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Title: Pamphlets On The Constitution Of The United States - Published During Its Discussion By The People 1787-1788
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Pamphlets On The Constitution Of The United States - Published During Its Discussion By The People 1787-1788" ***

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  Transcriber’s note:

  Numbers in square brackets are the page numbers
  in the original documents and the numbers in
  parentheses are the footnote numbers.

  on the







The English speaking people have been a race of pamphleteers. Whenever
a question—religious, political, military or personal—has interested
the general public, it has occasioned a war of pamphlets, which,
however partisan and transitory, were in a manner photographs of the
public opinion, and as such have been used and valued by students and

The rarity and consequent difficulty of reaching this class of
literature has been, however, a great obstacle to its use as sources
of history. The name of pamphlet tells the purpose of these little
publications. Written hurriedly, to effect a purpose for which there
is not enough time or matter for a more elaborate volume, they are
thrown by after a brief circulation and before a decade has passed, the
edition has disappeared, and if any are still in existence, they are
only to be found in the few public and private libraries which have
taken the trouble to secure these fugitive leaflets.

The recognized value of these tractates in England has led to very
extensive republications; and the _Harleian Miscellany_, the _Somers
Tracts_, the issues of the Roxburghe, Bannatyne, Maitland, Chetham,
Camden and Percy societies and the reprints of Halliwell, Collier, and
M’Culloch, not to mention many minor collections, have placed several
thousand of them within the reach of every one. But in America few
attempts have been made to collect this kind of literature—Peter Force
reprinted a series of pamphlets on the early settlement of the United
States and a work of similar scope on Canada, containing reprints
of the so called “Jesuit Relations” was printed under the patronage
of the Canadian government. John Wingate Thornton and Frank Moore
have collected a number of the patriotic sermons preached before and
during the Revolutionary war. Franklin B. Hough republished a series
of the funeral sermons and eulogies on the death of Washington, and
James Spear Loring did the same for the orations delivered in Boston
from 1770 to 1852. Samuel G. Drake reprinted a collection of tracts
relating to King Philip’s war, Joseph Sabin issued a series relating
to the propagation of the gospel among the New England Indians, and
William H. Whitmore edited, for the Prince Society, a number relating
to the governorship of Sir Edmund Andros—but these are the only
attempts worth mentioning to systematically gather these leaflets of
our history, and which have singularly neglected those bearing on
politics and government, in which we have so largely originated the
true theories and methods.

When the student or historian comes to examine the earlier pamphlet
literature of our country he encounters the greatest difficulty in
their use. The lack of communication between the colonies or states,
with its consequent localization of the pamphlet; the small edition
caused by the high price of paper, which at that time was the costly
element in the production of books; the little value attached by each
generation to the pamphlets of its own time; the subsequent wars,
with the destruction and high price of old paper that came with them,
and the general disregard of historical material that existed for
many years after the stirring times that occasioned these arguments,
have all tended to make these tracts almost impossible to consult;
and any one desiring to examine the original editions of the thirteen
pamphlets contained in this volume would be compelled to visit the
public libraries in the cities of Washington, Philadelphia, New York,
Albany and Boston, while it would take a life time of patient searching
and waiting to collect them from the second-hand booksellers and
auction-rooms, at prices that few would care to pay.

As the rarity of these pamphlets has caused their neglect, so also has
their anonymous publication. It was a time of literary masks, and
we often find, like the knights of old, that when their masks were
removed, they had concealed our ablest statesmen, one of whom wrote of
his anonymous pamphlet, “If the reasoning in the pamphlet you allude to
is just, it will have its effect on candid and discerning minds;—if
weak and inconclusive, my name cannot render it otherwise,” but it is
certain, whatever the effect at the moment, that more attention and
care would have been given these works by succeeding generations had
they borne the name of one of the makers of our nation, rather than the
pseudonymous mask which gave no clue to its authorship.

In America, we are too apt to forget the losing side of a question.
Few to-day know of the intense struggle that took place over the
ratification of our constitution, or realize that the adoption of a
government which has worked so successfully, met with the strongest
opposition from such men as Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, George
Mason, George Clinton, Samuel Chase, Elbridge Gerry, Albert Gallatin,
James Monroe and others, while many equally famous were either neutral
or gave it but lukewarm support. If the great fear and prediction of
these men—that the general government would entirely subvert the state
governments, with a consequent loss of personal freedom—has not been
realized, it will nevertheless be seen in the following pages that many
of their objections were embodied in the future amendments, and the
disregard of others has occasioned some of our most serious national
questions. If this collection presents a greater number of federal
than anti-federal arguments, it is only in the proportion in which the
latter was overborne by the former, both in men and writings.

Of all these partisan writings _The Federalist_ has hitherto been
almost the only known argument of those which for nine months kept
the printers busy and the people in a turmoil, though the twenty-nine
editions of that work attest the value and interest of that class of
writings. That these essays equal that great series is not claimed, but
I believe, nevertheless, that they, by their simpler and more popular
treatment of the question, exerted quite as much influence as that
“judicious and ingenious writer,” who was “not well calculated for the
common people,” and therefore deserve in this centennial year a place
on the shelf of the publicist or student, with that “political classic”
of Hamilton, Madison and Jay.




   Page 274, line 1, for mine read mind.
    ”   275,  ”  14,  ”  cause read clause.
    ”   277,  ”   8,  ”  Richard Harry Lee read Richard Henry Lee.
    ”   396,  ”  28,  ”  la substitute /
    ”   407,  ”  38,  ”  substitute /
    ”   409,  ”  31,  ”  propounded read proposed.
    ”   409,  ”  36,  ”  Pilsner read Pelsue.
    ”   412,  ”  21,  ”  J. Lloyd read T. Lloyd.
    ”   424,  ”  21, insert / Philadelphia: after “A Citizen of
    ”   434,  ”  27, for McClung read McClurg.



  GERRY, ELBRIDGE. Observations on the New Constitution, and on the
    Federal and State Conventions. By a Columbian Patriot               1

  WEBSTER, NOAH. An Examination into the leading principles of the
    Federal Constitution. By a Citizen of America                      25

  JAY, JOHN. An Address to the People of the State of New York,
    on the subject of the Constitution. By a Citizen of New York       67

  SMITH, MELANCTHON. Address to the People of the State of New York.
    By a Plebeian                                                      88

  WEBSTER, PELATIAH. The Weakness of Brutus exposed: or some
    remarks in vindication of the Constitution. By a Citizen of
    Philadelphia                                                      117

  COXE, TENCH. An Examination of the Constitution of the United
    States of America. By an American Citizen                         134

  WILSON, JAMES. Speech on the Federal Constitution, delivered in
    Philadelphia                                                      155

  DICKINSON, JOHN. Letters of Fabius on the Federal Constitution.     163

  HANSON, ALEXANDER CONTEE. Remarks on the Proposed Plan of a
    Federal Government. By Aristides                                  217

  RANDOLPH, EDMUND. Letter on the Federal Constitution                259

  LEE, RICHARD HENRY. Observations of the System of Government
    proposed by the late Convention. By a Federal Farmer              277

  MASON, GEORGE. Objections to the Federal Constitution 327

  IREDELL, JAMES. Observations on George Mason’s Objections to the
    Federal Constitution. By Marcus                                   333

  RAMSAY, DAVID. An Address to the Freemen of South Carolina on the
    Federal Constitution. By Civis                                    371

  Bibliography of the Constitution, 1787-1788                         381

  Reference List to the history and literature of the Constitution,
    1787-88.                                                          427

  Index                                                               443

Observations / On the new Constitution, and on the Federal / and State
Conventions. / By a Columbian Patriot. / Sic transit gloria Americana.
/ [Boston: 1788.]

  12 mo., pp. 19.

  Written by Elbridge Gerry, member of the Philadelphia Convention
  from Massachusetts, and one of the number who refused to sign the
  Constitution, for reasons given in his letter to the presiding
  officers of the Massachusetts legislature (Elliot I, 494). Gerry
  made himself conspicuous in the contest in Massachusetts over the
  ratification, and though not elected to the State Convention, was
  requested by them to attend and answer questions. His life, by James
  T. Austin, (Boston, 1828), makes no mention of this pamphlet.

  “E. G. has come out as a _Columbian Patriot_—a pitiful performance.
  The author sinks daily in public esteem, and his bantling goes
  unnoticed.”—Rufus King to John Alsop, March 2d, 1788.

  The first edition of this pamphlet was printed without a title page,
  or imprint, and an examination of the Massachusetts newspapers shows
  it was never for sale; making it probable that it was printed for
  Gerry, and not for general circulation. Greenleaf reprinted it in
  New York, for the [Anti] Federal Committee, who distributed sixteen
  hundred and thirty copies to the local county committees of that

  “We have received yours by a Columbian Patriot—a well composed piece
  but in a style too sublime and florid for the common people in this
  part of the country.”—Albany Committee to N. Y. Committee, April
  12th, 1788.

  P. L. F.

Mankind may amuse themselves with theoretick systems of liberty, and
trace its social and moral effects on sciences, virtue, industry and
every improvement of which the human mind is capable; but we can
only discern its true value by the practical and wretched effects
of slavery; and thus dreadfully will they be realized, when the
inhabitants of the Eastern States are dragging out a miserable
existence, _only_ on the gleanings of their fields; and the Southern,
blessed with a softer and more fertile climate, are languishing in
hopeless poverty; and when asked, what is become of the flower of their
crop, and the rich produce of their farms—they may answer in the
hapless stile of the Man of _La Mancha_,—“The steward of my Lord has
seized and sent it to _Madrid_.”——Or, in the more literal language of
truth, The _exigencies_ of government require that the collectors of
the revenue should transmit it to the _Federal City_.

Animated with the firmest zeal for the interest of this country, the
peace and union of the American States, and the freedom and happiness
of a people who have made the most costly sacrifices in the cause
of liberty,—who have braved the power of Britain, weathered the
convulsions of war, and waded thro’ the blood of friends and foes to
establish their independence and to support the freedom of the human
mind; I cannot silently [2] witness this degradation without calling
on them, before they are compelled to blush at their own servitude,
and to turn back their languid eyes on their lost liberties—to
consider, that the character of nations generally changes at the
moment of revolution.——And when patriotism is discountenanced and
publick virtue becomes the ridicule of the sycophant—when every man
of liberality, firmness and penetration who cannot lick the hand
stretched out to oppress, is deemed an enemy to the State—then is the
gulph of despotism set open, and the grades to slavery, though rapid,
are scarce perceptible—then genius drags heavily its iron chain
—science is neglected, and real merit flies to the shades for security
from reproach—the mind becomes enervated, and the national character
sinks to a kind of apathy with only energy sufficient to curse the
breast that gave it milk, and as an elegant writer observes, “To bewail
every new birth as an increase of misery, under a government where the
mind is necessarily debased, and talents are seduced to become the
panegyrists of usurpation and tyranny.” He adds, “that even sedition
is not the most indubitable enemy to the publick welfare; but that
its most dreadful foe is despotism which always changes the character
of nations for the worse, and is productive of nothing but vice, that
the tyrant no longer excites to the pursuits of glory or virtue; it
is not talents, it is baseness and servility that he cherishes, and
the weight of arbitrary power destroys the spring of emulation.”(1)
If such is the influence of government on the character and manners,
and undoubtedly the observation is just, must we not subscribe to the
opinion of the celebrated _Abbé Mablé_? “That there are disagreeable
seasons in the unhappy situation of human affairs, when policy requires
both the intention and the power of doing mischief to be punished; and
when the senate proscribed the memory of _Cæsar_ they ought to have
put _Anthony_ to death, and extinguished the hopes of _Octavius_.”
Self defence is a primary law of nature, which no subsequent law of
society can abolish; this primæval principle, the immediate gift of
the Creator, obliges every one to remonstrate against the strides of
ambition, and a wanton lust of domination, and to resist the first
approaches of tyranny, which at this day threaten to sweep away
the rights for which the brave sons of America have fought with an
heroism scarcely paralleled even in ancient republicks. [3] It may be
repeated, they have purchased it with their blood, and have gloried
in their independence with a dignity of spirit, which has made them
the admiration of philosophy, the pride of America, and the wonder of
Europe. It has been observed, with great propriety, that “the virtues
and vices of a people when a revolution happens in their government,
are the measure of the liberty or slavery they ought to expect—An
heroic love for the publick good, a profound reverence for the laws,
a contempt of riches, and a noble haughtiness of soul, are the only
foundations of a free government.”(2) Do not their dignified principles
still exist among us? Or are they extinguished in the breasts of
Americans, whose fields have been so recently crimsoned to repel the
potent arm of a foreign Monarch, who had planted his engines of slavery
in every city, with design to erase the vestiges of freedom in this his
last asylum. It is yet to be hoped, for the honour of human nature,
that no combinations either foreign or domestick have thus darkned
this Western hemisphere.—On these shores freedom has planted her
standard, diped in the purple tide that flowed from the veins of her
martyred heroes; and here every uncorrupted American yet hopes to see
it supported by the vigour, the justice, the wisdom and unanimity of
the people, in spite of the deep-laid plots, the secret intrigues, or
the bold effrontery of those interested and avaricious adventurers for
place, who intoxicated with the ideas of distinction and preferment
have prostrated every worthy principle beneath the shrine of ambition.
Yet these are the men who tell us republicanism is dwindled into
theory—that we are incapable of enjoying our liberties—and that we
must have a master.——Let us retrospect the days of our adversity,
and recollect who were then our friends; do we find them among the
sticklers for aristocratick authority? No, they were generally the same
men who now wish to save us from the distractions of anarchy on the one
hand, and the jaws of tyranny on the other; where then were the class
who now come forth importunately urging that our political salvation
depends on the adoption of a system at which freedom spurns?—Were not
some of them hidden in the corners of obscurity, and others wrapping
themselves in the bosom of our enemies for safety? Some of them
were in the arms of infancy; and others speculating for fortune, by
sporting with public money; while a few, a very few of them [4] were
magnanimously defending their country, and raising a character, which I
pray heaven may never be sullied by aiding measures derogatory to their
former exertions. But the revolutions in principle which time produces
among mankind, frequently exhibits the most mortifying instances
of human weakness; and this alone can account for the extraordinary
appearance of a few names, once distinguished in the honourable walks
of patriotism, but now found in the list of the Massachusetts assent to
the ratification of a Constitution, which, by the undefined meaning of
some parts, and the ambiguities of expression in others, is dangerously
adapted to the purposes of an immediate _aristocratic tyranny_; that
from the difficulty, if not impracticability of its operation, must
soon terminate in the most _uncontrouled despotism_.

All writers on government agree, and the feelings of the human mind
witness the truth of these political axioms, that man is born free and
possessed of certain unalienable rights—that government is instituted
for the protection, safety and happiness of the people, and not for
the profit, honour, or private interest of any man, family, or class
of men——That the origin of all power is in the people, and that
they have an incontestible right to check the creatures of their own
creation, vested with certain powers to guard the life, liberty and
property of the community: And if certain selected bodies of men,
deputed on these principles, determine contrary to the wishes and
expectations of their constituents, the people have an undoubted right
to reject their decisions, to call for a revision of their conduct, to
depute others in their room, or if they think proper, to demand further
time for deliberation on matters of the greatest moment: it therefore
is an unwarrantable stretch of authority or influence, if any methods
are taken to preclude this peaceful and reasonable mode of enquiry
and decision. And it is with inexpressible anxiety, that many of the
best friends of the Union of the States—to the peaceable and equal
participation of the rights of nature, and to the glory and dignity of
this country, behold the insiduous arts, and the strenuous efforts of
the partisans of arbitrary power, by their vague definitions of the
best established truths, endeavoring to envelope the mind in darkness
the concomitant of slavery, and to lock the strong chains of domestic
despotism on a country, which by the most glorious and successful
struggles is but newly emancipated from the spectre of foreign
dominion.—— [5] But there are certain seasons in the course of human
affairs, when Genius, Virtue, and Patriotism, seems to nod over the
vices of the times, and perhaps never more remarkably, than at the
present period; or we should not see such a passive disposition prevail
in some, who we must candidly suppose, have liberal and enlarged
sentiments; while a supple multitude are paying a blind and idolatrous
homage to the opinions of those who by the most precipitate steps are
treading down their dear bought privileges; and who are endeavouring
by all the arts of insinuation, and influence, to betray the people
of the United States, into an acceptance of a most complicated system
of government; marked on the one side with the _dark_, _secret_ and
_profound intrigues_, of the statesman, long practised in the purlieus
of despotism; and on the other, with the ideal projects of _young
ambition_, with its wings just expanded to soar to a summit, which
imagination has painted in such gawdy colours as to intoxicate the
_inexperienced votary_, and to send _him_ rambling from State to State,
to collect materials to construct the ladder of preferment.

But as a variety of objections to the _heterogeneous phantom_, have
been repeatedly laid before the public, by men of the best abilities
and intentions; I will not expatiate long on a Republican _form_ of
government, founded on the principles of monarchy—a democratick branch
with the _features_ of aristocracy—and the extravagance of nobility
pervading the minds of many of the candidates for office, with the
poverty of peasantry hanging heavily on them, and insurmountable, from
their taste for expence, unless a general provision should be made
in the arrangement of the civil list, which may enable them with the
champions of their cause to “_sail down the new pactolean channel_.”
Some gentlemen, with laboured zeal, have spent much time in urging the
necessity of government, from the embarrassments of trade—the want
of respectability abroad and confidence of the public engagements at
home:—These are obvious truths which no one denies; and there are few
who do not unite in the general wish for the restoration of public
faith, the revival of commerce, arts, agriculture, and industry,
under a lenient, peaceable and energetick government: But the most
sagacious advocates for the party have not by fair discusion; and
rational argumentation, evinced the necessity of adopting this many
headed monster; of such motley mixture, that its enemies cannot trace a
feature of Democratick or Republican [6] extract; nor have its friends
the courage to denominate a Monarchy, an Aristocracy, or an Oligarchy,
and the favoured bantling must have passed through the short period of
its existence without a name, had not Mr. _Wilson_, in the fertility of
his genius, suggested the happy epithet of a _Federal Republic_.—But
I leave the field of general censure on the secresy of its birth, the
rapidity of its growth, and the fatal consequences of suffering it
to live to the age of maturity, and will particularize some of the
most weighty objections to its passing through this continent in a
gigantic size.—It will be allowed by every one that the fundamental
principle of a free government is the equal representation of a free
people——And I will _first_ observe with a justly celebrated writer,
“That the principal aim of society is to protect individuals in the
absolute rights which were vested in them by the immediate laws of
nature, but which could not be preserved in peace, without the mutual
intercourse which is gained by the institution of friendly and social
communities.” And when society has thus deputed a certain number of
their equals to take care of their personal rights, and the interest
of the whole community, it must be considered that responsibility is
the great security of integrity and honour; and that annual election
is the basis of responsibility,—Man is not immediately corrupted, but
power without limitation, or amenability, may endanger the brightest
virtue—whereas a frequent return to the bar of their Constituents is
the strongest check against the corruptions to which men are liable,
either from the intrigues of others of more subtle genius, or the
propensities of their own hearts,—and the gentlemen who have so warmly
advocated in the late Convention of the Massachusetts, the change from
annual to biennial elections; may have been in the same predicament,
and perhaps with the same views that Mr. _Hutchinson_ once acknowledged
himself, when in a letter to _Lord Hillsborough_, he observed, “that
the grand difficulty of making a change in government against the
general bent of the people had caused him to turn his thoughts to a
variety of plans, in order to find one that might be executed in spite
of opposition,” and the first he proposed was that, “instead of annual,
the elections should be only once in three years:” but the Minister
had not the hardiness to attempt such an innovation, even in the
revision of colonial charters: nor has any one ever defended Biennial,
Triennial or Septennial Elections, either in the [7] British House of
Commons, or in the debates of Provincial assemblies, on general and
free principles: but it is unnecessary to dwell long on this article,
as the best political writers have supported the principles of annual
elections with a precision, that cannot be confuted, though they may be
darkned, by the sophistical arguments that have been thrown out with
design, to undermine all the barriers of freedom.

