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#17: The Founding Fathers Meet in Philadelphia to Write a Constitution

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Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION – American history in VOA Special English. I'm Doug Johnson. Today, Tony Riggs and I continue the story of the United States Constitution.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

In May of seventeen eighty-seven, a group of America's early leaders met in Philadelphia. They planned to amend the Articles of Confederation which provided a loose union of the thirteen American states. Instead, they wrote a completely new Constitution. That political document created America's system of government and recognized the rights of its citizens. It is still the law of the land.

1787年5月,美国早期领袖在费城开会,他们原计划对确定了美国13个州松散体制的《邦联条例》进行修正,但最后却编纂了一部全新的宪法。这份政治文件创立了美国的政府体系,承认了公民享有的权利,至今依旧是美国的根本大法。

VOICE TWO:

James Madison
James Madison

James Madison of Virginia was the first delegate to arrive for the convention in Philadelphia.

詹姆斯·麦迪逊是第一个来到费城的代表。

Madison asked the other delegates from Virginia also to arrive early. He wanted to enter the convention with a plan for a strong central government. He was sure no other state would do this. Two Virginia delegates -- George Wythe and John Blair -- came early, as requested. Together, the three men worked on Madison's plan.

他要求维吉尼亚州的其他代表也提前赶到,以便商讨有关建立强有力的中央政府的计划,在会议上提出来。麦迪逊相信,其他州是不会提出这种想法的。维吉尼亚的另外两个代表乔治·威思和约翰·布莱尔按照麦迪逊的要求,提前抵达费城。他们三个人一块儿对麦迪逊的计划进行斟酌。

VOICE ONE:

The convention was to start on May fourteenth. George Washington arrived the day before. He was welcomed outside Philadelphia by a military guard and the firing of cannons. Washington was the most famous man in America. He led the forces that won the war for independence from Britain.

会议定于5月14号召开,乔治·华盛顿提前一天来到费城。他领导美国打赢了独立战争,成为美国名望最高的人。他在费城城外受到了卫兵和礼炮的欢迎。

The first thing Washington did in Philadelphia was to visit Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was an important political leader in America. He also was chief of Pennsylvania's delegation to the convention.

华盛顿抵达费城后,首先去拜望本杰明·富兰克林。富兰克林是美国重要的政治领袖,也是参加费城会议的宾夕法尼亚州首席代表。

Franklin was then eighty-one years old. Age had weakened him. But his mind remained strong. Every important person who came to Philadelphia -- even the great General Washington – visited Benjamin Franklin.

当时,富兰克林已年过八旬,虽然身体虚弱,但头脑依旧十分灵活。凡是来到费城的重要人物,都要前去看望富兰克林,华盛顿也不例外。

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

A 1777 map of Philadelphia; at the bottom is Independence Hall
A 1777 map of Philadelphia; at the bottom is Independence Hall

On the first day of the convention, the delegates from Virginia went to the State House where the meeting would be held. They gathered in the room where America's Declaration of Independence was signed in seventeen seventy-six.

制宪大会第一天,维吉尼亚的代表们来到州议会大楼1776年签署美国独立宣言的房间。

The only other delegates there were from Pennsylvania. One was Robert Morris. He raised much of the money to fight the American Revolution. Another was Gouverneur Morris. The two men were not related.

除他们以外,当时在场的只有宾夕法尼亚州的代表:一个是罗伯特·莫里斯,他是独立战争最重要的筹款人;另一个是格瓦诺·莫里斯。他们两个虽然都姓莫里斯,但没有血缘关系。

Another Pennsylvania delegate was James Wilson. He signed the Declaration of Independence and was a member of America's early Continental Congress. Like James Madison, James Wilson wanted a strong central government for the United States.

宾夕法尼亚的另一位代表是詹姆斯·威尔逊,他是美国最早的大陆会议代表,签署了独立宣言。威尔逊跟麦迪逊一样,也主张建立强有力的中央政府。

VOICE ONE:

The men from Pennsylvania and Virginia spent that first day talking. They agreed to meet again the next morning. Nobody seemed worried that there were no delegates from the other eleven states. After all, it took two weeks to ride a horse to Philadelphia from New Hampshire in the northeast. And it took as many as three weeks to get to Philadelphia from Georgia in the south.

