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#16: After the Revolution, the Nation Faces a Weak Political System

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Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English. I'm Doug Johnson with Richard Rael.

This week in our series, we begin the story of a document that defined a nation: the United States Constitution.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

Delegates from all 13 states signed the Articles of Confederation. The document was approved on March 1, 1781.
Delegates from all 13 states signed the Articles of Confederation. The document was approved on March 1, 1781.

The thirteen American colonies declared their independence from Britain in seventeen seventy-six. But they had to win their independence in a long war that followed. During that war, the colonies were united by an agreement called the Articles of Confederation.

1776年,北美十三个殖民地宣布脱离英国独立。在漫长的独立战争期间,他们根据《邦联条例》,形成了松散的同盟。

The Union was a loose one. The Articles of Confederation did not organize a central government. They did not create courts or decide laws. They did not provide an executive to carry out the laws. All the Articles of Confederation did was to create a Congress. But it was a Congress with little power. It could only advise the separate thirteen states and ask them to do some things. It could not pass laws for the Union of states.

《邦联条例》没有组建中央政府,没有建立法院,没有制定法律,也没有推选总统。《邦联条例》唯一的贡献是创立了国会,但国会权力非常有限,只能向13个州提供意见,请求它们采取行动,不能制定联邦立法。

The weakness of this system became clear soon after the war for independence ended.

独立战争结束后,这种体制的缺点暴露无疑。

British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia, in seventeen eighty-one. A messenger brought the Congress news of the victory. The Congress had no money. It could not even pay the messenger. So money had to be collected from each member of the Congress.

1781年英国将军康华里在维吉尼亚的约克镇投降,信使将胜利的消息通知国会,但是国会没钱,连信使的费用都付不起,必须向国会成员要钱。

VOICE ONE:

Even before the war ended, three men called for a change in the loose confederation of states. They urged formation of a strong central government. Those three men were George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison.

其实,独立战争结束前,乔治.华盛顿、亚历山大.汉密尔顿和詹姆斯.麦迪逊就已经提议对当时松散的邦联体制进行改革,建立一个强有力的中央政府。

George Washington commanded America's troops during the revolution. He opposed the Articles of Confederation because they provided little support for his army. His soldiers often had no clothes or shoes or food. They had no medicines or blankets or bullets.

乔治.华盛顿是独立战争期间大陆军的统帅,他反对《邦联条例》,是因为协议没有为大陆军提供足够的支持,将士们经常缺吃少穿,没有药品、毛毯,甚至没有武器弹药。

During the war, Washington wrote many angry letters about the military situation. In one letter, he said: "Our sick soldiers are naked. Our healthy soldiers are naked. Our soldiers who have been captured by the British are naked!"

战争期间,乔治.华盛顿曾写过很多封信给国会,愤怒之情溢于言表。他在其中一封信中说,“我们生病的士兵赤身裸体,健康的士兵赤身裸体,被英国人俘虏的士兵也是赤身裸体。”

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

General Washington's letters produced little action. The thirteen separate states refused to listen when he told them the war was a war of all the states. He learned they were more interested in themselves than in what his soldiers needed.

乔治.华盛顿的这些书信没有产生任何效果。他提出,独立战争是十三个州的共同战争,但是没有人愿意听。他发现,这些州只对自身利益感兴趣,对大陆军士兵的需要漠不关心。

After the war, there was much social, political, and economic disorder. General Washington saw once again that there was no hope for the United States under the Articles of Confederation. He wrote to a friend: "I do not believe we can exist as a nation unless there is a central government which will rule all the nation, just as a state government rules each state."

战争结束后,美国出现了社会、政治和经济混乱。乔治.华盛顿再次看到,《邦联条例》下的美国毫无希望。他在写给朋友的书信中说,“我认为这样的国家无法存在下去,除非有一个中央政府,统治整个国家,就象一个州的政府统治这个州一样。”

VOICE ONE:

Alexander Hamilton agreed. He was a young lawyer and an assistant to General Washington during the revolution. Even before the war ended, Hamilton called for a convention of the thirteen states to create a central government. He expressed his opinion in letters, speeches, and newspaper stories.