2. There is no security in the profered system, either for the rights
of conscience or the liberty of the Press: Despotism usually while
it is gaining ground, will suffer men to think, say, or write what
they please; but when once established, if it is thought necessary to
subserve the purposes, of arbitrary power, the most unjust restrictions
may take place in the first instance, and an _imprimator_ on the Press
in the next, may silence the complaints, and forbid the most decent
remonstrances of an injured and oppressed people.

3. There are no well defined limits of the Judiciary Powers, they seem
to be left as a boundless ocean, that has broken over the chart of
the Supreme Lawgiver, “_thus far shalt thou go and no further_,” and
as they cannot be comprehended by the clearest capacity, or the most
sagacious mind, it would be an Herculean labour to attempt to describe
the dangers with which they are replete.

4. The Executive and the Legislative are so dangerously blended as to
give just cause of alarm, and everything relative thereto, is couched
in such ambiguous terms—in such vague and indefinite expression, as
is a sufficient ground without any objection, for the reprobation of a
system, that the authors dare not hazard to a clear investigation.

5. The abolition of trial by jury in civil causes.—This mode of
trial the learned Judge Blackstone observes, “has been coeval with the
first rudiments of civil government, that property, liberty and life,
depend on maintaining in its legal force the constitutional trial by
jury.” He bids his readers pauze, and with Sir Matthew Hale observes,
how admirably this mode is adapted to the investigation of truth
beyond any other the world can produce. Even the party who have been
disposed to swallow, without examination, the proposals of the _secret
conclave_, have started on a discovery that this essential right was
curtailed; and shall a privilege, the origin of which may be traced to
our Saxon ancestors—that has been a part of the law of nations, even
in the fewdatory systems of France, [8] Germany and Italy—and from the
earliest records has been held so sacred, both in ancient and modern
Britain, that it could never be shaken by the introduction of Norman
customs, or any other conquests or change of government——shall this
inestimable privilege be relinquished in America—either thro’ the fear
of inquisition for unaccounted thousands of public monies in the hands
of some who have been officious in the fabrication of the _consolidated
system_, or from the apprehension that some future delinquent possessed
of more power than integrity, may be called to a trial by his peers in
the hour of investigation.

6. Though it has been said by Mr. _Wilson_ and many others, that a
Standing-Army is necessary for the dignity and safety of America, yet
freedom revolts at the idea, when the Divan, or the Despot, may draw
out his dragoons to suppress the murmurs of a few, who may yet cherish
those sublime principles which call forth the exertions, and lead to
the best improvements of the human mind. It is hoped this country
may yet be governed by milder methods than are usually displayed
beneath the bannerets of military law.—Standing armies have been the
nursery of vice and the bane of liberty from the Roman legions to the
establishment of the artful Ximenes, and from the ruin of the Cortes
of Spain, to the planting of the British cohorts in the capitals of
America:—By the edicts of an authority vested in the sovereign power
by the proposed constitution, the militia of the country, the bulwark
of defence, and the security of national liberty if no longer under
the controul of civil authority; but at the rescript of the Monarch,
or the aristocracy, they may either be employed to extort the enormous
sums that will be necessary to support the civil list—to maintain
the regalia of power—and the splendour of the most useless part of
the community, or they may be sent into foreign countries for the
fulfilment of treaties, stipulated by the President and two-thirds of
the Senate.

7. Notwithstanding the delusory promise to guarantee a Republican form
of government to every State in the Union—If the most discerning
eye could discover any meaning at all in the engagement, there are
no resources left for the support of internal government, or the
liquidation of the debts of the State. Every source of revenue is in
the monopoly of Congress, and if the several legislatures in their
enfeebled state, should against their own feelings be necessitated to
attempt a dry tax [9] for the payment of their debts, and the support
of internal police, even this may be required for the purposes of the
general government.

8. As the new Congress are empowered to determine their own salaries,
the requisitions for this purpose may not be very moderate, and the
drain for public moneys will probably rise past all calculation: and
it is to be feared when America has consolidated its despotism, the
world will witness the truth of the assertion—“that the pomp of an
Eastern monarch may impose on the vulgar who may estimate the force of
a nation by the magnificence of its palaces; but the wise man judges
differently, it is by that very magnificence he estimates its weakness.
He sees nothing more in the midst of this imposing pomp, where the
tyrant sets enthroned, than a sumptuous and mournful decoration of the
dead; the apparatus of a fastuous funeral, in the centre of which is a
cold and lifeless lump of unanimated earth, a phantom of power ready to
disappear before the enemy, by whom it is despised!”

9. There is no provision for a rotation, nor anything to prevent the
perpetuity of office in the same hands for life; which by a little
well timed bribery, will probably be done, to the exclusion of men of
the best abilities from their share in the offices of government.—By
this neglect we lose the advantages of that check to the overbearing
insolence of office, which by rendering him ineligible at certain
periods, keeps the mind of man in equilibrio, and teaches him the
feelings of the governed, and better qualifies him to govern in his

10. The inhabitants of the United States, are liable to be dragged from
the vicinity of their own country, or state, to answer the litigious
or unjust suit of an adversary, on the most distant borders of the
Continent: in short the appelate jurisdiction of the Supreme Federal
Court, includes an unwarrantable stretch of power over the liberty,
life, and property of the subject, through the wide Continent of

11. One Representative to thirty thousand inhabitants is a very
inadequate representation; and every man who is not lost to all sense
of freedom to his country, must reprobate the idea of Congress altering
by law, or on any pretence whatever, interfering with any regulations
for time, places, and manner of choosing our own Representatives.

12. If the sovereignty of America is designed to be elective, the
circumscribing the votes to only ten electors in this State, [10] and
the same proportion in all the others, is nearly tantamount to the
exclusion of the voice of the people in the choice of their first
magistrate. It is vesting the choice solely in an aristocratic junto,
who may easily combine in each State to place at the head of the Union
the most convenient instrument for despotic sway.

13. A Senate chosen for six years will, in most instances, be an
appointment for life, as the influence of such a body over the minds
of the people will be coequal to the extensive powers with which they
are vested, and they will not only forget, but be forgotten by their
constituents—a branch of the Supreme Legislature thus set beyond
all responsibility is totally repugnant to every principle of a free

14. There is no provision by a bill of rights to guard against the
dangerous encroachments of power in too many instances to be named: but
I cannot pass over in silence the insecurity in which we are left with
regard to warrants unsupported by evidence—the daring experiment of
granting _writs of assistance_ in a former arbitrary administration
is not yet forgotten in the Massachusetts; nor can we be so ungrateful
to the memory of the patriots who counteracted their operation, as so
soon after their manly exertions to save us from such a detestable
instrument of arbitrary power, to subject ourselves to the insolence
of any petty revenue officer to enter our houses, search, insult, and
seize at pleasure. We are told by a gentleman of too much virtue and
real probity to suspect he has a design to deceive—“that the whole
constitution is a declaration of rights,”—but mankind must think for
themselves, and to many very judicious and discerning characters, the
whole constitution with very few exceptions appears a perversion of
the rights of particular states, and of private citizens.——But the
gentleman goes on to tell us, “that the primary object is the general
government, and that the rights of individuals are only incidentally
mentioned, and that there was a clear impropriety in being very
particular about them.” But, asking pardon for dissenting from such
respectable authority, who has been led into several mistakes, more
from his predilection in favour of certain modes of government, than
from a want of understanding or veracity. The rights of individuals
ought to be the primary object of all government, and cannot be too
securely guarded by the most explicit declarations in their favor.
This has been the opinion of the Hampdens, the Pyms, and [11] many
other illustrious names, that have stood forth in defence of English
liberties; and even the Italian master in politicks, the subtle and
renowned Machiavel acknowledges, that no republic ever yet stood on a
stable foundation without satisfying the common people.

15. The difficulty, if not impracticability, of exercising the equal
and equitable powers of government by a single legislature over an
extent of territory that reaches from the Mississippi to the Western
lakes, and from them to the Atlantic Ocean, is an insuperable objection
to the adoption of the new system.—Mr. _Hutchinson_, the great
champion for arbitrary power, in the multitude of his machinations to
subvert the liberties in this country, was obliged to acknowledge in
one of his letters, that, “from the extent of country from north to
south, the scheme of one government was impracticable.” But if the
authors of the present visionary project, can by the arts of deception,
precipitation and address, obtain a majority of suffrages in the
conventions of the states to try the hazardous experiment, they may
then make the same inglorious boast with this insidious politician, who
may perhaps be their model, that “the union of the colonies was pretty
well broken, “and that he hoped to never see it renewed.”

16. It is an undisputed fact that not one legislature in the United
States had the most distant idea when they first appointed members for
a convention, entirely commercial, or when they afterwards authorized
them to consider on some amendments of the Federal union, that they
would without any warrant from their constituents, presume on so bold
and daring a stride, as ultimately to destroy the state governments,
and offer a _consolidated system_, irreversible but on conditions that
the smallest degree of penetration must discover to be impracticable.

17. The first appearance of the article which declares the ratification
of nine states sufficient for the establishment of the new system,
wears the face of dissension, is a subversion of the union of
Confederated States, and tends to the introduction of anarchy and civil
convulsions, and may be a means of involving the whole country in blood.

18. The mode in which this constitution is recommended to the people to
judge without either the advice of Congress, or the legislatures of the
several states is very reprehensible—it is an attempt to force it upon
them before it could be thoroughly [12] understood, and may leave us in
that situation, that in the first moments of slavery in the minds of
the people agitated by the remembrance of their lost liberties, will be
like the sea in a tempest, that sweeps down every mound of security.

But it is needless to enumerate other instances, in which the proposed
constitution appears contradictory to the first principles which ought
to govern mankind; and it is equally so to enquire into the motives
that induced to so bold a step as the annihilation of the independence
and sovereignty of the thirteen distinct states.——They are but
too obvious through the whole progress of the business, from the
first shutting up the doors of the federal convention and resolving
that no member should correspond with gentlemen in the different
states on the subject under discussion; till the trivial proposition
of _recommending_ a few amendments was artfully ushered into the
convention of the Massachusetts. The questions that were then before
that honorable assembly were profound and important, they were of such
magnitude and extent, that the consequences may run parallel with the
existence of the country; and to see them waved and hastily terminated
by a measure too absurd to require a serious refutation, raises the
honest indignation of every true lover of his country. Nor are they
less grieved that the ill policy and arbitrary disposition of some of
the sons of America has thus precipitated to the contemplation and
discussion of questions that no one could rationally suppose would
have been agitated among us, till time had blotted out the principles
on which the late revolution was grounded; or till the last traits of
the many political tracts, which defended the separation from Britain,
and the rights of men were consigned to everlasting oblivion. After
the severe conflicts this country has suffered, it is presumed that
they are disposed to make every reasonable sacrifice before the altar
of peace.——But when we contemplate the nature of men and consider
them originally on an equal footing, subject to the same feelings,
stimulated by the same passions, and recollecting the struggles
they have recently made, for the security of their civil rights; it
cannot be expected that the inhabitants of the Massachusetts, can be
easily lulled into a fatal security, by the declamatory effusions of
gentlemen, who, contrary to the experience of all ages would persuade
them there is no danger to be apprehended, from vesting discretionary
powers in the hands of man, which he may, or may not abuse. The very
suggestion, that [13] we ought to trust to the precarious hope of
amendments and redress, after we have voluntarily fixed the shackles on
our own necks should have awakened to a double degree of caution.—This
people have not forgotten the artful insinuations of a former
Governor, when pleading the unlimited authority of parliament before
the legislature of the Massachusetts; nor that his arguments were very
similar to some lately urged by gentlemen who boast of opposing his
measures, “_with halters about their necks_.”

We were then told by him, in all the soft language of insinuation,
that no form of government, of human construction can be perfect—that
we had nothing to fear—that we had no reason to complain—that we
had only to acquiesce in their illegal claims, and to submit to
the requisition of parliament, and doubtless the lenient hand of
government would redress all grievances, and remove the oppressions
of the people:—Yet we soon saw armies of mercenaries encamped on
our plains—our commerce ruined—our harbours blockaded—and our
cities burnt. It may be replied that this was in consequence of an
obstinate defence of our privileges; this may be true; and when the
“_ultima ratio_” is called to aid, the weakest must fall. But let the
best informed historian produce an instance when bodies of men were
entrusted with power, and the proper checks relinquished, if they were
ever found destitute of ingenuity sufficient to furnish pretences
to abuse it. And the people at large are already sensible, that the
liberties which America has claimed, which reason has justified, and
which have been so gloriously defended by the swords of the brave; are
not about to fall before the tyranny of foreign conquest: it is native
usurpation that is shaking the foundations of peace, and spreading
the sable curtain of despotism over the United States. The banners of
freedom were erected in the wilds of America by our ancestors, while
the wolf prowled for his prey on the one hand, and more savage man
on the other; they have been since rescued from the invading hand of
foreign power, by the valor and blood of their posterity; and there
was reason to hope they would continue for ages to illumine a quarter
of the globe, by nature kindly separated from the proud monarchies of
Europe, and the infernal darkness of Asiatic slavery.—And it is to
be feared we shall soon see this country rushing into the extremes of
confusion and violence, in consequence of the proceeding of a set of
gentlemen, who disregarding [14] the purposes of their appointment,
have assumed powers unauthorized by any commission, have unnecessarily
rejected the confederation of the United States, and annihilated the
sovereignty and independence of the individual governments.—The causes
which have inspired a few men to assemble for very different purposes
with such a degree of temerity as to break with a single stroke the
union of America, and disseminate the seeds of discord through the land
may be easily investigated, when we survey the partizans of monarchy in
the state conventions, urging the adoption of a mode of government that
militates with the former professions and exertions of this country,
and with all ideas of republicanism, and the equal rights of men.

Passion, prejudice, and error, are characteristics of human nature;
and as it cannot be accounted for on any principles of philosophy,
religion, or good policy; to these shades in the human character
must be attributed the mad zeal of some, to precipitate to a blind
adoption of the measures of the late federal convention, without giving
opportunity for better information to those who are misled by influence
or ignorance into erroneous opinions.——Litterary talents may be
prostituted, and the powers of genius debased to subserve the purposes
of ambition or avarice; but the feelings of the heart will dictate the
language of truth, and the simplicity of her accents will proclaim
the infamy of those, who betray the rights of the people, under the
specious, and popular pretence of _justice_, _consolidation_, and

It is presumed the great body of the people unite in sentiment with
the writer of these observations, who most devoutly prays that public
credit may rear her declining head, and remunerative justice pervade
the land; nor is there a doubt if a free government is continued, that
time and industry will enable both the public and private debtor to
liquidate their arrearages in the most equitable manner. They wish to
see the Confederated States bound together by the most indissoluble
union, but without renouncing their separate sovereignties and
independence, and becoming tributaries to a consolidated fabrick of
aristocratick tyranny.——They wish to see government established,
and peaceably holding the reins with honour, energy, and dignity;
but they wish for no _federal city_ whose “_cloud cap’t towers_”
may screen the state culprit from the hand of justice; while its
exclusive jurisdiction may [15] protect the riot of armies encamped
within its limits.—They deprecate discord and civil convulsions, but
they are not yet generally prepared with the ungrateful Israelites
to ask a King, nor are their spirits sufficiently broken to yield
the best of their olive grounds to his servants, and to see their
sons appointed to run before his chariots.—It has been observed by
a zealous advocate for the new system, that most governments are the
result of fraud or violence, and this with design to recommend its
acceptance—but has not almost every step towards its fabrication
been fraudulent in the extreme? Did not the prohibition strictly
enjoined by the general Convention, that no member should make any
communication to his Constituents, or to gentlemen of consideration
and abilities in the other States, bear evident marks of fraudulent
designs?—This circumstance is regretted in strong terms by Mr.
Martin, a member from Maryland, who acknowledges “He had no idea that
all the wisdom, integrity, and virtue of the States was contained
in that Convention, and that he wished to have corresponded with
gentlemen of eminent political characters abroad, and to give their
sentiments due weight”—he adds, “so extremely solicitous were they,
that their proceedings should not transpire, that the members were
prohibited from taking copies of their resolutions, or extracts
from the Journals, without express permission, by vote.”——And the
hurry with which it has been urged to the acceptance of the people,
without giving time, by adjournments, for better information, and
more unanimity has a deceptive appearance; and if finally driven to
resistance, as the only alternative between that and servitude, till in
the confusion of discord, the reins should be seized by the violence
of some enterprizing genius, that may sweep down the last barrier of
liberty, it must be added to the score of criminality with which the
fraudulent usurpation at Philadelphia, may be chargeable.——Heaven
avert such a tremendous scence! and let us still hope a more happy
termination of the present ferment:—may the people be calm and wait
a legal redress; may the mad transport of some of our infatuated
capitals subside; and every influential character through the States,
make the most prudent exertions for a new general Convention, who
may vest adequate powers in Congress, for all national purposes,
without annihilating the individual governments, and drawing blood
from every pore by taxes, impositions and illegal restrictions.—This
step might [16] again re-establish the Union, restore tranquility
to the ruffled mind of the inhabitants, and save America from the
distresses, dreadful even in contemplation.——“The great art of
governing is to lay aside all prejudices and attachments to particular
opinions, classes or individual characters to consult the spirit of
the people; to give way to it; and in so doing, to give it a turn
capable of inspiring those sentiments, which may induce them to relish
a change, which an alteration of circumstances may hereafter make
necessary.”——The education of the advocates for monarchy should have
taught them, and their memory should have suggested that “monarchy
is a species of government fit only for a people too much corrupted
by luxury, avarice, and a passion for pleasure, to have any love for
their country, and whose vices the fear of punishment alone is able to
restrain; but by no means calculated for a nation that is poor, and
at the same time tenacious of their liberty—animated with a disgust
to tyranny—and inspired with the generous feeling of patriotism and
liberty, and at the same time, like the ancient Spartans have been
hardened by temperance and manly exertions, and equally despising
the fatigues of the field, and the fear of enemies,”——and while
they change their ground they should recollect, that Aristocracy is
a still more formidable foe to public virtue, and the prosperity
of a nation—that under such a government her patriots become
mercenaries—her soldiers cowards, and the people slaves.——Though
several State Conventions have assented to, and ratified, yet the voice
of the people appears at present strong against the adoption of the
Constitution.——By the chicanery, intrigue, and false colouring of
those who plume themselves, more on their education and abilities,
than their political, patriotic, or private virtues—by the imbecility
of some, and the duplicity of others, a majority of the Convention of
Massachusetts have been flattered with the ideas of amendments, when it
will be too late to complain——While several very worthy characters,
too timid for their situation, magnified the hopeless alternative,
between the dissolution of the bands of all government, and receiving
the proffered system _in toto_, after long endeavouring to reconcile
it to their consciences, swallowed the indigestible panacea, and in a
kind of sudden desperation lent their signature to the dereliction of
the honourable station they held in the Union, and have broken over the
solemn compact, by which they were bound to support their own excellent
constitution till the period [17] of revision. Yet Virginia, equally
large and respectable, and who have done honour to themselves, by
their vigorous exertions from the first dawn of independence, have not
yet acted upon the question; they have wisely taken time to consider
before they introduce innovations of a most dangerous nature:——her
inhabitants are brave, her burgesses are free, and they have a Governor
who dares to think for himself, and to speak his opinion (without first
pouring libations on the altar of popularity) though it should militate
with some of the most accomplished and illustrious characters.

