By Russell L. Caplan
During this first systematic research of the criminal difficulties on the subject of the conference clause, Russell Caplan exhibits that repeated constitutional crises have given upward thrust to nation drives for a countrywide conference approximately each 20 years because the structure was once enacted. He deftly examines the politics of constitutional brinksmanship among Congress and the states to bare the continued stress among kingdom and federal rights and constitutional culture and reform.
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Additional info for Constitutional Brinksmanship: Amending the Constitution by National Convention
6 The amending clause was discussed at length for the second and last time on September 15. Mason, protesting the elimination of the convention and the resulting pivotal role given to Congress, thought the plan of amending the Constitution exceptionable & dangerous. As the proposing of amendments is in both the modes to depend, in the first immediately, and in the second, ultimately, on Congress, no amendments of the proper kind would ever be obtained by the people, if the Government should become oppressive, as he verily believed would be the case.
In the Massachusetts constitution, the decision whether to hold a convention was left to the voters, but in New Hampshire the convention, to be held in 1791 rather than 1795, was mandatory. In 1795 the Massachusetts towns decided against revision, while New Hampshire's 1791 election resulted in a convention and a new constitution. 43 In 1783 Jefferson, anticipating a convention call by the Virginia legislature to replace the state's 1776 charter, drew up a constitution that provided for an amending convention upon a two-thirds vote of any two of the three governmental branches.
No convention was held, and Virginia did not receive a new constitution until 1830. "44 A century after the English Convention Parliaments, the convention was the accepted mode for constitutional change in the United States. Yet the English predecessors were not regarded, in their time, as establishing new governments. The convention parliament had been a pragmatic solution to a break in the royal line, a makeshift to repair the political fabric rather than a convocation of founding fathers to promulgate new constitutional doctrine.