亚历山大.汉密尔顿赞成这种看法。汉密尔顿是一个年轻律师,在独立战争期间是华盛顿的助手。战争还没有结束,汉密尔顿就呼吁召集十三个州开会,共建中央政府。他通过书信、讲话和报纸等多种渠道,推广这种想法。

Finally, there was James Madison. He saw the picture clearly. It was an unhappy picture.

除了华盛顿和汉密尔顿以外,麦迪逊也认为当时的美国前景暗淡。

There were thirteen governments. And each tried to help itself at the cost of the others. Nine states had their own navy. Each had its own army. The states used these forces to protect themselves from each other.

十三个州各自为政,互相排挤,每个州都有陆军,还有九个州拥有自己的海军,他们利用这些武装力量保护自己,防范其他的州。

For example, the state of Virginia passed a law which said it could seize ships that did not pay taxes to the state. Virginia did not mean ships from England and Spain. It meant ships from Maryland, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

例如,维吉尼亚州通过的一项立法,规定可以扣押不向维吉尼亚州纳税的船只,这里的船只,指的并不是来自英国和西班牙的船只,而是来自马里兰、麻萨诸塞和宾夕法尼亚的船只。

James Madison often said most of the new nation's political problems grew out of such commercial problems.

麦迪逊常说,这个新国家的大多数政治问题都源于经济纠纷。

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

In the seventeen eighties, many people in America and Europe believed the United States was on the road to anarchy.

十八世纪八十年代,北美和欧洲的很多人都觉得美国正在走向无政府状态。

One sign was the money system. There was no national money. Many Americans thought of money as the pounds and shillings of the British system. There was an American dollar. But it did not have the same value everywhere. In New York, the dollar was worth eight shillings. In South Carolina, it was worth more than thirty-two shillings.

其中一个明显的迹象就是货币。当时,美国没有统一货币,钱对很多美国人来说,依旧是英国的英镑和先令。虽然美元已经出现,但是美元在各地的价值不同。在纽约,一美元价值八先令,但是在南卡罗来纳,一美元的价值却超过了32先令。

This situation was bad enough. Yet there also were all kinds of other coins used as money: French crowns, Spanish doubloons, European ducats.

更糟糕的是,当时法国、西班牙等欧洲国家的硬币也在美国流通。

VOICE ONE:

In seventeen eighty-six, representatives from Maryland and Virginia met to discuss opening land for new settlements along the Potomac River. The Potomac formed the border between those two states.

1786年,马里兰和维吉尼亚的代表开会,讨论沿着州界附近的波托马克河开辟新土地的问题。

The representatives agreed that the issue of settling new land was too big for just two states to decide. "Why not invite Delaware and Pennsylvania to help?" someone asked. Someone else said all the states should be invited. Then they could discuss all the problems that were giving the new nation so much trouble.

与会代表一致认为,开辟新土地的问题已经超过了两个州能够解决的范畴。有人提议,邀请德拉瓦和宾夕法尼亚一起讨论,又有人提议,应该让所有的州都来参加,共同讨论这个新成立的国家所面临的所有问题。

The idea was accepted. And a convention was set for Annapolis, Maryland.

这个主意被大家接受,会议定在马里兰的安纳波利斯召开。

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

The convention opened as planned. It was not much of a meeting. Representatives came from only five states. Four other states had chosen representatives, but they did not come. The remaining four states did not even choose representatives.

会议如期召开,但是完全没有达到预想的规模。在十三个州里,只有五个州派了代表,还有四个州虽然推选了代表,但是代表没有赴会,剩下的四个州根本没有推选代表。

The men who did meet at Annapolis, however, agreed it was a beginning. They agreed, too, that a larger convention should be called. They appointed the representative from New York, Alexander Hamilton, to put the agreement in writing.

在安纳波利斯开会的人一致认为,这次会议是一个起点,应该扩大会议规模,他们指定纽约代表亚历山大.汉密尔顿把这一结论写成文字。

So Hamilton sent a message to the legislature of each state. He called for a convention in Philadelphia in May of the next year, seventeen eighty-seven. The purpose of the convention, he said, would be to write a constitution for the United States.

