A CONTEMPORARY, 3-PAGE, MANUSCRIPT COPY OF CONNECTICUT GOVERNOR SAMUEL HUNTINGTON’S SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF THE STATE, MAY 1787, IN WHICH THE FIRST PAGE DISCUSSES THE STATED REASON FOR CONVENING THE LEGISLATURE: “THE CONVENTION OF COMMISSIONERS TO MEET AT PHILADELPHIA, THE PRESENT MONTH, FOR THE PURPOSE OF REVISING THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION; A PLAN FIRST ADOPTED BY THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA & AFTERWARDS RECOMMENDED BY THE UNITED STATES IN CONGRESS ASSEMBLED; THE NATURE AND IMPORTANCE OF THIS SUBJECT, INDUCED ME TO CONVENE THE COUNCIL, SOME TIME SINCE, TO ADVISE WHETHER THE ATTENDING CIRCUMSTANCES RENDERED IT NECESSARY TO CALL A SPECIAL ASSEMBLY.” This historic content, Early American document is 3 pages, with docketing information on the 4th page, 7.5 x 12.5, with age toning, some foxing, old fold lines, with some separation, a couple of contemporary pencil notations, otherwise very dark and legible ink and overall very good condition.
The Governor outlines the important topics that the Assembly should consider:
1. Next weeks meeting in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation which actually led to scrapping the Articles and adopting the U.S. Constitution
The Articles of Confederation came into force on March 1, 1781, after being ratified by all 13 states. A guiding principle of the Articles was to preserve the independence and sovereignty of the states. The federal government received only those powers which the colonies had recognized as belonging to king and parliament.
Congress attempted to govern the continually growing American states, delegates discovered that the limitations placed upon the central government rendered it ineffective at doing so. As the government's weaknesses became apparent individuals began asking for changes to the Articles. Their hope was to create a stronger national government. As more states became interested in meeting to change the Articles, a meeting was set in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787, one week after this speech. This became the Constitutional Convention. It was quickly realized that changes would not work, and instead the entire Articles needed to be replaced. On March 4, 1789, the government under the Articles was replaced with the federal government under the U. S. Constitution. The new Constitution provided for a much stronger federal government by establishing a chief executive (the President), courts, and taxing powers.
2. Consideration of a bill to establish punishment for crimes such as “Forgery, Burglary, Counterfieting, & Horse stealing…subjecting the criminals to servitude.”
3. Consideration of a bill to encourage expansion of manufacturing and agriculture
4. Consideration of the restrictions on trade, especially the maritime restrictions (British Navigation Act of 1783 which admitted only British-built ships and manned ships to the ports of the West Indies and imposed heavy tonnage dues upon American ships in other British ports) which was causing economic hardship in all the states.
5. Consideration of establishing an individual taxing system to pay all debt incurred “from the commencement of the late war (American Revolutionary War) so that public faith may be fully established…to promote the peace, the prosperity & happiness of a free people.”
Samuel Huntington (July 16, 1731 – January 5, 1796) was a jurist, statesman, and Patriot in the American Revolution from Connecticut. As a delegate to the Continental Congress, he signed the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. He also served as President of the Continental Congress from 1779 to 1781, chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court from 1784-1785, and the 18th Governor of Connecticut from 1786 until his death.
In 1788 he presided over the Connecticut Convention that was called to ratify the United States Constitution. In later years he saw the transition of Connecticut into a U.S. State. He resolved the issue of a permanent state capital at Hartford and oversaw the construction of the state house. He died while in office, at his home in Norwich on January 5, 1796.