Maryland, who has no local interest to lead her to adopt, will
doubtless reject the system——I hope the same characters still
live, and that the same spirit which dictated to them a wise and
cautious care, against sudden revolutions in government, and made
them the last State that acceded to the independence of America, will
lead them to support what they so deliberately claimed.——Georgia
apprehensive of a war with the Savages, has acceded in order to insure
protection.——Pennsylvania has struggled through much in the same
manner, as the Massachusetts, against the manly feelings, and the
masterly reasonings of a very respectable part of the Convention:
They have adopted the system, and seen some of its authors burnt in
effigy—their towns thrown into riot and confusion, and the minds of
the people agitated by apprehension and discord.

New-Jersey and Delaware have united in the measure, from the locality
of their situation, and the selfish motives which too generally govern
mankind; the Federal City, and the seat of government, will naturally
attract the intercourse of strangers—the youth of enterprise, and the
wealth of the nation to the central States.

Connecticut has pushed it through with the precipitation of her
neighbour, with few dissentient voices;—but more from irritation and
resentment to a sister State, perhaps partiality to herself in her
commercial regulations, than from a comprehensive view of the system,
as a regard to the welfare of all.——But New York has motives, that
will undoubtedly lead her to rejection, without being afraid to appeal
to the understanding of mankind, to justify the grounds of their
refusal to adopt a Constitution, that even the framers dare not to
risque to the hazard of revision, amendment, or reconsideration, least
the whole superstructure should be demolished by more skilful and
discreet architects.——I know not what part the Carolinas [18] will
take; but I hope their determinations will comport with the dignity and
freedom of this country—their decisions will have great weight in the
scale.——But equally important are the small States of New Hampshire
and Rhode Island:—New York, the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, and
these two lesser States may yet support the liberties of the Continent;
if they refuse a ratification, or postpone their proceedings till the
spirits of the community have time to cool, there is little doubt but
the wise measure of another federal convention will be adopted, when
the members would have the advantage of viewing, at large, through
the medium of truth, the objections that have been made from various
quarters; such a measure might be attended with the most salutary
effects, and prevent the dread consequences of civil feuds.——But
even if some of those large states should hastily accede, yet we have
frequently seen in the story of revolution, relief spring from a
quarter least expected.

Though the virtues of a Cato could not save Rome, nor the abilities of
a Padilla defend the citizens of Castile from falling under the yoke
of Charles; yet a _Tell_ once suddenly rose from a little obscure
city, and boldly rescued the liberties of his country.——Every age
has its Bruti and its Decci, as well as its Cæsars and Sejani:—The
happiness of mankind depends much on the modes of government, and the
virtues of the governors; and America may yet produce characters who
have genius and capacity sufficient to form the manners and correct
the morals of the people, and virtue enough to lead their country to
freedom. Since their dismemberment from the British empire, America
has, in many instances, resembled the conduct of a restless, vigorous,
luxurious youth, prematurely emancipated from the authority of a
parent, but without the experience necessary to direct him to act
with dignity or discretion. Thus we have seen her break the shackles
of foreign dominion, and all the blessings of peace restored on the
most honourable terms: She acquired the liberty of framing her own
laws, choosing her own magistrates, and adopting manners and modes of
government the most favourable to the freedom and happiness of society.
But how little have we availed ourselves of these superior advantages:
The glorious fabric of liberty successfully reared with so much labor
and assiduity totters to the foundation, and may be blown away as
the bubble of fancy by the rude breath of military combinations, and
politicians of yesterday.

[19] It is true this country lately armed in opposition to regal
despotism—impoverished by the expenses of a long war, and unable
immediately to fulfil their public or private engagements that appeared
in some instances, with a boldness of spirit that seemed to set at
defiance all authority, government, or order, on the one hand; while
on the other, there has been, not only a secret wish, but an open
avowal of the necessity of drawing the reins of government much too
taught, not only for a republicanism, but for a wise and limited
monarchy.——But the character of this people is not averse to a degree
of subordination, the truth of this appears from the easy restoration
of tranquility, after a dangerous insurrection in one of the states;
this also evinces a little necessity of a complete revolution of
government throughout the union. But it is a republican principle
that the majority should rule; and if a spirit of moderation should
be cultivated on both sides, till the voice of the people at large
could be fairly heard it should be held sacred.—And if, on such a
scrutiny, the proposed constitution should appear repugnant to their
character and wishes; if they, in the language of a late elegant pen,
should acknowledge that “no confusion in my mind, is more terrible
to them than the stern disciplined regularity and vaunted police of
arbitrary governments, where every heart is depraved by fear, where
mankind dare not assume their natural characters, where the free spirit
must crouch to the slave in office, where genius must repress her
effusions, or like the Egyptian worshippers, offer them in sacrifice
to the calves in power, and where the human mind, always in shackles,
shrinks from every generous effort.” Who would then have the effrontery
to say, it ought not to be thrown out with indignation, however some
respectable names have appeared to support it.——But if after all, on
a dispassionate and fair discussion, the people generally give their
voices for a voluntary dereliction of their privileges, let every
individual who chooses the active scenes of life strive to support the
peace and unanimity of his country, though every other blessing may
expire—And while the statesman is plodding for power, and the courtier
practising the arts of dissimulation without check—while the rapacious
are growing rich by oppression, and fortune throwing her gifts into
the lap of fools, let the sublimer characters, the philosophic lovers
of freedom who have wept over her exit, retire to the calm shades of
contemplation, there they may look down with pity on the inconsistency
of human nature, the revolutions of states, the rise of kingdoms, and
the fall of empires.

An / Examination / into the / leading principles / of the /
Federal Constitution / proposed by the late / Convention / held at
Philadelphia. / With / Answers to the principal objections / that have
been raised against the system. / By a Citizen of America. /—Ut patria
sua felicitate cæteris præstaret, efficit. / Xenoph. Lacedæm. Resp. /
Philadelphia: / Printed and sold by Prichard & Hall, in Market Street,
/ the second door above Lætitia Court. / M.DCC.LXXXVII.

  8 vo., pp. 55.

  Written by Noah Webster. This is reprinted from his own copy
  of the pamphlet, and the foot notes _in brackets_ show his
  corrections and additions.

  “This is a hasty production, written at the request
  of Mr. Fitzsimmons, of Philadelphia, a member of the
  Convention.”—Indorsement by Noah Webster.

  P. L. F.














  October 10, 1787. }

Of all the memorable æras that have marked the progress of men from
the savage state to the refinements of luxury, that which has combined
them into society, under a wise system of government, and given
form to a nation, has ever been recorded and celebrated as the most
important. Legislators have ever been deemed the greatest benefactors
of mankind—respected when living, and often deified after their death.
Hence the fame of Fohi and Confucius—of Moses, Solon and Lycurgus—of
Romulus and Numa—of Alfred, Peter the Great, and Mango Capac; whose
names will be celebrated through all ages, for framing and improving
constitutions of government, which introduced order into society and
secured the benefits of law to millions of the human race.

This western world now beholds an æra important beyond conception,
and which posterity will number with the age of Czar of Muscovy, and
with the promulgation of the Jewish laws at Mount Sinai. The names
of those men who have digested a system of constitutions for the
American empire, will be enrolled with those of Zamolxis and Odin, and
celebrated by posterity with the honors which less enlightened nations
have paid to the fabled demi-gods of antiquity.

[6] But the origin of the AMERICAN REPUBLIC is distinguished by
peculiar circumstances. Other nations have been driven together by
fear and necessity—the governments have generally been the result of
a single man’s observations; or the offspring of particular interests.
In the formation of our constitution, the wisdom of all ages is
collected—the legislators of antiquity are consulted—as well as the
opinions and interests of the millions who are concerned. In short, it
is _an empire of reason_.

In the formation of such a government, it is not only the _right_, but
the indispensable _duty_ of every citizen to examine the principles of
it, to compare them with the principles of other governments, with a
constant eye to our particular situation and circumstances, and thus
endeavor to foresee the future operations of our own system, and its
effects upon human happiness.

Convinced of this truth, I have no apology to offer for the following
remarks, but an earnest desire to be useful to my country.

In attending to the proposed Federal Constitution, the first thing
that presents itself to our consideration, is the division of the
legislative into two branches. This article has so many advocates
in America, that it needs not any vindication.(3)—But it has its
opposers, among whom are some respectable characters, especially in
Pennsylvania; for which reason, I will state [7] some of the arguments
and facts which incline me to favor the proposed division.

On the first view of men in society, we should suppose that no man
would be bound by a law to which he had not given his consent. Such
would be our first idea of political obligation. But experience, from
time immemorial, has proved it to be impossible to unite the opinions
of all the members of a community, in every case; and hence the
doctrine, that the opinions of a _majority_ must give law to the _whole
State_: a doctrine as universally received, as any intuitive truth.

Another idea that naturally presents itself to our minds, on a slight
consideration of the subject, is, that in a perfect government, all the
members of a society should be present, and each give his suffrage in
acts of legislation, by which he is to be bound. This is impracticable
in large states; and even were it not, it is very questionable whether
it would be the _best_ mode of legislation. It was however practised
in the free states of antiquity; and was the cause of innumerable
evils. To avoid these evils, the moderns have invented the doctrine of
_representation_, which seems to be the perfection of human government.

Another idea, which is very natural, is, that to complete the mode
of legislation, all the representatives should be collected into
_one body_, for the purpose of debating questions and enacting laws.
Speculation would suggest the idea;

[8] and the desire of improving upon the systems of government in the
old world, would operate powerfully in its favor.

But men are ever running into extremes. The passions, after a violent
constraint, are apt to run into licentiousness; and even the reason of
men, who have experienced evils from the _defects_ of a government,
will sometimes coolly condemn the _whole system_.

Every person, moderately acquainted with human nature, knows that
public bodies, as well as individuals, are liable to the influence of
sudden and violent passions, under the operation of which, the voice of
reason is silenced. Instances of such influence are not so frequent,
as in individuals; but its effects are extensive in proportion to the
numbers that compose the public body. This fact suggests the expediency
of dividing the powers of legislation between the two bodies of men,
whose debates shall be separate and not dependent on each other;
that, if at any time, one part should appear to be under any undue
influence, either from passion, obstinacy, jealousy of particular
men, attachment to a popular speaker, or other extraordinary causes,
there might be a power in the legislature sufficient to check every
pernicious measure. Even in a small republic, composed of men, equal
in property and abilities, and all meeting for the purpose of making
laws, like the old Romans in the field of Mars, a division of the
body into two independent branches, would be a necessary step to
prevent the disorders, which arise from [9] the pride, irritability
and stubborness of mankind. This will ever be the case, while men
possess passions, easily inflamed, which may bias their reason and lead
them to erroneous conclusions.

Another consideration has weight: A single body of men may be led
astray by one person of abilities and address, who, on the first
starting a proposition, may throw a plausible appearance on one side of
the question, and give a lead to the whole debate. To prevent any ill
consequence from such a circumstance, a separate discussion, before a
different body of men, and taken up on new grounds, is a very eligible

Besides, the design of a senate is not merely to check the legislative
assembly, but to collect wisdom and experience. In most of our
constitutions, and particularly in the proposed federal system, greater
age and longer residence are required to qualify for the senate,
than for the house of representatives. This is a wise provision. The
house of representatives may be composed of new and unexperienced
members—strangers to the forms of proceeding, and the science of
legislation. But either positive institutions, or customs, which may
supply their place, fill the senate with men venerable for age and
respectability, experienced in the ways of men, and in the art of
governing, and who are not liable to the bias of passions that govern
the young. If the senate of Rhode Island is an exception to this
observation, it is a proof that the mass of the people are corrupted,
and that the senate should be elected [10] ess frequently than the
other house: Had the old senate in Rhode Island held their seats for
three years; had they not been chosen, amidst a popular rage for paper
money, the honor of that state would probably have been saved. The
old senate would have stopped the measure for a year or two, till the
people could have had time to deliberate upon its consequences. I
consider it as a capital excellence of the proposed constitution, that
the senate can be wholly renewed but once in six years.

Experience is the best instructor—it is better than a thousand
theories. The history of every government on earth affords proof of
the utility of different branches in a legislature. But I appeal
only to our own experience in America. To what cause can we ascribe
the absurd measures of Congress, in times past, and the speedy
recision of whole measures, but to the want of some check? I feel
the most profound deference for that honorable body, and perfect
respect for their opinions; but some of their steps betray a great
want of consideration—a defect, which perhaps nothing can remedy,
but a division of their deliberations. I will instance only their
_resolution_ to build a _Federal Town_. When we were involved in a
debt, of which we could hardly pay the interest, and when Congress
could not command a shilling, the very proposition was extremely
absurd. Congress themselves became ashamed of the resolution, and
rescinded it with as much silence as possible. Many other acts of that
body are equally reprehensible—but respect forbids me to mention them.

[11] Several states, since the war, have experienced the necessity of a
division of the legislature. Maryland was saved from a most pernicious
measure, by her senate. A rage for paper money, bordering on madness,
prevailed in their house of delegates—an emission of £.500,000 was
proposed; a sum equal to the circulating medium of the State. Had the
sum been emitted, every shilling of specie would have been driven from
circulation, and most of it from the state. Such a loss would not have
been repaired in seven years—not to mention the whole catalogue of
frauds which would have followed the measure. The senate, like honest,
judicious men, and the protectors of the interests of the state, firmly
resisted the rage, and gave the people time to cool and to think. Their
resistance was effectual—the people acquiesced, and the honor and
interest of the state were secured.

The house of representatives in Connecticut, soon after the war, had
taken offence at a certain act of Congress. The upper house, who
understood the necessity and expediency of the measure, better than the
people, refused to concur in a remonstrance to Congress. Several other
circumstances gave umbrage to the lower house; and to weaken or destroy
the influence of the senate, the representatives, among other violent
proceedings, resolved, not merely to remove the seat of government,
but to make every county town in the state the seat of government, by
rotation. This foolish resolution would have disgraced school-boys—the
senate saved the honor of the state, by rejecting it with disdain— [12]
and within two months, every representative was ashamed of the conduct
of the house. All public bodies have these fits of passion, when their
conduct seems to be perfectly boyish; and in these paroxisms, a check
is highly necessary.

Pennsylvania exhibits many instances of this hasty conduct. At
one session of the legislature, an armed force is ordered, by a
precipitate resolution, to expel the settlers at Wioming from their
possessions—at a succeeding session, the same people are confirmed
in their possessions. At one session, a charter is wrested from a
corporation—at another, restored. The whole state is split into
parties—everything is decided by party—any proposition from one side
of the house, is sure to be damned by the other—and when one party
perceives the other has the advantage, they play truant—and an officer
or a mob hunt the absconding members in all the streets and alleys
in town. Such farces have been repeated in Philadelphia—and _there
alone_. Had the legislature been framed with some check upon rash
proceedings, the honor of the state would have been saved—the party
spirit would have died with the measures proposed in the legislature.
But now, any measure may be carried by party in the house; it then
becomes a law, and sows the seeds of dissension throughout the state.(4)

[13] A thousand examples similar to the foregoing may be produced, both
in ancient and modern history. Many plausible things may be said in
favor of pure democracy—many in favor of uniting the representatives
of the people in one single house—but uniform experience proves both
to be inconsistent with the peace of society, and the rights of freemen.

The state of Georgia has already discovered such inconveniences in its
constitution, that a proposition has been made for altering it; and
there is a prospect that a revisal will take place.

People who have heard and read of the European governments, founded on
the different ranks of _monarch, nobility and people_, seem to view the
_senate_ in America, where there is no difference of ranks and titles,
as a useless branch—or as a servile imitation of foreign constitutions
of government, without the same reasons. This is a capital mistake.
Our senates, it is true, are not composed of a different order of
men; but the same reasons, the same necessity for distinct branches of
the legislature exists in all governments. But in most of our American
constitutions, we have all the advantages of checks and balance,
without the danger which may arise [14] from a superior and independent
order of men.

It is worth our while to institute a brief comparison between our
American forms of government, and the two _best constitutions_ that
ever existed in Europe, the _Roman_ and the _British_.

In England, the king or supreme executive officer, is hereditary. In
America, the president of the United States, is elective. That this is
an advantage will hardly be disputed.

In ancient Rome, the king was elective, and so were the consuls, who
were the executive officers in the republic. But they were elected
by the body of the people, in their public assemblies; and this
circumstance paved the way for such excessive bribery and corruption
as are wholly unknown in modern times. The president of the United
States is also elective; but by a few men—chosen by the several
legislatures—under their inspection—separated at a vast distance—and
holding no office under the United States. Such a mode of election
almost precludes the possibility of corruption. Besides, no state
however large, has the power of chusing a president in that state; for
each elector must choose at least one man, who is not an inhabitant of
that State to which he belongs.

The crown of England is hereditary—the consuls of Rome were chosen
annually—both these extremes are guarded against in our proposed
constitution. The president is not dis- [15] missed from his office, as
soon as he is acquainted with business—he continues four years, and is
re-eligible, if the people approve his conduct. Nor can he canvass for
his office, by reason of the distance of the electors; and the pride
and jealousy of the states will prevent his continuing too long in

The age requisite to qualify for this office is thirty-five
years.(5) The age requisite for admittance to the Roman consulship
was forty-three years. For this difference, good reasons may be
assigned—the improvements in science, and particularly in government,
render it practicable for a man to qualify himself for an important
office, much earlier in life, than he could among the Romans;
especially in the early part of their commonwealth, when the office was
instituted. Besides it is very questionable whether any inconvenience
would have attended admission to the consulship at an earlier age.(6)

The powers vested in the president resemble the powers of the supreme
magistrates in Rome. They are not so extensive as those of the British
king; but in one instance, the president, with concurrence of the
senate, has powers exceeding those of the Roman consuls; I mean in the
appointment of judges and other subordinate executive officers. The
prætors or judges in Rome were chosen annually by the people. This was
a defect in the Roman government. [16] One half the evils in a state
arise from a lax execution of the laws; and it is impossible that an
executive officer can act with vigor and impartiality, when his office
depends on the popular voice. An annual popular election of executive
officers is the sure source of a negligent, partial and corrupt
administration. The independence of the judges in England has produced
a course of the most just, impartial and energetic judicial decisions,
for many centuries, that can be exhibited in any nation on earth. In
this point therefore I conceive the plan proposed in America to be an
improvement on the Roman constitution. In all free governments, that
is, in all countries, where _laws govern_, and not _men_, the supreme
magistrate should have it in his power to execute any law, however
unpopular, without hazarding his person or office. The laws are the
sole _guardians_ of right, and when the magistrate dares not act, every
person is insecure.

Let us now attend to the constitution and the powers of the senate.

The house of lords in England is wholly independent on(7) the people.
The lords spiritual hold their seats by office; and the people at
large have no voice in disposing of the ecclesiastical dignities. The
temporal lords hold their seats by hereditary right or by grant from
the king: And it is a branch of the king’s prerogative to make what
peers he pleases.

[17] The senate in Rome was elective; but a senator held his seat for

[18] The proposed senate in America is constituted on principles more
favorable to liberty: The members are elective, and by the separate
legislatures: They hold their seats for six years—they are thus
rendered sufficiently dependent on their constituents; and yet are not
dismissed from their office as soon as they become acquainted with the
forms of proceeding.

It may be objected by the larger states, that the representation is not
equal; the smallest states having the privilege of sending the same
number of senators as the largest. To obviate this objection, I would
suggest but two or three ideas.

