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#24: The Signing of the Constitution in Philadelphia

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ANNOUNCER:

Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

In May of seventeen eighty-seven, a group of delegates met in Philadelphia to rewrite the Articles of Confederation. They ended up writing a new document instead -- the United States Constitution. For the past several weeks we have been telling the story of the Constitution. Here are Maurice Joyce and Shep O'Neal.

VOICE TWO:

George Washington watches the Constitution being signed
George Washington watches the Constitution being signed

Last week, we told how the convention discussed the difficult issue of slavery. Slavery affected the decision on how to count the population for purposes of representation in Congress. It also affected the powers proposed for the Congress. The convention accepted several political compromises on the issue.

上次我们讲到,费城制宪大会的代表们讨论了奴隶制这个棘手的问题。奴隶制涉及到人口普查,决定各州众议员人数的问题,同时也会影响到国会的权力。费城制宪大会就此达成了好几项妥协。

One compromise was the 'three-fifths' rule. The population would be counted every ten years to decide how many representatives each state would have. The delegates agreed that every five Negro slaves would be counted as three persons.

其中之一是所谓的"五分之三"规则。大会决定,美国每十年进行一次人口普查,并以此为根据,决定各州众议员的人数。大会代表一致同意,每五个黑奴按照三个人计算。

Another compromise permitted states to import slaves until the year eighteen-oh-eight. After that, no new slaves could be brought into the country.

另外一项妥协允许各州在1808年之前继续进口奴隶,1808年过后,奴隶贸易就要终止。

Many of the delegates in Philadelphia did not like these compromises. But they knew the compromises kept the southern states from leaving the convention. Without them, as one delegate said, no union could be formed.

费城制宪大会的很多代表并不喜欢这些妥协,但是他们知道,要想让南部各州留下来,就必须这样作,否则,美国就无法形成联盟。

VOICE ONE:

After all the debates, bitter arguments, and compromises, the delegates were nearing the end of their work. Four months had passed since the convention began. The weather had been hot. Emotions had been hot, too. But that was expected...for the men in Philadelphia were deciding the future of their country.

所有的争吵、辩论、妥协过后,大会代表们的工作接近尾声了。费城制宪大会召开四个月来,情绪的激烈,可以跟炎热的天气相提并论,毕竟,费城大会代表们要决定的是自己国家的未来。

Early in September, the convention appointed five men to a Committee of Style. It was their job to write the document containing all the convention's decisions. William Samuel Johnson of Connecticut was chairman of the committee. The other members were Alexander Hamilton of New York, Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania, Rufus King of Massachusetts, and James Madison of Virginia.

九月初,大会指定了一个五人委员会,负责将大会决议写成文件。康涅迪克州的威廉·塞谬尔·约翰逊是委员会主席,其他四名成员分别是纽约州的亚历山大·汉密尔顿、宾夕法尼亚州的格瓦诺·莫里斯、麻萨诸塞州的鲁弗斯·金和维吉尼亚州的詹姆斯·麦迪逊。

Of these five men, Gouverneur Morris was known for the beauty of his language. So Judge Johnson asked him to write the Constitution.

在这五个人当中,格瓦诺·莫里斯文笔最优美,所以委员会主席约翰逊请他负责把宪法落实在文字上。

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

The convention approved twenty-three parts, or articles, for the Constitution. Gouverneur Morris re-wrote them in a more simple form, so there were just seven.

制宪大会批准了宪法的23项条款后,格瓦诺·莫里斯又用更为简单的语言进行改写,最后缩短为7条。

Article One describes the powers of the Congress. It explains how to count the population for purposes of representation. And it says who can become senators or representatives, and how long they can serve.

第一条规定了国会的权力,解释了通过人口普查决定国会代表权的问题,规定了参议员和众议员必须具备的条件,以及他们的任期。

Article Two describes the powers of the president. It explains who can be president. And it tells how he is to be elected.

宪法第二条规定了总统的权力,包括总统人选的资格,以及推选方式。

Article Three describes the powers of the federal judiciary.

宪法第三条规定了联邦司法权。

The first three articles provide a system of 'checks and balances'. The purpose is to prevent any of the three branches of government -- legislative, executive, and judicial -- from becoming too powerful.

宪法前三条确定了美国三权分立、相互制衡的体系,目的是防止立法、行政和司法这三个分支的任何一个分支变得过于强权。

VOICE ONE:

Article Four explains the rights and duties of the states under the new central government. Article Five provides a system for amending the Constitution. Article Six declares the Constitution to be the highest law of the land. And Article Seven simply says the Constitution will be established when nine states approve it.

