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Business Of The Highest Magnitude

July 2024
19min read


Dr. Benjamin Rush believed the hand of God must have been involved in the noble work. John Adams, writing from Grosvenor Square, London, called it the greatest single effort of national deliberation, and perhaps the greatest exertion of human understanding, the world had ever seen. A great many people, however, held a contrary view, and in the fall of 1787 their opposition made it seem likely that the proposed Constitution of the United States would not be forwarded to the states by the Continental Congress, or, if forwarded, would not be ratified by the American people.

Opposition was especially intense in Pennsylvania, the only state with a well-developed, statewide two-party system. The Pennsylvania Democrats (Antifederalists) were efficiently organized; they controlled the state militia and the mobs in most cities; and they were led by a group of uncompromising idealogues who were determined that their state would not ratify the new Constitution. Both the Democrats and the pro-Constitution Federalists knew that Pennsylvania was the pivotal state and that the fight there would be an influential and perhaps decisive factor in the larger national contest. The struggle that ensued has not often been equalled in this country for bitterness, violence, vehemence of debate, or political high comedy.

The Constitutional Convention completed its work on September 17, after sixteen weeks of almost daily sessions. The engrossed Constitution, signed by thirty-nine delegates from twelve states, was sent forthwith to the Congress in New York City. With it went a covering letter from General George Washington, written, it is thought, by Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania. A resolution of the Convention asked the Congress to submit the Constitution for ratification, not, as expected, to the state legislatures, but to a convention of delegates popularly chosen in each state, and convened solely for that purpose.

The next day Benjamin Franklin led the Pennsylvania delegation to the second floor of the State House in Philadelphia to appear before the Pennsylvania House of Assembly. General Thomas Mifflin, Speaker and one of the delegates, read the Constitution aloud. When he finished, the citizens standing in the rear of the chamber broke into applause. On Wednesday the Constitution was printed in full in the Packet , the Journal , and the Independent Gazetteer or Chronicle of Freedom , and thereafter in others of the country’s eighty-odd newspapers. It was distributed in Pennsylvania as a pamphlet, with five hundred copies in the German language for the benefit of the state’s large German-speaking population.

The first public response seemed to be favorable, but the Democrats were bursting with protest. Speaking “for the present and future ages—the cause of liberty and mankind,” they went to work with handbills and pamphlets, with squibs and speeches, with articles and letters in the papers, in meetings and in exchanges in the boarding houses and taverns. To Democrats the new Constitution was the product of “as deep and wicked a conspiracy as ever was invented in the darkest ages against the liberties of a free people,” and it “would surely result in a monarchy or a tyrannical aristocracy,” and perhaps in civil war. They voiced these major objections:

1. Congress had instructed the Convention delegates to recommend possible amendments to the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. Instead, meeting behind locked doors in a “dark conclave,” they had willfully written a plan for an entirely new form of government.

2. Their Constitution would annihilate the present confederation of coequal states, where the sovereign power should properly reside, and substitute for it a consolidated national government. The authority of the states would be grievously curbed if not obliterated. The ability of the new Congress to impose internal taxes and duties at its pleasure would undercut the taxing powers of the individual state legislatures.

3. Unprotected by their state governments, the citizens would be at the mercy of the central government. There was no bill of rights; liberty of the press, habeas corpus, and religious toleration were not assured; trial by jury was abolished in civil cases; and there was no prohibition of a standing army in time of peace.

4. The government of three branches, this “tripleheaded monster,” was unworkable. The President was too powerful, the Vice President “a needless and dangerous officer,” the Senate too aristocratical, the House too small to represent the people, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court too extensive. The country was too large to be ruled under the principles of liberty by a consolidated government.

5. The whole proposition was extravagant and would bankrupt the nation.

The more zealous Pennsylvania Democrats pounded hard on those objections and added several others of their own. For one thing, none of the eight Pennsylvania delegates to the Convention had been Democrats, and none had come from the six counties beyond the western mountains, where, among Scotch-Irish and German immigrant farmer-frontiersmen, the chief opposition to the Constitution lay. For another, the Democrats would lose jobs, power, and their control over the Pennsylvania militia. For a third, they would probably see the repeal of their ultrademocratic (and unworkable) state constitution. Without having bothered with the formality of a popular vote, they had imposed this constitution on the state in the turmoil of 1776, and they held it to be a model for other states and nations to follow. (Much of it was written by James Cannon, a mathematics professor at the College of Philadelphia who seems to have been somewhat ahead of his time. He tried but failed to include an article reading, “That an enormous proportion of property vested in a few individuals is dangerous to the rights, and destructive of the common happiness, of mankind; and therefore every free state hath a right by its laws to discourage the possession of such property.”)

