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Title: Essays on the Constitution of the United States
Author: Ford, Paul Leicester, 1865-1902
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Essays on the Constitution of the United States" ***

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             Essays on the Constitution of the United States

              Published During Its Discussion by the People


                                Edited by

                           Paul Leicester Ford

                              Brooklyn, N.Y.

                         Historical Printing Club



The Letters Of Cassius, Written By James Sullivan.
The Letters Of Agrippa, Accredited To James Winthrop.
Replies To The Strictures Of A Landholder, By Elbridge Gerry.
The Letters Of A Landholder, Written By Oliver Ellsworth.
A Letter To The Landholder. By William Williams.
The Letters Of A Countryman. Written By Roger Sherman.
The Letters Of A Citizen Of New Haven, Written By Roger Sherman.
The Letters Of Cato, Written By George Clinton.
The Letters Of Cæsar, Written By Alexander Hamilton.
The Letters Of Sydney. Written By Robert Yates.
Cursory Remarks By Hugh Henry Brackenridge.
Letter Of Caution, Written By Samuel Chase.
Letter Of A Friend To The Constitution, Written By Daniel Carroll.
The Letters Of Luther Martin.
Letter Of A Plain Dealer, Accredited To Spencer Roane.
Remarks On The New Plan Of Government, By Hugh Williamson.
Letter Of A Steady And Open Republican, Written By Charles Pinckney.


In 1888 the editor selected from the pamphlet arguments published during
the discussion of the Constitution of the United States, prior to its
ratification by the States, a collection of fourteen tracts, and printed
them in a volume under the title of _Pamphlets on the Constitution of the
United States_. The reception given that collection clearly proved that
these writings were only neglected because of their rarity and
inaccessibility, and has induced the editor to collect another, though
largely similar class of writings, which he believes of equal value and
equally unknown.

In the great discussion which took place in the years 1787 and 1788 of the
adoption or rejection of the Constitution of the United States, one of the
important methods of influencing public opinion, resorted to by the
partisans and enemies of the proposed frame of government, was the
contribution of essays to the press of the period. The newspapers were
filled with anonymous articles on this question, usually the product of
the great statesmen and writers of that period. Often of marked ability,
and valuable as the personal views of the writers, the dispersion and
destruction of the papers that contained them have resulted in their
almost entire neglect as historical or legal writings, and the difficulty
of their proper use has been further increased by their anonymous
character, which largely destroyed the authority and weight they would
have carried, had their true writers been known.

From an examination of over forty files of newspapers and many thousand
separate issues, scattered in various public and private libraries, from
Boston to Charleston, the editor has selected a series of these essays,
and reprinted them in this volume. From various sources he has obtained
the name of the writer of each. All here reprinted are the work of
well-known men. Five of the writers were Signers of the Declaration of
Independence; seven were members of the Federal Convention; many were
members of the State Conventions, and there discussed the Constitution.
All had had a wide experience in law and government. Their arguments are
valuable, not merely for their reasoning, but from their statement of
facts. New light is thrown upon the proceedings in the Federal Convention,
so large a part of which is yet veiled in mystery; and personal motives,
and state interests, are mercilessly laid bare, furnishing clues of both
the support of and opposition to the Constitution. Subsequently most of
the writers were prominent in administering this Constitution or opposing
its development, and were largely responsible for the resulting tendencies
of our government.

_Brooklyn, N. Y., April, 1892._


Printed In The Massachusetts Gazette,
September-December, 1787.


The letters signed Cassius were, at the time of publication, generally
accredited to the pen of James Sullivan, and this opinion is adopted in
Amory’s _Life of James Sullivan_. The letters themselves bear out this
opinion, being clearly written by a partisan of the Hancock faction, of
whom Sullivan was a warm adherent, and constant newspaper essayist.

The first two letters were printed before the promulgation of the proposed
Constitution in Massachusetts, and chiefly relate to the differences
between the two parties headed by John Hancock and James Bowdoin; but are
included here to complete the series. The letters are of particular value
as giving the position of Hancock, of whom Sullivan was the particular
mouthpiece, proving him to be a supporter of the adoption of the
Constitution, though the contrary has often been asserted. The early
letters were commented upon by “Old Fog,” in the _Massachusetts Centinel_
of Sept. 22 and Oct. 6, 1787.

Cassius, I.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 367).


For the Massachusetts Gazette.

It is a great pity that such an able writer as Numa(1) should take up the
pen to distribute sentiments, which have a tendency to create uneasiness
in the minds of the misinformed and weak, (for none other will be
influenced by them) especially at this time when the state is hardly
recovered from those convulsions,(2) it has so recently experienced.

The real well-wisher to peace and good government cannot but execrate many
of the ideas which that would be disturber of tranquillity has lately
proclaimed to the publick, through the channels of the Hampshire Gazette,
and Independent Chronicle.(3) The man of sense, the true lover of his
country, would, if a change of officers was to take place in the
government to which he was subject, and men be placed in power, whom he
thought not so capable of the task as those who preceded them, endeavour,
all in his power, to extenuate the evil, and none but the ruthless
incendiary, or the disappointed tool, would, at such a period, conduct in
a manner the reverse.

It is well known, that there is a party in this state whose sentiments are
in favour of aristocracy; who wish to see the constitution dissolved, and
another, which shall be more arbitrary and tyrannical, established on its
ruins. Perhaps a few of this description were members of the last
administration.(4) If so, most happy for the commonwealth, they are now
hurled from seats of power, and unable to carry into effect plans laid for
subverting the liberties of the people.—Checked at once in their horrid
career—all those hopes blasted which they entertained of concerting
measures which would “afford them matter for derision at a future
day,”—they now put on the garb of hypocrisy, and seem to weep for the
terrible misfortunes which they pretend are hovering around us. Such
characters are, it is hoped, forever banished from places of trust. Some
of them pretend to be mighty politicians,—they display a vast knowledge of
ancient times—and by their harangues about the conduct of Greece, Rome and
Athens, show their acquaintance with the pages of antiquity. In some few
instances, however, perhaps they are a little mistaken. The learned Numa
says, “the degenerate Romans banished Cicero for saving the commonwealth.”
Rome did not banish Cicero—a faction, who wished to triumph over the
liberties of Rome, exiled that immortal orator; and to that, or a similar
one, he at last fell a sacrifice. If a faction can be styled the people,
with great propriety do the disappointed aristocraticks, and their tools,
in our day, style themselves, the great majority of the people.

If Numa, and others of the like stamp, are politicians, they are very
short-sighted ones. If our government is weak, is it policy to weaken it
still more by false suggestions, and by a scandalous abuse of our rulers?
by endeavouring to spread a spirit of discontent among the people, and
prejudicing their minds against those whom, by their suffrages, they have
chosen to take the helm of affairs? If this is policy, Numa is, indeed, an
accomplished politician.

But the time of triumph for the aristocratick clan is now over. The people
have seen their folly in listening too much to them already. Their conduct
has involved the state in confusion; but it is hoped, a conduct the
reverse will place matters again upon a right footing. The secret
machinations, which were harboured in the breasts of those aristocratick
dupes, have been laid open to publick inspection—their plans thoroughly
investigated—and the horrid tendency of them, had they taken effect, been
fully manifested.

They may weep, crocodile-like, till the source of their tears is dried up,
they never will get the prey into their jaws, which they hoped to devour.
The sting of remorse, it may be hoped, will bring them to a sense of their
guilt, and an upright conduct make some amends for their high-handed
offences. Should this take place, an injured people may forgive, though
they never can forget them.

Let Numa reflect, that we now have, at the head of government, those men
who were the first to step forth in the great cause of liberty—who risked
their all to acquire the blessings of freedom; though that freedom,
through the influence of such characters as himself, has been often

The people know their rulers, and have confidence in them: and can it be
supposed, that they would have confidence in those, whose dastardly souls,
in time of danger, shrunk back from the scene of action, and kept secure
in their strong holds? and when peace and independence had crowned the
exertions of far more noble souls, they groped out of darkness and
obscurity, and intruded themselves into places of power and trust?

Can it be expected, that the people should have confidence in such men, or
feel themselves secure under their government? By no means. The bandage is
taken from their eyes—they see and detest them. They have displaced them,
that they may return to their former obscurity, and pass the remainder of
their days in philosophizing upon their conduct. Numa and his coadjutors
may exert themselves all in their power; but they cannot again stir up
sedition and rebellion.

The people now have too much penetration to be led away by their
falsehoods and scandal: they will, it is hoped, ere long, reap the
blessings of good government, under the direction of a wise
administration, and treat in a manner they deserve, every incendiary
attempt against their peace and happiness.


Cassius, II.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 371)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.

To Numa’s long list of evils, which he says, in some of his productions,
are prevalent in the commonwealth, he might have added, that when priests
became Jesuits, the liberties of the people were in danger—in almost all
countries, we shall find, that when sedition and discontent were brewing,
Political Jesuits were often at the bottom of the affair.

Unhappily for Numa, the citizens of Massachusetts are not so blinded by
ignorance, nor so devoted to prejudice and superstition, as the common
people in those arbitrary and despotick governments, where clerical
imposition reigns paramount almost to everything else; where the freedom
of speech is suppressed, and the liberty of the people, with regard to
examining for themselves, totally restrained.

It is, however, the case that, even in this country, the weak and ignorant
are often led too implicitly to put their faith wholly upon what their
spiritual teachers think proper to inform them, and precipitately imbibe
sentiments from them, which, if their teacher is a designing knave, may
prove detrimental to society. The Jesuit will, however, find it very
difficult, notwithstanding many circumstances may seem to favor his views,
to carry the point of altering a free government to one more arbitrary, in
such a country as this.

The cloak of religion too often answers to promote plans detrimental to
the peace and happiness of mankind. The priests, who accompanied the
Spaniards when they first invaded the kingdoms of Mexico and Peru, urged
on those blood-hounds to perpetrate scenes of cruelty and horror (at the
bare recital of which human nature shudders), with assurances that it
would tend to promote the cause of the Christian religion, if they
effected the conquest of those unhappy people, and that any conduct was
justifiable to bring infidels to a sense of their duty.

The teacher of the benign and peaceable doctrine of the Saviour of
mankind, often thinks he can, with greater security, on account of his
profession, disseminate the seeds of sedition and discontent, without
being suspected. This thought no doubt occurred to Numa before he
exhibited his designing productions to the publick. Sheltered under the
sacred wing of religion, how many an impious wretch stalks secure from
publick justice,

    “Whose mem’ries ought, and will perhaps yet live,
    In all the glare which infamy can give.”

Numa indicates that he means to prepare the minds of the people for the
reception of that government which the Federal Convention shall think most
proper for them to adopt. In the name of common sense, what can that
scribbler mean by this assertion? Is a scandalous abuse of our rulers—the
propagation of sentiments which are calculated to set the publick mind in
a ferment—if they are so far attended to as to have any influence among
the people—a fit preparation for such a measure? Surely, by no means, and
every thinking mind will discover that the productions of Numa are either
intended to effect secret purposes, or that they are merely effusions of
the fanatick brain of that Quixote of the day.

Instead of vile insinuations and falsehoods being spread among the people,
in regard to their rulers, in order to prepare their minds for the
reception of that form of government which the Federal Convention may
propose, sentiments the very reverse ought to be propagated. The people
ought to be inspired with the highest confidence in those who preside over
the affairs of the state. It ought to be implanted in their minds, that
their rulers are men fit to conduct every plan which might be proposed, to
promote the general welfare of the people; and this with truth may be
asserted. But Numa has no more intention of preparing the minds of the
people for the government which the Federal Convention may propose, than
Queen Catharine has of abdicating the throne of Russia.

The people of Massachusetts ought to be cautioned, above everything, to be
on their guard with respect to the conduct of Political Jesuits. They have
generally been the curse of almost every country that has cherished; they
have often been the promoters of revolution and bloodshed. A set of
infernal fiends, let loose from the dreary mansions of Beelzebub, cannot
be more detrimental to the place and happiness of society, than a band of
Political Jesuits.

Citizens of Massachusetts! those men who now preside over you are, and
ever have been, the patrons of freedom and independence! men whose
exertions have been unceasing to promote and secure to you the blessings
of a free government; whose grand stimulus to act is the advancement of
your welfare and happiness!—men whose conduct is not stinted by the narrow
concerns of self, and who, “when their country calls, can yield their
treasure up, and know no wish beyond the publick good.” Such are the men
who now wield the affairs of state, and whose deeds will, when those of
that vile clan of calumniators who exist in this state are rotting in the
tomb of oblivion, conspicuously adorn the brightest pages of the American

Numa(5) and his band, the calumniators of true worth, may bustle away for
a while; but they will ere long be obliged to retire from the bright
flashes of patriotism and merit; and, after finding their endeavours
fruitless, to sully The Character of the Brightest Luminary that ever
Adorned the Hemisphere of Massachusetts,(6) and many other illustrious
patriots, who compose the present administration, they will retire to
gnash their teeth in anguish and disappointment, in the caverns of
obscurity—a punishment their conduct most justly merits.


Cassius, III.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 383)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.

It was the saying of an eminent legislator, that if we had angels to
govern us, we should quarrel with them. The conduct of some among us has
repeatedly evinced, beyond a doubt, that this would actually be the case;
we have proof of this in a more particular manner in the opposition now
made by some (but I sincerely hope the number is few) to the form of
government agreed upon by the late federal Convention. I firmly believe,
if a form of government was proposed to some of the inhabitants of the
United States by the great Author of Nature himself, founded on the basis
of eternal rectitude, and sanctioned in the courts above, that they would
object to it.

It is a happy circumstance for the citizens of the United States that they
are acquainted with the motives which actuate the present opposers to the
plan of federal government; as they now, instead of listening with candour
to the dictates of mad frenzy and wild ambition, will treat with the
deserved contempt all their productions.

The opposers to the plan of federal government, are composed of such as
are either deeply in debt and know not how to extricate themselves, should
a strict administration of law and justice take place, or those who are
determined not to be contented under any form of government, or of such as
mean to “owe their greatness to their country’s ruin.”—Are such fit men to
point out objections to a government, proposed by the first characters in
the universe, after a long and candid discussion of the subject?—Are such
fit characters to propose a government for ruling a free and enlightened
people?—Can those who are known to be divested of honour, justice and
integrity, expect to propagate sentiments that will outweigh those of men
whose character as true republicans and wise statesmen, are known from
pole to pole—men, whose wisdom and firmness have emancipated the United
States from the yoke of bondage, and laid the foundation of an empire,
which (if the people will still follow their precepts) will last till time
shall be swallowed up in the “wasteless ages of eternity?”—Can scribblers
whose fame is but of a day, think to influence the citizens of the United
States so far as to cause them to respect a form of government calculated
to diffuse the blessings of civil society far and wide?—If they can
harbour ideas of such a nature, I pity their weakness and despise their

Some writers in Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts, have displayed
their scribbling talents in opposition to the plan of federal government;
but it is easy to perceive by their arguments, that they are men who are
fearful of not being noticed in a federal government, or are some of the
stamp before mentioned. Their arguments are without weight, and their
assertions and insinuations as foreign to the real state of facts as
anything possibly can be: they anticipate evils, which, in the nature of
things, it is almost impossible should ever happen, and, for the most
part, their reasoning (if it is not a degradation to reason to call such
jargon by its name) is incoherent, nonsensical and absurd.

Some writers in Massachusetts have discovered such weakness, inconsistency
and folly in their productions, that it discovers them to be entirely
ignorant of the subject they pretend to discuss, and totally unacquainted
with the plan of government proposed by the federal convention. Among this
number, is a scribbler under the signature of Vox Populi;(7) whose
signature, to have been consistent with his productions, should have been
Vox Insania. This pompous and very learned scribbler, goes on to harangue
the public about the danger, hazard, terror and destruction which will
attend the adoption of the federal Constitution. He pleads, in a mournful
strain, much about woful experience. From this circumstance, I am induced
to suppose Vox Populi was an adherent of the celebrated Shays, in his
unfortunate expedition the last winter, and wofully experienced the
misfortune attendant on the insurgents, through the energy of government.
However, the inhabitants of Massachusetts may be assured, that they will
have Woful Experience with a witness, if they suffer themselves to be led
away by such ignorant, knavish and designing numbheads as Vox Populi and
his clan, so far as to reject the plan of federal government proposed by
the Convention. Vox Populi complains that our source for taxes is
exhausted, and says we must have a new system for taxation: but he must
consider, that if the federal government is adopted, we shall not have
occasion to employ the legislature so great a part of the year as we are
now obliged to do; of consequence, government will be able to apply their
money to better uses than paying anti-federalists, while they are
spreading their poisonous vapours through the already too much infected

Mr. Vox Populi remarks, that some people are already taxed more than their
estates are worth; in this instance I sincerely believe he speaks the
truth. But what is the occasion of their being thus taxed?—It is because
they make a show as though they have property, though in fact it belongs
to another; they live sumptuously, and riot in the property of their
unfortunate creditors. Perhaps Mr. Vox Populi is one of this class, and
has wofully experienced a taxation more than his whole estate is worth: if
he is, I would advise him, instead of employing his time in belching out
his “de factos, plene proofs” and other chit-chat of the like kind, and
disseminating his execrable “ideas,” to go about adjusting his affairs, as
it will tend more to his honour, and perhaps be the means of saving him
from the woful experience of confinement in a place much more fit for him
than that in which he now is.

I pity Mr. Vox Populi’s weakness and conceit, in thinking he and others of
his class have accents not less majestick than thunder, as I really think
he is very singular in his opinion. Instead of his “accents” being
majestick as thunder, they are as harmless and insignificant as the feeble

Citizens of Massachusetts, look well about you; you are beset by harpies,
knaves and blockheads, who are employing every artifice and falsehood to
effect your ruin. The plan of federal government is fraught with every
thing favourable to your happiness, your freedom and your future welfare:
if you reject it, posterity will execrate your memories, and ceaselessly
insult your ashes: if you adopt it, they will revere your departed shades,
and offer up libations of gratitude on your tombs.

May that wisdom which is profitable to direct guide your judgments—and may
you, by adopting the federal government, secure to yourselves and your
posterity every social and religious advantage, and every national


Cassius, IV.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 385)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.

Anarchy, with her haggard cheeks and extended jaws, stands ready, and all
allow that unless some efficient form of government is adopted she will
soon swallow us. The opposers to the plan of government lately agreed upon
by the federal convention have not spared their censures upon it: they
have stigmatized it with every odious appellation that can be named; but
amidst all their railing, have not so much as hinted at a form of
government that would be proper for us to adopt: and even if they had, it
would have remained for us to examine, whether they were men of more
honesty, greater abilities, and firmer patriots and friends to their
country, than the members of the late convention; and whether the form of
government, which they might propose, was better adapted to our situation
and circumstances, and freer from imperfections, than the one which has
already been proposed to us. But it is not the intention of the opposers
to the plan of federal government, founded on firm and truly republican
principles; as, in that case, their aims would be entirely defeated, as it
would put it out of their power to stir up sedition and discontent; and
they would be lost in obscurity, or move in a most contemptible sphere.

I have before hinted, that the opposers of the plan of federal government
are composed of knaves, harpies and debtors; and, I trust, it will soon
appear, what I have said is not a bare assertion only, but a matter of

I shall now proceed to make a few remarks on the conclusion of “Vox
Populi’s,” or rather Vox Insania’s, production which appeared in last
Friday’s paper.

Vox Populi requests the inhabitants of Massachusetts “to pay that
attention to the federal constitution which the importance of its nature
demands;” and informs them, that they “have hazarded their lives and
fortunes (by the way, a wonderful piece of news) to establish a government
founded on the principles of genuine civil liberty,” &c. I join with him
in his request. And am confident if that attention which is requisite is
paid to the proposed plan of federal government, that it will meet with
the hearty approbation of every well wisher to the freedom and happiness
of his country. It is true, that the inhabitants of America have hazarded
their lives and fortunes to establish a free and efficient government; but
will Vox Populi, that moon-light prophet, pretend to say that such a
government is at present established? Vox Populi goes on to inform us,
that, by adopting the new plan of government, we shall make inroads on the
constitution of this State, which he seems to think will be sacrilegious.
His narrow and contracted ideas, his weak, absurd, and contemptible
arguments, discover him to be possessed of a mind clouded with the gloom
of ignorance, and thick with the grossest absurdity. Strange it is, that
that babbler should suppose it unjustifiable for the people to alter or
amend, or even entirely abolish, what they themselves have established.
But says Vox Populi, perhaps the new plan will not have the same number to
approbate it, that the constitution of this State had. Perhaps Vox Populi
will be hung for high treason. There is, in my opinion, as much
probability in the latter perhaps, as in the former. Pray, Mr. Vox Populi,
if I may be so bold, what reason have you to judge that there will not be
so many for adopting the constitution proposed by the convention, as there
were for adopting the constitution of this State some years ago? Do you
suppose the inhabitants of Massachusetts have depreciated in their
understanding? or do you suppose that the sublimity of your jargon has
blinded them with respect to their best interests? If you suppose the
former, I think you have not been much conversant with them of late, or
that your intellects are something defective. If you suppose the latter,
in my opinion, you are no better than a downright Fool.

Vox Populi sets out to touch the consciences of men in office, in
representing the solemnity of an oath. It seems almost impossible that any
one should be so stupidly blinded to every dictate of reason and common
sense, as to start such things as have been mentioned by Vox Populi, to
deter men from using their influence to effect the adoption of the new
plan of government.

Can that shallow-pated scribbler suppose that an oath taken by rulers to
stand by a form of government, adopted by the people, can be of any force
or consideration if the people choose to change that form of government
for another more agreeable to their wishes?

But (in order without doubt to strike a greater dread upon their minds)
Vox Populi says, “the oath is registered in Heaven.” Pray, Mr. Vox Populi,
when was you there? and did you really see the oath registered? The
constitution of this state was formed, and officers appointed under it,
long since the awful battle was fought in Heaven, between Michael and the
Prince of Darkness, and I cannot conceive of your admittance there in any
other way than under the banners of his Satanick Majesty, who might
suppose that such an unparalleled phenomenon would have an effect on the
archangel that would be favourable to his cause.

Vox Populi asserts that the General Court(8) acted merely officially in
laying the proposed plan of government before the people. No man of
candour, sense and foresight, Mr. Vox Populi, will ask the reason of the
General Court’s laying the plan of government proposed by the federal
constitution before the people, as their own minds will suggest to them
the true reason for it, and none but those who are as stupid and ignorant
as yourself, would suppose that the General Court acted merely officially
in doing as they did. The General Court were undoubtedly influenced by
motives of the best kind in what they did.

They without doubt were anxious that the people should have the new plan
of government to consider of in due time, and, considering the importance
of it, and the tendency it had to promote their happiness, liberty and
security, took the first opportunity to present it to them. ’Tis true, Mr.
Vox Populi, that you are a member of the legislature; it is also true that
you are possessed of a mind as emaciated as the mass of corrupt matter
that encircles it. But although you belong to the house of
representatives, I trust you are not the mouth of that honourable body;
and, if not, pray who authorised you to inform the publick of the motives
for their conduct? Did they in an official manner make their motives known
to you, and request you to lay them before the publick? Indeed, Mr. Vox
Populi, you seem to put on very assuming airs, but I think you had better
humble yourself, as your station may, ere long, be lowered.

A writer under the signature of Examiner,(9) has several times pointed out
the fallacy of the writings of Vox Populi, and requested that ghost-like
scribbler to lay a form of government before the publick in lieu of that
which he has taken upon him to condemn; and has informed him, that if he
does not, and still continues scribbling, his modesty will be called in

The Examiner is entirely unacquainted with the babbler he justly reproves,
or he would not have mentioned anything to him respecting modesty; as he
must be sensible that screech-owls are entirely divested of modesty, and
he may be assured that Vox Populi is one of those midnight squallers.

Inhabitants of Massachusetts! be constantly on the watch—It requires
almost the eyes of an Argus to penetrate into all the schemes of those
designing wretches, who are waiting to see you reject the federal system
of government, and involve yourselves in all the horrours of anarchy, then
to riot with pleasure on your miseries. Disappoint their
expectations—adopt the proposed plan of federal government—it will secure
to you every blessing which a free and enlightened people can expect to

Some, who are now in office, but expect soon to leave it, and bid adieu to
power, unless they can effect the establishment of a government which

    “Cause treason, rapine, sacrilege and crimes,
    To blot the annals of these western climes,”

are busy in spreading every false and malicious insinuation in their
power, to prejudice the people against the new plan of government; but it
is hoped they will see through their designs, and treat them with
contempt—and wisely agree to embrace the new plan of government, which is
favourable to every sentiment of republicanism, and replete with every
thing beneficial to their welfare.


Cassius, V.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 386)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves
before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.

“And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the
Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up
and down in it.

“And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that
there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one
that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” &c., &c.

Citizens of Massachusetts! like the sons of God have the members of the
late federal convention assembled together; like them too, have they been
infested with the presence of Satan, or such as were influenced by
Satanick principles, and who wish to thwart every design that has a
tendency to promote the general good of the United States.

Let us take a short view of the characters who composed the late federal
convention. Are they not men who, from their infancy, have been nurtured
in the principles of liberty, and taught to pay a sacred regard to the
rights of human nature? Are they not men who, when the poisonous breath of
tyranny would have blasted the flower of Independence in its bud, and
veiled every ray of freedom in the clouds of lawless despotism, nobly
stepped forth in defence of their injured country’s rights, and through
the influence of whose exertions, favoured by the protection of an
over-ruling Power, the thick fog of despotism vanished like the early dew
before the powerful rays of the resplendent luminary of the universe? Are
they not honest, upright and just men, who fear God and eschew evil?

With few exceptions, they are mostly men of this character; and, Citizens
of Massachusetts, they have formed a government adequate to the
maintaining and supporting the rank and dignity of America in the scale of
nations; a government which, if adopted, will protect your trade and
commerce, and cause business of every kind rapidly to increase and
flourish; it is a government which wants only a candid perusal and due
attention paid to it, to recommend it to every well-wisher to his country.

Brethren and citizens, hearken to the voice of men who have dictated only
for your and posterity’s good; men who ever

    “Have made the publick good their only aim,
    And on that basis mean to build their fame.”

Listen not to the insinuations of those who will glory only in your
destruction, but wisely persevere in the paths of rectitude.


Cassius, VI.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 387)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.


Through the channel of your Paper, I beg leave to offer one or two short
remarks on a production which appeared in your last, under the signature
of Agrippa.(10)

Without saying anything concerning the justness of the learned Agrippa’s
observations on past events, I shall confine myself chiefly to a small
part of his uncommonly ingenious essay.

Agrippa says, “the attempt has been made to deprive us,” &c., “by exalting
characters on the one side, and vilifying them on the other.” And goes on,
“I wish to say nothing of the merits or demerits of individuals, such
arguments always do hurt.” Immediately after this he insinuates that the
members of the late federal convention have, “from their cradles, been
incapable of comprehending any other principles of government than those
of absolute power, and who have, in this instance (meaning the form of
government proposed by them) attempted to deprive the people of their
constitutional liberty by a pitiful trick.” Thus the ignorant loggerhead
blunders directly into the very same thing which he himself, just before,
takes upon him to censure. Perhaps Agrippa thinks that excusable in
anti-federalists, which in a federalist he beholds as criminal; justly
thinking, without doubt, that as absurdity, knavery and falsehood, is the
general characteristick of anti-federalists, he might indulge himself in
either of them, without meriting censure.

I apprehend, that Agrippa has a new budget of political ideas, centered in
his pericranium, which he will, in his own due time, lay before the
publick; for he insinuates, that the members of the late federal
convention are incapable of comprehending any other principles of
government than those of absolute power. Was it the dictates of absolute
power, that inspired the immortal Washington to lead forth a band of
freemen to oppose the inroads of despotism, and establish the independence
of his country? Was it the dictates of arbitrary power, that induced the
celebrated Franklin to cross the wide Atlantick to procure succours for
his injured countrymen and citizens?

Blush and tremble, Agrippa! thou ungrateful monster!—Charon’s boat now
waits on the borders of the Styx, to convey you to those mansions where
guilt of conscience will prey upon your intellects, at least for a season!

    “Is there not some chosen curse,
    Some hidden thunder in the stores of heaven,
    Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the wretch,
    Who dares pollute such names
    So sacred, and so much belov’d?”
    Methinks I hear each freeman cry,
          Most certainly there is.


Cassius, VII.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 387)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.

I believe it may be asserted for fact, that since the foundations of the
universe were laid, there has no kind of government been formed, without
opposition being made to it, from one quarter or another.

There always has been, and ever will be, in every country, men who have no
other aim in view than to be in direct opposition to every thing which
takes place, or which is proposed to be adopted.—This class of beings
always wish to make themselves important, and to incur notice; and,
conscious of their inability to obtain that notice which is bestowed on
the patriot and the just man, they put up (because they cannot help it)
with being noticed only for their absurdity and folly. When you hear this
class of Would Be’s engaged in condemning any form of government, or any
thing else, ask them this simple question—What do you think would be
better than that which you condemn?—O! that is quite another matter, would
most probably be the answer; we are not adequate to the task of
fabricating a government, we leave that to wiser heads—but, they will
continue, it is easy for any one to discover the imperfections in this
form of government we are condemning. Strange absurdity!—inadequate to the
task of constructing, yet capable of criticizing upon, and pointing out
the defects of, anything which is constructed. Well may we say, in the
words of another—

    “Some are bewilder’d in the maze of schools,
    And some made criticks Nature meant but fools:
    In search of wit these lose their common sense,
    And then turn critics in their own defence.”

There is not, in the extensive circle of human nature, objects more
completely despicable than those who take upon them to censure and condemn
a work, without being able to substitute any thing preferable in lieu of

In those objects, last mentioned, this country considerably abounds, as
the newspaporial pages fully evince. They have been busily employed of
late, in finding fault with the plan of government proposed by the federal
convention; they have almost exhausted their folly, knavery, absurdity,
and ridiculous, inconclusive, non-applicable arguments on the subject;
and, in my opinion, was this question asked them, What do you mean by all
your learned farrago about this matter? they could not give any other
reasonable answer, than that their intent was, to exhibit specimens of
their scribbling talents.—But I will dismiss this subject for the present,
in order to make a few remarks on the conduct of some others, since the
proposed form of government made its appearance.

In some assemblies, where the necessity of calling a state convention to
consider of the merits of the new constitution has been debated, some
gentlemen, who were opposed to the plan of federal government, while they
reprobated it, at the same time declared that none were more truly federal
than themselves.—What a pity it is, for these patriots in theory, that
actions speak louder than words—and that the people are so incredulous as
not to believe a thing which they know to be directly the reverse of

It ever prejudices people against arguments, even if they should happen to
be just, if they are prefaced by a glaring falsehood—this, sharpers do not
always consider, when they are attempting to carry their favourite
points.—It is something to be wondered at, that a certain theoretical
patriot,(11) instead of saying he would sooner have lost his hand than
subscribed his name to the plan of federal government, had not have
declared, that he would sooner have lost his head, and the amazing fund of
federal wisdom it contains, before he would have been guilty of so horrid
an act.

Look around you, inhabitants of America! and see of what characters the
anti-federal junto are composed.—Are any of them men of that class, who,
in the late war, made bare their arms and girded on the helmet in your
defence?—few, very few indeed, of the antifederalists, are men of this
character. But who are they that are supporters of that grand republican
fabrick, the Federal Constitution?—Are they not the men who were among the
first to assert the rights of freemen, and put a check to the invasions of
tyranny? Are they not, many of them, men who have fought and bled under
the banners of liberty?—Most certainly this is the case.—Will you then,
countrymen and fellow-citizens, give heed to these infamous, anti-federal
slanderers, who, in censuring the proposed plan of federal government,
have dared, basely dared to treat even the characters of a Washington and
a Franklin with reproach?—Surely you will not. Your good sense and
discernment will lead you to treat with abhorrence and contempt every
artifice which is put in practice to sap the confidence you have in men
who are the boast of their country, and an honour to human nature. You
certainly cannot harbour an idea so derogatory to reason and the nature of
things, as that men, who, for eight years, have fought and struggled, to
obtain and secure to you freedom and independence, should now be engaged
in a design to subvert your liberties and reduce you to a state of
servitude. Reason revolts at the thought, ... and none but the infamous
incendiary, or the unprincipled monster, would insinuate a thing so vile.


Cassius, VIII.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 391)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.


In some former publications, I have confined myself chiefly to pointing
out the views of the opposers to the plan of federal government; the
reason why I did not enter particularly into the merits of the new
constitution is, that I conceived if it was candidly read, and properly
attended to, that alone would be sufficient to recommend it to the
acceptance of every rational and thinking mind that was interested in the
happiness of the United States of America. Some babblers of the opposition
junto have, however, complained that nothing has been said, except in
general terms, in favour of the federal constitution; in consequence of
this, incompetent as I am to the undertaking, I have been induced to lay
the following remarks before the publick.

Sect. first, of the new constitution, says,

“All legislative powers Herein Granted shall be vested in a congress of
the United States.”

I beg the reader to pay particular attention to the words herein granted,
as perhaps there may be occasion for me to recur to them more than once in
the course of my observations.

The second section of the federal constitution says, that the members of
the house of representatives shall be chosen every second year, and the
electors shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most
numerous branch of the state legislature. Some have made objections to the
time for which the representatives are to be chosen; but it is to be
considered, that the convention, in this particular, meant to accommodate
the time for which the representatives should stand elected, to the
constitutions of the different states. If it had been provided, that the
time should have been of shorter duration, would not a citizen of Maryland
or South-Carolina had reason to murmur?

The weakness the anti-federalists discover in insinuating that the federal
government will have it in their power to establish a despotick
government, must be obvious to every one; for the time for which they are
elected is so short, as almost to preclude the possibility of their
effecting plans for enslaving so vast an empire as the United States of
America, even if they were so base as to hope for anything of the kind.
The representatives of the people would also be conscious, that their good
conduct alone, would be the only thing which could influence a free people
to continue to bestow on them their suffrages: the representatives of the
people would not, moreover, dare to act contrary to the instructions of
their constituents; and if any one can suppose that they would, I would
ask them, why such clamour is made about a bill of rights, for securing
the liberties of the subject? for if the delegates dared to act contrary
to their instructions, would they be afraid to encroach upon a bill of
rights? If they determined among themselves to use their efforts to effect
the establishment of an aristocratical or despotick government, would a
bill of rights be any obstacle to their proceedings? If they were guilty
of a breach of trust in one instance, they would be so in another.

The second section also says, no person shall be elected a representative
who shall not have been seven years an inhabitant of the United States.
This clause effectually confounds all the assertions of the
anti-federalists, respecting the representatives not being sufficiently
acquainted with the different local interests of their constituents; for a
representative, qualified as the constitution directs, must be a greater
numbskull than a Vox Populi or an Agrippa,(12) not to have a knowledge of
the different concerns of the Confederation.

The objection that the representation will not be sufficient, is weak in
the highest degree. It is supposed, that there are sufficient inhabitants
in the state of Massachusetts to warrant the sending of six delegates, at
least, to the new Congress—To suppose that three gentlemen, of the first
characters and abilities, were inadequate to represent the concerns of
this state in a just manner, would be absurd in the highest degree, and
contradictory to reason and common sense. The weakness of the
anti-federalists, in regard to the point just mentioned, sufficiently
shews their delinquency with respect to rational argument. They have done
nothing more than barely to assert, that the representation would not be
sufficient: it is a true saying, that assertions are often the very
reverse of facts.

Sect. third, of the new constitution, says, each state shall choose two
senators, &c. The liberalty of this clause is sufficient, any reasonable
person would suppose, to damp all opposition.

Can any thing be more consistent with the strictest principles of

Each state is here upon an equal footing; for the house of representatives
can of themselves do nothing without the concurrence of the senate.

The third section further provides, that the senate shall choose their own
officers. This is so congenial with the constitution of our own state,
that I need not advance any argument to induce the free citizens of
Massachusetts to approbate it. And those who oppose this part of the
federal plan, act in direct opposition to what the anti-federalists often
profess, for the excellency of our constitution has been their favourite

The third section also provides, that the senate shall have the sole power
to try all impeachments. This clause seems to be peculiarly obnoxious to
anti-federal sycophants.

They have declared it to be arbitrary and tyrannical in the highest
degree. But, fellow-citizens, your own good sense will lead you to see the
folly and weakness contained in such assertions. You have experienced the
tyranny of such a government; that under which you now live is an exact
model of it. In Massachusetts, the house of representatives impeach, and
the senate try, the offender.

That part of the proposed form of government, which is to be styled the
senate, will not have it in their power to try any person, without the
consent of two-thirds of the members.

In this respect, therefore, the new constitution is not more arbitrary
than the constitution of this state. This clause does not, therefore,
savour in the least of any thing more arbitrary than what has already been
experienced: so that the horrours the anti-federal junto pretend to
anticipate on that head, must sink into nothing. Besides, when the house
of representatives have impeached, and the senate tried any one, and found
him guilty of the offence for which he is impeached, they can only
disqualify him from holding any office of power and trust in the United
States: and after that he comes within the jurisdiction of the law of the

How such a proceeding can be called arbitrary, or thought improper, I
cannot conceive. I leave it to the gentlemen in opposition to point out
the tyranny of such conduct, and explain the horrid tendency it will have,
for the government of the United States to determine whether any one or
more of their own body are worthy to continue in the station to which they
were elected.

Another clause, which the anti-federal junto labour to prove to be
arbitrary and tyrannical, is contained in the fourth section, which
provides, that the time and place for electing senators and
representatives shall be appointed by the different state legislatures,
except Congress shall at any time make a law to alter such regulation in
regard to the place of choosing representatives. The former part of this
clause, gives not the least opportunity for a display of anti-federal
scandal, and the latter, only by misrepresentation, and false
construction, is by them made a handle of. What is intended, by saying
that Congress shall have power to appoint the place for electing
representatives, is, only to have a check upon the legislature of any
state, if they should happen to be composed of villains and knaves, as is
the case in a sister state;(13) and should take upon themselves to appoint
a place for choosing delegates to send to Congress; which place might be
the most inconvenient in the whole state; and for that reason be appointed
by the legislature, in order to create a disgust in the minds of the
people against the federal government, if they themselves should dislike
it. The weakness of their arguments on this head, must therefore be
obvious to every attentive mind.

There is one thing, however, which I might mention, as a reason why the
opposition junto dread the clause aforementioned—they may suppose, that
Congress, when the people are assembled for the choice of their rulers, in
the place they have appointed, will send their terrible standing army
(which I shall speak of in its place) and, Cesar Borgia like, massacre the
whole, in order to render themselves absolute. This is so similar to many
of the apprehensions they have expressed, that I could not pass it by
unnoticed. Indeed the chief of their productions abound with
improbabilities and absurdities of the like kind; for having nothing
reasonable to alledge against a government founded on the principles of
staunch republicanism, and which, if well supported, will establish the
glory and happiness of our country. They resort to things the most strange
and fallacious, in order to blind the eyes of the unsuspecting and


(_To be continued._)

Cassius, IX.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 392)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.


(_Continued from our last._)

Section 5, of the new constitution, says, Each house shall be a judge of
the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members—a majority
shall constitute a quorum, and be authorized to compel the attendance of
absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as the law may
provide. Each house shall determine the rules of its proceedings—punish
its members for disorderly behaviour—and with the consent of two-thirds,
expel a member. Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and
from time to time publish the same, &c. No one, who professes to be
governed by reason, will dispute the propriety of any assembly’s being the
judge of the qualifications requisite to constitute a member of their own
body. That part of the fifth section which says a majority shall
constitute a quorum, has been an object against which many anti-federal
shafts have been levelled. It has been asserted by some, that this clause
empowers a majority of members present, to transact any business relating
to the affairs of the United States, and that eight or ten members of the
house of representatives, and an equal number of the senate, might pass a
law which would benefit themselves, and injure the community at large. The
fallacy of such assertions is sufficiently conspicuous to render them
ridiculous and contemptible in the eyes of every unprejudiced mind—for the
section further expresses, That a smaller number than a quorum may adjourn
from day to day, and be authorised to compel attendance of absent members.
This is all the power that is vested in a smaller number than the
majority. It is therefore evident, that when it says a majority shall
constitute a quorum to do business, it means a majority of the whole
number of members that belong to either house.

Sect. 5, further provides, That each house shall keep a journal of its
proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, &c. This clause is so
openly marked with every feature of republicanism, and expressed in such
liberal and comprehensive terms, that it needs no comment to render it
acceptable to the enlightened citizens of Massachusetts.

Sect. 6, provides, That the senators and representatives shall receive a
compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law—they shall,
except in cases of treason, felony, or breach of peace, be privileged from
arrest during their session.—The necessity of such regulations must appear
plain to every one; the inhabitants of Massachusetts, fully convinced of
the justness of such provision, made it in the constitution of this state.
The 6th section further says, No member shall be called to account for
sentiments delivered in either house, at any other place. In this clause,
the freedom of debate, so essential to the preservation of liberty and the
support of a republican form of government, is amply provided for. Impeded
by no obstacle whatever, the patriot may here proclaim every sentiment
that glows within his breast. How far despotism can encroach upon such a
government I leave the antifederal junto to declare.

The 6th section further provides, that no senator or representative shall,
during the time he is in office, be elected or appointed to any office
under the United States—nor shall any person, holding any office under the
government, be elected a member of either house during his continuance in
that station.

This clause at once confutes every assertion of the antifederalists
respecting the new congress being able to secure to themselves all offices
of power, profit and trust. This section is even more rigidly republican
than the constitution of this commonwealth; for in the general assembly of
Massachusetts, a civil officer is not excluded a seat; whereas the new
constitution expressly asserts that no person in civil office under the
United States shall be eligible to a seat in either house.

Sect. 7 provides that all bills for raising revenues shall originate in
the house of representatives. Here again must the anti-federalists appear
weak and contemptible in their assertions that the senate will have it in
their power to establish themselves a complete aristocratick body; for
this clause fully evinces that if their inclinations were ever so great to
effect such an establishment, it would answer no end, for being unable to
levy taxes, or collect a revenue, is a sufficient check upon every attempt
of such a nature.

The 7th section further provides, That every bill which passes the house
of representatives and the senate, before it becomes a law, shall be
presented to the president of the United States; if he objects to it the
sense of both houses will be again taken on the subject, and if two-thirds
of the members are in favour of the bill, it passes into a law.

Much clamour has been made about the power of the president; it has been
asserted that his influence would be such as to enable him to continue in
office during life.

Such insinuations are founded on a very slender basis. If the president
opposes the sense of both houses, without sufficient reasons for his
conduct, he will soon become obnoxious, and his influence vanish like the
fleeting smoke; and his objection to anything which the house and senate
may think calculated for the promotion of the publick good, will be of no

Sect. 8 provides, That Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes,
duties, imposts, excises, &c.—to pay debts, to provide for the common
defence and general welfare of the United States—that all duties, imposts
and excises shall be uniform throughout the Union—they shall have power to
coin money, and to fix the value thereof, &c.—The impotency of the present
Congress sufficiently indicates the necessity of granting greater powers
to a federal head; and it is highly requisite such a head should be
enabled to establish a fund adequate to the exigencies of the Union.

The propriety of all duties and imposts being uniform throughout the
states, cannot be disputed. It is also highly requisite that Congress
should be enabled to establish a coin which shall circulate the same
throughout all the states. The necessity of such arrangements is certainly
very obvious. For other particulars contained in the 8th section, I must
refer my readers to the Constitution, and am confident they will find it
replete with nothing more than what is absolutely necessary should be
vested in the guardians of a free country.

Can, then, those murmuring sycophants, who oppose the plan of federal
government, wish for anything more liberal than what is contained in the
aforementioned section? If the powers of a federal head were to be
established on as weak a frame as that on which the present confederation
is founded, what effect would any constitution have in giving energy to
measures designed to promote the glory of the Union, and for establishing
its honour and credit? One great object of the federal Convention was, to
give more power to future Assemblies of the States. In this they have done
liberally, without partiallity to the interests of the states
individually; and their intentions were known before the honourable body
was dissolved. And now that a form of government, every way adequate to
the purposes of the Union, has been proposed by them, in which proper
powers are to be vested in the supreme head, a hue and cry is raised by
the sons of sedition and dishonesty, as though an army of uncircumcised
Philistines were upon us!

They are bellowing about, that tyranny will inevitably follow the adoption
of the proposed constitution. It is, however, an old saying, that the
greatest rogue is apt to cry rogue first. This we may rely upon, that if
we follow perfidious counsels, as those are, I dare affirm, of the
anti-federalists, every evil which that sapp brood anticipates, will
befall us. Besides, foreign creditors will not be cheated out of their
property; nor will the creditors of our own country be tame spectators of
the sacrifice of their interest at the shrine of villainy.

Section 9th says, The writ of habeus corpus shall not be suspended, unless
in case of rebellion, or the invasion of the publick safety may require
it. It has been asserted by some, that a person accused of a crime, would
be obliged to ruin himself, in order to prove his innocence; as he would
be obliged to repair to the seat of federal government, in order to have
his cause tried before a federal court, and be liable to pay all expenses
which might be incurred in the undertaking. But the section
beforementioned proves that assertion to be futile and false, as it
expressly provides for securing the right of the subjects, in regard to
his being tried in his own state.

The 9th section further provides, that a regular statement and account of
the receipts and expenditures of all publick monies, shall be published
from time to time. Thus the people will have it in their power to examine
the appropriations made of the revenues and taxes collected by Congress;
and if they are not satisfied in regard to the conduct of their rulers in
this respect, they will be able to effect a change agreeable to their

The last section of this article provides, that no state shall enter into
any treaty, alliance, &c., coin money, emit bills of credit, make any
other but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts—all laws
respecting imposts, duties, and excises, shall be subject to the revision
and controul of Congress.

The absolute necessity of powers of this nature being vested in a federal
head is indisputable.

For want of such a power, what vile proceedings have of late disgraced
almost every legislative measure of Rhode Island! For want of such a
power, some honest creditors in Massachusetts have been paid in old horses
and enormous rocks, in return for money loaned upon interest. With respect
to the controul of Congress over laws of the afore-mentioned description,
it is highly requisite that it should take place: nor have the people any
thing to fear from such a proceeding; for their controul cannot be
extended farther than the powers granted in the new constitution; the
words of which are, “all powers Herein Granted.” If any act originates
contrary to this, it will be of no effect, and a mere nullity.

Section one, of article second, provides that the executive power shall be
vested in a president of the United States. The necessity of such a
provision must appear reasonable to any one; and further remarks,
therefore, on this head will be needless.

In the same section it is provided, (among other things which to argue
upon would be unnecessary, as they are founded on the firmest principles
of republicanism) that Congress shall determine the time for choosing
electors, and the day of election shall be the same throughout the Union.
Can anything more strongly mark a liberal and free government than this
clause? No one state will in the least be influenced in their choice by
that of another; and Congress cannot have the least controul in regard to
the appointment of any particular men for electors. This, among other
things, proves that all requisite power will still remain in the hands of
the people, and any insinuation to the contrary, must be a mere chicane to
blind the judgments of the misinformed.


(_To be continued._)

Cassius, X.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 393)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.


(_Continued from our last._)

Section I, of article II. further provides, That the president shall,
previous to his entering upon the duties of his office, take the following
oath or affirmation: I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will
faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will,
to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the constitution
of the United States. Thus we see that instead of the president’s being
vested with all the powers of a monarch, as has been asserted, that he is
under the immediate controul of the constitution, which if he should
presume to deviate from, he would be immediately arrested in his career
and summoned to answer for his conduct before a federal court, where
strict justice and equity would undoubtedly preside.

Section 3, of article II. provides, That the president of the United
States shall, from time to time, give Congress information of the state of
the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall
judge necessary and expedient—he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene
both houses or either of them, and adjourn them to such time as he may
think proper—he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and
shall commission all officers of the United States.

Very little more power is granted to the president of the United States,
by the above section, than what is vested in the governours of the
different states. The propriety of vesting such powers in a supreme
executive cannot be doubted. What would it signify to appoint an executive
officer, and immediately after to make laws which would be a barrier to
the execution of his commission?

It would answer the same end that the nominal power which is vested in the
different states answers, that is, it would answer the end of paying for
the support of a shaddow, without reaping the benefit of the substance.

It is certainly requisite that proper powers should be vested in an
executive (and certainly no more than necessary powers are vested in the
executive of the United States by the new constitution) or else the
establishment of such a branch is needless.

Section 4, of article II. says, The president, vice-president, and all
civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on
impeachment for, and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes
and misdemeanors.—Thus we see that no office, however exalted, can protect
the miscreant, who dares invade the liberties of his country, or
countenance in his crimes the impious villain who sacrilegiously attempts
to trample upon the rights of freemen.

Who will be absurd enough to affirm, that the section alluded to, does not
sufficiently prove that the federal convention have formed a government
which provides that we shall be ruled by laws and not by men? None,
surely, but an anti-federalist—and from them falsehood receives constant
homage; for it is on the basis of falsehood and the summit of ignorance,
that all opposition to the federal government is founded.

Section 1, of article III. provides, That the judicial power of the United
States shall be vested in one supreme court, and in such inferiour courts
as Congress may from time to time appoint.—It has been asserted, that a
federal court would be an engine of partiality in the government, a source
of oppression and injustice to the poorer part of the community; but how
far consistency influenced the conduct of the authors of such assertions,
the publick must determine. The anti-federalists have said, that if a
cause should come before one of state judicial courts, and judgment be
given against the person who possessed most interest, that he would
immediately appeal to the federal court, whose residence would be at the
seat of government, and consequently at so great a distance that an
inhabitant of the state of Georgia or New-Hampshire, if he was in low
circumstances, would not be able to carry his cause before the federal
court, and would, therefore, be obliged to give it up to his wealthier
antagonist. The glaring improbability with which such insinuations abound,
must be obvious to every one.

Can it be supposed, that any person would be so inconsistent, after a
cause was given against him, in a court where judges presided whose
characters, as honest and just men, were unrivalled, as to attempt to have
the cause re-heard before the federal court?

Indeed if such a thing was to take place, the man in low circumstances
would have nothing to fear, as the payment of all charges would fall upon
the person who lost the cause, and there is not the shadow of a doubt,
with respect to the person’s losing the cause, who had lost it before in a
court of justice in either of the states.

In regard to the equal administration of justice in all the states, a
rattle brained anti-federalist, in the last Mass. Gazette, under the
signature of Agrippa,(14) has asserted, that the inequality of the
administration of justice throughout the states, was a favourite argument
in support of the new constitution—an assertion founded on as impudent and
barefaced a falsehood as ever was uttered, for the very reverse is the
case. The equality of the administration of justice in the different
states, has ever been dwelt upon as recommendatory of the new plan of
government. I am induced to think that Agrippa is non compos, and this
might proceed from his close application to study, while the library of a
celebrated university was under his care(15)—he seems to be one of those
whom Pope describes when he says,

    “Some are bewilder’d in the maze of schools,” &c.

I hope my readers will forgive this digression, when they consider that
such scandalous lies, absurdities, and misrepresentations as the
productions of Agrippa, that political Quixote, abound with, may have a
tendency to prejudice the minds of the misinformed against the new
constitution, unless they are properly noticed.

Section 2, of Article III. provides, among other things, that the trial of
all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such
trial shall be held in the state where the crime shall have been
committed; but when not committed within any state, the trial shall be at
such place or places, as Congress may by law have directed. It has been
frequently asserted that the new constitution deprived the subject of the
right of trial by jury; on what grounds such an assertion could be
founded, is to me a mystery; for the constitution expressly says, that the
trial shall be by jury, except in cases of impeachment. In our own state,
if a civil officer is impeached he will not be tried by a jury, but by
that branch of our legislature styled the senate. Tired, no doubt, with a
repetition of arguments, upon parts of the constitution which did not
appear quite plain till investigated and rightly construed, the
anti-federalists have taken upon them to assert things which the proposed
system does not afford them the least grounds for. Presumptuous, indeed,
must they be in the highest degree, if they suppose any will be so blind
as to listen to the most palpable falsehoods, uttered by them. Their
conduct seems to evince, that they harbour sentiments similar to those of
the Romish priests, in countries where the common people have scarcely any
knowledge of things wherein their interests are insuperably connected, and
imbibe their principles wholly from what the priests think proper to
inform them. But such artifices will not avail to practice upon the
inhabitants of America; for here, almost all have some knowledge of
government, derived from their own study and experience; and very few are
so stupidly ignorant as to believe all that is circulated by minions and

Section 3, of article III. provides, that Congress shall have power to
declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work
corruption of blood, or forfeiture, except during the life of the person
attainted.—This section is truly republican in every sense of the
expression, and is of itself fully adequate to proving that the members of
the federal convention were actuated by principles the most liberal and
free—this single section alone is sufficient to enroll their proceedings
on the records of immortal fame.

Contrast this section with the laws of England, in regard to treason, and,
notwithstanding the boasted rights of the subject in that isle, we shall
find our own in this, as well as almost every other particular, far to
exceed them.

Section 1, of article IV. says, full faith and credit shall be given in
each state, to the publick acts, records and judicial proceedings of every
other state. The benefit to be derived from such a regulation must be
great, especially to those who are sometimes obliged to have recourse to
law, for the settlement of their affairs.

Section 2, of article IV. provides, that the citizens of each state shall
be intitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the
several states. This section must also be a source of much advantage to
the inhabitants of the different states, who may have business to transact
in various parts of the continent, as being equally intitled to the rights
of citizenship in one as well as another.

They will find less difficulty in pursuing their various concerns than if
it were otherwise.

In the same article, section 3, it is provided, That new states may be
admitted into the Union; but no new state shall be formed or erected
within the jurisdiction of any other state, nor any states be formed by
the sanction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the
consent of the legislatures of the states concerned, as well as of
Congress. This section can be opposed by none who have the peace and
happiness of the states at heart; for, by this section, the designs of
those who wish to effect the disunion of the states, in order to get
themselves established in posts of honour and profit, are entirely
defeated. The majority of the citizens of Massachusetts, in particular,
will see the good effects to be derived from such a regulation.


(_To be Continued._)

Cassius, XI.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 394)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.


(_Concluded from our last._)

The 3d section, in article IV. also provides, that Congress shall have
power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting
the territory or other property of the United States; and nothing in this
constitution shall be construed as a prejudice to the claims of the United
States, or any particular state.

There is not, certainly, anything contained in the aforementioned clause,
which can be opposed on reasonable grounds. It is certainly necessary that
Congress should have power to make all needful rules and regulations
respecting the concerns of the Union; and if they exceed what is
necessary, their regulations will be of no effect; for whatever is done by
them, which the constitution does not warrant, is null and void, and can
be no more binding on the inhabitants of America, than the edicts of the
grand signior of Turkey.

You will remember, my countrymen, that the words of the constitution are,
“All Powers Herein Granted.”

Section 4, of article IV. says, The United States shall guarantee to every
state in the Union a Republican Form of Government; and shall protect each
of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the
executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic
violence.—At the perusal of this clause, anti-federalism must blush, and
opposition hide its head. Could anything have more openly, or more plainly
evinced to the world, the noble motives which influenced the conduct of
the delegates of America, than the clause aforementioned? it provides,
that a republican form of government shall be guaranteed to each state in
the Union. The inhabitants of America are surely acquainted with the
principles of republicanism, and will certainly demand the establishment
of them, in their fullest extent.

The section just mentioned, secures to us the full enjoyment of every
thing which freemen hold dear, and provides for protecting us against
every thing which they can dread.

This article, my countrymen, is sufficient to convince you of the
excellency of that constitution which the federal convention have formed;
a constitution founded on the broad basis of liberty, and, should the
citizens of America happily concur in adopting it, its pillars may be as
fixed as the foundations of created nature.

Say, ye mighty cavillers, ye inconsistent opposers of the new plan of
government, of what avail, to the thinking part of the community, do you
suppose will be all your clamours about a bill of rights? Does not the
abovementioned section provide for the establishment of a free government
in all the states? and if that freedom is encroached upon, will not the
constitution be violated? It certainly will; and its violators be hurled
from the seat of power, and arraigned before a tribunal where impartial
justice will no doubt preside, to answer for their high-handed crime.

Article V. of the new constitution, says, That Congress, whenever
two-thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose
amendments to this constitution; or on the application of the legislatures
of two-thirds of the states, shall call a convention for proposing
amendments, which in either case shall be valid to all intents and
purposes, as part of the constitution, when ratified by the legislatures
of three-fourths of the states, or by conventions in three-fourths
thereof; as one or the other modes of ratification may be proposed by
Congress; provided that no amendments which may be made prior to the year
one thousand eight hundred and eight, shall in any manner affect the first
and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article, and that no
state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the

On what grounds can the opposers to the new plan found their assertions
that Congress will have it in their power to make what laws they please,
and what alterations they think proper in the constitution, after the
people have adopted it? The constitution expressly says, that any
alterations in the constitution must be ratified by three-fourths of the
states. The 5th article also provides, that the states may propose any
alterations which they see fit, and that Congress shall take measures for
having them carried into effect.

If this article does not clearly demonstrate that all power is in the
hands of the people, then the language by which we convey our ideas, is
shockingly inadequate to its intended purposes, and as little to be
understood by us, as Hebrew to the most illiterate.

The 6th section provides, that this constitution, and the laws which shall
be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be
made, in pursuance thereof, under the authority of the United States,
shall be the supreme law of the land, and the judges in every state shall
be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the
contrary notwithstanding.

This is the article, my countrymen, which knaves and blockheads have so
often dressed up in false colours, and requested your attention to the
construction of it. Adopt not a constitution, say they, which stipulates
that the laws of Congress shall be the supreme law of the land—or, in
other words, they request of you not to obey laws of your own making. This
is the article which they say is so arbitrary and tyrannical, that unless
you have a bill of rights to secure you, you are ruined forever.

But in the name of common sense I would ask, of what use would be a bill
of rights, in the present case?... It can only be to resort to when it is
supposed that Congress have infringed the unalienable rights of the
people: but would it not be much easier to resort to the federal
constitution, to see if therein power is given to Congress to make the law
in question? If such power is not given, the law is in fact a nullity, and
the people will not be bound thereby. For let it be remembered, that such
laws, and such only, as are founded on this constitution, are to be the
supreme law of the land;—and it would be absurd indeed, if the laws which
are granted in the constitution, were not to be, without reserve, the
supreme law of the land. To give Congress power to make laws for the
Union, and then to say they should not have force throughout the Union,
would be glaringly inconsistent:—Such an inconsistency, however, has
hitherto been the evil which the whole continent have complained of, and
which the new constitution is designed to remedy.—Let us reverse the
proposition, and see how it will then stand.—This constitution, and the
laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and
all treaties made, or which shall be made under their authority, shall not
be the supreme law of the land—and the judges in the several states shall
not be bound thereby.—This is exactly what the anti-federalists wish to be
the case; this, and in this alone would they glory.—But, fellow citizens,
you will discern the excellency of the aforementioned clause; you will
perceive that it is calculated, wisely calculated, to support the dignity
of this mighty empire, to restore publick and private credit, and national

Article IV. further provides, That the senators and representatives before
mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures and all
executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the
several states, shall be bound, by oath or affirmation, to support this
constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a
qualification to any office or publick trust under the United States.

Thus, my fellow-citizens, we see that our rulers are to be bound by the
most sacred ties, to support our rights and liberties, to secure to us the
full enjoyment of every privilege which we can wish for; they are bound by
the constitution to guarantee to us a republican form of government in its
fullest extent; and what is there more that we can wish for?

Thus the people of the United States, “in order to form a more perfect
Union, establish justice, insure domestick tranquillity, provide for the
common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of
liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” have appointed a federal
convention to “ordain and establish,” with the concurrence of the people,
a constitution for the United States of America. That federal convention
have assembled together, and after a full investigation of the different
concerns of the Union, have proposed a form of government, calculated to
support, and transmit, inviolate, to the latest posterity, all the
blessings of civil and religious liberty.

Citizens of Massachusetts! consider, O consider well, these important
matters, and weigh them deliberately in the scale of reason! Consider at
what a vast expense of toil, difficulty, treasure and blood, you have
emancipated yourselves from the yoke of bondage, and established
yourselves an independent people! Consider that those immortal characters,
who first planned the event of the revolution, and with arms in their
hands stepped forth in the glorious cause of human nature, have now
devised a plan for supporting your freedom, and increasing your strength,
your power and happiness.

Will you then, O my countrymen! listen to the mad dictates of men, who are
aiming, by every artifice and falsehood, which the emissaries of hell can
invent, to effect your total destruction and overthrow? who wish to ascend
the chariot of anarchy, and ride triumphant over your smoking ruins, which
they hope to effect, by their more than hellish arts: in your misery they
hope to glory, and establish their own greatness “on their country’s

If they can effect this, they will laugh at your calamity, and mock your
misfortunes—the language of each brother in iniquity, when they meet, will
be, “hail damn’d associates,” see our high success!

Think, O my countrymen! think, before it is too late!—The important moment
approaches, when these states must, by the most wise of all conduct,
forever establish their glory and happiness, on the firmest basis, by
adopting the constitution, or by the most foolish and inconsistent of all
conduct, in rejecting it, entail on themselves and on their posterity,
endless infamy.

    “There is a tide in the affairs of men,
    Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
    Omitted, all the voyage of their life
    Is bound in shallowness.”——

If you embrace not the golden moment now before you, and refuse to receive
that which only can establish the dignity of your towering Eagle, this and
generations yet unborn, will curse, with an anathema, your dying fame, and
breathe, with imprecations and just indignation, vengeance and insults on
your sleeping ashes! But should you, on the contrary, with energy and
vigour, push your fortune, and, with earnestness and gratitude, clasp to
your arms this great blessing which Heaven has pointed to your view,
posterity, made happy by your wisdom and exertions, will honour and revere
your memories. Secure in their prosperity, they will weep for joy, that
Heaven had given them—Fathers!



Printed In The Massachusetts Gazette,
November, 1787-January, 1788.


The letters of Agrippa were the ablest anti-federal publications printed
in Massachusetts, and showed especial ability in arguing the dangers and
defects of a plan of government which was both so peculiarly needed, and
so specially advantageous to the State of Massachusetts, that its adoption
was only endangered by certain questions of local politics, which could
not even enter into the discussion. They were noticed, or replied to, in
the Massachusetts Gazette, Dec. 21, 1787, by “Charles James Fox;” Dec. 28,
1787, and Jan. 4, 1788, by “Kempis O’Flanagan,” Jan. 22, and 25, 1788, by
“Junius,” and in the letters of Cassius, printed in this volume.

At the time of publication they were accredited to the pen of James
Winthrop, of Cambridge, and he was repeatedly attacked as the author,
without denying it; while his supposed authorship and general opposition
to the Constitution contributed to defeat his election by Cambridge to the
Massachusetts Convention for considering the proposed government,
receiving only one vote in the whole town. On the contrary, the writer, in
his tenth letter, states that the surmises as to the authorship are not
correct, and in the Massachusetts Gazette of Dec. 21, 1787, the following

    I feel myself _greatly hurt_ at the liberties lately taken by
    certain _scribblers_ with the characters of the _hon._ E. Gerry
    and James Winthrop, _esquire_, of Cambridge, two gentlemen, no
    less distinguished for their _honesty_, _patriotism_, and
    _extensive abilities_, than a Washington or a Franklin.

    ... In regard to J. Winthrop, _esquire_, (of said Cambridge) it
    has been insinuated, that that gentleman is the author of the
    pieces in the Massachusetts Gazette, signed Agrippa—but every one
    who can _boast the pleasure of his acquaintance_, must _know that
    insinuation_ is grounded on _falsehood_.

    The heterogenous compound of nonsense and absurdity with which the
    compositions of _Agrippa_ are so replete, are certainly not the
    productions of a man so celebrated for his superior knowledge and

    In short, Mr. Printer, I hope you and your brother typographers
    will be very careful how you are _guilty_ of _exposing_ such
    _exalted characters_ in future.


Agrippa, I.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 385)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.


