Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-dknvm Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-03-05T01:29:04.755Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

15 - The Consolidation of the Early Federal System, 1791–1812

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2008

Christopher Tomlins
University of California, Irvine
Get access


To celebrate the ratification of the new Federal Constitution, Federalist Francis Hopkinson composed “The Raising: A New Song for Federal Mechanics.” In one verse he exhorted America’s artisans to rally to the Constitution’s standard. In Hopkinson’s musical ode, citizens mustered with their tools, not muskets.

COME muster, my lads, your mechanical tools,

Your saws and your axes, your hammers and rules;

Bring your mallets and planes, your level and line,

And plenty of pins of American pine:

For our roof we will raise, and our song still shall be

Our Government firm, and our citizens free.

Hopkinson also helped stage Philadelphia’s elaborate procession in honor of the Constitution. As many as 5,000 marchers representing the city’s many trades, professions, and different religious denominations assembled to demonstrate their support. Similar but less elaborate parades and celebrations occurred in other cities and towns. These carefully staged rituals were designed to symbolize harmony and promote consensus in the wake of the sometimes bitter ratification debates. Although these public displays of consensus never managed to obliterate fully the lingering traces of Anti-Federalist antagonism and suspicion, the rapid acceptance of the Constitution was nothing short of remarkable given the rancor of the ratification process. Even in Rhode Island, a strongly Anti-Federalist state that would not ratify the Constitution for almost two years, the new language of American constitutionalism permeated public discourse. Thus, one commentator observed that in Rhode Island “every friend of liberty” was “putting on the appearance of Federalism.”

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2008

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Barlow, Joel, “A Letter to the National Convention of France on the Defects in the Constitution of 1791” (New York, 1793)Google Scholar
Bernard, Bailyn, ed., “A Grand Procession in Honor of Ratification,” Maryland Journal (Baltimore) May 6, 1788 The Debate On the Constitution. 2 vols. (New York, 1993).Google Scholar
Gerry, Elbridge, “Speech” in Joseph, Gales, ed., Debates and Proceedings in the First Congress (Washington, DC., 1834).Google Scholar
Gerry, Elbridge, “Speech in Congress,” Annals of Congress, 17 August 1789.Google Scholar
Gordon, S. Wood, ed., revised ed., “Confessions of Ben, Alias Ben Woolfolk, 17 September 1800The Rising Glory of America, 1760–1820 (Boston, 1990).Google Scholar
Hopkinson, Francis, “The Raising: A New Song for Federal Mechanics,” in The Miscellaneous Essays and Occasional Writings. 3 vols. (Philadelphia, 1792)Google Scholar
Jefferson, Thomas, “The Kentucky Resolutions of 1799,” in Jefferson, Powell, ed., Languages of Power: A Sourcebook of Early American Constitutional History (North Carolina, 1991).Google Scholar
Jefferson, Thomas, “First Inaugural Address,” in Merrill, Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson: Writings (New York, 1984).Google Scholar
Manning, William, “‘Measures so Glareingly Unjust’: A Response to Hamilton’s Funding Plan by William Manning,” William and Mary Quarterly 46 (1989).Google Scholar
Manning’s, William, “The Key of Libberty,” William and Mary Quarterly 13 (1956).Google Scholar
Taylor, John, An Enquiry into the Principles and Tendency of Certain Public Measures, (Philadelphia, 1794).Google Scholar
[Webster, Noah,] “America,” in Gary, McDowell and Colleen, Sheenan, eds., Friends of the Constitution: Writings of the Other Federalists (Indianapolis, 1998).Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats