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[翻译字幕]THE MAKING OF A NATION - American History: Columbus and the New World

来源:慢速英语   时间:2013-02-15 07:39:17

建国史话 (24):制定宪法之九

STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION – American history in VOA Special English. I’m Steve Ember.

Generations of schoolchildren have been taught that Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. In fact, the second Monday in October is celebrated as a national holiday, Columbus Day, to honor the European explorer.

But October's page on the calendar also has a lesser known observance. October ninth is Leif Erickson Day. Leif Erickson was a Norse explorer who sailed around the northeastern coast of what we now call North America about one thousand years ago. He and his crew returned to Greenland with news of a place he called "Vinland."

Following his explorations, a few settlements were built. Experts digging in eastern Canada in the nineteen sixties found the remains of a village with houses like those in Greenland, Iceland and Norway. But the Norse did not establish any permanent settlements in North America.

Today, as we relaunch our series, we begin with the story of early European explorers in North America.

In the eleventh century, Europe was beginning a period of great change. One reason was the religious wars known as the Crusades. These were military campaigns by Christians to force Muslims out of the Holy Land in the Middle East. The Crusades began at the end of the eleventh century. They continued for about two hundred years.
 

Christopher Columbus explored what is now Cuba and believed it was part of the east coast of Asia | THE MAKING OF A NATION

One effect of the presence of European armies in the Middle East was to increase trade. This trade was controlled by businessmen in Venice and other city-states in Italy. The businessmen earned large profits by supplying the warring armies and by bringing goods from the East into Europe.

When the European crusaders returned home, they brought with them some new and useful products. These included spices, perfumes, silk cloth and steel products. These goods became highly valued all over Europe. The increased trade with the East led to the creation and growth of towns along the supply roads. It also created a large number of rich European businessmen.

The European nations were growing. They developed armies and governments. These had to be paid for with taxes collected from the people. By the fifteenth century, European countries were ready to explore new parts of the world.

The first explorers were the Portuguese. By fourteen hundred, they wanted to control the Eastern spice trade. European businessmen did not want to continue paying Venetian and Arab traders for their costly spices. They wanted to set up trade themselves. If they could sail to Asia directly for these products, the resulting trade would bring huge profits.

The leader of Portugal's exploration efforts was Prince Henry, a son of King John the first. He was interested in sea travel and exploration. He became known as Henry the Navigator.

Prince Henry brought experts to his country and studied the sciences involved in exploration. He built an observatory to study the stars. Portuguese sea captains sailed their ships down the west coast of Africa hoping to find a path to India and East Asia. They finally found the end of the African continent, the area called the Cape of Good Hope.

It took the Portuguese only about fifty years to take control of the spice trade. They established trading colonies in Africa, the Persian Gulf, India and China.

Improvements in technology helped them succeed. One improvement was a new kind of ship. It could sail more easily through storms and winds.

Other inventions like the compass allowed them to sail out of sight of land. The Portuguese also armed their ships with modern cannon. They used these weapons to battle Muslim and East Asian traders.

The other European nations would not let Portugal control this spice trade for long, however. Spain's Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand agreed to provide ships, crew and supplies for an exploration by an Italian named Christopher Columbus.

Columbus thought the shortest way to reach the East was to sail west across the Atlantic Ocean. He was right. But he also was wrong. He believed the world was much smaller than it is. He did not imagine the existence of another continent -- and another huge ocean -- between Europe and East Asia.

Columbus and a crew of eighty-eight men left Spain on August third, fourteen ninety-two, in three ships: the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. By October twelfth, the sailors stood on land again on an island that Columbus named San Salvador.

He explored that island and the nearby islands of what are now known as Cuba and Hispaniola. He believed they were part of the coast of East Asia, which was then called the Indies. He called the people he found there Indians.

Columbus left about forty men on San Salvador island to build a fort from the wood of one of the ships. He returned to Spain with birds, plants, gold -- and people captured from the land he explored. Columbus was welcomed as a hero when he returned to Spain in March of fourteen ninety-three.

Columbus sailed again across the Atlantic to the Caribbean five months later. He found that the fort built by his men had been destroyed by fire. Columbus did not find any of his men. But this time, he had many more men and all the animals and equipment needed to start a colony on Hispaniola.

Seven months later, he sent five ships back to Spain. They carried Indians to be sold as slaves. Columbus himself also returned to Spain.

Christopher Columbus made another trip in fourteen ninety-eight. This time he saw the coast of South America.

But the settlers on Hispaniola were so unhappy with conditions in their new colony, they sent Columbus back to Spain as a prisoner. Spain's rulers pardoned him.

In fifteen two, Columbus made his final voyage to what some by then were calling the New World. He stayed on the island of Jamaica until he returned home two years later.

During all his trips, Columbus explored islands and waterways, searching for that passage to the Indies. He never found it. Nor did he find spices or great amounts of gold. Yet, he always believed that he had found the Indies. He refused to recognize that it really was a new world.

Evidence of this was all around him -- strange plants unknown in either Europe or Asia. And a different people who did not understand any language spoken in the East.

Columbus' voyages, however, opened up the new world. Others later explored all of North America.

You may be wondering about the name of this new land. If Christopher Columbus led the explorations, then why is it called "America"? The answer lies with the name of another Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci.

He visited the coast of South America in fourteen ninety-nine. He wrote stories about his experiences that were widely read in Europe.

In fifteen seven, a German mapmaker, Martin Waldseemueller, read Vespucci's stories. He decided that the writer had discovered the new world, and thought it should be called America in his honor. And so it was.

Spanish explorers sought to find gold and power in the New World. They also wanted to spread Christianity, which they considered the only true religion.

The first of these Spanish explorers was Juan Ponce de Leon. He landed in North America in fifteen thirteen. He explored the eastern coast of what is now the state of Florida. He was searching for a special kind of water that Europeans believed existed. They believed that this water could make old people young again. Ponce de Leon never did find the fountain of youth.

Also in fifteen thirteen, Vasco Nuñez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama and reached the Pacific Ocean. In fifteen nineteen, Hernan Cortes landed an army in Mexico. His army destroyed the ancient empire of the Aztec Indians.

That same year Ferdinand Magellan began his three-year voyage around the world. And in the fifteen thirties, the forces of Francisco Pizarro destroyed the Inca Indian empire in Peru.

Ten years later, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado had marched as far north as what is now the American state of Kansas and then west to the Grand Canyon. About the same time, Hernando de Soto reached the Mississippi River.

Fifty years after Columbus first landed at San Salvador, Spain claimed a huge area of America.

The riches of these new lands made Spain the greatest power in Europe, and the world. But other nations refused to accept Spanish claims to the New World. Explorers from England, France and Holland were also sailing to North America. That will be our story next week.

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。

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。

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。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。

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。

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。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。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。

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。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。宪法第三条规定了联邦司法权。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。

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。除了这七条以外,还有宪法序言。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。

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。因此,格瓦诺·莫里斯将序言改为,“我们美利坚合众国的人民”,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。

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。”下一步就是宪法的签署了。

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。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。”

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。

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。

不过,还是有人拒绝在宪法上签上自己的名字。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。

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。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”。
 
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。

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。

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。

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。”