Many inconveniences and difficulties in the new plan of government have
been mentioned by different writers on that subject. Mr. Gerry has given
the publick his objections against it, with a manly freedom.(16) The
seceding members from the Pennsylvania Assembly also published theirs.(17)
Various anonymous writers have mentioned reasons of great weight. Among
the many objections have been stated the unlimited right of taxation—a
standing army—an inadequate representation of the people—a right to
destroy the constitution of the separate states, and all the barriers that
have been set up in defence of liberty—the right to try causes between
private persons in many cases without a jury; without trying in the
vicinity of either party; and without any limitation of the value which is
to be tried. To none of these or any other objections has any answer been
given, but such as have acknowledged the truth of the objection while they
insulted the objector. This conduct has much the appearance of trying to
force a general sentiment upon the people.

The idea of promoting the happiness of the people by opposing all their
habits of business, and by subverting the laws to which they are
habituated, appears to me to be at least a mistaken proceeding. If to this
we add the limitations of trade, restraints on its freedom, and the
alteration of its course, and _transfer of the market_, all under the
pretence of regulation for _federal purposes_, we shall not find any
additional reason to be pleased with the plan.

It is now conceded on all sides that the laws relating to civil causes
were never better executed than at present. It is confessed by a warm
federalist in answer to Mr. Gerry’s sensible letter, that the courts are
so arranged at present that no inconvenience is found, and that if the new
plan takes place great difficulties may arise. With this confession before
him, can any reasonable man doubt whether he shall exchange a system,
found by experience to be convenient, for one that is in many respects
inconvenient and dangerous? The expense of the new plan is terrifying, if
there was no other objection. But they are multiplied. Let us consider
that of the representation.

There is to be one representative for every thirty thousand people. Boston
would nearly send one, but with regard to another there is hardly a county
in the state which would have one. The representatives are to be chosen
for two years. In this space, when it is considered that their residence
is from two hundred to five hundred miles from their constituents, it is
difficult to suppose that they will retain any great affection for the
welfare of the people. They will have an army to support them, and may bid
defiance to the clamours of their subjects. Should the people cry aloud
the representative may avail himself of the right to alter the _time of
election_ and postpone it for another year. In truth, the question before
the people is, _whether they will have a limited government or an absolute

It is a fact justified by the experience of all mankind from the earliest
antiquity down to the present time, that freedom is necessary to industry.
We accordingly find that in absolute governments, the people, be the
climate what it may, are general [sic] lazy, cowardly, turbulent, and
vicious to an extreme. On the other hand, in free countries are found in
general, activity, industry, arts, courage, generosity, and all the manly

Can there be any doubt which to choose? He that Hesitates must be base

A favourite objection against a free government is drawn from the
irregularities of the Greek and Roman republicks. But it is to be
considered that war was the employment which they considered as most
becoming freemen. Agriculture, arts, and most domestick employment were
committed chiefly to slaves. But Carthage, the great commercial republick
of antiquity, though resembling Rome in the form of its government, and
her rival for power, retained her freedom longer than Rome, and was never
disturbed by sedition during the long period of her duration. This is a
striking proof that the fault of the Greek and Roman republicks was not
owing to the form of their government, and that the spirit of commerce is
the great bond of union among citizens. This furnishes employment for
their activity, supplies their mutual wants, defends the rights of
property, and producing reciprocal dependencies, renders the whole system
harmonious and energetick. Our great object therefore ought to be to
encourage this spirit. If we examine the present state of the world we
shall find that most of the business is done in the freest states, and
that industry decreases in proportion to the rigour of government.


Agrippa, II.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 386)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.


In the Gazette of the 23d instant, I ascertained from the state of other
countries and the experience of mankind, that free countries are most
friendly to commerce and to the rights of property. This produces greater
internal tranquility. For every man, finding sufficient employment for his
active powers in the way of trade, agriculture and manufactures, feels no
disposition to quarrel with his neighbour, nor with the government which
protects him, and of which he is a constituent part. Of the truth of these
positions we have abundant evidence in the history of our own country.
Soon after the settlement of Massachusetts, and its formation into a
commonwealth, in the earlier part of the last century, there was a
sedition at Hingham and Weymouth. The governour passing by at that time
with his guard, seized some of the mutineers and imprisoned them. This was
complained of as a violation of their rights, and the governour lost his
election the next year; but the year afterwards was restored and continued
to be re-elected for several years. The government does not appear to have
been disturbed again till the revocation of the charter in 1686, being a
period of about half a century.

Connecticut set out originally on the same principles, and has continued
uniformly to exercise the powers of government to this time.

During the last year,(18) we had decisive evidences of the vigour of this
kind of government. In Connecticut, the treason was restrained while it
existed only in the form of conspiracy. In Vermont, the conspirators
assembled in arms, but were suppressed by the exertions of the militia,
under the direction of their sheriffs. In New-Hampshire, the attack was
made on the legislature, but the insurrection was in a very few hours
suppressed, and has never been renewed. In Massachusetts, the danger was
by delay suffered to increase. One judicial court after another was
stopped, and even the capital trembled. Still, however, when the supreme
executive gave the signal, a force of many thousands of active, resolute
men, took the field, during the severities of winter, and every difficulty
vanished before them. Since that time we have been continually coalescing.
The people have applied with diligence to their several occupations, and
the whole country wears one face of improvement. Agriculture has been
improved, manufactures multiplied, and trade prodigiously enlarged. These
are the advantages of freedom in a growing country. While our resources
have been thus rapidly increasing, the courts have set in every part of
the commonwealth, without any guard to defend them; have tried causes of
every kind, whether civil or criminal, and the sheriffs, have in no case
been interrupted in the execution of their office. In those cases indeed,
where the government was more particularly interested, mercy has been
extended; but in civil causes, and in the case of moral offences, the law
has been punctually executed. Damage done to individuals, during the
tumults, has been repaired, by judgment of the courts of law, and the
award has been carried into effect. This is the present state of affairs,
when we are asked to relinquish that freedom which produces such happy

The attempt has been made to deprive us of such a beneficial system, and
to substitute a rigid one in its stead, by criminally alarming our fears,
exalting certain characters on one side, and vilifying them on the other.
I wish to say nothing of the merits or demerits of individuals; such
arguments always do hurt. But assuredly my countrymen cannot fail to
consider and determine who are the most worthy of confidence in a business
of this magnitude.

Whether they will trust persons, who have from their cradles been
incapable of comprehending any other principles of government, than those
of absolute power, and who have, in this very affair, tried to deprive
them of their constitutional liberty, by a pitiful trick. They cannot
avoid prefering those who have uniformly exerted themselves to establish a
limited government, and to secure to individuals all the liberty that is
consistent with justice, between man and man, and whose efforts, by the
smiles of Providence, have hitherto been crowned with the most splendid
success. After the treatment we have received, we have a right to be
jealous, and to guard our present constitution with the strictest care. It
is the right of the people to judge, and they will do wisely to give an
explicit instruction to their delegates in the proposed convention, not to
agree to any proposition that will in any degree militate with that happy
system of government under which Heaven has placed them.


_November 24, 1787._

Agrippa, III.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 387)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.


It has been proved from the clearest evidence, in two former papers, that
a free government, I mean one in which the power frequently returns to the
body of the people, is in principle the most stable and efficient of any
kind; that such a government affords the most ready and effectual remedy
for all injuries done to persons and the rights of property. It is true we
have had a tender act.(19) But what government has not some law in favour
of debtors? The difficulty consists in finding one that is not more
unfriendly to the creditors than ours. I am far from justifying such
things. On the contrary, I believe that it is universally true, that acts
made to favour a part of the community are wrong in principle. All that is
now intended is, to remark that we are not worse than other people in that
respect which we most condemn. Probably the inquiry will be made, whence
the complaints arise. This is easily answered. Let any man look round his
own neighbourhood, and see if the people are not, with a very few
exceptions, peaceable and attached to the government; if the country had
ever within their knowledge more appearance of industry, improvement and
tranquillity; if there was ever more of the produce of all kinds together
for the market; if their stock does not rapidly increase; if there was
ever a more ready vent for their surplus; and if the average of prices is
not about as high as was usual in a plentiful year before the war. These
circumstances all denote a general prosperity. Some classes of citizens
indeed suffer greatly. Two descriptions I at present recollect. The
publick creditors form the first of these classes, and they ought to, and
will be provided for.

Let us for a moment consider their situation and prospects. The
embarrassments consequent upon a war, and the usual reduction of prices
immediately after a war, necessarily occasioned a want of punctuality in
publick payments. Still, however, the publick debt has been very
considerably reduced, not by the dirty and delusive scheme of
depreciation, but the nominal sum. Applications are continually making for
purchases in our eastern and western lands. Great exertions are making for
clearing off the arrears of outstanding taxes, so that the
certificates(20) for interest on the state debt have considerably
increased in value. This is a certain indication of returning credit.
Congress this year disposed of a large tract of their lands towards paying
the principal of their debt.(21) Pennsylvania has discharged the whole of
their part of the continental debt. New York has nearly cleared its state
debt, and has located a large part of their new lands towards paying the
continental demands.(22) Other states have made considerable payments.
Every day from these considerations the publick ability and inclination to
satisfy their creditors increases. The exertions of last winter were as
much to support public as private credit. The prospect therefore of the
publick creditors is brightening under the present system. If the new
system should take effect without amendments, which however is hardly
probable, the increase of expense will be death to the hopes of all
creditors, both of the continental and of the state. With respect,
however, to our publick delays of payment we have the precedent of the
best established countries in Europe.

The other class of citizens to which I alluded was the ship-carpenters.
All agree that their business is dull; but as nobody objects against a
system of commercial regulations for the whole continent, that business
may be relieved without subverting all the ancient foundations and laws
which have the respect of the people. It is a very serious question
whether giving to Congress the unlimited right to regulate trade would not
injure them still further. It is evidently for the interest of the state
to encourage our own trade as much as possible. But in a very large
empire, as the whole states consolidated must be, there will always be a
desire of the government to increase the trade of the capital, and to
weaken the extremes. We should in that case be one of the extremes, and
should feel all the impoverishment incident to that situation. Besides, a
jealousy of our enterprising spirit, would always be an inducement to
cramp our exertions. We must then be impoverished or we must rebel. The
alternative is dreadful.

At present this state is one of the most respectable and one of the most
influential in the union. If we alone should object to receiving the
system without amendments, there is no doubt but it would be amended. But
the case is not quite so bad. New York appears to have no disposition even
to call a convention. If they should neglect, are we to lend our
assistance to compel them by arms, and thus to kindle a civil war without
any provocation on their part? Virginia has put off their convention till
May, and appears to have no disposition to receive the new plan without
amendments. Pennsylvania does not seem to be disposed to receive it as it
is. The same objections are made in all the states, that the civil
government which they have adopted and which secures their rights will be
subverted. All the defenders of this system undertake to prove that the
rights of the states and of the citizens are kept safe. The opposers of it
agree that they will receive the least burdensome system which shall
defend those rights.

Both parties therefore found their arguments on the idea that these rights
ought to be held sacred. With this disposition is it not in every man’s
mind better to recommit it to a new convention, or to Congress, which is a
regular convention for the purpose, and to instruct our delegates to
confine the system to the general purposes of the union, than the
endeavour to force it through in its present form, and with so many
opposers as it must have in every state on the continent? The case is not
of such pressing necessity as some have represented. Europe is engaged,
and we are tranquil. Never therefore was an happier time for deliberation.
The supporters of the measure are by no means afraid of insurrections
taking place, but they are afraid that the present government will prove
superiour to their assaults.


Agrippa, IV.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 388)



Having considered some of the principal advantages of the happy form of
government under which it is our peculiar good fortune to live, we find by
experience, that it is the best calculated of any form hitherto invented,
to secure to us the rights of our persons and of our property, and that
the general circumstances of the people shew an advanced state of
improvement never before known. We have found the shock given by the war,
in a great measure obliterated, and the public debt contracted at that
time to be considerably reduced in the nominal sum. The Congress lands are
full adequate to the redemption of the principal of their debt, and are
selling and populating very fast. The lands of this state, at the west,
are, at the moderate price of eighteen pence an acre, worth near half a
million pounds in our money. They ought, therefore, to be sold as quick as
possible. An application was made lately for a large tract at that price,
and continual applications are made for other lands in the eastern part of
the state. Our resources are daily augmenting.

We find, then, that after the experience of near two centuries our
separate governments are in full vigor. They discover, for all the
purposes of internal regulation, every symptom of strength, and none of
decay. The new system is, therefore, for such purposes, useless and

Let us now consider how far it is practicable consistent with the
happiness of the people and their freedom. It is the opinion of the ablest
writers on the subject, that no extensive empire can be governed upon
republican principles, and that such a government will degenerate to a
despotism, unless it be made up of a confederacy of smaller states, each
having the full powers of internal regulation. This is precisely the
principle which has hitherto preserved our freedom. No instance can be
found of any free government of considerable extent which has been
supported upon any other plan. Large and consolidated empires may indeed
dazzle the eyes of a distant spectator with their splendour, but if
examined more nearly are always found to be full of misery. The reason is
obvious. In large states the same principles of legislation will not apply
to all the parts. The inhabitants of warmer climates are more dissolute in
their manners, and less industrious, than in colder countries. A degree of
severity is, therefore, necessary with one which would cramp the spirit of
the other. We accordingly find that the very great empires have always
been despotick. They have indeed tried to remedy the inconveniences to
which the people were exposed by local regulations; but these contrivances
have never answered the end. The laws not being made by the people, who
felt the inconveniences, did not suit their circumstances. It is under
such tyranny that the Spanish provinces languish, and such would be our
misfortune and degradation, if we should submit to have the concerns of
the whole empire managed by one legislature. To promote the happiness of
the people it is necessary that there should be local laws; and it is
necessary that those laws should be made by the representatives of those
who are immediately subject to the want of them. By endeavouring to suit
both extremes, both are injured.

It is impossible for one code of laws to suit Georgia and Massachusetts.
They must, therefore, legislate for themselves. Yet there is, I believe,
not one point of legislation that is not surrendered in the proposed plan.
Questions of every kind respecting property are determinable in a
continental court, and so are all kinds of criminal causes. The
continental legislature has, therefore, a right to make rules in all cases
by which their judicial courts shall proceed and decide causes. No rights
are reserved to the citizens. The laws of Congress are in all cases to be
the supreme law of the land, and paramount to the constitutions of the
individual states. The Congress may institute what modes of trial they
please, and no plea drawn from the constitution of any state can avail.
This new system is, therefore, a consolidation of all the states into one
large mass, however diverse the parts may be of which it is to be
composed. The idea of an uncompounded republick, on an average one
thousand miles in length, and eight hundred in breadth, and containing six
millions of white inhabitants all reduced to the same standard of morals,
of habits, and of laws, is in itself an absurdity, and contrary to the
whole experience of mankind. The attempt made by Great Britain to
introduce such a system, struck us with horrour, and when it was proposed
by some theorist that we should be represented in parliament, we uniformly
declared that one legislature could not represent so many different
interests for the purposes of legislation and taxation. This was the
leading principle of the revolution, and makes an essential article in our
creed. All that part, therefore, of the new system, which relates to the
internal government of the states, ought at once to be rejected.


Agrippa, V.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 390)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.


In the course of inquiry it has appeared, that for the purposes of
internal regulation and domestick tranquillity, our small and separate
governments are not only admirably suited in theory, but have been
remarkably successful in practice. It is also found, that the direct
tendency of the proposed system, is to consolidate the whole empire into
one mass, and, like the tyrant’s bed, to reduce all to one standard.
Though this idea has been started in different parts of the continent, and
is the most important trait of this draft, the reasoning ought to be
extensively understood. I therefore hope to be indulged in a particular
statement of it.

Causes of all kinds, between citizens of different states, are to be tried
before a continental court. This court is not bound to try it according to
the local laws where the controversies happen; for in that case it may as
well be tried in a state court. The rule which is to govern the new
courts, must, therefore, be made by the court itself, or by its employers,
the Congress. If by the former, the legislative and judicial departments
will be blended; and if by the Congress, though these departments will be
kept separate, still the power of legislation departs from the state in
all those cases. The Congress, therefore, have the right to make rules for
trying all kinds of questions relating to property between citizens of
different states. The sixth article of the new constitution provides, that
the continental laws shall be the supreme law of the land, and that all
judges in the separate states shall be bound thereby, anything in the
constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding. All the
state officers are also bound by oath to support this constitution. These
provisions cannot be understood otherwise than as binding the state judges
and other officers, to execute the continental laws in their own proper
departments within the state. For all questions, other than those between
citizens of the same state, are at once put within the jurisdiction of the
continental courts. As no authority remains to the state judges, but to
decide questions between citizens of the same state, and those judges are
to be bound by the laws of Congress, it clearly follows, that all
questions between citizens of the same state are to be decided by the
general laws and not by the local ones.

Authority is also given to the continental courts, to try all causes
between a state and its own citizens. A question of property between these
parties rarely occurs. But if such questions were more frequent than they
are, the proper process is not to sue the state before an higher
authority; but to apply to the supreme authority of the state, by way of
petition. This is the universal practice of all states, and any other mode
of redress destroys the sovereignty of the state over its own subjects.
The only case of the kind in which the state would probably be sued, would
be upon the state notes. The endless confusion that would arise from
making the estates of individuals answerable, must be obvious to every

There is another sense in which the clause relating to causes between the
state and individuals is to be understood, and it is more probable than
the other, as it will be eternal in its duration, and increasing in its
extent. This is the whole branch of the law relating to criminal
prosecutions. In all such cases, the state is plaintiff, and the person
accused is defendant. The process, therefore, will be, for the
attorney-general of the state to commence his suit before a continental
court. Considering the state as a party, the cause must be tried in
another, and all the expense of transporting witnesses incurred. The
individual is to take his trial among strangers, friendless and
unsupported, without its being known whether he is habitually a good or a
bad man; and consequently with one essential circumstance wanting by which
to determine whether the action was performed maliciously or accidentally.
All these inconveniences are avoided by the present important restriction,
that the cause shall be tried by a jury of the vicinity, and tried in the
county where the offence was committed. But by the proposed _derangement_,
I can call it by no softer name, a man must be ruined to prove his
innocence. This is far from being a forced construction of the proposed
form. The words appear to me not intelligible, upon the idea that it is to
be a _system_ of government, unless the construction now given, both for
civil and criminal processes, be admitted. I do not say that it is
intended that all these changes should take place within one year, but
they probably will in the course of half a dozen years, if this system is
adopted. In the meantime we shall be subject to all the horrors of a
divided sovereignty, not knowing whether to obey the Congress or the
State. We shall find it impossible to please two masters. In such a state
frequent broils will ensue. Advantage will be taken of a popular
commotion, and even the venerable forms of the state be done away, while
the new system will be enforced in its utmost rigour by an army.—I am the
more apprehensive of a standing army, on account of a clause in the new
constitution which empowers Congress to keep one at all times; but this
constitution is evidently such that it cannot stand any considerable time
without an army. Upon this principle one is very wisely provided. Our
present government knows of no such thing.


Agrippa, VI.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 391)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.


To prevent any mistakes, or misapprehensions of the argument, stated in my
last paper, to prove that the proposed constitution is an actual
consolidation of the separate states into one extensive commonwealth, the
reader is desired to observe, that in the course of the argument, the new
plan is considered as an entire system. It is not dependent on any other
book for an explanation, and contains no references to any other book. All
the defences of it, therefore, so far as they are drawn from the state
constitutions, or from maxims of the common law, are foreign to the
purpose. It is only by comparing the different parts of it together, that
the meaning of the whole is to be understood. For instance—

We find in it, that there is to be a legislative assembly, with authority
to constitute courts for the trial of all kinds of civil causes, between
citizens of different states. The right to appoint such courts necessarily
involves in it the right of defining their powers, and determining the
rules by which their judgment shall be regulated; and the grant of the
former of those rights is nugatory without the latter. It is vain to tell
us, that a maxim of common law requires contracts to be determined by the
law existing where the contract was made: for it is also a maxim, that the
legislature has a right to alter the common law. Such a power forms an
essential part of legislation. Here, then, a declaration of rights is of
inestimable value. It contains those principles which the government never
can invade without an open violation of the compact between them and the
citizens. Such a declaration ought to have come to the new constitution in
favour of the legislative rights of the several states, by which their
sovereignty over their own citizens within the state should be secured.
Without such an express declaration the states are annihilated in reality
upon receiving this constitution—the forms will be preserved only during
the pleasure of Congress.

The idea of consolidation is further kept up in the right given to
regulate trade. Though this power under certain limitations would be a
proper one for the department of Congress; it is in this system carried
much too far, and much farther than is necessary. This is, without
exception, the most commercial state upon the continent. Our extensive
coasts, cold climate, small estates, and equality of rights, with a
variety of subordinate and concurring circumstances, place us in this
respect at the head of the Union. We must, therefore, be indulged if a
point which so nearly relates to our welfare be rigidly examined. The new
constitution not only prohibits vessels, bound from one state to another,
from paying any duties, but even from entering and clearing. The only use
of such a regulation is, to keep each state in complete ignorance of its
own resources. It certainly is no hardship to enter and clear at the
custom house, and the expense is too small to be an object.

The unlimited right to regulate trade, includes the right of granting
exclusive charters. This, in all old countries, is considered as one
principal branch of prerogative. We find hardly a country in Europe which
has not felt the ill effects of such a power. Holland has carried the
exercise of it farther than any other state, and the reason why that
country has felt less evil from it is, that the territory is very small,
and they have drawn large revenues from their colonies in the East and
West Indies. In this respect, the whole country is to be considered as a
trading company, having exclusive privileges. The colonies are large in
proportion to the parent state; so that, upon the whole, the latter may
gain by such a system. We are also to take into consideration the industry
which the genius of a free government inspires. But in the British islands
all these circumstances together have not prevented them from being
injured by the monopolies created there. Individuals have been enriched,
but the country at large has been hurt. Some valuable branches of trade
being granted to companies, who transact their business in London, that
city is, perhaps, the place of the greatest trade in the world. But
Ireland, under such influence, suffers exceedingly, and is impoverished;
and Scotland is a mere bye-word. Bristol, the second city in England,
ranks not much above this town in population. These things must be
accounted for by the incorporation of trading companies; and if they are
felt so severely in countries of small extent, they will operate with
ten-fold severity upon us, who inhabit an immense tract; and living
towards one extreme of an extensive empire, shall feel the evil, without
retaining that influence in government, which may enable us to procure
redress. There ought, then, to have been inserted a restraining clause
which might prevent the Congress from making any such grant, because they
consequentially defeat the trade of the out-ports, and are also injurious
to the general commerce, by enhancing prices and destroying that rivalship
which is the great stimulus to industry.


Agrippa, VII.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 392)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.


There cannot be a doubt, that, while the trade of this continent remains
free, the activity of our countrymen will secure their full share. All the
estimates for the present year, let them be made by what party they may,
suppose the balance of trade to be largely in our favour. The credit of
our merchants is, therefore, fully established in foreign countries. This
is a sufficient proof, that when business is unshackled, it will find out
that channel which is most friendly to its course. We ought, therefore, to
be exceedingly cautious about diverting or restraining it. Every day
produces fresh proofs, that people, under the immediate pressure of
difficulties, do not, at first glance, discover the proper relief. The
last year, a desire to get rid of embarrassments induced many honest
people to agree to a tender act, and many others, of a different
description, to obstruct the courts of justice. Both these methods only
increased the evil they were intended to cure. Experience has since shown
that, instead of trying to lessen an evil by altering the present course
of things, that every endeavor should have been applied to facilitate the
course of law, and thus to encourage a mutual confidence among the
citizens, which increases the resources of them all, and renders easy the
payment of debts. By this means one does not grow rich at the expense of
another, but all are benefited. The case is the same with the States.
Pennsylvania, with one port and a large territory, is less favourably
situated for trade than the Massachusetts, which has an extensive coast in
proportion to its limits of jurisdiction. Accordingly a much larger
proportion of our people are engaged in maritime affairs. We ought
therefore to be particularly attentive to securing so great an interest.
It is vain to tell us that we ought to overlook local interests. It is
only by protecting local concerns that the interest of the whole is
preserved. No man when he enters into society does it from a view to
promote the good of others, but he does it for his own good. All men
having the same view are bound equally to promote the welfare of the
whole. To recur then to such a principle as that local interests must be
disregarded, is requiring of one man to do more than another, and is
subverting the foundation of a free government. The Philadelphians would
be shocked with a proposition to place the seat of general government and
the unlimited right to regulate trade in the Massachusetts. There can be
no greater reason for our surrendering the preference to them. Such
sacrifices, however we may delude ourselves with the form of words, always
originate in folly, and not in generosity.

Let me now request your attention a little while to the actual state of
publick credit, that we may see whether it has not been as much
misrepresented as the state of our trade.

At the beginning of the present year, the whole continental debt was about
twelve millions of pounds in our money. About one-quarter part of this sum
was due to our foreign creditors. Of these France was the principal, and
called for the arrears of interest. A new loan of one hundred and twenty
thousand pounds was negotiated in Holland, at five per cent., to pay the
arrears due to France. At first sight this has the appearance of bad
economy, and has been used for the villainous purpose of disaffecting the
people. But in the course of this same year, Congress have negotiated the
sale of as much of their western lands on the Ohio and Mississippi, as
amount nearly to the whole sum of the foreign debt; and instead of a dead
loss by borrowing money at five per cent. to the amount of an hundred and
twenty thousand pounds in one sum, they make a saving of the interest at
six per cent. on three millions of their domestick debt, which is an
annual saving of an hundred and eighty thousand pounds. It is easy to see
how such an immense fund as the western territory may be applied to the
payment of the foreign debt. Purchasers of the land would as willingly
procure any kind of the produce of the United States as they would buy
loan office certificates to pay for the land. The produce thus procured
would easily be negotiated for the benefit of our foreign creditors. I do
not mean to insinuate that no other provision should be made for our
creditors, but only to shew that our credit is not so bad in other
countries as has been represented, and that our resources are fully equal
to the pressure.

The perfection of government depends on the equality of its operation, as
far as human affairs will admit, upon all parts of the empire, and upon
all the citizens. Some inequalities indeed will necessarily take place.
One man will be obliged to travel a few miles further than another man to
procure justice. But when he has travelled, the poor man ought to have the
same measure of justice as the rich one. Small enqualities [sic] may be
easily compensated. There ought, however, to be no inequality in the law
itself, and the government ought to have the same authority in one place
as in another. Evident as this truth is, the most plausible argument in
favour of the new plan is drawn from the inequality of its operation in
different states. In Connecticut, they have been told that the bulk of the
revenue will be raised by impost and excise, and, therefore, they need not
be afraid to trust Congress with the power of levying a dry tax at
pleasure. New York and Massachusetts are both more commercial states than
Connecticut. The latter, therefore, hopes that the other two will pay the
bulk of the continental expense. The argument is, in itself, delusive. If
the trade is not over-taxed, the consumer pays it. If the trade is
over-taxed, it languishes, and by the ruin of trade the farmer loses his
market. The farmer has, in truth, no other advantage from imposts than
that they save him the trouble of collecting money for the government. He
neither gets nor loses money by changing the mode of taxation. The
government indeed finds it the easiest way to raise the revenue; and the
reason is that the tax is by this means collected where the money
circulates most freely. But if the argument was not delusive, it ought to
conclude against the plan, because it would prove the unequal operation of
it; and if any saving is to be made by the mode of taxing, the saving
should be applied towards our own debt, and not to the payment of that
part of the continental burden which Connecticut ought to discharge. It
would be impossible to refute in writing all the delusions made use of to
force this system through. Those respecting the publick debt, and the
benefit of imposts, are the most important, and these I have taken pains
to explain. In one instance, indeed, the impost does raise money at the
direct expense of the seaports. This is when goods are imported subject to
a duty, and re-exported without a drawback. Whatever benefit is derived
from this source, surely should not be transferred to another state, at
least till our own debts are cleared.

Another instance of unequal operation is, that it establishes different
degrees of authority in different states, and thus creates different
interests. The lands in New Hampshire having been formerly granted by this
state, and afterwards by that state, to private persons, the whole
authority of trying titles becomes vested in a continental court, and that
state loses a branch of authority, which the others retain, over their own

I have now gone through two parts of my argument, and have proved the
efficiency of the state governments for internal regulation, and the
disadvantages of the new system, at least some of the principal. The
argument has been much longer than I at first apprehended, or possibly I
should have been deterred from it. The importance of the question has,
however, prevented me from relinquishing it.


Agrippa, VIII.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 394)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.


It has been proved, by indisputable evidence, that power is not the grand
principle of union among the parts of a very extensive empire; and that
when this principle is pushed beyond the degree necessary for rendering
justice between man and man, it debases the character of individuals, and
renders them less secure in their persons and property. Civil liberty
consists in the consciousness of that security, and is best guarded by
political liberty, which is the share that every citizen has in the
government. Accordingly all our accounts agree, that in those empires
which are commonly called despotick, and which comprehend by far the
greatest part of the world, the government is most fluctuating, and
property least secure. In those countries insults are borne by the
sovereign, which, if offered to one of our governours, would fill us with
horrour, and we should think the government dissolving.

The common conclusion from this reasoning is an exceedingly unfair one,
that we must then separate, and form distinct confederacies. This would be
true if there was no principle to substitute in the room of power.
Fortunately there is one. This is commerce. All the states have local
advantages, and in a considerable degree separate interests. They are,
therefore, in a situation to supply each other’s wants. Carolina, for
instance, is inhabited by planters, while the Massachusetts is more
engaged in commerce and manufactures. Congress has the power of deciding
their differences. The most friendly intercourse may therefore be
established between them. A diversity of produce, wants and interests,
produces commerce; and commerce, where there is a common, equal and
moderate authority to preside, produces friendship.

The same principles apply to the connection with the new settlers in the
west. Many supplies they want for which they must look to the older
settlements, and the greatness of their crops enables them to make
payments. Here, then, we have a bond of union which applies to all parts
of the empire, and would continue to operate if the empire comprehended
all America.

We are now, in the strictest sense of the terms, a federal republick. Each
part has within its own limits the sovereignty over its citizens, while
some of the general concerns are committed to Congress. The complaints of
the deficiency of the Congressional powers are confined to two articles.
They are not able to raise a revenue by taxation, and they have not a
complete regulation of the intercourse between us and foreigners. For each
of these complaints there is some foundation, but not enough to justify
the clamour which has been raised. Congress, it is true, owes a debt which
ought to be paid. A considerable part of it has been paid. Our share of
what remains would annually amount to about sixty or seventy thousand
pounds. If, therefore, Congress were put in possession of such branches of
the impost as would raise this sum in our state, we should fairly be
considered as having done our part towards their debt; and our remaining
resources, whether arising from impost, excise, or dry tax, might be
applied to the reduction of our own debt. The principal of this last
amounts to about thirteen hundred thousand pounds, and the interest to
between seventy or eighty thousand. This is, surely, too much property to
be sacrificed; and it is as reasonable that it should be paid as the
continental debt. But if the new system should be adopted, the whole
impost, with an unlimited claim to excise and dry tax, will be given to
Congress. There will remain no adequate found for the state debt, and the
state will still be subject to be sued on their notes. This is, then, an
article which ought to be limited. We can, without difficulty, pay as much
annually as shall clear the interest of our state debt, and our share of
the interest on the continental one. But if we surrender the impost, we
shall still, by this new constitution, be held to pay our full proportion
of the remaining debt, as if nothing had been done. The impost will not be
considered as being paid by this state, but by the continent. The
federalists, indeed, tell us that the state debts will all be incorporated
with the continental debt, and all paid out of one fund. In this as in all
other instances, they endeavour to support their scheme of consolidation
by delusion. Not one word is said in the book in favour of such a scheme,
and there is no reason to think it true. Assurances of that sort are
easily given, and as easily forgotten. There is an interest in forgetting
what is false. No man can expect town debts to be united with that of the
state; and there will be as little reason to expect that the state and
continental debts will be united together.


Agrippa, IX.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 395)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.


We come now to the second and last article of complaint against the
present confederation, which is, that Congress has not the sole power to
regulate the intercourse between us and foreigners. Such a power extends
not only to war and peace, but to trade and naturalization. This last
article ought never to be given them; for though most of the states may be
willing for certain reasons to receive foreigners as citizens, yet reasons
of equal weight may induce other states, differently circumstanced, to
keep their blood pure. Pennsylvania has chosen to receive all that would
come there. Let any indifferent person judge whether that state in point
of morals, education, energy is equal to any of the eastern states; the
small state of Rhode Island only excepted. Pennsylvania in the course of a
century has acquired her present extent and population at the expense of
religion and good morals. The eastern states have, by keeping separate
from the foreign mixtures, acquired their present greatness in the course
of a century and an half, and have preserved their religion and morals.
They have also preserved that manly virtue which is equally fitted for
rendering them respectable in war, and industrious in peace.

The remaining power for peace and trade might perhaps be safely enough
lodged with Congress under some limitations. Three restrictions appear to
me to be essentially necessary to preserve that equality of rights to the
states, which it is the object of the state governments to secure to each
citizen. 1st. It ought not to be in the power of Congress, either by
treaty or otherwise, to alienate part of any state without the consent of
the legislature. 2d. They ought not to be able, by treaty or other law, to
give any legal preference to one part above another. 3d. They ought to be
restrained from creating any monopolies. Perhaps others may propose
different regulations and restrictions. One of these is to be found in the
old confederation, and another in the newly proposed plan. The third
scenes [sic] to be equally necessary.

After all that has been said and written on this subject, and on the
difficulty of amending our old constitution so as to render it adequate to
national purposes, it does not appear that any thing more was necessary to
be done, than framing two new articles. By one a limited revenue would be
given to Congress with a right to collect it, and by the other a limited
right to regulate our intercourse with foreign nations. By such an
addition we should have preserved to each state its power to defend the
rights of the citizens, and the whole empire would be capable of expanding
and receiving additions without altering its former constitution.
Congress, at the same time, by the extent of their jurisdiction, and the
number of their officers, would have acquired more respectability at home,
and a sufficient influence abroad. If any state was in such a case to
invade the rights of the Union, the other states would join in defence of
those rights, and it would be in the power of Congress to direct the
national force to that object. But it is certain that the powers of
Congress over the citizens should be small in proportion as the empire is
extended; that, in order to preserve the balance, each state may supply by
energy what is wanting in numbers. Congress would be able by such a system
as we have proposed to regulate trade with foreigners by such duties as
should effectually give the preference to the produce and manufactures of
our own country. We should then have a friendly intercourse established
between the states, upon the principles of mutual interest. A moderate
duty upon foreign vessels would give an advantage to our own people, while
it would avoid all the disadvantages arising from a prohibition, and the
consequent deficiency of vessels to transport the produce of the southern

Our country is at present upon an average a thousand miles long from north
to south, and eight hundred broad from the Mississippi to the Ocean. We
have at least six millions of white inhabitants, and the annual increase
is about two hundred and fifty thousand souls, exclusive of emigrants from
Europe. The greater part of our increase is employed in settling the new
lands, while the older settlements are entering largely into manufactures
of various kinds. It is probable that the extraordinary exertions of this
state in the way of industry for the present year only, exceed in value
five hundred thousand pounds. The new settlements, if all made in the same
tract of country, would form a large state annually; and the time seems to
be literally accomplished when a nation shall be born in a day. Such an
immense country is not only capable of yielding all the produce of Europe,
but actually does produce by far the greater part of the raw materials.
The restrictions on our trade in Europe, necessarily oblige us to make use
of those materials, and the high price of labour operates as an
encouragement to mechanical improvements. In this way we daily make rapid
advancements towards independence in resources as well as in empire. If we
adopt the new system of government we shall, by one rash vote, lose the
fruit of the toil and expense of thirteen years, at the time when the
benefits of that toil and expense are rapidly increasing. Though the
imposts of Congress on foreign trade may tend to encourage manufactures,
the excise and dry tax will destroy all the beneficial effects of the
impost, at the same time that they diminish our capital. Be careful then
to give only a limited revenue, and the limited power of managing foreign
concerns. Once surrender the rights of internal legislation and taxation,
and instead of being respected abroad, foreigners will laugh at us, and
posterity will lament our folly.


Agrippa, X.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 396)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.


_Friends and Brethren_,

It is a duty incumbent on every man, who has had opportunities for
inquiry, to lay the result of his researches on any matter of publick
importance before the publick eye. No further apology will be necessary
with the generality of my readers, for having so often appeared before
them on the subject of the lately proposed form of government. It has been
treated with that freedom which is necessary for the investigation of
truth, and with no greater freedom. On such a subject, extensive in its
nature, and important in its consequences, the examination has necessarily
been long, and the topicks treated of have been various. We have been
obliged to take a cursory, but not inaccurate view of the circumstances of
mankind under the different forms of government to support the different
parts of our argument. Permit me now to bring into one view the principal
propositions on which the reasoning depends.

It is shewn from the example of the most commercial republick of
antiquity, which was never disturbed by a sedition for above seven hundred
years, and at last yielded after a violent struggle to a foreign enemy, as
well as from the experience of our own country for a century and an half,
that the republican, more than any other form of government is made of
durable materials. It is shewn from a variety of proof, that one
consolidated government is inapplicable to a great extent of country; is
unfriendly to the rights both of persons and property, which rights always
adhere together; and that being contrary to the interest of the extreme of
an empire, such a government can be supported only by power, and that
commerce is the true bond of union for a free state. It is shewn from a
comparison of the different parts of the proposed plan, that it is such a
consolidated government.

By article 3, section 2, Congress are empowered to appoint courts with
authority to try civil causes of every kind, and even offences against
particular states. By the last clause of Article 1, section 8, which
defines their legislative powers, they are authorised to make laws for
carrying into execution all the “powers vested by this constitution in the
government of the United States, or in _any department_ or officer
thereof;” and by article 6, the judges in every state are to be bound by
the laws of Congress. It is therefore a complete consolidation of all the
states into one, however diverse the parts of it may be. It is also shewn
that it will operate unequally in the different states, taking from some
of them a greater share of wealth; that in this last respect it will
operate more to the injury of this commonwealth than of any state in the
union; and that by reason of its inequality it is subversive of the
principles of a free government, which requires every part to contribute
an equal proportion. For all these reasons this system ought to be
rejected, even if no better plan was proposed in the room of it. In case
of a rejection we must remain as we are, with trade extending, resources
opening, settlements enlarging, manufactures increasing, and publick debts
diminishing by fair payment. These are mighty blessings, and not to be
lost by the hasty adoption of a new system. But great as these benefits
are, which we derive from our present system, it has been shewn, that they
may be increased by giving Congress a limited power to regulate trade, and
assigning to them those branches of the impost on our foreign trade only,
which shall be equal to our proportion of their present annual demands.
While the interest is thus provided for, the sale of our lands in a very
few years will pay the principal, and the other resources of the state
will pay our own debt. The present mode of assessing the continental tax
is regulated by the extent of landed property in each state. By this rule
the Massachusetts [sic] has to pay one eighth. If we adopt the new system,
we shall surrender the whole of our impost and excise, which probably
amount to a third of those duties of the whole continent, and must come in
for about a sixth part of the remaining debt. By this means we shall be
deprived of the benefit arising from the largeness of our loans to the
continent, shall lose our ability to satisfy the just demands on the
state. Under the limitations of revenue and commercial regulation
contained in these papers, the balance will be largely in our favour; the
importance of the great states will be preserved, and the publick
creditors both of the continent and state will be satisfied without
burdening the people. For a more concise view of my proposal, I have
thrown it into the form of a resolve, supposed to be passed by the
convention which is shortly to set in this town.

“Commonwealth of Massachusetts. _Resolved_, That the form of government
lately proposed by a federal convention, held in the city of Philadelphia,
is so far injurious to the interests of this commonwealth, that we are
constrained by fidelity to our constituents to reject it; and we do hereby
reject the said proposed form and every part thereof. But in order that
the union of these states may, as far as possible, be promoted, and the
federal business as little obstructed as may be, we do agree on the part
of this commonwealth, that the following addition be made to the present
articles of confederation:

“XIV. The United States shall have power to regulate the intercourse
between these states and foreign dominions, under the following
restrictions; viz.: 1st. No treaty, ordinance, or law shall alienate the
whole or part of any state, without the consent of the legislature of such
state. 2d. The United States shall not by treaty or otherwise give a
preference to the ports of one state over those of another; nor, 3d,
create any monopolies or exclusive companies; nor, 4th, extend the
privileges of citizenship to any foreigner. And for the more convenient
exercise of the powers hereby and by the former articles given, the United
States shall have authority to constitute judicatories, whether supreme or
subordinate, with power to try all piracies and felonies done on the high
seas, and also all civil causes in which a foreign state, or subject
thereof, actually resident in a foreign country and not being British
absentees, shall be one of the parties. They shall also have authority to
try all causes in which ambassadors shall be concerned. All these trials
shall be by jury and in some sea-port town. All imposts levied by Congress
on trade shall be confined to foreign produce or foreign manufactures
imported, and to foreign ships trading in our harbours, and all their
absolute prohibitions shall be confined to the same articles. All imposts
and confiscations shall be to the use of the state in which they shall
accrue, excepting in such branches as shall be assigned by any state as a
fund for defraying their proportion of the continental. And no powers
shall be exercised by Congress but such as are expressly given by this and
the former articles. And we hereby authorize our delegates in Congress to
sign and ratify an article in the foregoing form and words, without any
further act of this state for that purpose, provided the other states
shall accede to this proposition on their part on or before the first day
of January, which will be in the year of our Lord 1790. All matters of
revenue being under the controul of the legislature, we recommend to the
general court of this commonwealth, to devise, as early as may be, such
funds arising from such branches of foreign commerce, as shall be equal to
our part of the current charges of the continent, and to put Congress in
possession of the revenue arising therefrom, with a right to collect it,
during such term as shall appear to be necessary for the payment of the
principal of their debt, by the sale of the western lands.”(23)

By such an explicit declaration of the powers given to Congress, we shall
provide for all federal purposes, and shall at the same time secure our
rights. It is easier to amend the old confederation, defective as it has
been represented, than it is to correct the new form. For with whatever
view it was framed, truth constrains me to say, that it is insidious in
its form, and ruinous in its tendency. Under the pretence of different
branches of the legislature, the members will in fact be chosen from the
same general description of citizens. The advantages of a check will be
lost, while we shall be continually exposed to the cabals and corruption
of a British election. There cannot be a more eligible mode than the
present, for appointing members of Congress, nor more effectual checks
provided than our separate state governments, nor any system so little
expensive, in case of our adopting the resolve just stated, or even
continuing as we are. We shall in that case avoid all the inconvenience of
concurrent jurisdictions, we shall avoid the expensive and useless
establishments of the Philadelphia proposition, we shall preserve our
constitution and liberty, and we shall provide for all such institutions
as will be useful. Surely then you cannot hesitate, whether you will chuse
freedom or servitude. The object is now well defined. By adopting the form
proposed by the convention, you will have the derision of foreigners,
internal misery, and the anathemas of posterity. By amending the present
confederation, and granting limited powers to Congress, you secure the
admiration of strangers, internal happiness, and the blessings and
prosperity of all succeeding generations. Be wise, then, and by preserving
your freedom, prove, that Heaven bestowed it not in vain. Many will be the
efforts to delude the convention. The mode of judging is itself
suspicious, as being contrary to the antient and established usage of the
commonwealth. But since the mode is adopted, we trust, that the members of
that venerable assembly will not so much regard the greatness of their
power, as the sense and interest of their constituents. And they will do
well to remember that even a mistake in adopting it, will be destructive,
while no evils can arise from a total, and much less, probably, from such
a partial rejection as we have proposed.

I have now gone through my reasonings on this momentous subject, and have
stated the facts and deductions from them, which you will verify for
yourselves. Personal interest was not my object, or I should have pursued
a different line of conduct. Though I conceived that a man who owes
allegiance to the state is bound, on all important occasions, to propose
such inquiries as tend to promote the publick good; yet I did not imagine
it to be any part of my duty to present myself to the fury of those who
appear to have other ends in view. For this cause, and for this only, I
have chosen a feigned signature. At present all the reports concerning the
writer of these papers are merely conjectural. I should have been ashamed
of my system if it had needed such feeble support as the character of
individuals. It stands on the firm ground of the experience of mankind. I
cannot conclude this long disquisition better than with a caution derived
from the words of inspiration—_Discern the things of your peace now in the
days thereof, before they be hidden from your eyes_.


Agrippa, XI.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 398)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.


My last address contained the outlines of a system fully adequate to all
the useful purposes of the union. Its object is to raise a sufficient
revenue from the foreign trade, and the sale of our publick lands, to
satisfy all the publick exigencies, and to encourage, at the same time,
our internal industry and manufactures. It also secures each state in its
own separate rights, while the continental concerns are thrown into the
general department. The only deficiencies that I have been able to
discover in the plan, and in the view of federalists they are very great
ones, are, that it does not allow the interference of Congress in the
domestick concerns of the state, and that it does not render our national
councils so liable to foreign influence. The first of these articles tends
to guard us from that infinite multiplication of officers which the report
of the Convention of Philadelphia proposes. With regard to the second, it
is evidently not of much importance to any foreign nation to purchase, at
a very high price, a majority of votes in an assembly, whose members are
continually exposed to a recall. But give those members a right to sit
six, or even two years, with such extensive powers as the new system
proposes, and their friendship will be well worth a purchase. This is the
only sense in which the Philadelphia system will render us more
respectable in the eyes of foreigners. In every other view they lose their
respect for us, as it will render us more like their own degraded models.
It is a maxim with them, that every man has his price. If, therefore, we
were to judge of what passes in the hearts of the federalists when they
urge us, as they continually do, _to be like other nations_, and when they
assign mercenary motives to the opposers of their plan, we should conclude
very fairly they themselves wish to be provided for at the publick
expense. However that may be, if we look upon the men we shall find some
of their leaders to have formed pretty strong attachments to foreign
nations. Whether those attachments arose from their being educated under a
royal government, from a former unfortunate mistake in politicks, or from
the agencies for foreigners, or any other cause, is not in my province to
determine. But certain it is that some of the principal fomenters of this
plan have never shown themselves capable of that generous system of policy
which is founded in the affections of freemen. Power and high life are
their idols, and national funds are necessary to support them.

Some of the principal powers of Europe have already entered into treaties
with us, and that some of the rest have not done it, is not owing, as is
falsely pretended, to the want of power in Congress. Holland never found
any difficulty of this kind from the multitude of sovereignties in that
country, which must all be consulted on such an occasion. The resentment
of Great Britain for our victories in the late war has induced that power
to restrain our intercourse with their subjects. Probably an hope, the
only solace of the wretched, that their affairs would take a more
favourable turn on this continent, has had some influence on their
proceedings. All their restrictions have answered the end of securing our
independence, by driving us into many valuable manufactures. Their own
colonies in the mean time have languished for want of an intercourse with
these states. The new settlement in Nova Scotia has miserably decayed, and
the West India Islands have suffered for want of our supplies, and by the
loss of our market. This has affected the revenue; and, however
contemptuously some men may affect to speak of our trade, the supply of
six millions of people is an object worth the attention of any nation upon
earth. Interest in such a nation as Britain will surmount their
resentment. However their pride may be stung, they will pursue after
wealth. Increase of revenue to a nation overwhelmed with a debt of near
_two hundred and ninety millions_ sterling is an object to which little
piques must give way; and there is no doubt that their interest consists
in securing as much of our trade as they can.

These are the topicks from which are drawn some of the most plausible
reasons that have been given by the federalists in favour of their plan,
as derived from the sentiments of foreigners. We have weighed them and
found them wanting. That they had not themselves full confidence in their
own reasons at Philadelphia is evident from the method they took to bias
the State Convention. Messrs. Wilson and M’Kean, two Scottish names, were
repeatedly worsted in the argument. To make amends for their own
incapacity, the gallery was filled with a rabble,(24) who shouted their
applause, and these heroes of aristocracy were not ashamed, though modesty
is their national virtue, to vindicate such a violation of decency. Means
not less criminal, but not so flagrantly indecent, have been frequently
mentioned among us to secure a majority. But those who vote for a price
can never sanctify wrong, and treason will still retain its deformity.


Agrippa, XII.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 399)


For the Massachusetts Gazette.



Suffer an individual to lay before you his contemplations on the great
subject that now engages your attention. To you it belongs, and may Heaven
direct your judgment to decide on the happiness of all future generations,
as well as the present.

It is universally agreed that the object of every just government is to
render the people happy, by securing their persons and possessions from
wrong. To this end it is necessary that there should be local laws and
institutions; for a people inhabiting various climates will unavoidably
have local habits and different modes of life, and these must be consulted
in making the laws. It is much easier to adapt the laws to the manners of
the people, than to make manners conform to laws. The idle and dissolute
inhabitants of the south require a different regimen from the sober and
active people of the north. Hence, among other reasons, is derived the
necessity of local governments, who may enact, repeal, or alter
regulations as the circumstances of each part of the empire may require.
This would be the case, even if a very great state was to be settled at
once. But it becomes still more needful when the local manners are formed,
and usages sanctified, by the practice of a century and a half. In such a
case, to attempt to reduce all to one standard is absurd in itself and
cannot be done but upon the principle of power, which debases the people
and renders them unhappy till all dignity of character is put away. Many
circumstances render us an essentially different people from the
inhabitants of the southern states. The unequal distribution of property,
the toleration of slavery, the ignorance and poverty of the lower classes,
the softness of the climate and dissoluteness of manners, mark their
character. Among us, the care that is taken of education, small and nearly
equal estates, equality of rights, and the severity of the climate,
renders the people active, industrious and sober. Attention to religion
and good morals is a distinguishing trait in our character. It is plain,
therefore, that we require for our regulation laws which will not suit the
circumstances of our southern brethren, and that laws made for them would
not apply to us. Unhappiness would be the uniform product of such laws;
for no state can be happy when the laws contradict the general habits of
the people, nor can any state retain its freedom while there is a power to
make and enforce such laws. We may go further, and say, that it is
impossible for any single legislature so fully to comprehend the
circumstances of the different parts of a very extensive dominion as to
make laws adapted to those circumstances.

Hence arises in most nations of extensive territory, the necessity of
armies, to cure the defect of the laws. It is actually under the pressure
of such an absurd government, that the Spanish provinces have groaned for
near three centuries; and such will be our misfortune and degradation, if
we ever submit to have all the business of the empire done by one
legislature. The contrary principle of local legislation by the
representatives of the people, who alone are to be governed by the laws,
has raised us to our present greatness; and an attempt on the part of
Great Britain to invade this right, brought on the revolution, which gave
us a separate rank among the nations. We even declared, that we would not
be represented in the national legislature, because one assembly was not
adequate to the purposes of internal legislation and taxation.


[_Remainder next Tuesday._]

Agrippa, XIII.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 400)


(_Concluded from our last._)



The question then arises, what is the kind of government best adapted to
the object of securing our persons and possessions from violence? I
answer, a _Federal Republick_. By this kind of government each state
reserves to itself the right of making and altering its laws for internal
regulation, and the right of executing those laws without any external
restraint, while the general concerns of the empire are committed to an
assembly of delegates, each accountable to his own constituents. This is
the happy form under which we live, and which seems to mark us out as a
people chosen of God. No instance can be produced of any other kind of
government so stable and energetick as the republican. The objection drawn
from the Greek and Roman states does not apply to the question.
Republicanism appears there in its most disadvantageous form. Arts and
domestic employments were generally committed to slaves, while war was
almost the only business worthy of a citizen. Hence arose their internal
dissensions. Still they exhibited proofs of legislative wisdom and
judicial integrity hardly to be found among their monarchick neighbors. On
the other hand we find Carthage cultivating commerce, and extending her
dominions for the long space of seven centuries, during which term the
internal tranquillity was never disturbed by her citizens. Her national
power was so respectable, that for a long time it was doubtful whether
Carthage or Rome should rule. In the form of their government they bore a
strong resemblance to each other. Rome might be reckoned a free state for
about four hundred and fifty years. We have then the true line of
distinction between those two nations, and a strong proof of the hardy
materials which compose a republican government. If there was no other
proof, we might with impartial judges risk the issue upon this alone. But
our proof rests not here. The present state of Europe, and the vigour and
tranquillity of our own governments, after experiencing this form for a
century and an half, are decided proofs in favour of those governments
which encourage commerce. A comparison of our own country, first with
Europe and then with the other parts of the world, will prove, beyond a
doubt, that the greatest share of freedom is enjoyed by the citizens, so
much more does commerce flourish. The reason is, that every citizen has an
influence in making the laws, and thus they are conformed to the general
interests of the state; but in every other kind of government they are
frequently made in favour of a part of the community at the expense of the

The argument against republicks, as it is derived from the Greek and Roman
states, is unfair. It goes on the idea that no other government is subject
to be disturbed. As well might we conclude, that a limited monarchy is
unstable, because that under the feudal system the nobles frequently made
war upon their king, and disturbed the publick peace. We find, however, in
practice, that limited monarchy is more friendly to commerce, because more
friendly to the rights of the subject, than an absolute government; and
that it is more liable to be disturbed than a republick, because less
friendly to trade and the rights of individuals. There cannot, from the
history of mankind, be produced an instance of rapid growth in extent, in
numbers, in arts, and in trade, that will bear any comparison with our
country. This is owing to what the friends of the new system, and the
enemies of the revolution, for I take them to be nearly the same, would
term _our extreme liberty_. Already, have our ships visited every part of
the world, and brought us their commodities in greater perfection, and at
a more moderate price, than we ever before experienced. The ships of other
nations crowd to our ports, seeking an intercourse with us. All the
estimates of every party make the balance of trade for the present year to
be largely in our favour. Already have some very useful, and some elegant
manufactures got established among us, so that our country every day is
becoming independent in her resources. Two-thirds of the continental debt
has been paid since the war, and we are in alliance with some of the most
respectable powers of Europe. The western lands, won from Britain by the
sword, are an ample fund for the principal of all our public debts; and
every new sale excites that manly pride which is essential to national
virtue. All this happiness arises from the freedom of our institutions and
the limited nature of our government; a government that is respected from
principles of affection, and obeyed with alacrity. The sovereigns of the
old world are frequently, though surrounded with armies, treated with
insult; and the despotick monarchies of the east, are the most
fluctuating, oppressive and uncertain governments of any form hitherto
invented. These considerations are sufficient to establish the excellence
of our own form, and the goodness of our prospects.

Let us now consider the probable effects of a consolidation of the
separate states into one mass; for the new system extends so far. Many
ingenious explanations have been given of it; but there is this defect,
that they are drawn from maxims of the common law, while the system itself
cannot be bound by any such maxims. A legislative assembly has an inherent
right to alter the common law, and to abolish any of its principles, which
are not particularly guarded in the constitution. Any system therefore
which appoints a legislature, without any reservation of the rights of
individuals, surrenders all power in every branch of legislation to the
government. The universal practice of every government proves the justness
of this remark; for in every doubtful case it is an established rule to
decide in favour of authority. The new system is, therefore, in one
respect at least, essentially inferior to our state constitutions. There
is no bill of rights, and consequently a continental law may controul any
of those principles, which we consider at present as sacred; while not one
of those points, in which it is said that the separate governments
misapply their power, is guarded. Tender acts and the coinage of money
stand on the same footing of a consolidation of power. It is a mere
fallacy, invented by the deceptive powers of Mr. Wilson, that what rights
are not given are reserved. The contrary has already been shewn. But to
put this matter of legislation out of all doubt, let us compare together
some parts of the book; for being an independent system, this is the only
way to ascertain its meaning.

In article III, section 2, it is declared, that “the judicial power shall
extend to all cases in law and equity arising under this constitution, the
laws of the United States, and treaties made or which shall be made under
their authority.” Among the cases arising under this new constitution are
reckoned, “all controversies between citizens of different states,” which
include all kinds of civil causes between those parties. The giving
Congress a power to appoint courts for such a purpose is as much, there
being no stipulation to the contrary, giving them power to legislate for
such causes, as giving them a right to raise an army, is giving them a
right to direct the operations of the army when raised. But it is not left
to implication. The last clause of article I, section 8, expressly gives
them power “to make all laws which shall be needful and proper for
carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested
by this constitution in the government of the United States, or in any
department or officer thereof.” It is, therefore, as plain as words can
make it, that they have a right by this proposed form to legislate for all
kinds of causes respecting property between citizens of different states.
That this power extends to all cases between citizens of the same state,
is evident from the sixth article, which declares all continental laws and
treaties to be the _supreme law_ of the land, and that all state judges
are bound thereby, “_anything in the constitution or laws of any state to
the contrary notwithstanding_.” If this is not binding the judges of the
separate states in their own office, by continental rules, it is perfect

There is then a complete consolidation of the legislative powers in all
cases respecting property. This power extends to all cases between a state
and citizens of another state. Hence a citizen, possessed of the notes of
another state, may bring his action, and there is no limitation that the
execution shall be levied on the publick property of the state; but the
property of individuals is liable. This is a foundation for endless
confusion and discord. This right to try causes between a state and
citizens of another state, involves in it all criminal causes; and a man
who has accidentally transgressed the laws of another state, must be
transported, with all his witnesses, to a third state, to be tried. He
must be ruined to prove his innocence. These are necessary parts of the
new system, and it will never be complete till they are reduced to
practice. They effectually prove a consolidation of the states, and we
have before shewn the ruinous tendency of such a measure.

By sect. 8 of article I, Congress are to have the unlimited right to
regulate commerce, external and _internal_, and may therefore create
monopolies which have been universally injurious to all the subjects of
the countries that have adopted them, excepting the monopolists
themselves. They have also the unlimited right to imposts and all kinds of
taxes, as well to levy as to collect them. They have indeed very nearly
the same powers claimed formerly by the British parliament. Can we have so
soon forgot our glorious struggle with that power, as to think a moment of
surrendering it now? It makes no difference in principle whether the
national assembly was elected for seven years or for six. In both cases we
should vote to great disadvantage, and therefore ought never to agree to
such an article. Let us make provision for the payment of the interest of
our part of the debt, and we shall be fairly acquitted. Let the fund be an
impost on our foreign trade, and we shall encourage our manufactures. But
if we surrender the unlimited right to regulate trade, and levy taxes,
imposts will oppress our foreign trade for the benefit of other states,
while excises and taxes will discourage our internal industry. The right
to regulate trade, without any limitations, will, as certainly as it is
granted, transfer the trade of this state to Pennsylvania. That will be
the seat of business and of wealth, while the extremes of the empire will,
like Ireland and Scotland, be drained to fatten an overgrown capital.
Under our present equal advantages, the citizens of this state come in for
their full share of commercial profits. Surrender the rights of taxation
and commercial regulation, and the landed states at the southward will all
be interested in draining our resources; for whatever can be got by impost
on our trade and excises on our manufactures, will be considered as so
much saved to a state inhabited by planters. All savings of this sort
ought surely to be made in favour of our own state; and we ought never to
surrender the unlimited powers of revenue and trade to uncommercial
people. If we do, the glory of the state from that moment departs, never
to return.

The safety of our constitutional rights consists in having the business of
governments lodged in different departments, and in having each part well
defined. By this means each branch is kept within the constitutional
limits. Never was a fairer line of distinction than what may be easily
drawn between the continental and state governments. The latter provide
for all cases, whether civil or criminal, that can happen ashore, because
all such causes must arise within the limits of some state. Transactions
between citizens may all be fairly included in this idea, even although
they should arise in passing by water from one state to another. But the
intercourse between us and foreign nations properly forms the department
of Congress. They should have the power of regulating trade under such
limitations as should render their laws equal. They should have the right
of war and peace, saving the equality of rights, and the territory of each
state. But the power of naturalization and internal regulation should not
be given them. To give my scheme a more systematick appearance, I have
thrown it into the form of a resolve, which is submitted to your wisdom
for amendment, but not as being perfect.

“Resolved, that the form of government proposed by the federal convention,
lately held in Philadelphia, be rejected on the part of this commonwealth;
and that our delegates in Congress are hereby authorised to propose on the
part of this commonwealth, and, if the other states for themselves agree
thereto, to sign an article of confederation, as an addition to the
present articles, in the form following, provided such agreement be made
on or before the first day of January, which will be in the year of our
Lord 1790; the said article shall have the same force and effect as if it
had been inserted in the original confederation, and is to be construed
consistently with the clause in the former articles, which restrains the
United States from exercising such powers as are not expressly given.

“XIV. The United States shall have power to regulate, whether by treaty,
ordinance or law, the intercourse between these states and foreign
dominions and countries, under the following restrictions. No treaty,
ordinance, or law shall give a preference to the ports of one state over
those of another; nor 2d. impair the territory or internal authority of
any state; nor 3d. create any monopolies or exclusive companies; nor 4th.
naturalize any foreigners. All their imposts and prohibitions shall be
confined to foreign produce and manufactures imported, and to foreign
ships trading in our harbours. All imposts and confiscations shall be to
the use of the state where they shall accrue, excepting only such branches
of impost as shall be assigned by the separate states to Congress for a
fund to defray the interest of their debt, and their current charges. In
order the more effectually to execute this and the former articles,
Congress shall have authority to appoint courts, supreme and subordinate,
with power to try all crimes, not relating to state securities, between
any foreign state, or subject of such state, actually residing in a
foreign country, and not being an absentee or person who has alienated
himself from these states on the one part, and any of the United States or
citizens thereof on the other part; also all causes in which foreign
ambassadours or other foreign ministers resident here shall be immediately
concerned, respecting the jurisdiction or immunities only. And the
Congress shall have authority to execute the judgment of such courts by
their own affairs. Piracies and felonies committed on the high seas shall
also belong to the department of Congress for them to define, try, and
punish, in the same manner as the other causes shall be defined, tried,
and determined. All the before-mentioned causes shall be tried by jury and
in some sea-port town. And it is recommended to the general court at their
next meeting to provide and put Congress in possession of funds arising
from foreign imports and ships sufficient to defray our share of the
present annual expenses of the continent.”(25)

Such a resolve, explicitly limiting the powers granted, is the farthest we
can proceed with safety. The scheme of accepting the report of the
Convention, and amending it afterwards, is merely delusive. There is no
intention among those who make the proposition to amend it at all.
Besides, if they have influence enough to get it accepted in its present
form, there is no probability that they will consent to an alteration when
possessed of an unlimited revenue. It is an excellence in our present
confederation, that it is extremely difficult to alter it. An unanimous
vote of the states is required. But this newly proposed form is founded in
injustice, as it proposes that a fictitious consent of only nine states
shall be sufficient to establish it. Nobody can suppose that the consent
of a state is any thing more than a fiction, in the view of the
federalists, after the mobbish influence used over the Pennsylvania
convention. The two great leaders of the plan, with a modesty of Scotsmen,
placed a rabble in the gallery to applaud their speeches, and thus
supplied their want of capacity in the argument. Repeatedly were Wilson
and M’Kean worsted in the argument by the plain good sense of Findly and
Smilie. But reasoning or knowledge had little to do with the federal
party. Votes were all they wanted, by whatever means obtained. Means not
less criminal have been mentioned among us. But votes that are bought can
never justify a treasonable conspiracy. Better, far better, would it be to
reject the whole, and remain in possession of present advantages. The
authority of Congress to decide disputes between states is sufficient to
prevent their recurring to hostility: and their different situation, wants
and produce is a sufficient foundation for the most friendly intercourse.
All the arts of delusion and legal chicanery will be used to elude your
vigilance, and obtain a majority. But keeping the constitution of the
state and the publick interest in view, will be your safety.

[We are obliged, contrary to our intention, to postpone the remainder of
Agrippa till our next.]