In New York, the Continental Congress had been unable to muster a quorum of seven states throughout the summer, but on Thursday, September 20, attendance picked up and the members took under consideration the new frame of government that had been placed before them. The assent of nine of the thirteen states was required for approval.

Pennsylvania’s Federalist congressmen, under the leadership of William Bingham, a wealthy Philadelphia merchant and banker, pushed hard through a week-long debate to forward the Constitution with an affirmative and unanimous endorsement. Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, leading a strong minority, spoke of “essential alterations” and of the need to call another constitutional convention. He moved that a bill of rights and a long list of amendments be added, and he proposed a resolution stating that the new plan of government be submitted to the existing state legislatures rather than to state conventions assembled solely for that purpose. The minority then offered to forward the plan to the states for consideration, but with the warning that the Convention had acted improperly in producing it and with a reprimand to the delegates. The two sides worked for a suitable compromise.

Back in Philadelphia, without waiting for formal word from the Continental Congress, Democrats and Federalists prepared for a mighty struggle in the House of Assembly. The Democratic minority planned a delaying action. The House had resolved to adjourn sine die on Saturday, September 29. Delay would carry the issue over to a new Assembly to be elected five weeks later. Democrats might win a majority in that body and thus have the votes to defeat a call for a state convention—if the Congress really did send the Constitution forward. Or they might elect a majority of anti-Constitution delegates in the convention—if one had to be called. Defeat of the Constitution in Pennsylvania, or delay in calling a state convention, would strengthen the anti-Constitution forces in the twelve other states.

The Federalists not only wanted the Constitution to be ratified in Pennsylvania; they also wanted their state to be the first to act. That would strengthen the movement in the other states. It would take advantage of the early wave of sentiment in favor of the Constitution and give the western farmers less time to find fault with it. It would allow the Democratic leaders the least opportunity to return to their inland counties and organize the opposition. And early ratification would give Pennsylvania a leg up on placing the new seat of government near Philadelphia, where it obviously belonged.

The Federalists drew up a plan designed to take their opponents by surprise. They would make a motion for a state convention on Friday morning, one day before adjournment, and attempt to rush it through before the Democrats could recover. The procedure was irregular, perhaps, since the Congress had not yet asked for a convention, but the issue was vital and the cause was just.

William Bingham arranged to send news from New York by dispatch riders who would change horses at frequent posts along the ninety-mile route.

On Friday morning, September 28, every Federalist member was in his seat. After the House attended to some routine business, George Clymer, merchant of Philadelphia, signer of the Declaration of Independence and one of the framers of the new federal Constitution, rose in place. The members, he said suavely, could not have forgotten a business of the highest magnitude that had been recommended to their attention by the federal Convention. He was persuaded that they would readily concur in taking the necessary measures, and therefore he had prepared a resolution to that end.

His resolution was promptly seconded by Gerardus Wynkoop, who sat for Bucks County.

Robert Whitehill, member from Cumberland County, one of the authors of the ultrademocratic Pennsylvania constitution, rose to object. The members, he said, ought to have time to consider the subject. He moved, therefore, to postpone consideration until the afternoon session.

Thomas Fitzsimons (City of Philadelphia), one of the signers of the federal Constitution, declared that the business was of the highest consequence. The only object of consideration was not the merits of the new Constitution, but solely whether the election of delegates should be held. It was the general wish of the people that the House should go forward in the matter.

William Findley (Westmoreland County), Ulsterborn, former weaver and teacher, now a farmer and Democratic leader, agreed that the subject was important. It was so important, indeed, that the House should go into it with deliberation. It was so important that the members should not be surprised into it.

Daniel Clymer (Berks County), cousin of George, said (in extract): “I have heard, Sir, that only four or five leading party-men in this city are against it, whose names I should be glad to know, that their characters might be examined; for I am confident they will be hereafter ashamed to show their faces among the good people whose future prosperity they wish to blast in the bud. Let them be careful, lest they draw upon themselves the odium of that people who have long indulged their rioting upon public favor.”