1. If each state had a representation and a right in deciding
questions, proportional to its property, three states would almost
command the whole. Such a constitution would gradually annihilate the
small states; and finally melt down the whole United States into one
undivided sovereignty. The free states of Spain and the heptarchy in
England, afford striking examples of this.

[19] Should it be said that such an event is desirable, I answer; the
states are all entitled to their respective sovereignties, and while
they claim independence in international jurisdiction, the federal
constitution ought to guarantee their sovereignty.

Another consideration has weight—There is, in all nations, a
tendency toward an accumulation of power in some point. It is the
business of the legislator to establish some barriers to check the
tendency. In small societies, a man worth £.100,000 has but one vote,
when his neighbors, who are worth but fifty pounds, have each one
vote likewise. To make property the sole basis of authority, would
expose many of the best citizens to violence and oppression. To make
the number of inhabitants(9) in a state, the rule of apportioning
power, is more equitable; and were the United States one indivisible
interest, would be a perfect rule for representation. But the detached
situation of the states has created some separate interests—some local
institutions, which they will not resign nor throw into the hands of
other states. For these peculiar interests, the states have an _equal_
attachment—for the preservation and enjoyment of these, an _equal_
sovereignty is necessary; and the sovereignty of each state would not
be secure, had each state, in both branches of the legislature an
authority in passing laws, proportioned to its inhabitants.

3. But the senate should be considered as representing the confederacy
in a body. It is a [20] false principle in the vulgar idea of
representation, that a man delegated by a particular district in
a state, is the representative of that district only; whereas in
truth a member of the legislature from any town or county, is the
representative of the whole state. In passing laws, he is to view the
whole collective interest of the state, and act from that view; not
from a partial regard to the interest of the town or county where he is

The same principle extends to the Congress of the United States.
A delegate is bound to represent the true local interest of his
constituents—to state in its true light to the whole body—but when
each provincial interest is thus stated, every member should act
for the _aggregate interest_ of the whole confederacy. The design
of representation is to bring the collective interest into view—a
delegate is not the legislator of a single state—he is as much the
legislator of the whole confederacy as of the particular state where
he is chosen; and if he gives his vote for a law which he believes to
be beneficial to his own state only, and pernicious to the rest, he
betrays his trust and violates his oath. It is indeed difficult for a
man to divest himself of local attachments and act from an impartial
regard to the general good; but he who cannot for the most part do
this, is not a good legislator.

These considerations suggest the propriety of continuing the senators
in office, for a longer period, than the representatives. They
gradually lose their partiality, generalize their views, [21] and
consider themselves as acting for the whole confederacy. Hence in the
senate we may expect union and firmness—here we may find the _general
good_ the object of legislation, and a check upon the more partial and
interested acts of the other branch.

These considerations obviate the complaint, that the representation
in the senate is not equal; for the senators represent the whole
confederacy; and all that is wanted of the members is information
of the true situation and interest of each state. As they act under
the direction of the several legislatures, two men may as fully and
completely represent a state, as twenty; and when the true interest
of each state is known, if the senators perform the part of good
legislators, and act impartially for the whole collective body of the
United States, it is totally immaterial where they are chosen.(10)

[22] The house of representatives is the more immediate voice of the
separate states—here the states are represented in proportion to
their number of inhabitants—here the separate interests will operate
with their full force, and the violence of parties and the jealousies
produced by interfering interests, can be restrained and quieted only
by a body of men, less local and dependent.

It may be objected that no separate interests should exist in a state;
and a division of the legislature has a tendency to create them.
But this objection is founded on mere jealousy, or a very imperfect
comparison of the Roman and British governments, with the proposed
federal constitution.

The house of peers in England is a body originally and totally
independent on(11) the people—the senate in Rome was mostly composed of
patrician or noble families, and after the first election of a senator,
he was no longer dependent on the people—he held his seat for life.
But the senate of the United States can have no separate interests from
the body of the people; for they live among them—they are chosen by
them—they _must_ be dismissed from their place once in six years and
_may_ at any time be impeached for mal-practices—their property is
si- [23]tuated among the people, and with their persons, subject to the
same laws. No title can be granted, but the temporary titles of office,
bestowed by the voluntary election of the people; and no pre-eminence
can be acquired but by the same means.

The separation of the legislature divides the
power—checks—restrains—amends the proceedings—at the same time,
it creates no division of interest, that can tempt either branch to
encroach upon the other, or upon the people. In turbulent times, such
restraint is our greatest safety—in calm times, and in measures
obviously calculated for the general good, both branches must always be

A man must be thirty years of age before he can be admitted into
the senate—which was likewise a requisite in the Roman government.
What property was requisite for a senator in the early ages of
Rome, I cannot inform myself; but Augustus fixed it at six hundred
sestertia—between six and seven thousand pounds sterling. In the
federal constitution, money is not made a requisite—the places of
senators are wisely left open to all persons of suitable age and merit,
and who have been citizens of the United States for nine years; a term
in which foreigners may acquire the feelings and acquaint themselves
with the interests, of the native Americans.

The house of representatives is formed on very equitable principles;
and is calculated to guard the privileges of the people. The English
[24] house of commons is chosen by a small part of the people of
England, and continues for seven years. The Romans never discovered the
secret of representation—the whole body of citizens assembled for the
purposes of legislation—a circumstance that exposed their government
to frequent convulsions, and to capricious measures. The federal house
of representatives is chosen by the people qualified to vote for state
representatives,(12) and continues two years.

[25] Some may object to their continuance in power _two years_. But I
cannot see any danger arising from this quarter. On the contrary, it
creates less trouble for the representatives, who by such choice are
taken from their professions and obliged to attend Congress, some of
them at the distance of at least seven hundred miles. While men are
chosen by the people, and responsible to them, there is but little
danger from ambition or corruption.

If it should be said that Congress may in time become triennial, and
even septennial, like the English parliaments, I answer, this is not
in their power. The English parliament had power to prolong the period
of their existence—but Congress will be restrained by the different
legislatures, without whose constitutional concurrence, no alteration
can be made in the proposed system.

The fourth section, article I, of the new constitution declares that
“The times, places, and manner of holding elections for senators and
representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature
thereof; _but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such
regulations, except as to the places of chusing senators_.” Here let
us pause——What did the convention mean by giving Congress power to
_make regulations_, prescribed by the legislatures? Is this expression
accurate or intelligible? But the word _alter_ is very intelligible,
and the clause puts the election of representatives _wholly_, and [26]
the senators _almost wholly_, in the power of Congress.

The views of the convention I believe to be perfectly upright—They
might mean to place the election of representatives and senators beyond
the reach of faction—They doubtless had good reasons, in _their_
minds, for the clause—But I see no occasion for any power in Congress
to interfere with the choice of their own body—They will have power
to suppress insurrections, as they ought to have; but the clause in
_Italics_ gives _needless_ and _dangerous_ powers—I hope the states
will reject it with decency, and adopt the whole system, without
altering another syllable.(13)

The method of passing laws in Congress is much preferable to that of
ancient Rome or modern Britain. Not to mention other defects in Rome,
it lay in the power of a single tribune to obstruct the passing of
a law. As the tribunes were popular magistrates, the right was often
exercised in favor of liberty; but it was also abused, and the best
regulations were prevented, to gratify the spleen, the ambition, or the
resentment of an individual.

The king of Great-Britain has the same power, but seldom exercises it.
It is however a dangerous power—it is absurd and hazardous to lodge in
_one man_ the right of controlling the will of a state.

Every bill that passes a majority of both houses of Congress, must be
sent to the president for [27] his approbation; but it must be returned
in ten days, whether approved by him or not; and the concurrence of
two thirds of both houses passes the bill into a law, notwithstanding
any objections of the president. The constitution therefore gives the
supreme executive a check but no negative, upon the sense of Congress.

The powers lodged in Congress are extensive; but it is presumed that
they are not too extensive. The first object of the constitution is
to _unite_ the states into one _compact society_, for the purpose of
government. If such _union_ must exist, or the states be exposed to
foreign invasions, internal discord, reciprocal encroachments upon each
others property—to weakness and infamy, which no person will dispute;
what powers must be collected and lodged in the supreme head or
legislature of these states. The answer is easy: This legislature must
have exclusive jurisdiction in all matters in which the states have a
mutual interest. There are some regulations in which all the states
are equally concerned—there are others, which in their operation,
are limited to one state. The first belongs to Congress—the last
to the respective legislatures. No one state has a right to supreme
control, in any affair in which the other states have an interest,
nor should Congress interfere in any affair which respects one state
only. This is the general line of division, which the convention have
endeavored to draw, between the powers of Congress and the rights of
the individual states. The only question therefore is, whether the new
constitution delegates to Congress any powers which [28] do not respect
the general interest and welfare of the United States. If these powers
intrench upon the present sovereignty of any _state_, without having
for an object the _collective interest_ of the whole, the powers are
too extensive. But if they do not extend to all concerns, in which
the states have a mutual interest, they are too limited. If in any
instance, the powers necessary for protecting the _general_ interest,
interfere with the constitutional rights of an _individual state_, such
state has assumed powers that are inconsistent with the safety of the
United States, and which ought instantly to be resigned. Considering
the states as individuals, on equal terms, entering into a social
compact, no state has a right to any power which may prejudice its
neighbors. If therefore the federal constitution has collected into the
federal legislature no more power than is necessary for the _common
defence and interest_, it should be recognized by the states, however
particular clauses may supersede the exercise of certain powers by the
individual states.

This question is of vast magnitude. The states have very high ideas
of their separate sovereignty; altho’ it is certain, that while each
exists in its full latitude, we can have no _Federal sovereignty_.
However flattered each state may be by its independent sovereignty, we
can have no union, no respectability, no national character, and what
is more, no national justice, till the states resign to one _supreme
head_ the exclusive power of _legislating, judging and executing_,
in all matters of a general nature. Every thing of [29] a private or
provincial nature, must still rest on the ground of the respective
state constitutions.

After examining the limits of the proposed congressional powers, I
confess I do not think them too extensive—I firmly believe that the
life, liberty and property of every man, and the peace and independence
of each state, will be more fully secured under such a constitution
of federal government, than they will under a constitution with more
limited powers; and infinitely more safe than under our boasted
distinct sovereignties. It appears to me that Congress will have no
more power than will be necessary for our union and general welfare;
and such power they must have or we are in a wretched state. On the
adoption of this constitution, I should value real estate twenty per
cent. higher than I do at this moment.

I will not examine into the extent of the powers proposed to be
lodged in the supreme federal head; the subject would be extensive
and require more time than I could bestow upon it. But I will take up
some objections, that have been made to particular points of the new

Most of the objections I have yet heard to the constitution, consist
in mere insinuations unsupported by reasoning or fact. They are thrown
out to instil groundless jealousies into the minds of the people, and
probably with a view to prevent all government; for there are, in
every society, some turbulent geniuses whose importance [30] depends
solely on faction. To seek the insidious and detestable nature of
these insinuations, it is necessary to mention, and to remark on a few

1. The first objection against the constitution is, that the
legislature will be more expensive than our present confederation.
This is so far from being true, that the money we actually lose by our
present weakness, disunion and _want of government_ would support the
civil government of every state in the confederacy. Our public poverty
does not proceed from the expensiveness of Congress, nor of the civil
list; but from want of power to command our own advantages. We pay more
money to foreign nations, in the course of business, and merely for
_want of government_, than would, under an efficient government, pay
the annual interest of our domestic debt. Every man in business knows
this to be _truth_; and the objection can be designed only to delude
the ignorant.

2. Another objection to the constitution, is the division of the
legislature into two branches. Luckily this objection has no advocates
but in Pennsylvania; and even here their number is dwindling. The
factions that reign in this state, the internal discord and passions
that disturb the government and the peace of the inhabitants, have
detected the errors of the constitution, and will some time or other
produce a reformation. The division of the legislature has been the
subject of discussion in the beginning of this essay; and will be
deemed, by nineteen-twentieths of [31] the Americans, one of the
principal excellencies of the constitution.

3. A third insinuation, is that the proposed federal government will
annihilate the several legislatures. This is extremely disingenuous.
Every person, capable of reading, must discover, that the convention
have labored to draw the line between the federal and provincial
powers—to define the powers of Congress, and limit them to those
general concerns which _must_ come under federal jurisdiction, and
which _cannot_ be managed in the separate legislatures—that in all
internal regulations, whether of civil or criminal nature, the states
retain their sovereignty, and have it guaranteed to them by this very
constitution. Such a groundless insinuation, or rather mere surmise,
must proceed from dark designs or extreme ignorance, and deserves the
severest reprobation.

4. It is alledged that the liberty of the press is not guaranteed by
the new constitution. But this objection is wholly unfounded. The
liberty of the press does not come within the jurisdiction of federal
government. It is firmly established in all the states either by law,
or positive declarations in _bills of right_; and not being mentioned
in the federal constitution, is not—and cannot be abridged by
Congress. It stands on the basis of the respective state-constitutions.
Should any state resign to Congress the exclusive jurisdiction of a
certain district, which should include any town where presses are
already established, it is in the power of the state to reserve [32]
the liberty of the press, or any other fundamental privilege, and make
it an immutable condition of the grant, that such rights shall never
be violated. All objections therefore on this score are “_baseless

5. It is insinuated that the constitution gives Congress the power of
levying internal taxes at pleasure. This insinuation seems founded on
the eighth section of the first article, which declares, that “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.”

That Congress should have power to collect duties, imposts and
excises, in order to render them uniform throughout the United States
will hardly be controverted. The whole objection is to the right of
levying internal taxes.

But it will be conceded that the supreme head of the states must have
power, competent to the purposes of our union, or it will be, as it now
is, a _useless body_, a mere expense, without any advantage. To pay our
public debt, to support foreign ministers and our own civil government,
money must be raised; and if the duties and imposts are not adequate to
these purposes, where shall the money be obtained? It will be answered,
let Congress apportion the sum to be raised, and leave the legislatures
to collect the money. Well this is all that is intended by the clause
under consideration; with the addition of a fe- [33] deral power that
shall be sufficient to oblige a delinquent state to comply with the
requisition.(14) Such power must exist somewhere, or the debts of the
United States can never be paid. For want of such power, our credit is
lost and our national faith is a bye-word.

For want of such power, one state now complies fully with a
requisition, another partially, and a third absolutely refuses or
neglects to grant a shilling. Thus the honest and punctual are doubly
loaded—and the knave triumphs in his negligence. In short, no honest
man will dread a power that shall enforce an equitable system of
taxation. The dis-honest are ever apprehensive of a power that shall
oblige them to do what honest men are ready to do voluntarily.

Permit me to ask those who object to this power of taxation, how shall
money be raised to discharge our honest debts which are universally
acknowledged to be just? Have we not already experienced the inefficacy
of a system without power? Has it not been proved to demonstration,
that a voluntary compliance with the demands of the union can never
be expected? To what expedient shall we have recourse? What is the
resort of all governments in cases of delinquency? Do not the states
vest in the legislature, or even in the governor and council, a power
to enforce laws, even with the militia of the states? And how rarely
does there exist the necessity of exerting such a power? Why should
such a power be more dangerous in Congress than in a legislature? Why
should [34] more confidence be reposed in a member of one legislature
than of another? Why should we choose the best men in the state
to represent us in Congress, and the moment they are elected arm
ourselves against them as against tyrants and robbers? Do we not, in
this conduct, act the part of a man, who, as soon as he has married
a woman of unsuspected chastity, locks her up in a dungeon? Is there
any spell or charm, that instantly changes a delegate to Congress
from an honest man into a knave—a tyrant? I confess freely that I am
willing to trust Congress with any powers that I should dare lodge in a
state-legislature. I believe life, liberty, and property is as safe in
the hands of a federal legislature, organized in the manner proposed by
the convention, as in the hands of any legislature, that has ever been
or ever will be chosen in any particular state.

But the idea that Congress can levy taxes _at pleasure_ is false, and
the suggestion wholly unsupported. The preamble to the constitution
is declaratory of the purposes of our union and the assumption of
any powers not necessary to _establish justice, insure domestic
tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general
welfare, and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our
posterity_, will be unconstitutional, and endanger the existence of
Congress. Besides, in the very clause which gives the power of levying
duties and taxes, the purposes to which the money shall be appropriated
are specified, viz. _to pay the debts and provide for the common
de-_ [35] _fence and general welfare of the United States_.(15) For these
purposes money must be collected, and the power of collection must be
lodged, sooner or later, in a federal head; or the common defence and
general welfare must be neglected.

The states in their separate capacity, cannot provide for the common
defence; nay in case of a civil war, a state cannot secure its own
existence. The only question therefore is, whether it is necessary to
unite, and provide for our _common defence and general welfare_. For
this question being once decided in the affirmative, leaves no room to
controvert the propriety of constituting a power over the whole United
States, adequate to these general purposes.

The states, by granting such power, do not throw it out of their own
hands—they only throw, each its proportion, into a common stock—they
merely combine the powers of the several states into one point, where
they _must_ be collected, before they _can_ be exerted. But the powers
are still in their own hands; and cannot be alienated, till they create
a body independent of them- [36] selves, with a force at their command,
superior to the whole yeomanry of the country.

6. It is said there is no provision made in the new constitution
against a standing army in time of peace. Why do not people object
that no provision is made against the introduction of a body of
Turkish Janizaries; or against making the Alcoran the rule of faith
and practice, instead of the Bible? The answer to such objections is
simply this—_no such provision is necessary_. The people in this
country cannot forget their apprehensions from a British standing
army, quartered in America; and they turn their fears and jealousies
against themselves. Why do not the people of most of the states
apprehend danger from standing armies from their own legislatures?
Pennsylvania and North Carolina, I believe, are the only states that
have provided against this danger at all events. Other states have
declared that “no standing armies shall be kept up without the consent
of the legislature.” But this leaves the power entirely in the hands of
the legislature. Many of the states however have made _no provision_
against this evil. What hazards these states suffer! Why does not a
man pass a law in his family, that no armed soldier shall be quartered
in his house by his consent? The reason is very plain: no man will
suffer his liberty to be abridged, or endangered—his disposition and
his power are uniformly opposed to any infringement of his rights. In
the same manner, the principles and habits, as well as the power of
the Americans are directly opposed to standing armies: and there is as
little [37] necessity to guard against them by positive constitutions,
as to prohibit the establishment of the Mahometan religion. But the
constitution provides for our safety; and while it gives Congress power
to raise armies, it declares that no appropriation of money to their
support shall be for a longer term than two years.

Congress likewise are to have power to provide for organizing, arming
and disciplining the militia, but have no other command of them, except
when in actual service. Nor are they at liberty to call out the militia
at pleasure—but only, to execute the laws of the union, suppress
insurrections, and repel invasions. For these purposes, government must
always be armed with a military force, if the occasion should require
it; otherwise laws are nugatory, and life and property insecure.

7. Some persons have ventured to publish an intimation, that by the
proposed constitution, the trial by jury is abolished in all _civil
cases_. Others very modestly insinuate, that it is in _some cases_
only. The fact is, that trial by jury is not affected in _any_ case,
by the constitution; except in cases of impeachment, which are to be
tried by the senate. None but persons in office in or under Congress
can be impeached; and even after a judgment upon an impeachment, the
offender is liable to a prosecution, before a common jury, in a regular
course of law. The insinuation therefore that trials by jury are to
be abolished, is groundless, and beyond conception, wicked. It must
be wicked, because the circu- [38] lation of a barefaced falsehood,
respecting a privilege, dear to freemen, can proceed only from a
depraved heart and the worst intentions.

8. It is also intimated as a probable event, that the federal courts
will absorb the judiciaries of the federal states. This is a mere
suspicion, without the least foundation. The jurisdiction of the
federal states is very accurately defined and easily understood.
It extends to the cases mentioned in the constitution, and to the
execution of the laws of Congress, respecting commerce, revenue, and
other general concerns.