Agrippa, XIV.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 401)


(_Concluded from our last._)



To tell us that we ought to look beyond local interests, and judge for the
good of the empire, is sapping the foundation of a free state. The first
principle of a just government is, that it shall operate equally. The
report of the convention is extremely unequal. It takes a larger share of
power from some, and from others, a larger share of wealth. The
Massachusetts will be obliged to pay near three times their present
proportion towards continental charges. The proportion is now ascertained
by the quantity of landed property, then it will be by the number of
persons. After taking the whole of our standing revenue, by impost and
excise, we must still be held to pay a sixth part of the remaining debt.
It is evidently a contrivance to help the other states at our expense. Let
us then be upon our guard, and do no more than the present confederation
obliges. While we make that our beacon we are safe. It was framed by men
of extensive knowledge and enlarged ability, at a time when some of the
framers of the new plan were hiding in the forests to secure their
precious persons. It was framed by men who were always in favor of a
limited government, and whose endeavours Heaven has crowned with success.
It was framed by men whose idols were not power and high life, but
industry and constitutional liberty, and who are now in opposition to this
new scheme of oppression. Let us then cherish the old confederation like
the apple of our eye. Let us confirm it by such limited powers to
Congress, and such an enlarged intercourse, founded on commercial and
mutual want, with the other states, that our union shall outlast time
itself. It is easier to prevent an evil than to cure it. We ought
therefore to be cautious of innovations. The intrigues of interested
politicians will be used to seduce even the elect. If the vote passes in
favour of the plan, the constitutional liberty of our country is gone
forever. If the plan should be rejected, we always have it in our power,
by a fair vote of the people at large, to extend the authority of
Congress. This ought to have been the mode pursued. But our antagonists
were afraid to risk it. They knew that the plan would not bear examining.
Hence we have seen them insulting all who were in opposition to it, and
answering arguments only with abuse. They have threatened and they have
insulted the body of the people. But I may venture to appeal to any man of
unbiassed judgment, whether his feelings tell him, that there is any
danger at all in rejecting the plan. I ask not the palsied or the
jaundiced, nor men troubled with bilious or nervous affections, for they
can see danger in every thing. But I apply to men who have no personal
expectations from a change, and to men in full health. The answer of all
such men will be, that never was a better time for deliberation. Let us
then, while we have it in our power, secure the happiness and freedom of
the present and future ages. To accept of the report of the convention,
under the idea that we can alter it when we please, will be sporting with
fire-brands, arrows and death. It is a system which must have an army to
support it, and there can be no redress but by a civil war. If, as the
federalists say, there is a necessity of our receiving it, for heaven’s
sake let our liberties go without our making a formal surrender. Let us at
least have the satisfaction of protesting against it, that our own hearts
may not reproach us for the meanness of deserting our dearest interests.

Our present system is attended with the inestimable advantage of
preventing unnecessary wars. Foreign influence is assuredly smaller in our
publick councils, in proportion as the members are subject to be recalled.
At present, their right to sit continues no longer than their endeavours
to secure the publick interest. It is therefore not an object for any
foreign power to give a large price for the friendship of a delegate in
Congress. If we adopt the new system, every member will depend upon thirty
thousand people, mostly scattered over a large extent of country, for his
election. Their distance from the seat of government will make it
extremely difficult for the electors to get information of his conduct. If
he is faithful to his constituents, his conduct will be misrepresented, in
order to defeat his influence at home. Of this we have a recent instance,
in the treatment of the dissenting members of the late federal
convention.(26) Their fidelity to their constituents was their whole
fault. We may reasonably expect similar conduct to be adopted, when we
shall have rendered the friendship of the members valuable to foreign
powers, by giving them a secure seat in Congress. We shall too have all
the intrigues, cabals and bribery practiced, which are usual at elections
in Great Britain. We shall see and lament the want of publick virtue; and
we shall see ourselves bought at a publick market, in order to be sold
again to the highest bidder. We must be involved in all the quarrels of
European powers, and oppressed with expense, merely for the sake of being
like the nations round about us. Let us then, with the spirit of freemen,
reject the offered system, and treat as it deserves the proposition of men
who have departed from their commission; and let us deliver to the rising
generation the liberty purchased with our blood.


Agrippa, XV.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 402)




Truly deplorable, in point of argument, must be that cause, in whose
defence persons of acknowledged learning and ability can say nothing
pertinent. When they undertake to prove that the person elected is the
safest person in the world to control the exercise of the elective powers
of his constituents, we know what dependence is to be had upon their
reasonings. Yet we have seen attempts to shew, that the fourth section of
the proposed constitution is an additional security to our rights. It may
be such in the view of a Rhode Island family (I think that state is
quoted) who have been of some time in the minority: but it is
extraordinary that an enlightened character(27) in the Massachusetts
[convention] should undertake to prove, that, from a single instance of
abuse in one state, another state ought to resign its liberty. Can an
[sic] man, in the free exercise of his reason, suppose, that he is
perfectly represented in the legislature, when that legislature may at
pleasure alter the time, manner and place of election? By altering the
time they may continue a representive during his whole life; by altering
the manner, they may fill up the vacancies by their own votes without the
consent of the people; and by altering the place, all the elections may be
made at the seat of the federal government. Of all the powers of
government perhaps this is the most improper to be surrendered. Such an
article at once destroys the whole check which the constituents have upon
their rulers. I should be less zealous upon this subject, if the power had
not been often abused. The senate of Venice, the regencies of Holland, and
the British Parliament have all abused it. The last have not yet
perpetuated themselves; but they have availed themselves repeatedly of
popular commotions to continue in power. Even at this day we find attempts
to vindicate the usurpation by which they continued themselves from three
to seven years. All the attempts, and many have been made, to return to
triennial elections, have proved abortive. These instances are abundantly
sufficient to shew with what jealousy this right ought to be guarded. No
sovereign on earth need be afraid to declare his crown elective, while the
possessor has the right to regulate the time, manner, and place of

It is vain to tell us, that the proposed government guarantees to each
state a republican form. Republicks are divided into democraticks, and
aristocraticks. The establishment of an order of nobles, in whom should
reside all the power of the state, would be an aristocratick republick.
Such has been for five centuries the government of Venice, in which all
the energies of government, as well as of individuals, have been cramped
by a distressing jealousy that the rulers have of each other. There is
nothing of that generous, manly confidence that we see in the democratick
republicks of our own country. It is a government of force, attended with
perpetual fear of that force. In Great Britain, since the lengthening of
parliaments, all our accounts agree, that their elections are a continued
scene of bribery, riot and tumult; often a scene of murder. These are the
consequences of choosing seldom, and or extensive districts. When the term
is short nobody will give an high price for a seat. It is an insufficient
answer to these objections to say, that there is no power of government
but may sometimes be applied to bad purposes. Such a power is of no value
unless it is applied to a bad purpose. It ought always to remain with the
people. The framers of our state constitution were so jealous of this
right, that they fixed the days for election, meeting and dissolving of
the legislature, and of the other officers of government. In the proposed
constitution not one of these points is guarded, though more numerous and
extensive powers are given them than to any state legislature upon the
continent. For Congress is at present possessed of the direction of the
national force, and most other national powers, and in addition to them
are to be vested with all the powers of the individual states,
unrestrained by any declarations of right. If these things are for the
security of our constitutional liberty, I trust we shall soon see an
attempt to prove that the government by an army will be more friendly to
liberty than a system founded in consent, and that five states will make a
majority of thirteen. The powers of controuling elections, of creating
exclusive companies in trade, of internal legislation and taxations ought,
upon no account, to be surrendered. I know it is a common complaint, that
Congress want more power. But where is the limited government that does
not want it? Ambition is in a governour what money is to a misar
[sic]—.... he can never accumulate enough. But it is as true in politicks
as in morals, he that is unfaithful in little, will be unfaithful also in
much. He who will not exercise the powers he has, will never properly use
more extensive powers. The framing entirely new systems, is a work that
requires vast attention; and it is much easier to guard an old one. It is
infinitely better to reject one that is unfriendly to liberty, and rest
for a while satisfied with a system that is in some measure defective,
than to set up a government unfriendly to the rights of states, and to the
rights of individuals—one that is undefined in its powers and operations.
Such is the government proposed by the federal convention, and such, we
trust, you will have the wisdom and firmness to reject.


Agrippa, XV.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 403)




That the new system, proposed for your adoption, is not founded in
argument, but in party spirit, is evident from the whole behaviour of that
party, who favour it. The following is a short, but genuine specimen of
their reasoning. The South Carolina legislature have established an
unequal representation, and will not alter it: therefore Congress should
be invested with an unrestrained power to alter the time, manner and place
of electing members into that body. Directly the contrary position should
have been inferred. An elected assembly made an improper use of their
right to controul elections, therefore such a right ought not to be lodged
with them. It will be abused in ten instances, for one in which it will
serve any valuable purpose. It is said also that the Rhode Island assembly
_intend_ to abuse their power in this respect, therefore we should put
Congress in a situation to abuse theirs. Surely this is not a kind of
reasoning that, in the opinion of any indifferent person, can vindicate
the fourth section. Yet we have heard it publickly advanced as being

The unlimited power over trade, domestick as well as foreign, is another
power that will more probably be applied to a bad than to a good purpose.
That our trade was for the last year much in favour of the commonwealth is
agreed by all parties. The freedom that every man, whether his capital is
large or small, enjoys of entering into any branch that pleases him,
rouses a spirit of industry and exertion, that is friendly to commerce. It
prevents that stagnation of business which generally precedes publick
commotions. Nothing ought to be done to restrain this spirit. The
unlimited power over trade, however, is exceedingly apt to injure it.

In most countries of Europe, trade has been more confined by exclusive
charters. Exclusive companies are, in trade, pretty much like an
aristocracy in government, and produce nearly as bad effects. An instance
of it we have ourselves experienced. Before the Revolution, we carried on
no direct trade to India. The goods imported from that country came to us
through the medium of an exclusive company. Our trade in that quarter is
now respectable, and we receive several kinds of their goods at about half
the former price. But the evil of such companies does not terminate there.
They always, by the greatness of their capital, have an undue influence on
the government.

In a republick, we ought to guard, as much as possible, against the
predominance of any particular interest. It is the object of government to
protect them all. When commerce is left to take its own course, the
advantage of every class will be nearly equal. But when exclusive
privileges are given to any class, it will operate to the weakening of
some other class connected with them.


(_Remainder next Tuesday._)

Agrippa, XVII.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 404)




As it is essentially necessary to the happiness of a free people, that the
constitution of government should be established in principles of truth, I
have endeavoured, in a series of papers, to discuss the proposed form with
that degree of freedom which becomes a faithful citizen of the
commonwealth. It must be obvious to the most careless observer that the
friends of the new plan appear to have nothing more in view than to
establish it by a popular current, without any regard to the truth of its
principles. Propositions, novel, erroneous and dangerous, are boldly
advanced to support a system, which does not appear to be founded in, but
in every instance to contradict, the experience of mankind. We are told
that a constitution is in itself a bill of rights; that all power not
expressly given, is reserved; that no powers are given to the new
government which are not already vested in the state governments, and that
it is for the security of liberty that the persons elected should have the
absolute controul over the time, manner and place of election. These, and
an hundred other things of a like kind, though they have gained the hasty
assent of men, respectable for learning and ability, are false in
themselves and invented merely to serve a present purpose. This will, I
trust, clearly appear from the following considerations:

It is common to consider man at first as in a state of nature, separate
from all society. The only historical evidence, that the human species
ever actually existed in this state, is derived from the book of Gen.
There it is said, that Adam remained a while alone. While the whole
species was comprehended in his person was the only instance in which this
supposed state of nature really existed. Ever since the completion of the
first pair, mankind appear as natural to associate with their own species,
as animals of any other kind herd together. Wherever we meet with their
settlements, they are found in clans. We are therefore justified in
saying, that a state of society is the natural state of man. Wherever we
find a settlement of men, we find also some appearance of government. The
state of government is therefore as natural to mankind as a state of
society. Government and society appear to be co-eval. The most rude and
artless form of government is probably the most ancient. This we find to
be practised among the Indian tribes in America. With them the whole
authority of government is vested in the whole tribe. Individuals depend
upon their reputation of valour and wisdom to give them influence. Their
government is genuinely democratical. This was probably the first kind of
government among mankind, as we meet with no mention of any other kind,
till royalty was introduced in the person of Nimrod. Immediately after
that time, the Asiatick nations seem to have departed from the simple
democracy, which is still retained by their American brethren, and
universally adopted the kingly form. We do indeed meet with some vague
rumors of an aristocracy in India so late as the time of Alexander the
Great. But such stories are altogether uncertain and improbable. For in
the time of Abraham, who lived about sixteen hundred years before
Alexander, all the little nations mentioned in the Mosaick history appear
to be governed by kings. It does not appear from any accounts of the
Asiatick kingdoms that they have practised at all upon the idea of a
limited monarchy. The whole power of society has been delegated to the
kings; and though they may be said to have constitutions of government,
because the succession to the crown is limited by certain rules, yet the
people are not benefitted by their constitutions, and enjoy no share of
civil liberty. The first attempt to reduce republicanism to a system,
appears to be made by Moses when he led the Israelites out of Egypt. This
government stood a considerable time, about five centuries, till in a
frenzy the people demanded a king, that they might resemble the nations
about them. They were dissatisfied with their judges, and instead of
changing the administration, they madly changed their constitution.
However they might flatter themselves with the idea, that an high-spirited
people could get the power back again when they pleased; they never did
get it back, and they fared like the nations about them. Their kings
tyrannized over them for some centuries, till they fell under a foreign
yoke. This is the history of that nation. With a change of names, it
describes the progress of political changes in other countries. The people
are dazzled with the splendour of distant monarchies, and a desire to
share their glory induces them to sacrifice their domestick happiness.

From this general view of the state of mankind it appears that all the
powers of government originally reside in the body of the people; and that
when they appoint certain persons to administer the government, they
delegate all the powers of government not expressly reserved. Hence it
appears that a constitution does not in itself imply any more than a
declaration of the relation which the different parts of the government
bear to each other, but does not in any degree imply security to the
rights of individuals. This has been the uniform practice. In all doubtful
cases the decision is in favour of the government. It is therefore
impertinent to ask by what right government exercises powers not expressly
delegated. Mr. Wilson, the great oracle of federalism, acknowledges, in
his speech to the Philadelphians,(28) the truth of these remarks, as they
respect the state governments, but attempts to set up a distinction
between them and the continental government. To anybody who will be at the
trouble to read the new system, it is evidently in the same situation as
the state constitutions now possess. It is a compact among the _people_
for the purposes of government, and not a compact between states. It
begins in the name of the people, and not of the states.

It has been shown in the course of this paper, that when people institute
government, they of course delegate all rights not expressly reserved. In
our state constitution the bill of rights consists of thirty articles. It
is evident therefore that the new constitution proposes to delegate
greater powers than are granted to our own government, sanguine as the
person was who denied it. The complaints against the separate governments,
even by the friends of the new plan, are not that they have not power
enough, but that they are disposed to make a bad use of what power they
have. Surely then they reason badly, when they purpose to set up a
government possess’d of much more extensive powers than the present, and
subjected to much smaller checks.

Bills of rights, reserved by authority of the people, are, I believe,
peculiar to America. A careful observance of the abuse practised in other
countries has had its just effect by inducing our people to guard against
them. We find the happiest consequences to flow from it. The separate
governments know their powers, their objects, and operations. We are
therefore not perpetually tormented with new experiments. For a single
instance of abuse among us there are thousands in other countries. On the
other hand, the people know their rights, and feel happy in the possession
of their freedom, both civil and political. Active industry is the
consequence of their security, and within one year the circumstances of
the state and of individuals have improved to a degree never before known
in this commonwealth. Though our bill of rights does not, perhaps, contain
all the cases in which power might be safely reserved, yet it affords a
protection to the persons and possessions of individuals not known in any
foreign country. In some respects the power of government is a little too
confined. In many other countries we find the people resisting their
governours for exercising their power in an unaccustomed mode. But for
want of a bill of rights the resistance is always, by the principles of
their government, a rebellion which nothing but success can justify. In
our constitution we have aimed at delegating the necessary powers of
government and confining their operation to beneficial purposes. At
present we appear to have come very near the truth. Let us therefore have
wisdom and virtue enough to preserve it inviolate. It is a stale
contrivance, to get the people into a passion, in order to make them
sacrifice their liberty. Repentance always comes, but it comes too late.
Let us not flatter ourselves that we shall always have good men to govern
us. If we endeavour to be like other nations we shall have more bad men
than good ones to exercise extensive powers. That circumstance alone will
corrupt them. While they fancy themselves the viceregents of God, they
will resemble him only in power, but will always depart from his wisdom
and goodness.


Agrippa, XVIII.

The Massachusetts Gazette, (Number 406)




In my last address I ascertained, from historical records, the following
principles: that, in the original state of government, the whole power
resides in the whole body of the nation, that when a people appoint
certain persons to govern them, they delegate their whole power; that a
constitution is not in itself a bill of rights; and that, whatever is the
form of government, a bill of rights is essential to the security of the
persons and property of the people. It is an idea favourable to the
interest of mankind at large, that government is founded in compact.
Several instances may be produced of it, but none is more remarkable than
our own. In general, I have chosen to apply to such facts as are in the
reach of my readers. For this purpose I have chiefly confined myself to
examples drawn from the history of our own country, and to the Old
Testament. It is in the power of every reader to verify examples thus
substantiated. Even in the remarkable arguments on the fourth section,
relative to the power over election I was far from stating the worst of
it, as it respects the adverse party. A gentleman, respectable in many
points, but more especially for his systematick and perspicuous reasoning
in his profession, has repeatedly stated to the Convention, among his
reasons in favour of that section, that _the Rhode Island assembly have
for a considerable time past had a bill lying on their __ table for
altering the manner of elections for representatives in that state_.(29)
He has stated it with all the zeal of a person who believed his argument
to be a good one. But surely a _bill lying on a table_ can never be
considered as any more than an _intention_ to pass it, and nobody pretends
that it ever actually did pass. It is in strictness only the intention of
a part of the assembly, for nobody can aver that it ever will pass. I
write not with an intention to deceive, but that the whole argument may be
stated fairly. Much eloquence and ingenuity have been employed in shewing
that side of the argument in favor of the proposed constitution, but it
ought to be considered that if we accept it upon mere verbal explanations,
we shall find ourselves deceived. I appeal to the knowledge of every one,
if it does not frequently happen, that a law is interpreted in practice
very differently from the intention of the legislature. Hence arises the
necessity of acts to amend and explain former acts. This is not an
inconvenience in the common and ordinary business of legislation, but is a
great one in a constitution. A constitution is a legislative act of the
whole people. It is an excellence that it should be permanent, otherwise
we are exposed to perpetual insecurity from the fluctuation of government.
We should be in the same situation as under absolute government, sometimes
exposed to the pressure of greater, and sometimes unprotected by the
weaker power in the sovereign.

It is now generally understood that it is for the security of the people
that the powers of the government should be lodged in different branches.
By this means publick business will go on when they all agree, and stop
when they disagree. The advantage of checks in government is thus
manifested where the concurrence of different branches is necessary to the
same act, but the advantage of a division of business is advantageous in
other respects. As in every extensive empire, local laws are necessary to
suit the different interests, no single legislature is adequate to the
business. All human capacities are limited to a narrow space, and as no
individual is capable of practising a great variety of trades, no single
legislature is capable of managing all the variety of national and state
concerns. Even if a legislature was capable of it, the business of the
judicial department must, from the same cause, be slovenly done. Hence
arises the necessity of a division of the business into national and
local. Each department ought to have all the powers necessary for
executing its own business, under such limitations as tend to secure us
from any inequality in the operations of government. I know it is often
asked against whom in a government by representation is a bill of rights
to secure us? I answer, that such a government is indeed a government by
ourselves; but as a just government protects all alike, it is necessary
that the sober and industrious part of the community should be defended
from the rapacity and violence of the vicious and idle. A bill of rights,
therefore, ought to set forth the purposes for which the compact is made,
and serves to secure the minority against the usurpation and tyranny of
the majority. It is a just observation of his excellency, doctor Adams, in
his learned defence of the American constitutions that unbridled passions
produce the same effect, whether in a king, nobility, or a mob. The
experience of all mankind has proved the prevalence of a disposition to
use power wantonly. It is therefore as necessary to defend an individual
against the majority in a republick as against the king in a monarchy. Our
state constitution has wisely guarded this point. The present
confederation has also done it.

I confess that I have yet seen no sufficient reason for not amending the
confederation, though I have weighed the argument with candour; I think it
would be much easier to amend it than the new constitution. But this is a
point on which men of very respectable character differ. There is another
point in which nearly all agree, and that is, that the new constitution
would be better in many respects if it had been differently framed. Here
the question is not so much what the amendments ought to be, as in what
manner they shall be made; whether they shall be made as conditions of our
accepting the constitution, or whether we shall first accept it, and then
try to amend it. I can hardly conceive that it should seriously be made a
question. If the first question, whether we will receive it as it stands,
be negatived, as it undoubtedly ought to be, while the conviction remains
that amendments are necessary; the next question will be, what amendments
shall be made? Here permit an individual, who glories in being a citizen
of Massachusetts, and who is anxious that her character may remain
undiminished, to propose such articles as appear to him necessary for
preserving the rights of the state. He means not to retract anything with
regard to the expediency of amending the old confederation, and rejecting
the new one totally; but only to make a proposition which he thinks
comprehends the general idea of all parties. If the new constitution means
no more than the friends of it acknowledge, they certainly can have no
objection to affixing a declaration in favor of the rights of states and
of citizens, especially as a majority of the states have not yet voted
upon it.

“Resolved, that the constitution lately proposed for the United States be
received only upon the following conditions:

“1. Congress shall have no power to alter the time, place or manner of
elections, nor any authority over elections, otherwise than by fining such
state as shall neglect to send its representatives or senators, a sum not
exceeding the expense of supporting its representatives or senators one

“2. Congress shall not have the power of regulating the intercourse
between the states, nor to levy any direct tax on polls or estates, or any

“3. Congress shall not have power to try causes between a state and
citizens of another state, nor between citizens of different states; nor
to make any laws relative to the transfer of property between those
parties, nor any other matter which shall originate in the body of any

“4. It shall be left to every state to make and execute its own laws,
except laws impairing contracts, which shall not be made at all.

“5. Congress shall not incorporate any trading companies, nor alienate the
territory of any state. And no treaty, ordinance or law of the United
States shall be valid for these purposes.

“6. Each state shall have the command of its own militia.

“7. No continental army shall come within the limits of any state, other
than garrison to guard the publick stores, without the consent of such
states in time of peace.

“8. The president shall be chosen annually and shall serve but one year,
and shall be chosen successively from the different states, changing every

“9. The judicial department shall be confined to cases in which
ambassadours are concerned, to cases depending upon treaties, to offences
committed upon the high seas, to the capture of prizes, and to cases in
which a foreigner residing in some foreign country shall be a party, and
an American state or citizen shall be the other party, provided no suit
shall be brought upon a state note.

“10. Every state may emit bills of credit without making them a tender,
and may coin money, of silver, gold or copper, according to the
continental standard.

“11. No powers shall be exercised by Congress or the president but such as
are expressly given by this constitution and not excepted against by this
declaration. And any officer of the United States offending against an
individual state shall be held accountable to such state, as any other
citizen would be.

“12. No officer of Congress shall be free from arrest for debt [but] by
authority of the state in which the debt shall be due.

“13. Nothing in this constitution shall deprive a citizen of any state of
the benefit of the bill of rights established by the constitution of the
state in which he shall reside, and such bill of rights shall be
considered as valid in any court of the United States where they shall be

“14. In all those causes which are triable before the continental courts,
the trial by jury shall be held sacred.”

These at present appear to me the most important points to be guarded. I
have mentioned a reservation of excise to the separate states, because it
is necessary, that they should have some way to discharge their own debts,
and because it is placing them in an humiliating & disgraceful situation
to depute them to transact the business of international government
without the means to carry it on. It is necessary also, as a check on the
national government, for it has hardly been known that any government
having the powers of war, peace, and revenue, has failed to engage in
needless and wanton expense. A reservation of this kind is therefore
necessary to preserve the importance of the state governments: without
this the extremes of the empire will in a very short time sink into the
same degradation and contempt with respect to the middle state as Ireland,
Scotland, & Wales, are in with regard to England. All the men of genius
and wealth will resort to the seat of government, that will be center of
revenue, and of business, which the extremes will be drained to supply.

This is not mere vision, it is justified by the whole course of things. We
shall, therefore, if we neglect the present opportunity to secure
ourselves, only increase the number of proofs already too many, that
mankind are incapable of enjoying their liberty. I have been the more
particular in stating the amendments to be made, because many gentlemen
think it would be preferable to receive the new system with corrections. I
have by this means brought the corrections into one view, and shown
several of the principal points in which it is unguarded. As it is agreed,
at least professedly, on all sides, that those rights should be guarded,
it is among the inferior questions in what manner it is done, provided it
is absolutely and effectually done. For my own part, I am fully of opinion
that it would be best to reject this plan, and pass an explicit resolve,
defining the powers of Congress to regulate the intercourse between us and
foreign nations, under such restrictions as shall render their regulations
equal in all parts of the empire. The impost, if well collected, would be
fully equal to the interest of the foreign debt, and the current charges
of the national government. It is evidently for our interest that the
charges should be as small as possible. It is also for our interest that
the western lands should, as fast as possible, be applied to the purpose
of paying the home debt. Internal taxation and that fund have already paid
two-thirds of the whole debt, notwithstanding the embarrassments usual at
the end of a war.

We are now rising fast above our difficulties; everything at home has the
appearance of improvement, government is well established, manufactures
increasing rapidly, and trade expanding. Till since the peace we never
sent a ship to India, and the present year, it is said, sends above a
dozen vessels from this state only, to the countries round the Indian
ocean. Vast quantities of our produce are exported to those countries. It
has been so much the practice of European nations to farm out this branch
of trade, that we ought to be exceedingly jealous of our right. The
manufactures of the state probably exceed in value one million pounds for
the last year. Most of the useful and some ornamental fabricks are
established. There is great danger of these improvements being injured
unless we practice extreme caution at setting out. It will always be for
the interest of the southern states to raise a revenue from the more
commercial ones. It is said that the consumer pays it. But does not a
commercial state consume more foreign goods than a landed one? The people
are more crowded, and of consequence the land is less able to support
them. We know it is to be a favourite system to raise the money where it
is. But the money is to be expended at another place, and is therefore so
much withdrawn annually from our stock. This is a single instance of the
difference of interest; it would be very easy to produce others.
Innumerable as the differences of manners, and these produce differences
in the laws. Uniformity in legislation is of no more importance than in
religion. Yet the framers of this new constitution did not even think it
necessary that the president should believe that there is a God, although
they require an oath of him. It would be easy to shew the propriety of a
general declaration upon that subject. But this paper is already extended
to so far [sic].

Another reason which I had in stating the amendments to be made, was to
shew how nearly those who are for admitting the system with the necessary
alterations, agree with those who are for rejecting this system and
amending the confederation. In point of convenience, the confederation
amended would be infinitely preferable to the proposed constitution. In
amending the former, we know the powers granted, and are subject to no
perplexity; but in reforming the latter, the business is excessively
intricate, and great part of the checks on Congress are lost. It is to be
remembered too, that if you are so far charmed with eloquence, and misled
by fair representations and charitable constructions, as to adopt an
undefined system, there will be no saying afterwards that you were
mistaken, and wish to correct it. _It will then be the constitution of our
country, and entitled to defence._ If Congress should chuse to avail
themselves of a popular commotion to continue in being, as the fourth
section justifies, and as the British parliament has repeatedly done, the
only answer will be, that it is the constitution of our country, and the
people chose it. It is therefore necessary to be exceedingly critical.
Whatsoever way shall be chosen to secure our rights, the same resolve
ought to contain the whole system of amendment. If it is rejected, the
resolve should contain the amendations of the old system; and if accepted,
it should contain the corrections of the new one.



_A writer in the Gazette of 29th January, under the signature of Captain
M__c__Daniel, having with civility and apparent candour, called for an
explanation of what was said in one of my former papers, I have chosen to
mention him with respect, as the only one of my reviewers who deserves an


Printed In The Massachusetts Centinel,
The American Herald,
January-April 1788.


The refusal of Gerry to sign or support the Constitution, being the only
northern member of the federal convention to do so, made him the general
target of attack by the federal writers of New England. To most of these
Gerry paid no attention, but the charges of “A Landholder” were so
positive, and so evidently written by a fellow member of the federal
convention, that an answer was necessary.

To neither of the two pieces here printed did Gerry put his name, but the
subject and internal evidence are both conclusive that they were written
by him. Not being able to find a copy of the _American Herald_, I have
been compelled to reprint the second article from the _New York Journal_.
For more on this subject see the letters of A Landholder and of Luther
Martin in this collection.

Reply To A Landholder, I.

The Massachusetts Centinel, (Number 32 of Volume VIII)



You are desired to inform the publick from good authority, that Mr. GERRY,
by giving his dissent to the proposed Constitution, could have no motives
for preserving an office, for he holds none under the United States, or
any of them; that he has not, as has been asserted, exchanged Continental
for State Securities, and if he had, it would have been for his interest
to have supported the new system, because thereby the states are
restrained from impairing the obligation of contracts, and by a transfer
of such securities, they may be recovered in the new federal court; that
he never heard, in the Convention, a motion made, much less did make any,
“for the redemption of the old continental money;” but that he proposed
the public debt should be made neither better nor worse by the new system,
but stand precisely on the same ground by the Articles of Confederation;
that had there been such a motion, he was not interested in it, as he did
not then, neither does he now, own the value of ten pounds in continental
money; that he neither was called on for his reasons for not signing, but
stated them fully in the progress of the business. His objections are
chiefly contained in his letter to the Legislature; that he believes his
colleagues men of too much honour to assert what is not truth; that his
reasons in the Convention “were totally different from those which he
published,” that his only motive for dissenting from the Constitution, was
a firm persuasion that it would endanger the liberties of America; that if
the people are of a different opinion, they have a right to adopt; but he
was not authorized to an act, which appeared to him was a surrender of
their liberties; that a representative of a free state, he was bound in
honour to vote according to his idea of her true interest, and that he
should do the same in similar circumstances.

_Cambridge, January 3, 1788._

Reply To A Landholder, II.

The New York Journal, (Number 2282)


From the American Herald, printed at Boston.


As the Connecticut Landholder’s publications are dispersed throughout the
state, it will be useful for the sake of truth to publish the following.


An elegant writer, under the signature of “A Landholder,” having in a
series of publications, with a modesty and delicacy peculiar to himself,
undertaken to instruct members of legislatures, executives, and
conventions, in their duty respecting the new constitution, is, in stating
facts, unfortunate, in being repeatedly detected in errors; but his
perseverance therein does honor “to his magnanimity,” and reminds me of
Dr. Sangerado (in Gil Blas) who being advised to alter his practice, as it
was founded on false principles and destructive to his patients, firmly
determined to pursue it, because he had written a book in support of it.
Had our learned author, the modern Sangerado, confined himself to facts
and to reasoning on the constitution, he might have continued to write
without interruption from its opposers, until by instructing others, he
had obtained that instruction which he seems to need, or a temporary
relief from the inenviable malady, the cacoethes scribendi; but his
frequent misrepresentations having exposed him to suspicions that as a
disciple of Mandeville he was an advocate for vice, or that to correct his
curiosity some humourist has palmed on him a spurious history of the
proceedings of the federal convention, and exhibited his credulity as a
subject of ridicule, it is proper to set him right in facts, which, in
almost every instance he has misstated.

In a late address to the honorable Luther Martin, Esquire, the Landholder
has asserted, that Mr. Gerry “uniformly opposed Mr. Martin’s principles,”
but this is a circumstance wholly unknown to Mr. Gerry, until he was
informed of it by the Connecticut Landholder; indeed Mr. Gerry from the
first acquaintance with Mr. Martin, has “uniformly had a friendship for

This writer has also asserted, “that the day Mr. Martin took his seat in
convention, without requesting information, or to be let into the reasons
of the adoption of what he might not approve, he opened against them in a
speech which held during two days.” But the facts are, that Mr. Martin had
been a considerable time in convention before he spoke; that when he
entered into the debates he appeared not to need “information,” as he was
fully possessed of the subject; and that his speech, if published, would
do him great honor.

Another assertion of this famous writer is, that Mr. Gerry in “a
sarcastical reply, admired the strength of Mr. Martin’s lungs, and his
profound knowledge in the first principles of government;” that “this
reply” “left him a prey to the most humiliating reflections; but these did
not teach him to bound his future speeches by the lines of moderation; for
the very next day he exhibited, without a blush, another specimen of
eternal volubility.” This is so remote from the truth, that no such reply
was made by Mr. Gerry to Mr. Martin, or to any member of the convention;
on the contrary, Mr. Martin, on the first day he spoke, about the time of
adjournment, signified to the convention that the heat of the season, and
his indisposition prevented his proceeding, and the house adjourned
without further debate, or a reply to Mr. Martin from any member whatever.

Again, the Landholder has asserted that Mr. Martin voted “an appeal should
lay to the supreme judiciary of the United States for the correction of
all errors both in law and fact,” and “agreed to the clause that declares
nine states to be sufficient to put the government in motion;” and in a
note says, “Mr. Gerry agreed with Mr. Martin on these questions.” Whether
there is any truth in the assertions as they relate to Mr. Martin, he can
best determine; but as they respect Mr. Gerry, they reverse the facts; for
he not only voted against the first proposition (which is not stated by
the Landholder, with the accuracy requisite for a writer on government)
but contended for jury trials in civil cases, and declared his opinion,
that a federal judiciary with the powers above mentioned, would be as
oppressive and dangerous, as the establishment of a star-chamber, and as
to the clause that “declares nine states to be sufficient to put the
government in motion,” Mr. Gerry was so much opposed to it, as to vote
against it in the first instance, and afterwards to move for a
reconsideration of it.

The Landholder having in a former publication asserted “that Mr. Gerry
introduced a motion, respecting the redemption of old continental money”
and the public having been informed by a paragraph in the Massachusetts
Centinel, No. 32, of vol. 8, as well as by the honorable Mr. Martin, that
neither Mr. Gerry, or any other member, had introduced such a proposition,
the Landholder now says that “out of 126 days, Mr. Martin attended only
66,” and then enquires “whether it is to be presumed that Mr. Martin could
have been minutely informed, of all that happened in convention, and
committees of convention, during the sixty days of absence?” and “Why is
it that we do not see Mr. McHenry’s verification of his assertion, who was
of the committee for considering a provision for the debts of the union?”
But if these enquiries were intended for subterfuges, unfortunately for
the Landholder, they will not avail him: for, had Mr. Martin not been
present at the debates on this subject, the fact is, that Mr. Gerry was
not on a committee with Mr. McHenry, or with any other person, for
considering a provision for the debts of the union, or any provision that
related to the subject of old continental money; neither did he make any
proposition, in convention, committee, or on any occasion, to any member
of convention or other person, respecting the redemption of such money;
and the assertions of the Landholder to the contrary, are altogether
destitute of the shadow of truth.

The Landholder addressing Mr. Martin, further says, “Your reply to my
second charge against Mr. Gerry, may be soon dismissed: compare his letter
to the legislature of his state, with your defence, and you will find,
that you have put into his mouth, objections different from anything it
contains, so that if your representation be true, his must be false.” The
objections referred to, are those mentioned by Mr. Martin, as being made
by Mr. Gerry, against the supreme power of Congress over the militia. Mr.
Gerry, in his letter to the legislature, states as an objection, “That
some of the powers of the federal legislature are ambiguous, and others
(meaning the unlimited power of Congress, to keep up a standing army, in
time of peace, and their entire controul of the militia) are indefinite
and dangerous.” Against both these did Mr. Gerry warmly contend, and why
his representations must be false, if Mr. Martin’s are true, which
particularized what Mr. Gerry’s stated generally, can only be discovered
by such a profound reasoner, as the Connecticut Landholder.

The vanity of this writer, in supposing that his charges would be the
subject of constitutional investigation, can only be equalled by his
impertinence, in interfering with the politics of other states, or by his
ignorance, in supposing a state convention could take cognizance of such
matters as he calls charges, and that Mr. Gerry required a formal defence,
or the assistance of his colleagues, to defeat the unprovoked and
libellous attacks of the Landholder, or any other unprincipled reviler.

The landholder says: “That Mr. Martin thought the deputy attorney-general
of the United States, for the state of Maryland, destined for a different
character, and that inspired him with the hope that he might derive from a
desperate opposition, what he saw no prospect of gaining by a contrary
conduct;” but the landholder ventures to predict, “that though Mr. Martin
was to double his efforts he would fail in his object.” By this we may
form some estimate of the patriotism of the landholder, for, whilst he so
readily resolves Mr. Martin’s conduct into a manœuvre for office, he gives
too much reason to suppose, that he himself has no idea of any other
motive in conducting politicks. But how can the landholder ascertain, that
“Mr. Martin thought” the office mentioned “destined for a different
character?” Was the landholder present at the destination? If so, it was
natural for him, knowing there was a combination against Mr. Martin
(however remote this gentleman was from discovering it) to suppose his
accidental opposition to the complotters, proceeded from a discovery of
the plot. Surely the landholder must have some reason for his conjecture
respecting the motives of Mr. Martin’s conduct, or to be subject to the
charge of publishing calumny, knowing it to be such. If then, this great
statesman was in a secret, which has been long impenetrable, he is now
entitled to the honor of giving the public the most important information
they have received, concerning the origin of the new constitution, and
having candidly informed them who is not, he ought to inform who is to
fill that office, and all others of the new federal government. It may
then, in some measure be ascertained, what individuals have supported the
constitution on principles of patriotism, and who under this guise have
been only squabbling for office. Perhaps we shall find that the landholder
is to have the contract for supplying the standing army under the new
government, and that many others, who have recurred to abuse on this
occasion, have some such happy prospects; indeed the landholder puts it
beyond a doubt, if we can believe him, that it was determined in the privy
council of this federal convention, that however Mr. Martin might advocate
the new constitution, he should not have the office mentioned; for if this
was not the case, how can the landholder so roundly assert that Mr. Martin
could have no prospect by a contrary conduct of gaining the office, and so
remarkably sanguine is the landholder, that the members of the privy
council would be senators of the new Congress, in which case the elections
would undoubtedly be made according to the conventional list of
nominations, as that he ventures to predict, though Mr. Martin was to
double his efforts, he would fail in his object. Thus whilst this blazing
star of federalism is taking great pains to hold up Mr. Gerry and Mr.
Mason, as having held private meetings “to aggrandize old Massachusetts
and the antient dominion” he has confessed enough to shew that his private
meetings were solely to aggrandize himself.


Printed In
The Connecticut Courant
The American Mercury,
November, 1787-March, 1788.


The letters of a Landholder were so obviously written by a a member of the
federal convention, that their authorship could not long remain a secret.
They were published simultaneously in the _Connecticut Courant_ at
Hartford and the _American Mercury_ at Litchfield, and this so clearly
indicated Oliver Ellsworth as the writer that they were at once credited
to his pen.

The letters had a very wide circulation, numbers being reprinted as far
north as New Hampshire, and as far south as Maryland. They called out
several replies, three of which, by Gerry, Williams and Martin, are
printed in this collection.

A Landholder, I.

The Connecticut Courant, (Number 1189)



The writer of the following passed the first part of his life in
mercantile employments, and by industry and economy acquired a sufficient
sum on retiring from trade to purchase and stock a decent plantation, on
which he now lives in the state of a farmer. By his present employment he
is interested in the prosperity of agriculture, and those who derive a
support from cultivating the earth. An acquaintance with business has
freed him from many prejudices and jealousies, which he sees in his
neighbors, who have not intermingled with mankind, nor learned by
experience the method of managing an extensive circulating property.
Conscious of an honest intention he wishes to address his brethren on some
political subjects which now engage the public attention, and will in the
sequel greatly influence the value of landed property. The new
constitution for the United States is now before the public, the people
are to determine, and the people at large generally determine right, when
they have had means of information.

It proves the honesty and patriotism of the gentlemen who composed the
general Convention, that they chose to submit their system to the people
rather than the legislatures, whose decisions are often influenced by men
in the higher departments of government, who have provided well for
themselves and dread any change least they should be injured by its
operation. I would not wish to exclude from a State Convention those
gentlemen who compose the higher branches of the assemblies in the several
states, but choose to see them stand on an even floor with their brethren,
where the artifice of a small number cannot negative a vast majority of
the people.

This danger was foreseen by the Federal Convention, and they have wisely
avoided it by appealing directly to the people. The landholders and
farmers are more than any other men concerned in the present decision
whether the proposed alteration is best they are to determine; but that an
alteration is necessary an individual may assert. It may be assumed as a
fixed truth that the prosperity and riches of the farmer must depend on
the prosperity, and good national regulation of trade. Artful men may
insinuate the contrary—tell you let trade take care of itself, and excite
your jealousy against the merchant because his business leads him to wear
a gayer coat, than your economy directs. But let your own experience
refute such insinuations. Your property and riches depend on a ready
demand and generous price for the produce you can annually spare. When and
where do you find this? Is it not where trade flourishes, and when the
merchant can freely export the produce of the country to such parts of the
world as will bring the richest return? When the merchant doth not
purchase, your produce is low, finds a dull market—in vexation you call
the trader a jocky, and curse the men whom you ought to pity. A desire of
gain is common to mankind, and the general motive to business and
industry. You cannot expect many purchases when trade is restricted, and
your merchants are shut out from nine-tenths of the ports in the world.
While you depend on the mercy of foreign nations, you are the first
persons who will be humbled. Confined to a few foreign ports they must
sell low, or not at all; and can you expect they will greedily buy in at a
high price, the very articles which they must sell under every

Every foreign prohibition on American trade is aimed in the most deadly
manner against the holders and tillers of the land, and they are the men
made poor. Your only remedy is such a national government as will make the
country respectable; such a supreme government as can boldly meet the
supremacy of proud and self-interested nations. The regulation of trade
ever was and ever will be a national matter. A single state in the
American union cannot direct much less control it. This must be a work of
the whole, and requires all the wisdom and force of the continent, and
until it is effected our commerce may be insulted by every overgrown
merchant in Europe. Think not the evil will rest on your merchants alone;
it may distress them, but it will destroy those who cultivate the earth.
Their produce will bear a low price, and require bad pay; the laborer will
not find employment; the value of lands will fall, and the landholder
become poor.

While our shipping rots at home by being prohibited from ports abroad,
foreigners will bring you such articles and at such price as they please.
Even the necessary article of salt has the present year, been chiefly
imported in foreign bottoms, and you already feel the consequence, your
flax-seed in barter has not returned you more than two-thirds of the usual
quantity. From this beginning learn what is to come.

Blame not our merchants, the fault is not in them but in the public. A
Federal government of energy is the only means which will deliver us, and
now or never is your opportunity to establish it, on such a basis as will
preserve your liberty and riches. Think not that time without your own
exertions will remedy the disorder. Other nations will be pleased with
your poverty; they know the advantage of commanding trade, and carrying in
their own bottoms. By these means they can govern prices and breed up a
hardy race of seamen, to man their ships of war when they wish again to
conquer you by arms. It is strange the holders and tillers of the land
have had patience so long. They are men of resolution as well as patience,
and will I presume be no longer deluded by British emissaries, and those
men who think their own offices will be hazarded by any change in the
constitution. Having opportunity, they will coolly demand a government
which can protect what they have bravely defended in war.


A Landholder, II.

The Connecticut Courant, (Number 1190)




You were told in the late war that peace and Independence would reward
your toil, and that riches would accompany the establishment of your
liberties, by opening a wider market, and consequently raising the price
of such commodities as America produces for exportation.

Such a conclusion appeared just and natural. We had been restrained by the
British to trade only with themselves, who often re-exported to other
nations, at a high advance, the raw materials they have procured from us.
This advance we designed to realize, but our expectation has been
disappointed. The produce of the country is in general down to the old
price, and bids fair to fall much lower. It is time for those who till the
earth in the sweat of their brow to enquire the cause. And we shall find
it neither in the merchant or farmer, but in a bad system of policy and
government, or rather in having no system at all. When we call ourselves
an independent nation it is false, we are neither a nation, nor are we
independent. Like thirteen contentious neighbors we devour and take every
advantage of each other, and are without that system of policy which gives
safety and strength, and constitutes a national structure. Once we were
dependent only on Great Britain, now we are dependent on every petty state
in the world and on every custom house officer of foreign ports. If the
injured apply for redress to the assemblies of the several states, it is
in vain, for they are not, and cannot be known abroad. If they apply to
Congress, it is also vain, for however wise and good that body may be,
they have not power to vindicate either themselves or their subjects.

Do not my countrymen fall into a passion on hearing these truths, nor
think your treatment unexampled. From the beginning it hath been the case
that people without policy will find enough to take advantage of their
weakness, and you are not the first who have been devoured by their wiser
neighbours, but perhaps it is not too late for a remedy, we ought at least
to make a trial, and if we still die shall have this consolation in our
last hours, that we tried to live.

I can foresee that several classes of men will try to alarm your fears,
and however selfish their motives, we may expect that liberty, the
encroachments of power, and the inestimable privileges of dear posterity
will with them be fruitful topicks of argument. As holy scripture is used
in the exorcisms of Romish priests to expel imaginary demons; so the most
sacred words will be conjured together to oppose evils which have no
existence in the new constitution, and which no man dare attempt to carry
into execution, among a people of so free a spirit as the Americans. The
first to oppose a federal government will be the old friends Great
Britain, who in their hearts cursed the prosperity of your arms, and have
ever since delighted in the perplexity of your councils. Many of these men
are still among us, and for several years their hopes of a reunion with
Britain have been high. They rightly judge that nothing will so soon
effect their wishes as the deranged state we are now in, if it should
continue. They see that the merchant is weary of a government which cannot
protect his property, and that the farmer finding no benefit from the
revolution, begins to dread much evil; and they hope the people will soon
supplicate the protection of their old masters. We may therefore expect
that all the policy of these men will center in defeating those measures
which will protect the people, and give system and force to American
councils. I was lately in a circle where the new constitution was
discussed. All but one man approved. He was full of trembling for the
liberties of poor America. It was strange! It was wondorous strange to see
his concern! After several of his arguments had been refuted by an
ingenious farmer in the company, but, says he, it is against the treaty of
peace, we received independence from Great Britain on condition of our
keeping the old constitution. Here the man came out! We had beat the
British with a bad frame of government, and with a good one he feared we
should eat them up. Debtors in desperate circumstances, who have not
resolution to be either honest or industrious, will be the next men to
take the alarm. They have long been upheld by the property of their
creditors and the mercy of the public, and daily destroy a thousand honest
men who are unsuspicious. Paper money and tender acts, is the only
atmosphere in which they can breathe, and live. This is now so generally
known that by being a friend to such measures a man effectually advertises
himself as a bankrupt. The opposition of these we expect, but for the sake
of all honest and industrious debtors, we most earnestly wish the proposed
constitution may pass, for whatever gives a new spring to business will
extricate them from their difficulties.

There is another kind of people will be found in the opposition. Men of
much self importance and supposed skill in politics, who are not of
sufficient consequence to obtain public employment, but can spread
jealousies in the little districts of country where they are placed. These
are always jealous of men in place and of public measures, and aim at
making themselves consequential by distrusting every one in the higher
offices of society.

It is a strange madness of some persons, immediately to distrust those who
are raised by the free suffrages of the people, to sustain powers which
are absolutely necessary for public safety. Why were they elevated but for
a general reputation of wisdom and integrity; and why should they be
distrusted, until by ignorance or some base action they have forfeited a
right to our confidence?

To fear a general government or energetic principles least it should
create tyrants, when without such a government all have an opportunity to
become tyrants and avoid punishment, is fearing the possibility of one act
of oppression, more than the real exercise of a thousand. But in the
present case, men who have lucrative and influential state offices, if
they act from principles of self-interest, will be tempted to oppose an
alteration, which would doubtless be beneficial to the people. To sink
from a controlment of finance, or any other great department of the state,
thro’ want of ability or opportunity to act a part in the federal system,
must be a terrifying consideration. Believe not those who insinuate that
this is a scheme of great men to grasp more power. The temptation is on
the other side. Those in great offices never wish to hazard their places
by such a change. This is the scheme of the people, and those high and
worthy characters who in obedience to the public voice offer the proposed
amendment of our federal constitution thus esteemed it, or they would have
determined state Conventions as the tribunal of ultimate decision. This is
the last opportunity you may have to adopt a government which gives all
protection to personal liberty, and at the same time promises fair to
afford you all the advantages of a sovereign empire. While you deliberate
with coolness, be not duped by the artful surmises of such as from their
own interest or prejudice are blind to the public good.


A Landholder, III.

The Connecticut Courant, (Number 1191)




When we rushed to arms for preventing British usurpation, liberty was the
argument of every tongue.

This word would open all the resources of the country and draw out a
brigade of militia rapidly as the most decisive orders of a despotic
government. Liberty is a word which, according as it is used, comprehends
the most good and the most evil of any in the world. Justly understood it
is sacred next to those which we appropriate in divine adoration; but in
the mouths of some it means anything, which enervate a necessary
government; excite a jealousy of the rulers who are our own choice, and
keep society in confusion for want of a power sufficiently concentered to
promote its good. It is not strange that the licentious should tell us a
government of energy is inconsistent with liberty, for being inconsistent
with their wishes and their vices, they would have us think it contrary to
human happiness. In the state this country was left by the war, with want
of experience in sovereignty, and the feelings which the people then had;
nothing but the scene we had passed thro’ could give a general conviction
that an internal government of strength is the only means of repressing
external violence, and preserving the national rights of the people
against the injustice of their own brethren. Even the common duties of
humanity will gradually go out of use, when the constitution and laws of a
country do not insure justice from the public and between individuals.
American experience, in our present deranged state, hath again proved
these great truths, which have been verified in every age since men were
made and became sufficiently numerous to form into public bodies. A
government capable of controlling the whole, and bringing its force to a
point, is one of the prerequisites for national liberty. We combine in
society, with an expectation to have our persons and properties defended
against unreasonable exactions either at home or abroad. If the public are
unable to protest against the unjust impositions of foreigners, in this
case we do not enjoy our natural rights, and a weakness of government is
the cause. If we mean to have our natural rights and properties protected,
we must first create a power which is able to do it, and in our case there
is no want of resources, but a civil constitution which may draw them out
and point their force.

The present question is, shall we have such a constitution or not? We
allow it to be a creation of power; but power when necessary for our good
is as much to be desired as the food we eat or the air we breathe. Some
men are mightily afraid of giving power lest it should be improved for
oppression; this is doubtless possible, but where is the probability? The
same objection may be made against the constitution of every state in the
union, and against every possible mode of government; because a power of
doing good always implies a power to do evil if the person or party be

The right of the legislature to ordain laws binding on the people, gives
them a power to make bad laws.

The right of the judge to inflict punishment, gives him both power and
opportunity to oppress the innocent; yet none but crazy men will from
thence determine that it is best to have neither a legislature nor judges.

If a power to promote the best interest of the people, necessarily implies
a power to do evil, we must never expect such a constitution in theory as
will not be open in some respects to the objections of carping and jealous
men. The new Constitution is perhaps more cautiously guarded than any
other in the world, and at the same time creates a power which will be
able to protect the subject; yet doubtless objections may be raised, and
so they may against the constitution of each state in the union. In
Connecticut the laws are the constitution by which the people are
governed, and it is generally allowed to be the most free and popular in
the thirteen states. As this is the state in which I live and write, I
will instance several things which with a proper coloring and a spice of
jealousy appear most dangerous to the natural rights of the people, yet
they have never been dangerous in practice, and are absolutely necessary
at some times to prevent much greater evil.

The right of taxation or of assessing and collecting money out of the
people, is one of those powers which may prove dangerous in the exercise,
and which by the new constitution is vested solely in representatives
chosen for that purpose. But by the laws of Connecticut, this power called
so dangerous may be exercised by selectmen of each town, and this not only
without their consent but against their express will, where they have
considered the matter, and judge it improper. This power they may exercise
when and so often as they judge necessary! Three justices of the quorum
may tax a whole county in such sums as they think meet, against the
express will of all the inhabitants. Here we see the dangerous power of
taxation vested in the justices of the quorum and even in selectmen, men
whom we should suppose as likely to err and tyrannize as the
representatives of three millions of people in solemn deliberation, and
amenable to the vengeance of their constituents, for every act of
injustice. The same town officers have equal authority where personal
liberty is concerned, in a matter more sacred than all the property in the
world, the disposal of your children. When they judge fit, with the advice
of one justice of the peace, they may tear them from the parent’s embrace,
and place them under the absolute control of such masters as they please;
and if the parent’s reluctance excites their resentment, they may place
him and his property under overseers. Fifty other instances fearfull as
these might be collected from the laws of the state, but I will not repeat
them lest my readers should be alarmed where there is no danger. These
regulations are doubtless best; we have seen much good and no evil come
from them. I adduce these instances to shew, that the most free
constitution when made the subject of criticism may be exhibited in
frightful colors, and such attempts we must expect against that now
proposed. If, my countrymen, you wait for a constitution which absolutely
bars a power of doing evil, you must wait long, and when obtained it will
have no power of doing good. I allow you are oppressed, but not from the
quarter that jealous and wrongheaded men would insinuate. You are
oppressed by the men, who to serve their own purposes would prefer the
shadow of government to the reality. You are oppressed for the want of
power which can protect commerce, encourage business, and create a ready
demand for the productions of your farms. You are become poor; oppression
continued will make wise men mad. The landholders and farmers have long
borne this oppression, we have been patient and groaned in secret, but can
promise for ourselves no longer; unless relieved, madness may excite us to
actions we now dread.


The Landholder, IV.

The Connecticut Courant, (Number 1192)


_Remarks on the objections made by the Hon. Elbridge Gerry, to the new


To censure a man for an opinion in which he declares himself honest, and
in a matter of which all men have a right to judge, is highly injurious;
at the same time, when the opinions even of honorable men are submitted to
the people, a tribunal before which the meanest citizen hath a right to
speak, they must abide the consequence of public stricture. We are
ignorant whether the honorable gentlemen possesses state dignities or
emoluments which will be endangered by the new system, or hath motives of
personality to prejudice his mind and throw him into the opposition; or if
it be so, do not wish to evade the objections by such a charge. As a
member of the General Convention, and deputy from a great state, this
honorable person hath a right to speak and be heard. It gives pleasure to
know the extent of what may be objected or even surmised, by one whose
situation was the best to espy danger, and mark the defective parts of the
constitution if any such there be. Mr. Gerry, tho’ in the character of an
objector, tells us “he was fully convinced that to preserve the union an
efficient government was indispensibly necessary, and that it would be
difficult to make proper amendments to the old articles of confederation,”
therefore by his own confession there was an indispensible necessity of a
system, in many particulars entirely new. He tells us further “that if the
people reject this altogether, anarchy may ensue,” and what situation can
be pictured more awful than a total dissolution of all government? Many
defects in the constitution had better be risked than to fall back into
that state of rude violence, in which every man’s hand is against his
neighbor, and there is no judge to decide between them, or power of
justice to control. But we hope to shew that there are no alarming defects
in the proposed structure of government, and that while a public force is
created, the liberties of the people have every possible guard.

Several of the honourable Gentlemen’s objections are expressed in such
vague and indecisive terms, that they rather deserve the name of
insinuations, and we know not against what particular parts of the system
they are pointed. Others are explicit, and if real deserve serious
attention. His first objection is “that there is no adequate provision for
representation of the people.” This must have respect either to the number
of representatives, or to the manner in which they are chosen. The proper
number to constitute a safe representation is a matter of judgment, in
which honest and wise men often disagree. Were it possible for all the
people to convene and give their personal assent, some would think this
the best mode of making laws, but in the present instance it is
impracticable. In towns and smaller districts where all the people may
meet conveniently and without expense this is doubtless preferable. The
state representation is composed of one or two from every town and
district, which composes an assembly not so large as to be unwieldy in
acting, nor so expensive as to burden the people. But if so numerous a
representation were made from every part of the United States, with our
present population, the new Congress would consist of three thousand men;
with the population of Great Britain, to which we may arrive in half a
century, of ten thousand; and with the population of France, which we
shall probably equal in a century and a half, of thirty thousand.

Such a body of men might be an army to defend the country in case of
foreign invasion, but not a legislature, and the expense to support them
would equal the whole national revenue. By the proposed constitution the
new Congress will consist of nearly one hundred men; when our population
is equal to Great Britain of three hundred men, and when equal to France
of nine hundred. Plenty of Lawgivers! why any gentlemen should wish for
more is not conceivable.

Considering the immense territory of America, the objection with many will
be on the other side; that when the whole is populated it will constitute
a legislature unmanageable by its numbers. Convention foreseeing this
danger, have so worded the article, that if the people should at any
future time judge necessary, they may diminish the representation.

As the state legislatures have to regulate the internal policy of every
town and neighborhood, it is convenient enough to have one or two men,
particularly acquainted with every small district of country, its
interests, parties and passions. But the federal legislature can take
cognizance only of national questions and interests which in their very
nature are general, and for this purpose five or ten honest and wise men
chosen from each state; men who have had previous experience in state
legislation, will be more competent than an hundred. From an acquaintance
with their own state legislatures, they will always know the sense of the
people at large, and the expense of supporting such a number will be as
much as we ought to incur.

If the Hon. gentleman, in saying “there is not adequate provision for the
representation of the people,” refers to the manner of choosing them, a
reply to this is naturally blended with its second objection, that “they
would have no security for the right of election.” It is impossible to
conceive what greater security can be given, by any form of words, than we
here find.

The federal representatives are to be chosen by the votes of the people.
Every freeman is an elector. The same qualification which enables you to
vote for state representatives, gives you a federal voice. It is a right
you cannot lose, unless you first annihilate the state legislature, and
declare yourself incapable of electing, which is a degree of infatuation
improbable as a second deluge to drown the world.

Your own assemblies are to regulate the formalities of this choice, and
unless they betray you, you cannot be betrayed. But perhaps it may be
said, Congress have a power to control this formality as to the time and
places of electing, and we allow they have: but this objection which at
first looks frightful was designed as a guard to the privileges of the
electors. Even state assemblies may have their fits of madness and
passion, this tho’ not probable is possible.

We have a recent instance in the state of Rhode Island, where a desperate
junto are governing contrary to the sense of a great majority of the
people. It may be the case in any other state, and should it happen, that
the ignorance or rashness of the state assemblies, in a fit of jealousy,
should deny you this sacred right, the deliberate justice of the continent
is enabled to interpose and restore you a federal voice. This right is
therefore more inviolably guarded than it can be by the government of your
state, for it is guaranteed by the whole empire. Tho’ out of the order in
which the Hon. gentleman proposes his doubts, I wish here to notice some
questions which he makes. The proposed plan among others he tells us
involves these questions: “Whether the several state governments, shall be
so altered as in effect to be dissolved? Whether in lieu of the state
governments the national constitution now proposed shall be substituted?”
I wish for sagacity to see on what these questions are founded. No
alteration in the state governments is even now proposed, but they are to
remain identically the same that they are now. Some powers are to be given
into the hands of your federal representatives, but these powers are all
in their nature general, such as must be exercised by the whole or not at
all, and such as are absolutely necessary; or your commerce, the price of
your commodities, your riches and your safety, will be the sport of every
foreign adventurer. Why are we told of the dissolution of our state
governments, when by this plan they are indissolubly linked? They must
stand or fall, live or die together. The national legislature consists of
two houses, a senate and house of representatives. The senate is to be
chosen by the assemblies of the particular states; so that if the
assemblies are dissolved, the senate dissolves with them. The national
representatives are to be chosen by the same electors, and under the same
qualifications, as choose the state representatives; so that if the state
representation be dissolved, the national representation is gone of

State representation and government is the very basis of the congressional
power proposed. This is the most valuable link in the chain of connection,
and affords double security for the rights of the people. Your liberties
are pledged to you by your own state, and by the power of the whole
empire. You have a voice in the government of your own state, and in the
government of the whole. Were not the gentleman on whom the remarks are
made very honorable, and by the eminence of office raised above a
suspicion of cunning, we should think he had, in this instance, insinuated
merely to alarm the fears of the people. His other objections will be
mentioned in some future number of the:


The Landholder, V.

The Connecticut Courant, (Number 1193)


_Continuation of Remarks on the Hon. Elbridge Gerry’s Objections to the
new Constitution._


It is unhappy both for Mr. Gerry and the public, that he was not more
explicit in publishing his doubts. Certainly this must have been from
inattention, and not thro’ any want of ability; as all his honorable
friends allow him to be a politician even of metaphysical nicety.

In a question of such magnitude, every candid man will consent to discuss
objections, which are stated with perspicuity; but to follow the honorable
writer into the field of conjecture, and combat phantoms, uncertain
whether or not they are the same which terrified him, is a task too
laborious for patience itself. Such must be the writer’s situation in
replying to the next objection, “that some of the powers of the
legislature are ambiguous, and others indefinite and dangerous.” There are
many powers given to the legislature; if any of them are dangerous, the
people have a right to know which they are, and how they will operate,
that we may guard against the evil. The charge of being ambiguous and
indefinite may be brought against every human composition, and necessarily
arises from the imperfection of language. Perhaps no two men will express
the same sentiment in the same manner, and by the same words; neither do
they connect precisely the same ideas with the same words. From hence
arises an ambiguity in all language, with which the most perspicuous and
precise writers are in a degree chargeable. Some persons never attain to
the happy art of perspicuous expression, and it is equally true that some
persons thro’ a mental defect of their own, will judge the most correct
and certain language of others to be indefinite and ambiguous. As Mr.
Gerry is the first and only man who has charged the new Constitution with
ambiguousness, is there not room to suspect that his understanding is
different from other men’s, and whether it be better or worse, the
Landholder presumes not to decide.

It is an excellency of this Constitution that it is expressed with
brevity, and in the plain, common language of mankind.

Had it swelled into the magnitude of a volume, there would have been more
room to entrap the unwary, and the people who are to be its judges would
have had neither patience nor opportunity to understand it. Had it been
expressed in the scientific language of law, or those terms of art which
we often find in political compositions, to the honorable gentleman it
might have appeared more definite and less ambiguous; but to the great
body of the people altogether obscure, and to accept it they must leap
into the dark.

The people to whom in this case the great appeal is made, best understand
those compositions which are concise and in their own language. Had the
powers given to the legislature been loaded with provisos, and such
qualifications as a lawyer who is so cunning as even to suspect himself,
would probably have intermingled; there would have been much more of a
deception in the case. It would not be difficult to shew that every power
given to the legislature is necessary for national defence and justice,
and to protect the rights of the people who create this authority for
their own advantage; but to consider each one particularly would exceed
the limits of my design.

I shall, therefore, select two powers given them, which have been more
abused to oppress and enslave mankind, than all the others with which this
or any legislature on earth is cloathed—the right of taxation or of
collecting money from the people; and of raising and supporting armies.

These are the powers which enable tyrants to scourge their subjects; and
they are also the very powers by which good rulers protect the people
against the violence of wicked and overgrown citizens, and invasion by the
rest of mankind. Judge candidly what a wretched figure the American empire
will exhibit in the eye of other nations, without a power to array and
support a military force for its own protection. Half a dozen regiments
from Canada or New-Spain, might lay whole provinces under contribution,
while we were disputing who has power to pay and raise an army. This power
is also necessary to restrain the violence of seditious citizens. A
concurrence of circumstances frequently enables a few disaffected persons
to make great revolutions, unless government is vested with the most
extensive powers of self-defence. Had Shays, the malcontent of
Massachusetts, been a man of genius, fortune and address, he might have
conquered that state, and by the aid of a little sedition in the other
states, and an army proud by victory, become the monarch and tyrant of
America. Fortunately he was checked; but should jealousy prevent vesting
these powers in the hands of men chosen by yourselves, and who are under
every constitutional restraint, accident or design will in all probability
raise up some future Shays to be the tyrant of your children.

A people cannot long retain their freedom, whose government is incapable
of protecting them.

The power of collecting money from the people, is not to be rejected
because it has sometimes been oppressive.

Public credit is as necessary for the prosperity of a nation as private
credit is for the support and wealth of a family.