Findley: “The gentleman from Berks has spoken warmly against opposing the present measure in a manner as if intended to prevent men from speaking their minds. He has charged some leading characters in this city with giving opposition; if he means me as one of them—”

Daniel Clymer (addressing the Speaker): “No, Sir, upon my honor, I did not mean him.”

Findley: “Well, then, I don’t consider that part of his speech as addressed to the House, but merely to the gallery.”

Daniel Clymer: “The measure will be adopted; for it is too generally agreeable, and too highly recommended, to be assassinated by the hand of intrigue and cabal.”

Whitehill: “The gentlemen that have brought forward this motion must have some design. Why not allow time to consider it? I believe if time is allowed, we shall be able to show that this is not the proper time for calling a convention; and I don’t know any reason there can be for driving it down our throats, without an hour’s preparation.”

George Clymer: “To hesitate upon this proposition will give a very unfavorable aspect to a measure on which our future happiness, nay, I may also say, our future existence, as a nation, depends.”

Hugh Henry Brackenridge of Westmoreland County, Princeton graduate, former schoolteacher and chaplain in the Revolutionary Army, now a lawyer, author, and wit, was the only member from the western counties and the only Democrat to support the Constitution actively. He rose to express the view that, “from its magnitude and importance,” the members surely must have reflected for some days on the matter. In his opinion they were as well prepared now to determine upon the principle as they would be after having eaten their dinner.

Whitehill: “Congress ought to send forward the plan before we do anything at all in this matter. For of what use was sending it forward to them, unless we meant to wait their determination? Now as these measures are not recommended by Congress, why should we take them up? Why should we take up a thing which does not exist? Is it not better to go safely on the business, and let it lie over till the next House? When we have adjourned, let our constituents think of it, and instruct their representatives to consider of the plan proper to be pursued. Will not the next House be able to determine as we are?”


Daniel Clymer: “The Constitution lately presented to you [was] framed by the collective wisdom of a continent, centered in a venerable band of patriots, worthies, heroes, legislators and philosophers—the admiration of a world. No longer shall thirty thousand [Philadelphians] engage all our attention—all our efforts to procure happiness. No!—The extended embrace of fraternal love shall enclose three millions, and ere fifty years are elapsed, thirty millions, as a band of brothers!

“As this subject is now before us, let us not hesitate, but eagerly embrace the glorious opportunity of being foremost in its adoption. Let us not hesitate, because it is damping the ardor with which it should be pursued. Sir, it is throwing cold water on the flame that warms the breast of every friend of liberty, and every patriot who wishes this country to acquire that respect to which she is justly entitled.”

The question was put : Would the House agree to postpone consideration of the matter? It was defeated.

George Clymer spoke to the real Federalist concern. “If this House order a convention,” he said, “it may be deliberated and decided some time in November, [1787], and the Constitution may be acted under by December. But if it is left over to the next House, it will inevitably be procrastinated until December, 1788.”

The Federalists began to cry, “Question! Question!” and a vote was taken on the resolution: Would the House agree to elect delegates and call a state convention? It was carried 43 to 19.

Whitehill then moved that the session adjourn until four o’clock that afternoon, at which time, he said, they might decide the lesser issues of time and place of the election of delegates and the holding of the convention.

Undoubtedly, congratulations were exchanged, and there was much joking at the Federalists’ luncheon tables at how smoothly everything had been managed and how clearly the victory had been won. But when the session resumed at four o’clock, the Federalists were astounded to find not one of the nineteen Democratic members in his seat. With forty-four members present, the House was two votes short of a quorum—which meant that no business could be conducted.

Mr. Wynkoop observed that the missing members were those who had given opposition that morning, and he suspected that they had conspired to absent themselves. He moved that the sergeant at arms be ordered to fetch them. The sergeant accordingly was dispatched. When he returned, he was examined at the bar of the House.

Speaker: “Well, Sergeant, have you seen the absent members?”

The sergeant replied that he had seen seventeen members at Major Boyd’s boarding house on Sixth Street.

Speaker: “What did you say to them?”

Sergeant: “I told the gentlemen that the Speaker and the House had sent for them, and says they, ‘There is no House.’ ”

Speaker: “Did you let them know they were desired to attend?”

Sergeant: “Yes, Sir, but they told me they could not attend this afternoon, for they had not made up their minds yet.”