With respect to other civil and criminal actions, the powers and
jurisdiction of the several judiciaries of each state, remain
unimpaired. Nor is there anything novel in allowing appeals to
the supreme court. Actions are mostly to be tried in the state
where the crimes are committed—But appeals are allowed under our
present confederation, and no person complains; nay, were there no
appeal, every man would have reason to complain, especially when a
final judgement, in an inferior court, should affect property to a
large amount. But why is an objection raised against an appellate
jurisdiction in the supreme court, respecting _fact_ as well as _law_?
Is it less safe to have the opinions of two juries than of one? I
suspect many people will think this is no defect in the constitution.
But perhaps it will destroy a material requisite of a good jury, viz.
their vicinity to the cause of action. I have no doubt, that when
causes were tried, in periods prior to the Christian æra, before [39]
twelve men, seated upon twelve stones, arranged in a circular form,
under a huge oak, there was great propriety in submitting causes to
men _in the vicinity_. The difficulty of collecting evidence, in those
rude times, rendered it necessary that juries should judge mostly
from their own knowledge of facts or from information obtained out of
court. But in these polished ages, when juries depend almost wholly
on the testimony of witnesses; and when a complication of interests,
introduced by commerce and other causes, renders it almost impossible
to collect men, in the vicinity of the parties, who are wholly
disinterested, it is no disadvantage to have a cause tried by a jury of
strangers. Indeed the latter is generally the most eligible.

But the truth is, the creation of all inferior courts is in the power
of Congress; and the constitution provides that Congress may make such
exceptions from the right of appeals as they shall judge proper. When
these courts are erected, their jurisdictions will be ascertained, and
in small actions, Congress will doubtless direct that a sentence in a
subordinate court shall, to a certain amount, be definite and final.
All objections therefore to the judicial powers of the federal courts
appear to me as trifling as any of the preceding.

9. But, say the enemies of slavery, negroes may be imported for
twenty-one years. This exception is addressed to the quakers; and a
very pitiful exception it is.

[40] The truth is, Congress cannot prohibit the importation of
slaves during that period; but the laws against the importation into
particular states, stand unrepealed. An immediate abolition of slavery
would bring ruin upon the whites, and misery upon the blacks, in the
southern states. The constitution has therefore wisely left each
state to pursue its own measures, with respect to this article of
legislation, during the period of twenty-one years.

Such are the principal objections that have yet been made by the
enemies of the new constitution. They are mostly frivolous, or founded
on false constructions, and a misrepresentation of the true state of
facts. They are evidently designed to raise groundless jealousies
in the minds of well meaning people, who have little leisure and
opportunity to examine into the principles of government. But a little
time and reflection will enable most people to detect such mischievous
intentions; and the spirit and firmness which have distinguished the
conduct of the Americans, during the conflict for independence, will
eventually triumph over the enemies of union, and bury them in disgrace
or oblivion.

But I cannot quit this subject without attempting to correct some of
the erroneous opinions respecting _freedom_ and _tyranny_, and the
principles by which they are supported. Many people seem to entertain
an idea, that liberty consists in _a power to act without any control_.
This is more liberty than even the savages enjoy. But in civil society,
political liberty consists in [41] _acting conformably to a sense
of a majority of the society_. In a free government every man binds
himself to obey the _public voice_, or the opinions of a majority; and
the _whole society_ engages to _protect each individual_. In such a
government a man is _free_ and safe. But reverse the case; suppose
every man to act without control or fear of punishment—every man would
be free, but no man would be sure of his freedom one moment. Each would
have the power of taking his neighbor’s life, liberty, or property; and
no man would command more than his own strength to repel the invasion.
The case is the same with states. If the states should not unite into
one compact society, every state may trespass upon its neighbor, and
the injured state has no means of redress but its own military force.

The present situation of our American states is very little better
than a state of nature—Our boasted state sovereignties are so far
from securing our liberty and property, that they, every moment,
expose us to the loss of both. That state which commands the heaviest
purse and longest sword, may at any moment, lay its weaker neighbor
under tribute; and there is no superior power now existing, that can
regularly oppose the invasion or redress the injury. From such liberty,
O(16) Lord, deliver us!

But what is tyranny? Or how can a free people be deprived of their
liberties? Tyranny is the exercise of some power over a man, which is
not warranted by law, or necessary for the public safety. A people can
never be deprived of [42] their liberties, while they retain in their
own hands, a power sufficient to any other power in the state. This
position leads me directly to enquire, in what consists the power of a
nation or of an order of men?

In some nations, legislators have derived much of their power from the
influence of religion, or from that implicit belief which an ignorant
and superstitious people entertain of the gods, and their interposition
in every transaction of life. The Roman senate sometimes availed
themselves of this engine to carry their decrees and maintain their
authority. This was particularly the case, under the aristocracy which
succeeded the abolition of the monarchy. The augurs and priests were
taken wholly from patrician families.(17) They constituted a distinct
order of men—had power to negative any law of the people, by declaring
that it was passed during the taking of the auspices.(18)(19) This
influence derived from the authority of opinion, was less perceptible,
but as tyrannical as a military force. The same influence constitutes,
at this day, a principal support of federal governments on the Eastern
continent, and perhaps in South America. But in North America, by a
singular concurrence of circumstances, the possibility of establishing
this influence, as a pillar of government, is totally precluded.

[43] Another source of power in government is a military force. But
this, to be efficient, must be superior to any force that exists among
the people, or which they can command: for otherwise this force would
be annihilated, on the first exercise of acts of oppression. Before a
standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in
almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot
enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people
are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular
troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States. A
military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but
such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they
will possess the _power_, and jealousy will instantly inspire the
_inclination_, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them
unjust and oppressive. In spite of all the nominal powers, vested in
Congress by the constitution, were the system once adopted in its
fullest latitude, still the actual exercise of them would be frequently
interrupted by popular jealousy. I am bold to say, that _ten_ just
and constitutional measures would be resisted, where _one_ unjust or
oppressive law would be enforced.

The powers vested in Congress are little more than _nominal_; nay
_real_ power cannot be vested in them, nor in any body, but in the
_people_. The source of power is in the _people_ of this country, and
cannot for ages, and probably never will, be removed.(20)

In what then does _real_ power consist? The answer is short and
plain—in _property_. Could [44] we want any proofs of this, which are
not exhibited in this country, the uniform testimony of history will
furnish us with multitudes. But I will go no farther for proof, than
the two governments already mentioned, the Roman and the British.

Rome exhibited a demonstrative proof of the inseparable connexion
between property and dominion. The first form of its government was an
elective monarchy—its second, an aristocracy; but these forms could
not be permanent, because they were not supported by property. The
kings at first and afterwards the patricians had nominally most of the
power; but the people, possessing most of the lands, never ceased to
assert their privileges, till they established a commonwealth. And the
kings and senate could not have held the reigns of government in their
hands so long as they did, had they not artfully contrived to manage
the established religion, and play off the superstitious credulity of
the people against their own power. “Thus this weak constitution of
government,” says the ingenious Mr. Moyle, speaking of the aristocracy
of Rome, “not founded on the true _center of dominion_, _land_, nor on
any standing foundation of authority, nor rivetted in the esteem and
affections of the people; and being attacked by strong passion, general
interest and the joint forces of the people, mouldered away of course,
and pined of a lingering consumption, till it was totally swallowed
up by the prevailing faction, and the nobility were moulded into the
mass of the people.”(21) The people, notwithstanding [45] the nominal
authority of the patricians, proceeded regularly in enlarging their
own powers. They first extorted from the senate, the right of electing
_tribunes_, with a negative upon the proceedings of the senate.(22)
They obtained the right of proposing and debating laws; which before
had been vested in the senate; and finally advanced to the power of
enacting laws, without the authority of the senate.(23) They regained
the rights of election in their comitia, of which they had been
deprived by Servius Tullius.(24) They procured a permanent body of laws,
collected from the Grecian institutions. They destroyed the influence
of augurs, or diviners, by establishing the _tributa comitia_, in which
they were not allowed to consult the gods. They increased their power
by large accessions of conquered lands. They procured a repeal of the
law which prohibited marriages between the patricians and plebians.(25)
The Licinian law limited all possessions to five hundred acres of
land; which, had it been fully executed, would have secured the

The Romans proceeded thus step by step to triumph over the aristocracy,
and to crown their privileges, they procured the right of being elected
to the highest offices of the state. By acquiring _the property_ of the
plebians, the nobility, several times, held most of the power of the
state; but the people, by reducing the interest of money, abolishing
debts, or by forcing [46] other advantages from the patricians,
generally held the power of governing in their own hands.

In America, we begin our empire with more popular privileges than the
Romans ever enjoyed. We have not to struggle against a monarch or an
aristocracy—power is lodged in the mass of the people.

On reviewing the English history, we observe a progress similar to
that in Rome—an incessant struggle for liberty from the date of
Magna Charta, in John’s reign, to the revolution. The struggle has
been successful, by abridging the enormous power of the nobility.
But we observe that the power of the people has increased in an
exact proportion to their acquisitions of property. Wherever the
right of primogeniture is established, property must accumulate and
remain in families. Thus the landed property in England will never be
sufficiently distributed, to give the powers of government wholly
into the hands of the people. But to assist the struggle for liberty,
commerce has interposed, and in conjunction with manufacturers,
thrown a vast weight of property into the democratic scale. Wherever
we cast our eyes, we see this truth, that _property_ is the basis of
_power_; and this, being established as a cardinal point, directs
us to the means of preserving our freedom. Make laws, irrevocable
laws in every state, destroying and barring entailments; leave real
estates to revolve from hand to hand, as time and accident may
direct; and no family influence can be acquired and established for
a series of genera- [47] tions—no man can obtain dominion over a
large territory—the laborious and saving, who are generally the best
citizens, will possess each his share of property and power, and thus
the balance of wealth and power will continue where it is, in the _body
of the people_.

_A general and tolerably equal distribution of landed property is the
whole basis of national freedom_: The system of the great Montesquieu
will ever be erroneous, till the words _property or lands in fee
simple_ are substituted for _virtue_, throughout his _Spirit of Laws_.

_Virtue_, patriotism, or love of country, never was and never will
be, till mens’ natures are changed, a fixed, permanent principle and
support of government. But in an agricultural country, a general
possession of land in fee simple, may be rendered perpetual, and the
inequalities introduced by commerce, are too fluctuating to endanger
government. An equality of property, with a necessity of alienation,
constantly operating to destroy combinations of powerful families, is
the very _soul of a republic_—While this continues, the people will
inevitably possess both _power_ and _freedom_; when this is lost, power
departs, liberty expires, and a commonwealth will inevitably assume
some other form.

The liberty of the press, trial by jury, the Habeas Corpus writ,
even Magna Charta itself, although justly deemed the palladia of
freedom, are all inferior considerations, when compared with a general
distribution of real property among [48] every class of people.(27)
The power of entailing estates is more dangerous to liberty and
republican government, than all the constitutions that can be written
on paper, or even than a standing army. Let the people have property,
and they _will_ have power—a power that will for ever be exerted to
prevent a restriction of the press, and abolition of trial by jury,
or the abridgement of any other privilege. The liberties of America,
therefore, and her forms of government, stand on the broadest basis.
Removed from the fears of a foreign invasion and conquest, they are
[49] not exposed to the convulsions that shake other governments; and
the principles of freedom are so general and energetic, as to exclude
the possibility of a change in our republican constitutions.

But while _property_ is considered as the _basis_ of the freedom of
the American yeomanry, there are other auxiliary supports; among which
is the _information of the people_. In no country, is education so
general—in no country, have the body of the people such a knowledge of
the rights of men and the principles of government. This knowledge,
joined with a keen sense of liberty and a watchful jealousy, will guard
our constitutions, and awaken the people to an instantaneous resistance
of encroachments.

But a principal bulwark of freedom is the _right of election_. An
equal distribution of property is the _foundation_ of a republic; but
_popular elections_ form the _great barrier_, which defends it from
assault, and guards it from the slow and imperceptible approaches of
corruption. Americans! never resign that right. It is not very material
whether your representatives are elected for one year or two—but the
_right_ is the Magna Charta of your governments. For this reason,
expunge that clause of the new constitution before mentioned, which
gives Congress an influence in the election of their own body. The
_time_, _place_ and _manner_ of chusing senators or representatives are
of little or no consequence to Congress. The number of members and time
of meeting in Congress are fixed; but the _choice_ should rest with the
several states. [50] I repeat it—reject the clause with decency, but
with unanimity and firmness.(28)

Excepting that clause the constitution is good(29)—it guarantees the
_fundamental principles_ of our several constitutions—it guards our
rights—and while it vests extensive powers in Congress, it vests no
more than are necessary for our union. Without powers lodged somewhere
in a single body, fully competent to lay and collect equal taxes
and duties—to adjust controversies between different states—to
silence contending interests—to suppress insurrections—to regulate
commerce—to treat with foreign nations, our confederation is a
cobweb—liable to be blown asunder by every blast of faction that is
raised in the remotest corner of the United States.

Every motive that can possibly influence men ever to unite under civil
government, now urges the unanimous adoption of the new constitution.
But in America we are urged to it by a singular necessity. By the local
situation of the several states _a few_ command _all_ the advantages of
commerce. Those states which have no advantages, made equal exertions
for independence, loaded themselves with immense debts, and now are
utterly(30) unable to discharge them; while their richer neighbors
are taxing them for their own benefit, merely because they _can_. I
can prove to a demonstration that Connecticut, which has the heaviest
internal or state debt, in proportion to its number of inhabitants,
of any in the union, cannot discharge its debt, on any principles of
taxation ever yet practised. Yet [51] the state pays in duties, at
least 100,000 dollars annually, on goods consumed by its own people,
but imported by New York. This sum, could it be saved to the state by
an equal system of revenue, would enable that state to gradually sink
its debt.(31)(32)
New Jersey and some other states are in the same situation, except
that their debts are not so large, in proportion to their wealth and

The boundaries of the several states were not drawn with a view to
independence; and while this country was subject to Great Britain,
they produced no commercial or political inconveniences. But the
revolution has placed things on a different footing. The advantages
of some states, and the disadvantages of others are so great—and so
materially affect the business and interest of each, that nothing but
an equalizing system of revenue, that shall reduce the advantages
to some equitable proportion, can prevent a civil war and save the
national debt. Such a system of revenue is the _sine qua non_ of public
justice and tranquillity.

It is absurd for a man to oppose the adoption of the constitution,
because _he_ thinks some part of it defective or exceptionable.
Let every man be at liberty to expunge what _he_ judges to be
exceptionable, and not a syllable of the constitution [52] will
survive the scrutiny. A painter, after executing a masterly piece,
requested every spectator to draw a pencil mark over the part that
did not please him; but to his surprise, he soon found the _whole
piece_ defaced. Let every man examine the most perfect building by his
_own_ taste, and like some microscopic critics, condemn the _whole_
for small deviations from the rules of architecture, and not a part
of the _best_ constructed fabric would escape. But let _any_ man take
a _comprehensive view_ of the whole, and he will be pleased with the
general beauty and proportions, and admire the structure. The same
remarks apply to the new constitution. I have no doubt that _every_
member of the late convention has exceptions to _some part_ of the
system proposed. Their constituents have the same, and if _every_
objection must be removed, before we have a national government, the
Lord have mercy on us.

Perfection is not the lot of humanity. Instead of censuring the small
faults of the constitution, I am astonished that so many clashing
interests have been reconciled—and so many sacrifices made to the
_general interest_! The mutual concessions made by the gentlemen of the
convention, reflect the highest honor on their candor and liberality;
at the same time, they prove that their minds were deeply impressed
with a conviction, that such mutual sacrifices are _essential to
our union_. They _must_ be made sooner or later by every state; or
jealousies, local interests and prejudices will unsheath the sword, and
some Cæsar or Cromwell will avail himself [53] of our divisions, and
wade to a throne through streams of blood.

It is not our duty as freemen, to receive the opinions of any men
however great and respectable, without an examination. But when
we reflect that(33) some of the greatest men in America, with the
venerable FRANKLIN and the illustrious WASHINGTON at their head; _some_
of them the _fathers_ and _saviors_ of their country, men who have
labored at the helm during a long and violent tempest, and guided us to
the haven of peace—and _all_ of them distinguished for their abilities
their acquaintance with ancient and modern governments, as well as
with the temper, the passions, the interests and the wishes of the
Americans;—when we reflect on these circumstances, it is impossible to
resist impressions of respect, and we are almost impelled to suspect
our own judgements, when we call in question any part of the system,
which they have recommended for adoption. Not having the same means of
information, we are more liable to mistake the nature and tendency of
particular articles of the constitution, or the reasons on which they
were admitted. Great confidence therefore should be reposed in the
abilities, the zeal and integrity of that respectable body. But after
all, if the constitution should, in its future operation, be found
defective or inconvenient, two-thirds of both houses of Congress or the
application of two-thirds of the legislatures, may open the door for
amendments. Such improvements may then be made, as experience shall

[54] Let us then consider the _New Federal Constitution_, as it really
is, an _improvement_ on the _best_ constitutions that the world ever
saw. In the house of representatives, the people of America have
an equal voice and suffrage. The choice of men is placed in the
freemen or electors at large; and the frequency of elections, and the
responsibility of the members, will render them sufficiently dependent
on their constituents. The senate will be composed of older men;
and while their regular dismission from office, once in six years,
will preserve their dependence on their constituents, the duration
of their existence will give firmness to their decisions, and temper
the factions which must necessarily prevail in the other branch. The
president of the United States is elective, and what is a capital
improvement on the best governments, the mode of chusing him excludes
the danger of faction and corruption.(34) As the supreme executive, he
is invested with power to enforce the laws of the union and give energy
to the federal government.

The constitution defines the powers of Congress; and every power
not expressly delegated to that body, remains in the several
state-legislatures. The sovereignty and the republican form of
government of each state is guaranteed by the constitution; and the
bounds of jurisdiction between the federal and respective state
governments, are marked with precision. In theory, it has all the
energy and freedom of the British and Roman governments, without their
defects. In short, the privileges of freemen are [55] interwoven into
the feelings and habits of the Americans; _liberty_ stands on the
immoveable basis of a general distribution of property and diffusion
of knowledge; but the Americans must cease to contend, to fear, and
to hate, before they can realize the benefits of independence and
government, or enjoy the blessings, which heaven has lavished, in rich
profusion, upon this western world.

An / Address / to the / People / of the / State of New-York / On the
Subject of the / Constitution, / Agreed upon at Philadelphia, / The
17th of September, 1787. / New-York: / Printed by Samuel Loudon, /
Printer to the State. [1788].

  Sm. 4to., pp. 19.

  By John Jay, member of the New York State Convention. The pamphlet has
  been partially reprinted in Elliot, I, 496.

  “The good sense, forcible observations, temper and moderation with
  which the pamphlet is written, cannot fail, I should think, of making
  a serious impression upon the anti-federal mind, where it is not under
  the influence of such local views as will yield to no argument, no
  proof.”—George Washington.

  “I likewise send you a small pamphlet written by John Jay about
  ten days since, and which has had a most astonishing influence in
  converting anti-federalism to a knowledge and belief that the new
  Constitution was their only political salvation.”—S. B. Webb, 27
  April, 1788.

  “This pamphlet contains a brief recapitulation of the most striking
  arguments in favor of adopting the proposed Federal Constitution.
  Several of the observations are new, and all are penned with such
  moderation of temper, and sound judgment, that they cannot fail to make
  an impression favorable to the Constitution on minds which are open to
  conviction. It is wished that every friend to good order and government
  might ‘receive this address with the same candor with which it is
  written,’ as it is believed the author’s arguments against appointing
  a new general Convention, for the purpose of altering and amending the
  constitution, are altogether unanswerable.” [Noah Webster] in _American
  Magazine_ for April, 1788.