We are this day many millions poorer than we should have been had a well
arranged government taken place at the conclusion of the war. All have
shared in this loss, but none in so great proportion as the landholders
and farmers.

The public must be served in various departments. Who will serve them
without a meet recompense? Who will go to war and pay the charges of his
own warfare? What man will any longer take empty promises of reward from
those, who have no constitutional power to reward or means of fulfilling
them? Promises have done their utmost, more than they ever did in any
other age or country. The delusive bubble has broke, and in breaking has
beggared thousands, and left you an unprotected people; numerous without
force, and full of resources but unable to command one of them. For these
purposes there must be a general treasury, with a power to replenish it as
often as necessity requires. And where can this power be more safely
vested, than in the common legislature, men chosen by yourselves from
every part of the union, and who have the confidence of their several
states; men who must share in the burdens they impose on others; men who
by a seat in Congress are incapable of holding any office under the
states, which might prove a temptation to spoil the people for increasing
their own income?

We find another objection to be “that the executive is blended with and
will have an undue influence over the legislature.” On examination you
will find this objection unfounded. The supreme executive is vested in a
President of the United States; every bill that hath passed the senate and
representatives, must be presented to the president, and if he approve it
becomes law. If he disapproves, but makes no return within ten days, it
still becomes law. If he returns the bill with his objections, the senate
and representatives consider it a second time, and if two-thirds of them
adhere to the first resolution it becomes law notwithstanding the
president’s dissent. We allow the president hath an influence, tho’
strictly speaking he hath not a legislative voice; and think such an
influence must be salutary. In the president all the executive departments
meet, and he will be a channel of communication between those who make and
those who execute the laws. Many things look fair in theory which in
practice are impossible. If lawmakers, in every instance, before their
final decree, had the opinion of those who are to execute them, it would
prevent a thousand absurd ordinances, which are solemnly made, only to be
repealed, and lessen the dignity of legislation in the eyes of mankind.

The vice-president is not an executive officer while the president is in
discharge of his duty, and when he is called to preside his legislative
voice ceases. In no other instance is there even the shadow of blending or
influence between the two departments.

We are further told “that the judicial departments, or those courts of
law, to be instituted by Congress, will be oppressive.” We allow it to be
possible, but from whence arises the probability of this event? State
judges may be corrupt, and juries may be prejudiced and ignorant, but
these instances are not common; and why shall we suppose they will be more
frequent under a national appointment and influence, when the eyes of a
whole empire are watching for their detection?

Their courts are not to intermeddle with your internal policy, and will
have cognizance only of those subjects which are placed under the control
of a national legislature. It is as necessary there should be courts of
law and executive officers, to carry into effect the laws of the nation,
as that there be courts and officers to execute the laws made by your
state assemblies. There are many reasons why their decisions ought not to
be left to courts instituted by particular states.

A perfect uniformity must be observed thro’ the whole union, or jealousy
and unrighteousness will take place; and for a uniformity one judiciary
must pervade the whole. The inhabitants of one state will not have
confidence in judges appointed by the legislature of another state, in
which they have no voice. Judges who owe their appointment and support to
one state, will be unduly influenced, and not reverence the laws of the
union. It will at any time be in the power of the smallest state, by
interdicting their own judiciary, to defeat the measures, defraud the
revenue, and annul the most sacred laws of the whole empire. A legislative
power, without a judicial and executive under their own control, is in the
nature of things a nullity. Congress under the old confederation had power
to ordain and resolve, but having no judicial or executive of their own,
their most solemn resolves were totally disregarded. The little state of
Rhode Island was purposely left by Heaven to its present madness, for a
general conviction in the other states, that such a system as is now
proposed is our only preservation from ruin. What respect can any one
think would be paid to national laws, by judicial and executive officers
who are amenable only to the present assembly of Rhode Island? The
rebellion of Shays and the present measures of Rhode Island ought to
convince us that a national legislature, judiciary and executive, must be
united, or the whole is but a name; and that we must have these, or soon
be hewers of wood and drawers of water for all other people.

In all these matters and powers given to Congress, their ordinances must
be the supreme law of the land, or they are nothing. They must have
authority to enact any laws for executing their own powers, or those
powers will be evaded by the artful and unjust, and the dishonest trader
will defraud the public of its revenue. As we have every reason to think
this system was honestly planned, we ought to hope it may be honestly and
justly executed. I am sensible that speculation is always liable to error.
If there be any capital defects in this constitution, it is most probable
that experience alone will discover them. Provision is made for an
alteration if, on trial, it be found necessary.

When your children see the candor and greatness of mind, with which you
lay the foundation, they will be inspired with equity to furnish and adorn
the superstructure.


The Landholder, VI.

The Connecticut Courant, (Number 1194)


    He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor
    cometh and searcheth him.


The publication of Col. Mason’s(31) reasons for not signing the new
Constitution, has extorted some truths that would otherwise in all
probability have remained unknown to us all. His reasons, like Mr.
Gerry’s, are most of them _ex post facto_, have been revised in New Y——k
by R. H. L.(32) and by him brought into their present artful and insidious
form. The factious spirit of R. H. L., his implacable hatred to General
Washington, his well-known intrigues against him in the late war, his
attempts to displace him and give the command of the American army to
General Lee, is so recent in your minds it is not necessary to repeat
them. He is supposed to be the author of most of the scurrility poured out
in the New-York papers against the new constitution.

Just at the close of the Convention, whose proceedings in general were
zealously supported by Mr. Mason, he moved for a clause that no navigation
act should ever be passed but with the consent of two thirds of both
branches;(33) urging that a navigation act might otherwise be passed
excluding foreign bottoms from carrying American produce to market, and
throw a monopoly of the carrying business into the hands of the eastern
states who attend to navigation, and that such an exclusion of foreigners
would raise the freight of the produce of the southern states, and for
these reasons Mr. Mason would have it in the power of the southern states
to prevent any navigation act. This clause, as unequal and partial in the
extreme to the southern states, was rejected; because it ought to be left
on the same footing with other national concerns, and because no state
would have a right to complain of a navigation act which should leave the
carrying business equally open to them all. Those who preferred
cultivating their lands would do so; those who chose to navigate and
become carriers would do that. The loss of this question determined Mr.
Mason against the signing the doings of the convention, and is undoubtedly
among his reasons as drawn for the southern states; but for the eastern
states this reason would not do.(34) It would convince us that Mr. Mason
preferred the subjects of every foreign power to the subjects of the
United States who live in New-England; even the British who lately ravaged
Virginia—that Virginia, my countrymen, where your relations lavished their
blood—where your sons laid down their lives to secure to her and us the
freedom and independence in which we now rejoice, and which can only be
continued to us by a firm, equal and effective union. But do not believe
that the people of Virginia are all thus selfish: No, there is a
Washington, a Blair, a Madison and a Lee, (not R. H. L.) and I am
persuaded there is a majority of liberal, just and federal men in
Virginia, who, whatever their sentiments may be of the new constitution,
will despise the artful injustice contained in Col. Mason’s reasons as
published in the Connecticut papers.

_The President of the United States has no council, etc._, says Col.
Mason. His proposed council(35) would have been expensive—they must
constantly attend the president, because the president constantly acts.
This council must have been composed of great characters, who could not be
kept attending without great salaries, and if their opinions were binding
on the president his responsibility would be destroyed—if divided, prevent
vigor and dispatch—if not binding, they would be no security. The states
who have had such councils have found them useless, and complain of them
as a dead weight. In others, as in England, the supreme executive advises
when and with whom he pleases; if any information is wanted, the heads of
the departments who are always at hand can best give it, and from the
manner of their appointment will be trustworthy. Secrecy, vigor, dispatch
and responsibility, require that the supreme executive should be one
person, and unfettered otherwise than by the laws he is to execute.

_There is no Declaration of Rights._ Bills of Rights were introduced in
England when its kings claimed all power and jurisdiction, and were
considered by them as grants to the people. They are insignificant since
government is considered as originating from the people, and all the power
government now has is a grant from the people. The constitution they
establish with powers limited and defined, becomes now to the legislator
and magistrate, what originally a bill of rights was to the people. To
have inserted in this constitution a bill of rights for the states, would
suppose them to derive and hold their rights from the federal government,
when the reverse is the case.

_There is to be no ex post facto laws._ This was moved by Mr. Gerry and
supported by Mr. Mason,(36) and is exceptional only as being unnecessary;
for it ought not to be presumed that government will be so tyrannical, and
opposed to the sense of all modern civilians, as to pass such laws: if
they should, they would be void.

_The general legislature is restrained from prohibiting the further
importation of slaves for twenty odd years._ But every state legislature
may restrain its own subjects; but if they should not, shall we refuse to
confederate with them? their consciences are their own, tho’ their wealth
and strength are blended with ours. Mr. Mason has himself about three
hundred slaves, and lives in Virginia, where it is found by prudent
management they can breed and raise slaves faster than they want them for
their own use, and could supply the deficiency in Georgia and South
Carolina; and perhaps Col. Mason may suppose it more humane to breed than
import slaves—those imported having been bred and born free, may not so
tamely bear slavery as those born slaves, and from their infancy inured to
it; but his objections are not on the side of freedom, nor in compassion
to the human race who are slaves, but that such importations render the
United States weaker, more vulnerable, and less capable of defence. To
this I readily agree, and all good men wish the entire abolition of
slavery, as soon as it can take place with safety to the public, and for
the lasting good of the present wretched race of slaves. The only possible
step that could be taken towards it by the convention was to fix a period
after which they should not be imported.

_There is no declaration of any kind to preserve the liberty of the press,
etc._ Nor is liberty of conscience, or of matrimony, or of burial of the
dead; it is enough that congress have no power to prohibit either, and can
have no temptation. This objection is answered in that the states have all
the power originally, and congress have only what the states grant them.

_The judiciary of the United States is so constructed and extended as to
absorb and destroy the judiciaries of the several states; thereby
rendering law as tedious, intricate and expensive, and justice as
unattainable by a great part of the community, as in England; and enable
the rich to oppress and ruin the poor._ It extends only to objects and
cases specified, and wherein the national peace or rights, or the harmony
of the states is concerned, and not to controversies between citizens of
the same state (except where they claim under grants of different states);
and nothing hinders but the supreme federal court may be held in different
districts, or in all the states, and that all the cases, except the few in
which it has original and not appellate jurisdiction, may in the first
instance be had in the state courts and those trials be final except in
cases of great magnitude; and the trials be by jury also in most or all
the causes which were wont to be tried by them, as congress shall provide,
whose appointment is security enough for their attention to the wishes and
convenience of the people. In chancery courts juries are never used, nor
are they proper in admiralty courts, which proceed not by municipal laws,
which they may be supposed to understand, but by the civil law and law of

Mr. Mason deems the president and senate’s power to make treaties
dangerous, because they become laws of the land. If the president and his
proposed council had this power, or the president alone, as in England and
other nations is the case, could the danger be less?—or is the
representative branch suited to the making of treaties, which are often
intricate, and require much negotiation and secrecy? The senate is
objected to as having too much power, and bold unfounded assertions that
they will destroy any balance in the government, and accomplish what
usurpation they please upon the rights and liberties of the people; to
which it may be answered, they are elective and rotative, to the mass of
the people; the populace can as well balance the senatorial branch there
as in the states, and much better than in England, where the lords are
hereditary, and yet the commons preserve their weight; but the state
governments on which the constitution is built will forever be security
enough to the people against aristocratic usurpations:—The danger of the
constitution is not aristocracy or monarchy, but anarchy.

I intreat you, my fellow citizens, to read and examine the new
constitution with candor—examine it for yourselves: you are, most of you,
as learned as the objector, and certainly as able to judge of its virtues
or vices as he is. To make the objections the more plausible, they are
called _The objections of the Hon. George Mason, etc._—They may possibly
be his, but be assured they were not those made in convention, and being
directly against what he there supported in one instance ought to caution
you against giving any credit to the rest; his violent opposition to the
powers given congress to regulate trade, was an open decided preference of
all the world to you. A man governed by such narrow views and local
prejudices, can never be trusted; and his pompous declaration in the House
of Delegates in Virginia that no man was more federal than himself,
amounts to no more than this, “Make a federal government that will secure
Virginia all her natural advantages, promote all her interests regardless
of every disadvantage to the other states, and I will subscribe to it.”

It may be asked how I came by my information respecting Col. Mason’s
conduct in convention, as the doors were shut? To this I answer, no
delegate of the late convention will contradict my assertions, as I have
repeatedly heard them made by others in presence of several of them, who
could not deny their truth. Whether the constitution in question will be
adopted by the United States in our day is uncertain; but it is neither
aristocracy or monarchy can grow out of it, so long as the present descent
of landed estates last, and the mass of the people have, as at present, a
tolerable education; and were it ever so perfect a scheme of freedom, when
we become ignorant, vicious, idle, and regardless of the education of our
children, our liberties will be lost—we shall be fitted for slavery, and
it will be an easy business to reduce us to obey one or more tyrants.


The Landholder, VII.

The Connecticut Courant, (Number 1195)



I have often admired the spirit of candour, liberality, and justice, with
which the Convention began and completed the important object of their
mission. “In all our deliberation on this subject,” say they, “we kept
steadily in our view, that which appears to us the greatest interest of
every true American, the consolidation of our union, in which is involved
our prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence. This
important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led
each state in the Convention to be less rigid on points of inferior
magnitude, than might otherwise have been expected; and thus the
Constitution which we now present, is the result of a spirit of amity, and
of that mutual deference and concession, which the peculiarity of our
political situation rendered indispensible.”

Let us, my fellow citizens, take up this constitution with the same spirit
of candour and liberality; consider it in all its parts; consider the
important advantages which may be derived from it; let us obtain full
information on the subject, and then weigh these objections in the balance
of cool impartial reason. Let us see if they be not wholly groundless; but
if upon the whole they appear to have some weight, let us consider well,
whether they be so important, that we ought on account of them to reject
the whole constitution. Perfection is not the lot of human institutions;
that which has the most excellencies and fewest faults, is the best that
we can expect.

Some very worthy persons, who have not had great advantages for
information, have objected against that clause in the constitution which
provides, that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification
to any office or public trust under the United States.(37) They have been
afraid that this clause is unfavorable to religion. But my countrymen, the
sole purpose and effect of it is to exclude persecution, and to secure to
you the important right of religious liberty. We are almost the only
people in the world, who have a full enjoyment of this important right of
human nature. In our country every man has a right to worship God in that
way which is most agreeable to his conscience. If he be a good and
peaceable person he is liable to no penalties or incapacities on account
of his religious sentiments; or in other words, he is not subject to

But in other parts of the world, it has been, and still is, far different.
Systems of religious error have been adopted, in times of ignorance. It
has been the interest of tyrannical kings, popes, and prelates, to
maintain these errors. When the clouds of ignorance began to vanish, and
the people grew more enlightened, there was no other way to keep them in
error, but to prohibit their altering their religious opinions by severe
persecuting laws. In this way persecution became general throughout
Europe. It was the universal opinion that one religion must be established
by law; and that all who differed in their religious opinions, must suffer
the vengeance of persecution. In pursuance of this opinion, when popery
was abolished in England, and the Church of England was established in its
stead, severe penalties were inflicted upon all who dissented from the
established church. In the time of the civil wars, in the reign of Charles
I., the presbyterians got the upper hand, and inflicted legal penalties
upon all who differed from them in their sentiments respecting religious
doctrines and discipline. When Charles II. was restored, the Church of
England was likewise restored, and the presbyterians and other dissenters
were laid under legal penalties and incapacities. It was in this reign,
that a religious test was established as a qualification for office; that
is, a law was made requiring all officers civil and military (among other
things) to receive the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, according to the
usage of the Church of England, written [within?] six months after their
admission to office under the penalty of 500£ and disability to hold the
office. And by another statute of the same reign, no person was capable of
being elected to any office relating to the government of any city or
corporation, unless, within a twelvemonth before, he had received the
sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England. The pretence
for making these severe laws, by which all but churchmen were made
incapable of any office civil or military, was to exclude the papists; but
the real design was to exclude the protestant dissenters. From this
account of test-laws, there arises an unfavorable presumption against
them. But if we consider the nature of them and the effects which they are
calculated to produce, we shall find that they are useless, tyrannical,
and peculiarly unfit for the people of this country.

A religious test is an act to be done, or profession to be made, relating
to religion (such as partaking of the sacrament according to certain rites
and forms, or declaring one’s belief of certain doctrines,) for the
purpose of determining whether his religious opinions are such, that he is
admissable to a publick office. A test in favour of any one denomination
of Christians would be to the last degree absurd in the United States. If
it were in favour of either congregationalists, presbyterians,
episcopalians, baptists, or quakers, it would incapacitate more than
three-fourths of the American citizens for any publick office; and thus
degrade them from the rank of freemen. There need no argument to prove
that the majority of our citizens would never submit to this indignity.

If any test-act were to be made, perhaps the least exceptionable would be
one, requiring all persons appointed to office to declare, at the time of
their admission, their belief in the being of a God, and in the divine
authority of the scriptures. In favour of such a test, it may be said,
that one who believes these great truths, will not be so likely to violate
his obligations to his country, as one who disbelieves them; we may have
greater confidence in his integrity. But I answer: His making a
declaration of such a belief is no security at all. For suppose him to be
an unprincipled man, who believes neither the word nor the being of God;
and to be governed merely by selfish motives; how easy is it for him to
dissemble! how easy is it for him to make a public declaration of his
belief in the creed which the law prescribes; and excuse himself by
calling it a mere formality. This is the case with the test-laws and
creeds in England. The most abandoned characters partake of the sacrament,
in order to qualify themselves for public employments. The clergy are
obliged by law to administer the ordinance unto them, and thus prostitute
the most sacred office of religion, for it is a civil right in the party
to receive the sacrament. In that country, subscribing to the thirty-nine
articles is a test for administration into holy orders. And it is a fact,
that many of the clergy do this, when at the same time they totally
disbelieve several of the doctrines contained in them. In short, test-laws
are utterly ineffectual: they are no security at all; because men of loose
principles will, by an external compliance, evade them. If they exclude
any persons, it will be honest men, men of principle, who will rather
suffer an injury, than act contrary to the dictates of their consciences.
If we mean to have those appointed to public offices, who are sincere
friends to religion, we, the people who appoint them, must take care to
choose such characters; and not rely upon such cob-web barriers as
test-laws are.

But to come to the true principle by which this question ought to be
determined: The business of a civil government is to protect the citizen
in his rights, to defend the community from hostile powers, and to promote
the general welfare. Civil government has no business to meddle with the
private opinions of the people. If I demean myself as a good citizen, I am
accountable, not to man, but to God, for the religious opinions which I
embrace, and the manner in which I worship the supreme being. If such had
been the universal sentiments of mankind, and they had acted accordingly,
persecution, the bane of truth and nurse of error, with her bloody axe and
flaming hand, would never have turned so great a part of the world into a
field of blood.

But while I assert the rights of religious liberty, I would not deny that
the civil power has a right, in some cases, to interfere in matters of
religion. It has a right to prohibit and punish gross immoralities and
impieties; because the open practice of these is of evil example and
detriment. For this reason, I heartily approve of our laws against
drunkenness, profane swearing, blasphemy, and professed atheism. But in
this state, we have never thought it expedient to adopt a test-law; and
yet I sincerely believe we have as great a proportion of religion and
morality, as they have in England, where every person who holds a public
office, must either be a saint by law, or a hypocrite by practice. A
test-law is the parent of hypocrisy, and the offspring of error and the
spirit of persecution. Legislatures have no right to set up an
inquisition, and examine into the private opinions of men. Test-laws are
useless and ineffectual, unjust and tyrannical; therefore the Convention
have done wisely in excluding this engine of persecution, and providing
that no religious test shall ever be required.


The Landholder, VIII.

The Connecticut Courant, (Number 1196)




When a man in public life first deviates from the line of truth and
rectitude, an uncommon degree of art and attention becomes necessary to
secure him from detection. Duplicity of conduct in him requires more than
double caution, a caution which his former habits of simplicity have never
furnished him the means of calculating; and his first leap into the region
of treachery and falsehood is often as fatal to himself as it was designed
to be to his country. Whether you and Mr. Mason may be ranked in this
class of transgressors I pretend not to determine. Certain it is, that
both your management and his for a short time before and after the rising
of the federal convention impress us with a favorable opinion, that you
are great novices in the arts of dissimulation. A small degree of
forethought would have taught you both a much more successful method of
directing the rage of resentment which you caught at the close of the
business at Philadelphia, than the one you took. You ought to have
considered that you reside in regions very distant from each other, where
different parts were to be acted, and then made your cast accordingly.

Mr. Mason was certainly wrong in telling the world that he acted a double
part—he ought not to have published two setts of reasons for his dissent
to the constitution. His New England reasons would have come better from
you. He ought to have contented himself with haranguing in the southern
states, that it was too popular, and was calculated too much for the
advantage of the eastern states. At the same time you might have come on,
and in the Coffee-House at New York you might have found an excellent sett
of objections ready made to your hand, a sett that with very little
alteration would have exactly suited the latitude of New England, the
whole of which district ought most clearly to have been submitted to your
protection and patronage. A Lamb, a Willet, a Smith, a Clinton, a
Yates,(38) or any other gentleman whose salary is paid by the state
impost, as they had six months the start of you in considering the
subject, would have furnished you with a good discourse upon the “liberty
of the press,” the “bill of rights,” the “blending of the executive and
legislative,” “internal taxation,” or any other topic which you did not
happen to think of while in convention.

It is evident that this mode of proceeding would have been well calculated
for the security of Mr. Mason; he there might have vented his antient
enmity against the independence of America, and his sore mortification for
the loss of his favorite motion respecting the navigation act, and all
under the mask of sentiments, which with a proper caution in expressing
them, might have gained many adherents in his own state. But, although Mr.
Mason’s conduct might have been easily guarded in this particular, your
character would not have been entirely safe even with the precaution above
mentioned. Your policy, Sir, ought to have led you one step farther back.
You have been so precipitate and unwary in your proceedings, that it will
be impossible to set you right, even in idea, without recurring to
previous transactions and recalling to your view the whole history of your
conduct in the convention, as well as the subsequent display of patriotism
contained in your publication. I undertake this business, not that I think
it possible to help you out of your present embarrassments; but, as those
transactions have evidently slipt your memory, the recollection of the
blunder into which your inexperience has betrayed you, may be of eminent
service in forming future schemes of popularity, should the public ever
give you another opportunity to traduce and deceive them.

You will doubtless recollect the following state of facts—if you do not,
every member of the convention will attest them—that almost the whole time
during the setting of the convention, and until the constitution had
received its present form, no man was more plausible and conciliating upon
every subject than Mr. Gerry—he was willing to sacrifice every private
feeling and opinion—to concede every state interest that should be in the
least incompatible with the most substantial and permanent system of
general government—that mutual concession and unanimity were the whole
burden of his song; and although he originated no idea himself, yet there
was nothing in the system as it now stands to which he had the least
objection—indeed, Mr. Gerry’s conduct was agreeably surprising to all his
acquaintance, and very unlike that turbulent obstinacy of spirit which
they had formerly affixed to his character. Thus stood Mr. Gerry, till
toward the close of the business, he introduced a motion respecting the
redemption of the old Continental Money—that it should be placed upon a
footing with other liquidated securities of the United States.(39) As Mr.
Gerry was supposed to be possessed of large quantities of this species of
paper, his motion appeared to be founded in such barefaced selfishness and
injustice, that it at once accounted for all his former plausibility and
concession, while the rejection of it by the convention inspired its
author with the utmost rage and intemperate opposition to the whole system
he had formerly praised. His resentment could no more than embarrass and
delay the completion of the business for a few days; when he refused
signing the constitution and was called upon for his reasons. These
reasons were committed to writing by one of his colleagues and likewise by
the Secretary, as Mr. Gerry delivered them.(40) These reasons were totally
different from those which he has published, neither was a single
objection which is contained in his letter to the legislature of
Massachusetts ever offered by him in convention.

Now, Mr. Gerry, as this is generally known to be the state of facts, and
as neither the reasons which you publish nor those retained on the
Secretary’s files can be supposed to have the least affinity to truth, or
to contain the real motives which induced you to withhold your name from
the constitution, it appears to me that your plan was not judiciously
contrived. When we act without principle, we ought to be prepared against
embarrassments. You might have expected some difficulties in realizing
your continental money; indeed the chance was rather against your motion,
even in the most artful shape in which it could have been proposed. An
experienced hand would therefore have laid the whole plan beforehand, and
have guarded against a disappointment. You should have begun the business
with doubts, and expressed your sentiments with great ambiguity upon every
subject as it passed. This method would have secured you many advantages.
Your doubts and ambiguities, if artfully managed, might have passed, like
those of the Delphic Oracle, for wisdom and deliberation; and at the close
of the business you might have acted either for or against the
constitution, according to the success of your motion, without appearing
dishonest or inconsistent with yourself. One farther precaution would have
brought you off clear.

Instead of waiting till the convention rose, before you consulted your
friends at New York, you ought to have applied to them at an earlier
period, to know what objections you should make. They could have
instructed you as well in August as October.

With these advantages you might have past for a complete politician, and
your duplicity might never have been detected.

The enemies of America have always been extremely unfortunate in
concerting their measures. They have generally betrayed great ignorance of
the true spirit and feeling of the country, and they have failed to act in
concert with each other. This is uniformly conspicuous, from the first
Bute Parliament in London to the last Shays Parliament at Pelham.

The conduct of the enemies of the new constitution compares with that of
the other enemies above mentioned only in two particulars, its object and
its tendency.

Its object was self interest built on the ruins of the country, and its
tendency is the disgrace of its authors and the final prosperity of the
same country they meant to depress. Whether the constitution will be
adopted at the first trial in the conventions of nine states is at present
doubtful. It is certain, however, that its enemies have great difficulties
to encounter arising from their disunion: in the different states where
the opposition rages the most, their principles are totally opposite to
each other, and their objections discordant and irreconcilable, so that no
regular system can be formed among you, and you will betray each other’s

In Massachusetts the opposition began with you, and from motives most
pitifully selfish and despicable, you addressed yourself to the feelings
of the Shays faction, and that faction will be your only support. In New
York the opposition is not to this constitution in particular, but to the
federal impost, it is confined wholly to salary-men and their connections,
men whose salary is paid by the state impost. This class of citizens are
endeavoring to convince the ignorant part of the community that an annual
income of fifty thousand pounds, extorted from the citizens of
Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey, is a great blessing to the
state of New York. And although the regulation of trade and other
advantages of a federal government would secure more than five times that
sum to the people of that state, yet, as this would not come through the
same hands, these men find fault with the constitution. In Pennsylvania
the old quarrel respecting their state constitution has thrown the state
into parties for a number of years. One of these parties happened to
declare for the new federal constitution, and this was a sufficient motive
for the other to oppose it; the dispute there is not upon the merits of
the subject, but it is their old warfare carried on with different
weapons, and it was an even chance that the parties had taken different
sides from what they have taken, for there is no doubt but either party
would sacrifice the whole country to the destruction of their enemies. In
Virginia the opposition wholly originated in two principles; the madness
of Mason, and the enemity of the Lee faction to General Washington. Had
the General not attended the convention nor given his sentiments
respecting the constitution, the Lee party would undoubtedly have
supported it, and Col. Mason would have vented his rage to his own negroes
and to the winds. In Connecticut, our wrongheads are few in number and
feeble in their influence. The opposition here is not one-half so great to
the federal government as it was three years ago to the federal impost,
and the faction, such as it is, is from the same blindfold party.

I thought it my duty to give you these articles of information, for the
reasons above mentioned. Wishing you more caution and better success in
your future manœuvers, I have the honor to be, Sir, with great respect,
your very humble servant.


The Landholder, IX.

The Connecticut Courant, (Number 1197)




When the deputies of a free people are met to deliberate on a constitution
for their country; they must find themselves in a solemn situation. Few
persons realize the greatness of this business, and none can certainly
determine how it will terminate. A love of liberty in which we have all
been educated, and which your country expects on you to preserve sacred,
will doubtless make you careful not to lay such foundations as will
terminate in despotism. Oppression and a loss of liberty arise from very
different causes, and which at first blush appear totally different from

If you had only to guard against vesting an undue power in certain great
officers of state your work would be comparatively easy. This some times
occasions a loss of liberty, but the history of nations teacheth us that
for one instance from this cause, there are ten from the contrary, a want
of necessary power in some public department to protect and to preserve
the true interests of the people. America is at this moment in ten-fold
greater danger of slavery than ever she was from the councils of a British
monarchy, or the triumph of British arms. She is in danger from herself
and her own citizens, not from giving too much, but from denying all power
to her rulers—not from a constitution on despotic principles, but from
having no constitution at all. Should this great effort to organize the
empire prove abortive, heaven only knows the situation in which we shall
find ourselves; but there is reason to fear it will be troublesome enough.
It is awful to meet the passions of a people who not only believe but feel
themselves uncontrouled—who not finding from government the expected
protection of their interests, tho’ otherwise honest, become desperate,
each man determining to share by the spoils of anarchy, what he would wish
to acquire by industry under an efficient national protection. It becomes
the deputies of the people to consider what will be the consequence of a
miscarriage in this business. Ardent expectation is waiting for its
issue—all allow something is necessary—thousands of sufferers have stifled
their rights in reverence to the public effort—the industrious classes of
men are waiting with patience for better times, and should that be
rejected on which they make dependance, will not the public convulsion be
great? Or if the civil state should survive the first effects of
disappointment, what will be the consequences of slower operations? The
men who have done their best to give relief, will despair of success, and
gloomily determine that greater sufferings must open the eyes of the
deluded—the men who oppose, tho’ they may claim a temporary triumph, will
find themselves totally unable to propose, and much less to adopt a better
system; the narrowness of policy that they have pursued will instantly
appear more ridiculous than at present, and the triumph will spoil that
importance, which nature designed them to receive not by succeeding, but
by impeding national councils. These men cannot, therefore, be the
saviours of their country. While those who have been foremost in the
political contention disappear either thro’ despondence or neglect, every
man will do what is right in his own eyes and his hand will be against his
neighbor—industry will cease—the states will be filled with jealousy—some
opposing and others endeavoring to retaliate—a thousand existing factions,
and acts of public injustice, thro’ the temporary influence of parties,
will prepare the way for chance to erect a government, which might now be
established by deliberate wisdom. When government thus arises, it carries
an iron hand.

Should the states reject a union upon solid and efficient principles,
there needs but some daring genius to step forth, and impose an authority
which future deliberation never can correct. Anarchy, or a want of such
government as can protect the interests of the subjects against foreign
and domestic injustice, is the worst of all conditions. It is a condition
which mankind will not long endure. To avoid its distress they will resort
to any standard which is erected, and bless the ambitious usurper as a
messenger sent by heaven to save a miserable people. We must not depend
too much on the enlightened state of the country; in deliberation this may
preserve us, but when deliberation proves abortive, we are immediately to
calculate on other principles, and enquire to what may the passions of men
lead them, when they have deliberated to the utmost extent of patience,
and been foiled in every measure, by a set of men who think their
emoluments more safe upon a partial system, than upon one which regards
the national good.

Politics ought to be free from passion—we ought to have patience for a
certain time with those who oppose a federal system. But have they not
been indulged until the state is on the brink of ruin, and they appear
stubborn in error? Have they not been our scourge and the perplexers of
our councils for many years? Is it not thro’ their policy that the state
of New York draws an annual tribute of forty thousand pounds from the
citizens of Connecticut? Is it not by their means that our foreign trade
is ruined, and the farmer unable to command a just price for his
commodities? The enlightened part of the people have long seen their
measures to be destructive, and it is only the ignorant and jealous who
give them support. The men who oppose this constitution are the same who
have been unfederal from the beginning. They were as unfriendly to the old
confederation as to the system now proposed, but bore it with more
patience because it was wholly inefficacious. They talk of amendments—of
dangerous articles which must be corrected—that they will heartily join in
a safe plan of federal government; but when we look on their past conduct
can we think them sincere? Doubtless their design is to procrastinate, and
by this carry their own measures; but the artifice must not succeed. The
people are now ripe for a government which will do justice to their
interests, and if the honourable convention deny them, they will despair
of help. They have shewn a noble spirit in appointing their first citizens
for this business—when convened you will constitute the most august
assembly that were ever collected in the State, and your duty is the
greatest that can be expected from men, the salvation of your country. If
coolness and magnanimity of mind attend your deliberations, all little
objections will vanish, and the world will be more astonished by your
political wisdom than they were by the victory of your arms.


The Landholder, X.

The Maryland Journal, (Number 1016)


For the Maryland Journal, etc.



I have just met with your performance in favour of the Honourable Mr.
Gerry, published in the Maryland Journal of the 18th January, 1788. As the
Public may be ignorant of the Sacrifice you have made of your resentments
on this occasion, you will excuse me for communicating what your extreme
modesty must have induced you to conceal. You, no doubt, remember that you
and Mr. Gerry never voted alike in Convention, except in the instances I
shall hereafter enumerate. He uniformly opposed your principles, and so
far did you carry your abhorrence of his politics, as to inform certain
members to be on their guard against his wiles, so that, he and Mr. Mason
held private meetings, where plans were concerted “to aggrandise, at the
expence of the small States, Old Massachusetts and the Ancient Dominion.”
After having thus opposed him and accused him, to appear his Champion and
intimate acquaintance, has placed you beyond the reach of ordinary
panegyric. Having done this justice to your magnanimity, I cannot resist
drawing the veil of the Convention a little farther aside; not, I assure
you, with any intention to give pain to your Constituents, but merely to
induce them to pity you for the many piercing mortifications you met with
in the discharge of your duty. The day you took your seat(43) must be long
remembered by those who were present; nor will it be possible for you to
forget the astonishment your behaviour almost instantaneously produced.
You had scarcely time to read the propositions which had been agreed to
after the fullest investigation, when, without requesting information, or
to be let into the reasons of the adoption of what you might not approve,
you opened against them in a speech which held during two days, and which
might have continued two months, but for those marks of fatigue and
disgust you saw strongly expressed on whichever side of the house you
turned your mortified eyes. There needed no other display to fix your
character and the rank of your abilities, which the Convention would have
confirmed by the most distinguished silence, had not a certain similarity
in genius provoked a sarcastic reply from the pleasant Mr. Gerry; in which
he admired the strength of your lungs and your profound knowledge in the
first principles of government; mixing and illustrating his little remarks
with a profusion of those hems, that never fail to lengthen out and
enliven his oratory. This reply (from your intimate acquaintance), the
match being so equal and the contrast so comic, had the happy effect to
put the house in good humor, and leave you a prey to the most humiliating
reflections. But this did not teach you to bound your future speeches by
the lines of moderation; for the very next day you exhibited without a
blush another specimen of eternal volubility. It was not, however, to the
duration of your speeches you owed the perfection of your reputation. You,
alone, advocated the political heresy, that the people ought not to be
trusted with the election of representatives.(44) You held the jargon,
that notwithstanding each state had an equal number of votes in the
Senate; yet the states were unequally represented in the Senate. You
espoused the tyrannic principle, that where a State refused to comply with
a requisition of Congress for money, that an army should be marched into
its bowels, to fall indiscriminately upon the property of the innocent and
the guilty, instead of having it collected as the Constitution proposed,
by the mild and equal operation of laws. One hour you sported the opinion
that Congress, afraid of the militia resisting their measures, would
neither arm nor organize them, and the next, as if men required no time to
breathe between such contradictions, that they would harass them by long
and unnecessary marches, till they wore down their spirit and rendered
them fit subjects for despotism. You, too, contended that the powers and
authorities of the new Constitution must destroy the liberties of the
people; but that the same powers and authorities might be safely trusted
with the Old Congress. You cannot have forgotten, that by such ignorance
in politics and contradictory opinions, you exhausted the politeness of
the Convention, which at length prepared to slumber when you rose to
speak; nor can you have forgotten, you were only twice appointed a member
of a Committee, or that these appointments were made merely to avoid your
endless garrulity, and if possible, lead you to reason, by the easy road
of familiar conversation. But lest you should say that I am a record only
of the bad, I shall faithfully recognize whatever occurred to your
advantage. You originated that clause in the Constitution which enacts,
that “This Constitution and the laws of the United States Which shall be
made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made or which shall be made,
under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the
land, and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in
the Constitution or the law of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.”
You voted that an appeal should lay to the Supreme Judiciary of the United
States, for the correction of all errors, both in law and fact. You also
agreed to the clause that declares nine States to be sufficient to put the
government in motion.(45) These are among the greater positive virtues you
exhibited in the Convention; but it would be doing you injustice were I to
omit those of a negative nature. Since the publication of the
Constitution, every topic of vulgar declamation has been employed to
persuade the people, that it will destroy the trial by jury, and is
defective for being without a bill of rights. You, sir, had more candour
in the Convention than we can allow to those declaimers out of it; there
you never signified by any motion or expression whatever, that it stood in
need of a bill of rights, or in any wise endangered the trial by jury. In
these respects the Constitution met your entire approbation; for had you
believed it defective in these essentials, you ought to have mentioned it
in Convention, or had you thought it wanted further guards, it was your
indispensable duty to have proposed them. I hope to hear that the same
candour that influenced you on this occasion, has induced you to obviate
any improper impressions such publications may have excited in your
constituents, when you had the honor to appear before the General
Assembly.(46) From such high instances of your approbation (for every
member, like you, had made objections to parts of the Constitution) the
Convention were led to conclude that you would have honored it with your
signature, had you not been called to Maryland upon some indispensable
business; nor ought it to be withheld from you, that your colleagues
informed many Gentlemen of the House, that you told them you intended to
return before its completion. Durst I proceed beyond these facts, to which
the whole Convention can witness, I would ask you why you changed your
opinion of the Constitution after leaving Philadelphia. I have it from
good authority that you complained to an intimate acquaintance, that
nothing grieved you so much as the apprehension of being detained in
Maryland longer than you could wish; for that you had rather lose one
hundred guineas, than not have your name appear to the Constitution. But
as this circumstance seems to have been overlooked when you composed your
defence of Mr. Gerry, you may have your recollection of it revived by
applying to Mr. Young, of Spruce street, Philadelphia, to whom you made
your complaint. But leaving this curious piece of human vanity to such
further investigation as you may think it deserves, let us come to those
matters more particularly between us. You have said, that you never heard
Mr. Gerry, or any other member, introduce a proposition for the redemption
of Continental money according to its nominal or any other value; nor did
you ever hear that such a proposition had been offered to the Convention,
or had been thought of. That the Public may clearly comprehend what degree
of credit ought to be given to this kind of evidence, they should know the
time you were absent from the Convention, as well as the time you
attended. If it should appear that you were only a few days absent, when
unimportant business was the object, they will conclude in your favour,
provided they entertain a good opinion of your veracity; on the other
hand, should it appear that you were absent nearly half the session,
however your veracity may be esteemed, they must reject your evidence. As
you have not stated this necessary information, I shall do it for you. The
Session of Convention commenced the 14th of May, and ended the 17th of
September, which makes 126 days. You took your seat the 10th of June,(47)
and left it the 4th of September, of which period you were absent at
Baltimore ten days, and as many at New York, so that you attended only 66
days out of 126. Now, sir, is it to be presumed that you could have been
minutely informed of all that happened in Convention, and committees of
Convention, during the 60 days of your absence? or does it follow by any
rule of reasoning or logic, that because a thing did not happen in the 66
days you were present, that it did not happen in the 60 days which you did
not attend? Is it anywise likely that you could have heard what passed,
especially during the last 13 days, within which period the Landholder has
fixed the apostacy of Mr. Gerry? or if it is likely that your particular
intimacy with Mr. Gerry would stimulate to inquiries respecting his
conduct, why is it that we do not see Mr. McHenry’s verification of your
assertion, who was of the Committee for considering a proposition for the
debts of the union? Your reply to my second charge against this gentleman
may be soon dismissed. Compare his letter to the Legislature of his State
with your defence, and you will find that you have put into his mouth
objections different from anything it contains, so that if your
representation be true, his must be false. But there is another
circumstance which militates against your new friend. Though he was face
to face with his colleagues at the State Convention of Massachusetts,(48)
he has not ventured to call upon them to clear him either of this charge,
or that respecting the Continental money. But as the Public seemed to
require that something should be said on this occasion, an anonymous
writer denies that he made such a motion, and endeavours to abate the
force of my second allegation, merely by supposing that “his colleagues
were men of too much honor to assert that his reasons in Convention were
totally different from those which he has published.”

But alas, his colleagues would not acquit him in this way, and he was of
too proud a spirit to ask them to do it in person.(49) Hence the charge
remains on its original grounds, while you, for want of proper concert,
have joined his accusers and reduced him to the humiliating necessity of
endeavouring to stifle your justification. These points being dismissed,
it remains only to reconcile the contradictory parts you have acted on the
great political stage. You entered the convention without a sufficient
knowledge in the science of government, where you committed a succession
of memorable blunders, as the work advanced. Some rays of light penetrated
your understanding, and enabled you (as has been shown) to assist in
raising some of its pillars, when the desire of having your name enrolled
with the other laborers drew from you that remarkable complaint so
expressive of vanity and conviction. But self-interest soon gained the
ascendant, you quickly comprehended the delicacy of your situation, and
this restored your first impressions in all their original force. You
thought the Deputy Attorney General of the United States for the state of
Maryland, destined for a different character, and that inspired you with
the hope that you might derive from a desperate opposition what you saw no
prospect of gaining by a contrary conduct. But I will venture to predict,
that though you were to double your efforts, you would fail in your
object. I leave you now to your own reflections, under a promise, however,
to give my name to the public, should you be able to procure any
indifferent testimony to contradict a single fact I have stated.

February, 1788.


The Landholder, X.

[This number duplicates the preceding one, for an explanation of which see
the foot-note to the first Number X.—_Ed._]

The Connecticut Courant, (Number 1206)

MONDAY, MARCH 3, 1788.


The opposition in your state to the new federal constitution, is an event
surprising to your New England brethren, yet we are not disposed to
criminate a people, which made such gallant efforts in the establishment
of the American Empire. It is the prerogative of freemen to determine
their own form of government, and if this constitution is not addressed to
your interest, if it is not calculated to preserve your freedom and make
you glorious, we wish you not to accept it. We have fought by your side,
we have long been connected in interest, and with many of you by
consanguinity, and wish that you may share with us in all the benefits of
a great and free empire. Brethren who differ in their opinions how a
common interest may be best governed, ought to deliberate with coolness,
and not wantonly accuse each other, either of folly or design.
Massachusetts and Connecticut have decidedly judged the new government
well calculated not only for the whole but for the northern states. Either
you or these states have judged wrong. Your interests are similar to
theirs, and cannot be separated from them without counteracting nature.

If there be any one state more interested than the others in the adoption
of this system, it is New Hampshire. Your local situation, which can never
be altered, is a solemn argument in its favor. Tho’ separated from the
government of Britain at no less price than the blood of your bravest
sons, you border on her dominions. She is your enemy, and wishes nothing
more than your submission to her laws, and to the will of her proud

Her force may easily be pointed thro’ your whole territory and a few
regiments would effectually banish resistance. New Hampshire, tho’ growing
in population, and amongst the first states in personal bravery, cannot
yet stand alone. Should a disunion of the states tempt Britain to make
another effort for recovering her former greatness, you will be the first
to fall under her sway. In such case you will have nothing to expect from
the other states. Dispirited with a fruitless attempt to unite in some
plan of general government and protection, they will say, let the
dissenting states abide the consequence of their own false opinions.
Though such a reply might not be wise, it would be exactly comfortable to
what we have ever found in human nature; and nature will have its course,
let policy be what it may. You are the northern barrier of the United
States, and by your situation, must first meet any hostile animosity from
that quarter designed against any part of them. It is certainly for the
interest of a barrier country, to have a general government on such
efficient principles, as can point the force of the whole for its relief
when attacked. The old constitution could not do this; that now under
consideration, if accepted, we trust will produce a circulation of riches
and the powers of protection to the most extreme parts of the body. On
these principles it has generally been said that New Hampshire and Georgia
would be amongst the first in adopting. Georgia has done it, not, perhaps,
because they were more wise than New Hampshire, but being pressed with a
dangerous war in the very moment of decision, they felt its necessity; and
feeling is an argument none can resist. Trust not to any complaisance of
those British provinces on your northern borders, or those artful men who
govern them, who were selected on purpose to beguile your politicks, and
divide and weaken the union. When the hour for a permanent connection
between the states is past, the teeth of the lion will be again made bare,
and you must be either devoured, or become its jackal to hunt for prey in
the other states.

We believe those among you who are opposed to the system, as honest and
brave as any part of the community, and cannot suspect them of any design
against American Independence; but such persons ought to consider what
will be the probable consequence of their dissent; and whether this is not
the only hour in which this community can be saved from a condition, which
is, on all hands, allowed to be dangerous and unhappy. There are certain
critical periods in which nations, as well as individuals, who have fallen
into perplexity, by a wise exertion may save themselves and be glorious.
Such is the present era in American policy, but if we do not see the hour
of our salvation, there is no reason to expect that heaven will repeat it.
The unexpected harmony of the federal Convention—their mutual
condescension in the reconcilement of jarring interests and opposing
claims between the several States—the formation of a system so efficient
in appearance, at the same time so well guarded against an oppression of
the subject—the concurring sentiments of a vast majority thro’ the United
States, of those persons who have been most experienced in policy, and
most eminent in wisdom and virtue; are events which must be attributed to
the special influence of heaven.

To be jealous of our liberties is lawful, but jealously in excess is a
deliriam [sic] of the imagination, by no means favourable to liberty. If
you would be free and happy a power must be created to protect your
persons and properties; otherwise you are slaves to all mankind. Your
British neighbors have long known these truths, and will not fail by their
emissaries to seminate such jealousies as favor their own designs.

To prophesy evil is ungrateful business; but forgive me when I predict,
that the adoption of this Constitution is the only probable means of
saving the greatest part of your State from becoming an appendage of
Canada or Nova Scotia. In some future paper I shall assign other reasons
why New Hampshire, more than any other State, is interested in this event.


The Landholder, XI.

The Connecticut Courant, (Number 1207)

MONDAY, MARCH 10, 1788.


Those who wish to enjoy the blessings of society must be willing to suffer
some restraint of personal liberty, and devote some part of their property
to the public that the remainder may be secured and protected. The
cheapest form of government is not always best, for parsimony, though it
spends little, generally gains nothing. Neither is that the best
government which imposes the least restraint on its subjects; for the
benefit of having others restrained may be greater than the disadvantage
of being restrained ourselves. That is the best form of government which
returns the greatest number of advantages in proportion to the
disadvantages with which it is attended.

Measured by this rule, the state of New Hampshire cannot expect a
Constitution preferable to that now proposed for the union. In point of
defence it gives you the whole force of the empire, so arranged as to act
speedily and in concert, which is an article of greatest importance to the
frontier states. With the present generation of men, national interest is
the measure by which war or peace are determined; and when we see the
British nation, by a late treaty, paying an enormous annual subsidy to the
little principality of Hesse-Cassel for the purpose of retaining her in
military alliance, it should teach us the necessity of those parts in the
Constitution which enable the efficient force of the whole to be opposed
to an invasion of any part.

A national revenue and the manner of collecting it is another very
interesting matter, and here the citizens of New Hampshire have better
terms offered them, than their local situation can ever enable them to
demand or enforce. Impost and duties on trade, which must be collected in
the great importing towns, are the means by which an American revenue will
be principally, and perhaps wholly raised. But a point of your state comes
near the sea, and that point so situated that it never can collect
commerce, and become an emporium for the whole state. Nineteen parts in
twenty of New Hampshire are greatly inland, so that local situation
necessitates you to be an agricultural people; and this is not a hard
necessity, if you now form such a political connection with other states,
as will entitle you to a just share in that revenue they raise on
commerce. New York, the trading towns on Connecticut River, and Boston,
are the sources from which a great part of your foreign supplies will be
obtained, and where your produce will be exposed for market.

In all these places an impost is collected, of which, as consumers, you
pay a share without deriving any public benefit. You cannot expect any
alteration in the private systems of these states, unless effected by the
proposed governments, neither to remedy the evil can you command trade
from the natural channels, but must sit down contented under the burden,
if the present hour of deliverance be not accepted. This argument alone,
if there were no other, ought to decide you in favour of adoption.

It has been said that you object to the number of inhabitants being a
ratio to determine your proportion of the national expence—that your lands
are poor, but the climate favourable to population, which will draw a
share of expence beyond your ability to pay. I do not think this objection
well founded. Long experience hath taught that the number of industrious
inhabitants in any climate is not only the strength, but the wealth of a
state, and very justly measures their ability of defraying public
expences, without encroaching on the necessary support of life.

If a great proportion of your lands are barren, you ought likewise to
remember another rule of nature; that the population and fertility in many
tracts of country will be proportioned to each other. Accidental causes
for a short time may interrupt the rule, but they cannot be of dangerous
continuance. Force may controul a despotic government, and commerce may
interrupt it in an advantageous situation for trade; but from the first of
these causes you have no reason to fear, and the last, should it happen,
will increase wealth with numbers.

The fishery is a source of wealth and an object of immense consequence to
all the eastern coasts. The jealousy of European nations ought to teach us
its value. So far as you become a navigating people, the fishery should be
an object of your first attention. It cannot flourish until patronized and
protected by the general government. All the interests of navigation and
commerce must be protected by the union or come to ruin, and in our
present system where is the power to do it?

When Americans are debarred the fishery, as will soon be the case unless a
remedy is provided, all the eastern shores will become miserably poor.

Your forests embosom an immense quantity of timber for ship-building and
the lumber trade, but of how little value at present you cannot be
ignorant, and the value cannot increase until American navigation and
commerce are placed on a respectable footing, which no single state can do
for itself. The embarrassments of trade lower the price of your produce,
which with the distance of transportation almost absorbs the value; and
when by a long journey we have arrived at the place of market, even the
finest of your grain will not command cash, at that season of the year
most convenient for you to transport. Hence arises that scarcity of specie
of which you complain. Your interest is intimately connected with that of
the most commercial states, and you cannot separate it. When trade is
embarrassed the merchant is the first to complain, but the farmer in event
bears more than his share of the loss.

Let the citizens of New Hampshire candidly consider these facts, and they
must be convinced that no other state is so much interested in adopting
that system of government now under consideration.


The Landholder presents his most respectful compliments to Hon W.
Williams,(51) and begs leave to remind him that many dispensations in this
world, which have the appearance of judgment, are designed in goodness.
Such was the short address to you, and though at first it might excite an
exquisite sensibility of injury, will in its consequence prove to your
advantage, by giving you an honorable opportunity to come out and declare
your sentiments to the people. It had been represented in several parts of
the state, to the great surprise of your friends, that you wished some
religious test as an introduction to office, but as you have explained the
matter, it is only a religious preamble which you wish—against preambles
we have no animosity. Every man hath a sovereign right to use words in his
own sense, and when he hath explained himself, it ought to be believed
that he uses them conscientiously. The Landholder, for the sake of his
honourable friend, regrets that he denies his having used his name
publicly as a writer, for, though the honourable gentleman doubtless
asserts the truth, there are a great number of those odd people who really
think they were present on that occasion, and have such a strong habit of
believing their senses, that they will not be convinced even by evidence
which is superior to all sense. But it must be so in this imperfect world.

P. S. The Landholder begs his honourable friend not to be surprised at his
former address, as he can assure him most seriously, that he does not even
conjecture by whom it was written.

The Landholder, XII.

The Connecticut Courant, (Number 1208)

MONDAY, MARCH 17, 1788.


The singular system of policy adopted by your state, no longer excites
either the surprise or indignation of mankind. There are certain extremes
of iniquity, which are beheld with patience, from a fixed conviction that
the transgressor is inveterate, and that his example from its great
injustice hath no longer a seducing influence. Milton’s lapse of the
angels and their expulsion from Heaven, produces deeper regret in a
benevolent mind than all the evil tricks they have played or torments they
have suffered since the bottomless pit became their proper home. Something
similar to this is excited in beholding the progress of human depravity.
Our minds cannot bear to be always pained; the Creator hath, therefore
wisely provided that our tender sentiments should subside, in those
desperate cases where there is no longer a probability that any effort to
which we may be excited, will have a power to reclaim. But though our
benevolence is no longer distressed with the injustice of your measures,
as philosophers above the feelings of passion, we can speculate on them to
our advantage. The sentiment thrown out by some of our adventurous
divines, that the permission of sin is the highest display of supreme
wisdom, and the greatest blessing to the universe, is most successfully
illustrated by the effects of your general policy.

In point of magnitude, your little state bears much the same proportion to
the united American empire, as the little world doth to the immense
intelligent universe; and if the apostacy of man hath conveyed such solemn
warning and instruction to the whole, as your councils have to every part
of the union, no one will doubt the usefulness of Adam’s fall. At the
commencement of peace, America was placed in a singular situation. Fear of
a common danger could no longer bind us together; patriotism had done its
best and was wearied with exertion rewarded only by ingratitude—our
federal system was inadequate for national government and justice, and
from inexperience the great body of the people were ignorant what
consequences should flow from the want of them. Experiments in public
credit, though ruinous to thousands, and a disregard to the promises of
government had been pardoned in the moment of extreme necessity, and many
honest men did not realize that a repetition of them in an hour less
critical would shake the existence of society. Men full of evil and
desperate fortune were ready to propose every method of public fraud that
can be effected by a violation of public faith and depreciating promises.
This poison of the community was their only preservation from deferred
poverty, and from prisons appointed to be the reward of indolence and
knavery. An easement of the poor and necessitous was plead as a reason for
measures which have reduced them to more extreme necessity. Most of the
states have had their prejudices against an efficient and just government,
and have made their experiments in a false policy; but it was done with a
timorous mind, and seeing the evil they have receded. A sense of
subordination and moral right was their check. Most of the people were
convinced, and but few remained who wished to establish iniquity by law.
To silence such opposition as might be made to the new constitution, it
was fit that public injustice should be exhibited in its greatest degree
and most extreme effects. For this end Heaven permitted your apostacy from
all the principles of good and just government. By your system we see
unrighteousness in the essence, in effects, and in its native miseries.
The rogues of every other state blush at the exhibition, and say you have
betrayed them by carrying the matter too far. The very naming of your
measures is a complete refutation of anti-federalism, paper money and
tender acts, for no man chooses such company in argument.

The distress to which many of your best citizens are reduced—the groans of
ruined creditors, of widows and orphans, demonstrates that unhappiness
follows vice by the unalterable laws of nature and society. I did not
mention the stings of conscience, but the authors of public distress ought
to remember that there is a world where conscience will not sleep.

Is it now at length time to consider. The great end for which your
infatuation was permitted is now become complete. The whole union has seen
and fears, and while history gives true information, no other people will
ever repeat the studied process of fraud. You may again shew the distorted
features of injustice, but never in more lively colors, or by more able
hands than has been done already. As virtue and good government has
derived all possible advantage from your experiment, and every other state
thanks you for putting their own rogues and fools out of countenance,
begin to have mercy on yourselves. You may not expect to exist in this
course any longer than is necessary for public good; and there is no need
that such a kind of warning as you set before us should be eternal. Secure
as you may feel in prosecuting what all the rest of mankind condemn, the
hour of your political revolution is at hand. The cause is within to
yourselves, and needs but the permission of your neighbors to take its
full effect. Every moral and social law calls for a review, and a volume
of penal statutes cannot prevent it. They are in the first instance
nullified by injustice, and five years hence not a man in your territories
will presume their vindication. Passion and obstinacy, which were called
in to aid injustice, have had their reign, and can support you no longer.
By a change of policy give us evidence that you are returned to manhood
and honour. The inventors of such councils can never be forgiven in this
world, but the people at large who acted by their guidance may break from
the connection and restore themselves to virtue.

There are among you legislators eminent, through the union for their
wisdom and integrity. Penetrated with grief and astonishment they stand in
silence, waiting the return of your reason. They are the only men who can
remove the impassable gulph that is between you and the rest of mankind.
In your situation there must be some sacrifice. It is required by the
necessity of the case, and for the dignity of government. You have guilty
victims enough for whom even benevolence will not plead; let them make the
atonement and save your state. The large body of a people are rarely
guilty of any crime greater than indiscretion, in following those who have
no qualification to lead but an unblushing assurance infraud. Acknowledge
the indiscretion, and leave those whom you have followed into the
quicksands of death to the infamy prepared for them, and from which they
cannot be reserved. Your situation admits no compounding of opposite
systems, or halving with justice, but to make the cure there must be an
entire change of measures. The Creator of nature and its laws made justice
as necessary for nations as for individuals, and this necessity hath been
sealed by the fate of all obstinate offenders. If you will not hear your
own groans, nor feel the pangs of your own torture, it must continue until
removed by a political annihilation. Such as do not pity themselves cannot
be long be pitied.

Determined that our feelings shall be no longer wounded by any thing to
which despair may lead you, with philosophic coolness we wait to continue
our speculations on the event.


The Landholder, XIII.

The Connecticut Courant, (Number 1209)

MONDAY, MARCH 24, 1788.

The attempt to amend our federal Constitution, which for some time past
hath engrossed the public regard, is doubtless become an old and unwelcome
topic to many readers, whose opinions are fixed, or who are concerned for
the event. There are other subjects which claim a share of attention, both
from the public and from private citizens. It is good government which
secures the fruits of industry and virtue; but the best system of
government cannot produce general happiness unless the people are
virtuous, industrious and economical.

The love of wealth is a passion common to men, and when justly regulated
it is conducive to human happiness. Industry may be encouraged by good
laws; wealth may be protected by civil regulations; but we are not to
depend on these to create it for us, while we are indolent and luxurious.
Industry is most favourable to the moral virtue of the world; it is
therefore wisely ordered by the Author of Nature, that the blessings of
this world should be acquired by our own application in some business
useful to society; so that we have no reason to expect any climate or soil
will be found, or any age take place, in which plenty and wealth will be
spontaneously produced. The industry and labour of a people furnish a
general rule to measure their wealth, and if we use the means we may
promise ourselves the reward. The present state of America will limit the
greatest part of its inhabitants to agriculture; for as the art of tilling
the earth is easily acquired, the price of land low, and the produce
immediately necessary for life, greater encouragement to this is offered
here than in any country on earth. But still suffer me to enquire whether
we are not happily circumstanced and actually able to manage some
principal manufactories with success, and increase our wealth by
increasing the labour of the people, and saving the surplus of our
earnings for a better purpose than to purchase the labour of the European
nations. It is a remark often made, and generally believed, that in a
country so new as this, where the price of land is low and the price of
labour high, manufactories cannot be conducted with profit. This may be
true of some manufactures, but of others it is grossly false. It is now in
the power of New England to make itself more formidable to Great Britain
by rivaling some of her principal manufactures, than ever it was by
separating from her government. Woolen cloaths, the principal English
manufacture, may more easily be rivaled than any other. Purchasing all the
materials and labour at the common price of the country, cloths of
three-quarters width, may be fabricated for six shillings per yard, of
fineness and beauty equal to English cloths of six quarters width, which
fell at twenty shillings. The cost of our own manufacture is little more
than half of the imported, and for service it is allowed to be much
preferable. It is found that our wool is of equal quality with the
English, and that what we once supposed the defect in our wool, is only a
deficiency in cleaning, sorting and dressing it.

It gives me pleasure to hear that a number of gentlemen in Hartford and
the neighboring towns are forming a fund for the establishment of a great
woolen manufactory. The plan will doubtless succeed; and be more
profitable to the stockholders that money deposited in trade. As the
manufacture of cloths is introduced, the raising of wool and flax, the raw
materials, will become an object of the farmer’s attention.

Sheep are the most profitable part of our stock, and the breed is much
sooner multiplied than horses or cattle. Why do not our opulent farmers
avail themselves of the profit? An experience would soon convince them
there is no better method of advancing property, and their country would
thank them for the trial. Sheep are found to thrive and the wool to be of
good quality in every part of New England, but as this animal delights in
grazing, and is made healthy by coming often to the earth, our sea-coasts
with the adjacent country, where snow is of short continuance, are
particularly favourable to their propagation. Our hilly coasts were
designed by nature for this, and every part of the country that abounds in
hills ought to make an experiment by which they will be enriched.

In Connecticut, the eastern and southern counties, with the highlands on
Connecticut river towards the sea, ought to produce more wool than would
cloath the inhabitants of the state. At present the quantity falls short
of what is needed by our own consumption; if a surplusage could be
produced, it would find a ready market and the best pay.

The culture of flax, another principal material for manufacturing, affords
great profit to the farmer. The seed of this crop when it succeeds will
pay the husbandman for his labour, and return a better ground-rent than
many other crops which are cultivated. The seed is one of our best
articles for remittance and exportation abroad. Dressing and preparing the
flax for use is done in the most leisure part of the year, when labour is
cheap, and we had better work for sixpence a day and become wealthy, than
to be idle and poor.

It is not probable the market can be overstocked, or if it should chance
for a single season to be the case, no article is more meliorated by time,
or will better pay for keeping by an increase of quality. A large flax
crop is one most certain sign of a thrifty husbandman. The present method
of agriculture in a course of different crops is well calculated to give
the husbandman a sufficiency of flax ground, as it is well known that this
vegetable will not thrive when sown successively in the same place.

The nail manufacture might be another source of wealth to the northern
states. Why should we twice transport our own iron, and pay other nations
for labour which our boys might perform as well? The art of nail-making is
easily acquired. Remittances have actually been made from some parts of
the state in this article; the example is laudable, and ought to be
imitated. The sources of wealth are open to us, and there needs but
industry to become as rich as we are free.



Printed In
The American Mercury,
February 1788.


This letter was occasioned by the following communication, which was
printed in the _Connecticut Courant_ for Monday, February 4, 1788, (number


_Sir_:—Whenever one man makes a charge against another, reason and justice
require that he should be able to support the charge. In some late
publications, I have offered my sentiments on the new constitution, have
adduced some arguments in favour of it, and answered objections to it. I
did not wish to enter into a controversy with any man. But I am unwilling
to have accusations publickly thrown out against me, without an
opportunity to answer them. In the late convention, when a _religious
test_ was the subject of debate, you took the liberty of saying _that the
Landholder_ (in treating of the same subject) _had missed the point; that
he had raised up a man of straw, and kicked it over again_. Now, Sir, I
wish this matter may be fairly cleared up. I wish to know, what is the
real point? Who and what the _real_ man is? Or in other words, what a
religious test is? I certainly have a right to expect that you will answer
these questions, and let me know wherein I am in the wrong. Perhaps you
may show that my ideas on the subject are erroneous. In order to do this,
it would not be amiss to offer a few reasons and arguments. You doubtless
had such as were convincing, at least to yourself, though you happen to
omit them at the time of the debate. If you will shew that I am in the
wrong, I will candidly acknowledge my mistake. If on the contrary you
should be unable to prove your assertions, the public will judge, whether
_you or I have missed the point_; and which of us has _committed the crime
of making a man of straw_.

Not doubting but you will have the candour to come to an explanation on
this subject,

I am, Sir, your humble servant,


From The Landholder’s statement printed at page 195 of this volume, it
appears that this signature was employed by another man, in this instance.

Letter Of William Williams.