会议第一天,宾夕法尼亚州和维吉尼亚州的代表交换了看法,并决定第二天早上继续讨论。其他十一个州没有代表在场,似乎并没有引起他们的担忧,毕竟,从东北部的新罕布什尔州骑马到费城需要两个星期的时间,从南边的乔治亚州到费城,更是需要三个星期。

For a while, it seemed the other delegates would never arrive. But then they started coming one or two at a time. The delegates agreed to start the convention as soon as seven states were represented.

没过多久,其他州的代表就开始三三两两陆续抵达了。大家一致同意,一旦凑足了七个州,就正式开会。

VOICE TWO:

New York sent three men. That was a surprise. Many people believed New York would refuse to send anyone at all. The governor of New York did not support the idea of a strong central government.

出人意料的是,纽约州也派来了三名代表。很多人本以为纽约会拒绝出席制宪大会,因为纽约州长反对建立强大的中央政府。

But one of the New York delegates did. He was Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton served as an assistant to General George Washington during the revolution. He firmly believed the United States needed a strong central government. In fact, some people said he wanted the country ruled by a king.

然而,纽约代表亚历山大·汉密尔顿却坚持认为,美国需要一个强大的中央政府。汉密尔顿在独立战争期间是乔治·华盛顿的助手。有些人甚至说,他觉得美国应该由国王统治。

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Day by day, more delegates arrived in Philadelphia for the convention. They included Rufus King and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts. John Rutledge and Charles Pinckney of South Carolina. John Lansing and Robert Yates of New York. Luther Martin and James McHenry of Maryland. Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut.

William Few and William Pierce of Georgia. David Brearly and Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey. John Langdon and Nicholas Gilman of New Hampshire. Gunning Bedford and George Read of Delaware. Alexander Martin and William Blount of North Carolina.

Fifty-five men in all from twelve states. Pennsylvania sent the most delegates -- eight. Rhode Island sent none. A few of the delegates were very old. But many were in their twenties or thirties. The average age of the delegates was just forty-three years.

VOICE TWO:

最后,13个州里面,除了罗德岛以外的12个州全都派了代表,其中宾夕法尼亚州的代表人数最多--八人。参加会议的55名代表有些已经十分年迈,但也有不少二、三十岁的青年,代表们的平均年龄是43岁。

This respected group was missing two important persons – John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. At the time, Adams was serving as America's representative to Britain. Jefferson was serving as the representative to France.

两个重要人物缺席了这次会议,一个是约翰·亚当斯,另外一个是托马斯·杰斐逊。他们两人当时分别出任美国驻英国和法国的代表。

Both men expected to continue their service to the new nation. So both were extremely interested in the convention in Philadelphia. They exchanged letters with friends to learn what was happening.

他们非常关心费城制宪大会的进展,并通过书信的方式向朋友了解情况。

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

The convention did not have seven states represented until May twenty-fifth. On that day, it finally began its work. The delegates' first task was to name a clerk to write the reports of the meetings. They chose Major William Jackson.

5月25号,已经有了七个州的代表,大家决定正式开始工作。代表们的第一个任务是任命一个人负责撰写会议报告,这个工作最后交给了威廉·杰克逊少校。

Major Jackson had asked George Washington to support him for the job. General Washington did so. But Major Jackson was not a good clerk. He wrote down few details of the convention. Luckily, however, James Madison did. From the moment the convention began, Madison kept careful records of everything everyone said. He never stopped writing. Other delegates took notes, including Alexander Hamilton and Rufus King. But their reports were short and not complete.

不过,杰克逊少校并不是一个出色的记录员,他没有记下多少会议细节。幸运的是,麦迪逊从会议一开始,就手不停笔地详细记下了所有人的发言。其他代表也记了笔记,但都很简短,不够完整。

Madison's notes from the constitutional convention. Here he describes the first day's events on May 25, 1787, when George Washington was elected chairman of the convention.
Madison's notes from the constitutional convention. Here he describes the first day's events on May 25, 1787, when George Washington was elected chairman of the convention.