汉密尔顿随即写信给每个州的议会,邀请他们参加次年5月,也就是1787年5月在费城召开的会议。他说,这次会议的目的是制定美国宪法。

VOICE ONE:

Detail of a painting by Junius Brutus Stearns of George Washington in Virginia where he lived
Detail of a painting by Junius Brutus Stearns of George Washington in Virginia where he lived

Many people believed the convention would not succeed without George Washington. But General Washington did not want to go. He suffered from rheumatism. His mother and sister were sick. He needed to take care of business at his farm, Mount Vernon. And he already said he was not interested in public office. How would it look if -- as expected -- he was elected president of the convention?

很多人都觉得,如果乔治.华盛顿不出席,这次制宪会议就不会成功。但是华盛顿并不想去,他本人患有风湿,家人身体也不好,又需要照顾弗农山庄的生意,而且他早就说过,对当官不感兴趣。

George Washington was the most famous man in America. Suppose only a few states sent representatives to the convention? Suppose it failed? Would he look foolish?

乔治.华盛顿是美国当时最有名的人。如果只有几个州派代表参加,如果会议以失败告终,他会不会显得很愚蠢呢?

Two close friends -- James Madison and Edmund Randolph -- urged General Washington to go to Philadelphia. He trusted them. So he said he would go as one of the representatives of Virginia. From that moment, it was clear the convention would be an important event. If George Washington would be there, it had to be important.

乔治.华盛顿的两个好友--詹姆斯.麦迪逊和埃德蒙.伦道夫都劝他赴会。华盛顿出于对他们的信任,同意作为维吉尼亚州的代表到费城去。从那一刻起,这次会议变得举足轻重,华盛顿的参加显著增加了会议的份量。

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

The first man to arrive in Philadelphia for the convention was James Madison. Madison was thirty-five years old. He was short and was losing his hair. He was not a good speaker. But he always knew what he wanted to say. He had read everything that had been published in English about governments, from the governments of ancient Greece to those of his own time.

詹姆斯.麦迪逊是第一个抵达费城的。麦迪逊当时只有35岁,身材矮小,已经开始脱发。他虽然不善言辞,但永远知道该说些什么。他阅读了所有关于政府体制的书籍和文章,从古希腊一直到他的那个年代。

James Madison wrote this letter to George Washington on the night before the Philadelphia Convention. It describes measures that should be taken to rescue the nation from its difficulties.
James Madison wrote this letter to George Washington on the night before the Philadelphia Convention. It describes measures that should be taken to rescue the nation from its difficulties.

Madison believed the United States needed a strong central government. He believed the governments of the thirteen states should be second to the central government.

麦迪逊认为,美国需要一个强大的中央政府,13个州政府应该隶属于中央。

Madison knew he should not push his ideas too quickly, however. Many representatives at the convention were afraid of a strong central government. They did not trust central governments with too much power. So Madison planned his work quietly. He came to the convention with hundreds of books and papers. He was prepared to answer any question about government that any other representative might ask him.

不过,麦迪逊同时也很清楚,他不能把这些主张一股脑儿都拿出来,因为很多与会代表对强大的中央政府心存芥蒂,对一个权力过大的中央政府缺乏信任。因此,麦迪逊在会前做好了充分准备,他随身带去了数百本书籍和文章,准备回答与会代表可能提出的任何有关政府体制的问题。

That will be our story next week.

(MUSIC)

Our program was narrated by Richard Rael and Doug Johnson. Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- an American history series in VOA Special English, on radio or online. Internet users can download transcripts and MP3s of our programs at www.unsv.com.

(MUSIC)

网友的学习评论(3条):
作者:华晨
The story is never likely to be written,but produced a historical survery that has withstood the test of time . The plainspoken prose will appeal to general reader.
作者:xuding45
After the independent war,there was no one strong government in U.S.A. But some fourmous people tried to build a unit central govenment, the new country would end the weak political system.
作者:hliu
George Washington is such a strong, brave and honest man. First, the Congress assigned him to be the general of the continental army, but he insisted he did it for free. After the victory, he became a farmer again and wouldn't like to take office. And also, when his two terms of administration ended, he took care of his farmland again. He was not drunk on power at all.
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