The American Mercury, (Number 88)



Since the Federal Constitution has had so calm, dispassionate and so happy
an issue, in the late worthy Convention of this State; I did not expect
any members of that hon. body to be challenged in a News-paper, and
especially by name, and by anonymous writers, on account of their opinion,
or decently expressing their sentiments relative to the great subject then
under consideration, or any part of it. Nor do I yet see the propriety, or
happy issue of such a proceeding. However as a gentleman in your Paper
feels uneasy, that every sentiment contained in his publications, (tho’ in
general they are well written) is not received with perfect acquiescence
and submission, I will endeavour to satisfy him, or the candid reader, by
the same channel, that I am not so reprehensible as he supposes, in the
matter refer’d to. When the clause in the 6th article, which provides that
“no religious test should ever be required as a qualification to any
office or trust, &c.” came under consideration, I observed I should have
chose that sentence and anything relating to a religious test, had been
totally omitted rather than stand as it did, but still more wished
something of the kind should have been inserted, but with a reverse sense,
so far as to require an explicit acknowledgment of the being of a God, his
perfections and his providence, and to have been prefixed to, and stand
as, the first introductory words of the Constitution, in the following or
similar terms, viz. _We the people of the United States, in a firm belief
of the being and perfections of the one living and true God, the creator
and supreme Governour of the world, in his universal providence and the
authority of his laws; that he will require of all moral agents an account
of their conduct; that all rightful powers among men are ordained of, and
mediately derived from God; therefore in a dependence on his blessing and
acknowledgment of his efficient protection in establishing our
Independence, whereby it is become necessary to agree upon and settle a
Constitution of federal government for ourselves_, and in order to form a
more perfect union &c., as it is expressed in the present introduction, do
ordain &c., and instead of none, that no other religious test should ever
be required &c., and that supposing, but not granting, this would _be no
security at all_, that it would make hypocrites, &c. yet this would not be
a sufficient reason against it; as it would be a public declaration
against, and disapprobation of men, who did not, even with sincerity, make
such a profession, and they must be left to the searcher of hearts; that
it would however, be the voice of the great body of the people, and an
acknowledgment proper and highly becoming them to express on this great
and only occasion, and according to the course of Providence, one mean of
obtaining blessings from the most high. But that since it was not, and so
difficult and dubious to get inserted, I would not wish to make it a
capital objection; that I had no more idea of a religious test, which
should restrain offices to any particular sect, class, or denomination of
men or Christians in the long list of diversity, than to regulate their
bestowments by the stature or dress of the candidate, nor did I believe
one sensible catholic man in the state wished for such a limitation; and
that therefore the News-Paper observations, and reasonings (I named no
author) against a test, in favour of any one denomination of Christians,
and the sacrilegious injunctions of the test laws of England &c.,
combatted objections which did not exist, and _was building up a man of
straw and knocking him down again_. These are the same and only ideas and
sentiments I endeavoured to communicate on that subject, tho’ perhaps not
precisely in the same terms; as I had not written, nor preconceived them,
except the proposed test, and whether there is any reason in them or not,
I submit to the public.

I freely confess such a test and acknowledgment would have given me great
additional satisfaction; and I conceive the arguments against it, on the
score of hypocrisy, would apply with equal force against requiring an oath
from any officer of the united or individual states; and with little
abatement, to any oath in any case whatever; but divine and human wisdom,
with universal experience, have approved and established them as useful,
and a security to mankind.

I thought it was my duty to make the observations, in this behalf, which I
did, and to bear my testimony for God; and that it was also my duty to say
_the Constitution_, with this, and some other faults of another kind, was
yet too wise and too necessary to be rejected.


P. S.—I could not have suspected the Landholder (if I know him) to be the
author of the piece referred to; but if he or any other is pleased to
reply, without the signature of his proper name, he will receive no
further answer or notice from me.

Feb. 2d, 1788.


Printed In
The New Haven Gazette,
November-December, 1787.


In the file of The New Haven Gazette formerly owned by Simeon Baldwin, an
intimate friend, and afterwards executor of Roger Sherman, it is noted by
the former that the essays of A Countryman were written by the latter.

Following this series are two essays written by Sherman under a different
signature, after the adoption of the Constitution, which are an
interesting contrast to these. It will be noted in the first of these,
that Sherman alludes to what he “had endeavored to show in a former

A Countryman, I.

The New Haven Gazette, (Number 39)



You are now called on to make important alterations in your government, by
ratifying the new federal constitution.

There are, undoubtedly, such advantages to be expected from this measure,
as will be sufficient inducement to adopt the proposal, provided it can be
done without sacrificing more important advantages, which we now do or may
possess. By a wise provision in the constitution of man, whenever a
proposal is made to change any present habit or practice, he much more
minutely considers what he is to _lose_ by the alterations, what effect it
is to have on what he at present possesses, than what is to be _hoped_ for
in the proposed expedient.

Thus people are justly cautious how they exchange present advantages for
the hope of others in a system not yet experienced.

Hence all large states have dreaded a division into smaller parts, as
being nearly the same thing as ruin; and all smaller states have predicted
endless embarrassment from every attempt to unite them into larger. It is
no more than probable that if any corner of this State of ten miles
square, was now, and long had been independent of the residue of the
State, that they would consider a proposal to unite them to the other
parts of the State, as a violent attempt to wrest from them the only
security for their persons or property. They would lament how little
security they should derive from sending one or two members to the
legislature at Hartford & New Haven, and all the evils that the Scots
predicted from the proposed union with England, in the beginning of the
present century, would be thundered with all the vehemence of American
politics, from the little ten miles district. But surely no man believes
that the inhabitants of this district would be less secure when united to
the residue of the State, than when independent. Does any person suppose
that the people would be more safe, more happy, or more respectable, if
every town in this State was independent, and had no State government?

Is it not certain that government would be weak and irregular, and that
the people would be poor and contemptible? And still it must be allowed,
that each town would entirely surrender its boasted independence if they
should unite in State government, and would retain only about
one-eightieth part of the administration of their own affairs.

Has it ever been found, that people’s property or persons were less
regarded and less protected in large states than in small?

Have not the Legislature in large states been as careful not to
over-burden the people with taxes as in small? But still it must be
admitted, that a single town in a small state holds a greater proportion
of the authority than in a large.

If the United States were one single government, provided the constitution
of this extensive government was as good as the constitution of this State
now is, would this part of it be really in greater danger of oppression or
tyranny, than at present? It is true that many people who are _great men_
because they go to Hartford to make laws for us once or twice in a year,
would then be no greater than their neighbours, as much fewer
representatives would be chosen. But would not the people be as safe,
governed by their representatives assembled in New York or Philadelphia,
as by their representatives assembled in Hartford or New Haven? Many
instances can be quoted, where people have been unsafe, poor and
contemptible, because they were governed only in small bodies; but can any
instance be found where they were less safe for uniting? Has not every
instance proved somewhat similar to the so much dreaded union between
England and Scotland, where the Scots, instead of becoming a poor,
despicable, dependent people, have become much more secure, happy, and
respectable? If then, the constitution is a good one, why should we be
afraid of uniting, even if the Union was to be much more complete and
entire than is proposed?

A Countryman, II.

The New Haven Gazette, (Number 40)



It is fortunate that you have been but little distressed with that torrent
of impertinence and folly, with which the newspaper politicians have over
whelmed many parts of our country.

It is enough that you should have heard, that one party has seriously
urged, that we should adopt the _New Constitution_ because it has been
approved by _Washington_ and _Franklin_: and the other, with all the
solemnity of apostolic address to _Men_, _Brethren_, _Fathers_, _Friends
and Countryman_, have urged that we should reject, as dangerous, every
clause thereof, because that _Washington_ is more used to command as a
soldier, than to reason as a politician—_Franklin is old_, others are
_young_—and _Wilson_ is _haughty_.(52) You are too well informed to decide
by the opinion of others, and too independent to need a caution against
undue influence.

Of a very different nature, tho’ only one degree better than the other
reasoning, is all that sublimity of _nonsense_ and _alarm_, that has been
thundered against it in every shape of _metaphoric terror_, on the subject
of a _bill of rights_, the _liberty of the press_, _rights of conscience_,
_rights of taxation and election_, _trials in the vicinity_, _freedom of
speech_, _trial by jury_, and a _standing army_. These last are
undoubtedly important points, much too important to depend on mere paper
protection. For, guard such privileges by the strongest expressions, still
if you leave the legislative and executive power in the hands of those who
are or may be disposed to deprive you of them—you are but slaves. Make an
absolute monarch—give him the supreme authority, and guard as much as you
will by bills of rights, your liberty of the press, and trial by jury;—he
will find means either to take them from you, or to render them useless.

The only real security that you can have for all your important rights
must be in the nature of your government. If you suffer any man to govern
you who is not strongly interested in supporting your privileges, you will
certainly lose them. If you are about to trust your liberties with people
whom it is necessary to bind by stipulation, that they shall not keep a
standing army, your stipulation is not worth even the trouble of writing.
No bill of rights ever yet bound the supreme power longer than the
_honeymoon_ of a new married couple, unless the _rulers were interested_
in preserving the rights; and in that case they have always been ready
enough to declare the rights, and to preserve them when they were
declared.—The famous English _Magna Charta_ is but an act of parliament,
which every subsequent parliament has had just as much constitutional
power to repeal and annul, as the parliament which made it had to pass it
at first. But the security of the nation has always been, that their
government was so formed, that at least _one branch_ of their legislature
must be strongly interested to preserve the rights of the nation.

You have a bill of rights in Connecticut (i. e.) your legislature many
years since enacted that the subjects of this state should enjoy certain
privileges. Every assembly since that time, could, by the same authority,
enact that the subjects should enjoy none of those privileges; and the
only reason that it has not long since been so enacted, is that your
legislature were as strongly interested in preserving those rights as any
of the subjects; and this is your only security that it shall not be so
enacted at the next session of assembly: and it is security enough.

Your General Assembly under your present constitution are supreme. They
may keep troops on foot in the most profound peace, if they think proper.
They have heretofore abridged the trial by jury in some cases, and they
can again in all. They can restrain the press, and may lay the most
burdensome taxes if they please, and who can forbid? But still the people
are perfectly safe that not one of these events shall take place so long
as the members of the General Assembly are as much interested, and
interested in the same manner, as the other subjects.

On examining the new proposed constitution, there can be no question but
that there is authority enough lodged in the proposed Federal Congress, if
abused, to do the greatest injury. And it is perfectly idle to object to
it, that there is no bill of rights, or to propose to add to it a
provision that a trial by jury shall in no case be omitted, or to patch it
up by adding a stipulation in favor of the press, or to guard it by
removing the paltry objection to the right of Congress to regulate the
time and manner of elections.

If you cannot prove by the best of all evidence, viz., by the _interest of
the rulers_, that this authority will not be abused, or at least that
those powers are not more likely to be abused by the Congress, than by
those who now have the same powers, you must by no means adopt the
constitution:—No, not with all the bills of rights and with all the
stipulations in favor of the people that can be made.

But if the members of Congress are to be interested just as you and I are,
and just as the members of our present legislatures are interested, we
shall be just as safe, with even supreme power (if that were granted) in
Congress, as in the General Assembly. If the members of Congress can take
no improper step which will not affect them as much as it does us, we need
not apprehend that they will usurp authorities not given them to injure
that society of which they are a part.

The sole question, (so far as any apprehension of tyranny and oppression
is concerned) ought to be, how are Congress formed? how far have you a
control over them? Decide this, and then all the questions about their
power may be dismissed for the amusement of those politicians whose
business it is to catch flies, or may occasionally furnish subjects for
_George Bryan’s_ Pomposity, or the declamations of _Cato_—_An Old
Whig_—_Son of Liberty_—_Brutus_—_Brutus junior_—_An Officer of the
Continental Army_,—the more contemptible _Timoleon_, and the residue of
that rabble of writers.

A Countryman, III.

The New Haven Gazette, (Number 41)



The same thing once more—I am a plain man, of few words; for this reason
perhaps it is, that when I have said a thing I love to repeat it. Last
week I endeavored to evince, that the only surety you could have for your
liberties must be in the nature of your government; that you could derive
no security from bills of rights, or stipulations, on the subject of a
standing army, the liberty of the press, trial by jury, or on any other
subject. Did you ever hear of an absolute monarchy, where those rights
which are proposed by the pigmy politicians of this day, to be secured by
stipulation, were ever preserved? Would it not be mere trifling to make
any such stipulations, in any absolute monarchy?

On the other hand, if your interest and that of your rulers are the same,
your liberties are abundantly secure. Perhaps the most secure when their
power is most complete. Perhaps a provision that they should never raise
troops in time of peace, might at some period embarrass the public
concerns and endanger the liberties of the people. It is possible that in
the infinite variety of events, it might become improper strictly to
adhere to any one provision that has ever been proposed to be stipulated.
At all events, the people have always been perfectly safe without any
stipulation of the kind, when the rulers were interested to make them
safe; and never otherwise.

No people can be more secure against any oppression in their rulers than
you are at present; and no rulers can have more supreme and unlimited
authority than your general assembly have.

When you consult on the subject of adopting the new constitution, you do
not enquire whether the powers therein contained can be safely lodged in
any hands whatever. For not only those very powers, but all other powers,
are already in the general assembly.—The enquiry is, whether Congress is
by this new constitution so formed that a part of the power now in the
general assembly would be as well lodged in Congress. Or, as was before
said, it depends on how far the members are under your control; and how
far their interest and yours are the same; to which careful attention must
be given.

A Countryman, IV.

The New Haven Gazette, (Number 42)



If the propriety of trusting your government in the hands of your
representatives was now a perfectly new question, the expediency of the
measure might be doubted. A very great portion of the objections which we
daily find made against adopting the new constitution (and which are just
as weighty objections against our present government, or against any
government in existence) would doubtless have their influence; and perhaps
would determine you against trusting the powers of sovereignty out of your
own hands.

The best theory, the best philosophy on the subject, would be too
uncertain for you to hazard your freedom upon.

But your freedom, in that sense of the expression (if it could be called
sense), is already totally gone. Your Legislature is not only supreme in
the usual sense of the word, but they have _literally, all the powers of
society_. Can you—can you _possibly_ grant anything new? Have you any
power which is not already granted to your General Assembly? You are
indeed called on to say whether a part of the powers now exercised by the
General Assembly, shall not, in future, be exercised by Congress. And it
is clearly much better for your interest, that Congress should experience
those powers than that they should continue in the General Assembly,
provided you can trust Congress as safely as the General Assembly.

What forms your security under the General Assembly? Nothing save that the
interest of the members is the same as yours. Will it be the same with
Congress? There are essentially only two differences between the formation
of Congress and of your General Assembly. One is,—that Congress are to
govern a much larger tract of country, and a much greater number of
people, consequently your proportion of the government will be much
smaller than at present. The other difference is—that the members of
Congress when elected, hold their places for two, four and six years, and
the members of Assembly only six and twelve months.

The first of these differences was discussed pretty fully in the first
number, (when there was no idea of proceeding thus far on the subject),
and has all the force as an objection against the powers of Congress, that
it would have if applied to a proposal to give up the sovereignty of the
several towns of the state, (if such sovereignty had existed,) and unite
in state government.

It would be only a repetition to enter into a consideration of this
difference between Congress and your Assembly.

It has been suggested that the six or eight members which we shall send to
Congress will be men of property, who can little feel any burthens they
may lay on society. How far is this idea supported by experience? As the
members are to pay their proportion, will they not be as careful of laying
too great burthens as poorer people? Are they less careful of their money
than the poor? This objection would be much stronger against trusting the
power out of your hands at all. If the several towns were now independent,
this objection would be much more forcible against uniting in state
government, and sending one or two of your most wealthy men to Hartford or
New Haven, to vote away your money. But this you have tried, and found
that assemblies of representatives are less willing to vote away money
than even their constituents. An individual of any tolerable economy, pays
all his debts, and perhaps has money beforehand. A small school district,
or a small parish, will see what sum they want, and usually provide
sufficiently for their wants, and often have a little money at interest.

Town voters are partly representatives, i. e. many people pay town taxes
who have no right to vote, but the money they vote away is principally
their own. The towns in this state tax themselves less willingly than
smaller bodies. They generally however tax themselves sufficiently to
nearly pay the demands against them within the year, very seldom raise
money beforehand by taxes. The General Assembly of this state could never
be induced to _attempt_ to do more than pay the annual interest of what
they owe, and occasionally sink very small parts of the principal, and
they never in fact did thus much, and we are all witnesses that they are
full as careful of the public money as we can wish. It never was a
complaint that they were too ready to allow individuals large sums. A man
who has a claim against a town, and applies to a town-meeting, is very
likely to obtain justice: but he who has a claim against the state, and
applies to the General Assembly, stands but a poor chance to obtain
justice. Some rule will be found to exclude his claim,—or to lessen it,—or
he will be paid in a security—not worth half the money.

You have uniformly experienced that your representatives are as careful,
if not more so, of your money, than you yourselves are in your
town-meetings; but still your representatives are generally men of
property, and those of them who are most independent, and those whom you
have sent to Congress, have not been by any means the least careful.

A Countryman, V.

The New Haven Gazette, (Number 44)



You do not hate to read Newspaper Essays on the new constitution, more
than I hate to write them. Then _we will be short_—which I have often
found the _best_ expression in a dull sermon, except the _last_.

Whether the mode of election pointed out in the proposed constitution is
well calculated to support the principles which were designed to be
established in the different branches of the legislature, may perhaps be
justly doubted:—and may perhaps in some future day be discussed.

The design undoubtedly was, that the house of representatives should be a
_popular_ assembly,—that the senate should, in its nature, be somewhat
more permanent, and that the two houses should be completely independent
of each other. These _principles_ are right—for the present we will
suppose they will be supported—there then remains to be considered no
considerable difference between the constitutional government which is
proposed, and your present government, except that the time for which you
choose your present rulers is only for six and twelve months, and the time
for which you are to choose your continental rulers is for two, four and
six years.

The convention were mistaken if they supposed they should lessen the evils
of tumultuous elections by making elections less frequent. But are your
liberties endangered by this measure? Philosophy may mislead you. Ask
experience. Are not the liberties of the people of England as safe as
yours?—They are not as free as yours, because much of their government is
in the hands of _hereditary majesty_ and _nobility_. But is not that part
of the government which is under the control of the commons exceedingly
well guarded? But still the house of commons is only a third branch—the
_only_ branch who are appointed by the people—and they are chosen but once
in _seven years_. Is there then any danger to be apprehended from the
length of time that your rulers are to serve? when none are to serve more
than six years—one whole house but two years, and your President but four.

The great power and influence of an hereditary monarch of Britain has
spread many alarms, from an apprehension that the commons would sacrifice
the liberties of the people to the money or influence of the crown: but
the influence of a powerful _hereditary_ monarch, with the national
Treasury—Army—and fleet at his command—and the whole executive
government—and one-third of the legislative in his hands constantly
operating on a house of commons, whose duration is never less than _seven
years_, unless this same monarch should _end_ it, (which he can do in an
hour,) has never yet been sufficient to obtain one vote of the house of
commons which has taken from the people the _liberty of the press_,—_trial
by jury_,—_the rights of conscience, or of private property_.

Can you then apprehend danger of oppression and tyranny from the too great
duration of the power of _your_ rulers?


Printed In
The New Haven Gazette,
December, 1789.


These letters are ascribed to Sherman on the authority mentioned at page

In a letter from James Madison to Edmund Randolph, (_Correspondence_, 1,
63), he says:

On the subject of amendments, nothing has been publickly, and very little
privately, said. Such as I am known to have espoused will, as far as I can
gather, be attainable from the federalists, who sufficiently predominate
in both branches, though with some the concurrence will proceed from a
spirit of conciliation rather than conviction. Connecticut is least
inclined, though I presume not inflexibly opposed, to a moderate revision.
A paper, which will probably be republished in the Virginia gazettes,
under the signature of a citizen of New Haven, unfolds Mr. Sherman’s

In the _Writings of John Adams_, (VI, 427), is a correspondence between
Adams and Sherman, produced by these articles, which should be studied in
connection with them.

A Citizen Of New Haven, I.

The New Haven Gazette, (Number 48)


_Observations on the Alterations Proposed as Amendments to the new Federal

Six of the states have adopted the new constitution without proposing any
alteration, and the most of those proposed by the conventions of other
states may be provided for by congress in a code of laws without altering
the constitution. If congress may be safely trusted with the affairs of
the Union, and have sufficient powers for that purpose, and possess no
powers but such as respect the common interest of the states (as I have
endeavored to show in a former piece), then all the matters that can be
regulated by law may safely be left to their discretion, and those will
include all that I have noticed except the following, which I think on due
consideration will appear to be improper or unnecessary.

1. It is proposed that the consent of two-thirds or three-fourths of the
members present in this branch of the congress shall be required for
passing certain acts.

On which I would observe, that this would give a minority in congress
power to controul the majority, joined with the concurrent voice of the
president, for if the president dissents, no act can pass without the
consent of two-thirds of the members in each branch of congress; and would
not that be contrary to the general principles of republican government?

2. That impeachments ought not to be tried by the senate, or not by the
senate alone.

But what good reason can be assigned why the senate is not the most proper
tribunal for that purpose? The members are to be chosen by the
legislatures of the several states, who will doubtless appoint persons of
wisdom and probity, and from their office can have no interested motives
to partiality. The house of peers in Great Britain try impeachments and
are also a branch of the legislature.

3. It is said that the president ought not to have power to grant pardons
in cases of high treason, but the congress.

It does not appear that any great mischief can arise from the exercise of
this power by the president (though perhaps it might as well have been
lodged in congress). The president cannot pardon in case of impeachment,
so that such offenders may be excluded from office notwithstanding his

4. It is proposed that members of congress be rendered ineligible to any
other office during the time for which they are elected members of that

This is an objection that will admit of something plausible to be said on
both sides, and it was settled in convention on full discussion and
deliberation. There are some offices which a member of congress may be
best qualified to fill, from his knowledge of public affairs acquired by
being a member, such as minister to foreign courts, &c., and on accepting
any other office his seat in congress will be vacated, and no member is
eligible to any office that shall have been instituted or the emoluments
increased while he was a member.

5. It is proposed to make the president and senators ineligible after
certain periods.

But this would abridge the privilege of the people, and remove one great
motive to fidelity in office, and render persons incapable of serving in
offices, on account of their experience, which would best qualify them for
usefulness in office—but if their services are not acceptable they may be
left out at any new election.

6. It is proposed that no commercial treaty should be made without the
consent of two-thirds of the senators, nor any cession of territory, right
of navigation or fishery, without the consent of three-fourths of the
members present in each branch of congress.

It is provided by the constitution that no commercial treaty shall be made
by the president without the consent of two-thirds of the senators
present, and as each state has an equal representation and suffrage in the
senate, the rights of the state will be as well secured under the new
constitution as under the old; and it is not probable that they would ever
make a cession of territory or any important national right without the
consent of congress. The king of Great Britain has by the constitution a
power to make treaties, yet in matters of great importance he consults the

7. There is one amendment proposed by the convention of South Carolina
respecting religious tests, by inserting the word _other_, between the
words _no_ and _religious_ in that article, which is an ingenious thought,
and had that word been inserted, it would probably have prevented any
objection on that head. But it may be considered as a clerical omission
and be inserted without calling a convention; as it now stands the effect
will be the same.

On the whole it is hoped that all the states will consent to make a fair
trial of the constitution before they attempt to alter it; experience will
best show whether it is deficient or not, on trial it may appear that the
alterations that have been proposed are not necessary, or that others not
yet thought of may be necessary; everything that tends to disunion ought
to be avoided. Instability in government and laws tends to weaken a state
and render the rights of the people precarious.

If another convention should be called to revise the constitution, ’tis
not likely they would be more unanimous than the former; they might judge
differently in some things, but is it certain that they would judge
better? When experience has convinced the states and people in general
that alterations are necessary, they may be easily made, but attempting it
at present may be detrimental if not fatal to the union of the states.

The judiciary department is perhaps the most difficult to be precisely
limited by the constitution, but congress have full power to regulate it
by law, and it may be found necessary to vary the regulations at different
times as circumstances may differ.

Congress may make requisitions for supplies previous to direct taxation,
if it should be thought to be expedient, but if requisitions be made and
some states comply and others not, the non-complying states must be
considered and treated as delinquents, which will tend to excite
disaffection and disunion among the states, besides occasioning delay; but
if congress lay the taxes in the first instance these evils will be
prevented, and they will doubtless accommodate the taxes to the customs
and convenience of the several states.

Some suppose that the representation will be too small, but I think it is
in the power of congress to make it too large, but I believe that it may
be safely trusted with them. Great Britain contains about three times the
number of the inhabitants in the United States, and according to Burgh’s
account in his political disquisitions, the members of parliament in that
kingdom do not exceed 131, and if 69 more be added from the principal
cities and towns the number would be 200; and strike off those who are
elected by the small boroughs, which are called the rotten part of the
constitution by their best patriots and politicians, that nation would be
more equally and better represented than at present; and if that would be
a sufficient number for their national legislature, one-third of that
number will be more than sufficient for our federal legislature who will
have few general matters to transact. But these and other objections have
been considered in a former paper, before referred to. I shall therefore
conclude this with my best wishes for the continuance of the peace,
liberty and union of these states.


A Citizen Of New Haven, II.

The New Haven Gazette, (Number 51)


_Observations on the New Federal Constitution._

In order to form a good Constitution of Government, the legislature should
be properly organized, and be vested with plenary powers for all the
purposes for which the government was instituted, to be exercised for the
public good as occasion may require.

The greatest security that a people can have for the enjoyment of their
rights and liberties, is that no laws can be made to bind them nor any
taxes imposed upon them, without their consent by representatives of their
own chusing, who will participate with them in the public burthens and
benefits; this was the great point contended for in our controversy with
Great Britain, and this will be fully secured to us by the new
constitution. The rights of the people will be secured by a representation
in proportion to their numbers in one branch of the legislature, and the
rights of the particular states by their equal representation in the other

The President and Vice-President as well as the members of Congress will
be eligible for fixed periods, and may be re-elected as often as the
electors shall think fit, which will be a great security for their
fidelity in office, and give greater stability and energy to government
than an exclusion by rotation, and will be an operative and effectual
security against arbitrary government, either monarchical or aristocratic.

The immediate security of the civil and domestic rights of the people will
be in the government of the particular states. And as the different states
have different local interests and customs which can be best regulated by
their own laws, it should not be expedient to admit the federal government
to interfere with them, any farther than may be necessary for the good of
the whole. The great end of the federal government is to protect the
several states in the enjoyment of those rights, against foreign invasion,
and to preserve peace and a beneficial intercourse among themselves; and
to regulate and protect our commerce with foreign nations.

These were not sufficiently provided for by the former articles of
confederation, which was the occasion of calling the late Convention to
make amendments. This they have done by forming a new constitution
containing the powers vested in the federal government, under the former,
with such additional powers as they deemed necessary to attain the ends
the states had in view, in their appointment. And to carry those powers
into effect, they thought it necessary to make some alterations in the
organization of the government: this they supposed to be warranted by
their commission.

The powers vested in the federal government are clearly defined, so that
each state still retain its sovereignty in what concerns its own internal
government, and a right to exercise every power of a sovereign state not
particularly delegated to the government of the United States. The new
powers vested in the United States, are, to regulate commerce; provide for
a uniform practice respecting naturalization, bankruptcies, and
organizing, arming and training the militia; and for the punishment of
certain crimes against the United States; and for promoting the progress
of science in the mode therein pointed out. There are some other matters
which Congress has power under the present confederation to require to be
done by the particular states, which they will be authorized to carry into
effect themselves under the new constitution; these powers appear to be
necessary for the common benefit of the states, and could not be
effectually provided for by the particular states.

The objects of expenditure will be the same under the new constitution, as
under the old; nor need the administration of government be more
expensive; the number of members of Congress will be the same, nor will it
be necessary to increase the number of officers in the executive
department or their salaries; the supreme executive will be in a single
person, who must have an honourable support; which perhaps will not exceed
the present allowance to the President of Congress, and the expence of
supporting a committee of the states in the recess of Congress.

It is not probable that Congress will have occasion to sit longer than two
or three months in a year, after the first session, which may perhaps be
something longer. Nor will it be necessary for the Senate to sit longer
than the other branch. The appointment of officers may be made during the
session of Congress, and trials on impeachment will not often occur, and
will require but little time to attend to them. The security against
keeping up armies in time of peace will be greater under the new
constitution than under the present, because it can’t be done without the
concurrence of two branches of the legislature, nor can any appropriation
of money for that purpose be in force more than two years; whereas there
is no restriction under the present confederation.

The liberty of the press can be in no danger, because that is not put
under the direction of the new government.

If the federal government keeps within its proper jurisdiction, it will be
the interest of the state legislatures to support it, and they will be a
powerful and effectual check to its interfering with their jurisdiction.
But the objects of federal government will be so obvious that there will
be no great danger of any interference.

The principal sources of revenue will be imposts on goods imported, and
sale of the western lands, which will probably be sufficient to pay the
debts and expences of the United States while peace continues; but if
there should be occasion to resort to direct taxation, each state’s quota
will be ascertained according to a rule which has been approved by the
legislatures of eleven of the states, and should any state neglect to
furnish its quota, Congress may raise it in the same manner that the state
ought to have done; and what remedy more easy and equitable could be
devised, to obtain the supplies from a delinquent state?

Some object, that the representation will be too small; but the states
have not thought fit to keep half the number of representatives in
Congress that they are entitled to under the present confederation; and of
what advantage can it be to have a large assembly to transact the few
general matters that will come under the direction of Congress.—The
regulating of time, place and manner of elections seems to be as well
secured as possible; the legislature of each state may do it, and if they
neglect to do it in the best manner, it may be done by Congress;—and what
motive can either have to injure the people in the exercise of that right?
The qualifications of the electors are to remain as fixed by the
constitutions and laws of the several states.

It is by some objected, that the executive is blended with the
legislature, and that those powers ought to be entirely distinct and
unconnected, but is not this a gross error in politics? The united wisdom
and various interests of a nation should be combined in framing the laws.
But the execution of them should not be in the whole legislature; that
would be too troublesome and expensive; but it will not thence follow that
the executive should have no voice or influence in legislation. The
executive in Great Britain is one branch of the legislature, and has a
negative on all laws; perhaps that is an extreme not to be imitated by a
republic, but the partial negative vested in the President by the new
Constitution on the acts of Congress and the subsequent revision, may be
very useful to prevent laws being passed without mature deliberation.

The Vice-President while he acts as President of the Senate will have
nothing to do in the executive department; his being elected by all the
states will incline him to regard the interests of the whole, and when the
members of the senate are equally divided on any question, who so proper
to give a casting vote as one who represents all the states?

The power of the President to grant pardons extends only to offences
committed against the United States, which can’t be productive of much
mischief, especially as those on Impeachment are excepted, which will
exclude offenders from office.

It was thought necessary in order to carry into effect the laws of the
Union, to promote justice, and preserve harmony among the states, to
extend the judicial powers of the United States to the enumerated cases,
under such regulations and with such exceptions as shall be provided by
law, which will doubtless reduce them to cases of such magnitude and
importance as cannot safely be trusted to the final decision of the courts
of particular states; and the constitution does not make it necessary that
any inferior tribunals should be instituted, but it may be done if found
necessary; ’tis probable that the courts of particular states will be
authorized by the laws of the union, as has been heretofore done in cases
of piracy, &c., and the Supreme Court may have a circuit to make trials as
convenient, and as little expensive as possible to the parties; nor is
there anything in the constitution to deprive them of trial by jury in
cases where that mode of trial has been heretofore used. All cases in the
courts of common law between citizens of the same state, except those
claiming lands under grants of different states, must be finally decided
by courts of the state to which they belong, so that it is not probable
that more than one citizen to a thousand will ever have a cause that can
come before a federal court.

Every department and officer of the federal government will be subject to
the regulation and control of the laws, and the people will have all
possible securities against oppression. Upon the whole, the constitution
appears to be well framed to secure the rights and liberties of the people
and for preserving the governments of the individual states, and if well
administered, to restore and secure public and private credit, and to give
respectability to the states both abroad and at home. Perhaps a more
perfect one could not be formed on mere speculation; and if upon
experience it shall be found deficient, it provides an easy and peaceable
mode to make amendments. Is it not much better to adopt it than to
continue in present circumstances? Its being agreed to by all the states
present in Convention, is a circumstance in its favour, so far as any
respect is due to their opinions.



Printed In
The New York Journal,
September-January, 1787-8.


These letters were commonly ascribed to the pen of George Clinton in the
press of the day, and that this ascription was right seems to be proved by
the following letter. Though signed by Hamilton, it is in the handwriting
of John Lamb, a leading anti-federalist of New York, and is in the George
Clinton MSS. in the New York State Library. It thus seems apparent that it
is a copy secured in some way by Hamilton’s political opponents:

    OCTOBER 18, 1787.

    _Dear Sir_:

    Since my last the chief of the state party has declared his
    opposition to the government proposed, both in private
    conversation and in print. That you may judge of the _reason_ and
    _fairness_ of his views, I send you the two essays, with a reply
    by Cæsar. On further consideration it was concluded to abandon
    this personal form, and to take up the principles of the whole
    subject. These will be sent you as published, and might with
    advantage be republished in your gazettes.


This copy, so obtained, seems to have been the basis of the following note
in the _New York Journal_:

    “A writer in the state of New-York, under the signature of
    _Cesar_, came forward against the patriotic _Cato_ and endeavoured
    to frighten him from starting any objections and threatened that
    ‘_Cato_ would be followed by _Cesar_ in all his marches;’ but we
    find that as soon as ever _Cato_ came freely to discuss the merit
    of the constitution _Cesar_ retreated and disappeared: and since
    that a publication under the signature of Publius ... has appeared
    in that state.”

Another evidence in confirmation is, that the last of this series was
printed on January 3, 1788, and the New York Assembly met on the 9th of
the same month, after which Governor Clinton was probably too occupied to
write more, though no conclusion was announced in the last essay, and it
is probable no such termination was intended. Following these are the two
essays of _Cæsar_ mentioned above.

Cato, I.

The New York Journal, (Number 2134)


For the New York Journal.


The Convention, who sat at Philadelphia, have at last delivered to
Congress that system of general government, which they have declared best
calculated to promote your safety and happiness as citizens of the United
States. This system, though not handed to you formally by the authority of
government, has obtained an introduction through divers channels; and the
minds of you all, to whose observation it has come, have no doubt been
contemplating it; and alternate joy, hope, or fear have preponderated, as
it conformed to, or differed from, your various ideas of just government.

Government, to an American, is the science of his political safety; this
then is a moment to you the most important—and that in various points—to
your reputation as members of a great nation—to your immediate safety, and
to that of your posterity. In your private concerns and affairs of life
you deliberate with caution, and act with prudence; your public concerns
require a caution and prudence, in a ratio suited to the difference and
dignity of the subject. The disposal of your reputation, and of your lives
and property, is more momentous than a contract for a farm, or the sale of
a bale of goods; in the former, if you are negligent or inactive, the
ambitious and despotic will entrap you in their toils, and bind you with
the cord of power from which you, and your posterity may never be freed;
and if the possibility should exist, it carries along with it consequences
that will make your community totter to its center: in the latter, it is
the mere loss of a little property, which more circumspection or assiduity
may repair.

Without directly engaging as an advocate for this new form of national
government, or as an opponent—let me conjure you to consider this a very
important crisis of your safety and character. You have already, in common
with the rest of your countrymen, the citizens of the other states, given
to the world astonishing evidence of your greatness—you have fought under
peculiar circumstances, and were successful against a powerful nation on a
speculative question, you have established an original compact between you
and your governors, a fact heretofore unknown in the formation of the
governments of the world; your experience has informed you, that there are
defects in the federal system, and, to the astonishment of mankind, your
legislatures have concerted measures for an alteration, with as much ease
as an individual would make a disposition of his ordinary domestic
affairs: this alteration now lies before you, for your consideration; but
beware how you determine—do not, because you admit that something must be
done, adopt anything—teach the members of that convention that ye are
capable of a supervision of their conduct. The same medium that gave you
this system, if it is erroneous, while the door is now open, can make
amendments, or give you another, if it is required. Your fate, and that of
your posterity, depends on your present conduct; do not give the latter
reason to curse you, nor yourselves cause of reprehension; as individuals
you are ambitious of leaving behind you a good name, and it is the
reflection that you have done right in this life, that blunts the
sharpness of death; the same principles would be a consolation to you, as
patriots, in the hour of dissolution, that you would leave to your
children a fair political inheritance, untouched by the vultures of power,
which you had acquired by an _unshaken perseverance_ in the cause of
liberty; but how miserable the alternative—you would deprecate the ruin
you had brought upon yourselves, be the curse of posterity, and the scorn
and scoff of nations.

Deliberate, therefore, on this new national government with coolness;
analize it with criticism; and reflect on it with candor: if you find that
the influence of a powerful few, or the exercise of a standing army, will
always be directed and exerted for your welfare alone, and not to the
aggrandizement of themselves, and that it will secure to you and your
posterity happiness at home, and national dignity and respect from abroad,
adopt it; if it will not, reject it with indignation—better to be where
you are for the present, than insecure forever afterwards. Turn your eyes
to the United Netherlands, at this moment, and view their situation;
compare it with what yours may be, under a government substantially
similar to theirs.

Beware of those who wish to influence your passions, and to make you dupes
to their resentments and little interests—personal invectives can never
persuade, but they always fix prejudices, which candor might have
removed—those who deal in them have not your happiness at heart. Attach
yourselves to measures, not to men.

This form of government is handed to you by the recommendations of a man
who merits the confidence of the public; but you ought to recollect that
the wisest and best of men may err, and their errors, if adopted, may be
fatal to the community; therefore, in principles of _politics_, as well as
in religious faith, every man ought to think for himself.

Hereafter, when it will be necessary, I shall make such observations on
this new constitution as will tend to promote your welfare and be
justified by reason and truth.


_Sept. 26, 1787._

Cato, II.

The New York Journal, (Number 2136)


For the New York Journal.

_To the_ CITIZENS _of the_ STATE _of_ NEW YORK:

    “Remember, O my friends! the laws, the rights,
    The generous plan of power deliver’d down,
    By your renown’d Forefathers;
    So dearly bought, the price of so much blood!
    O let it never perish in your hands!
    But piously transmit it to your children.”

The object of my last address to you was to engage your dispassionate
consideration of the new Federal government; to caution you against
precipitancy in the adoption of it; to recommend a correction of its
errors, if it contained any; to hint to you the danger of an easy
perversion of some of its powers; to solicit you to separate yourselves
from party, and to be independent of and uninfluenced by any in your
principles of politics; and that address was closed with a promise of
future observations on the same subject, which should be justified by
reason and truth. Here I intended to have rested the introduction; but a
writer under the signature of CÆSAR, in Mr. Child’s paper of the 1st
instant, who treats you with passion, insult, and threat, has anticipated
those observations which would otherwise have remained in silence until a
future period. It would be criminal in me to hesitate a moment to appear
as your advocate in so interesting a cause, and to resist the influence of
such doctrines as this Cæsar holds. I shall take no other cognizance of
his remarks on the _questionable_ shape of my future, or the _equivocal_
appearance of my past reflections, than to declare, that in my past, I did
not mean to be misunderstood (for Cæsar himself declares that it is
obviously the language of distrust), and that in my future there will not
be the semblance of doubt. But what is the language of Cæsar—he ridicules
your prerogative, power, and majesty—he talks of this _proffered
constitution_ as the tender mercy of a benevolent sovereign to deluded
subjects, or, as his tyrant name-sake, of his proffered grace to the
virtuous Cato:—he shuts the door of free deliberation and discussion, and
declares that you must receive this government in manner and form as it is
_proffered_—that you cannot revise or amend it, and lastly, to close the
scene, he insinuates that it will be more healthy for you that the
American Fabius should be induced to accept of the presidency of this new
government than that, in case you do not acquiesce, he should be solicited
to command an army to impose it on you. Is not your indignation roused at
this absolute, imperious style? For what did you open the veins of your
citizens and expend their treasure? For what did you throw off the yoke of
Britain and call yourselves independent? Was it from a disposition fond of
change, or to procure new masters?—if those were your motives, you have
reward before you—go, retire into silent obscurity, and kiss the rod that
scourges you, bury the prospects you had in store, that you and your
posterity would participate in the blessings of freedom, and the
employments of your country—let the rich and insolent alone be your
rulers. Perhaps you are designed by providence as an emphatic evidence of
the mutability of human affairs, to have the show of happiness only, that
your misery may seem the sharper, and if so, you must submit. But if you
had nobler views, and you are not designed by heaven as an example—are you
now to be derided and insulted? Is the power of thinking, on the only
subject important to you, to be taken away? and if per chance you should
happen to differ from Cæsar, are you to have Cæsar’s principles crammed
down your throats with an army? God forbid!

In democratic republics the people collectively are considered as the
sovereign—all legislative, judicial, and executive power, is inherent in
and derived from them. As a people, your power and authority have
sanctioned and established the present government—your executive,
legislative, and judicial acknowledge it by their public acts—you are
again solicited to sanction and establish the future one—yet this Cæsar
mocks your dignity and laughs at the majesty of the people. Cæsar, with
his usual dogmatism, enquires, if I had talents to throw light on the
subject of legislation, why did I not offer them when the Convention was
in session? He is answered in a moment—I thought with him and you, that
the wisdom of America, in that Convention, was drawn as it were to a
Focus. I placed an unbounded confidence in some of the characters who were
members of it, from the services they had rendered their country, without
adverting to the ambitious and interested views of others. I was willingly
led to expect a model of perfection and security that would have
astonished the world. Therefore to have offered observation, on the
subject of legislation, under these impressions, would have discovered no
less arrogance than Cæsar. The Convention, too, when in session, shut
their doors to the observations of the community, and their members were
under an obligation of secrecy. Nothing transpired. To have suggested
remarks on unknown and anticipated principles would have been like a man
groping in the dark, and folly in the extreme. I confess, however, I have
been disappointed, and Cæsar is candid enough to make the same
declaration, for he thinks it _might_ have been more perfect.

But to call in dispute, at this time, and in the manner Cæsar does, the
right of free deliberation on this subject, is like a man’s propounding a
question to another, and telling him at the same that if he does not
answer agreeable to the opinion of the propounder, he will exert force to
make him of the same sentiment: to exemplify this, it will be necessary to
give you a short history of the rise and progress of the Convention, and
the conduct of Congress thereon. The states in Congress suggested, that
the articles of confederation had provided for making alterations in the
confederation—that there were defects therein, and as a means to remedy
which, a Convention of delegates, appointed by the different states, was
resolved expedient to be held for the sole and express purpose of revising
it, and reporting to Congress and the different legislatures such
alterations and provisions therein as should (when agreed to in Congress
and confirmed by the several states) render the federal constitution
adequate to the exigencies of government. This resolution is sent to the
different states, and the legislature of this state, with others, appoint,
in conformity thereto, delegates for the purpose, and in the words
mentioned in that resolve, as by the resolution of Congress, and the
concurrent resolutions of the senate and assembly of this state,
subjoined, will appear. For the sole and express purpose aforesaid a
Convention of delegates is formed at Philadelphia: what have they done?
Have they revised the confederation, and has Congress agreed to their
report?—neither is the fact. This Convention have exceeded the authority
given to them, and have transmitted to Congress a new political fabric,
essentially and fundamentally distinct and different from it, in which the
different states do not retain separately their sovereignty and
independency, united by a confederate league—but one entire sovereignty, a
consolidation of them into one government—in which new provisions and
powers are not made and vested in Congress, but in an assembly, senate,
and president, who are not known in the articles of confederation.
Congress, without agreeing to, or approving of, this system _proffered_ by
the Convention, have sent it to the different legislatures, not for their
confirmation, but to submit it to the people; not in conformity to their
own resolution, but in conformity to the resolution of the Convention made
and provided in that case.(53) Was it, then, from the face of the
foregoing facts, the intention of Congress, and of this and the other
states, that the essence of our present national government should be
annihilated, or that it should be retained and only have an increase of
substantial necessary powers? Congress, sensible of this latter principle,
and that the Convention had taken on themselves a power which neither they
nor the other states had a right to delegate to them, and that they could
not agree to and approve of this consolidated system, nor the states
confirm it—have been silent on its character; and although many have dwelt
on their unanimity, it is no less than the unanimity of opinion that it
originated in an assumption of power, which your voice alone can sanctify.
This new government, therefore, founded in usurpation, is referred to your
opinion as the origin of power not heretofore delegated, and, to this end,
the exercise of the prerogative of free examination is essentially
necessary; and yet you are unhesitatingly to acquiesce, and if you do not,
the American Fabius, if we may believe Cæsar is to command an army to
impose it. It is not my view to rouse your passions. I only wish to excite
you to, and assist you in, a cool and deliberate discussion of the
subject, to urge you to behave like sensible freemen. Think, speak, act,
and assert your opinions and rights—let the same good sense govern you
with respect to the adoption of a future system for the administration of
your public affairs that influenced you in the formation of the present.
Hereafter I do not intend to be diverted by Cæsar, or any other. My object
is to take up this new form of national government—compare it with the
experience and opinions of the most sensible and approved political
authors—and to show that its principles, and the exercise of them, will be
dangerous to your liberty and happiness.


Cato, III.

The New York Journal, (Number 2138)



In the close of my last introductory address, I told you that my object in
the future would be to take up this new form of national government, to
compare it with the experience and opinions of the most sensible and
approved political authors, and to show you that its principles, and the
exercise of them, will be dangerous to your liberty and happiness.

Although I am conscious that this is an arduous undertaking, yet I will
perform it to the best of my ability.

The freedom, equality and independence which you enjoyed by nature,
induced you to consent to a political power. The same principles led you
to examine the errors and vices of a British superintendence, to divest
yourselves of it, and to reassume a new political shape. It is
acknowledged that there are defects in this, and another is tendered to
you for acceptance; the great question then, that arises on this new
political principle, is, whether it will answer the ends for which it is
said to be offered to you, and for which all men engage in political
society, to wit, the preservation of their lives, liberties, and estates.

The recital, or premises on which the new form of government is erected,
declares a consolidation or union of all the thirteen parts, or states,
into one great whole, under the firm of the United States, for all the
various and important purposes therein set forth. But whoever seriously
considers the immense extent of territory comprehended within the limits
of the United States, together with the variety of its climates,
productions, and commerce, the difference of extent, and number of
inhabitants in all; the dissimilitude of interest, morals, and politics,
in almost every one, will receive it as an intuitive truth, that a
consolidated republican form of government therein, can never _form a
perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the
general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to you and your
posterity_, for to these objects it must be directed: this unkindred
legislature therefore, composed of interests opposite and dissimilar in
their nature, will in its exercise, emphatically be like a house divided
against itself.

The governments of Europe have taken their limits and form from
adventitious circumstances, and nothing can be argued on the motive of
agreement from them; but these adventitious political principles, have
nevertheless produced effects that have attracted the attention of
philosophy, which have established axioms in the science of politics
therefrom, as irrefragable as any in Euclid. It is natural, says
Montesquieu, _to a republic to have only a small territory, otherwise it
cannot long subsist: in a large one, there are men of large fortunes, and
consequently of less moderation; there are too great deposits to trust in
the hands of a single subject; an ambitious person soon becomes sensible
that he may be happy, great, and glorious by oppressing his fellow
citizens, and that he might raise himself to grandeur, on the ruins of his
country. In large republics, the public good is sacrificed to a thousand
views; in a small one, the interest of the public is easily perceived,
better understood, and more within the reach of every citizen; abuses have
a less extent, and of course are less protected_—he also shows you, that
the duration of the republic of Sparta was owing to its having continued
with the same extent of territory after all its wars; and that the
ambition of Athens and Lacedemon to command and direct the union, lost
them their liberties, and gave them a monarchy.

From this picture, what can you promise yourselves, on the score of
consolidation of the United States into one government? Impracticability
in the just exercise of it, your freedom insecure, even this form of
government limited in its continuance, the employments of your country
disposed of to the opulent, to whose contumely you will continually be an
object—you must risk much, by indispensably placing trusts of the greatest
magnitude, into the hands of individuals whose ambition for power, and
aggrandizement, will oppress and grind you—where from the vast extent of
your territory, and the complication of interests, the science of
government will become intricate and perplexed, and too mysterious for you
to understand and observe; and by which you are to be conducted into a
monarchy, either limited or despotic; the latter, Mr. Locke remarks, _is a
government derived from neither nature nor compact_.

_Political liberty_, the great Montesquieu again observes, _consists in
security, or at least in the opinion we have of security_; and this
_security_, therefore, or the _opinion_, is best obtained in moderate
governments, where the mildness of the laws, and the equality of the
manners, beget a confidence in the people, which produces this security,
or the opinion. This moderation in governments depends in a great measure
on their limits, connected with their political distribution.

The extent of many of the states of the Union, is at this time almost too
great for the superintendence of a republican form of government, and must
one day or other revolve into more vigorous ones, or by separation be
reduced into smaller and more useful, as well as moderate ones. You have
already observed the feeble efforts of Massachusetts against their
insurgents; with what difficulty did they quell that insurrection; and is
not the province of Maine at this moment on the eve of separation from
her? The reason of these things is, that for the security of the
_property_ of the community, in which expressive term Mr. Locke makes
life, liberty, and estate, to consist—the wheels of a republic are
necessarily slow in their operation; hence in large free republics, the
evil sometimes is not only begun, but almost completed, before they are in
a situation to turn the current into a contrary progression: the extremes
are also too remote from the usual seat of government, and the laws,
therefore, too feeble to afford protection to all its parts, and insure
_domestic tranquility_ without the aid of another principle. If,
therefore, this state, and that of North Carolina, had an army under their
control, they never would have lost Vermont, and Frankland, nor the state
of Massachusetts suffer an insurrection, or the dismemberment of her
fairest district, but the exercise of a principle which would have
prevented these things, if we may believe the experience of ages, would
have ended in the destruction of their liberties.

Will this consolidated republic, if established, in its exercise beget
such confidence and compliance, among the citizens of these states, as to
do without the aid of a standing army? I deny that it will. The
malcontents in each state, who will not be a few, nor the least important,
will be exciting factions against it—the fear of a dismemberment of some
of its parts, and the necessity to enforce the execution of revenue laws
(a fruitful source of oppression) on the extremes and in the other
districts of the government, will incidentally and necessarily require a
permanent force, to be kept on foot: will not political security, and even
the opinion of it, be extinguished? Can mildness and moderation exist in a
government where the primary incident in its exercise must be force? Will
not violence destroy confidence, and can equality subsist where the
extent, policy, and practice of it will naturally lead to make odious
distinctions among citizens?

The people who may compose this national legislature from the southern
states, in which, from the mildness of the climate, the fertility of the
soil, and the value of its productions, wealth is rapidly acquired, and
where the same causes naturally lead to luxury, dissipation, and a passion
for aristocratic distinction; where slavery is encouraged, and liberty of
course less respected and protected; who know not what it is to acquire
property by their own toil, nor to economize with the savings of
industry—will these men, therefore, be as tenacious of the liberties and
interests of the more northern states, where freedom, independence,
industry, equality and frugality are natural to the climate and soil, as
men who are your own citizens, legislating in your own state, under your
inspection, and whose manners and fortunes bear a more equal resemblance
to your own?

It may be suggested, in answer to this, that whoever is a citizen of one
state is a citizen of each, and that therefore he will be as interested in
the happiness and interest of all, as the one he is delegated from; but
the argument is fallacious, and, whoever has attended to the history of
mankind, and the principles which bind them together as parents, citizens,
or men, will readily perceive it. These principles are, in their exercise,
like a pebble cast on the calm surface of a river—the circles begin in the
center, and are small, active, and forcible, but as they depart from that
point, they lose their force, and vanish into calmness.

The strongest principle of union resides within our domestic walls. The
ties of the parent exceed that of any other; as we depart from home, the
next general principle of union is amongst citizens of the same state,
where acquaintance, habits, and fortunes, nourish affection, and
attachment; enlarge the circle still further, and, as citizens of
different states, though we acknowledge the same national denomination, we
lose in the ties of acquaintance, habits, and fortunes, and thus by
degrees we lessen in our attachments, till, at length, we no more than
acknowledge a sameness of species. Is it, therefore, from certainty like
this, reasonable to believe, that inhabitants of Georgia, or New
Hampshire, will have the same obligations towards you as your own, and
preside over your lives, liberties, and property, with the same care and
attachment? Intuitive reason answers in the negative.

In the course of my examination of the principles of consolidation of the
states into one general government, many other reasons against it have
occurred, but I flatter myself, from those herein offered to your
consideration, I have convinced you that it is both presumptuous and
impracticable, consistent with your safety. To detain you with further
remarks would be useless. I shall, however, continue in my following
numbers to analyse this new government, pursuant to my promise.


Cato, IV.

The New York Journal, (Number 2140)


For the New York Journal.


Admitting, however, that the vast extent of America, together with the
various other reasons which I offered you in my last number, against the
practicability of the just exercise of the new government are insufficient
to convince; still it is an undesirable truth, that its several parts are
either possessed of principles, which you have heretofore considered as
ruinous and that others are omitted which you have established as
fundamental to your political security, and must in their operation, I
will venture to assert, fetter your tongues and minds, enchain your
bodies, and ultimately extinguish all that is great and noble in man.

In pursuance of my plan I shall begin with observations on the executive
branch of this new system; and though it is not the first in order, as
arranged therein, yet being the _chief_, is perhaps entitled by the rules
of rank to the first consideration. The executive power as described in
the 2d article, consists of a president and vice-president, who are to
hold their offices during the term of four years; the same article has
marked the manner and time of their election, and established the
qualifications of the president; it also provides against the removal,
death, or inability of the president and vice-president—regulates the
salary of the president, delineates his duties and powers; and, lastly,
declares the causes for which the president and vice-president shall be
removed from office.

Notwithstanding the great learning and abilities of the gentlemen who
composed the convention, it may be here remarked with deference, that the
construction of the first paragraph of the first section of the second
article is vague and inexplicit, and leaves the mind in doubt as to the
election of a president and vice-president, after the expiration of the
election for the first term of four years; in every other case, the
election of these great officers is expressly provided for; but there is
no explicit provision for their election in case of expiration of their
offices, subsequent to the election which is to set this political machine
in motion; no certain and express terms as in your state constitution,
that _statedly_ once in every four years, and as often as these offices
shall become vacant, by expiration or otherwise, as is therein expressed,
an election shall be held as follows, &c., this inexplicitness perhaps may
lead to an establishment for life.

It is remarked by Montesquieu, in treating of republics, that _in all
magistracies, the greatness of the power must be compensated by the
brevity of the duration, and that a longer time than a year would be
dangerous_. It is, therefore, obvious to the least intelligent mind to
account why great power in the hands of a magistrate, and that power
connected with considerable duration, may be dangerous to the liberties of
a republic, the deposit of vast trusts in the hands of a single
magistrate, enables him in their exercise to create a numerous train of
dependents; this tempts his _ambition_, which in a republican magistrate
is also remarked, _to be pernicious_, and the duration of his office for
any considerable time favors his views, gives him the means and time to
perfect and execute his designs, _he therefore fancies that he may be
great and glorious by oppressing his fellow-citizens, and raising himself
to permanent grandeur on the ruins of his country_. And here it may be
necessary to compare the vast and important powers of the president,
together with his continuance in office, with the foregoing doctrine—his
eminent magisterial situation will attach many adherents to him, and he
will be surrounded by expectants and courtiers, his power of nomination
and influence on all appointments, the strong posts in each state
comprised within his superintendence, and garrisoned by troops under his
direction, his control over the army, militia, and navy, the unrestrained
power of granting pardons for treason, which may be used to screen from
punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the crime, and
thereby prevent a discovery of his own guilt, his duration in office for
four years: these, and various other principles evidently prove the truth
of the position, that if the president is possessed of ambition, he has
power and time sufficient to ruin his country.

Though the president, during the sitting of the legislature, is assisted
by the senate, yet he is without a constitutional council in their recess;
he will therefore be unsupported by proper information and advice, and
will generally be directed by minions and favorites, or a council of state
will grow out of the principal officers of the great departments, the most
dangerous council in a free country.

The ten miles square, which is to become the seat of government, will of
course be the place of residence for the president and the great officers
of state; the same observations of a great man will apply to the court of
a president possessing the powers of a monarch, that is observed of that
of a monarch—_ambition with idleness_—_baseness with pride_—_the thirst of
riches without labor_—_aversion to
truth_—_flattery_—_treason_—_perfidy_—_violation of engagements_—_contempt
of civil duties_—_hope from the magistrate’s weakness_; _but above all,
the perpetual ridicule of virtue_—these, he remarks, are the
characteristics by which the courts in all ages have been distinguished.

The language and the manners of this court will be what distinguishes them
from the rest of the community, not what assimilates them to it; and in
being remarked for a behavior that shows they are not _meanly born_, and
in adulation to people of fortune and power.

The establishment of a vice-president is as unnecessary as it is
dangerous. This officer, for want of other employment, is made president
of the senate, thereby blending the executive and legislative powers,
besides always giving to some one state, from which he is to come, an
unjust pre-eminence.

It is a maxim in republics that the representative of the people should be
of their immediate choice; but by the manner in which the president is
chosen, he arrives to this office at the fourth or fifth hand, nor does
the highest vote, in the way he is elected, determine the choice, for it
is only necessary that he should be taken from the highest of five, who
may have a plurality of votes.

Compare your past opinions and sentiments with the present proposed
establishment, and you will find, that if you adopt it, that it will lead
you into a system which you heretofore reprobated as odious. Every
American Whig, not long since, bore his emphatic testimony against a
monarchical government, though limited, because of the dangerous
inequality that it created among citizens as relative to their rights and
property; and wherein does this president, invested with his powers and
prerogatives, essentially differ from the king of Great Britain (save as
to name, the creation of nobility, and some immaterial incidents, the
offspring of absurdity and locality). The direct prerogatives of the
president, as springing from his political character, are among the
following: It is necessary, in order to distinguish him from the rest of
the community, and enable him to keep, and maintain his court, that the
compensation for his services, or in other words, his revenue, should be
such as to enable him to appear with the splendor of a prince; he has the
power of receiving ambassadors from, and a great influence on their
appointments to foreign courts; as also to make treaties, leagues, and
alliances with foreign states, assisted by the Senate, which when made
become the supreme law of land: he is a constituent part of the
legislative power, for every bill which shall pass the House of
Representatives and Senate is to be presented to him for approbation; if
he approves of it he is to sign it, if he disapproves he is to return it
with objections, which in many cases will amount to a complete negative;
and in this view he will have a great share in the power of making peace,
coining money, etc., and all the various objects of legislation, expressed
or implied in this Constitution: for though it may be asserted that the
king of Great Britain has the express power of making peace or war, yet he
never thinks it prudent to do so without the advice of his Parliament,
from whom he is to derive his support, and therefore these powers, in both
president and king, are substantially the same: he is the generalissimo of
the nation, and of course has the command and control of the army, navy
and militia; he is the general conservator of the peace of the union—he
may pardon all offences, except in cases of impeachment, and the principal
fountain of all offices and employments. Will not the exercise of these
powers therefore tend either to the establishment of a vile and arbitrary
aristocracy or monarchy? The safety of the people in a republic depends on
the share or proportion they have in the government; but experience ought
to teach you, that when a man is at the head of an elective government
invested with great powers, and interested in his re-election, in what
circle appointments will be made; by which means an _imperfect
aristocracy_ bordering on monarchy may be established.

You must, however, my countrymen, beware that the advocates of this new
system do not deceive you by a fallacious resemblance between it and your
own state government which you so much prize; and, if you examine, you
will perceive that the chief magistrate of this state is your immediate
choice, controlled and checked by a just and full representation of the
people, divested of the prerogative of influencing war and peace, making
treaties, receiving and sending embassies, and commanding standing armies
and navies, which belong to the power of the confederation, and will be
convinced that this government is no more like a true picture of your own
than an Angel of Darkness resembles an Angel of Light.


Cato, V.

The New York Journal, (Number 2145)


For the New York Journal, &c.

_To the_ CITIZENS _of the_ STATE _of_ NEW YORK.

In my last number I endeavored to prove that the language of the article
relative to the establishment of the executive of this new government was
vague and inexplicit; that the great powers of the president, connected
with his duration in office, would lead to oppression and ruin; that he
would be governed by favorites and flatterers, or that a dangerous council
would be collected from the great officers of state; that the ten miles
square, if the remarks of one of the wisest men, drawn from the experience
of mankind, may be credited, would be the asylum of the base, idle,
avaricious and ambitious, and that the court would possess a language and
manners different from yours; that a vice-president is as unnecessary as
he is dangerous in his influence; that the president cannot represent you
because he is not of your own immediate choice; that if you adopt this
government you will incline to an arbitrary and odious aristocracy or
monarchy; that the president, possessed of the power given him by this
frame of government, differs but very immaterially from the establishment
of monarchy in Great Britain; and I warned you to beware of the fallacious
resemblance that is held out to you by the advocates of this new system
between it and your own state governments.

And here I cannot help remarking that inexplicitness seems to pervade this
whole political fabric; certainly in political compacts, which Mr. Coke
calls _the mother and nurse of repose and quietness_ the want of which
induced men to engage in political society, has ever been held by a wise
and free people as essential to their security; as on the one hand it
fixes barriers which the ambitious and tyrannically disposed magistrate
dare not overleap, and on the other, becomes a wall of safety to the
community—otherwise stipulations between the governors and governed are
nugatory; and you might as well deposit the important powers of
legislation and execution in one or a few and permit them to govern
according to their disposition and will; but the world is too full of
examples, which prove that _to live by one man’s will became the cause of
all men’s misery_. Before the existence of express political compacts it
was reasonably implied that the magistrate should govern with wisdom and
justice; but mere implication was too feeble to restrain the unbridled
ambition of a bad man, or afford security against negligence, cruelty or
any other defect of mind. It is alleged that the opinions and manners of
the people of America are capable to resist and prevent an extension of
prerogative or oppression, but you must recollect that opinion and manners
are mutable, and may not always be a permanent obstruction against the
encroachments of government; that the progress of a commercial society
begets luxury, the parent of inequality, the foe to virtue, and the enemy
to restraint; and that ambition and voluptuousness, aided by flattery,
will teach magistrates where limits are not explicitly fixed to have
separate and distinct interests from the people; besides, it will not be
denied that government assimilates the manners and opinions of the
community to it. Therefore, a general presumption that rulers will govern
well is not a sufficient security. You are then under a sacred obligation
to provide for the safety of your posterity, and would you now basely
desert their interests, when by a small share of prudence you may transmit
to them a beautiful political patrimony, which will prevent the necessity
of their travelling through seas of blood to obtain that which your wisdom
might have secured? It is a duty you owe likewise to your own reputation,
for you have a great name to lose; you are characterized as cautious,
prudent and jealous in politics; whence is it therefore that you are about
to precipitate yourselves into a sea of uncertainty, and adopt a system so
vague, and which has discarded so many of your valuable rights? Is it
because you do not believe that an American can be a tyrant? If this be
the case, you rest on a weak basis: Americans are like other men in
similar situations, when the manners and opinions of the community are
changed by the causes I mentioned before; and your political compact
inexplicit, your posterity will find that great power connected with
ambition, luxury and flattery, will as readily produce a Cæsar, Caligula,
Nero and Domitian in America, as the same causes did in the Roman Empire.

But the next thing to be considered, in conformity to my plan, is the
first article of this new government, which comprises the erection of the
house of representatives and the senate, and prescribes their various
powers and objects of legislation. The most general objections to the
first article, that biennial elections for representatives are a departure
from the safe democratic principles of annual ones—that the number of
representatives are too few; that the apportionment and principles of
increase are unjust; that no attention has been paid to either the numbers
or property in each state in forming the senate; that the mode in which
they are appointed and their duration will lead to the establishment of an
aristocracy; that the senate and president are improperly connected, both
as to appointments and the making of treaties, which are to become the
supreme law of the land; that the judicial, in some measure, to wit, as to
the trial of impeachments, is placed in the senate, a branch of the
legislative, and sometimes a branch of the executive; that Congress have
the improper power of making or altering the regulations prescribed by the
different legislatures, respecting the time, place and manner of holding
elections for representatives, and the time and manner of choosing
senators; that standing armies may be established, and appropriation of
money made for their support for two years; that the militia of the most
remote state may be marched into those states situated at the opposite
extreme of this continent; that the slave trade is, to all intents and
purposes, permanently established, and a slavish capitation or poll-tax
may at any time be levied; these are some of the many evils that will
attend the adoption of this government.

