George Washington on Bill of Rights
paul-finkelman at UTULSA.EDU
Fri Apr 13 15:33:41 PDT 2001
This is not exactly correct, with all due respect to the late Professor
Schwartz, who was my predecessor here at the Chapman Professor at the
University of Tulsa.
In his first address to Congress, which functioned as his inaugural
address, Washington devoted an entire paragraph to the discussion of
amendments (the third from the last if anyone wants to look at it). Here
he declined to offere specific recommendations of Amendments, but urged
Congress to show "a reverence for the characeristic rights of freemen, and
a regard for public harmony...." This was in fact a recommendation for
strong consideration of some bIll of rights that would not change the
character of the Constitution, but would satisfy the mild antifederalists.
I discuss this in 1990 Supreme Court Review at 338-39.
Chapman Distinguished Professor
University of Tulsa College of Law
3120 East 4th Place
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74104-2499
paul-finkelman at utulsa.edu
Daniel Hoffman wrote:
> Washington strongly opposed the insistence on amendments as
> preconditions for ratification; privately expressed general sympathy
> with what advocates of the Bill were contending for; and declined to
> make a recommendation either way in his first annual message to
> congress. See Schwartz, The Bill of Rights, A Documentary History, II:
> 985-88, 1011-12.
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