to do it.”

And you know people will roll their eyes at that comment. Because of that, she went on to provide an example: Slavery.

“That (slavery) was a moral evil, but it was put in because the abolitionists had to compromise with the slave owners,” she pointed out. “So, it was a compromise.”

“The fugitive slave laws were permitted by Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3,” she added. “The fugitive slave laws were an abomination, but it was in the Constitution.”

The Thirteenth Amendment repealed that provision.

“Our Constitution, on the whole, was a 5,000 year miracle, but it was drafted by men who were fallen and there were flaws in it,” she admitted. “Slavery was one flaw, and I submit that the convention method of proposing amendments was another flaw.”

Publius also said that James Madison argued against the convention method from the very beginning, citing Federalist Paper number 49, in which he discussed, at great length, what a terrible idea it is to have a convention to correct any federal usurpations.

She also pointed to a November 1788 letter from Madison to James Turberville as evidence that Madison opposed the convention method.

“It was primarily because of James Madison’s dire warnings and his status as the father of our Constitution that we have never had an Article V convention in the past,” she concluded.

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