But, with respect to the first objection, it may be remarked that a
well-digested democracy has this advantage over all others, to wit: that
it affords to many the opportunity to be advanced to the supreme command,
and the honors they thereby enjoy fill them with a desire of rendering
themselves worthy of them; hence this desire becomes part of their
education, is matured in manhood, and produces an ardent affection for
their country, and it is the opinion of the great Sidney and Montesquieu
that this is, in a great measure, produced by annual election of

If annual elections were to exist in this government, and learning and
information to become more prevalent, you never would want men to execute
whatever you could design. Sidney observes _that a well-governed state is
as fruitful to all good purposes as the seven-headed serpent is said to
have been in evil; when one head is cut off, many rise up in the place of
it_. He remarks further that _it was also thought that free cities, by
frequent election of magistrates, became nurseries of great and able men,
every man endeavoring to excel others, that he might be advanced to the
honor he had no other title to, than what might arise from his merit or
reputation_; but the framers of this _perfect government_, as it is
called, have departed from this democratical principle, and established
biennial elections for the house of representatives, who are to be chosen
by the people, and sextennial for the senate, who are to be chosen by the
legislatures of the different states, and have given to the executive the
unprecedented power of making temporary senators, in case of vacancies by
resignation or otherwise, and so far forth establishing a precedent for
virtual representation (though, in fact, their original appointment is
virtual), thereby influencing the choice of the legislatures, or if they
should not be so complaisant as to conform to his appointment, offence
will be given to the executive, and the temporary members will appear
ridiculous by rejection; this temporary member, during his time of
appointment, will of course act by a power derived from the executive, and
for, and under his immediate influence.

It is a very important objection to this government, that the
representation consists of so few; too few to resist the influence of
corruption, and the temptation to treachery, against which all governments
ought to take precautions—how guarded you have been on this head, in your
own state constitution, and yet the number of senators and representatives
proposed for this vast continent does not equal those of your own state;
how great the disparity, if you compare them with the aggregate numbers in
the United States. The history of representation in England, from which we
have taken our model of legislation, is briefly this: before the
institution of legislating by deputies, the whole free part of the
community usually met for that purpose; when this became impossible, by
the increase of numbers, the community was divided into districts, from
each of which was sent such a number of deputies as was a complete
representation of the various numbers and orders of citizens within them;
but can it be asserted with truth, that six men can be a complete and full
representation of the numbers and various orders of the people in this
state? Another thing that may be suggested against the small number of
representatives is, that but few of you will have a chance of sharing even
in this branch of the legislature; and that the choice will be confined to
a very few. The more complete it is, the better will your interests be
preserved, and the greater the opportunity you will have to participate in
government, one of the principal securities of a free people; but this
subject has been so ably and fully treated by a writer under the signature
of Brutus,(54) that I shall content myself with referring you to him
thereon, reserving further observations on the other objections I have
mentioned, for my future numbers.


Cato, VI.

The New York Journal, (Number 2163)


For the New York Journal, &c.

_To the_ PEOPLE _of the_ STATE _of_ NEW YORK.

The next objection that arises against this proffered constitution is,
that the apportionment of representatives and direct taxes are unjust. The
words, as expressed in this article, are “representatives and direct taxes
shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included in
this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be
determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those
bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed,
three-fifths of all other persons.” In order to elucidate this, it will be
necessary to repeat the remark in my last number, that the mode of
legislation in the infancy of free communities was by the collective body,
and this consisted of free persons, or those whose age admitted them to
the right of mankind and citizenship, whose sex made them capable of
protecting the state, and whose birth may be denominated Free Born; and no
traces can be found that ever women, children, and slaves, or those who
were not sui juris, in the early days of legislation, meeting with the
free members of the community to deliberate on public measures; hence is
derived this maxim in free governments, that representation ought to bear
a proportion to the number of free inhabitants in a community; this
principle your own state constitution, and others, have observed in the
establishment of a future census, in order to apportion the
representatives, and to increase or diminish the representation to the
ratio of the increase or diminution of electors. But, what aid can the
community derive from the assistance of women, infants and slaves, in
their deliberation, or in their defence? and what motives, therefore,
could the convention have in departing from the just and rational
principle of representation, which is the governing principle of this
state and of all America?

The doctrine of taxation is a very important one, and nothing requires
more wisdom and prudence than the regulation of that portion, which is
taken from, and of that which is left to the subject—and if you anticipate
what will be the enormous expense of this new government added also to
your own, little will that portion be which will be left to you. I know
there are politicians who believe that you should be loaded with taxes, in
order to make you industrious, and, perhaps, there are some of this
opinion in the convention, but it is an erroneous principle. For, what can
inspire you with industry, if the greatest measure of your labors are to
be swallowed up in taxes? The advocates for this new system hold out an
idea, that you will have but little to pay, for that the revenues will be
so managed as to be almost wholly drawn from the source of trade or duties
on imports, but this is delusive—for this government to discharge all its
incidental expenses, besides paying the interest on the home and foreign
debts, will require more money than its commerce can afford; and if you
reflect one moment, you will find, that if heavy duties are laid on
merchandise, as must be the case if government intends to make this the
prime medium to lighten the people of taxes, that the price of the
commodities, useful as well as luxurious, must be increased; the consumers
will be fewer; the merchants must import less; trade will languish, and
this source of revenue in a great measure be dried up; but if you examine
this a little further you will find that this revenue, managed in this
way, will come out of you, and be a very heavy and ruinous one, at least.
The merchant no more than advances the money for you to the public and
will not, nor cannot pay any part of it himself; and if he pays more
duties, he will sell his commodities at a price portionably raised. Thus
the laborer, mechanic, and farmer must feel it in the purchase of their
utensils and clothing—wages, etc., must rise with the price of things or
they must be ruined; and that must be the case with the farmer, whose
produce will not increase, in the ratio, with labor, utensils and
clothing; for that he must sell at the usual price or lower perhaps,
caused by the decrease of trade; the consequence will be that he must
mortgage his farm, and then comes inevitable bankruptcy.

In what manner then will you be eased, if the expenses of government are
to be raised solely out of the commerce of this country; do you not
readily apprehend the fallacy of this argument? But government will find
that to press so heavily on commerce will not do, and therefore must have
recourse to other objects; these will be a capitation or poll-tax, window
lights, etc., etc., and a long train of impositions which their ingenuity
will suggest; but will you submit to be numbered like the slaves of an
arbitrary despot; and what will be your reflections when the tax-master
thunders at your door for the duty on that light which is the bounty of
heaven. It will be the policy of the great landholders who will chiefly
compose this senate, and perhaps a majority of this house of
representatives, to keep their lands free from taxes; and this is
confirmed by the failure of every attempt to lay a land-tax in this state;
hence recourse must and will be had to the sources I mentioned before. The
burdens on you will be insupportable—your complaints will be
inefficacious—this will beget public disturbances; and I will venture to
predict, without the spirit of prophecy, that you and the government, if
it is adopted, will one day be at issue on this point. The force of
government will be exerted, this will call for an increase of revenue, and
will add fuel to the fire. The result will be that either you will revolve
to some other form, or that government will give peace to the country by
destroying the opposition. If government therefore can, notwithstanding
every opposition, raise a revenue on such things as are odious and
burdensome to you, they can do anything.

But why should the number of individuals be the principle to apportion the
taxes in each state, and to include in that number women, children and
slaves? The most natural and equitable principle of apportioning taxes
would be in a ratio to their property, and a reasonable impost in a ratio
to their trade; but you are told to look for the reason of these things in
accommodation; but this much-admired principle, when stripped of its
mystery, will in this case appear to be no less than a basis for an odious
poll-tax—the offspring of despotic governments, a thing so detestable that
the state of Maryland, in their bill of rights, declares “that the levying
taxes by the poll is grievous and oppressive, and ought to be abolished.”
A poll-tax is at all times oppressive to the poor, and their greatest
misfortune will consist in having more prolific wives than the rich.

In every civilized community, even in those of the most democratic kind,
there are principles which lead to an aristocracy—these are superior
talents, fortunes and public employments. But in free governments the
influence of the two former is resisted by the equality of the laws, and
the latter by the frequency of elections, and the chance that every one
has in sharing in public business; but when this natural and artificial
eminence is assisted by principles interwoven in this government; when the
senate, so important a branch of the legislature, is so far removed from
the people as to have little or no connection with them; when their
duration in office is such as to have the resemblance to perpetuity; when
they are connected with the executive, by the appointment of all officers,
and also to become a judiciary for the trial of officers of their own
appointments; added to all this, when none but men of opulence will hold a
seat, what is there left to resist and repel this host of influence and
power? Will the feeble efforts of the house of representatives, in whom
your security ought to subsist, consisting of about seventy-three, be able
to hold the balance against them, when, from the fewness of members in
this house, the senate will have in their power to poison even a majority
of that body by douceurs of office for themselves or friends? From causes
like this both Montesquieu and Hume have predicted the decline of the
British government into that of an absolute one; but the liberties of this
country, it is probable, if this system is adopted, will be strangled in
their birth; for whenever the executive and senate can destroy the
independence of the majority in the house of representatives, then where
is your security? They are so intimately connected, that their interests
will be one and the same; and will the slow increase of numbers be able to
afford a repelling principle? But you are told to adopt this government
first, and you will always be able to alter it afterwards; this would
first be submitting to be slaves and then taking care of your liberty; and
when your chains are on, then to act like freemen.

Complete acts of legislation, which are to become the supreme law of the
land, ought to be the united act of all the branches of government; but
there is one of the most important duties may be managed by the Senate and
executive alone, and to have all the force of the law paramount without
the aid or interference of the House of Representatives; that is the power
of making treaties. This power is a very important one, and may be
exercised in various ways, so as to affect your person and property, and
even the domain of the nation. By treaties you may defalcate part of the
empire; engagements may be made to raise an army, and you may be
transported to Europe, to fight the wars of ambitious princes; money may
be contracted for, and you must pay it; and a thousand other obligations
may be entered into; all which will become the supreme law of the land,
and you are bound by it. If treaties are erroneously or wickedly made who
is there to punish,—the executive can always cover himself with the plea
that he was advised by the senate, and the senate being a collective body
are not easily made accountable for mal-administration. On this account we
are in a worse situation than Great Britain, where they have secured by a
ridiculous fiction, the king from accountability, by declaring that he can
do no wrong, by which means the nation can have redress against his
minister; but with us infallibility pervades every part of the system, and
neither the executive nor his council, who are a collective body, and his
advisers, can be brought to punishment for mal-administration.


Cato, VII.

The New York Journal, (Number 2181)


For the New York Journal, &c.


That the president and senate are further improperly connected will
appear, if it is considered that their dependence on each other will
prevent either from being a check upon the other; they must act in
concert, and whether the power and influence of the one or the other is to
prevail, will depend on the character and abilities of the men who hold
those offices at the time. The senate is vested with such a proportion of
the executive that it would be found necessary that they should be
constantly sitting. This circumstance did not escape the convention, and
they have provided for the event, in the 2d article, which declares that
the executive may, on extraordinary occasions, _convene both houses or
either of them_. No occasion can exist for calling the assembly without
the senate; the words _or either of them_ must have been intended to apply
only to the senate. Their wages are already provided for, and it will be
therefore readily observed that the partition between a perpetuation of
their sessions, and a perpetuation of offices in the progress of the
government, will be found to be but thin and feeble. Besides, the senate,
who have the sole power to try all impeachments, in case of the
impeachment of the president are to determine, as judges, the propriety of
the advice they gave him as senators. Can the senate in this, therefore,
be an impartial judicature? And will they not rather serve as a screen to
great public defaulters?

Among the many evils that are incorporated in this new system of
government is that of congress having the power of making or altering the
regulations prescribed by the different legislatures respecting the time,
place and manner of holding elections for representatives, and the time
and manner of choosing senators. If it is enquired in what manner this
regulation may be exercised to your injury, the answer is easy. By the
first article the house of representatives shall consist of members,
chosen every second year by the people of the several states who are
qualified to vote for members of their several state assemblies; it can
therefore readily be believed, that the different state legislatures,
provided such can exist after the adoption of this government, will
continue those easy and convenient modes for the election of
representatives for the national legislature that are in use for the
election of members of assembly for their own states; but the congress
have, by the constitution, a power to make other regulations or alter
those in practice, prescribed by your own state legislatures; hence,
instead of having the places of elections in the precincts and brought
home almost to your own doors, congress may establish a place, or places,
at either the extremes, center or outer parts of the states; at a time and
season, too, when it may be very inconvenient to attend; and by these
means destroy the rights of election. But in opposition to this reasoning,
it is asserted, that it is a necessary power, because the states might
omit making rules for the purpose, and thereby defeat the existence of
that branch of the government; this is what logicians call _argumentum
absurdum_; for the different states, if they will have any security at all
in this government, will find it in the house of representatives, and
they, therefore, would be very ready to eradicate a principle in which it
dwells, or involve their country in an instantaneous revolution. Besides,
if this was the apprehension of the framers, and the ground of that
provision, why did not they extend this controlling power to the other
duties of the several state legislatures? To exemplify this, the states
are to appoint senators and electors for choosing of a president; but the
time is to be under the direction of congress. Now, suppose they were to
omit the appointment of senators and electors, though congress was to
appoint the time, which might well be apprehended, as the omission of
regulations for the election of members of the house of representatives,
provided they had that power; or suppose they were not to meet at all; of
course, the government cannot proceed in its exercise. And from this
motive or apprehension, congress ought to have taken these duties entirely
in their own hands, and, by a decisive declaration, annihilated them,
which they in fact have done by leaving them without the means of support,
or at least resting on their bounty. To this the advocates for this system
oppose the common, empty declamation, that there is no danger that
congress will abuse this power; but such language, as relative to so
important a subject, is mere vapor, and formed without sense. Is it not in
their power, however, to make such regulations as may be inconvenient to
you? It must be admitted, because the words are unlimited in their sense.
It is a good rule, in the construction of a contract, to suppose that what
may be done will be; therefore, in considering this subject, you are to
suppose that in the exercise of this government, a regulation of congress
will be made for holding an election for the whole state at Poughkeepsie,
at New York, or, perhaps, at Fort Stanwix; who will then be the actual
electors for the house of representatives? You ought certainly to have as
much or more distrust with respect to the exercise of these powers by
congress, than congress ought to have with respect to the exercise of
those duties which ought to be entrusted to the several states, because
over them congress can have a legislative controlling power.

Hitherto we have tied up our rulers in the exercise of their duties by
positive restrictions; if the cord has been drawn too tight, loosen it to
the necessary extent, but do not entirely unbind them. I am no enemy to
placing a reasonable confidence in them, but such an unbounded one as the
advocates and framers of this new system advise you to, would be dangerous
to your liberties; it has been the ruin of other governments, and will be
yours, if you adopt with all its latitudinal power. Unlimited power in
governors as well as individuals is frequently the parent of deception.
What facilitated the corrupt designs of Philip of Macedon and caused the
ruin of Athens, but the unbounded confidence in their statesmen and
rulers? Such improper confidence Demosthenes was so well convinced had
ruined his country, that in his second Philippic oration he remarks “that
there is one common bulwark with which men of prudence are naturally
provided, the guard and security of all people, particularly of free
states, against the assaults of tyrants. What is this? Distrust. Of this
be mindful; to this adhere; preserve this carefully, and no calamity can
affect you.” Montesquieu observes that “the course of government is
attended with an insensible descent to evil, and there is no reascending
to good without very great efforts.” The plain influence from this
doctrine is, that rulers in all governments will erect an interest
separate from the ruled, which will have a tendency to enslave them. There
is, therefore, no other way of interrupting this insensible descent and
warding off the evil as long as possible, than by establishing principles
of distrust on your constituents, and cultivating the sentiment among
yourselves. But let me inquire of you, my countrymen, whether the freedom
and independence of elections is a point of magnitude? If it is, what kind
of a spirit of amity, deference and concession is that which has put in
the power of congress, at one stroke, to prevent your interference in
government, and do away your liberties forever? Does either the situation
or circumstances of things warrant it?



Printed In
The Daily Advertiser,
October, 1787.


These letters, from what has already been quoted on page 245, were
evidently written by Alexander Hamilton. He had just finished a newspaper
controversy of a very acrimonious character with George Clinton, which
probably caused these letters to be an attack on the writer of _Cato_,
rather than a defense of the new government. They are further evidence of
the great want of political tact and sympathy with the masses, of which
Hamilton gave so many specimens in his short life, and which alone
prevented his political success. That he himself realized this mistake is
shown by his prompt abandonment of _Cæsar_ and his beginning again anew in
_The Federalist_; the latter being a singular and interesting contrast in
both tone and argument to these earlier writings, which, it should be also
considered, were undoubtedly written in great haste.

Cæsar, I.

The Daily Advertiser, (Number 812)


The citizens of the State of New York have received yesterday, from _Cato_
(an ally of _Pompey_, no doubt), an introductory discourse on the
appearance of the new system for the government of the United States:
this, we are told, will be followed by such observations, on the
constitution proposed to the union, “as will promote our welfare and be
justified by reason and truth.” There is, in this preparatory lecture,
little that is necessary to be dwelt on just now; and if Cato had not
possessed his future investigations in such terms as wore a _questionable
shape_, they should have passed unheeded.

Cato tells us that he will not _directly engage as an advocate_ for this
new form of government, or as an _opponent_. Here Cato, without any
dispute, acts prudently. It will be wise in him to rest awhile; since he
has given a _preface_, which, with small address, can easily be made to
work on either side. When the sentiments of the confederate states come to
be generally known it will be time enough to proceed. Cato will then
_start fair_. A little caution, however, he thinks necessary to be given
the meantime. “Do not,” says this prudent censor, in addressing the
citizens, “because you will admit that _something_ must be done, adopt
_anything_.” What, in the name of common sense, does this injunction
import? I appeal to men of understanding, whether it is not obviously the
language of distrust, calculated, as far as such a thing can influence, to
prejudice the public opinion against the new constitution; and, in effect,
by a periphrastic mode of speech, recommending the rejection of it?
“_Teach_ the members of the Convention (Cato _very modestly_ goes on) that
you are capable of supervision of their conduct; the same medium that gave
you this system, if it is erroneous, while the door is now open, can make
amendments _or give you another_.” O excellent thought, and happily
advised! Be clamorous, my friends—be discontented—assert your
prerogative—forever assert the power and _majesty of the people_. I am not
willing to suspect any man’s intentions, when they aim at giving
information; but when they come abroad, couched in such _magisterial_
terms, I own I feel some indignation. If this demagogue had talents to
throw light on the subject of legislation, why did he not offer them when
the Convention was in session? If they had been judged useful, no doubt
they would have been attended to. But is this _now a time_ for such
insinuations? Has not the wisdom of America been drawn, as it were, into a
focus, and the proffered constitution sent forth with a unanimity that is
unequalled in ancient or modern story? And shall we now wrangle and find
fault with the _excellent whole_, because, perhaps some of its parts
_might have been_ more perfect? There is neither virtue or patriotism in
such conduct. Besides, how can Cato say, “that the door is now open to
receive any amendments, or give us _another constitution_, if required?” I
believe he has advanced this without proper authority. I am inclined to
believe that the _door of recommendation is shut and cannot be opened by
the same men_; that the Convention, in one word, is dissolved; if so we
must reject IN TOTO, or _vice versa_; just take it as it is and be
thankful. I deny the similarity betwixt the present constitution and that
of the United Netherlands. Cato would have drawn a very melancholy
picture, but it won’t apply. In my most humble opinion, it has a much
greater affinity with the government, which, in all human probability,
will remain when the history of the Seven Provinces shall be forgotten.
Cato tells us (what all America knows by this time) that the new
constitution comes sanctioned with the approbation of General Washington;
and, though he appears to have some reverence for that great patriot
chief, yet he very sagaciously observes, that the _best and wisest man may
err_; and thence asserts, that every man in _politics_, as well as in
religion, ought to judge for himself. This paragraph needs no comment,
and, for that reason, I shall not touch it; but with all deference to
Cato’s penetration, I would recommend to him, instead of entering into
fruitless discussion of what has come from so many _clear heads_ and _good
hearts_, to join his fellow-citizens, and endeavor to reconcile this
_excellent constitution_ to the _weak_, the _suspicious_, and the
_interested_, who will be chiefly opposed to it, as soon as possible. I
would also advise him to give his vote (as he will probably be one of the
Electors) to the American Fabius; it will be more healthy for this
country, and _this state_, that he should be induced to accept of the
presidency of the new government, than that he should be solicited again
to accept of the command of _an army_.

Cato, it appears, intends to adventure on perilous grounds; it will
therefore become him to be cautious on what terms he takes the field. “He
advises us to attach ourselves to measures, and not to men.” In this
instance he advises well; and I heartily recommend it to _himself_, and
not to forget the force of that important admonition; for Cato, in his
future marches, will very probably be _followed_ by



Cæsar, II.

The Daily Advertiser, (Number 826)


For the Daily Advertiser.

    “The great source of all the evils which afflict Republics, is,
    that the people are too apt to make choice of rulers, who are
    either Politicians without being Patriots, or Patriots without
    being Politicians.”


When I took notice of Cato’s prefatory address to the Citizens of the
State of New York, in your paper of the first instant, I had no serious
intention of becoming a controversial defendant of the new constitution.
Indeed, if the system required defence, I was neither so weak nor so vain
as to suppose myself competent to the task. To obviate difficulties which
may arise, when such weighty affairs as the principles of legislation are
under discussion, I am sensible requires talents far beyond my limited
abilities. When I offered a few remarks on Cato’s introduction, I was
strongly impressed with the idea that even the most substantial
criticisms, promulgated by the most influential _avowed Citizens_, could
have no good tendency at _this time_. I viewed the public mind as wound up
to a great pitch of dissatisfaction, by the inadequacy of the powers of
the present Congress to the general good and conversation of the union. I
believed then, as I do now, that the people were determined and prepared
for a _change_. I conceived, therefore, that the wish of every good man
would be, that _this change might be peaceably effected_. With this view I
opposed myself to Cato. I asserted, in my last, _that the __ door of
recommendation was shut, and cannot be opened by the same men—that the
Convention was dissolved._ If I am wrong, it will be of great importance
to Cato’s future remarks that he make it appear. If he will declare from
sufficient authority, that the members of the late Convention have only
adjourned to give time to hear the sentiments of every political
disputant, that after the numerous presses of America have groaned with
the heavy productions of speculative politicians, they will _again meet_,
weigh their respective merits, and accommodate accordingly—I say, if Cato
can do this, I make no hesitation in acknowledging the utility of his
plan. In the mean time, I positively deny having any, the most distant
desire of shutting the door of free discussion, on any subject which may
benefit the people; but I maintain (until Cato’s better information
refutes me) that the door, as far as relates to _this subject_, is already
shut, not by me, but by the highest possible authority which the case
admits, even by those great Patriots who were delegated by the people of
the United States to _open such a door_, as might enable them to escape
from impending calamities and political shipwreck. This distinction is
clear, I conceive, and ought to have some weight even with Cato, as well
as those for whom he writes. I am not one of those who gain an influence
by cajoling the unthinking mass (tho’ I pity their delusions), and ringing
in their ears the gracious sound of their _absolute Sovereignty_. I
despise the trick of such dirty policy. I know there are Citizens, who, to
gain their own private ends, enflame the minds of the well-meaning, tho’
less intelligent parts of the community, by sating their vanity with that
cordial and unfailing specific, that _all power is seated in the people_.
For my part, I am not much attached to the _majesty of the multitude_, and
therefore waive all pretensions (founded on such conduct), to their
countenance. I consider them in general as very ill qualified to judge for
themselves what government will best suit their peculiar situations; nor
is this to be wondered at. The science of government is not easily
understood. Cato will admit, I presume, that men of good education and
deep reflection, only, are judges of the _form_ of a government; whether
it is constituted on such principles as will restrain arbitrary power, on
the one hand, and equal to the exclusion of corruption and the destruction
of licentiousness on the other; whether the New Constitution, if adopted,
will prove adequate to such desirable ends, time, the mother of events,
will show. For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system, which, without
the finger of _God_, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by
such a diversity of interests. I will not presume to say that a more
perfect system might not have been fabricated; but who expects perfection
at once? And it may be asked, _who are judges of it_? Few, I believe, who
have leisure to study the nature of Government scientifically, but will
frequently disagree about the quantum of power to be delegated to Rulers,
and the different modifications of it. Ingenious men will give every
plausible, and, it may be, pretty substantial reasons, for the adoption of
two plans of Government, which shall be fundamentally different in their
construction, and not less so in their operation; yet both, if honestly
administered, might operate with safety and advantage. When a new form of
government is fabricated, it lies with the people at large to receive or
reject it—that is, their _inherent rights_. Now, I would ask (without
intending to triumph over the weaknesses or follies of any men), how are
the people to profit by this inherent right? By what conduct do they
discover that they are sensible of their own interests in this situation?
Is it by the exercise of a well-disciplined reason, and a correspondent
education? I believe not. How then? As I humbly conceive, by a tractable
and docile disposition, and by honest men endeavoring to keep their minds
easy, while others, of the same disposition, with the advantages of genius
and learning, are constructing the bark that may, by the blessing of
Heaven, carry them to the port of rest and happiness, if they will embark
without diffidence and proceed without mutiny. I know this is blunt and
ungracious reasoning; it is the best, however, which I am prepared to
offer on this momentous business; and, since my own heart does not
reproach me, I shall not be very solicitous about its reception. If truth,
then, is permitted to speak, the mass of the people of America (any more
than the mass of other countries) cannot judge with any degree of
precision concerning the fitness of this New Constitution to the peculiar
situation of America; they have, however, done wisely in delegating the
power of framing a government to those every way worthy and
well-qualified; and, if this Government is snatched, untasted, from them,
it may not be amiss to inquire into the causes which will probably
occasion their disappointment. Out of several, which present to my mind, I
shall venture to select _one_, baneful enough, in my opinion, to work this
dreadful evil. There are always men in society of some talents, but more
ambition, in quest of _that_ which it would be impossible for them to
obtain in any other way than by working on the passions and prejudices of
the less discerning classes of citizens and yeomanry. It is the plan of
men of this stamp to frighten the people with ideal bugbears, in order to
mould them to their own purposes. The unceasing cry of these designing
croakers is, My friends, your liberty is invaded! Have you thrown off the
yoke of one tyrant to invest yourselves with that of another? Have you
fought, bled and conquered for _such a change_? If you have—go—retire into
silent obscurity, and kiss the rod that scourges you.

To be serious: These state empirics leave no species of deceit untried to
convince the unthinking people that they have power to do—what? Why truly
to do much mischief, and to occasion anarchy and wild uproar. And for what
reason do these political jugglers incite the peaceably disposed to such
extravagant commotions? Because until the people really discover that they
have _power_, by some outrageous act, they never can become of any
importance. The misguided people never reflect during this frenzy, that
the moment they become riotous, they renounce, from that moment, their
independence, and commence vassals to their ambitious leaders, who
instantly, and with a high hand, rob them of their consequence, and apply
it to their own present or future aggrandisement; nor will these tyrants
over the people stick at sacrificing _their_ good, if an advantageous
compromise can be effected for _themselves_.

Before I conclude, I cannot refrain from observing that Cato states very
disingenuously the manner in which the Federal System came abroad. He
tells us, Congress were sensible that the late Convention exercised a
power which no authority could delegate to them. The Convention, says
Cato, have taken upon them to make a perfectly new system, which by its
operations will absorb the sovereignties of the individual States; this
new government founded on _usurpation_, (Cato, this expression is very
indecent—but I will rouse no passions against you) this consolidated
system Congress did not approve and _therefore_ have been _silent_ on its
character. That Congress was silent on its character is true, but could
Cato find no other reason for their silence than that of disapprobation? I
believe Congress were by no means dissatisfied with the freedom the
Convention took with the Articles of Confederation; I believe further that
with very few exceptions, that honorable body approves of the New
Constitution; and that they did not accompany it to the States with a
recommendatory capitation or circular letter, proceeded from a delicate
attention to the members of the late Convention, to a few of their own
body, and to the people of America at large. That the Convention went so
earnestly into the business committed to their care ought, instead of
being matter of chagrin, to occasion the liveliest expressions of
approbation and gratitude—as matters stand just now. I think it may be
fairly said, that no _generous plan of government_ for the _United States_
has ever been constructed, (the plan only excepted which is under
consideration) so that it seems quite unnecessary in Cato to disturb the
peace of society by a bombast appeal to their feelings, on the _generous
plan of power delivered down by their renowned forefathers_. I venerate
the memory of the slaughtered patriots of America, and rejoice as much as
Cato that they did not bleed in vain, but I would have America profit by
their death in a different manner from him. I believe they sought to
obtain liberty for no particular State, but for the whole Union,
indissolubly connected under one controlling and supreme head.

Cato complains of my anticipating parts of his subject which he intended
for future periods. I shall break in no more upon his _arrangements_. All
he can say against the New Constitution has been already disseminated in a
neighboring State by the glorious defenders of _Shayism_. I shall
therefore leave Cato to the wicked influences of his own heart, in the
fullest persuasion that all good citizens will combine their influence to
establish the fair fabric of American liberty beyond the reach of
suspicion, violence, anarchy, and tyranny. When this glorious work is
accomplished, what may America not hope to arrive at? I will venture to
prophesy that the day on which the Union under the new government shall be
ratified by the American States, that _that day_ will begin an era which
will be recorded and observed by future ages as a day which the Americans
had marked by their wisdom in circumscribing the _power_ and ascertaining
the _decline_ of the ancient nations in Christendom.


October 15.


Printed In
The New York Journal,
June, 1788.


_Sydney_ was a favorite pseudonym of Robert Yates, and was so well known
as his pen name by his contemporaries that it was hardly intended as a
mask. He had already contributed to the New York Journal a very able
series of papers on the Constitution over the signature of _Brutus_,
written to influence the people, but the elections had taken place before
the appearance of _Sydney_, which were therefore intended for the
delegates to the State Convention, soon to assemble. A year later, when
Yates was nominated for governor by the Federalists, quotation from these
articles was one of the favorite modes of attacking him used by the

Sydney, I.

The New York Journal, (Number 2320)

Friday, June 13, 1788.

For the Daily Patriotic Register.


Although a variety of objections to the proposed new constitution for the
government of the United States have been laid before the public by men of
the best abilities, I am led to believe that representing it in a point of
view which has escaped their observation may be of use, that is, by
comparing it with the constitution of the State of New York.

The following contrast is therefore submitted to the public, to show in
what instances the powers of the state government will be either totally
or partially absorbed, and enable us to determine whether the remaining
powers will, from those kind of pillars, be capable of supporting the
mutilated fabric of a government, which even the advocates for the new
constitution admit excels “the boasted models of Greece or Rome, and those
of all other nations, in having precisely marked out the power of the
government and the rights of the people.”

It may be proper to premise that the pressure of necessity and distress
(and not corruption) had a principal tendency to induce the adoption of
the state constitutions and the existing confederation, that power was
even then vested in the rulers with the greatest caution, and that, as
from every circumstance we have reason to infer that the new constitution
does not originate from a pure source, we ought deliberately to trace the
extent and tendency of the trust we are about to repose, under the
conviction that a reassumption of that trust will at least be difficult,
if not impracticable. If we take a retrospective view of the measures of
Congress who have their secret journals, the conduct of their officers, at
home and abroad, acting under an oath of secrecy, as well as of
individuals who were intimately connected with them, from the year 1780 to
the last convention, who also acted under an injunction of secrecy (and
whose journals have not been published even to this day, but will no doubt
continue buried in the dark womb of suspicious secrecy), we can scarcely
entertain a doubt but that a plan has long since been framed to subvert
the confederation; that that plan has been matured with the most
persevering industry and unremitted attention, and that the objects
expressed in the preamble to the constitution, that is “to promote the
general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our
posterity,” were merely the ostensible, and not the real reasons of its
framers. That necessity and danger have been the moving causes to the
establishment of the confederation will appear from the words of Congress
recommending its formation to the several legislatures which are “under a
conviction of the absolute necessity of uniting all our councils and all
our strength to maintain our common liberties. Let them be examined with
liberality becoming brethren and fellow-citizens, surrounded by the same
iminent dangers, contending for the same illustrious prize, and deeply
interested in being forever bound and connected together by the ties the
most intimate and indissoluble.”

That these principles equally applied to the formation of our state
constitution no person can seriously doubt who recollects the rapid
progress of the British troops in this state and in Jersey in the year
1776, and the despondence which prevailed among the people on that
occasion. The convention of this state, about that period, in explaining
to the people the justice of the American cause, addressed them as
follows: “You and all men were created free and authorised to establish
civil government for the preservation of our rights against civil
oppression, and the security of that freedom which God had given you,
against the rapacious hand of tyranny and lawless power. If then God hath
given us freedom, are we not responsible to him for that as well as other
talents? If it is our birth-right, let us not sell it for a mess of
pottage, nor suffer it to be torn from us by the hand of violence.”

The omission of a bill of rights in this State has given occasion to an
inference that the omission was equally warrantable in the constitution
for the United States. On this it may be necessary to observe that while
the constitution of this State was in agitation, there appeared doubts
upon the propriety of the measure, from the peculiar situation in which
the country then was; our connection with Britain dissolved, and her
government formally renounced—no substitute devised—all the powers of
government avowedly temporary, and solely calculated for defence; it was
urged by those in favor of a bill of rights that the power of the rulers
ought to be circumscribed, the better to protect the people at large from
the oppression and usurpation of their rulers. The English petition of
rights, in the reign of Charles the First, and the bill of rights in the
reign of king William, were mentioned as examples to support their
opinions. Those in opposition admitted that in established governments,
which had an implied constitution, a declaration of rights might be
necessary to prevent the usurpation of ambitious men, but that was not our
situation, for upon the declaration of independence it had become
necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority “under the former
government should be totally suppressed, and all the power of government
exerted under the authority of the people of the colonies;” that we could
not suppose that we had an existing constitution or form of government,
express or implied, and therefore our situation resembled a people in a
state of nature, who are preparing “to institute a government, laying its
foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as
to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness,” and
as such, the constitution to be formed would operate as a bill of rights.

These and the like considerations operated to induce the convention of New
York to dismiss the idea of a bill of rights, and the more especially as
the legislative state officers being elected by the people at short
periods, and thereby rendered from time to time liable to be displaced in
case of mal-conduct. But these reasons will not apply to the general
government, because it will appear in the sequel that the state
governments are considered in it as mere dependencies, existing solely by
its toleration, and possessing powers of which they may be deprived
whenever the general government is disposed so to do. If then the powers
of the state governments are to be totally absorbed, in which all agree,
and only differ as to the mode, whether it will be effected by a rapid
progression, or by as certain, but slower, operations: what is to limit
the oppression of the general government? Where are the rights, which are
declared to be incapable of violation? And what security have people
against the wanton oppression of unprincipled governors? No constitutional
redress is pointed out, and no express declaration is contained in it, to
limit the boundaries of their rulers; beside which the mode and period of
their being elected tends to take away their responsibility to the people
over whom they may, by the power of the purse and the sword, domineer at
discretion; nor is there a power on earth to tell them, What dost thou?
or, Why dost thou so?

I shall now proceed to compare the constitution of the state of New York
with the proposed federal government, distinguishing the paragraphs in the
former, which are rendered nugatory by the latter; those which are in a
great measure enervated, and such as are in the discretion of the general
government to permit or not.

The 1st and 37th paragraphs of the constitution of the state of New York.

The 1st “Ordains, determines, and declares that no authority shall on any
pretence whatever be exercised over the people or members of this State,
but such as shall be derived from and granted by them.”

The 37th, “That no purchases or contracts for the sale of lands with or of
the Indians within the limits of this state, shall be binding on the
Indians, or deemed valid, unless made under the authority and with the
consent of the legislature of this state.”

I beg here to observe that the whole history of this spurious constitution
for the government of the United States, from its origin to the present
day, and the measures taken by Congress respecting the Indian affairs in
this state, are a series of violations of these paragraphs, and of the
13th article of the confederation.

It was a violation of the state constitution for the senate and assembly,
on the 19th of February, 1787, to instruct their members to move in
Congress for an act recommending a convention; and it was also a violation
of the 13th article of the confederation for Congress, on the 21st day
February, to recommend a convention to the several legislatures. It was a
further violation of the constitution of this state, by the senate and
assembly, on the 27th day of March, to join and to appoint delegates to
meet in convention, and it being done in that hasty, if not surreptitious
manner, by joint resolutions, when acts of the least consequence, even for
the yoking of hogs, require to be passed under the formalities of a law,
makes it more glaringly so.

It was an outrageous violation in the convention on the 17th of September,
1787, to attempt a consolidation of the union, and utterly destroy the
confederation and the sovereignty of particular states, when their powers
were restricted “to the sole and express purpose of revising and amending
the confederation.”

It was again an infringement of the 13th article in the confederation, for
Congress, on the 28th of September, not to arrest and prevent its being
transmitted to the several legislatures; nor was the legislature of this
state less culpable, in the beginning of February, 1788, who, in the
course of three hours, took up and concluded the measure of calling a
convention without apprising their constituents of the danger.

It is notorious that the right of regulating Indian affairs, especially
with the five nations, has been in the colony of New York since the year
1664, and before that period, from the year 1614, whilst it was called New
Nederland under the Dutch. That by the confederation, although Congress
are invested with the power of regulating the trade and managing all
affairs with the Indians, that they are restricted to those Indians “not
members of any of the states, and a special proviso that the legislative
rights of any state within its own limits be not infringed or violated.”
It therefore was a violation of the confederation and of the rights of the
state for the congressional commissioners of Indian affairs to treat, at
fort Stanwix, with and thereat to make a purchase from the five nations
without the authority or consent of the legislature of this state. It was
an infraction of the rights of the citizens of this state, and an insult
on their government, for those commissioners to wrest private property
from individuals, imprison their persons, set at defiance the civil
authority of the county of Montgomery, and violently to resist the
execution of legal process. Nor was the ordinance of the 7th of August,
1786, for the regulation of Indian affairs, less so, namely, that “the
Indian department be divided into two districts, viz.: the southern, which
shall comprehend within its limits all the nations in the territory of the
United States, who reside to the southward of the Ohio; and the northern,
which shall comprehend all the nations within the said territory, and
westward, not of lake Ontario, but of Hudson’s river; that a
superintendent for the northern districts shall have authority to appoint
two deputies to reside in such places as shall best facilitate the
regulation of the Indian trade; that no person, citizen or other, under
the penalty of five hundred dollars, shall reside among or trade with any
Indian or Indian nations within the territory of the United States,
without a licence for that purpose first obtained from the superintendent
of the district, or of one of the deputies, who is hereby directed to give
such licence to every person who shall produce from the supreme executive
of any state a certificate under the seal of the state, that he is of good
character and suitably qualified and provided for that employment, for
which licence he shall pay for one year the sum of fifty dollars to the
said superintendent for the use of the United States.” If this was the
conduct of Congress and their officers, when possessed of powers which
were declared by them to be insufficient for the purposes of government,
what have we reasonably to expect will be their conduct when possessed of
the powers “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the
several states, and with the Indian tribes,” when they are armed with
legislative, executive and judicial powers, and their laws the supreme
laws of the land—and when the states are prohibited, without the consent
of Congress, to lay any “imposts or duties on imports,” and if they do
they shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States—and all
such laws subject to the revision and controul of Congress.

It is therefore evident that this state, by adopting the new government,
will enervate their legislative rights, and totally surrender into the
hands of Congress the management and regulation of the Indian trade to an
improper government, and the traders to be fleeced by iniquitous
impositions, operating at one and the same time as a monopoly and a
poll-tax. The deputy by the above ordinance, has a right to exact yearly
fifty dollars from every trader, which Congress may increase to any
amount, and give it all the operation of a monopoly; fifty dollars on a
cargo of 10,000 dollars’ value will be inconsiderable, on a cargo of 1000
dollars burthensome, but on a cargo of 100 dollars will be intolerable,
and amount to a total prohibition, as to small adventurers.


The second paragraph provides “that the supreme legislative power within
this state shall be vested in two separate and distinct bodies of men, the
one to be called the assembly, and the other to be called the senate of
the state of New York, who together shall form the legislature.”

The ninth provides “that the assembly shall be the judge of their own
members, and enjoy the same privileges, and proceed in doing business in
like manner as the assembly of the colony of New York of right formerly

The twelfth paragraph provides “that the senate shall, in like manner, be
judges of their own members,” etc.

The 31st describes even the stile of laws—that the stile of all laws shall
be as follows: “Be it enacted by the people of the state of New York
represented in senate and assembly,” and that all writs and proceedings
shall run in the name of the people of the state of New York, and tested
in the name of the chancellor or the chief judge from whence they shall

The third provides against laws that may be hastily and inadvertently
passed, inconsistent with the spirit of the constitution and the public
good, and that “the governor, the chancellor and judges of the supreme
court, shall revise all bills about to be passed into laws, by the

The powers vested in the legislature of this state by these paragraphs
will be weakened, for the proposed new government declares that “all
legislative powers therein granted shall be vested in a congress of the
United States, which shall consist of a senate and a house of
representatives,” and it further prescribes, that “this constitution and
the laws of the United States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof;
and all treaties made, or which shall be made under the authority of the
United States, shall be the supreme law of the land, and the judges in
every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws
of any state to the contrary notwithstanding; and the members of the
several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both
of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or
affirmation to support this constitution.”

Those who are full of faith, suppose that the words in pursuance thereof
are restrictive, but if they reflect a moment and take into consideration
the comprehensive expressions of the instrument, they will find that their
restrictive construction is unavailing, and this is evinced by 1st art., 8
sect., where this government has a power “to lay and collect all taxes,
duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common
defence and general welfare of the United States,” and also “to make all
laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the
foregoing powers vested by this constitution in the government of the
United States, or in any department or office thereof.”

Art. 1st, sect. 7, provides a qualified negative, that is, that “every
bill which shall be passed [by] the house of representatives and the
senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the president of
the United States.”

To conclude my observations on this head, it appears to me as impossible
that these powers in the state constitution and those in the general
government can exist and operate together, as it would be for a man to
serve two masters whose interests clash, and secure the approbation of
both. Can there at the same time and place be and operate two supreme
legislatures, executives, and judicials? Will a “guarantee of a republican
form of government to every state in the union” be of any avail, or secure
the establishment and retention of state rights?

If this guarantee had remained, as it was first reported by the committee
of the whole house, to wit, ... “that a republican constitution, and its
existing laws, ought to be guaranteed to each state by the United States,”
it would have been substantial; but the changing the word _constitution_
into the word _form_ bears no favorable appearance.


The fourth provides, “that the assembly of the state of New York shall
consist of at least seventy members, to be annually chosen in the several
counties in certain proportions.” The 5th, 12th and 16th, declare that a
census shall be taken every seven years, to regulate the augmentation of
the number seventy, so as not to exceed three hundred. Here seventy
members are divided among the several counties, and consequently into at
least as many poles and sets of members to be annually chosen. If this is
contrasted with the constitution for the federal government—the
constitutional assembly or house of representatives will be found to
consist of sixty-five members divided among thirteen states, to be chosen
every second year. Six for the state of New York; not distributed among
the counties, but by all the counties. And, although “the times, places
and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives shall be
prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof,” yet, as it provides
that “Congress may at any time by law, make or alter those regulations,
except as to places of chusing senators”—the power in the state government
to prescribe rules in those cases will be superseded by the executive of
the general government, perhaps to the great inconvenience of the people.


The sixth paragraph recites that an opinion hath long prevailed among
divers of the good people of this state that the voting at the election by
ballot would tend more to preserve the liberty and equal freedom of the
people than voting viva voce; to the end, therefore, that a fair
experiment be made which of these two methods of voting is to be
preferred, it declares that after the war elections shall be by ballot.

The seventh and eighth regulate the freeholds, and what property shall
entitle a man to vote; the ninth, the mode of conducting business in the
assembly, and their privileges; the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth, the
number of the senate, and how and by whom they shall be elected.

As these clauses regulate the mode of elections and qualifications of the
voters of senate and assembly, a relation of what gave rise to the
provisions for voting by ballot and that of the value of the freehold,
will help to unravel what otherwise may appear mysterious.

In respect to the first it may be necessary to observe that under the
colonial government there existed violent parties, not known by the name
of whig or tory—republicans and aristocrats. Those who were in the
employments of government, or the _ins_, were for extending the
prerogative of the crown, while the _outs_ were checks to it. Many of the
leaders on both sides were under strong expectations that sooner or later
that branch of colonial government called the king’s council would be
erected into a hereditary house of lords. The _ins_ being nearest to the
disposition of the offices of honor and profit, and in the way of
obtaining patents for vacant lands, and being from time to time joined by
other crown officers and dependents, who flocked to and settled in this
colony since the year 1763, had the means of making use of undue influence
to retain their situations, which made the _outs_ at last dispair of ever
having a turn, unless the elections were by ballot. This opinion was
propagated in every part of the colony before and at the time of the
revolution, and so strongly did it operate upon the committee that were
ordered to consider of and report the constitution, that at one time they
had the whole system interwoven in the draft; but either because it would
have made it too lengthy, or that one of the parties were then reduced,
and not likely to rise again into importance, about the time the draft was
reported, it was struck out and was left by the constitution to the
legislature to decide, as experience on the exercise of both principles
should suggest.


Sydney, II.

The New York Journal, (Number 2321)

SATURDAY, JUNE 14, 1788.

For the Daily Patriotic Register.


(Concluded from yesterday’s paper.)

As to the value of the freeholds, there has been great diversity of
opinions, for notwithstanding all agreed that the rights and liberties of
a country were ever in danger from the rich and poor, and their safety in
the middle sort or yeomanry of the country, still the difficulty occurred
in establishing the mean.

While the convention, in 1776, was setting at Harlem, the outlines of a
constitution were handed about, to try, it was supposed, the temper of the
members, in which it was proposed to have a governor, lieutenant governor,
senate, and assembly; the qualification of the governor, lieutenant
governor, and senate, to be that each should possess real estate to the
value of 10,000 pounds, and to be elected by freeholders possessing
freeholds to the value of 1,000 pounds. Although this was not attended
with bad effects, yet the qualifications of the electors gave rise to
various arguments, and, among others, that as taxation and representation
ought to go together, so the right of electing shall be in proportion to
the value of each man’s estate. To exemplify this, a man of £100 estate
had one vote; a man of £1000 should have ten, and a man of ten thousand
pounds a hundred, and so on in the same ratio. Others on the contrary
supposed that there ought to be no other criterion than the age of
twenty-one, a citizen born and resident in this country; out of the two
extremes was produced the present system of election and qualification,
both admitted to be as secure and consistent rights as any that have been

It is apprehended, from the duplicity in the wording of 1st art., 4th
sec., that seemingly to leave in the power of the respective legislatures
to regulate the elections, and still, that Congress may at any time by law
make or alter such regulations; and the undesigned wording of the sixth
article, that the constitution and laws of the United States which shall
be made in pursuance thereof shall be the law of the land, anything in the
constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding, will
render the whole system ineffectual, if not nugatory, and a new system as
destructive to the liberties of the citizens as that of the ratio of
voices to the ratio of property introduced. Besides being liable to have
the whole State erected into one district, and consequently may give rise
to the inconveniences I mentioned before.

VII, SEC. 6; VIII, SEC. 6; IX, SEC. 6; X, SECTION 6; XI, SEC. 6; XII, SEC.
2, 6; XVI, SEC. 6; XIII, XXXV, XLI.

By the 13th paragraph “no member of this State shall be disfranchised, or
deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to the subjects of the
State by this constitution, unless by the law of the land, or judgment of
its peers.”

The 35th adopts, under certain exceptions and modifications, the common
law of England, the statute law of England and Great Britain, and the acts
of the legislature of the colony, which together formed the law on the
19th of April, 1775.

The 41st provides that the trial by jury remain inviolate forever; that no
acts of attainder shall be passed by the legislature of this State for
crimes other than those committed before the termination of the present
war. And that the legislature shall at no time hereafter institute any new
courts but such as shall proceed according to the course of the common

There can be no doubt that if the new government be adopted in all its
latitude, every one of these paragraphs will become a dead letter: nor
will it solve any difficulties, if the United States guarantee “to every
state in the union a republican form of government;” we may be allowed the
form and not the substance, and that it was so intended will appear from
the changing the word _constitution_ to the word _form_ and the omission
of the words, _and its existing laws_. And I do not even think it
uncharitable to suppose that it was designedly done; but whether it was so
or not, by leaving out these words the jurisprudence of each state is left
to the mercy of the new government. By 1st art., 8th sec., 1st clause,
“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts
and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and
general welfare of the United States.”

By the 9th clause of the same section, “To constitute tribunals inferior
to the court.”

By the 18th clause, “To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper
for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers
vested by this constitution in the government of the United States, or in
any department thereof.”

The 3d art., 1st sec., “The judicial power of the United States shall be
vested in one supreme court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress
may from time to time ordain and establish.”

By sec. 2nd, “The judicial power shall extend to all cases in law and
equity.” To have in various instances an original and exclusive, in others
a concurrent jurisdiction, and the supreme court in many cases an
appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact. It provides, indeed, that
the trial for crimes shall be by jury, but has left the trial in civil
matters to the mercy of construction and their own legislative sovereign
will and pleasure.

By the 3d art., 3d sec., “The Congress shall have power to declare the
punishment of treason, but no attainder shall work a corruption of blood
or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted.” By 1st
art., 9th sec., 3d clause, “No bill of attainder or ex post facto law
shall be passed.”


The 17th orders “That the supreme executive power and authority of this
State shall be vested in a governor.” By the 18th he is commander-in-chief
of the militia and admiral of the navy of the State; may grant pardons to
all persons convicted of crimes; he may suspend the execution of the
sentence in treason or murder.

By the 19th paragraph he is to see that the laws and resolutions of the
legislature be faithfully executed.

By the 27th he is president of the council of appointment, and has a
casting vote and the commissioning of all officers.

The 20th and 21st paragraphs give the lieutenant-governor, on the death,
resignation, removal from office, or impeachment of the governor, all the
powers of a governor.

The 40th paragraph orders that the militia at all times, both in peace and
war, shall be armed and disciplined, and kept in readiness; in what manner
the Quakers shall be excused; and that a magazine of warlike stores be
forever kept at the expence of the State, and by act of the legislature,
established, maintained, and continued in every county in the State.

Whoever considers the following powers vested in the government, and
compares them with the above, must readily perceive they are either all
enervated or annihilated.

By the 1st art., 8th sec., 15th, 16th and 17th clauses, Congress will be
empowered to call forth the militia to execute the laws of the union,
suppress insurrections and repel invasions; to provide for organizing,
arming and disciplining the militia, for the governing such part of them
as may be employed in the service of the United States, and for the
erection of forts, magazines, etc.

And by the 2nd art., 2d sec., “The president shall be commander-in-chief
of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the
several States when called into actual service of the United States,
except in cases of impeachment.”

And by the 6th art., “The members of the several state legislatures, and
all the executive and judicial officers; both of the United States, and of
the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support the
constitution.” Can this oath be taken by those who have already taken one
under the constitution of this state?

XVIII, SEC. 17; XIX, SEC. 17; XX SEC. 17; XXI, SEC. 17; XXIII, SEC. 17;

These paragraphs regulate the election, appointment, construction and
duration of all the state, county and district officers, including the
delegates to Congress, and how they severally are to be created and

The 22d directs that the treasurer shall be appointed by act of the
legislature to originate with the assembly. The 23d establishes a council
to appoint the officers.

The 24th directs that the military officers shall be, during the pleasure
of the council, the chancellor, judges of the supreme court, the first
judge in every county until the age of 60.

Twenty-five and 28, which offices are incompatible, and the tenure and
duration of such officers.

Twenty-six, that sheriffs and coroners be annually appointed, and shall
not continue more than four years.

Twenty-seven, that the officers of the court be appointed by the
respective courts, except the attorneys, by the first judge of every

Twenty-nine, provides that town clerks, supervisors, assessors, constables
and collectors, and all other officers heretofore elegible by the people,
shall always continue to be so elegible.

Thirty, directs the mode how the delegates to represent this state in the
general Congress of the United States shall be elected.

I apprehend that the paragraphs aforesaid will be compleatly rendered
unoperative by the following articles in the new constitution:

Second article, second section, second clause, the president “shall have
power, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint
embassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the supreme
court, and all officers of the United States where appointments are not
herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law; but
the Congress may by law vest the power of such inferior officers as they
think proper, in the president alone, in the courts of law, or in the
heads of departments.” By the 1st art., 8 section, 9, 18 clauses, Congress
have power “to constitute tribunals inferior to the supreme court, to make
all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution
the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution in
the government of the United States, or in any department or officer

By the third article, 2d section, there is an extensive federal power as

By the 2d article, 2d section, the president “shall take care that the
laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the
United States.”

From these powers lodged in Congress and the powers vested in the states,
it is clear that there must be a government within a government, two
legislative, executive and judicial powers. The power of raising an army
in time of peace, and to command the militia, will give the president
ample means to enforce the Supreme laws of the land.

21; XXVIII, SEC. 21; XXIX, SEC. 21; XXX, SEC. 21; XXXI, SEC. 2; XXXII,

The 32d paragraph orders, “That a court shall be instituted for the trial
of impeachments and the correction of errors under the regulations which
shall be established by the legislature, and to consist of the president
of the senate for the time being, and the senators, chancellors and judges
of the supreme court.”

The 33d vests the power of impeaching all officers of the state for mal
and corrupt practice in the representatives of the people in assembly.

The 34th allows the parties impeached or indicted for crimes and
misdemeanors to have counsel.

This system is undermined and rendered nugatory by 1st art., 6th and 7th
clauses, where the senate in the new constitution, have the trial and
judgment on all impeachments.

By 3d art., 2d sec, 3d clause, the trial of all crimes is regulated.

By the 3d art., 3d sec., it is defined what shall be treason, the proof
required, the punishment, and how the judgment in attainder shall operate.


The 38th paragraph provides “that the free exercise and enjoyment of
religious procession and worship, without discrimination or preference,
shall forever hereafter be allowed within this State to all mankind,
provided that the liberty of conscience hereby granted shall not excuse
acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or
safety of the State.”

The 39th provides that “no minister of the gospel, or priest of any
denomination whatsoever, shall at any time hereafter, under any pretence
or description whatever, be eligible to or capable of holding any civil or
military office or place within this state.”

The first of those articles protects us from persecution in religious
matters. The other excludes the clergy from enjoying any office, civil or
military. Two provisions passed by in silence by the framers of the new
constitution; and although possibly the leaders in both have been equally
averse to a democratic system, and have had the same object, the ruin of
state government, in view.


This paragraph provides “that it shall be in the discretion of the
legislature to naturalize all such persons and in such manner as they
shall think proper.”

The 1st art., 8 sec., 4th clause, give to the new government power to
establish a uniform rule of naturalization.

And by the 4th art., 2d sec., “the citizens of each state shall be
entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several
states,” whereby the clause is rendered entirely nugatory.

From this contrast it appears that the general government, when compleatly
organized, will absorb all those powers of the state which the framers of
its constitution had declared should be only exercised by the
representatives of the people of the state; that the burthens and expence
of supporting a state establishment will be perpetuated; but its
operations to ensure or contribute to any essential measures promotive of
the happiness of the people may be totally prostrated, the general
government arrogating to itself the right of interfering in the most
minute objects of internal police, and the most trifling domestic concerns
of every state, by possessing a power of passing laws “to provide for the
general welfare of the United States,” which may affect life, liberty and
property in every modification they may think expedient, unchecked by
cautionary reservations, and unrestrained by a declaration of any of those
rights which the wisdom and prudence of America in the year 1776 held
ought to be at all events protected from violation.

In a word, the new constitution will prove finally to dissolve all the
power of the several state legislatures, and destroy the rights and
liberties of the people; for the power of the first will be all in all,
and of the latter a mere shadow and form without substance, and if adopted
we may (in imitation of the Carthagenians) say, Delenda vit Americæ.



Printed In
The American Museum,
April, 1788.


This article first appeared in _The Pittsburgh Gazette_, but as I have not
been able to find a file of that paper, I have been compelled to reprint
it from _The American Museum_. It was anonymous, but its authorship is
settled by its republication in Brackenridge’s “_Gazette Publications_,”
printed in book form in 1806.

Cursory Remarks.

The American Museum, (Number 4)

APRIL, 1788.

It is not my intention to enter largely into a consideration of this plan
of government, but to suggest some ideas in addition to, and of the same
nature with, those already made, showing the imperfections and the danger
of it.

The first thing that strikes a diligent observer, is the want of
precaution with regard to the _sex_ of the president. Is it provided that
he shall be of the male gender? The Salii, a tribe of the Burgundians, in
the 11th century, excluded females from the sovereignty. Without a similar
exclusion, what shall we think, if, in progress of time, we should come to
have an _old woman_ at the head of our affairs? But what security have we
that he shall be a _white man_? What would be the national disgrace if he
should be elected from one of the southern states, and a _vile negro_
should come to rule over us? Treaties would then be formed with the tribes
of Congo and Loango, instead of the civilized nations of Europe. But is
there any security that he shall be a _freeman_? Who knows but the
electors at a future period, in days of corruption, may pick up a
man-servant, a convict perhaps, and give him the dominion? Is any care
taken that he shall be of _perfect parts_? Shall we, in affairs of a civil
nature, leave a door open to lame men, bastards, eunuchs, and the devil
knows what?

A senate is the next great constituent part of the government; and yet
there is not a word said with regard to the ancestry of any of them;
whether they should be altogether Irish, or only Scots Irish. If any of
them have been in the war of the White Boys, the Heart of Oak, or the
like, they may overturn all authority, and make Shilelah the supreme law
of the land.

The house of representatives is to be so large, that it can never be
built. They may begin it, but it can never be finished. Ten miles square!
Babylon itself, unless the suburbs are taken into view, was not of greater

But what avails it to dwell on these things? The want of a _bill of
rights_ is the great evil. There was no occasion for a bill of _wrongs_;
for there will be wrongs enough. But oh! a _bill of rights_! What is the
nature of a bill of rights? “It is a schedule or inventory of those powers
which Congress do not possess.” But if it is clearly ascertained what
powers they have, what need of a catalogue of those powers they have not?
Ah! there is the mistake. A minister preaching, undertook, first, to show
what was in his text; second, what was not in it. When it is specified
what powers are given, why not also what powers are not given? A bill of
rights is wanting, and all those things which are usually secured under

1. The _rights of conscience_ are swept away. The Confession of Faith, the
Prayer-Book, the Manual and Pilgrim’s Progress are to go. The psalms of
Watts, I am told, are the only thing of the kind that is to have any
quarter at all.

2. The _liberty of the press_—that is gone at the first stroke. Not so
much as an advertisement for a stray horse, or a runaway negro, can be put
in any of the gazettes.

3. The _trial by jury_—that is knocked in the head, and all that worthy
class of men, the lawyers, who live by haranguing and bending the juries,
are demolished.

I would submit it to any candid man, if in this constitution there is the
least provision for the privilege of shaving the beard? or is there any
mode laid down to take the measure of a pair of breeches? Whence is it
then, that men of learning seem so much to approve, while the ignorant are
against it? The cause is perfectly apparent, viz., that reason is an
erring guide, while instinct, which is the governing principle of the
untaught, is certain. Put a pig in a poke, carry it half a day’s journey
through woods and by-ways, let it out, and it will run home without
deviation. Could Dr. Franklin do this? What reason have we then to suppose
that his judgment, or that of Washington, could be equal to that of Mr.
Smilie(55) in state affairs?

Were it not on this principle that we are able to account for it, it might
be thought strange that old Livingston,(56) of the Jersies, could be so
hoodwinked as to give his sanction to such a diabolical scheme of tyranny
amongst men—a constitution which may well be called hell-born. For if all
the devils in Pandemonium had been employed about it, they could not have
made a worse.

Neil MacLaughlin, a neighbor of mine, who has been talking with Mr.
Findley, says that under this constitution all weavers are to be put to
death. What have these innocent manufacturers done that they should be

Let other states think what they will of it, there is one reason why every
Pennsylvanian should execrate this imposition upon mankind. It will make
his state most probably the seat of government, and bring all the
officers, and cause a great part of the revenue to be expended here. This
must make the people rich, enable them to pay their debts, and corrupt
their morals. Any citizen, therefore, on the Delaware and Susquehannah
waters, ought to be hanged and quartered, that would give it countenance.

I shall content myself at present with these strictures, but shall
continue them from time to time as occasion may require.


Printed In
October, 1788.


The authorship of this essay is fixed upon Chase by a letter of Daniel
Carroll, who in writing to Madison, alludes to both this, and his reply,
printed _post_. Chase was the leader of the Anti-Federalists in Maryland,
but was at first compelled by popular feeling to temporize, as is shown by
the following extracts, taken from the Maryland Journal for September 28,

    The following is the conclusion of the speech of Samuel Chase,
    Esq., delivered this day, at the Court House, before a numerous
    and respectable body of citizens.

    (Published by request of many electors of Baltimore Town.)

    The Constitution proposed by the late Convention, for the United
    States, will alter, and in some instances, abolish our Bill of
    Rights and Form of Government. The Legislature of this State have
    no right to alter our Form of Government, but in the mode
    prescribed by the Constitution. The only question for the General
    Assembly to determine is this, whether they will recommend to the
    people to elect delegates to meet in convention, to consider and
    decide on the plan proposed. I have always maintained the Union,
    and the increase of powers in Congress. I think the Federal
    Government must be greatly altered. I have not formed my opinion,
    whether the plan proposed ought to be accepted as it stands,
    without any amendment or alteration. The subject is very
    momentous, and involves the greatest consequences. If elected, I
    will vote for, and use my endeavours to procure a recommendation
    by the Legislature to call a convention, as soon as it can
    conveniently be done, unless otherways directed by this town.

    _September 26, 1787._

    Having been informed that my engagements of yesterday, to the
    meeting at the Court House, “to vote for, and use my endeavours to
    procure a recommendation by the Legislature, to call a convention
    as soon as it can conveniently be done,” is not understood; from a
    desire, if possible, to remove all misunderstanding, I take the
    liberty to declare, that by the promise I meant to engage, and
    therefore do promise, if elected, that I will use my endeavours to
    procure, at the next session of Assembly, and as soon in the
    session as the necessary business of the State will permit, a
    recommendation by the General Assembly to call a convention, to
    consider and decide on the Constitution proposed by the late
    Convention for the United States, and to appoint the election of
    delegates to the Convention as soon as the convenience of the
    people will permit. I further beg leave to add as my opinion, that
    the election of delegates to the Convention ought to be as early
    in the spring as may be.


    _Baltimore, September 27, 1787._

There are attacks on Chase, by “Steady” in the _Maryland Journal_ of
September 28, 1787, and by “Spectator,” in the _Maryland Journal_ of
October 9, 1787.


The Maryland Journal, (Number 976)



An attempt to _surprise_ you into any _public_ measure, ought to meet your
indignation and contempt. When violence or cunning is substituted for
argument and reason, suspicion should take the alarm, and prudence should
dictate the propriety of deliberation. Questions of consequence in private
life ought not to be _hastily_ decided, and with greater reason,
determinations that involve the future felicity of a whole people, ought
not to be taken before the most mature and deliberate consideration, and a
free and full examination of the subject and all its consequences. These
reflections occurred on being informed that some gentlemen of this Town
employ themselves in carrying about and soliciting subscribers to a
petition, addressed to the General Assembly, requesting them to call a
Convention to ratify the new system of government, proposed for the United
States by the late Convention at Philadelphia. If this petition contained
no more, it would not have been worthy of notice; but it publishes to the
world your entire approbation of the New Federal Government, and your
desire that it should be adopted and confirmed by this State, as it
stands, _without any amendment or alteration_.