  See Jay’s _Life of Jay_, I, 362; _The Federalist_, LXXXV; and
  the “Postcript” of _An Address to the People of the State of New
  York_.—_By a Plebian_, infra.

   P. L. F.

_Friends and Fellow Citizens_:

There are times and seasons, when _general evils_ spread general
alarm and uneasiness, and yet arise from causes too complicated, and
too little understood by many, to produce an unanimity of opinions
respecting their remedies. Hence it is, that on such occasions, the
conflict of arguments too often excites a conflict of passions, and
introduces a degree of discord and animosity, which, by agitating the
public mind dispose it to precipitation and extravagance. They who on
the ocean have been unexpectedly enveloped with tempests, or suddenly
entangled among rocks and shoals, know the value of that serene,
self-possession and presence of mind, to which in such cases they owed
their preservation; nor will the heroes who have given us victory and
peace, hesitate to acknowledge that we are as much indebted for those
blessings to the calm prevision, and cool intrepidity which planned and
conducted our military measures, as to the glowing animation with which
they were executed.

While reason retains her rule, while men are as ready to receive as to
give advice, and as willing to be convinced themselves, as to convince
others, there are few political evils from which a free and enlightened
people cannot deliver themselves. It is unquestionably true, that the
great body of the people love their country, and wish it prosperity;
and this observation is particularly applicable to the people of a
_free_ country, for they have more and stronger reasons for loving it
than others. It is not therefore to vicious motives that the unhappy
divisions which sometimes prevail among them are to be imputed; the
people at large always mean well, and although they may on certain
oc- [4] casions be misled by the counsels, or injured by the efforts
of the few who expect more advantage from the wreck, than from the
preservation of national prosperity, yet the motives of these few, are
by no means to be confounded with those of the community in general.

That such seeds of discord and danger have been disseminated and begin
to take root in America, as unless eradicated will soon poison our
gardens and our fields, is a truth much to be lamented; and the more
so, as their growth rapidly increases, while we are wasting the season
in honestly but imprudently disputing, not whether they shall be pulled
up, but by whom, in what manner, and with what instruments, the work
shall be done.

When the king of Great Britain, misguided by men who did not merit
his confidence, asserted the unjust claim of binding us in all cases
whatsoever, and prepared to obtain our submission by force, the object
which engrossed our attention, however important, was nevertheless
plain and simple, “What shall we do?” was the question—the people
answered, let us unite our counsels and our arms. They sent Delegates
to Congress, and soldiers to the field. Confiding in the probity
and wisdom of Congress, they received their recommendations as if
they had been laws; and that ready acquiesence in their advice
enabled those patriots to save their country. Then there was little
leisure or disposition for controversy respecting the expediency of
measures—hostile fleets soon filled our ports, and hostile armies
spread desolation on our shores. Union was then considered as the most
essential of human means and we almost worshipped it with as much
fervor, as pagans in distress formerly implored the protection of their
tutelar deities. That union was the child of wisdom—heaven blessed it,
and it wrought out our political salvation.

That glorious war was succeeded by an advantageous peace. When danger
disappeared, ease, tranquility, and a sense of security loosened the
bands of union; and Congress and soldiers and good faith depreciated
with their apparent importance. Recommendations lost their influence,
and requisitions were rendered nugatory, not by their want of
propriety, but by their want of power. The spirit of private gain
expelled the spirit of public good, and men became more intent on the
means of enriching and aggrandizing themselves, than of enriching and
aggrandizing their country. Hence the war-worn veteran, whose re- [5]
ward for toils and wounds existed in written promises, found Congress
without the means, and too many of the States without the disposition,
to do him justice. Hard necessity compelled him, and others under
similar circumstances, to sell their honest claims on the public for a
little bread; and thus unmerited misfortunes and patriotic distresses
became articles of speculation and commerce.

These and many other evils, too well known to require enumeration,
imperceptibly stole in upon us, and acquired an unhappy influence on
our public affairs. But such evils, like the worst of weeds, will
naturally spring up in so rich a soil; and a good Government is as
necessary to subdue the one, as an attentive gardener or husbandman
is to destroy the other—Even the garden of Paradise required to be
dressed, and while men continue to be constantly impelled to error and
to wrong by innumerable circumstances and temptations, so long will
society experience the unceasing necessity of government.

It is a pity that the expectations which actuated the authors of the
existing confederation, neither have nor can be realized:—accustomed
to see and admire the glorious spirit which moved all ranks of people
in the most gloomy moments of the war, observing their steadfast
attachment to Union, and the wisdom they so often manifested both in
choosing and confiding in their rulers, those gentlemen were led to
flatter themselves that the people of America only required to know
what ought to be done, to do it. This amiable mistake induced them to
institute a national government in such a manner, as though very fit to
give advice, was yet destitute of power, and so constructed as to be
very unfit to be trusted with it. They seem not to have been sensible
that mere advice is a sad substitute for laws; nor to have recollected
that the advice even of the all-wise and best of Beings, has been always
disregarded by a great majority of all the men that ever lived.

Experience is a severe preceptor, but it teaches useful truths, and
however harsh, is always honest—Be calm and dispassionate, and listen
to what it tells us.

Prior to the revolution we had little occasion to inquire or know much
about national affairs, for although they existed and were managed, yet
they were managed _for_ us, but not _by_ us. Intent on our domestic
concerns, our internal legislative business, our agriculture, and our
buying and selling, we were seldom anxious about what passed or was [6]
doing in foreign Courts. As we had nothing to do with that department
of policy, so the affairs of it were not detailed to us, and we took as
little pains to inform ourselves, as others did to inform us of them.
War, and peace, alliances, and treaties, and commerce, and navigation,
were conducted and regulated without our advice or controul. While
we had liberty and justice, and in security enjoyed the fruits of
our “vine and fig tree,” we were in general too content and too much
occupied, to be at the trouble of investigating the various political
combinations in this department, or to examine and perceive how
exceedingly important they often were to the advancement and protection
of our prosperity. This habit and turn of thinking affords one reason
why so much more care was taken, and so much more wisdom displayed, in
forming our State Governments, than in forming our Federal or national

By the Confederation as it now stands, the direction of general and
national affairs is committed to a single body of men, viz. the
Congress. They may make war, but are not empowered to raise men or
money to carry it on. They may make peace, but without power to
see the terms of it observed—They may form alliances, but without
ability to comply with the stipulations on their part—They may
enter into treaties of commerce, but without power to enforce them
at home or abroad—They may borrow money, but without having the
means of repayment—They may partly regulate commerce, but without
authority to execute their ordinances—They may appoint ministers and
other officers of trust, but without power to try or punish them for
misdemeanors—They may resolve, but cannot execute either with dispatch
or with secrecy—In short, they may consult, and deliberate, and
recommend, and make requisitions, and they who please, may regard them.

From this new and wonderful system of Government, it has come to
pass, that almost every national object of every kind, is at this
day unprovided for; and other nations taking the advantage of its
imbecility, are daily multiplying commercial restraints upon us. Our
fur trade is gone to Canada, and British garrisons keep the keys of
it. Our shipyards have almost ceased to disturb the repose of the
neighborhood by the noise of the axe and hammer; and while foreign
flags fly triumphantly above our highest houses, the American Stars
seldom do more than shed a few feeble rays about the humble masts of
river sloops and coasting schooners. The greater part of our hardy
seamen, are [7] plowing the ocean in foreign pay; and not a few of
our ingenious shipwrights are now building vessels on alien shores.
Although our increasing agriculture and industry extend and multiply
our productions, yet they constantly diminish in value; and although
we permit all nations to fill our country with their merchandises,
yet their best markets are shut against us. Is there an English, or
a French, or a Spanish island or port in the West-Indies, to which
an American vessel can carry a cargo of flour for sale? Not one. The
Algerines exclude us from the Mediterranean, and adjacent countries;
and we are neither able to purchase, nor to command the free use of
those seas. Can our little towns or larger cities consume the immense
productions of our fertile country? or will they without trade be able
to pay a good price for the proportion which they do consume? The last
season gave a very unequivocal answer to these questions—What numbers
of fine cattle have returned from this city to the country for want
of buyers? What great quantities of salted and other provisions still
lie useless in the stores? To how much below the former price, is our
corn, and wheat and flour and lumber rapidly falling? Our debts remain
undiminished, and the interest on them accumulating—our credit abroad
is nearly extinguished, and at home unrestored—they who had money have
sent it beyond the reach of our laws, and scarcely any man can borrow
of his neighbor. Nay, does not experience also tell us, that it is as
difficult to pay as to borrow? That even our houses and lands cannot
command money—that law suits and usurious contracts abound—that
our farms sell on executions for less than half their value, and that
distress in various forms, and in various ways, is approaching fast to
the doors of our best citizens.

These things have been gradually coming upon us ever since the
peace—they have been perceived and proclaimed, but the universal
rage and pursuit of private gain conspired with other causes, to
prevent any proper efforts being made to meliorate our condition by
due attention to our national affairs, until the late Convention was
convened for that purpose. From the result of their deliberations, the
States expected to derive much good, and should they be disappointed,
it will probably be not less their misfortune than their fault. That
Convention was in general composed of excellent and tried men—men who
had become conspicuous for their wisdom and public services, and whose
names [8] and characters will be venerated by posterity. Generous and
candid minds cannot perceive without pain, the illiberal manner in
which some have taken the liberty to treat them; nor forbear to impute
it to impure and improper motives, zeal for public good, like zeal for
religion, may sometimes carry men beyond the bounds of reason, but it
is not conceivable, that on this occasion, it should find means so to
inebriate any _candid_ American, as to make him forget what he owed to
truth and to decency, or induce him either to believe or to say, that
the almost unanimous advice of the Convention, proceeded from a wicked
combination and conspiracy against the liberties of their country.
This is not the temper with which we should receive and consider
their recommendations, nor the treatment that would be worthy either
of us or them. Let us continue careful therefore that facts do not
warrant historians to tell future generations, that envy, malice and
uncharitableness pursued our patriotic benefactors to their graves, and
that not even pre-eminence in virtue, nor lives devoted to the public,
could shield them from obloquy and detraction. On the contrary, let
our bosoms always retain a sufficient degree of honest indignation to
disappoint and discourage those who expect our thanks or applause for
calumniating our most faithful and meritorious friends.

The Convention concurred in opinion with the people, that a national
government, _competent to every national object_, was indispensibly
necessary; and it was as plain to them, as it now is to all America,
that the present confederation does not provide for such a government.
These points being agreed, they proceeded to consider how and in what
manner such a government could be formed, as on the one hand, should be
sufficiently energetic to raise us from our prostrate and distressed
situation, and on the other be perfectly consistent with the liberties
of the people of every State. Like men to whom the experience of other
ages and countries had taught wisdom, they not only determined that
it should be erected by, and depend on the people; but remembering
the many instances in which governments vested solely in one man, or
one body of men, had degenerated into tyrannies, they judged it most
prudent that the three great branches of power should be committed to
different hands, and therefore that the executive should be separated
from the legislative, and the judicial from both. Thus far the
propriety of their work is easily seen and understood, and therefore is
thus far _almost_ uni- [9] versally approved—for no one man or thing
under the sun ever yet pleased every body.

The next question was, what particular powers should be given to these
three branches? Here the different views and interests of the different
states, as well as the different abstract opinions of their members on
such points, interposed many difficulties. Here the business became
complicated, and presented a wide field for investigation; too wide for
every eye to take a quick and comprehensive view of it.

It is said that “in a multitude of counsellors there is safety,”
because in the first place, there is greater security for probity; and
in the next, if every member cast in only his mite of information and
argument, their joint stock of both will thereby become greater than
the stock possessed by any one single man out of doors. Gentlemen out
of doors therefore should not be hasty in condemning a system, which
probably rests on more good reasons than they are aware of, especially
when formed under such advantages, and recommended by so many men of
distinguished worth and abilities.

The difficulties before mentioned occupied the Convention a long time
and it was not without mutual concessions that they were at last
surmounted. These concessions serve to explain to us the reason why
some parts of the system please in some states, which displease in
others; and why many of the objections which have been made to it,
are so contradictory and inconsistent with one another. It does great
credit to the temper and talents of the Convention, that they were able
so to reconcile the different views and interests of the different
States, and the clashing opinions of their members as to unite with
such singular and almost perfect unanimity in any plan whatever, on a
subject so intricate and perplexed. It shews that it must have been
thoroughly discussed and understood; and probably if the community
at large had the same lights and reasons before them, they would, if
equally candid and uninfluenced, be equally unanimous.

It would be arduous, and indeed impossible, to comprise within the
limits of this address, a full discussion of every part of the plan.
Such a task would require a volume, and few men have leisure or
inclination to read volumes on any subject. The objections made to
it are almost without number, and many of them without reason—some
of them are real and honest, and others merely ostensible. There are
friends to [10] Union and a national Government who have serious
doubts, who wish to be informed, and to be convinced; and there are
others who, neither wishing for union, nor any national Government at
all, will oppose and object to any plan that can be contrived.

We are told, among other strange things, that the liberty of the
press is left insecure by the proposed Constitution, and yet that
Constitution says neither more nor less about it, than the Constitution
of the State of New York does. We are told that it deprives us of trial
by jury, whereas the fact is, that it expressly secures it in certain
cases, and takes it away in none—it is absurd to construe the silence
of this, or of our own constitution, relative to a great number of
our rights, into a total extinction of them—silence and blank paper
neither grant nor take away anything. Complaints are also made that
the proposed constitution is not accompanied by a bill of rights;
and yet they who would make these complaints, know and are content
that no bill of rights accompanied the Constitution of this State. In
days and countries, where Monarchs and their subjects were frequently
disputing about prerogative and privileges, the latter often found it
necessary, as it were to run out the line between them, and oblige the
former to admit by solemn acts, called bills of rights, that certain
enumerated rights belonged to the people, and were not comprehended in
the royal prerogative. But thank God we have no such disputes—we have
no Monarchs to contend with, or demand admission from—the proposed
Government is to be the government of the people—all its officers are
to be their officers, and to exercise no rights but such as the people
commit to them. The Constitution only serves to point out that part
of the people’s business, which they think proper by it to refer to
the management of the persons therein designated—those persons are to
receive that business to manage, not for themselves and as their own,
but as agents and overseers for the people to whom they are constantly
responsible, and by whom only they are to be appointed.

But the design of this address is not to investigate the merits of
the plan, nor of the objections to it. They who seriously contemplate
the present state of our affairs will be convinced that other
considerations of at least equal importance demand their attention. Let
it be admitted that this plan, like everything else devised by man, has
its imperfections: That it does not please every body is certain and
there is little [11] reason to expect one that will. It is a question
of great moment to you, whether the probability of your being able
seasonably to obtain a better, is such as to render it prudent and
advisable to reject this, and run the risque. Candidly to consider this
question is the design of this address.

As the importance of this question must be obvious to every man,
whatever his private opinions respecting it may be, it becomes us all
to treat it in that calm and temperate manner, which a subject so
deeply interesting to the future welfare of our country and prosperity
requires. Let us therefore as much as possible repress and compose
that irritation in our minds, which to warm disputes about it may
have excited. Let us endeavour to forget that this or that man, is on
this or that side; and that we ourselves, perhaps without sufficient
reflection, have classed ourselves with one or the other party. Let
us remember that this is not a matter to be regarded as a matter that
only touches our local parties, but as one so great, so general, and so
extensive in its future consequences to America, that for our deciding
upon it according to the best of our unbiassed judgment, we must be
highly responsible both here and hereafter.

The question now before us now naturally leads to _three_ enquiries:

1. Whether it is probable that a better plan can be obtained?

2. Whether, if attainable, it is likely to be in season?

3. What would be our situation, if after rejecting this, all our
efforts to obtain a better should prove fruitless?

The men, who formed this plan are Americans, who had long deserved
and enjoyed our confidence, and who are as much interested in having
a good government as any of us are, or can be. They were appointed
to that business at a time when the States had become very sensible
of the derangement of our national affairs, and of the impossibility
of retrieving them under the existing Confederation. Although well
persuaded that nothing but a good national government could oppose
and divert the tide of evils that was flowing in upon us, yet those
gentlemen met in Convention with minds perfectly unprejudiced in
favour of any particular plan. The minds of their Constituents were
at that time equally unbiased, cool and dispassionate. All agreed in
the necessity of doing something, but no one ventured to say decidedly
what precisely ought to be done—opinions were then fluctuating and
unfixed, and whatever might have been the wishes of a few individuals,
yet while the Convention deliberated, the people remained in [12]
silent suspence. Neither wedded to favourite systems of their own, nor
influenced by popular ones abroad, the members were more desirous to
receive light from, than to impress their private sentiments on, one
another. These circumstances naturally opened the door to that spirit
of candour, of calm enquiry, of mutual accommodation, and mutual
respect, which entered into the Convention with them, and regulated
their debates and proceedings.

The impossibility of agreeing upon any plan that would exactly quadrate
with the local policy and objects of every State, soon became evident;
and they wisely thought it better mutually to concede, and accommodate,
and in that way to fashion their system as much as possible by the
circumstances and wishes of different States, than by pertinaciously
adhering, each to his own ideas, oblige the Convention to rise without
doing anything. They were sensible that obstacles arising from local
circumstances, would not cease while those circumstances continued to
exist; and so far as those circumstances depended on differences of
climate, productions, and commerce, that no change was to be expected.
They were likewise sensible that on a subject so comprehensive, and
involving such a variety of points and questions, the most able, the
most candid, and the most honest men will differ in opinion. The same
proposition seldom strikes many minds exactly in the same point of
light; different habits of thinking, different degrees and modes of
education, different prejudices and opinions early formed and long
entertained, conspire with a multitude of other circumstances, to
produce among men a diversity and contrariety of opinions on questions
of difficulty. Liberality therefore as well as prudence, induced them
to treat each other’s opinions with tenderness, to argue without
asperity, and to endeavor to convince the judgment without hurting
the feelings of each other. Although many weeks were passed in these
discussions, some points remained, on which a unison of opinions could
not be effected. Here again that same happy disposition to unite and
conciliate, induced them to meet each other; and enabled them, by
mutual concessions, finally to complete and agree to the plan they have
recommended, and that too with a degree of unanimity which, considering
the variety of discordant views and ideas, they had to reconcile, is
really astonishing.

They tell us very honestly that this plan is the result of
accommodation—they do not hold it up as the best of all possible ones,
but only as [13] the best which they could unite in, and agree to. If
such men, appointed and meeting under such auspicious circumstances,
and so sincerely disposed to conciliation, could go no further in their
endeavors to please every State, and every body, what reason have we at
present to expect any system that would give more general satisfaction?

Suppose this plan to be rejected, what measures would you propose
for obtaining a better? Some will answer, let us appoint another
Convention, and as everything has been said and written that can well
be said and written on the subject, they will be better informed than
the former one was, and consequently be better able to make and agree
upon a more eligible one.