If it were not for James Madison, we would know little of what happened at that historic meeting in Philadelphia in seventeen eighty-seven.

如果不是麦迪逊的话,我们对1787年在费城召开的那次历史性会议上发生的一切,恐怕根本无从知晓。

VOICE TWO:

Later, Madison explained how he did it.

"I sat in front of the president of the convention. All the other delegates were on my right and on my left. I could hear everything the president said. I could hear all the words of every delegate. I made notes only I could understand. Then, at night in my room, I wrote out completely all the speeches and acts. I attended the convention every day. I was there as long as the delegates were meeting and talking."

麦迪逊后来解释了他是如何记录会议进程的。他说,“我坐在大会主席前面,所有代表都坐在我的左右。我能听见大会主席说的所有话,也能听见代表们发言的每一个字。我用只有我能看懂的符号记下所有内容,晚上回到房间,再把代表们的讲话和行动完整地整理记录下来。每天的会议我都要参加,只要有人开会和讨论,我一定在场。

In his reports, Madison called himself "Mister M." He wrote down everything that was said, even the unfriendly things said by others about "Mister M."

James Madison's full records of the convention were not published until thirty years later.

”麦迪逊在报告中自称 Mr. M. 他记下了制宪大会中每个人说的每一句话,攻击 Mr. M 的话也不例外。麦迪逊对制宪大会的完整记录直到30年后才发表。

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

The first important decision by the delegates was choosing a president for the convention. Several urged the others to name George Washington. The delegates agreed. Washington was their choice.

与会代表们的第一个重要决定是推举大会主席。有人提名乔治·华盛顿,代表们欣然接受。

George Washington then officially opened the convention with a short speech. He thanked the delegates for naming him president. But he said the honor was too great. He asked the delegates to forgive him if he made mistakes. After all, he said, he had never been chairman of a meeting before.

乔治·华盛顿发表简短讲话,宣布大会正式开幕。他感谢与会代表推举他出任会议主席,说这是一个极大的荣誉,但华盛顿同时表示,他从没当过会议主席,所以如果犯什么错误,请代表们原谅。

With those words, George Washington sat down. And for the next four months, he spoke only when necessary.

说完这番话,华盛顿就入座了,在接下来的四个月里,他只要在必要的时候才会起身发言。

VOICE TWO:

The first day of the convention ended well. The delegates agreed to name a small committee to write rules for the meetings. They quickly appointed three men: George Wythe of Virginia, Alexander Hamilton of New York, and Charles Pinckney of South Carolina.

会议第一天进展得十分顺利,代表们同意组成一个小组委员会,制定会议细则。他们很快决定,由维吉尼亚州的乔治·威思、纽约州的亚历山大·汉密尔顿和南卡罗来纳州的查尔斯·平克尼来担此重任。

So far, the business of the convention was easy. The work was done in a friendly way. It was not long, however, before a serious dispute developed.

The dispute was between the large states and the small states. How would they share power in a government of United States? Should states with bigger populations have more power than states with smaller populations?

The dispute would sharply divide the delegates for the next four months. That will be our story next week.

会议进行到这一步,一切都风平浪静,气氛也十分友好,但是用不了多久,与会代表中间就出现了严重分歧。分歧重点是大州和小州的权力分享。人口多的州是不是应该比人口少的州享有更多的权力呢?这一争议是如何解决的?我们下次介绍。

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION, an American history series in VOA Special English. I'm Doug Johnson with Tony Riggs. Transcripts and MP3 files of our series are online at www.unsv.com.

网友的学习评论(4条):
作者:小丑鱼
怎么没有后续的了呢
作者:xuding45
Many delegates came to Philadelphia, and they wanted to make a new constitution for U.S.A. It was adifficult task, the delegates got together to do this for four months. During the meeting they had a serious dispute about the sharing of power among states.
作者:资文杰
stronge certal goverment
作者:hliu
Four months, it's the longest meeting I've ever heard. I am curious of how these delegates were chosed.
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