The ostensible cause for offering you the petition to sign is, that you
may express your sentiments to the legislature, that they ought to call a
Convention to ratify the new form of government for the United States; but
the real design of the promoters of the petition is to draw you into a
declaration in favour of the _whole_ system, and to bind you hereafter to
support it, which you must do, or allege deception and surprise, if, on
further reflection, you should discover that you rashly gave an opinion
against your real interests. If the _real_ intention of the promoters and
carriers of this petition was _only_ to obtain your opinion in favour of
calling a Convention, it might have been expressed in a _few_ lines; and
no one would oppose such a petition, although improper and unnecessary,
because your Delegates will certainly move for, and exert themselves to
procure, the calling a Convention; and no member of the General Assembly
will deny that, in so doing, your Delegates speak your sentiments.

In my opinion, it is not necessary or proper for you, _at this time_, to
express your approbation, or disapprobation, of the new constitution for
the United States, for the following reasons:

First—because the decision, _for_ or _against_ the plan, is of the
greatest consequence, as it involves no less than the happiness or misery
of you and all your posterity forever; and therefore, I think, requires
your dispassionate and most deliberate consideration. Secondly—because you
want information, and have not had time yourselves to examine the proposed
system, and to consider the consequences that may flow from rejecting or
adopting it. Thirdly—because time is not given for your countrymen in
this, and the other States, to consider the subject, and to lay their
sentiments and reasons for or against the measure before you.
Fourthly—because you ought to hear _both_ sides, as the man who determines
on hearing one part only, will almost always be mistaken in his judgment.
He may be in the right, but it will be by _chance_ and not by _reason_.
Fifthly—because you are not pressed in point of time to determine on the
subject; you have at least three months for deliberation; to decide,
therefore, in a few days will be rashness and folly. Sixthly—when men urge
you to determine in _haste_, on so momentous a subject, it is not
_unreasonable_ to require their motives; and it is not _uncharitable_ to
suspect that they are improper; and no possible mischief or inconvenience
can happen from delay.

_October 11, 1787._



Printed In
The Maryland Journal,
October, 1787.


Daniel Carroll wrote Madison that he had replied to Chase’s “Caution,” and
as this is the only direct reply to that article I have been able to find,
I have ventured to ascribe this to him. The letter is in the Madison
Papers in the Department of State, which at present are restricted from
use, so I am unable to print it here.

A Friend To The Constitution.

The Maryland Journal, (Number 977)



You have been addressed in the last Friday’s paper, by a writer under the
signature of _Caution_, who would persuade you that you ought to withhold
your approbation, at this time, from the Federal Constitution recommended
by the Convention.

This writer may have the best intentions in the world towards the _public
welfare_, and the _prosperity of Baltimore_; but every one must perceive
that he is an enemy to the proposed Constitution, and wishes to prevent
you from expressing yourselves in its favour, not only _at this time_, but
at any _future time_.

Mr. C—— is said to be the author of this admonition; but that this is a
malicious insinuation, aimed at his sincerity, will appear by considering
his _recent promise_ on this subject, signed and published by himself, in
reference with the resolution of the Convention, upon which that promise
is founded. I shall state both the resolution and promise, that you may
judge for yourselves.

The resolve of the Convention declares, that the Constitution should be
submitted to a Convention of Delegates, chosen in each State by the
people, under the recommendation of its legislature, _for their assent and

Mr. C—— being called upon, before his election, to declare himself on this
point, promises to the people, “that he will use his endeavours, if
elected, to call a Convention.”

I would just observe on this resolve and promise: First—that the resolve
makes it an _absolute condition_ that the legislature recommend a
Convention _to assent to, and ratify, the Constitution_. Secondly—that the
_promise_ made by Mr. C—— is obligatory upon him, to use his endeavors to
procure a Convention _for this purpose_.

Another remark, which occurs on this occasion, is, that Mr. C—— could not
mean that a Convention ought to be called _for any other purpose_ than to
assent to, and ratify, the Constitution; for it is absurd to suppose he
meant the Convention should be authorized by the legislature to propose
amendments or alterations, that being _contrary_ to the declared intention
of the resolution, and the sense which his friends entertained of his
engagement at the time he entered into it. Mr. C——, therefore (without
presuming him capable of doing the greatest violence to his promise),
cannot be considered as the _author of Caution_, who argues strenuously,
though indirectly, _against adopting the Constitution_.

From this brief view of the nature and intention of the resolve, I think
it is evident that the people ought, _without delay_, to signify their
approbation of the Constitution by _a petition to the legislature_, to the
end that the legislature, which is called upon by the Convention and
Congress to recommend to the people to choose Delegates to ratify it, may
have the _authority of the largest and most promising commercial and
manufacturing Town in the State_ to countenance so _important a
recommendation_. But _Caution_ thinks a petition _improper_ and
_unnecessary_; because, says he, “your Delegates will move for, and exert
themselves to procure, the calling a Convention.” Admitting your Delegates
to move to have a Convention called, does it follow that they will add to
their motion these _essential words, to confirm and ratify the
Constitution_? Does it not rather appear, from the tenor of this writer’s
remarks, that your Delegates ought to leave these words out of their
motion? But the _propriety_ and _necessity_ of a petition does not depend
on what your Delegates may, or may not do. It is _proper_ at this time,
because the Constitution meets your approbation. It is _necessary_ at this
time, because wanted as an inducement to the legislature to call upon the
people to appoint a Convention to carry into effect the object of the
resolution. In other words, as the recommendation for a Convention
_involves the legislature in a complete approbation of the Constitution_,
there is the greatest _propriety_ and _necessity_ for your telling the
legislature _that it meets your approbation_.

I am sorry to find, by _Caution’s_ publication and insinuations, which I
am told are circulated with great industry, that an opposition is opened
against the Constitution. I did not, I confess, expect to see it adopted
without some opposition; but I could not bring myself to believe, that
this opposition could have originated in Baltimore, which is _so
peculiarly interested in its speedy adoption_. But what I intended to say
on this point, is so well expressed in a late speech of Mr. Wilson, to the
people of Philadelphia, previous to their election for representatives,
that I shall take the liberty of closing with it.

“After all, my fellow-citizens, (says this excellent politician) it is
neither extraordinary nor unexpected, that the Constitution offered to
your consideration should meet with opposition. It is the nature of man to
pursue his own interest in preference to the _public good_; and I do not
mean to make any personal reflection, when I add, that it is _the interest
of a very numerous, powerful and respectable body to counteract and
destroy the excellent work produced by the late Convention_. All the
offices of government, and all the appointments for the administration of
justice, and the collection of the public revenue, which are transferred
from the individual to the aggregate sovereignty of the States, will
necessarily turn the stream of influence and emolument into a new channel.
_Every person, therefore, who either enjoys, or expects to enjoy, a place
of profit under the present establishment, will object to the proposed
innovations, not, in truth, because it is injurious to the liberties of
his country; but because it affects his schemes of wealth and
consequence._ I will confess, indeed, that I am not a blind admirer of
this plan of government, and _that there are some parts of it_, which, if
my wish had prevailed, would certainly have been altered. But, when I
reflect how widely men differ in their opinions, and that every man (and
the observation applies likewise to every state) has an equal pretension
to assert his own, I am satisfied that anything _nearer to perfection_
could not have been accomplished. If there are errors, _it should be
remembered_, that the seeds of reformation are sown in the work itself,
and the concurrence of two-thirds of the Congress may, at any time,
introduce _alterations and amendments_. Regarding it, then, in every point
of view, with a candid and disinterested mind, I am bold to assert, that
is the _best form of government which has ever been offered to the


_Baltimore, October 13, 1787._


Printed In
The Maryland Journal,
January-March, 1788.


Luther Martin, afterwards nick-named the “bull-dog of federalism,” was at
this time the leading Anti-federalist in Maryland. From his pen came the
pamphlet entitled _Genuine Information ... Relative to the Proceedings of
the General Convention_; and when the “Landholder,” (see _Ante_, page
135), attacked Elbridge Gerry, he began this series of articles in defense
of that gentleman, but eventually, by the replies, was compelled to
continue the series as a personal vindication. According to a letter of
Daniel Carrol, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer replied in the newspapers to
Martin, but I have not been able to identify this.

In the _New York Journal_ for June 17, 1788, is a comparison of the
constitution as agreed upon early in the convention, with that finally
framed, which was probably written by Martin.

Luther Martin, I.

The Maryland Journal, (Number 1004)




As the Publication under the Signature of the Connecticut Landholder is
circulating remote from the place of Mr. Gerry’s residence, and is
calculated not only to injure the honourable gentleman in his private
character, but also to weaken the effect of his opposition to the
government proposed by the late convention, and thereby promote the
adoption of a System which I consider destructive of the rights and
liberties of the respective states and of their citizens, I beg leave,
through the channel of your Paper, to declare to the Public that from the
time I took my seat in convention, which was early in June, until the
fourth day of September, when I left Philadelphia, I am satisfied I was
not ten minutes absent from convention while sitting (excepting only five
days in the beginning of August, immediately after the committee of detail
had reported, during which but little business was done). That during my
attendance I never heard Mr. Gerry or any other member introduce a
proposition for the redemption of continental money according to its
nominal or any other value, nor did I ever hear that such a proposition
had been offered to consideration or had been thought of. I was intimate
with Mr. Gerry, and never heard him express, in private conversation or
otherwise, a wish for the redemption of continental money, or assign the
want of such a provision as a defect. Nor did I ever hear in Convention,
or anywhere else, such a motive of conduct attributed to Mr. Gerry. I also
declare to the Public that a considerable time before I left the
convention Mr. Gerry’s opposition to the System was warm and decided; that
in a particular manner he strenuously opposed that provision by which the
power and authority over the militia is taken away from the States and
given to the general government; that in the debate he declared if that
measure was adopted it would be the most convincing proof that the
destruction of the State governments and the introduction of a king was
designed, and that no declarations to the contrary ought to be credited,
since it was giving the states the last coup de grace by taking from them
the only means of self preservation. The conduct of the advocates and
framers of this system towards the thirteen States, in pretending that it
was designed for their advantage, and gradually obtaining power after
power to the general government, which could not but end in their slavery,
he compared to the conduct of a number of jockeys who had thirteen young
colts to break; they begin with the appearance of kindness, giving them a
lock of hay, or a handful of oats, and stroaking them while they eat,
until being rendered sufficiently gentle they suffer a halter to be put
round their necks; obtaining a further degree of their confidence, the
jockeys slip a curb bridle on their heads and the bit into their mouths,
after which the saddle follows of course, and well booted and spurred,
with good whips in their hands, they mount and ride them at their
pleasure, and although they may kick and flounce a little at first, nor
being able to get rid of their riders, they soon become as tame and
passive as their masters could wish them. In the course of public debate
in the convention Mr. Gerry applied to the system of government, as then
under discussion, the words of Pope with respect to vice, “that it was a
monster of such horrid mien, as to be hated need but to be seen.” And some
time before I left Philadelphia, he in the same public manner declared in
convention that he should consider himself a traitor to his country if he
did not oppose the system there, and also when he left the convention.
These, sir, are facts which I do not fear being contradicted by any member
of the convention, and will, I apprehend, satisfactorily shew that Mr.
Gerry’s opposition proceeded from a conviction in his own mind that the
government, if adopted, would terminate in the destruction of the States
and in the introduction of a kingly government.

I am, sir, your very obedient servant,


_Baltimore, January 13, 1788._

Luther Martin, II.

The Maryland Journal, (Number 1018)

FRIDAY, MARCH 7, 1788.



In consequence of the justice I did Mr. Gerry, on a former occasion, I
find myself complimented with an Address in your last Paper. Whether the
Landholder of the Connecticut Courant, and of the Maryland Journal,(57) is
the same person, or different, is not very material; I however incline to
the former opinion, as I hope for the honour of human nature, it would be
difficult to find more than one individual who could be capable of so
total a disregard to the principles of truth and honour. After having made
the most unjust and illiberal attack on Mr. Gerry, and stigmatized him as
an enemy to his country, and the basest of mankind, for no other reason
than a firm and conscientious discharge of an important trust reposed in
that gentleman, had I not come in for a share of his censure, I confess I
should have been both disappointed and mortified. It would have had at
least the appearance, that the Landholder had discovered something in my
principles, which he considered congenial with his own. However great may
be my political sins, to be cursed with his approbation and applause,
would be a punishment much beyond their demerit. But, Sir, at present I
mean to confine myself to the original subject of controversy, the
injustice of the charges made against Mr. Gerry. That my veracity will not
be questioned when giving my negative to anonymous slander, I have the
fullest confidence. I have equal confidence that it will be as little
questioned by any who know me, even should the Landholder vouchsafe to
give the Public his name—a respectable name I am sure it cannot be. His
absolute want of truth and candour in assertions meant to injure the
reputation of individuals, whose names are given to the public, and to
hold them up to the indignation of their fellow citizens, will ever
justify this assertion, even should the name belong to one decorated with
wealth, or dignified by station. But the Landholder wishes it to be
supposed, that though my veracity should not be doubted, yet my evidence
ought to be rejected, and observes, that to comprehend what credit ought
to be given to it, by which I suppose he means its sufficiency if
credited, it ought to be known how long I was absent from Convention, as
well as the time I attended. I believe Sir, whoever will read my former
publication will in a moment perceive, that I there “stated” all the
“information” on this subject that was necessary or material, and that I
left no defect for the Landholder to supply. I there mentioned that “I
took my seat early in June, that I left Philadelphia on the fourth of
September, and during that period was not absent from the convention while
sitting, except only five days in the beginning of August, immediately
after the Committee of Detail had reported.” I did not state the precise
day of June when I took my seat—it was the ninth, not the tenth—a very
inconsiderable mistake of the Landholder. But between that day and the
fourth of September he says that I was absent ten days at Baltimore, and
as many at New York, and thereby insinuates that an absence of twenty days
from the Convention intervened during that period, in which time Mr. Gerry
might have made and failed in his motion concerning continental money. A
short state of facts is all that is necessary to shew the disingenuity of
the Landholder, and that it is very possible to convey a falsehood, or
something very much like it, almost in the words of truth. On the
twenty-fifth of July the Convention adjourned, to meet again on the sixth
of August. I embraced that opportunity to come to Baltimore, and left
Philadelphia on the twenty-seventh; I returned on the fourth of August,
and on the sixth attended the Convention, with such members as were in
town, at which time the Committee of Detail made their report, and many of
the members being yet absent, we adjourned to the next day. Mr. Gerry left
Philadelphia to go to New York the day before I left there to come to
Baltimore; he had not returned on Tuesday, the seventh of August, when I
set out for New York, from whence I returned and took my seat in
Convention on Monday, the thirteenth. It is true that from the
twenty-fifth of July to the thirteenth of August eighteen (not twenty)
days had elapsed, but on one of those days I attended, and on twelve of
them the Convention did not meet. I was, therefore, perfectly correct in
my original statement that from early in June to the fourth of September I
was absent but five days from the Convention while sitting, and in that
statement omitted no “necessary information.” It is also true that of
those eighteen days Mr. Gerry was absent twelve or thirteen, and that one
of those days when he was not absent was Sunday, on which day the
Convention did not meet. Thus, Sir, by relating facts as they really
occurred, we find the only time between early in June and the fourth of
September when such a motion could have been made by Mr. Gerry without my
being present is narrowed down to four, or at most five days, as I
originally stated it, although Landholder wishes it should be supposed
there were twenty days during that period when it might have taken place
without my knowledge, to wit, ten while I was at Baltimore, and as many
more while at New York. The Landholder also states that the Convention
commenced the fourteenth day of May, and that I did not take my seat till
the tenth day of June, by which, if he means anything, I presume he means
to insinuate that within that portion of time Mr. Gerry’s motion might
have been made and rejected. He is here, Sir, equally unfortunate and
disingenuous. Though the Convention was to have met by appointment on the
fourteenth of May, yet no material business was entered upon till on or
about the thirtieth of that month. It was on that day that the Convention,
having had certain propositions laid before them by the Honourable
Governor of Virginia, resolved to go into a consideration of these
propositions. In this fact I am confident I am not mistaken, as I state
the day not merely from my own recollection but from minutes which I
believe to be very correct, in my possession, of the information given by
the Honourable Mr. McHenry to the assembly. The truth is, Sir, that very
little progress had been made by the Convention before I arrived, and that
they had not been more than ten days, or about that time, seriously
engaged in business. The first thing I did after I took my seat was
carefully to examine the journals for information of what had already been
done or proposed. I was also furnished with notes of the debates which had
taken place, and can with truth say that I made myself “minutely informed”
of what had happened before that period. In the same manner, after my
return from New York, I consulted the journals (for we were permitted to
read them, although we were not always permitted to take copies). If the
motion attributed to Mr. Gerry had been made and rejected, either before I
first took my seat or while at New York, it would have there appeared, and
that no such motion was made and rejected during either of these periods I
appeal to the highest possible authority. I appeal to those very journals,
which ought to have been published, and which we are informed are placed
in the possession of our late Honourable President. But why, Sir, should I
appeal to these journals, or to any other authority? Let the Landholder
turn to his eighth number, addressed to the Honourable Mr. Gerry; let him
blush, unless incapable of that sensation, while he reads the following
passage: “Almost the whole time during the sitting of the Convention, and
until the Constitution had received its present form, no man was more
plausible and conciliating on every subject than Mr. Gerry,” &c. Thus
stood Mr. Gerry, till towards the close of the business he introduced a
motion respecting the redemption of paper money. The whole time of the
sitting of the Convention was not almost past. The Constitution had not
received its present form, nor was the business drawing towards a close,
until long after I took my seat in Convention. It is therefore proved by
the Landholder himself that Mr. Gerry did not make this motion at any time
before the ninth day of June. Nay more, in the paper now before me he
acknowledges that in his eighth number he meant (and surely no one ought
to know his meaning better than himself) to fix Mr. Gerry’s apostacy to a
period within the last thirteen days. Why then all this misrepresentation
of my absence at Baltimore and New York? Why the attempt to induce a
belief that the Convention had been engaged in business from the
fourteenth of May, and the insinuation that it might have happened in
those periods? And why the charge that in not stating those facts I had
withheld from the public information necessary to its forming a right
judgment of the credit which ought to be given to my evidence. But, Sir, I
am really at a loss which most to admire—the depravity of this writer’s
heart, or the weakness of his head. Is it possible he should not perceive
that the moment he fixes the time of Mr. Gerry’s motion to the last
thirteen days of the Convention, he proves incontestably the falsehood and
malice of his charges against that gentleman—for he has expressly stated
that this motion and the rejection it received was the cause, and the sole
cause, of his apostacy; that “before, there was nothing in the system, as
it now stands, to which he had any objection, but that afterwards he was
inspired with the utmost rage and intemperate opposition to the whole
system he had formerly praised;” whereas I have shown to the clearest
demonstration, that a considerable time before the last thirteen days, Mr.
Gerry had given the most decided opposition to the system. I have shown
this by recital of facts, which if credited, incontestibly prove it—facts
which, I again repeat, will never be contradicted by any member of the
Convention. I ground this assertion upon the fullest conviction that it is
impossible to find a single person in that number so wicked, as publicly
and deliberately to prostitute his name in support of falsehood, and at
the same time so weak as to do this when he must be sure of detection. But
the Landholder is willing to have it supposed that Mr. Gerry might have
made the motion in a “committee,” and that there it might have happened
without my knowledge; to such wretched subterfuges is he driven. This
evasion, however, will be equally unavailing. The business of the
committees were not of a secret nature, nor were they conducted in a
secret manner; I mean as to the members of the Convention. I am satisfied
that there was no committee while I was there, of whose proceedings I was
not at least “so minutely informed,” that an attempt of so extraordinary a
nature as that attributed to Mr. Gerry, and attended with such an
immediate and remarkable revolution in his conduct, could not have taken
place without my having heard something concerning it. The non-adoption of
a measure by a committee did not preclude its being proposed to the
Convention, and being there adopted. Can it be presumed that a question in
which Mr. Gerry is represented to have been so deeply interested, and by
the fate of which his conduct was entirely influenced, would for want of
success in a committee have been totally relinquished by him, without a
single effort to carry it in Convention! If any other proof is wanting, I
appeal again to the Landholder himself. In his eighth number he states
that the motion was rejected “by the Convention.” Let it be remembered
also, as I have before observed, in the paper now before me, he declares
it was his intention in that number to fix Mr. Gerry’s apostacy to a
period within the last thirteen days; and in the same number he observes
that Mr. Gerry’s resentment could only embarrass and delay the completion
of the business for a few days; all which equally militate against every
idea of the motion being made before he left Philadelphia, whether in
Committee or in Convention. The Landholder hath also asserted, that I have
“put into Mr. Gerry’s mouth, objections different from any thing his
letter to the legislature of his State contains, so that if my
representation is true, his must be false.” In this charge he is just as
well founded as in those I have already noticed. Mr. Gerry has more than
once published to the world, under the sanction of his name, that he
opposed the system from a firm persuasion that it would endanger the
liberties of America, and destroy the freedom of the States and their
citizens. Every word which I have stated as coming from his mouth, so far
from being inconsistent with those declarations, are perfectly
correspondent thereto and direct proofs of their truth. When the
Landholder informed us that Mr. Gerry was “face to face with his
colleagues in the Convention of Massachusetts,” why did he not, unless he
wished to mislead the public, also inform us for what purpose he was

That it was only to answer questions; that might be proposed to him, not
himself to ask questions that he could not consistently interfere in any
manner in the debates, and that he was even prohibited an opportunity of
explaining such parts of his conduct as were censured in his presence? By
the anonymous publication alluded to by the Landholder, and inserted in
the note, Mr. Gerry’s colleagues are not called upon to acquit him: it
only declares “that he believes them to be men of too much honour to
assert that his reasons in Convention were totally different from those he
published;” and in this I presume he was not disappointed for the
Landholder otherwise would have published it with triumph; but if Mr.
Gerry, as it is insinuated, was only prevented by pride, from, in person,
requesting them to acquit him, it amounts to a proof of his consciousness
that, as men of honour, they could not have refused it, had he made the
request. No person who views the absurdities and inconsistencies of the
Landholder, can I think, have a very respectable opinion of his
understanding, but I who am not much prejudiced in his favour, could
scarcely have conceived him so superlatively weak as to expect to deceive
the public and obtain credit to himself by asking “if charges against Mr.
Gerry are not true why do not his colleagues contradict them?” and “why is
it that we do not see Mr. McHenry’s verification of your assertions?” If
these Gentlemen were to do Mr. Gerry that justice, he might as well
inquire “why is it we do not also see the verification of A, B, C and D
and so on to the last letter of the Conventional alphabet.” When the
Landholder in his eighth number addressed himself to Mr. Gerry he
introduces his charges by saying “you doubtless will recollect the
following state of facts; if you do not every member of the Convention
will attest them.” One member of the Convention has had firmness
sufficient to contradict them with his name, although he was well apprised
that he thereby exposed himself as a mark for the arrows of his political
adversaries, and as to some of them, he was not unacquainted with what
kind of men he had to deal. But of all the members who composed that body,
not one has yet stepped forward to make good the Landholder’s prediction;
nor has one been found to “attest” his statement of facts. Many reasons
may be assigned why the members of the Convention should not think
themselves under a moral obligations of involving themselves in
controversy by giving their names in vindication of Mr. Gerry; and I do
not believe any of those who signed the proposed Constitution would
consider themselves bound to do this by any political obligation: But,
Sir, I can hardly suppose that Mr. Gerry is so perfectly esteemed and
respected by every person who had a seat in that body, that not a single
individual could possibly be procured to give his sanction to the
Landholder’s charges, if it could be done with justice and as to myself, I
much question whether it would be easy to convince any person, who was
present at our information to the assembly,(58) that every one of my
honourable colleagues, (to each of whose merit I cordially subscribe,
though compelled to differ from them in political sentiments) would be
prevented by motives of personal delicacy to myself, from contradicting
the facts I have stated relative to Mr. Gerry, if it could be done
consistent with truth. If the Landholder was a member of the Convention,
to facilitate the adoption of a favourite system, or to gratify his
resentment against its opposers, he has originally invented and is now
labouring to support, charges the most unjust and ungenerous, contrary to
his own knowledge of facts. If he was not a member, he is acting the same
part, without any knowledge of the subject, and in this has the merit of
either following his own invention, of dealing out the information he
receives from some person of whom he is the wretched tool and dupe, at the
same time expressing himself with a decision, and making such professions
of being perfectly in every secret, as naturally tends, unless
contradicted, to deceive and delude the unsuspecting multitude. In one of
these predicaments the Landholder must stand, he is welcome to take his
choice, in either case he only wants to be known to be despised. Now sir,
let the Landholder come forward and give his name to the public. It is the
only thing necessary to finish his character, and to convince the world
that he is as dead to shame, as he is lost to truth and destitute of
honour. If I sir, can be instrumental in procuring him to disclose
himself; even in this I shall consider myself as rendering a service to my
country. I flatter myself for the dignity of human kind, there are few
such characters; but there is no situation in life, in which they may not
prove the bane and curse of society; they therefore ought to be known,
that they may be guarded against.

I am, sir, your very humble servant,


_Baltimore, March 3, 1788._

Luther Martin, III.

The Maryland Journal, (Number 1021)

TUESDAY, MARCH 18, 1788.

Number I.


To you my fellow citizens, I hold myself in a particular manner
accountable for every part of my conduct in the exercise of a trust
reposed in me by you, and should consider myself highly culpable if I was
to withhold from you any information in my possession, the knowledge of
which may be material to enable you to form a right judgment on questions
wherein the happiness of yourselves and your posterity are involved. Nor
shall I ever consider it an act of condescention when impeached in my
public conduct, or character, to vindicate myself at your bar, and to
submit myself to your decision. In conformity to these sentiments, which
have regulated my conduct since my return from the Convention, and which
will be the rule of my actions in the sequel, I shall at this time beg
your indulgence, while I make some observations on a publication which the
Landholder has done me the honour to address to me, in the Maryland
Journal of the 29th of February last. In my controversy with that writer,
on the subject of Mr. Gerry, I have already enabled you to decide, without
difficulty, on the credit which ought to be given to his most positive
assertions and should scarce think it worth my time to notice his charges
against myself, was it not for the opportunity it affords me of stating
certain facts and transactions, of which you ought to be informed, some of
which were undesignedly omitted by me when I had the honour of being
called before the House of Delegates. No “extreme modesty” on my part was
requisite to induce me to conceal the “sacrifice of resentments” against
Mr. Gerry, since no such sacrifice had ever been made, nor had any such
resentments ever existed. The principal opposition in sentiment between
Mr. Gerry and myself, was on the subject of representation; but even on
that subject, he was much more conceding than his colleagues, two of whom
obstinately persisted in voting against the equality of representation in
the senate, when the question was taken in Convention upon the adoption of
the conciliatory propositions, on the fate of which depended, I believe,
the continuance of the Convention. In many important questions we
perfectly harmonized in opinion, and where we differed, it never was
attended with warmth or animosity, nor did it in any respect interfere
with a friendly intercourse and interchange of attention and civilities.
We both opposed the extraordinary powers over the militia, given to the
general government. We were both against the re-eligibility of the
president. We both concurred in the attempt to prevent members of each
branch of the legislature from being appointable to offices, and in many
other instances, although the Landholder, with his usual regard to truth
and his usual imposing effrontery, tells me, that I “doubtless must
remember Mr. Gerry and myself never voted alike, except in the instances”
he has mentioned. As little foundation is there in his assertion, that I
“cautioned certain members to be on their guard against his wiles, for
that he and Mr. Mason held private meetings, where the plans were
concerted to aggrandize, at the expence of the small States, old
Massachusetts and the ancient dominion.” I need only state facts to refute
the assertion. Some time in the month of August, a number of members who
considered the system, as then under consideration and likely to be
adopted, extremely exceptionable, and of a tendency to destroy the rights
and liberties of the United States, thought it advisable to meet together
in the evenings, in order to have a communication of sentiments, and to
concert a plan of conventional opposition to, and amendment of that
system, so as, if possible, to render it less dangerous. Mr. Gerry was the
first who proposed this measure to me, and that before any meeting had
taken place, and wished we might assemble at my lodgings, but not having a
room convenient, we fixed upon another place. There Mr. Gerry and Mr.
Mason did hold meetings, but with them also met the Delegates from New
Jersey and Connecticut, a part of the Delegation from Delaware, an
honorable member from South Carolina, one other from Georgia, and myself.
These were the only “private meetings” that ever I knew or heard to be
held by Mr. Gerry and Mr. Mason, meetings at which I myself attended until
I left the Convention, and of which the sole object was not to aggrandize
the great at the expense of the small, but to protect and preserve, if
possible, the existence and essential rights of all the states, and the
liberty and freedom of their citizens. Thus, my fellow citizens, I am
obliged, unless I could accept the compliment at an expence of truth equal
to the Landholder’s, to give up all claim to being “placed beyond the
reach of ordinary panegyrick,” and to that “magnanimity” which he was so
solicitous to bestow upon me, that he has wandered [into] the regions of
falsehood to seek the occasion. When we find such disregard of truth, even
in the introduction, while only on the threshold, we may form judgment
what respect is to be paid to the information he shall give us of what
passed in the Convention when he “draws aside the veil,” a veil which was
interposed between our proceedings and the Public, in my opinion, for the
most dangerous of purposes, and which was never designed by the advocates
of the system to be drawn aside, or if it was, not till it should be too
late for any beneficial purpose, which as far as it is done, or pretended
to be done, on the present occasion, is only for the purpose of deception
and misrepresentation. It was on Saturday that I first took my seat. I
obtained that day a copy of the propositions that had been laid before the
Convention, and which were then the subject of discussion in a committee
of the whole. The Secretary was so polite as, at my request, to wait upon
me at the State House the next day (being Sunday), and there gave me an
opportunity of examining the journals and making myself acquainted with
the little that had been done before my arrival. I was not a little
surprised at the system brought forward, and was solicitous to learn the
reasons which had been assigned in its support; for this purpose the
journals could be of no service; I therefore conversed on the subject with
different members of the Convention, and was favoured with minutes of the
debates which had taken place before my arrival. I applied to history for
what lights it could afford me, and I procured everything the most
valuable I could find in Philadelphia on the subject of governments in
general, and on the American revolution and governments in particular. I
devoted my whole time and attention to the business in which we were
engaged, and made use of all the opportunities I had, and abilities I
possessed, conscientiously to decide what part I ought to adopt in the
discharge of that sacred duty I owed to my country, in the exercise of the
trust you had reposed in me. I attended the Convention many days without
taking any share in the debates, listening in silence to the eloquence of
others, and offering no other proof that I possessed the powers of speech,
than giving my yea or nay when a question was taken, and notwithstanding
my propensity to “endless garrulity,” should have been extremely happy if
I could have continued that line of conduct, without making a sacrifice of
your rights and political happiness. The committee of the whole house had
made but small progress, at the time I arrived, in the discussion of the
propositions which had been referred to them; they completed that
discussion, and made their report. The propositions of the minority were
then brought forward and rejected. The Convention had resumed the report
of the committee, and had employed some days in its consideration. Thirty
days, I believe, or more, had elapsed from my taking my seat before in the
language of the Landholder, I “opened in a speech which held during two
days.” Such, my fellow citizens, is the true state of the conduct I
pursued when I took my seat in Convention, and which the Landholder, to
whom falsehood appears more familiar than truth, with his usual
effrontery, has misrepresented by a positive declaration, that without
obtaining or endeavouring to obtain any information on the subject, I
hastily and insolently obtruded my sentiments on the Convention, and to
the astonishment of every member present, on the very day I took my seat,
began a speech, which continued two days, in opposition to those measures
which, on mature deliberation, had been adopted by the Convention. But I
“alone advocated the political heresy, that the people ought not to be
trusted with the election of representatives.” On this subject, as I would
wish to be on every other, my fellow citizens, I have been perfectly
explicit in the information I gave to the House of Delegates, and which
has since been published. In a state government, I consider all power
flowing immediately from the people in their individual capacity, and that
the people, in their individual capacity, have, and ever ought to have the
right of choosing delegates in a state legislature, the business of which
is to make laws, regulating their concerns, as individuals, and operating
upon them as such; but in a federal government, formed over free states,
the power flows from the people, and the right of choosing delegates
belongs to them only mediately through their respective state governments
which are the members composing the federal government, and from whom all
its power immediately proceeds; to which state governments, the choice of
the federal delegates immediately belongs. I should blush indeed for my
ignorance of the first elements of government, was I to entertain
different sentiments on the subject; and if this is “political heresy,” I
have no ambition to be ranked with those who are orthodox. Let me here, my
fellow citizens, by way of caution, add an observation, which will prove
to be founded in truth: those who are the most liberal in complimenting
you with powers which do not belong to you, act commonly from improper and
interested motives, and most generally have in view thereby to prepare the
way for depriving you of those rights to which you are justly entitled.
Every thing that weakens and impairs the bands of legitimate authority
smooths the road of ambition; nor can there be a surer method of
supporting and preserving the just rights of the people, than by
supporting and protecting the just rights of government. As to the
“jargon” attributed to me of maintaining that “notwithstanding each state
had an equal number of votes in the senate, yet the states were unequally
represented in the senate,” the Landholder has all the merit of its
absurdity; nor can I conceive what sentiment it is that I ever have
expressed, to which he, with his usual perversion and misrepresentation,
could give such a colouring. That I ever suggested the idea of letting
loose an army indiscriminately on the innocent and guilty, in a state
refusing to comply with the requisitions of Congress, or that such an idea
ever had place in my mind, is a falsehood so groundless, so base and
malignant, that it could only have originated or been devised by a heart
which would dishonour the midnight assassin. My sentiments on this subject
are well known; it was only in the case where a state refused to comply
with the requisitions of Congress, that I was willing to grant the general
government those powers which the proposed constitution gives it in every
case.(59) Had I been a greater friend to a standing army, and not quite so
averse to expose your liberties to a soldiery, I do not believe the
Landholder would have chose me for the object on whom to expend his
artillery of falsehood.

That a system may enable government wantonly to exercise power over the
militia, to call out an unreasonable number from any particular state
without its permission, and to march them upon, and continue them in,
remote and improper services; that the same system should enable the
government totally to discard, render useless, and even disarm, the
militia, when it would remove them out of the way of opposing its
ambitious views, is by no means inconsistent, and is really the case in
the proposed constitution. In both these respects it is, in my opinion,
highly faulty, and ought to be amended. In the proposed system the general
government has a power not only without the consent, but contrary to the
will of the state government, to call out the whole of its militia,
without regard to religious scruples, or any other consideration, and to
continue them in service as long as it pleases, thereby subjecting the
freemen of a whole state to martial law and reducing them to the situation
of slaves. It has also, by another clause, the powers by which only the
militia can be organized and armed, and by the neglect of which they may
be rendered utterly useless and insignificant, when it suits the ambitious
purposes of government. Nor is the suggestion unreasonable, even if it had
been made, that the government might improperly oppress and harass the
militia, the better to reconcile them to the idea of regular troops, who
might relieve them from the burthen, and to render them less opposed to
the measures it might be disposed to adopt for the purpose of reducing
them to that state of insignificancy and uselessness. When the Landholder
declared that “I contended the powers and authorities of the new
constitution must destroy the liberties of the people,” he for once
stumbled on the truth, but even this he could not avoid coupling with an
assertion utterly false. I never suggested that “the same powers could be
safely entrusted to the old Congress;” on the contrary, I opposed many of
the powers as being of that nature that, in my opinion, they could not be
entrusted to any government whatever consistent with the freedom of the
states and their citizens, and I earnestly recommended, what I wish my
fellow citizens deeply to impress on your minds, that in altering or
amending our federal government no greater powers ought to be given than
experience has shown to be necessary, since it will be easy to delegate
further power when time shall dictate the expediency or necessity, but
powers once bestowed upon a government, should they be found ever so
dangerous or destructive to freedom, cannot be resumed or wrested from
government but by another revolution.


_Baltimore, March 14, 1788._

Luther Martin, IV.

The Maryland Journal, (Number 1022)

FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 1788.

Number II.


In the recognition which the Landholder professes to make “of what
occurred to my advantage,” he equally deals in the arts of
misrepresentation, as while he was “only the record of the bad,” and I am
equally obliged from a regard to truth to disclaim his pretended
approbation as his avowed censure. He declares that I originated the
clause which enacts that “this Constitution and the laws of the United
States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made,
or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be
the supreme law of the land, and the judges in every state shall be bound
thereby, any thing in the Constitution or the laws of any state to the
contrary notwithstanding.” To place this matter in a proper point of view,
it will be necessary to state, that as the propositions were reported by
the committee of the whole house, a power was given to the general
government to negative the laws passed by the state legislatures, a power
which I considered as totally inadmissible; in substitution of this I
proposed the following clause, which you will find very materially
different from the clause adopted by the Constitution, “that the
legislative acts of the United States, made by virtue and in pursuance of
the articles of the union, and all treaties made and ratified under the
authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the respective
states, so far as those acts or treaties shall relate to the said states
or their citizens, and that the judiciaries of the several states shall be
bound thereby in their decisions, any thing in the respective laws of the
individual states to the contrary notwithstanding.” When this clause was
introduced, it was not established that inferior continental courts should
be appointed for trial of all questions arising on treaties and on the
laws of the general government, and it was my wish and hope that every
question of that kind would have been determined in the first instance in
the courts of the respective states; had this been the case, the propriety
and the necessity that treaties duly made and ratified, and the laws of
the general government, should be binding on the state judiciaries which
were to decide upon them, must be evident to every capacity, while at the
same time, if such treaties or laws were inconsistent with our
constitution and bill of rights, the judiciaries of this state would be
bound to reject the first and abide by the last, since in the form I
introduced the clause, notwithstanding treaties and the laws of the
general government were intended to be superior to the laws of our state
government, where they should be opposed to each other, yet that they were
not proposed nor meant to be superior to our constitution and bill of
rights. It was afterwards altered and amended (if it can be called an
amendment) to the form in which it stands in the system now published, and
as inferior continental, and not state courts, are originally to decide on
those questions, it is now worse than useless, for being so altered as to
render the treaties and laws made under the general government superior to
our constitution, if the system is adopted it will amount to a total and
unconditional surrender to that government, by the citizens of this state,
of every right and privilege secured to them by our constitution, and an
express compact and stipulation with the general government that it may,
at its discretion, make laws in direct violation of those rights. But on
this subject I shall enlarge in a future number.

That I “voted an appeal should lay to the supreme judiciary of the United
States, for the correction of all errors both in law and fact,” in
rendering judgment is most true, and it is equally true that if it had
been so ordained by the Constitution, the supreme judiciary would only
have had an appellate jurisdiction, of the same nature with that possessed
by our high court of appeals, and could not in any respect intermeddle
with any fact decided by a jury; but as the clause now stands, an appeal
being given in general terms from the inferior courts, both as to law and
fact, it not only doth, but is avowedly intended, to give a power very
different from what our court of appeals, or any court of appeals in the
United States or in England enjoys, a power of the most dangerous and
alarming nature, that of setting at nought the verdict of a jury, and
having the same facts which they had determined, without any regard or
respect to their determination, examined and ultimately decided by the
judges themselves, and that by judges immediately appointed by the
government. But the Landholder also says that “I agreed to the clause that
declares nine states to be sufficient to put the government in motion.” I
cannot take to myself the merit even of this without too great a sacrifice
of truth. It was proposed that if seven states agreed that should be
sufficient; by a rule of Convention in filling up blanks, if different
numbers were mentioned, the question was always to be taken on the
highest. It was my opinion, that to agree upon a ratification of the
constitution by any less number than the whole thirteen states, is so
directly repugnant to our present articles of confederation, and the mode
therein prescribed for their alteration, and such a violation of the
compact which the states, in the most solemn manner, have entered into
with each other, that those who could advocate a contrary proposition,
ought never to be confided in, and entrusted in public life. I availed
myself of this rule, and had the question taken on thirteen, which was
rejected. Twelve, eleven, ten and nine were proposed in succession; the
last was adopted by a majority of the members. I voted successively for
each of these members, to prevent a less number being agreed on. Had nine
not been adopted, I should on the same principle have voted for eight. But
so far was I from giving my approbation that the assent of a less number
of states than thirteen should be sufficient to put the government in
motion, that I most explicitly expressed my sentiments to the contrary,
and always intended, had I been present when the ultimate vote was taken
on the constitution, to have given it my decided negative, accompanied
with a solemn protest against it, assigning this reason among others for
my dissent. Thus, my fellow citizens, that candour with which I have
conducted myself through the whole of this business obliges me, however
reluctantly, and however “mortifying it may be to my vanity,” to disavow
all “those greater positive virtues” which the Landholder has so
obligingly attributed to me in Convention, and which he was so desirous of
conferring upon me as to consider the guilt of misrepresentation and
falsehood but a trifling sacrifice for that purpose, and to increase my
mortification, you will find I am equally compelled to yield up every
pretence even to those of a negative nature, which a regard to justice
has, as he says, obliged him not to omit. These consist, as he tells us,
in giving my entire approbation to the system as to those parts which are
said to endanger a trial by jury, and as to its want of a bill of rights,
and in having too much candour there to signify that I thought it
deficient in either of these respects. But how, I pray, can the Landholder
be certain that I deserve this encomium? Is it not possible, as I so
frequently exhausted the politeness of the Convention, that some of those
marks of fatigue and disgust, with which he intimates I was mortified as
oft as I attempted to speak, might at that time have taken place, and have
been of such a nature as to attract his attention; or, perhaps, as the
Convention was prepared to slumber whenever I rose, the Landholder, among
others, might have sunk into sleep, and at that very moment might have
been feasting his imagination with the completion of his ambitious views,
and dreams of future greatness. But supposing I never did declare in
Convention that I thought the system defective in those essential points,
will it amount to a positive proof that I approved the system in those
respects, or that I culpably neglected an indispensable duty? Is it not
possible, whatever might have been my insolence and assurance when I first
took my seat, and however fond I might be at that time of obtruding my
sentiments, that the many rebuffs with which I met, the repeated
mortifications I experienced, the marks of fatigue and disgust with which
my eyes were sure to be assailed wherever I turned them—one gaping here,
another yawning there, a third slumbering in this place, and a fourth
snoring in that—might so effectually have put to flight all my original
arrogance, that, as we are apt to run into extremes, having at length
become convinced of my comparative nothingness, in so august an assembly
and one in which the science of government was so perfectly understood, I
might sink into such a state of modesty and diffidence as not to be able
to muster up resolution enough to break the seal of silence and open my
lips even after the rays of light had begun to penetrate my understanding,
and in some measure to chase away those clouds of error and ignorance in
which it was enveloped on my first arrival? Perhaps had I been treated
with a more forbearing indulgence while committing those memorable
blunders, for a want of a sufficient knowledge in the science of
government, I might, after the rays of light had illuminated my mind, have
rendered my country much more important services, and not only assisted in
raising some of the pillars, but have furnished the edifice with a new
roof of my own construction, rather better calculated for the convenience
and security of those who might wish to take shelter beneath it, than that
which it at present enjoys. Or even admitting I was not mortified, as I
certainly ought to have been, from the Landholder’s account of the matter,
into a total loss of speech, was it in me, who considered the system, for
a variety of reasons, absolutely inconsistent with your political welfare
and happiness, a culpable neglect of duty in not endeavouring, and that
against every chance of success, to remove one or two defects, when I had
before ineffectually endeavoured to clear it of the others, which
therefore, I knew must remain? But to be serious, as to what relates to
the appellate jurisdiction in the extent given by the system proposed, I
am positive there were objections made to it, and as far as my memory will
serve me, I think I was in the number of those who actually objected; but
I am sure that the objections met with my approbation. With respect to a
bill of rights, had the government been formed upon principles truly
federal, as I wished it, legislating over and acting upon the states only
in their collective or political capacity, and not on individuals, there
would have been no need of a bill of rights, as far as related to the
rights of individuals, but only as to the rights of states. But the
proposed constitution being intended and empowered to act not only on
states, but also immediately on individuals, it renders a recognition and
a stipulation in favour of the rights both of states and of men, not only
proper, but in my opinion absolutely necessary. I endeavoured to obtain a
restraint on the powers of the general government, as to standing armies,
but it was rejected. It was my wish that the general government should not
have the power of suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus,
as it appears to me altogether unnecessary, and that the power given to it
may and will be used as a dangerous engine of oppression, but I could not
succeed. An honorable member from South Carolina most anxiously sought to
have a clause inserted securing the liberty of the Press, and repeatedly
brought this subject before the Convention, but could not obtain it. I am
almost positive he made the same attempt to have a stipulation in favour
of liberty of conscience, but in vain. The more the system advanced the
more was I impressed with the necessity of not merely attempting to secure
a few rights, but of digesting and forming a complete bill of rights,
including those of states and of individuals, which should be assented to,
and prefixed to the Constitution, to serve as a barrier between the
general government and the respective states and their citizens; because
the more the system advanced the more clearly it appeared to me that the
framers of it did not consider that either states or men had any rights at
all, or that they meant to secure the enjoyment of any to either the one
or the other; accordingly, I devoted a part of my time to the actually
preparing and draughting such a bill of rights, and had it in readiness
before I left the Convention, to have laid it before a committee. I
conversed with several members on the subject; they agreed with me on the
propriety of the measure, but at the same time expressed their sentiments
that it would be impossible to procure its adoption if attempted. A very
few days before I left the Convention, I shewed to an honorable member
sitting by me a proposition, which I then had in my hand, couched in the
following words: “Resolved that a committee be appointed to prepare and
report a bill of rights, to be prefixed to the proposed Constitution,” and
I then would instantly have moved for the appointment of a committee for
that purpose, if he would have agreed to second the motion, to do which he
hesitated, not as I understand from any objection to the measure, but from
a conviction in his own mind that the motion would be in vain.

Thus my fellow citizens, you see that so far from having no objections to
the system on this account, while I was at Convention, I not only then
thought a bill of rights necessary, but I took some pains to have the
subject brought forward, which would have been done, had it not been for
the difficulties I have stated. At the same time I declare that when I
drew up the motion, and was about to have proposed it to the Convention, I
had not the most distant hope it would meet with success. The rejection of
the clauses attempted in favour of particular rights, and to check and
restrain the dangerous and exorbitant powers of the general government
from being abused, had sufficiently taught me what to expect. And from the
best judgment I could form while in Convention, I then was, and yet
remained, decidedly of the opinion that ambition and interest had so far
blinded the understanding of some of the principal framers of the
Constitution, that while they were labouring to erect a fabrick by which
they themselves might be exalted and benefited, they were rendered
insensible to the sacrifice of the freedom and happiness of the states and
their citizens, which must, inevitably be the consequence. I most sacredly
believe their object is the total abolition and destruction of all state
governments, and the erection on their ruins of one great and extensive
empire, calculated to aggrandize and elevate its rulers and chief officers
far above the common herd of mankind, to enrich them with wealth, and to
encircle them with honours and glory, and which according to my judgment
on the maturest reflection, must inevitably be attended with the most
humiliating and abject slavery of their fellow citizens, by the sweat of
whose brows, and by the toil of whose bodies, it can only be effected.

And so anxious were its zealous promoters to hasten to a birth this
misshapened heterogenous monster of ambition and interest, that, for some
time before the Convention rose, upon the least attempt to alter its form,
or modify its powers, the most fretful impatience was shown, such as would
not have done much honour to a State Assembly, had they been sitting as
long a time, and their treasury empty; while it was repeatedly urged on
the contrary, but urged in vain, that in so momentous an undertaking, in
forming a system for such an extensive continent, on which the political
happiness of so many millions, even to the latest ages, may depend, no
time could be too long—no thoughts and reflections too great—and that if
by continuing six months, or even as many years, we could free the system
from all its errors and defects, it would be the best use to which we
could possibly devote our time. Thus my fellow citizens am I under
necessity of resigning again into the hands of the Landholder, all those
virtues both of a positive and negative kind, which from an excess of
goodness he bestowed upon me, and give him my full permission to dispose
of them hereafter in favour of some other person, who may be more
deserving, and to whom they will be more acceptable: at the same time, I
must frankly acknowledge, however it may operate as a proof of my dullness
and stupidity, that the “ignorance in the science of government” under
which I laboured at first was not removed by more than two months close
application under those august and enlightened masters of the science with
which the Convention abounded, nor was I able to discover during that
time, either by my own researches, or by any light borrowed from those
luminaries, anything in the history of mankind or in the sentiments of
those who have favoured the world with their ideas on government, to
warrant or countenance the motley mixture of a system proposed: a system
which is an innovation in government of the most extraordinary kind; a
system neither wholly federal, nor wholly national—but a strange
hotch-potch of both—just so much federal in appearance as to give its
advocates in some measure, an opportunity of passing it as such upon the
unsuspecting multitude, before they had time and opportunity to examine
it, and yet so predominantly national as to put it in the power of its
movers, whenever the machine shall be set agoing, to strike out every part
that has the appearance of being federal, and to render it wholly and
entirely a national government: And if the framing and approving the
Constitution now offered to our acceptance, is a proof of knowledge in the
science of government, I not only admit, but I glory in my ignorance; and
if my rising to speak had such a somnific influence on the Convention as
the Landholder represents, I have no doubt the time will come, should this
system be adopted, when my countrymen will ardently wish I had never left
the Convention, but remained there to the last, daily administering to my
associates the salutary opiate. Happy, thrice happy, would it have been
for my country, if the whole of that time had been devoted to sleep, or
been a blank in our lives, rather than employed in forging its chains. As
I fully intended to have returned to the Convention before the completion
of its business, my colleagues very probably might, and were certainly
well warranted to, give that information the Landholder mentions; but
whether the Convention was led to conclude that I “would have honoured the
Constitution with my signature had not indispensable business called me
away,” may be easily determined after stating a few facts. The Landholder
admits I was at first against the system—when the compromise took place on
the subject of representation, I in the most explicit manner declared in
Convention, that though I had concurred in the report, so far as to
consent to proceed upon it that we might see what kind of a system might
be formed, yet I disclaimed every idea of being bound to give it my
assent, but reserved to myself the full liberty of finally giving it my
negative, if it appeared to me inconsistent with the happiness of my
country. In a desultory conversation which long after took place in
Convention, one morning before our honourable president took the chair, he
was observing how unhappy it would be should there be such a diversity of
sentiment as to cause any of the members to oppose the system when they
returned to their states; on that occasion I replied that I was confident
no state in the union would more readily accede to a proper system of
government than Maryland, but that the system under consideration was of
such a nature, that I never could recommend it for acceptance; that I
thought the state never ought to adopt it, and expressed my firm belief
that it never would.

An honourable member from Pennsylvania objected against that part of the
sixth article which requires an oath to be taken by the persons there
mentioned, in support of the constitution, observing (as he justly might
from the conduct the convention was then pursuing) how little such oaths
were regarded. I immediately joined in the objection, but declared my
reason to be, that I thought it such a constitution as no friend of his
country ought to bind himself to support. And not more than two days
before I left Philadelphia, another honourable member from the same state
urged most strenuously that the Convention ought to hasten their
deliberations to a conclusion, assigning as a reason that the Assembly of
Pennsylvania was just then about to meet, and that it would be of the
greatest importance to bring the system before that session of the
legislature, in order that a Convention of the State might be immediately
called to ratify it, before the enemies of the system should have an
opportunity of making the people acquainted with their objections, at the
same time declaring that if the matter should be delayed and the people
have time to hear the variety of objections which would be made to it by
its opposers, he thought it doubtful whether that state or any other state
in the union would adopt it.(60) As soon as the honourable member took his
seat, I rose and observed, that I was precisely of the same opinion, that
the people of America never would, nor did I think they ought to, adopt
the system, if they had time to consider and understand it; whereas a
proneness for novelty and change—a conviction that some alteration was
necessary, and a confidence in the members who composed the
Convention—might possibly procure its adoption, if brought hastily before
them, but that these sentiments induced me to wish that a very different
line of conduct should be pursued from that recommended by the honourable
member. I wished the people to have every opportunity of information, as I
thought it much preferable that a bad system should be rejected at first,
than hastily adopted and afterwards be unavailingly repented of. If these
were instances of my “high approbation,” I gave them in abundance as all
the Convention can testify, and continued so to do till I left them. That
I expressed great regret at being obliged to leave Philadelphia, and a
fixed determination to return if possible before the Convention rose, is
certain. That I might declare that I had rather lose an hundred guineas
than not to be there at the close of the business is very probable—and it
is possible that some who heard me say this, not knowing my reasons, which
could not be expressed without a breach of that secrecy to which we were
enjoined, might erroneously have concluded that my motive was the
gratification of vanity, in having my name enrolled with those of a
Franklin and a Washington. As to the first, I cordially join in the
tribute of praise so justly paid to the enlightened philosopher and
statesman, while the polite, friendly and affectionate treatment myself
and my family received from that venerable sage and the worthy family in
which he is embosomed, will ever endear him to my heart. The name of
Washington is far above my praise. I would to Heaven that on this occasion
one more wreath had been added to the number of those which are twined
around his amiable brow—that those with which it is already surrounded may
flourish with immortal verdure, nor wither or fade till time shall be no
more, is my fervent prayer, and may that glory which encircles his head
ever shine with undiminished rays. To find myself under the necessity of
opposing such illustrious characters, whom I venerated and loved, filled
me with regret; but viewing the system in the light I then did, and yet do
view it, to have hesitated would have been criminal; complaisance would
have been guilt. If it was the idea of my state that whatever a Washington
or Franklin approved, was to be blindly adopted, she ought to have spared
herself the expence of sending any members to the Convention, or to have
instructed them implicitly to follow where they led the way. It was not to
have my “name enrolled with the other labourers,” that I wished to return
to Philadelphia—that sacrifice which I must have made of my principles by
putting my name to the Constitution, could not have been effaced by any
derivative lustre it could possibly receive from the bright constellation
with which it would have been surrounded. My object was in truth the very
reverse; as I had uniformly opposed the system in its progress, I wished
to have been present at the conclusion, to have then given it my solemn
negative, which I certainly should have done, even had I stood single and
alone, being perfectly willing to leave it to the cool and impartial
investigation both of the present and of future ages to decide who best
understood the science of government—who best knew the rights of men and
of states, who best consulted the true interest of America, and who most
faithfully discharged the trust reposed in them, those who agreed to or
those who opposed the new Constitution—and so fully have I made up my own
mind on this subject, that as long as the history of mankind shall record
the appointment of the late Convention, and the system which has been
proposed by them, it is my highest ambition that my name may also be
recorded as one who considered the system injurious to my country, and as
such opposed it. Having shown that I did not “alter my opinion after I
left Philadelphia,” and that I acted no “contradictory parts on the great
political stage,” and therefore that there are none such to reconcile, the
reason assigned by the Landholder for that purpose doth not deserve my
notice, except only to observe that he shrewdly intimates there is already
a Junto established, who are to share in and deal out the offices of this
new government at their will and pleasure, and that they have already
fixed upon the character who is to be “Deputy Attorney General of the
United States for the State of Maryland.” If this is true, it is worth
while to inquire of whom this Junto consists, as it might lead to a
discovery of the persons for the gratification of whose ambition and
interest this system is prepared, and is, if possible, to be enforced, and
from the disposition of offices already allotted in the various and
numerous departments, we possibly might discover whence proceeds the
conviction and zeal of some of its advocates.


_Baltimore, March 19, 1788._

Luther Martin, V.

The Maryland Journal, (Number 1024)

FRIDAY, MARCH 28, 1788.

Number III.


There is, my fellow citizens, scarcely an individual of common
understanding, I believe, in this state, who is any ways acquainted with
the proposed Constitution, who doth not allow it to be, in many instances,
extremely censurable, and that a variety of alterations and amendments are
essentially requisite, to render it consistent with a reasonable security
for the liberty of the respective states, and their citizens.
Aristides,(61) it is true, is an exception from this observation; he
declares, that “if the whole matter was left to his discretion, he would
not change any part of the proposed Constitution,” whether he meant this
declaration as a proof of his discretion, I will not say; it will however,
readily be admitted, by most, as a proof of his enthusiastic zeal in
favour of the system. But it would be injustice to that writer not to
observe, that if he is as much mistaken in the other parts of the
Constitution, as in that which relates to the judicial department, the
Constitution which he is so earnestly recommending to his countrymen, and
on which he is lavishing so liberally his commendations, is a thing of his
own creation and totally different from that which is offered for your
acceptance.—He has given us an explanation of the original and appellate
jurisdiction of the judiciary of the general government, and of the manner
in which he supposes it is to operate—an explanation so inconsistent with
the intention of its framers, and so different from its true construction
and from the effect which it will have, should the system be adopted, that
I could scarce restrain my astonishment at the error, although I was in
some measure prepared for it, by his previous acknowledgment that he did
not very well understand that part of the system; a circumstance I
apprehended he did not recollect at the time when he was bestowing upon it
his dying benediction. And if one of our judges, possessed of no common
share of understanding, and of extensive acquired knowledge, who, as he
informs us, has long made the science of government his peculiar study, so
little understands the true import and construction of this Constitution,
and that too in a part more particularly within his own province, can it
be wondered at that the people in general, whose knowledge in subjects of
this nature is much more limited and circumscribed, should but imperfectly
comprehend the extent, operation and consequences of so complex and
intricate a system; and is not this of itself a strong proof of the
necessity that it should be corrected and amended, at least so as to
render it more clear and comprehensible to those who are to decide upon
it, or to be affected by it. But although almost every one agrees the
Constitution, as it is, to be both defective and dangerous, we are not
wanting in characters who earnestly advise us to adopt it, in its present
form, with all its faults, and assure us we may safely rely on obtaining
hereafter the amendments that are necessary. But why, I pray you, my
fellow citizens, should we not insist upon the necessary amendments being
made now, while we have the liberty of acting for ourselves, before the
Constitution becomes binding upon us by our assent, as every principle of
reason, common sense and safety would dictate? Because, say they, the
sentiments of men are so different, and the interests of the different
states are so jarring and dissonant, that there is no probability they
would agree if alterations and amendments were attempted. Thus with one
breath they tell us that the obstacles to any alterations and amendments
being agreed to by the states are so insuperable, that it is vain to make
the experiment, while in the next they would persuade us it is so certain
the states will accede to those which shall be necessary, and that they
may be procured even after the system shall be ratified, that we need not
hesitate swallowing the poison, from the ease and security of instantly
obtaining the antidote—and they seem to think it astonishing that any
person should find a difficulty in reconciling the absurdity and
contradiction. If it is easy to obtain proper amendments, do not let us
sacrifice everything that ought to be dear to freemen, for want of
insisting upon its being done, while we have the power. If the obtaining
them will be difficult and improbable, for God’s sake do not accept of
such a form of government as without amendments cannot fail of rendering
you mere beasts of burthen, and reducing you to a level with your own
slaves, with this aggravating distinction, that you once tasted the
blessings of freedom. Those who would wish you to believe that the faults
in the system proposed are wholly or principally owing to the difference
of state interests, and proceed from that cause, are either imposed upon
themselves, or mean to impose upon you. The principal questions, in which
the state interests had any material effect, were those which related to
representation, and the number in each branch of the legislature, whose
concurrence should be necessary for passing navigation acts, or making
commercial regulations. But what state is there in the union whose
interest would prompt it to give the general government the extensive and
unlimited powers it possesses in the executive, legislative and judicial
departments, together with the powers over the militia, and the liberty of
establishing a standing army without any restriction? What state in the
union considers it advantageous to its interest that the President should
be re-eligible—the members of both houses appointable to offices—the
judges capable of holding other offices at the will and pleasure of the
government, and that there should be no real responsibility either in the
President or in the members of either branch of the Legislature? Or what
state is there that would have been averse to a bill of rights, or that
would have wished for the destruction of jury trial in a great variety of
cases, and in a particular manner in every case without exception where
the government itself is interested? These parts of the system, so far
from promoting the interest of any state, or states, have an immediate
tendency to annihilate all the state governments indiscriminately, and to
subvert their rights and the rights of their citizens. To oppose these,
and to procure their alteration, is equally the interest of every state in
the union. The introduction of these parts of the system must not be
attributed to the jarring interests of states, but to a very different
source, the pride, the ambition and the interest of individuals. This
being the case, we may be enabled to form some judgment of the probability
of obtaining a safe and proper system, should we have firmness and wisdom
to reject that which is now offered; and also of the great improbability
of procuring any amendments to the present system, if we should weakly and
inconsiderately adopt it. The bold and daring attempt that has been made
to use, for the total annihilation of the states, that power that was
delegated for their preservation, will put the different states on their
guard. The votaries of ambition and interest being totally defeated in
their attempt to establish themselves on the ruins of the States, which
they will be if this Constitution is rejected, an attempt in which they
had more probability of success from the total want of suspicion in their
countrymen than they can have hereafter, they will not hazard a second
attempt of the same nature, in which they will have much less chance of
success; besides, being once discovered they will not be confided in. The
true interest and happiness of the states and their citizens will,
therefore, most probably be the object which will be principally sought
for by a second Convention, should a second be appointed, which if really
aimed at, I cannot think very difficult to accomplish, by giving to the
federal government sufficient power for every salutary purpose, while the
rights of the states and their citizens should be secure from any imminent
danger. But if the arts and influence of ambitious and interested men,
even in their present situation, while more on a level with yourselves,
and unarmed with any extraordinary powers, should procure you to adopt
this system, dangerous as it is admitted to be to your rights, I will
appeal to the understanding of every one of you, who will on this occasion
give his reason fair play, whether there is not every cause to believe
they will, should this government be adopted, with that additional power,
consequence and influence it will give them, most easily prevent the
necessary alterations which might be wished for, the purpose of which
would be directly opposite to their views, and defeat every attempt to
procure them. Be assured, whatever obstacles or difficulties may be at
this time in the way of obtaining a proper system of government, they will
be increased an hundred fold after this system is adopted. Reflect also, I
entreat you, my fellow citizens, that the alterations and amendments which
are wanted in the present system are of such a nature as to diminish and
lessen, to check and restrain the powers of the general government, not to
increase and enlarge those powers. If they were of the last kind, we might
safely adopt it, and trust to giving greater powers hereafter, like a
physician who administers an emetic ex re nata, giving a moderate dose at
first, and increasing it afterwards as the constitution of the patient may
require. But I appeal to the history of mankind for this truth, that when
once power and authority are delegated to a government, it knows how to
keep it, and is sufficiently and successfully fertile in expedients for
that purpose. Nay more, the whole history of mankind proves that so far
from parting with the powers actually delegated to it, government is
constantly encroaching on the small pittance of rights reserved by the
people to themselves, and gradually wresting them out of their hands until
it either terminates in their slavery or forces them to arms, and brings
about a revolution. From these observations it appears to me, my fellow
citizens, that nothing can be more weak and absurd than to accept of a
system that is admitted to stand in need of immediate amendments to render
your rights secure—for remember, if you fail in obtaining them, you cannot
free yourselves from the yoke you will have placed on your necks, and
servitude must, therefore, be your portion. Let me ask you my fellow
citizens what you would think of a physician who, because you were
slightly indisposed, should bring you a dose which properly corrected with
other ingredients might be a salutary remedy, but of itself was a deadly
poison, and with great appearance of friendship and zeal, should advise
you to swallow it immediately, and trust to accident for those requisites
necessary to qualify its malignity, and prevent its destructive effects?
Would not you reject the advice, in however friendly a manner it might
appear to be given, with indignation, and insist that he should first
procure, and properly attempt, the necessary ingredients, since after the
fatal draught was once received into your bowels, it would be too late
should the antidote prove unattainable, and death must ensue. With the
same indignation ought you, my fellow citizens, to reject the advice of
those political quacks, who under pretence of healing the disorders of our
present government, would urge you rashly to gulp down a constitution,
which in its present form, unaltered and unamended, would be as certain
death to your liberty, as arsenic could be to your bodies.


_Baltimore, March 25, 1788._

Luther Martin, VI.

The Maryland Journal, (Number 1026)

FRIDAY, APRIL 4, 1788.

Number IV.


