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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,北美十三個殖民地宣布脫離英國獨立。在漫長的獨立戰爭期間,他們根據《邦聯條例》,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.

《邦聯條例》沒有組建中央政府,沒有建立法院,沒有制定法律,也沒有推選總統?!栋盥摋l例》唯一的貢獻是創立了國會,但國會權力非常有限,只能向13個州提供意見,請求它們采取行動,不能制定聯邦立法。

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

獨立戰爭結束后,這種體制的缺點暴露無疑。

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年英國將軍康華里在維吉尼亞的約克鎮投降,信使將勝利的消息通知國會,但是國會沒錢,連信使的費用都付不起,必須向國會成員要錢。

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.

其實,獨立戰爭結束前,喬治.華盛頓、亞歷山大.漢密爾頓和詹姆斯.麥迪遜就已經提議對當時松散的邦聯體制進行改革,建立一個強有力的中央政府。

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.

喬治.華盛頓是獨立戰爭期間大陸軍的統帥,他反對《邦聯條例》,是因為協議沒有為大陸軍提供足夠的支持,將士們經常缺吃少穿,沒有藥品、毛毯,甚至沒有武器彈藥。

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!"

戰爭期間,喬治.華盛頓曾寫過很多封信給國會,憤怒之情溢于言表。他在其中一封信中說,“我們生病的士兵赤身裸體,健康的士兵赤身裸體,被英國人俘虜的士兵也是赤身裸體。”

(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.

喬治.華盛頓的這些書信沒有產生任何效果。他提出,獨立戰爭是十三個州的共同戰爭,但是沒有人愿意聽。他發現,這些州只對自身利益感興趣,對大陸軍士兵的需要漠不關心。

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."

戰爭結束后,美國出現了社會、政治和經濟混亂。喬治.華盛頓再次看到,《邦聯條例》下的美國毫無希望。他在寫給朋友的書信中說,“我認為這樣的國家無法存在下去,除非有一個中央政府,統治整個國家,就象一個州的政府統治這個州一樣。”

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.

亞歷山大.漢密爾頓贊成這種看法。漢密爾頓是一個年輕律師,在獨立戰爭期間是華盛頓的助手。戰爭還沒有結束,漢密爾頓就呼吁召集十三個州開會,共建中央政府。他通過書信、講話和報紙等多種渠道,推廣這種想法。

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

除了華盛頓和漢密爾頓以外,麥迪遜也認為當時的美國前景暗淡。

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.

十三個州各自為政,互相排擠,每個州都有陸軍,還有九個州擁有自己的海軍,他們利用這些武裝力量保護自己,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,維吉尼亞州通過的一項立法,規定可以扣押不向維吉尼亞州納稅的船只,這里的船只,指的并不是來自英國和西班牙的船只,而是來自馬里蘭、麻薩諸塞和賓夕法尼亞的船只。

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

麥迪遜常說,這個新國家的大多數政治問題都源于經濟糾紛。

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

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

十八世紀八十年代,北美和歐洲的很多人都覺得美國正在走向無政府狀態。

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.

其中一個明顯的跡象就是貨幣。當時,美國沒有統一貨幣,錢對很多美國人來說,依舊是英國的英鎊和先令。雖然美元已經出現,但是美元在各地的價值不同。在紐約,一美元價值八先令,但是在南卡羅來納,一美元的價值卻超過了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,當時法國、西班牙等歐洲國家的硬幣也在美國流通。

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,馬里蘭和維吉尼亞的代表開會,討論沿著州界附近的波托馬克河開辟新土地的問題。

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.

與會代表一致認為,開辟新土地的問題已經超過了兩個州能夠解決的范疇。有人提議,邀請德拉瓦和賓夕法尼亞一起討論,又有人提議,應該讓所有的州都來參加,共同討論這個新成立的國家所面臨的所有問題。

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

這個主意被大家接受,會議定在馬里蘭的安納波利斯召開。

(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.

會議如期召開,但是完全沒有達到預想的規模。在十三個州里,只有五個州派了代表,還有四個州雖然推選了代表,但是代表沒有赴會,剩下的四個州根本沒有推選代表。

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.

在安納波利斯開會的人一致認為,這次會議是一個起點,應該擴大會議規模,他們指定紐約代表亞歷山大.漢密爾頓把這一結論寫成文字。

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.

漢密爾頓隨即寫信給每個州的議會,邀請他們參加次年5月,也就是1787年5月在費城召開的會議。他說,這次會議的目的是制定美國憲法。

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?

很多人都覺得,如果喬治.華盛頓不出席,這次制憲會議就不會成功。但是華盛頓并不想去,他本人患有風濕,家人身體也不好,又需要照顧弗農山莊的生意,而且他早就說過,對當官不感興趣。

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?

喬治.華盛頓是美國當時最有名的人。如果只有幾個州派代表參加,如果會議以失敗告終,他會不會顯得很愚蠢呢?

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.

喬治.華盛頓的兩個好友--詹姆斯.麥迪遜和埃德蒙.倫道夫都勸他赴會。華盛頓出于對他們的信任,同意作為維吉尼亞州的代表到費城去。從那一刻起,這次會議變得舉足輕重,華盛頓的參加顯著增加了會議的份量。

(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.麥迪遜是第一個抵達費城的。麥迪遜當時只有35歲,身材矮小,已經開始脫發。他雖然不善言辭,但永遠知道該說些什么。他閱讀了所有關于政府體制的書籍和文章,從古希臘一直到他的那個年代。

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.

麥迪遜認為,美國需要一個強大的中央政府,13個州政府應該隸屬于中央。

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.

不過,麥迪遜同時也很清楚,他不能把這些主張一股腦兒都拿出來,因為很多與會代表對強大的中央政府心存芥蒂,對一個權力過大的中央政府缺乏信任。因此,麥迪遜在會前做好了充分準備,他隨身帶去了數百本書籍和文章,準備回答與會代表可能提出的任何有關政府體制的問題。

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.666321.live.

(MUSIC)

網友的學習評論(3條):
作者:華晨
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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