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Constitutional Journal

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-Thursday, Aug. 2, 1787

Yesterday the Pennsylvania Herald attacked Gov. George Clinton of New York for his alleged criticism of the Convention and its goal of forming a national government.

THE Committee of Detail is reported today to have included in its draft of a new Constitution a provision that would make future American presidents virtual military dictators in time of war.

Committee Chairman John Rutledge is said to be the author of the provision, which was not granted by the full Convention in its weeks of debate on the powers of the President. Such a provision was also not contained in the initial draft Constitution prepared by Committee member Gov. Edmund Randolph of Virginia. Mr. Rutledge is reported to have crossed out limited authority over the militia, contained in Governor Randolph's draft, and written in complete military authority for the President in time of war.

One observer believes the former Governor of South Carolina based this on his own experience during the War of Independence, when he had the responsibility of defending his State militarily but lacked full authority to do so.

The issue of the role of the military is certain to arise when the Convention reconvenes from its current 10-day recess. The most likely delegate to raise objections is Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts. During the July 25 session, this correspondent has learned, Mr. Gerry warned the Convention that a danger of manipulation of free elections existed from the Society of the Cincinnati. The organization is composed of retired military officers who served under General Washington.


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