宪法第四条解释了联邦政府下面各州的权利和义务。宪法第五条规定了通过宪法修正案的程序。宪法第六条宣布,宪法是美国的最高法律。宪法第七条表示,宪法生效需要九个州的批准。

In addition to the seven articles, the Constitution contains an opening statement, or preamble.

除了这七条以外,还有宪法序言。

The convention prepared its own preamble. It began, "We the undersigned delegates of the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts" and so on. And it listed all thirteen states by name.

制宪大会自己编写的序言一上来说,"我们来自新罕布什尔州、麻萨诸塞州...."把十三个州的名字依次排列。

VOICE TWO:

The Committee of Style did not think it was a good idea to list each state. After all, Rhode Island never sent a delegate to Philadelphia. And no one knew for sure if every state would approve the Constitution.

宪法编写委员会认为,罗列各州的名字不是个好办法,因为毕竟,制宪大会里没有来自罗德岛的代表,而且没有人知道,是不是每个州都会批准宪法。

So, Gouverneur Morris wrote down instead, "We the People of the United States of America ... "

因此,格瓦诺·莫里斯将序言改为,"我们美利坚合众国的人民"。

Those simple words solved the committee's problem. Who suspected they would cause angry debate during the fight to approve the Constitution? For they made clear that the power of the central government came not from the nation's states, but directly from its citizens.

这一简单明了的说法虽然解决了问题,但是又会谁会想到,在批准宪法时,这种说法会引起愤怒的辩论呢?因为这番话显示出,联邦政府的权力并非来自各州,而是来自人民。

VOICE ONE:

The rest of the preamble says why the Constitution was written: In order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, guarantee peace at home, provide for the common defense, work for the well-being of all, and hold on to the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our children.

宪法序言接下来解释了撰写宪法的原因,即"为了组织一个更完善的联邦,树立正义,保障国内的安宁,建立共同的国防,增进全民福利和确保我们自己及我们后代能安享自由带来的幸福。"

The next step was to sign the document.

下一步就是宪法的签署了。

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

On September seventeenth, the delegates gathered for the last time. One might think all their business finally was done. But Nathaniel Gorham of Massachusetts rose to speak.

1787年9月17号,费城制宪大会的代表们最后一次开会。也许有人会觉得他们终于大功告成了。但是就在这个时候,麻萨诸塞州的纳撒尼尔·戈勒姆站起来发言。

"If it is not too late," he said, "I would like to make a change. We have agreed that one congressman will represent every forty thousand persons. I think that number should be thirty thousand.

他说,"如果不是太晚的话,我想提议,将原来确定的每四万人出一名众议员的规定,改成三万人。"

Gorham's proposal could have caused a bitter argument. Then, suddenly, George Washington stood up. The delegates were surprised, because he had said little all summer. "Now," Washington said, "I must speak out in support of the proposed change. It will guarantee a greater voice in the government for the people of the nation." General Washington's influence was strong. Every delegate agreed to accept the change.

戈勒姆的提议本来会引起愤怒的反驳,但是就在这时候,整个夏天一直沉默寡言的乔治·华盛顿却站了起来,代表们都感到十分惊讶。华盛顿说,"我支持这一变动,因为这样做能保证人民在政府里有更大的声音。"乔治·华盛顿很有影响力,因此所有代表都同意把四万人改为三万。

VOICE ONE:

Finally, it was time to sign the Constitution. It also was the last chance to speak against it. Many delegates did not like all parts of the Constitution. They stated their objections. Yet, they declared, for the good of the nation, they would sign.

终于到了签署宪法的时刻,这也是代表们发言的最后机会。很多代表都对宪法的某些部分感到不满,并发表了自己的反对意见,但是他们表示,为了国家的利益,他们会在宪法上签字。

Several, however, refused to put their name on the Constitution.

不过,还是有人拒绝在宪法上签上自己的名字。

Edmund Randolph of Virginia said he could not sign the document because he believed it would not be approved. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts did believe the Constitution would be approved. And that, he said, would lead to civil war. So he would not sign.