Daniel Clymer: “How is that?”

Sergeant: “They had not made up their minds this afternoon to wait on you.”

Speaker: “Who told you this?”

Sergeant: “Mr. Whitehill told me first.”

Clymer: “Who told you afterward?”

Sergeant: “Mr. Clarke said they must go electioneering now.”

Clymer: “Was there no private citizens there?”

Sergeant: “No, Sir.”

Clymer: “There was none then, but men in public offices ?”

Sergeant: “No.”

Clymer: “Did you hear of any one willing to come?”

Sergeant: “No, Sir.”

The Federalists, outwitted, baffled, and angry at this breach of trust, debated what to do next. If no business could be conducted, the Assembly would be forced to adjourn the next day without naming a date for selecting delegates or for holding the convention. Mr. Wynkoop declared, “I would be glad to know, if there is no way to compel men, who deserted from the duty they owed their country, to a performance of it, when they were within reach of the House. If there is not, then God be merciful to us !!!”

A search of the books revealed no regulation compelling an absent member to attend, the only penalty being loss of one third of a day’s pay for each absence. The Speaker declared a recess until nine thirty the following morning.

Federalists discussed the affair in homes and taverns throughout the evening, with liberal abuse for the nineteen recalcitrant members and much speculation about what the minority would do when the Assembly reconvened. The Democratic leaders worked through the night behind locked doors at Major Boyd’s; they were preparing an address to their constituents in which they set forth their objections to the new plan of government.

When General MifBin took the chair on Saturday morning, the minority members were again absent and again no quorum could be declared.

George Clymer presented to the House a packet of documents he had received from New York in the early morning. It contained, he said, a resolution of Congress, passed unanimously, requesting the legislature of each state to put the proposed Constitution to a vote of a popularly elected convention. This had been signed the day before, and Mr. William Bingham had forwarded it to him by express rider, “having chosen this mode in preference to the ordinary conveyance by post.” The resolution was read aloud.

Fortified by this new evidence of regularity, the Speaker again sent the sergeant at arms to find the missing members and request their attendance, this time accompanied by the assistant clerk carrying the resolution of Congress. They returned to report that they had seen a dozen of the members in various places and had delivered the message and shown them the resolution. Mr. Findley had “mended his pace” and escaped; others had declared they would not attend; one said he would consider the matter and do what he thought just.


In the meantime word had spread around the city that the Democrats had “absconded” from their duties at the Assembly. A crowd of men gathered, and as time passed they grew impatient. They marched off in search of any two absent members, and the path led straight to Major Boyd’s boarding house. There they found two Democrats: James McCalmont of Franklin County and Jacob Miley of Dauphin. Both men had been militia officers in the Revolution. McCalmont, fifty, a major, had a distinguished record as a frontier scout and Indian fighter; he had been famous for his speed in running and his ability to reload a musket or rifle while in full flight or pursuit.

Several of the crowd entered and read the congressional resolution aloud. McCalmont and Miley refused to budge. When that information was conveyed to those waiting outside, they shouted imprecations, smashed windows with stones, broke down the front door, and stormed into the house. McCalmont and Miley were collared, dragged from the premises, and pushed and pulled through the streets to the State House. General Mifflin, hearing a commotion outside and suspecting the reason, discreetly absented himself for a while from the chamber. The two men, their clothes dirtied and torn, their faces white with anger, were thrust onto the floor of the House and escorted to their seats. The clerk wrote in his minutes, in what must be considered something of an understatement, “The Speaker left the chair, and in a few minutes Mr. James McCalmont and Mr. Jacob Miley entered the House. The Speaker resumed the chair, and the roll was called.” Both men answered to their names or were declared present by others. With forty-six members on the floor the Speaker declared a quorum.

McCalmont rose to protest that he had been brought into the Assembly room by force, contrary to his wishes, by a number of citizens he did not know. He asked to be dismissed from the House.

Fitzsimons replied that he would be glad to know if any member of the House had been guilty of forcing the gentleman from his determination to absent himself. If so, the House should mark such conduct with its disapprobation, he said.