If those, my fellow citizens, to whom the administration of our government
was about to be committed, had sufficient wisdom never to err, and
sufficient goodness always to consult the true interest of the governed,
and if we could have a proper security that their successors should to the
end of time be possessed of the same qualifications, it would be
impossible that power could be lavished upon them with too liberal a hand.
Power absolute and unlimited, united with unerring wisdom and unbounded
goodness, is the government of the Deity of the universe. But remember, my
fellow citizens, that the persons to whom you are about to delegate
authority are and will be weak, erring mortals, subject to the same
passions, prejudices and infirmities with yourselves; and let it be deeply
engraven on your hearts, that from the first history of government to the
present time, if we begin with Nimrod and trace down the rulers of nations
to those who are now invested with supreme power, we shall find few, very
few, who have made the beneficent Governor of the universe the model of
their conduct, while many are they who, on the contrary, have imitated the
demons of the darkness. We have no right to expect that our rulers will be
more wise, more virtuous, or more perfect than those of other nations have
been, or that they will not be equally under the influence of ambition,
avarice and all that train of baleful passions, which have so generally
proved the curse of our unhappy race. We must consider mankind such as
they really are,—such as experience has shown them to be heretofore, and
bids us expect to find them hereafter,—and not suffer ourselves to be
misled by interested deceivers or enthusiastick visionaries; and therefore
in forming a system of government, to delegate no greater power than is
clearly and certainly necessary, ought to be the first principle with
every people who are influenced by reason and a regard for their safety,
and in doing this, they ought most solicitously to endeavour so to qualify
even that power, by such checks and restraints, as to produce a perfect
responsibility in those who are to exercise it, and prevent them from its
abuse with a chance of impunity;—since such is the nature of man, that he
has a propensity to abuse authority and to tyrannize over the rights of
his fellowmen;—and to whomsoever power is given, not content with the
actual deposit, they will ever strive to obtain an increase. Those who
would wish to excite and keep awake your jealousy and distrust are your
truest friends; while they who speak peace to you when there is no
peace—who would lull you into security, and wish you to repose blind
confidence in your future governors—are your most dangerous enemies;
jealousy and distrust are the guardian angels who watch over
liberty—security and confidence are the forerunners of slavery. But the
advocates of the system tell you that we who oppose it, endeavour to
terrify you with mere possibilities which may never be realized, that all
our objections consist in saying government may do this, and government
may do that—I will for argument sake admit the justice of this remark, and
yet maintain that the objections are insurmountable. I consider it an
incontrovertible truth, that whatever by the constitution government even
may do, if it relates to the abuse of power by acts tyrannical and
oppressive, it some time or other will do. Such is the ambition of man,
and his lust for domination, that no power less than that which fixed its
bounds to the ocean can say to them, “Thus far shall ye go and no
farther.” Ascertain the limits of the may with ever so much precision, and
let them be as extensive as you please, government will speedily reach
their utmost verge; nor will it stop there, but soon will overleap those
boundaries, and roam at large into the regions of the may not. Those who
tell you the government by this constitution may keep up a standing army,
abolish the trial by jury, oppress the citizens of the states by its
powers over the militia, destroy the freedom of the press, infringe the
liberty of conscience, and do a number of other acts injurious and
destructive of your rights, yet that it never will do so; and that you
safely may accept such a constitution and be perfectly at ease and secure
that your rulers will always be so good, so wise, and so virtuous—such
emanations of the Deity—that they will never use their power but for your
interest and your happiness, contradict the uniform experience of ages,
and betray a total ignorance of human nature, or a total want of
ingenuity. Look back, my fellow citizens, to your conduct but a few years
past, and let that instruct you what ought to be your conduct at this
time. Great Britain then claimed the right to pass laws to bind you in all
cases whatever. You were then told in all the soft insinuating language of
the present day, and with all the appearance of disinterested friendship
now used, that those who insisted this claim of power might be abused,
only wandered in the regions of fancy—that you need not be uneasy, but
might safely acquiesce in the claim—that you might have the utmost
possible confidence in your rulers, that they never would use that power
to your injury; but distrustful of government, and jealous of your
liberty, you rejected such counsel with disdain; the bare possibility that
Britain might abuse it, if once conceded, kindled a flame from one end of
this continent to the other, and roused you to arms. Weak and defenseless
as you were, unused to military exertions, and unsupplied with warlike
stores, you braved the strength of a nation the most powerful and best
provided—you chose to risk your lives and property rather than to risque
the possibility that the power claimed by the British government should be
exercised to your injury—a possibility which the minions of power at that
time, with as much confidence as those of the present day, declared to be
absolutely visionary. Heaven wrought a miracle in your favour, and your
efforts were crowned with success. You are not now called upon to make an
equal sacrifice, you are not now requested to beat your ploughshares into
swords, or your pruning hooks into spears, to leave your peaceful
habitations, and exchange domestic tranquillity for the horrors of war;
peaceably, quietly and orderly to give this system of slavery your
negative, is all that is asked by the advocates of freedom—to pronounce
the single monosyllable no, is all they entreat. Shall they entreat you in
vain? When by this it is to be determined, whether our independence, for
obtaining which we have been accustomed to bow the knee with reverential
gratitude to Heaven, shall be our greatest curse; and when on this it
depends whether we shall be subject to a government, of which the little
finger will be thicker than the loins of that of Great Britain. But there
are also persons who pretend that your situation is at present so bad that
it cannot be worse, and urge that as an argument why we should embrace any
remedy proposed, however desperate it may appear. Thus do the poor erring
children of mortality, suffering under the presence of real or imaginary
evils, have recourse to a pistol or halter for relief, and rashly launch
into the untried regions of eternity—nor wake from this delusion, until
they wake in endless woe. Should the citizens of America, in a fit
desperation, be induced to commit this fatal act of political suicide, to
which by such arguments they are stimulated, the day will come when
laboring under more than Egyptian bondage; compelled to finish their quota
of brick, though destitute of straw and of mortar; galled with your
chains, and worn down by oppression, you will, by sad experience, be
convinced (when that conviction shall be too late), that there is a
difference in evils, and that the buzzing of gnats is more supportable
than the sting of a serpent. From the wisdom of antiquity we might obtain
excellent instruction, if we were not too proud to profit by it. Æsop has
furnished us with a history of a nation of frogs, between which and our
own there is a striking resemblance—whether the catastrophe be the same,
rests with ourselves. Jupiter out of pure good nature, wishing to do them
as little injury as possible, on being asked for a king, had thrown down
into their pond a log to rule over them;—under whose government, had they
been wise enough to know their own interest and to pursue it, they might
to this day, have remained happy and prosperous. Terrified with the noise,
and affrighted by the violent undulations of the water, they for some time
kept an awful distance, and regarded their monarch with reverence; but the
first impression being in some measure worn off, and perceiving him to be
of a tame and peaceable disposition, they approached him with familiarity,
and soon entertained for him the utmost contempt. In a little time were
seen the leaders of the frogs croaking to their respective circles on the
weakness and feebleness of the government at home, and of its want of
dignity and respect abroad, till the sentiment being caught by their
auditors, the whole pond resounded with “Oh Jupiter, good Jupiter, hear
our prayers! Take away from us this vile log, and give us a ruler who
shall know how to support the dignity and splendor of government! Give us
any government you please, only let it be energetic and efficient.” The
Thunderer, in his wrath, sent them a crane. With what delight did they
gaze on their monarch, as he came majestically floating on the wings of
the wind. They admired his uncommon shape—it was such as they had never
before seen—his deformities were, in their eyes, the greatest of beauties,
and they were heard like Aristides to declare that, were they on the verge
of eternity, they would not wish a single alteration in his form. His
monstrous beak, his long neck, and his enormous poke, even these, the
future means of their destruction, were subjects of their warm
approbation. He took possession of his new dominions, and instantly began
to swallow down his subjects, and it is said that those who had been the
warmest zealots for crane administration, fared no better than the rest.
The poor wretches were now much more dissatisfied than before, and with
all possible humility applied to Jupiter again for his aid, but in vain—he
dismissed them with this reproof, “that the evil of which they complained
they had foolishly brought upon themselves, and that they had no other
remedy now, but to submit with patience.” Thus forsaken by the god, and
left to the mercy of the crane, they sought to escape his cruelty by
flight; but pursuing them to every place of retreat, and thrusting his
long neck through the water to the bottom, he drew them out with his beak
from their most secret hiding-places, and served them up as a regale for
his ravenous appetite. The present federal government is, my fellow
citizens, the log of the fable—the crane is the system now offered to your
acceptance—I wish you not to remain under the government of the one, nor
to become subjected to the tyranny of the other. If either of these events
take place, it must arise from your being greatly deficient to
yourselves—from your being, like the nation of Frogs, “a discontented,
variable race, weary of liberty and fond of change.” At the same time I
have no hesitation in declaring, that if the one or the other must be our
fate, I think the harmless, inoffensive, though contemptible Log,
infinitely to be preferred to the powerful, the efficient, but
all-devouring Crane.


_Baltimore, March 29, 1788._


Printed In
The Virginia Independent Chronicle,
February, 1788.


In October, 1787, Governor Edmund Randolph, delegate to the Federal
Convention from Virginia, addressed to the Speaker of the House of
Delegates a letter on the Federal Constitution. This was published in
December, 1787, in both _The Virginia Gazette_ and _The Virginia
Independent Chronicle_, as well as in pamphlet form at the time, and
recently in Ford’s _Pamphlets on the Constitution_. Randolph had declined
to give his assent to the Constitution in the Convention, but had so far
altered his views in the intervening period as to make his letter on the
whole an argument in favor of rather than against its adoption. Uncertain
in exactly what light to regard his utterances, it was one of the few
writings of the time which did not receive replies from one party or the

The essay of “A Plain Dealer” is the only notice I have found of this
letter, and deals rather more with the inconsistencies of Randolph’s
views, than with the arguments advanced in the letter. Of the author,
Randolph himself gives us a clue in his letter to Madison, of February 29,
1788, where he writes:

    A writer calling himself Plain Dealer, who is bitter in principle
    _vs._ the Constitution, has attacked me in the paper. I suspect
    the author to be Mr. Spencer Roane; and the importunities of some
    to me in public and private are designed to throw me unequivocally
    and without condition into the opposition.

A Plain Dealer.

The Virginia Independent Chronicle, (Number 82)


_Mans parturiens et ecce nascitur mus._

After a long and general expectancy of some dissertation on the subject of
the proposed Federal Constitution, worthy the first magistrate of the
respectable state of Virginia, a letter of his Excellency Governor
Randolph, of Oct. 10, 1787, is at length presented to the public. Previous
to the appearance of this letter, various opinions were prevailing in
different parts of this country respecting that gentleman’s _real_ opinion
on the subject of the said Constitution; and it became difficult for many
to conjecture how his Excellency would devise a middle course, so as to
catch the spirit of all his countrymen, and to reconcile himself to all
parties. It was not known to me, at least, that his Excellency felt an
“unwillingness to disturb the harmony of the legislature” on this
important subject; nor could I conceive that the sentiments of even the
ablest man among us could “excite a contest unfavorable” to the fairest
discussion of the question. On the other hand, I thought it right that the
adversaries of the Constitution, as well as its framers, should candidly
avow their real sentiments as early and decidedly as possible, for the
information of those who are to determine. It is true, his Excellency was
prevented declaring his opinion sooner, “by motives of delicacy arising
from two questions depending before the General Assembly, one respecting
the Constitution, the other respecting himself;” but I am of opinion that
during the pendency of a question concerning the Constitution, every
information on that subject is most properly to be adduced; and I did not
know that the being or not being Governor of Virginia, (an office in a
great degree nominal) was sufficient to deter a real patriot from speaking
the warning voice of opposition, in behalf of the liberties of his

The letter above-mentioned can derive no aid from panegyric, as to the
brilliancy and elegance of its stile, for unlike the threadbare discourses
of other statesmen on the dry subject of government, it amuses us with a
number of fine words. But how shall I express my dislike of the ultimatum
of his Excellency’s letter, wherein he declares “that if after our best
efforts for amendments, they cannot be obtained, he will adopt the
Constitution as it is.” How is this declaration reconcilable to a former
opinion of his Excellency’s, expressed to the Honorable Richard Henry Lee,
and repeated by the latter gentleman in his letter,(62) as printed in the
public papers, “that either a monarchy or an aristocracy will be generated
from the proposed Constitution.” Good God! how can the first Magistrate
and Father of a free republican government, after a feeble parade of
opposition, and before his desired plan of amendments has been determined
upon, declare that he will accept a Constitution which is to beget a
monarchy or an aristocracy? How can such a determination be reconcilable
to the feelings of Virginia, and to the principles which have prevailed in
almost every legislature of the union, who looked no farther than the
amendment of our present republican confederation? I have charity to
believe that the respectable characters who signed this Constitution did
so, thinking that neither a monarchy nor an aristocracy would ensue, but
that they should thereby preserve and ameliorate the republic of America;
but never until now, that his Excellency has let the cat out of the bag,
did I suppose that any member of the Convention, at least from the
republican state of Virginia, would accept a Constitution, whereby the
republic of his constituents is to be sacrificed in its infancy, and
before it has had a fair trial. But his Excellency will adopt this
AMERICA.” But is his Excellency a prophet as well as a politician—can he
foretell future events? How else can he at this time discover what the
spirit of America is? But admitting his infallibility for a moment, how
far will his principle carry him?—why, that if the dominion of Shays,
instead of that of the new Constitution, should be generally accepted, and
become the spirit of America, his Excellency, too, would turn Shayite!—and
yet this question of the Constitution, is “ONE ON WHICH THE FATE OF
THOUSANDS YET UNBORN DEPENDS.” It is his Excellency’s opinion, as
expressed in the aforesaid letter, that the powers which are acknowledged
necessary for supporting the Union, cannot safely be entrusted to our
Congress as at present constituted; and his vain objection is “that the
representation of the states bears no proportion to their importance.”
This is literally true; but is equally true of the Senate of the proposed
Constitution, which is to be an essential part of the legislature; and yet
his Excellency will accept the latter, and not agree to invest the
necessary powers in the former, although the above objection equally
applies to both. Nay, I am inclined to believe that the injurious
consequences of this unequal representation will operate more strongly
under the new government—for under the present confederation the members
of Congress are removable at the pleasure of their constituents;—whereas
under the proposed Constitution, the only method of removing a wicked,
unskilful or treacherous senator, will be by impeachment before the senate
itself, of which he is a member.

These, Mr. Printer, are some of the inconsistencies which even a slight
observation of the above letter will suggest. It is not my purpose to
oppose now, or to investigate, the merits of the Constitution. This I
leave to abler pens, and to the common sense of my countrymen. The science
of government is _in itself_ simple and plain; and if in the history of
mankind no perfect government can be found, let it be attributed to the
chicane, perfidy and ambition of those who fabricate them; and who are
more or less, in common with all mankind, infected with a lust of power.
It is, however, certainly not consistent with sound sense to accept a
Constitution, knowing it to be imperfect; and his Excellency acknowledges
the proposed one to have radical objections. A Constitution ought to be
like Cæsar’s wife, not only good, but unsuspected, since it is the highest
compact which men are capable of forming, and involves the dearest rights
of life, liberty and property. I fear his Excellency has done no service
to his favorite scheme of amendments (and he too seems to be of the same
opinion) by his very candid declaration at the end of his letter. Subtlety
and chicane in politics, are equally odious and dishonorable; but when it
is considered that the present is not the golden age—the epoch of virtue,
candor and integrity—that the views of ambitious and designing men are
continually working to their own aggrandizement and to the overthrow of
liberty, and that the discordant interests of thirteen different
commonwealths are to be reconciled and promoted by one general government;
common reason will teach us that the utmost caution, secrecy, and
political sagacity is requisite to secure to each the important blessings
of a good government.

I shall now take my leave of his Excellency and the above-mentioned
letter, declaring my highest veneration for his character and abilities;
and it can be no impeachment of the talents of any man who has not served
a regular apprenticeship to politics, to say, that his opinions on an
intricate political question are erroneous. For if, as the celebrated Dr.
Blackstone observes, “in every art, occupation, or science, commercial or
mechanical, some method of instruction or apprenticeship is held
necessary, how much more requisite will such apprenticeship be found to
be, in the science of government, the noblest and most difficult of any!”



Printed In
The State Gazette Of North Carolina.


No file of the _State Gazette of North Carolina_ is now known to exist, so
the date of publication of this essay is in doubt. It is printed from a
clipping from that paper, preserved by Williamson himself, which is in the
library of the New York Historical Society. A note states that:

    “The following remarks on the new Plan of Government are handed us
    as the substance of Dr. Williamson’s Address to the freemen of
    Edenton and the County of Chowan when assembled to instruct their


State Gazette Of North Carolina.

Though I am conscious that a subject of the greatest magnitude must suffer
in the hands of such an advocate, I cannot refuse, at the request of my
fellow-citizens, to make some observations on the new plan of government.

It seems to be generally admitted, that the system of government which has
been proposed by the late convention, is well calculated to relieve us
from many of the grievances under which we have been laboring. If I might
express my particular sentiments on this subject, I should describe it as
more free and more perfect than any form of government that has ever been
adopted by any nation; but I would not say it has no faults. Imperfection
is inseparable from every device. Several objections were made to this
system by two or three very respectable characters in the convention,
which have been the subject of much conversation; and other objections, by
citizens of this state, have lately reached our ears. It is proper you
should consider of these objections. They are of two kinds; they respect
the things that are in the system, and the things that are not in it. We
are told that there should have been a section for securing the trial by
Jury in civil cases, and the liberty of the press: that there should also
have been a declaration of rights. In the new system, it is provided, that
“_the trial of all crimes_, except in cases of impeachment, _shall be by
jury_” but this provision could not possibly be extended to all _civil_
cases. For it is well known that the trial by jury is not general and
uniform throughout the United States, either in cases of admiralty or of
chancery; hence it becomes necessary to submit the question to the general
Legislature, who might accommodate their laws on this occasion to the
desires and habits of the nation. Surely there is no prohibition in a case
that is untouched.

We have been told that the liberty of the press is not secured by the new
Constitution. Be pleased to examine the Plan, and you will find that the
liberty of the press and the laws of Mahomet are equally affected by it.
The new government is to have the power of protecting literary property;
the very power which you have by a special act delegated to the present
congress. There was a time in England, when neither book, pamphlet, nor
paper could be published without a license from government. That restraint
was finally removed in the year 1694: and, by such removal, their press
became perfectly free, for it is not under the restraint of any license.
Certainly the new government can have no power to impose restraints. The
citizens of the United States have no more occasion for a second
declaration of rights, than they have for a section in favour of the
press. Their rights, in the several states, have long since been explained
and secured by particular declarations, which make a part of their several
constitutions. It is granted, and perfectly understood, that under the
government of the assemblies of the states, and under the government of
the congress, every right is reserved to the individual which he has not
expressly delegated to this, or that legislature. The other objections
that have been made to the new plan of government, are: That it absorbs
the powers of the several states; that the national judiciary is too
extensive; that a standing army is permitted; that congress is allowed to
regulate trade; that the several states are prevented from taxing exports
for their own benefit.

When Gentlemen are pleased to complain, that little power is left in the
hands of the separate states, they should be advised to cast an eye upon
the large code of laws, which have passed in this state since the peace.
Let them consider how few of those laws have been framed for the general
benefit of the nation. Nine out of ten of them are domestic; calculated
for the sole use of this state or of particular citizens. There must still
be use for such laws, though you should enable the congress to collect a
revenue for national purposes; and the collection of that revenue includes
the chief of the new powers, which are now to be committed to the

Hitherto you have delegated certain powers to the Congress, and other
powers to the Assemblies of the states. The portion that you have
delegated to Congress, is found to have been useless, because it is too
small: and the powers that are committed to the Assemblies of the several
states are also found to be absolutely ineffectual for national purposes,
because they can never be so managed as to operate in concert. Of what use
is that small portion of reserve powers? It neither makes you respectable
nor powerful. The consequence of such reservation is national contempt
abroad, and a state of dangerous weakness at home. What avails the claim
of power, which appears to be nothing better than the empty whistling of a
name? The Congress will be chosen by yourselves, as your members of
Assembly are. They will be creatures of your hands, and subject to your
advice. Protected and cherished by the small addition of power which you
shall put into their hands, you may become a great and respectable nation.

It is complained that the powers of the national judiciary are too
extensive. This objection appears to have the greatest weight in the eyes
of gentlemen who have not carefully compared the powers which are to be
delegated, with those that had been formerly delegated to Congress. The
powers now to be committed to the national legislature, as they are
detailed in the 8th section of the first article, have already been
chiefly delegated to the Congress, under one form or another, except those
which are contained in the first paragraph of that section. And the
objects that are now to be submitted to the supreme judiciary, or to the
inferior courts, are those which naturally arise from the constitutional
laws of Congress. If there is a single new case that can be exceptional,
it is that between a Foreigner and a Citizen, or that between the Citizens
of different States. These cases may come up by appeal. It is provided in
this system, that there shall be no fraudulent tender in the payments of
debts. Foreigners with whom we have treaties will trust our citizens on
the faith of this engagement; and the citizens of different states will do
the same. If the Congress had a negative on the laws of the several
states, they would certainly prevent all such laws as might endanger the
honor or peace of the nation, by making a tender of base money; but they
have no such power, and it is at least possible that some state may be
found in this union, disposed to break the constitution, and abolish
private debts by such tenders. In these cases the courts of the offending
state would probably decide according to its own laws. The foreigner would
complain, and the nation might be involved in war for the support of such
dishonest measures. Is it not better to have a court of appeals in which
the judges can only be determined by the laws of the nation? This court is
equally to be desired by the citizens of different states. But we are told
that justice will be delayed, and the poor will be drawn away by the rich
to a distant court. The authors of this remark have not fully considered
the question, else they must have recollected that the poor of this
country have little to do with foreigners or with the citizens of distant
states. They do not consider that there may be an inferior court in every
state; nor have they recollected that the appeals being with such
exceptions, and under such regulations as Congress shall make, will never
be permitted for trifling sums or under trivial pretences, unless we can
suppose that the national legislature shall be composed of knaves and
fools. The line that separates the powers of the national legislature from
those of the several states is clearly drawn. The several states reserve
every power that can be exercised for the particular use and comfort of
the state. They do not yield a single power which is not absolutely
necessary to the safety and prosperity of the nation, nor one that could
be employed to any effect in the hands of particular states. The powers of
judiciary naturally arise from those of the legislature. Questions that
are of a national concern, and those cases which are determinable by the
general laws of the nation, are to be referred to the national judiciary;
but they have not anything to do with a single case either civil or
criminal which respects the private and particular concerns of a state or
its citizens.

The possibility of keeping regular troops in the public service, has been
urged as another objection against the new constitution. It is very
remarkable that the same objection has not been made against the original
confederation, in which the same grievance obtains without the same
guards. It is now provided, that no appropriation of money for the use of
the army shall be for a longer time than two years. Provision is also made
for having a powerful militia, in which there never can be occasion for
many regular troops.

It has been objected in some of the southern states, that the Congress, by
a majority of votes, is to have the power to regulate trade. It is
universally admitted that Congress ought to have this power, else our
commerce, which is nearly ruined, can never be restored; but some
gentlemen think that the concurrence of two-thirds of the votes in
Congress should have been required. By the sundry regulations of commerce,
it will be in the power of government not only to collect a vast revenue
for the general benefit of the nation, but to secure the carrying trade in
the hands of citizens in preference to strangers. It has been alleged that
there are few ships belonging to the southern states; and that the price
of freight must rise in consequence of our excluding many foreign vessels:
but when we have not vessels of our own, it is certainly proper that we
should hire those of citizens in preference to strangers; and though the
price of freight should rise for two or three years, this advantage is
fully due to our brethren in the eastern and middle states, who, with
great and exemplary candour, have given us equal advantages in return. A
small increase in the price of freight would operate greatly in favour of
the southern states: it would promote the spirit of ship-building; it
would promote a nursery for native seamen, and would afford support to the
poor who live near the sea coast; it would increase the value of their
lands, and, at the same time, it would reduce their taxes.

It has finally been objected that the several states are not permitted to
tax their exports for the benefit of their particular treasuries. This
strange objection has been occasionally repeated by citizens of this
state. They must have transplanted it from another state, for it could not
have been the growth of North Carolina.

Such have been the objections against the new constitution.

Whilst the honest patriot who guards with jealous eye the liberties of his
country, and apprehends danger under every form—the placeman in every
state, who fears lest his office should pass into other hands—the idle,
the fractious, and the dishonest, who live by plunder or speculation on
the miseries of their country—while these, assisted by a numerous body of
secret enemies, who never have been reconciled to our independence, are
seeking for objections to this constitution—it is a remarkable
circumstance, and a very high encomium on the plan, that nothing more
plausible has been offered against it; for it is an easy matter to find

Let us turn our eyes to a more fruitful subject; let us consider the
present condition of the United States, and the particular benefits that
North Carolina must reap by the proposed form of government. Without money
no government can be supported; and Congress can raise no money under the
present constitution. They have not the power to make commercial treaties,
because they cannot preserve them when made. Hence it is, that we are the
prey of every nation. We are indulged in such foreign commerce as must be
hurtful to us; we are prohibited from that which might be profitable; and
we are accordingly told, that in the last two years, the thirteen states
have hardly paid into the treasury as much as should have been paid by a
single state. Intestine commotions in some of the states—paper money in
others—a want of inclination in some, and a general suspicion throughout
the union that the burden is unequally laid—added to the general loss of
trade—have produced a general bankruptcy, and loss of honor. We have
borrowed money of Spain—she demands the principal, but we cannot pay the
interest. It is a circumstance perfectly humiliating, that we should
remain under obligations to that nation. We are considerably indebted to
France; but she is too generous to insist upon what she knows we cannot
pay, either the principal or interest. In the hour of distress, we
borrowed money in Holland; not from the government but from private
citizens. Those who were called the patriots, were our friends, and they
are oppressed in their turn by hosts of enemies. They will soon have need
of money. At this hour, we are not able to pay the interest of their loan.
What is to be done? Will you borrow money again from other citizens of
that oppressed republic, to pay the interest of what you borrowed from
their brethren? This would a painful expedient: but our want of government
may render it necessary. You have two or three ministers abroad; they must
soon return home, for they cannot be supported. You have four or five
hundred troops scattered along the Ohio to protect the frontier
inhabitants, and give some value to your lands; those troops are ill paid,
and in a fair way for being disbanded. There is hardly a circumstance
remaining—hardly one external mark—by which you can deserve to be called a
nation. You are not in a condition to resist the most contemptuous enemy.
What is there to prevent an Algerine pirate from landing on your coast,
and carrying your citizens into slavery? You have not a single sloop of
war. Does one of the states attempt to raise a little money by imposts or
other commercial regulations? A neighbouring state immediately alters her
laws, and defeats the revenue by throwing the trade into a different
channel. Instead of supporting or assisting, we are uniformly taking the
advantage of one another. Such an assemblage of people are not a nation.
Like a dark cloud, without cohesion or firmness, we are ready to be torn
asunder, and scattered abroad by every breeze of external violence, or
internal commotion.

Is there a man in this state, who believes it possible for us to continue
under such a government? Let us suppose but for a minute, that such a
measure should be attempted. Let us suppose that the several states shall
be required and obliged to pay their several quotas according to the
original plan. You know that North Carolina, in the last four years, has
not paid one dollar into the treasury for eight dollars that she ought to
have paid. We must increase our taxes exceedingly, and those taxes must be
of the most grievous kind; they must be taxes on land and heads, taxes
that cannot fail to grind the face of the poor; for it is clear that we
can raise little by imports and exports. Some foreign goods are imported
by water from the northern states: such goods pay a duty for the benefit
of those states, which is seldom drawn back. This operates as a tax upon
our citizens. On this side, Virginia promotes her revenue to the amount of
twenty-five thousand dollars every year, by a tax on our tobacco that she
exports. South Carolina, on the other side, may avail herself of similar
opportunities. Two-thirds of foreign goods that are consumed in this
state, are imported by land from Virginia or South Carolina. Such goods
pay a certain impost for the benefit of the importing states, but our
treasury is not profited by this commerce. By such means our citizens are
taxed more than one hundred thousand dollars every year; but the state
does not receive credit for a shilling of that money. Like a patient that
is bleeding at both arms, North Carolina must soon expire under such
wasteful operations. Unless I am greatly mistaken, we have seen enough of
the state of the union, and of North Carolina in particular, to be assured
that another form of government is become necessary. Is the form of
government now proposed well calculated to give relief? To this we must
answer in the affirmative. All foreign goods that shall be imported into
these states, are to pay a duty for the use of the nation. All the states
will be on a footing, whether they have bad ports or good ones. No duties
will be laid on exports; hence the planter will receive the true value for
his produce, wherever it may be shipped. If excises are laid on wine,
spirits, or other luxuries, they must be uniform throughout the states. By
a careful management of imposts and excises, the national expenses may be
discharged without any other species of tax; but if a poll tax or land tax
shall ever become necessary, the weight must press equally on every part
of the union. For in all cases such taxes must be according to the number
of inhabitants. Is it not a pleasing consideration that North Carolina,
under all her natural disadvantages, must have the same facility of paying
her share of the public debt, as the most favoured, or the most fortunate
state? She gains no advantage by this plan, but she recovers from her
misfortunes. She stands on the same footing with her sisters, and they are
too generous to desire that she should stand on lower ground. When you
consider those parts of the new system which are of the greatest
import—those which respect the general question of liberty and safety—you
will recollect that the states in convention were unanimous; and you must
remember, that some of the members of that body have risqued their lives
in defence of liberty: but the system does not require the help of such
arguments; it will bear the most scrupulous examination.

When you refer the proposed system to the particular circumstances of
North Carolina, and consider how she is to be affected by this plan, you
must find the utmost reason to rejoice in the prospect of better times.
This is a sentiment that I have ventured with the greater confidence,
because it is the general opinion of my late honourable colleagues,(63)
and I have the utmost reliance in their superior abilities. But if our
constituents shall discover faults where we could not see any—or if they
shall suppose that a plan is formed for abridging their liberties, when we
imagined that we had been securing both liberty and property on a more
stable foundation—if they perceive that they are to suffer a loss, where
we thought they must rise from a misfortune—they will, at least do us the
justice to charge those errors to the head, and not to the heart.

The proposed system is now in your hands, and with it the fate of your
country. We have a common interest for we are embarked in the same vessel.
At present she is in a sea of trouble, without sails, oars, or pilot;
ready to be dashed to pieces by every flaw of wind. You may secure a port,
unless you think it better to remain at sea. If there is any man among you
that wishes for troubled times and fluctuating measures, that he may live
by speculations, and thrive by the calamities of the state, this
government is not for him.

If there is any man who envies the prosperity of a native citizen—who
wishes that we should remain without native merchants or seamen, without
shipping, without manufactures, without commerce—poor and contemptible,
the tributaries of a sovereign country—this government is not for him.

And if there is any man who has never been reconciled to our independence,
who wishes to see us degraded and insulted abroad, oppressed by anarchy at
home, and torn into pieces by factions—incapable of resistance, and ready
to become a prey to the first invader—this government is not for him.

But it is a government, unless I am greatly mistaken, that gives the
fairest promise of being firm and honourable; safe from foreign invasion
or domestic sedition—a government by which our commerce must be protected
and enlarged; the value of our produce and of our lands must be increased;
the labourer and the mechanic must be encouraged and supported. It is a
form of government that is perfectly fitted for protecting liberty and
property, and for cherishing the good citizen and honest man.


Printed In
The State Gazette Of South Carolina,
May, 1788.


In the file of the _State Gazette of South Carolina_ in the possession of
the Charleston Chamber of Commerce, a slip is inserted opposite this
essay, on which is writing contemporary with the paper, stating that it
was written by Charles Pinckney. It is almost the only essay on this
subject contained in the file, which is not merely extracted from some
northern paper; and Pinckney was, indeed, almost the only South Carolinian
who had given any attention to the subject involved, or who wrote for the

A Republican.

The State Gazette Of South Carolina, (Number 3610)

MONDAY, MAY 5, 1788.


The enclosed,(64) copied from a paper sent me by a friend, seems so
peculiarly adapted to our present situation, that I cannot forbear
selecting it from the crowd of publications since the appearance of the
proposed Federal Constitution, and recommending it, thro’ your paper, to
the most serious attention of all our fellow-citizens; but previously a
few HINTS, by way of introduction, will not, I hope, be impertinent.

New Hampshire and Georgia are the two extreme barriers of the United
States, if the latter can with any propriety be called a barrier without
this state in conjunction; and both together, we know, are not, in point
of force, ready for any sudden emergency, to be compared to New Hampshire.

It cannot be doubted that Great Britain has her busy emissaries throughout
the states, and not a few amongst us; and should the Constitution be
rejected, how long can we flatter ourselves to be free from Indian
cruelties and depredations, some time since begun in Georgia, and if at
this moment warded off from us, ’tis principally owing to the dread of an
efficacious union of the states by the adoption of the Federal
Constitution. The three southern states particularly, we have had for
several years past, good grounds to think Great Britain wishes to separate
from the rest, and to have reverted to her if possible.

Mr. Martin’s(65) long mischievous detail of the opinions and proceedings
of the late general convention, (already occupying a large space in six of
your Gazettes, and still unfinished,) with all his colourings and uncandid
insinuations, in regard to General Washington and Doct. Franklin, may suit
the short-sighted selfish wishes of _an individual_ of a state situated
almost in the centre of the rest, and much safer by that means from sudden
alarms. But the generous, manly _and truly federal sentiments of Maryland_
are well known, and ’tis not doubted will be unequivocally shewn at her
convention very shortly to be held—and that New Hampshire, early in her
first meeting on that important subject, has only by consent taken farther
time to consider of it, and will at her next meeting adopt it, is the
general opinion.

What pity the salutary caution of Doct. Franklin, just previous to his
signing the constitution recommended by the convention, had not been
strictly attended to! If we split, it will in all probability happen in
running headlong on the dangerous rock he so prophetically (as it were)
warned us from, “That the opinions of the errors of the constitution born
within the walls of the convention, should die there, and not a syllable
be whispered abroad.” This Hint is full of that foresight and penetration
the Doctor has always been remarkable for.

When the general convention met, no citizen of the United States could
expect less from it than I did, so many jarring interests and prejudices
to reconcile! The variety of pressing dangers at our doors, even during
the war, were barely sufficient to force us to act in concert, and
necessarily give way at times to each other. But when the great work was
done and published, I was not only most agreeably disappointed, but struck
with amazement. Nothing less than that superintending hand of Providence,
that so miraculously carried us through the war (in my humble opinion),
could have brought it about so complete, upon the whole.

The constitution recommended, in all respects, takes its rise where it
ought, from the people; its President, Senate, and House of
Representatives, are sufficient and wholesome checks on each other, and at
proper periods are dissolved again into the common mass of the people:
longer periods would probably have produced danger; shorter, tumult,
instability and inefficacy. Every article of these and other essentials to
a republican government, are, in my opinion, well secured; were it
otherwise, not a citizen of the United States would have been more
alarmed, or more early in opposition to it, than


_Charleston, May 2d, 1788._


[This list is only of those essays to which some clue of authorship has
been found. When written over a pen name the pseudonym is added.—_Ed._]

Brackenridge, Hugh Henry.
Pittsburg Gazette.

Bryan, Samuel. “Centinel.”
Independent Gazetteer.

Carroll, Daniel. “A Friend to the Constitution.”
Maryland Journal.

Chase, Samuel. “Caution.”
Maryland Journal.

Clinton, De Witt. “A Countryman.”
New York Journal.

Clinton, George. “Cato.”
New York Journal.

Coxe, Tench. “A Freeman.”
Pennsylvania Gazette.

Coxe, Tench. “An American.”
Independent Gazetteer.

Coxe, Tench. “A Pennsylvanian.”
Pennsylvania Gazette.

Duer, William. “Philo-Publius.”
Daily Advertiser.

Davie, William Richardson. “Publicola.”
North Carolina State Gazette.

Dickinson, John. “Fabius.”
Humphrey’s Mercury.

Ellsworth, Oliver. “A Landholder.”
Connecticut Courant.

Findley, William. “An Officer of the Continental Army.”
Independent Gazetteer.

Gerry, Elbridge.
Massachusetts Centinel.

Gerry, Elbridge.
American Herald.

Hamilton, Alexander. “Publius.”
Various papers.

Hamilton, Alexander. “Cæsar.”
Daily Advertiser.

Hanson, Alexander Contee. “Aristides.”
Maryland Journal.

Hopkinson, Francis. “A. B.”
Independent Gazetteer.

Iredell, James. “Marcus.”
North Carolina State Gazette.

Jay, John. “Publius.”
Various papers.

Lamb, John. “Conciliator.”
New York Journal.

McKnight, Dr. Charles. “The Examiner.”
Daily Advertiser.

Martin, Luther.
Maryland Journal.

Madison, James. “Publius.”
Various papers.

Nicholas, John. “Decius.”
Virginia Independent Chronicle.

Pinckney, Charles. “A Steady and Open Republican.”
State Gazette of South Carolina.

Randolph, Thomas Mann. “A Republican Federalist.”
Virginia Independent Chronicle.

Roane, Spencer. “A Plain Dealer.”
Virginia Independent Chronicle.

Sherman, Roger. “A Countryman.”
New Haven Gazette.

Sherman, Roger. “A Citizen of New Haven.”
New Haven Gazette.

Sullivan, James. “Cassius.”
Massachusetts Gazette.

Tucker, St. George. “A State Soldier.”
Virginia Independent Chronicle.

Williams, William.
American Mercury.

Williamson, Hugh.
North Carolina State Gazette.

Winthrop, James. “Agrippa.”
Massachusetts Gazette.

Workman, Benjamin. “Philadelphiensis.”
Independent Gazetteer.

Yates, Robert. “Brutus.”
New York Journal.

Yates, Robert. “Sydney.”
New York Journal.


“A. B.,” pseudonym of, 416.

Adams, John, 117, 231.

“Agrippa,” pseudonym of, 22, 29, 49, 417.

“American,” pseudonym of, 415.

American Herald, 123, 416.

American Mercury, 417.

American Museum, 315.

Anarchy, danger of, 15, 165;
  predicted, 18.

Anti-Federalists, character of, 25.

“Aristides,” pseudonym of, 372, 416.

Aristocracy, favorers of, 5;
  small danger of, 165;
  southern, 258;
  causes of, 298;
  tendencies to, 223.

Articles of Confederation, 238;
  advantages of, 77;
  amendment of, 80, 98;
  defects in, 255;
  ease of amendment of, 117;
  proposed amendment to, 84.

Baldwin, Simeon, 213.

Ballot, 305.

Baltimore, 327, 333.

Bill of rights, 28, 95, 113, 117, 119, 163, 219, 299, 320, 325, 364.

Blair, John, 162.

Bowdoin, James, 3, 6.

Brackenridge, H. H., 315, 415.

“Brutus,” pseudonym of, 269, 295, 417.

Bryan, George, 221.

Bryan, Samuel, 415.

“Cæsar,” pseudonym of, 245, 250, 279, 416.

Canada, 191;
  dangers from, 157.

Capital, 262;
  place for, 73, 321.

Capitation tax, 272.

“Capt. M’Daniel,” pseudonym of, 122.

Carroll, Daniel, 325, 329, 415.

Carthage, 93.

“Cassius,” pseudonym of, 1, 51, 416.

“Cato,” pseudonym of, 243, 281, 415.

“Caution,” pseudonym of, 323, 415.

“Centinel, The,” pseudonym of, 218, 415.

“Charles James Fox,” pseudonym of, 51.

Chase, Samuel, 323, 415;
  promises of, 333;
  speech of, 325.

Childs, Francis, 250.

“Citizen of New Haven,” pseudonym of, 229, 416.

Citizenship, 270;
  rights of, 42.

Clinton, De Witt, 415.

Clinton, George, 173, 243, 281, 415.

Coinage, uniformity of, 35.

Coke, 266.

Commerce of America, 95;
  inter-state, congressional power over, 118;
  regulation of, 97.

Commercial treaties, power to make, 234.

“Conciliator,” pseudonym of, 416.

Congress, Continental, action on the Constitution, 253, 289;
  retrospective view of, 298;
  inadequate powers of, 34.

Congress, difference between state legislature and, 224;
  length of session of, 239;
  members of, 225;
  character of, 227;
  character from South, 258;
  election of, 86;
  privileges of, 33;
  restriction on, 234;
  interest of, 220;
  journal of, 33;
  nature of, 267;
  powers of, 27, 32, 34, 41, 98;
  to alienate territory, 80;
  to coerce the states, 184;
  over delinquent states, 358;
  over citizens, 80;
  over elections, 30, 37, 118, 276;
  over inter-state commerce, 118;
  over judiciary, 66;
  over militia, 184;
  law-making powers of, 45;
  of taxation, 235;
  over territories, 43;
  over trade, 61;
  representation in, 151.

Connecticut, 183, 355;
  address to, 215;
  constitution of, 148;
  Courant, 135, 415;
  convention, 178, 207;
  legislature of, 219;
  manufactures of, 202;
  taxation in, 74, 148;
  tribute to New York from, 180.

Constituents, instructions from, 28.

Constitution, a creation of power, 145, 147;
  adequacy of, 35;
  adopting clause of, 131, 184, 362;
  advantages of, 21;
  amendment of, 44, 100, 118, 200, 233, 251, 284, 334;
  attempts to surprise the people with, 327;
  character of opposers of, 11, 143;
  comparison of, 339;
  with constitution of N. Y., 297;
  with English, 381;
  consolidating tendencies of, 65, 69, 70, 158, 258, 297;
  construction of, 43;
  objections to, 25, 53, 132, 151;
  definition of, 116;
  despotic power of, 28;
  effect of, 95;
  excellence of language of, 156;
  expense of, 60;
  general clauses of, 83, 96, 119;
  importance of, 248;
  judicial power under, 39;
  laws made under, 360;
  merits of, 27;
  new powers granted by, 238;
  powers under, 153, 156, 163, 220;
  opposition to, 39;
  preamble of, 208;
  reasons for not submitting to state legislature, 139;
  reception of, 9;
  rejection of, 100;
  remarks on, 237, 395;
  supreme law of the land, 184;
  want of explicitness in, 155, 260, 265;
  should be tried before amending, 235;
  writers against, 12.

Convention, Federal, 238, 247, 284, 287;
  appeals to the people, 140;
  character of the members of, 20;
  committees of, 348;
  dissenting members of, 104;
  harmony of, 191;
  ignorance of the members of, 22;
  illegal action of, 104;
  irritated condition of, 367;
  journals of, 347;
  large vs. small states in, 355;
  meetings of, 345;
  meetings of members of, 355;
  object of, 35;
  powers of, 252, 290;
  proceedings in, 130, 174, 183, 341;
  secrecy of, 252, 298;
  spirit of, 167;
  wisdom of, 252.

Convention, second, 62, 235, 375.

Council, lack of, 162.

“Countryman, A,” pseudonym of, 211, 415, 416.

Courts, Federal, 36, 40, 83.

Courts, State, 54.

Coxe, Tench, 415.

Credit, public, 73, 197.

Creditors, public, 60;
  justice to, 35.

Criminal prosecution, laws for, 67.

Daily Advertiser, 250, 279, 415, 416.

Davie, William Richardson, 415.

Debt, Continental, 60, 73, 77, 95, 97, 127.

Debtors, opposition of, to constitution, 144.

“Decius,” pseudonym of, 416.

Delaware, 163, 355.

Dickinson, John, 415.

Duer, William, 415.

Duties, 77;
  Massachusetts’ share of, 84;
  paid by consumers, 271;
  uniformity of, 35.

Eastern states, carrying trade of, 162.

Elections, 116;
  frequency of, 227;
  power of Congress over, 30, 118, 276;
  provisions for, 37.

Ellsworth, Oliver, 135, 415.

England, laws of, against treason, 42;
  religious freedom in, 168.

Europe, governments of, 256;
  treaties with, 89.

“Examiner,” pseudonym of, 18, 416.

Excise forbidden, 118.

Executive, 158, 260, 310;
  advice of, 38;
  blended with legislative, 240, 275;
  council for, 163;
  impeachment of, 39;
  ineligible, after service, 234;
  may be a woman, 319;
  method of electing, 263;
  not specified, 319;
  objections to, 162;
  powers of, 39, 261;
  power over pardon, 234, 240;
  power to convene Congress, 275;
  re-eligibility of, 354, 374;
  to be elected annually, 119;
  under constitution, 37;
  vote of, 38;
  veto power of, 34.

Ex post facto law, 163.

“Fabius,” pseudonym of, 415.

Federal Government, necessity for, 141.

Federalists, aristocratic tendencies of, 89.

Findley, William, 100, 321, 415.

Fisheries, 194;
  power over, 234.

Flax, 202.

Foreign influence, 103.

Foreign nations, intercourse with, 80.

Forests, value of, 194.

France, public debt to, 73.

Franchise, 226.

Frankland, 258.

Franklin, Benjamin, 23, 26, 218, 321, 370.

“Freeman,” pseudonym of, 415.

“Friend to the Constitution,” 329, 415.

Georgia, 164, 190, 259, 355.

Gerry, Elbridge, 25, 51, 53, 104, 123, 127, 130, 137, 161, 172, 182, 186,
            339, 341, 350, 416;
  conciliating conduct of, 174;
  hypocrisy of, 174;
  objections to constitutions, 132;
  remarks on, 150.

Goddard, William, 341.

Government, divisions of, 116;
  encroaching tendencies of, 376;
  General and State linked, 153;
  Greek and Roman, 55;
  importance, 247;
  necessity of, to society, 111;
  opposition to, 24;
  a strong one necessary for liberty, 147.

Great Britain, dangers from, 190;
  resentment of, 89.

Habeas corpus, suspension of, 36.

Hamilton, Alexander, 245, 279, 416.

Hampshire Gazette, 5.

Hancock, John, 3, 5, 10.

Hanson, Alexander Contee, 372, 416.

Hartford, 216.

Harvard College Library, 40.

Holland, public debt due, 73.

Hopkinson, Francis, 416.

Humphrey’s Mercury, 415.

Impeachment, 39, 233, 312, 391;
  in Massachusetts, 41;
  methods of, 30;
  powers of Senate in, 29.

Independent Chronicle, 5.

Independent Gazetteer, 218, 415, 416, 417.

India, trade with, 109.

Indian affairs, 301;
  lands, 300.

Iredell, James, 416.

Jay, John, 416.

Judiciary, 54, 159, 235, 241;
  appeals to, 130, 184, 361;
  appointment of, 69;
  dangers from, 66, 164;
  federal, 83;
  limits of 67, 118;
  national, 309;
  oppressiveness of, 159;
  powers of, 96;
  restrictions on federal, 119;
  state, 241.

“Junius,” pseudonym of, 51.

Jury, trial by, 41, 131, 308.

“Kempis, O’Flanagan,” pseudonym of, 51.

Lamb, John, 173, 245, 416.

“Landholder, A,” 129, 135, 205, 339, 344, 415;
  replies to, 123.

Land grants, power of courts over, 75.

Lands, western, 60, 63, 73.

Lansing, John, Jr., 104.

Lee, Gen. Charles, 161.

Lee, Henry, 162.

Lee, Richard Henry, 161, 177, 390.

Liberty of the press, 365.

Locke, 257.

Loyalists, opposition of, to constitution, 143.

M’Henry, James, 131, 187, 347, 350.

McKean, Thomas, 90, 100.

McKnight, Dr. Charles, 416.

MacLaughlin, Neil, 321.

Madison, 162, 231, 325, 387, 416.

Magna Charta, 219.

Maine, secession of, 257.

Manufactures in America, 201.

“Marcus,” pseudonym of, 416.

Martin, Luther, 104, 130, 137, 182, 185, 337, 416.

Maryland, 188;
  convention, 327;
  Legislature, petition to, 334.

Maryland Journal, 182, 323, 329, 337, 415, 416.

Mason, George, 104, 161, 164, 165, 172, 355.

Massachusetts, 258;
  Constitution of, 16;
  convention, 105, 187, 349;
  proposed resolution for, 84;
  debt of, 60;
  delegates from, 29;
  disadvantages of government for, 102;
  early history of, 56;
  feebleness of, 257;
  impeachment in, 30, 41;
  Legislature, action on constitution of, 17;
  means of taxation of, 13;
  origin of opposition in, 176;
  plan to aggrandize, 182;
  position of, 61;
  public lands of, 63;
  share of the Continental debt, 77;
  taxation in, 74;
  tender law of, 36, 59;
  warning to, 10.

Massachusetts Centinel, 3, 123, 416.

Massachusetts Gazette, 1, 12, 18, 49, 51, 416, 417.

Mercer, James Francis, 104.

Militia, 358;
  powers of Congress over, 184;
  power over, 342, 354;
  State control of, 118.

Minority, powers of, 33.

Monarchy, small danger of, 165.

Money, receipts and expenditures of public, 36.

Monopolies, power of Congress to create, 70;
  prevention of, 80.

Montesquieu, 256, 261.

Nails, manufacture of, 202.

Naturalization, 313;
  powers of Congress over, 79.

Navigation act, 161;
  motion against, 173;
  right to make, 234.

Netherlands, condition of, 249.

New England, manufactures of, 201.

New Hampshire, 189, 259;
  interest of, 190, 192;
  lands in, 75.

New Haven, 216.

New Haven Gazette, 211, 229, 416.

New Jersey, 183, 355.

New Spain, dangers from, 157.

Newspapers, scribblers in, 25.

New York against constitution, 61;
  Assembly, 245;
  colonial parties, 306;
  constitution of, 297, 299;
  violation of, 301;
  draft of a constitution for, 307;
  impost of, 173;
  opposition in, 176;
  proposed property qualification in, 307;
  State convention of 1776, 298;
  State debt of, 60;
  Executive, 310;
  taxation in, 74;
  tribute from Connecticut to, 180.

New York Journal, 125, 243, 269, 293, 415, 416, 417.

Nicholas, John, 416.

North Carolina, 258.

North Carolina, State Gazette of, 395, 415, 416, 417.

Northern States, character of people of, 92.

Nova Scotia, 191;
  condition of, 89.

“Numa,” pseudonym of, 5, 10.

Oath, 207, 369;
  character of, 17, 168;
  of President, 38.

“Ocrico,” pseudonym of, 52.

Officers, federal, privileges of, 119.

Office holders, 145;
  multiplication of, 88.

“Officer of the Continental Army,” pseudonym of, 415.

“Old Fog,” pseudonym of, 3.

Paper money, 127, 131, 196, 341, 348;
  motion to redeem, 174, 186;
  states to emit, 119.

Parties, colonial, 306.

People, dangers from, 179;
  not to elect representatives, 183;
  rights of, 115.

Pennsylvania, 369;
  Assembly, 53, 369;
  Convention of, 90, 100;
  future seat of government, 98;
  naturalization in, 79;
  opposition in, 176.

Pennsylvania Gazette, 415.

“Pennsylvanian,” pseudonym of, 415.

“Philadelphiensis,” pseudonym of, 417.

“Philo-Publius,” pseudonym of, 415.

Pinckney, C. C., 183.

Pinckney, Charles, 416.

Pittsburg Gazette, 317, 415.

“Plain Dealer, A,” pseudonym of, 385, 416.

Poll tax, 272;
  forbidden, 118.

Population, destiny of, 193.

Press, liberty of, 164, 239.

Prices, depressed state of, 142.

Private opinion, freedom of, 170.

“Publicola,” pseudonym of, 415.

“Publius,” pseudonym of, 145, 416.

Quorum, dangers from, 32;
  powers of, 33.

Randolph, Edmund, 104, 231, 346, 387.

Randolph, Thomas Mann, 416.

Religion, freedom of, 168, 313;
  misuse of, 8.

Religious test, 207, 235;
  nature of, 169;
  necessity of, 168.

Representation, 54, 269, 391;
  best mode of, 151;
  difference of opinion concerning, 354;
  smallness of, 236, 240;
  want of, 151.

Representatives, House of, 54;
  electors of, 28;
  insufficiency of, 29;
  length of residence necessary, 28;
  method of choosing, 152;
  method of electing, 27, 357;
  people should not elect, 183;
  term of, 28;
  weakness of, 273.

Republics, Greek and Roman, 94.

“Republican Federalist,” pseudonym of, 416.

Republican government, guarantee of, 43, 106.

Revenue bills, origination of, 34.

Revenue, method of collecting, 193;
  Massachusetts’ share of, 102;
  sources of, 239.

Revolution, the American, 146.

Rhode Island, 105, 108, 115, 159, 196;
  junto in, 153;
  legislature of, 31, 36.

Rights, delegated, 113.

Roane, Spencer, 385, 416.

Russell, Benjamin, 127.

Scotland, union with England, 216.

Senate, 29, 273;
  blended with Executive, 275;
  method of choosing, 153;
  officers of, 29;
  powers of impeachment, 29;
  treaty power of, 165, 274;
  unspecified character of, 319.

Shay’s Rebellion, 5, 13, 57, 72, 157, 159, 257, 391.

Sheep raising, 201.

Sherman, Roger, 183, 211, 229, 416.

Shipbuilding, 61, 194;
  carpenters, 61.

Slavery, 258;
  responsibility for, 163.

Slaves, importation of, 163.

Smilie, John, 100, 321.

Smith, Melancthon, 173.

South Carolina, 164, 183, 265, 355;
  amendment of, 235;
  representation in, 108.

Southern States, character of people of 92;
  objections to commercial powers, 162.

“Spectator,” pseudonym of, 326.

States, coercion of, 184;
  influences, 297;
  courts, 54, 159;
  absorption of, 297;
  dangers to, 153;
  destruction of, 342;
  powers of, 98;
  negative on laws, 360;
  legislatures, action of, on constitution, 25;
  Congress a check on, 31;
  differences between Congress and, 224;
  powers of, 152;
  power over elections, 31;
  representation in, 152;
  officers, dangers from, 289;
  restrictions on, 36;
  rights, 68, 113, 118, 147, 184;
  admission of new, 42;
  advantages of, 66;
  bills of right valid in federal courts, 119;
  consolidation of, 97, 255;
  destruction of, 375;
  disputes between, 64, 100;
  equality of, in Senate, 29;
  interest of, 215;
  large vs. small, 216, 355;
  number to organize government, 184;
  rights to enforce laws of, 118.

State Gazette of North Carolina, 395.

State Gazette of South Carolina, 416.

State house, 355.

“State Soldier,” pseudonym of, 417.

“Steady and Open Republican,” pseudonym of, 416.

“Steady,” pseudonym of, 326.

Strong, Caleb, 105.

Sullivan, James, 1, 416.

“Sydney,” pseudonym of, 269, 293, 417.

Tax, poll, 273.

Taxation, 156, 193;
  dangers of, 81;
  direct, 235, 270;
  importance of, 271;
  in Connecticut, 148, 226;
  method of, 77, 358;
  powers of Congress over, 97.

Tender acts, 36, 59, 196.

Territory, right to alienate, 80, 118, 234.

Test law, 169, 171, 207, 235.

Town meetings, 226.

Trade, 61;
  condition of, 140;
  congressional control over, 161;
  foreign, 95;
  limitations of, 54;
  Massachusetts’ advantage for, 73;
  powers of Congress over, 79;
  regulation of, 70.

Trading companies, 70, 109;
  forbidden, 118.

Treason, punishment of, 41.

Treaty power, dangers from, 165.

Treaties, law of the land, 24;
  with Europe, 89.

Tucker, St. George, 417.

United States, an agricultural country, 200;
  condition of, 81, 121, 158;
  dangers to, 178;
  differences between the inhabitants of, 91;
  too large for government, 257;
  tranquillity of, 59.

Vermont, 258.

Vice-president, 240, 263;
  duties of, 158.

Virginia, 162, 390;
  house of delegates of, 166;
  plan to aggrandize, 182;
  qualifications of, 306;
  method of, 305;
  opposition in, 176.

Virginia Gazette, 387.

Virginia Independent Chronicle, 385, 416, 417.

“Vox Populi,” pseudonym of, 12, 16, 18.

Washington, George, 23, 26, 161, 177, 218, 251, 254, 285, 321, 347, 370.

West Indies, condition of, 89.

Western territory, 239.

Willetts, Marinus, 173.

Williams, William, 137, 168, 195, 202, 417.

Williamson, Hugh, 395, 417.

Wilson, James, 90, 96, 100, 112, 218, 335.

Winthrop, James, 40, 49, 417.

Woolen manufactures, 201.

Workman, Benjamin, 417.

Yates, Robert, 104, 173, 269, 293, 417.


    1 A writer then attacking the Hancock party. See _The Independent
      Chronicle_ for Aug. 23, and Sept. 15, 20, 1787. _Ed._

    2 Shay’s Rebellion. _Ed._

    3 Massachusetts newspapers published in Northampton and Boston. _Ed._

    4 The administration of Governor Bowdoin. _Ed._

    5 The author of the productions under the signature of Numa, it is
      said, is a gentleman of the cloth, in one of the Western counties.

    6 John Hancock. _Ed._

    7 A writer in the _Massachusetts Gazette_, Oct. 30, Nov. 6, 13, 16,
      and 23. _Ed._

    8 The Legislature of Massachusetts was then so styled. _Ed._

    9 In the _Massachusetts Gazette_, for Nov. 2, 9, and 20, 1787. _Ed._

   10 See the letters of Agrippa in this work. _Ed._

   11 Probably Elbridge Gerry, delegate from Massachusetts to the Federal
      Convention. _Ed._

   12 Anti-federal scribblers in the Mass. Gazette.

   13 Referring to Rhode Island. _Ed._

   14 Harvard University Library, of which James Winthrop was

   15 Said to be by James Winthrop. See the letters, printed herein.—_Ed._

   16 Printed in _Elliot_, I, 492.—_Ed._

   17 “An Address of the subscribers, members of the late Houses of
      Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to their
      constituents,” printed in the _Pennsylvania Packet_, Oct. 4,

   18 Referring to Shay’s rebellion.—_Ed._

   19 Act of 1786, providing that executions issued for private debt may
      be satisfied by articles particularly enumerated, at an appraised
      value from impartial men.—_Ed._

   20 No attempt had been made by Massachusetts for several years to pay
      the interest on its debt, except by the State Treasurer’s issuing
      “consolidated notes” or “certificates” of indebtedness, bearing 6
      per cent. interest. Though these were by law receivable for taxes,
      they had sold as low as 4/ in the pound.—_Ed._

   21 The sales to the Ohio Company.—_Ed._

   22 By Act of July 5, 1786.—_Ed._

   23 Probably an allusion to the Phelps and Gorham purchase.—_Ed._

   24 An allusion to the proceedings in the Convention of

   25 Cf. with page 85.—_Ed._

   26 Robert Yates, John Lansing, Jr., Luther Martin, James Francis
      Mercer, Edmund Randolph, George Mason, and Elbridge Gerry.—_Ed._

   27 The speech of Caleb Strong in the State Convention, Jan. 16,

   28 Delivered Oct. 6, 1787. Printed in _Ford’s Pamphlets on the
      Constitution_, p. 155.—_Ed._

   29 No record of this is given in the _Debates in the Massachusetts

   30 Printed in _Elliot_, I, 492.—_Ed._

   31 Printed in Ford’s _Pamphlets on the Constitution_, p. 327.

   32 Richard Henry Lee.

   33 Saturday, September 15. See _Papers of James Madison_, III., 1593.

   34 The paragraph containing Mason’s objection to the mere majority
      power of Congress to regulate commerce, was included in all the
      southern papers, but omitted in copies furnished to the papers north
      of Maryland.—_Ed._

   35 Mason proposed in the convention that the President should have a
      privy council of six.—_Ed._

   36 This is an error. It was moved by Mason and seconded by Gerry. Cf.
      _Papers of James Madison, III._, 1578.

   37 See letter of William Williams in this collection.—_Ed._

   38 John Lamb, Marinus Willetts, Melancthon Smith, George Clinton and
      Robert or Abraham Yates, the principal anti-federalists of New

   39 See counter-statements of Gerry and Martin in their answers.—_Ed._

   40 Cf. _Papers of James Madison_, III, 1595.

   41 The Convention of Connecticut, which was to meet Jan. 4.—_Ed._

   42 The Landholder, IV-VIII, were reprinted in _The Maryland Journal_,
      and the attack on Gerry in them, drew from Luther Martin a defence
      of that gentleman, which is printed in this collection. To that the
      Landholder replied as above, but this one of the series was not
      printed in _The Connecticut Courant_, its place being taken by the
      number X., printed immediately after this letter.—_Ed._

   43 June 9.—_Ed._

   44 This is a misstatement. The motion to elect representatives as the
      state legislature should direct was made by C. C. Pinckney, was
      seconded by Martin, and approved of by Sherman, and on being put to
      a vote was favored by Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware and South
      Carolina. Cf. _Papers of James Madison_, II., 925.—_Ed._

   45 Mr. Gerry agreed with Mr. Martin on these questions.

   46 By direction of the General Assembly of Maryland, Martin reported
      the proceedings of the federal Convention to them, and this was
      afterwards printed in pamphlet form under the title of _Genuine

   47 June 9, according to Madison, the _Journal_ and Martin’s _Genuine

   48 Gerry, though defeated in an election to the Massachusetts
      Convention, was invited by them to attend, in order to furnish
      information to the members.—_Ed._

   49 To prevent any misconstruction the following is the publication

      (This note is by the Landholder, and is followed by the article
      already printed at p. 127. It therefore seems unnecessary to add it

      I will not say this writer makes a distinction between a thing done
      in convention and a thing done in committee. Be this as it may, he
      confesses more than Mr. Martin; for it seems that Mr. Gerry proposed
      that “the public debt should stand on the same ground it now stands
      on by the articles of confederation.” He might have subjoined that
      Mr. Gerry prefaced this motion by observing that it was the same in
      substance as his first, in as much as it included his first. But
      notwithstanding this motion was readily agreed to without his
      explanation being contradicted, yet he never afterwards favoured the
      convention with a look of peace, or a word of reconcilement.

   50 The convention of New Hampshire had met on the 13 of June, and after
      a discussion of seven days, had adjourned without voting upon the

   51 See Letter of William Williams in this Collection.—_Ed._

   52 This is a paraphrase of the arguments of “The Centinel” in _The
      Independent Gazetteer_.—ED.

   53 An attempt had been made in Congress, by the friends of the new
      government, for Congress to recommend its acceptance, but this
      produced protest from those opposed to it, and threats of an appeal
      to the people, so in order to prevent such action a compromise was
      eventually made, by which it was merely unanimously “transmitted to
      the several legislatures.”—_Ed._

   54 A series of articles in the _New York Journal_, written by Robert

   55 John Smilie, a prominent Anti-Federalist.—_Ed._

   56 William Livingston.—_Ed._

   57 See _Ante_, pages 182 and 189.—_Ed._

   58 The Maryland Delegates to the Federal Convention were required by
      the legislature to report the proceedings of that body to them, and
      it was in this connection that Martin’s _Genuine Information_ was

   59 According to this idea, I endeavored to obtain as an amendment to
      the system the following clause: “And whenever the legislature of
      the United States shall find it necessary that revenue shall be
      raised by direct taxation, having apportioned the same by the above
      rule, requisitions shall be made of the respective states to pay
      into the continental treasury their respective quotas within a time
      in the said requisition to be specified, and in case of any of the
      states failing to comply with such requisition, then, and then only,
      to have power to devise and pass acts directing the mode, and
      authorizing the same in the state failing therein.” This was
      rejected, and that power, which I wished to have given the
      government only in this particular instance, is given to it without
      any restraint or limitation in every case.

   60 How exactly agreeable to the sentiments of that honourable member
      has been the conduct of the friends of the Constitution in
      Pennsylvania and some other states, I need not mention.

   61 A reference to Alexander Contee Hanson’s pamphlet, written under the
      pseudonym of Aristides. It is reprinted in Ford’s _Pamphlets on the

   62 Printed in _Elliot_, 1, 503.—_Ed._

   63 Williamson was a member of the Federal Convention.—_Ed._

   64 Following this article was an essay from a New York paper.—_Ed._

   65 See page 339.—_Ed._

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