This reasoning is fair, and as far as it goes has weight; but it
nevertheless takes one thing for granted, which appears very doubtful;
for although the new Convention might have more information, and
perhaps equal abilities, yet it does not from thence follow that they
would be equally _disposed to agree_. The contrary of this position
is the most probable. You must have observed that the same temper and
equanimity which prevailed among the people on the former occasion,
no longer exists. We have unhappily become divided into parties; and
this important subject has been handled with such indiscreet and
offensive acrimony, and with so many little unhandsome artifices and
misrepresentations, that pernicious heats and animosities have been
kindled, and spread their flames far and wide among us. When therefore
it becomes a question who shall be deputed to the new Convention;
we cannot flatter ourselves that the talents and integrity of the
candidates will determine who shall be elected. Federal electors
will vote for Foederal deputies, and anti-Foederal electors for
anti-Foederal ones. Nor will either party prefer the most moderate
of their adherents, for as the most staunch and active partizans
will be the most popular, so the men most willing and able to carry
points, to oppose, and divide, and embarrass their opponents, will be
chosen. A Convention formed at such a season, and of such men, would be
but too exact an epitome of the great body that named them. The same
party views, the same propensity to opposition, the same distrusts and
jealousies, and the same unaccommodating spirit which prevail without,
would be concentred and ferment with still greater violence within.
Each deputy would recollect _who_ sent [14] him, and _why_ he was sent;
and be too apt to consider himself bound in honor, to contend and
act vigorously under the standard of his party, and not hazard their
displeasure by prefering compromise to victory. As vice does not sow
the seeds of virtue, so neither does passion cultivate the fruits of
reason. Suspicions and resentments create no disposition to conciliate,
nor do they infuse a desire of making partial and personal objects
bend to general union and the common good. The utmost efforts of that
excellent disposition were necessary to enable the late Convention to
perform their task; and although contrary causes sometimes operate
similar effects, yet to expect that discord and animosity should
produce the fruits of confidence and agreement, is to expect “grapes
from thorns, and figs from thistles.”

The States of Georgia, Delaware, Jersey, and Connecticut, have adopted
the present plan with unexampled unanimity; they are content with
it as it is, and consequently their deputies, being apprized of the
sentiments of their Constituents, will be little inclined to make
alterations, and cannot be otherwise than averse to changes which they
have no reason to think would be agreeable to their people—some other
States, tho’ less unanimous, have nevertheless adopted it by very
respectable majorities; and for reasons so evidently cogent, that even
the minority in one of them, have nobly pledged themselves for its
promotion and support. From these circumstances, the new Convention
would derive and experience difficulties unknown to the former. Nor are
these the only additional difficulties they would have to encounter.
Few are ignorant that there has lately sprung up a sect of politicians
who teach and profess to believe that the extent of our nation is too
great for the superintendance of one national Government, and on that
principle argue that it ought to be divided into two or three. This
doctrine, however mischievous in its tendency and consequences, has its
advocates; and, should any of them be sent to the Convention, it will
naturally be their policy rather to cherish than to prevent divisions;
for well knowing that the institution of any national Government, would
blast their favourite system, no measures that lead to it can meet with
their aid or approbation.

Nor can we be certain whether or not any and what foreign influence
would, on such an occasion, be indirectly exerted, nor for what
purposes—delicacy forbids an ample discussion of this question. Thus
much [15] may be said, without error or offence, viz. That such foreign
nations as desire the prosperity of America, and would rejoice to see
her become great and powerful, under the auspices of a Government
wisely calculated to extend her commerce, to encourage her navigation
and marine, and to direct the whole weight of her power and resources
as her interest and honour may require, will doubtless be friendly to
the Union of the States, and to the establishment of a Government able
to perpetuate, protect and dignify it. Such other foreign nations, if
any such their be, who, jealous of our growing importance, and fearful
that our commerce and navigation should impair their own—who behold
our rapid population with regret, and apprehend that the enterprising
spirit of our people, when seconded by power and probability of
success, may be directed to objects not consistent with their policy
or interests, cannot fail to wish that we may continue a weak and a
divided people.

These considerations merit much attention, and candid men will judge
how far they render it probable that a new Convention would be able
either to agree in a better plan, or with tolerable unanimity, in any
plan at all. Any plan forcibly carried by a slender majority, must
expect numerous opponents among the people, who, especially in their
present temper, would be more inclined to reject than adopt any system
so made and carried. We should in such case again see the press teeming
with publications for and against it; for as the minority would take
pains to justify their dissent, so would the majority be industrious
to display the wisdom of their proceedings. Hence new divisions, new
parties, and new distractions would ensue, and no one can foresee or
conjecture when or how they would terminate.

Let those who are sanguine in their expectations of a better plan from
a new Convention, also reflect on the delays and risque to which it
would expose us. Let them consider whether we ought, by continuing
much longer in our present humiliated condition, to give other nations
further time to perfect their restrictive systems of commerce, to
reconcile their own people to them, and to fence and guard and
strengthen them by all those regulations and contrivances in which a
jealous policy is ever fruitful. Let them consider whether we ought to
give further opportunities to discord to alienate the hearts of our
citizens from one another, and thereby encourage new Cromwells to bold
exploits. Are we cer- [16] tain that our foreign creditors will continue
patient, and ready to proportion their forbearance to our delays? Are
we sure that our distresses, dissentions and weakness will neither
invite hostility nor insult? If they should, how ill prepared shall we
be for defence! without Union, without Government, without money, and
without credit!

It seems necessary to remind you, that some time must yet elapse,
before all the States will have decided on the present plan. If they
reject it, some time must also pass before the measure of a new
Convention, can be brought about and generally agreed to. A further
space of time will then be requisite to elect their deputies, and send
them on to Convention. What time they may expend when met, cannot be
divined, and it is equally uncertain how much time the several States
may take to deliberate and decide on any plan they may recommend—if
adopted, still a further space of time will be necessary to organize
and set it in motion:—In the mean time our affairs are daily going on
from bad to worse, and it is not rash to say that our distresses are
accumulating like compound interest.

But if for the reasons already mentioned, and others that we cannot
now perceive, the new Convention, instead of producing a better plan,
should give us only a history of their disputes, or should offer us
one still less pleasing than the present, where should we be then? The
old Confederation has done its best, and cannot help us; and is now
so relaxed and feeble, that in all probability it would not survive
so violent a shock. Then “to your tents Oh Israel!” would be the word.
Then every band of union would be severed. Then every State would be
a little nation, jealous of its neighbors, and anxious to strengthen
itself by foreign alliances, against its former friends. Then
farewell to fraternal affection, unsuspecting intercourse; and mutual
participation in commerce, navigation and citizenship. Then would arise
mutual restrictions and fears, mutual garrisons,—and standing armies,
and all those dreadful evils which for so many ages plagued England,
Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, while they continued disunited, and were
played off against each other.

Consider my fellow citizens what you are about, before it is too
late—consider what in such an event would be your particular case. You
know the geography of your State, and the consequences of your local
position. Jersey and Connecticut, to whom your impost laws have been
[17] unkind—Jersey and Connecticut, who have adopted the present plan,
and expect much good from it—will impute its miscarriage and all the
consequent evils to you. They now consider your opposition as dictated
more by your fondness for your impost, than for those rights to which
they have never been behind you in attachment. They cannot, they will
not love you—they border upon you, and are your neighbors; but you
will soon cease to regard their neighborhood as a blessing. You have
but one port and outlet to your commerce, and how you are to keep that
outlet free and uninterrupted, merits consideration.—What advantage
Vermont in combination with others, might take of you, may easily be
conjectured; nor will you be at a loss to perceive how much reason the
people of Long Island, whom you cannot protect, have to deprecate being
constantly exposed to the depredations of every invader.

These are short hints—they ought not to be more developed—you
can easily in your own mind dilate and trace them through all their
relative circumstances and connections.—Pause then for a moment, and
reflect whether the matters you are disputing about, are of sufficient
moment to justify your running such extravagant risques. Reflect that
the present plan comes recommended to you by men and fellow citizens
who have given you the highest proofs that men can give, of their
justice, their love for liberty and their country, of their prudence,
of their application, and of their talents. They tell you it is the
best that they could form; and that in their opinion, it is necessary
to redeem you from those calamities which already begin to be heavy
upon us all. You find that not only those men, but others of similar
characters, and of whom you have also had very ample experience, advise
you to adopt it. You find that whole States concur in the sentiment,
and among them are your next neighbors; both whom have shed much blood
in the cause of liberty, and have manifested as strong and constant
a predilection for a free Republican Government as any State in the
Union, and perhaps in the world. They perceive not those latent
mischiefs in it, with which some double-sighted politicians endeavor to
alarm you. You cannot but be sensible that this plan or constitution
will always be in the hands and power of the people, and that [18]
if on experiment, it should be found defective or incompetent, they
may either remedy its defects, or substitute another in its room.
The objectionable parts of it are certainly very questionable, for
otherwise there would not be such a contrariety of opinions about
them. Experience will better determine such questions than theoretical
arguments, and so far as the danger of abuses is urged against the
institution of a Government, remember that a power to do good, always
involves a power to do harm. We must in the business of Government
as well as in all other business, have some degree of confidence, as
well as a great degree of caution. Who on a sick bed would refuse
medicines from a physician, merely because it is as much in his power
to administer deadly poisons, as salutary remedies.

You cannot be certain, that by rejecting the proposed plan you would
not place yourself in a very awkward situation. Suppose nine States
should nevertheless adopt it, would you not in that case be obliged
either to separate from the Union, or rescind your dissent? The first
would not be eligible, nor could the latter be pleasant—A mere hint is
sufficient on this topic—You cannot but be aware of the consequences.

Consider then, how weighty and how many considerations advise and
persuade the people of America to remain in the safe and easy path
of Union; to continue to move and act as they hitherto have done, as
a _band of brothers_; to have confidence in themselves and in one
another; and since all cannot see with the same eyes, at least to
give the proposed Constitution a fair trial, and to mend it as time,
occasion and experience may dictate. It would little become us to
verify the predictions of those who ventured to prophecy, that _peace_:
instead of blessing us with happiness and tranquility, would serve only
as the signal for factions, discords and civil contentions to rage in
our land, and overwhelm it with misery and distress.

Let us also be mindful that the cause of freedom greatly depends on
the use we make of the singular opportunities we enjoy of governing
ourselves wisely; for if the event should prove, that the people of
this [19] country either cannot or will not govern themselves, who
will hereafter be advocates for systems, which however charming in
theory and prospect, are not reducible to practice. If the people of
our nation, instead of consenting to be governed by laws of their own
making, and rulers of their own choosing, should let licentiousness,
disorder, and confusion reign over them, the minds of men every where,
will insensibly become alienated from republican forms, and prepared
to prefer and acquiesce in Governments, which, though less friendly to
liberty, afford more peace and security.

_Receive this Address with the same candor with which it is written;
and may the spirit of wisdom and patriotism direct and distinguish your
councils and your conduct._

  _A citizen of New York._

An / Address / to the / People / of the / State of New-York: / Showing
the necessity of making / Amendments / to the / Constitution, proposed
for the United States, / previous to its Adoption. / By a Plebeian. /
Printed in the State of New York; / M,DCC,LXXX,VIII.

  8vo., pp. 26.

  Written by Melancthon Smith of New York, a member of the Continental
  Congress, (1785-88), and of the New York State Convention, in which
  he opposed, but ultimately voted for the ratification of the new

  “This address begins with several assertions that are not
  fully proved. It declares that ‘the advocates for the proposed
  constitution, having been beaten off the field of argument, on its
  merits, have taken new ground—admit that it is liable to well founded
  objections—that a number of its articles ought to be amended—that
  if alterations do not take place a door will be left open for an
  undue administration, and encroachments on the liberties of the
  people—and many of them go so far as to say, if it should continue
  for any considerable period, in its present form, it will lead to a
  subversion of our equal republican forms of government.’

  “These assertions, it is presumed are too general to be true. _Some_
  friends (upon the whole) to the proposed government, may have
  acknowledged all this; but the _most enlightened ones_ declare that,
  in their opinion, the constitution is as little defective as can ever
  be obtained—that it is _not liable to well founded objections_—that
  it will _preserve_ our equal republican forms of government; nay,
  that it is their only firm support, and the guarantee of their
  existence—and if they consent to the additions and alterations
  proposed by the Massachusetts Convention, it is not so much because
  they think the constitution will be _better_ for them; but because
  they think these additions will reconcile the opposition and unite
  all parties in a desirable harmony, without making the constitution

  “The writer, to show the happy situation of the citizens of this
  State, enquires, ‘_Does not every man sit under his own vine and
  his own fig tree?_’ Yes, it may be answered, and under the rich
  vines and fig trees of his neighbors too, ‘_having none to make him
  afraid?_’ This was probably written before the late riot: And if the
  inhabitants of this State are not afraid of their neighbors, whose
  _vines and fig trees_ they are enjoying, they must be very ignorant
  or very insensible.

  “‘_Does not every one follow his own calling without impediment
  and receive the reward of his well earned industry? The farmer and
  mechanic reap the fruits of their labor. The merchant drives his
  commerce and none can deprive him of the gain he honestly acquires._’
  Had the last assertion been mere queries, the writer might have
  saved his reputation. While the _war-worn veteran_ is paid for his
  services, at a fourth or fifth of their value; while numbers of
  mechanics have no employment; while commerce is restricted abroad,
  and tender laws and depreciated paper money exist at home, the public
  will not be disposed to believe themselves very happy—no, not even in
  this State. In other States, where riots and rebellion have violated
  private property, disturbed government and end in bloodshed, the
  inhabitants will be more incredulous, and wish for the adoption of
  the proposed constitution.”—[Noah Webster] in _American Magazine_ for
  April, 1788.

  P. L. F.

_Friends and Fellow Citizens_,

The advocates for the proposed new constitution, having been beaten off
the field of argument, on its merits, have now taken new ground. They
admit it is liable to well-founded objections—that a number of its
articles ought to be amended; that if alterations do not take place, a
door will be left open for an undue administration, and encroachments
on the liberties of the people; and many of them go so far as to say,
if it should continue for any considerable period, in its present
form, it will lead to a subversion of our equal republican forms of
government.——But still, although they admit this, they urge that
it ought to be adopted, and that we should confide in procuring the
necessary alterations after we have received it. Most of the leading
characters, who advocate its reception, now profess their readiness
to concur with those who oppose, in bringing about the most material
amendments contended for, provided they will first agree to accept the
proffered system as it is. These concessions afford strong evidence,
that the opposers of the constitution have reason on their side, and
that they have not been influenced, in the part they have taken,
by the mean and unworthy motives of selfish and private interests
with which they have been illiberally charged.—As the favourers of
the constitution seem, if their professions are sincere, to be in a
situation similar to that of Agrippa, when he cried out upon Paul’s
preaching—“almost thou persuadest me to be a christian,” I cannot
help indulging myself in expressing the same wish which St. Paul
uttered on that occasion, “Would to God you were not only almost,
but altogether such an one as I am.” But alas, as we hear no more of
Agrippa’s christianity after this interview with Paul, so it is much
to [4] be feared, that we shall hear nothing of amendments from most
of the warm advocates for adopting the new government, after it gets
into operation. When the government is once organized, and all the
offices under it filled, the inducements which our great men will
have to support it, will be much stronger than they are now to urge
its reception. Many of them will then hold places of great honour and
emolument, and others will then be candidates for such places. It is
much harder to relinquish honours or emoluments, which we have in
possession, than to abandon the pursuit of them, while the attainment
is held in a state of uncertainty.—The amendments contended for as
necessary to be made, are of such a nature, as will tend to limit and
abridge a number of the powers of the government. And is it probable,
that those who enjoy these powers will be so likely to surrender
them after they have them in possession, as to consent to have them
restricted in the act of granting them? Common sense says—they will

When we consider the nature and operation of government, the idea of
receiving a form radically defective, under the notion of making the
necessary amendments, is evidently absurd.

Government is a compact entered into by mankind, in a state of society,
for the promotion of their happiness. In forming this compact, common
sense dictates, that no articles should be admitted that tend to defeat
the end of its institution. If any such are proposed, they should be
rejected. When the compact is once formed and put into operation,
it is too late for individuals to object. The deed is executed—the
conveyance is made—and the power of reassuming the right is gone,
without the consent of the parties.——Besides, when a government is
once in operation, it acquires strength by habit, and stability by
exercise. If it is tolerably mild in its administration, the people sit
down easy under it, be its principles and forms ever so repugnant to
the maxims of liberty.——It steals, by insensible degrees, one right
from the people after another, until it rivets its powers so as to put
it beyond the ability of the community to restrict or limit it. The
history of the world furnishes many instances of a people’s increasing
the powers of their rulers by persuasion, but I believe it would be
difficult to produce one in which the rulers have been persuaded to
relinquish their powers to [5] the people. Wherever this has taken
place, it has always been the effect of compulsion. These observations
are so well-founded, that they are become a kind of axioms in politics;
and the inference to be drawn from them is equally evident, which is
this,—that, in forming a government, care should be taken not to
confer powers which it will be necessary to take back; but if you err
at all, let it be on the contrary side, because it is much easier, as
well as safer, to enlarge the powers of your rulers, if they should
prove not sufficiently extensive, than it is too abridge them if they
should be too great.

It is agreed, the plan is defective—that some of the powers granted,
are dangerous—others not well defined—and amendments are necessary.
Why then not amend it? why not remove the cause of danger, and, if
possible, even the apprehension of it? The instrument is yet in the
hands of the people; it is not signed, sealed, and delivered, and they
have power to give it any form they please.

But it is contended, adopt it first, and then amend it. I ask, why not
amend, and then adopt it? Most certainly the latter mode of proceeding
is more consistent with our ideas of prudence in the ordinary concerns
of life. If men were about entering into a contract respecting their
private concerns, it would be highly absurd in them to sign and seal
an instrument containing stipulations which are contrary to their
interests and wishes, under the expectation, that the parties, after
its execution, would agree to make alterations agreeable to their
desire.——They would insist upon the exceptionable clauses being
altered before they would ratify the contract. And is a compact for
the government of ourselves and our posterity of less moment than
contracts between individuals? certainly not. But to this reasoning,
which at first view would appear to admit of no reply, a variety of
objections are made, and a number of reasons urged for adopting the
system, and afterwards proposing amendments.—Such as have come under
my observation, I shall state, and remark upon.

I. It is insisted, that the present situation of our country is such,
as not to admit of a delay in forming a new government, or of time
sufficient to deliberate and agree upon the amendments which are
proper, without involving ourselves in a state of anarchy and confusion.

[6] On this head, all the powers of rhetoric, and arts of description,
are employed to paint the condition of this country, in the most
hideous and frightful colors. We are told, that agriculture is
without encouragement; trade is languishing; private faith and credit
are disregarded, and public credit is prostrate; that the laws
and magistrates are contemned and set at naught; that a spirit of
licentiousness is rampant, and ready to break over every bound set
to it by the government; that private embarrassments and distresses
invade the house of every man of middling property, and insecurity
threatens every man in affluent circumstances: in short, that we are
in a state of the most grievous calamity at home, and that we are
contemptible abroad, the scorn of foreign nations, and the ridicule
of the world. From this high-wrought picture, one would suppose that
we were in a condition the most deplorable of any people upon earth.
But suffer me, my countrymen, to call your attention to a serious
and sober estimate of the situation in which you are placed, while I
trace the embarrassments under which you labor, to their true sources.
What is your condition? Does not every man sit under his own vine and
under his own fig-tree, having none to make him afraid? Does not every
one follow his calling without impediments and receive the reward of
his well-earned industry? The farmer cultivates his land, and reaps
the fruit which the bounty of heaven bestows on his honest toil. The
mechanic is exercised in his art, and receives the reward of his
labour. The merchant drives his commerce, and none can deprive him of
the gain he honestly acquires; all classes and callings of men amongst
us are protected in their various pursuits, and secured by the laws
in the possession and enjoyment of the property obtained in those
pursuits. The laws are as well executed as they ever were, in this or
any other country. Neither the hand of private violence, nor the more
to be dreaded hand of legal oppression, are reached out to distress us.