Brackenridge added: “If the member has been conducted by the citizens of Philadelphia to his seat in the legislature, and they have not treated him with the respect and veneration he deserves, it must lie with him to obtain satisfaction, but not with us. How he came here can form no part of our enquiry. Whether his friends brought him (and I should think they could not be his enemies who would compel him to do his duty and avoid wrong), I say, Sir, whether his friends brought him, or by the influence of good advice persuaded him to come, and he did come; or whether to ease his difficulty in walking to this room they brought him in a sedan chair, or by whatever ways or means he introduced himself among us, all we are to know is that he is here, and it only remains for us to decide whether he shall have leave of absence.”

McCalmont: “I desire that the rules may be read, and I will agree to stand by the decision of the House.”

The rules were read, and they were found to state that “every member who did not answer on calling the roll should pay two shillings and six pence, or, if there was not a quorum without him, five shillings.”

McCalmont rose, took some loose silver from his pocket, held it out, and said, “Well, Sir, here is your five shillings to let me go.”

The crowd gathered behind the railing roared with laughter. The Speaker declared that the person appointed to receive fines was not in his place, and that even if he had been, the member should not pay a fine. McCalmont had not broken the rule, the Speaker said. He had appeared and answered to his name and therefore could keep his money.

Mr. Robinson of Philadelphia County, though a Federalist, had some uneasy qualms of conscience. He opined that the House had no authority to detain the member as though he were in prison. Mr. Wynkoop expressed his amazement at this solicitude for a member who had absconded “from his duty at the bar of the House.” Mr. McCalmont declared that he had to answer for his conduct at a more important bar than that of the House.

Fitzsimons was stern. He declared that he was a true friend to good order and decorum, but that he believed the gentleman’s complaint was not to be redressed by the House of Assembly. The member himself had trespassed, Fitzsimons said; McCalmont had perhaps offered the greatest indignity to the legislature of Pennsylvania that could be offered. He had tendered a pittance, a fine of five shillings, in order to be permitted to destroy the business, if not the good government, of the state. The member was now present, Fitzsimons said, and should stay, not only on constitutional grounds, but from the law of nature that would not suffer any body to destroy its own existence prematurely.

Robinson: “Suppose the House determine that he shall not leave, and yet he should attempt to withdraw. Certainly you will not lock your doors.”

Fitzsimons: “Yes, Sir, if no other method could retain him.”

A moment later McCalmont rose and made a dash for the door. The crowd yelled, “Stop him!” and those about the door barred his way. McCalmont returned to his seat.

The Speaker put the question: “Shall Mr. McCalmont have leave of absence?” It was voted “almost unanimously in the negative.”

Brackenridge then moved that the delegates to the state convention be elected on the first Tuesday in November. McCalmont objected that this was much too early and moved the last Tuesday in December. His motion failed. He moved the third Tuesday in December, then the second Tuesday, with the same result. He moved that the site of the convention be moved from Philadelphia to Carlisle, but he was not upheld. He moved that the change be made to Lancaster and was enthusiastically supported by the member from Lancaster. Fifteen members voted for Lancaster in a defeated motion.

The formal resolution was now put: That the election of delegates be held on November 6, 1787, and that the convention meet in the State House in Philadelphia on the third Tuesday in November. It was passed by a vote of 44 to 2. The Federalists had won their victory. The Assembly adjourned. McCalmont and Miley were released.

In the campaign that followed for election of delegates, Democrats and Federalists attacked one another with arguments and invective and sometimes with clubs, stones, and fists.

October 5, 1787: The first of twenty-four letters of “Centinel” (sentinel of the people’s liberties) appeared in the Gazetteer . These papers, running through the next fourteen months, still of undetermined authorship, were the Democratic counterpart of the eighty-five papers ( The Federalist ) produced by “Publius” in New York. Centinel attacked Publius on many points and brilliantly set forth the Democratic case against the Constitution, the “harpies of power,” and “the wealthy and ambitious, who in every community think they have a right to lord it over their fellow creatures.” The treatment accorded McCalmont and Miley, Centinel said, showed what would happen to free citizens under the Federalist Constitution.

October 6: At a public meeting in the State House yard, James Wilson cogently answered the Democratic arguments point by point, and in so doing assumed the role of the country’s most effective proponent of the Constitution in debate. His speech was widely distributed, reprinted, copied, and quoted. The Democrats attacked it as a “train of pitiful sophistries and evasions,” compared Wilson (unfavorably) with Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero, and charged that he was “strongly tainted with the spirit of high aristocracy .”

