chapter  2
25 Pages

To Make the Constitution a Practical System

The elaborate “Federal Procession” that took place in Philadelphia on July 4, 1788, combined homage to the new government with a proConstitution public relations campaign. The Constitution became an object of intense popular concern at the very outset—in part because it had to be ratified by specially elected conventions, rather than by the existing state legislatures, and in part because debates aroused by the ratification controversy stimulated broad interest in constitutional issues. The basic issue was explained by a New Hampshire surgeon serving his state as a representative: “whether Congress has a constitutional right to repeal an act under which judges are appointed, who are by the Constitution, to hold their offices during good behaviour. By 1837, a relentless sequence of attacks upon the Supreme Court caused Story to doubt whether the institution could maintain “that strong hold of the public confidence” as essential to its role as custodian of the Constitution.