Lawmaker: Founding father hated lawmakers

April 21, 2012 at 5:00 PM
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KINGSTON, N.Y., April 21 (UPI) -- An unsung U.S. founding father and key Bill of Rights advocate had little regard for lawmakers, a U.S. congressman said on the 200th anniversary of his death.

"In fact his opinion of legislative service was quite harsh," Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., said at an outdoor ceremony in Kingston, N.Y., honoring Revolutionary War hero and U.S. Vice President George Clinton.

Frustrated with legislative politics and about to resign from the second Continental Congress in 1775 to become a brigadier general fighting the British, "Clinton said, and I quote, 'The duty of looking out for danger makes men cowards,'" Hinchey said, adding with a twinkle, "Interesting, interesting, intelligent and insightful person he was."

Clinton later had little patience for long-winded lawmaker speeches when, as U.S. vice president, he presided over the U.S. Senate, senators at the time, including future President John Quincy Adams, discovered.

Clinton was vice president under Thomas Jefferson from 1805 to 1809 and James Madison from 1809 until he died in office April 20, 1812.

"The vice president does not love long speeches," a chagrined Adams wrote in his diary after giving a Senate speech he admitted was "a very tedious one to all my hearers."

Clinton previously was one of the new nation's most prominent advocates of the Bill of Rights, calling it essential to the U.S. Constitution, Hinchey said Friday.

In fact, in 1787 and 1788, after he became New York state's first elected governor, Clinton wanted New York to withhold ratification of the Constitution until the first 10 amendments were added.

Instead, the amendments were promised to be added in the first U.S. Congress and went into effect in 1791.

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