November 6: The Federalists scored an overwhelming victory in the election of delegates, losing only the six western counties. Their majority was 2 to i, or 46 convention votes to 23. Elated at their victory, several dozen Federalists gathered on election night before Major Boyd’s, reviled the “damned rascals” housed therein, flung stones through the newly repaired windows, and broke the door with large rocks.

November 21: The convention convened in the State House. The delegates spent the first week arguing about procedure. James Wilson distinguished himself with five powerful, if somewhat florid, speeches. Robert Whitehill, the Democrat from Cumberland County, submitted fifteen proposed amendments to the Constitution as a bill of rights. They were ignored. On a number of occasions the members were close to physical assault on one another.

December 7: Delaware ratified the Constitution, won over by the compromise that gave the small states equal representation in the Senate (the Constitution’s only irrevocable article). John Smilie of Fayette County, who with Whitehill and Findley was leading the fight against ratification in the Pennsylvania convention, sneered that Delaware had “reaped the honor of having first surrendered the liberties of the people.”

December 12: Pennsylvania became the second state- and the first large state—"to assent to and ratify” the Constitution. The vote was, predictably, 46 to 23. A transcript of the convention proceedings was made for publication, but the Federalists persuaded the court printer to release only the Federalist speeches.

December 13: The delegates marched in procession to the Court House at Market and Second streets, accompanied by members of the new Assembly, state and city officiais, and other local dignitaries. The ratification was read from a balcony to a great gathering of citizens. The city bells rang out, and thirteen cannons fired salvos.

December 18: The defeated Democratic delegates issued a pamphlet titled Reasons for Dissent and mailed a copy to every printer in the country. No copies were delivered. Democrats charged that they were destroyed by “the sons of power” who controlled the Pennsylvania postoffice system.

December 27: Federalists in Carlisle, a Scotch-Irish town of three hundred houses in the Cumberland Valley some 120 miles west of Philadelphia, staged a public celebration in honor of the ratification. They procured James Wilson for an oration, dragged a cannon to the public square, and heaped up a great stack of barrels for a bonfire. Antifederalists charged the crowd, upset the barrels, spiked the cannon, burned a copy of the Constitution, and began to beat Wilson with bludgeons. An old soldier saved his life by throwing himself over the body and taking the blows until help came.

Two days of riots followed. John Montgomery, venerable Federalist, one of the founders of Dickinson College in Carlisle five years earlier, wrote to a friend, “They are violent on both sides. … We [Federalists] are in a very disagreeable unhapey situation in this place nothing ever happned so bad amongst us neaghbours pass each other without speaking.”

June 21, 1788: The Constitution became law and the United States a new nation with ratification by New Hampshire, the ninth state.

July 4: Philadelphia mounted an all-day celebration to mark the day of Independence and the forming of the new Union. Some five thousand marched or rode in a Federal Procession a mile and a half long. All the trades, crafts, and professions were represented, many of them with elaborate floats, in a spectacle such as no American had ever seen before. High point of the procession was a structure called the “New Roof or Grand Fcederal Ediface,” 36 feet high, drawn by ten white horses. Benjamin Rush called the Ediface “truly sublime” and observed approvingly that of the thousands who took part in the ceremonies that day, very few engaged in quarrels and almost no one was intoxicated.

On an open field at the parade’s end, James Wilson, standing on the Grand Ediface, delivered the Fourth of July oration. Some of his passages were drowned out by the ill-timed firing of thirteen cannons on vessels anchored in the Delaware, but his soaring closing words were loud and clear: “ PEACE walks serene and unalarmed over all the unmolested regions—while LIBERTY , VIRTUE , and RELIGION go hand in hand harmoniously protecting, enlivening , and exalting all! HAPPY COUNTRY, MAY THY HAPPINESS BE PERPETUAL !”

The Pennsylvania Democrats made their peace with the new form of government. Within two years they got the Bill of Rights they had fought for: ten amendments to the Constitution that were remarkably like the amendments Robert Whitehill had vainly offered to the Pennsylvania state convention. James McCalmont became a judge, and Jacob Miley a representative, under the new Pennsylvania constitution. Robert Whitehill served four terms and John Smilie served eight terms in the House of Representatives of the United States. William Findley served eleven terms, and in one of them, in 1795, he moved the creation of the first standing congressional committee—a body of honest representatives called the Ways and Means Committee, formed to keep a sharp eye on the financial operations of a Federalist administration.

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