维吉尼亚州的埃德蒙·伦道夫表示,他之所以不肯签字是因为他相信这部宪法是无法得到通过的。麻萨诸塞州的埃尔布里奇·格里则认为,宪法能够通过,但势必引发内战,所以他拒绝签字。

George Mason of Virginia also refused to sign, but he did not say why. He wrote his thoughts, instead. His chief reason for not signing: the Constitution did not directly guarantee the rights of citizens.

维吉尼亚州的乔治·梅森也拒绝签名,他虽然没有解释原因,但是把自己的想法写了下来,那就是,宪法没有直接保证公民的权利。

The country would hear this argument again later. Many people agreed with Mason. The results were the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Those amendments became known as the Bill of Rights.

美国的很多人都同意他的看法,后来大家围绕公民权利的问题展开了辩论,其结果就是宪法的前十个修正案,也就是大家常说的"权利法案"。

VOICE TWO:

The Rotunda at the National Archives in Washington houses the Constitution
The Rotunda at the National Archives in Washington houses the Constitution

Randolph, Gerry, and Mason were the only delegates in Philadelphia who did not sign the Constitution. Four other delegates who opposed went home before the signing. They were Luther Martin and John Mercer of Maryland. And Robert Yates and John Lansing of New York.

伦道夫、格里和梅森是费城制宪大会唯一没有在宪法上签字的三个代表,还有四个持反对意见的代表在宪法签署前就回家了。他们是:马里兰州的卢瑟·马丁和约翰·默瑟,以及纽约州的罗伯特·耶茨和约翰·兰辛。

Nine men who supported the Constitution also went home early and did not sign. Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut. Caleb Strong of Massachusetts. William Houstoun and William Pierce of Georgia. Alexander Martin and William Davie of North Carolina. William Houston of New Jersey. George Wythe and James McClurg of Virginia.

除了他们以外,还有九个支持宪法的人由于提前退席,因此没有签字。他们分别是:康涅迪克州的奥利弗·埃尔斯沃思、麻萨诸塞州的凯莱布·阿姆斯特朗、乔治亚州的威廉·胡斯顿和威廉·皮尔斯、北卡罗来纳州的亚历山大·马丁和威廉·戴维、新泽西州的威廉·休斯顿、还有维吉尼亚州的乔治·威思和詹姆斯·麦克勒格。

VOICE ONE:

Few of the delegates in Philadelphia could be sure that enough states would approve the Constitution to make it the law of the land. And few could know then that Americans of the future would honor them as fathers of the nation. But, as several said later, they wrote the best Constitution they could. Without it, the young nation would break apart. The United States of America would disappear before it had a chance to succeed.

费城制宪大会没有多少代表能肯定宪法草案会被接受,成为法律,也没有多少人知道自己会被子孙后代尊为国父。但是有些代表后来说,为写这部宪法,他们花费了最大的努力。如果没有这部宪法,年轻的美国就会土崩瓦解,没有任何成功的机会。

VOICE TWO:

As the last delegates moved to the table to sign the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin looked at a painting behind the president's chair. He spoke softly to the men around him. Franklin noted that it is difficult to paint a morning sun that appears different from an evening sun. "During the past four months of this convention," he said, "I have often looked at that painting. And I was never able to know if the picture showed a morning sun or an evening sun. But now, at last, I know. I am happy to say it is a morning sun, the beginning of a new day."

最后几名代表在宪法上签字的时候,本杰明·富兰克林注视着大会主席座位背后的一幅画轻声对周围的人说,画画的时候,很难把朝霞跟夕阳区分开来。他说,"过去四个月里,我常常看着这幅画,从来不知道画上画的是日出还是夕阳。但是现在我终于知道了。我很高兴地说,画上画的是初升的太阳,是新的一天的开始。"

(MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER:

Our program was written by Christine Johnson. The narrators were Maurice Joyce and Shep O'Neal. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs are at www.unsv.com. Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION, an American history series in VOA Special English.

网友的学习评论(3条):
作者:xuding45
The signing of the constitution in Philadelphia in the end. Though some delegates didn't signed in the constitution. The new nation was built in the continuent.
作者:hliu
Why a constitution is needed? Why a united states is needed? Why did they not just build some kind of allies relationship? I think maybe it's because each state has similar culture especially in terms of freedom and human rights and has similar interests (i.e. all of them were ruled by the king of Britian and have to pay the same irrational taxes) and each seperate state is not sronger enough to fight for and protect themselves individually.
作者:hliu
A constitution builds an unvisual but deeply firm tie between them. It makes a permanant confederation possible. I am wonderring what could happen if America native tribes signed such a official document.
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