It is true, many individuals labour under embarrassments, but these are
to be imputed to the unavoidable circumstances of things, rather than
to any defect in our governments. We have just emerged from a long and
expensive war. During its existence few people were in a situation to
increase their fortunes, but many to diminish them. Debts contracted
before the war were left unpaid [7] while it existed, and these were
left a burden too heavy to be borne at the commencement of peace.
Add to these, that when the war was over, too many of us, instead of
reassuming our old habits of frugality, and industry, by which alone
every country must be placed in a prosperous condition, took up the
profuse use of foreign commodities. The country was deluged with
articles imported from abroad, and the cash of the country has been
sent to pay for them, and still left us labouring under the weight of a
huge debt to persons abroad. These are the true sources to which we are
to trace all the private difficulties of individuals: But will a new
government relieve you from these? The advocates for it have not yet
told you how it will do it—And I will venture to pronounce, that there
is but one way in which it can be effected, and that is by industry and
economy; limit your expences within your earnings; sell more than you
buy, and everything will be well on this score. Your present condition
is such as is common to take place after the conclusion of a war.
Those who can remember our situation after the termination of the war
preceding the last, will recollect that our condition was similar to
the present, but time and industry soon recovered us from it. Money was
scare, the produce of the country much lower than it has been since the
peace, and many individuals were extremely embarrassed with debts; and
this happened although we did not experience the ravages, desolations,
and loss of property, that were suffered during the late war.

With regard to our public and national concerns, what is there in our
condition that threatens us with any immediate danger? We are at peace
with all the world; no nation menaces us with war; nor are we called
upon by any cause of sufficient importance to attack any nation. The
state governments answer the purposes of preserving the peace, and
providing for present exigencies. Our condition as a nation is in no
respect worse than it has been for several years past. Our public debt
has been lessened in various ways, and the western territory, which has
been relied upon as a productive fund to discharge the national debt
has at length been brought to market, and a considerable part actually
applied to its reduction. I mention these things to shew, that there is
nothing special, in our present situation, as it respects our national
affairs, that should induce us to accept the prof- [8] fered system,
without taking sufficient time to consider and amend it. I do not mean
by this, to insinuate, that our government does not stand in need of a
reform. It is admitted by all parties, that alterations are necessary
in our federal constitution, but the circumstances of our case do by
no means oblige us to precipitate this business, or require that we
should adopt a system materially defective. We may safely take time to
deliberate and amend, without in the meantime hazarding a condition, in
any considerable degree, worse than the present.

But it is said that if we postpone the ratification of this system
until the necessary amendments are first incorporated, the consequence
will be a civil war among the states. On this head weak minds
are alarmed with being told, that the militia of Connecticut and
Massachusetts, on the one side, and of New Jersey and Pennsylvania on
the other, will attack us with hostile fury; and either destroy us from
the face of the earth, or at best divide us between the two states
adjoining on either side. The apprehension of danger is one of the
most powerful incentives to human action, and is therefore generally
excited on political questions: But still, a prudent man, though he
foreseeth the evil and avoideth it, yet he will not be terrified by
imaginary dangers. We ought therefore to enquire what ground there is
to fear such an event?—There can be no reason to apprehend, that the
other states will make war with us for not receiving the constitution
proposed, until it is amended, but from one of the following causes:
either that they will have just cause to do it, or that they have a
disposition to do it. We will examine each of these:—That they will
have no just cause to quarrel with us for not acceding, is evident,
because we are under no obligation to do it, arising from any existing
compact or previous stipulation. The confederation is the only compact
now existing between the states: By the terms of it, it cannot be
changed without the consent of every one of the parties to it. Nothing
therefore can be more unreasonable than for part of the states to claim
of the others, as matter of right, an accession to a system to which
they have material objections. No war can therefore arise from this
principle, but on the contrary, it is to be presumed, it will operate
strongly the opposite way.—The states will reason on the subject in
the following manner: On this momentous question, every state has an
in- [9] dubitable right to judge for itself: This is secured to it by
solemn compact, and if any of our sister states disagree with us upon
the question, we ought to attend to their objections, and accommodate
ourselves as far as possible to the amendments they propose.

As to the inclination of the states to make war with us, for declining
to accede, until it is amended, this is highly improbable, not only
because such a procedure would be most unjust and unreasonable in
itself, but for various other reasons.

The idea of a civil war among the states is abhorrent to the principles
and feelings of almost every man of every rank in the union. It is so
obvious to every one of the least reflection, that in such an event
we should hazard the loss of all things, without the hope of gaining
anything, that the man who should entertain a thought of this kind,
would be justly deemed more fit to be shut up in Bedlam, than to be
reasoned with. But the idea of one or more states attacking another,
for insisting upon alterations upon the system, before it is adopted,
is more extravagent still; it is contradicting every principle of
liberty which has been entertained by the states, violating the most
solemn compact, and taking from the state the right of deliberation.
Indeed to suppose, that a people, entertaining such refined ideas
of the rights of human nature as to be induced to wage war with the
most powerful nation on earth, upon a speculative point, and from the
mere apprehension of danger only, should be so far lost to their
own feelings and principles as to deny to their brethren, who were
associated with them in the arduous conflict, the right of deliberation
on a question of the first importance to their political happiness and
safety, is equally an insult to the character of the people of America,
and to common sense, and could only be suggested by a vicious heart and
a corrupt mind.

The idea of being attacked by the other states, will appear visionary
and chimerical, if we consider that tho’ several of them have adopted
the new constitution, yet the opposition to it has been numerous and
formidable. The eastern states from whom we are told we have most
to fear, should a civil war be blown up, would have full employ to
keep in awe those who are opposed to it in their own governments.
Massachusetts, after a long and dubious contest [10] in their
convention, has adopted it by an inconsiderable majority, and in the
very act has marked it with a stigma in its present form. No man of
candour, judging from their public proceedings, will undertake to say
on which side the majority of the people are. Connecticut, it is true,
have acceded to it, by a large majority of their convention; but it
is a fact well known, that a large proportion of the yeomanry of the
country are against it:—And it is equally true, that a considerable
part of those who voted for it in the convention, wish to see it
altered. In both these states the body of the common people, who always
do the fighting of a country, would be more likely to fight against
than for it: Can it then be presumed, that a country divided among
themselves, upon a question where even the advocates for it, admit the
system they contend for needs amendments, would make war upon a sister
state, who only insist that that should be done before they receive it,
which it is granted ought to be done after, and where it is confessed
no obligation lies upon them by compact to do it. Can it, I say, be
imagined, that in such a case, they would make war on a sister state?
The idea is preposterous and chimerical.

It is further urged we must adopt this plan because we have no chance
of getting a better. This idea is inconsistent with the principles of
those who advance it. They say, it must be altered, but it should
be left until after it is put in operation. But if this objection is
valid, the proposal of altering, after it is received, is mere delusion.

It is granted, that amendments ought to be made; that the exceptions
taken to the constitution, are grounded on just principles, but it
is still insisted, that alterations are not to be attempted until
after it is received: But why not? Because it is said, there is no
probability of agreeing in amendments previous to the adoption, but
they may be easily made after it. I wish to be informed what there is
in our situation or circumstances that renders it more probable that
we shall agree in amendments better after, than before submitting to
it? No good reason has as yet been given; it is evident none can be
given: On the contrary, there are several considerations which induce
a belief, that alterations may be obtained with more ease before than
after its reception, and if so, every one must agree [11] it is much
the safest. The importance of preserving an union, and of establishing
a government equal to the purpose of maintaining that union, is a
sentiment deeply impressed on the mind of every citizen of America.
It is now no longer doubted, that the confederation, in its present
form, is inadequate to that end: Some reform in our government must
take place: In this, all parties agree: It is therefore to be presumed,
that this object will be pursued with ardour and perseverance, until
it is attained by all parties. But when a government is adopted that
promises to effect this, we are to expect the ardour of many, yea,
of most people, will be abated;—their exertions will cease or be
languid, and they will sit down easy, although they may see that the
constitution which provides for this, does not sufficiently guard the
rights of the people, or secure them against the encroachments of their
rulers. The great end they had in view, the security of the union, they
will consider effected, and this will divert their attention from that
which is equally interesting, safety to their liberties. Besides, the
human mind cannot continue intensely engaged for any great length of
time upon one object. As after a storm, a calm generally succeeds, so
after the minds of a people have been ardently employed upon a subject,
especially upon that of government, we commonly find that they become
cool and inattentive: Add to this that those in the community who urge
the adoption of this system, because they hope to be raised above the
common level of their fellow citizens; because they expect to be among
the number of the few who will be benefitted by it, will more easily
be induced to consent to the amendments before it is received than
afterwards. Before its reception they will be inclined to be pliant and
condescending; if they cannot obtain all they wish, they will consent
to take less. They will yield part to obtain the rest. But when the
plan is once agreed to, they will be tenacious of every power, they
will strenuously contend to retain all they have got; this is natural
to human nature, and it is consonant to the experience of mankind.
For history affords us no examples of persons once possessed of power
resigning it willingly.

The reasonings made use of to persuade us, that no alterations can be
agreed upon previous to the adoption of the system, are as curious as
they are futile. It is alledged [12], that there was great diversity of
sentiments in forming the proposed constitution; that it was the effect
of mutual concessions and a spirit of accommodation, and from hence it
is inferred, that farther changes cannot be hoped for. I should suppose
that the contrary inference was the fair one. If the convention,
who framed this plan, were possessed of such a spirit of moderation
and condescension, as to be induced to yield to each other certain
points, and to accommodate themselves to each other’s opinions, and
even prejudices, there is reason to expect, that this same spirit will
continue and prevail in a future convention, and produce an union of
sentiments on the points objected to. There is more reason to hope for
this, because the subject has received a full discussion, and the minds
of the people much better known than they were when the convention sat.
Previous to the meeting of the convention, the subject of a new form
of government had been little thought of, and scarcely written upon at
all. It is true, it was the general opinion, that some alterations were
requisite in the federal system. This subject had been contemplated by
almost every thinking man in the union. It had been the subject of many
well-written essays, and it was the anxious wish of every true friend
to America. But it was never in the contemplation of one in a thousand
of those who had reflected on the matter, to have an entire change in
the nature of our federal government—to alter it from a confederation
of states, to that of one entire government, which will swallow up that
of the individual states. I will venture to say, that the idea of a
government similar to the one proposed, never entered the minds of the
legislatures who appointed the convention, and of but very few of the
members who composed it, until they had assembled and heard it proposed
in that body: much less had the people any conception of such a plan
until after it was promulgated. While it was agitated, the debates of
the convention were kept an impenetrable secret, and no opportunity
was given for well informed men to offer their sentiments upon the
subject. The system was therefore never publicly discussed, nor indeed
could be, because it was not known to the people until after it was
proposed. Since that, it has been the object of universal attention—it
has been thought of by every reflecting man—been discussed in a
public and private manner, in conversation and in print; [13] its
defects have been pointed out, and every objection to it stated; able
advocates have written in its favour, and able opponents have written
against it. And what is the result? It cannot be denied but that the
general opinion is, that it contains material errors, and requires
important amendments. This then being the general sentiment, both of
the friends and foes of the system, can it be doubted, that another
convention would concur in such amendments as would quiet the fears of
the opposers, and effect a great degree of union on the subject?—An
event most devoutly to be wished. But it is farther said, that there
can be no prospect of procuring alterations before it is acceded to,
because those who oppose it do not agree among themselves with respect
to the amendments that are necessary. To this I reply, that this may
be urged against attempting alterations after it is received, with as
much force as before; and therefore, if it concludes anything, it is
that we must receive any system of government proposed to us, because
those who object to it do not entirely concur in their objections.
But the assertion is not true to any considerable extent. There is
a remarkable uniformity in the objections made to the constitution,
on the most important points. It is also worthy of notice, that very
few of the matters found fault with in it, are of a local nature, or
such as affect any particular state; on the contrary, they are such as
concern the principles of general liberty, in which the people of New
Hampshire, New York and Georgia are equally interested.

It would be easy to shew, that in the leading and most important
objections that have been made to the plan, there has been and is an
entire concurrence of opinion among writers, and in public bodies
throughout the United States.

I have not time to fully illustrate this by a minute narration of
particulars; but to prove that this is the case, I shall adduce a
number of important instances.

It has been objected to that the new system, that it is calculated to,
and will effect such a consolidation of the States, as to supplant and
overturn the state governments. In this the minority of Pennsylvania,
the opposition in Massachusetts, and all the writers of any ability or
note in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston concur. It may be added,
that this appears to have been the opinion of the Massachusetts
convention, and gave rise to that article in [14] the amendments
proposed, which confines the general government to the exercise only of
powers expressly given.

It has been said that the representation in the general legislature
is too small to secure liberty, or to answer the intention of
representation. In this there is an union of sentiments in the opposers.

The constitution has been opposed, because it gives to the legislature
an unlimited power of taxation both with respect to direct and indirect
taxes, a right to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises of
every kind and description, and to any amount. In this there has been
as general a concurrence of opinion as in the former.

The opposers to the constitution have said that it is dangerous,
because the judicial power may extend to many cases which ought to be
reserved to the decision of the State courts, and because the right
of trial by jury is not secured in the judicial courts of the general
government, in civil cases. All the opposers are agreed in this

The power of the general legislature to alter and regulate the time,
place and manner of holding elections, has been stated as an argument
against the adoption of the system. It has been argued that this power
will place in the hands of the general government, the authority,
whenever they shall be disposed, and a favorable opportunity offers,
to deprive the body of the people in effect, of all share in the
government. The opposers to the constitution universally agree in this
objection, and of such force is it, that most of its ardent advocates
admit its validity, and those who have made attempts to vindicate it,
have been reduced to the necessity of using the most trifling arguments
to justify it.

The mixture of legislative, judicial, and executive powers in the
senate; the little degree of responsibility under which the great
officers of government will be held; and the liberty granted by the
system to establish and maintain a standing army without any limitation
or restriction, are also objected to the constitution; and in these
there is a great degree of unanimity of sentiment in the opposers.

From these remarks it appears, that the opponents to the system accord
in the great and material points on which they wish amendments. For the
truth of the assertion [15], I appeal to the protest of the minority
of the convention of Pennsylvania, to all the publications against the
constitution, and to the debates of the convention of Massachusetts. As
a higher authority than these, I appeal to the amendments proposed by
the Massachusetts; these are to be considered as the sense of that body
upon the defects of the system. And it is a fact, which I will venture
to assert, that a large majority of the convention were of opinion,
that a number of additional alterations ought to be made. Upon reading
the articles which they propose as amendments, it will appear that
they object to indefinite powers in the legislature—to the power of
laying direct taxes—to the authority of regulating elections—to the
extent of the judicial powers, both as it respects the inferior court
and the appellate jurisdiction—to the smallness of the representation,
&c.—It is admitted that some writers have advanced objections that
others have not noticed—that exceptions have been taken by some, that
have not been insisted upon by others, and it is probable, that some
of the opponents may approve what others will reject. But still these
difference are on matters of small importance, and of such a nature
as the persons who hold different opinions will not be tenacious of.
Perfect uniformity of sentiment on so great a political subject is not
to be expected. Every sensible man is impressed with this idea, and is
therefore prepared to make concessions and accommodate on matters of
small importance. It is sufficient that we agree in the great leading
principles, which relate to the preservation of public liberty and
private security. And on these I will venture to affirm we are as well
agreed, as any people ever were on a question of this nature. I dare
pronounce that were the principal advocates for the proposed plan to
write comments upon it, they would differ more in the sense they would
give the constitution, than those who oppose it do, in the amendments
they would wish. I am justified in this opinion, by the sentiments
advanced by the different writers in favour of the constitution.

It is farther insisted, that six states have already adopted the
constitution; that probably nine will agree to it; in which case it
will be put in operation. That it is unreasonable to expect that those
states which have acceded [16] to it will reconsider the subject in
compliance with the wishes of a minority.

To perceive the force of this objection it is proper to review the
conduct and circumstances of the states which have acceded it. It
cannot be controverted, that Connecticut and New Jersey were very
much influenced in their determinations on the questions, by local
considerations. The duty of impost laid by this state, has been a
subject of complaint by those states. The new constitution transfers
the power of imposing these duties from the state to the general
government, and carries the proceeds to the use of the union, instead
of that of those state. This is a popular matter with the people of
those states, and at the same time, is not advanced by the sensible
opposers to the system in this state as an objection to it.—To excite
in the minds of the people of these states an attachment to the new
system, the amount of the revenue arising from our impost has been
magnified to a much larger sum than it produces; it has been stated
to amount to from sixty to eighty thousand pounds lawful money; and a
gentleman of high eminence in Connecticut has lent the authority of his
name to support it. It has been said, that Connecticut pays a third of
this sum annually for impost, and Jersey nearly as much. It has farther
been asserted, that the avails of the impost were applied to the
separate use of the state of New York. By these assertions the people
have been grossly imposed upon, for neither of them are true.

The amount of the revenue from impost for two years past, has
not exceeded fifty thousands pounds currency, per annum, and a
drawback of duties is allowed by law, upon all goods exported to the
beforementioned states, in casks or packages unbroken.

The whole of this sum, and more, has been paid into the federal
treasury for the support of the government of the union. All the states
therefore have actually derived equal benefit with the state of New
York, from the impost. It may be said, I know, that this state has
obtained credit for the amount, upon the requisitions of Congress: It
is admitted, but still it is a fact, that other states, and especially
those who complain, have paid no part of the monies required of them,
and have scarcely made an effort to do it. The fact therefore is, that
they have received [17] as much advantage from the impost of this state
as we ourselves have. The proposed constitution directs to no mode,
in which the deficiencies of states on former requisitions, are to be
collected, but seems to hold out the idea, that we are to start out
anew, and all past payments be forgotten. It is natural to expect, that
selfish motives will have too powerful an influence on men’s minds,
and that too often, they will shut the eyes of a people to their best
and true interest. The people of those states have been persuaded to
believe, that this new constitution will relieve them from the burden
of taxes, by providing for all the exigencies of the union, by duties
which can be raised only in the neighbouring states. When they come to
be convinced, that this promise is a mere delusion, as they assuredly
will, by finding the continental tax-gatherer knocking at their doors,
if not before, they will be among the first to urge amendments, and
perhaps the most violent to obtain them. But notwithstanding the
local prejudices which operate upon the people of these states, a
considerable part of them wish for amendments. It is not to be doubted
that a considerable majority of the people of Connecticut wish for
them, and many in Jersey have the same desires, and their numbers are
increasing. It cannot be disputed, that amendments would accord with
the sentiments of a great majority in Massachusetts, or that they
would be agreeable to the greater part of the people of Pennsylvania:
There is no reason to doubt but that they would be agreeable to
Delaware and Georgia—If then, the states who have already ratified the
constitution, are desirous to have alterations made in it, what reason
can be assigned why they should not cordially meet with overtures for
that purpose from any state, and concur in appointing a convention to
effect it? Mankind are easily induced to fall into measures to obtain
an object agreeable to them. In this case, the states would not only
be moved by this universal principle of human nature, but by the
strong and powerful motive of uniting all the states under a form of
government agreeable to them.

I shall now dismiss the consideration of objections made to attempting
alterations previous to the adoption of the plan, but before I close,
I beg your indulgence, while I make some remarks on the splendid
advantages which the advocates of this system say are to be derived
from it.—Hope and fear are two of the most active principles of [18]
our nature: We have considered how the latter is addressed on this
occasion, and with how little reason: It will appear that the promises
it makes, are as little to be relied upon as its threatenings. We are
amused with the fair prospects that are to open, when this government
is put into operation—Agriculture is to flourish, and our fields to
yield an hundred fold—Commerce is to expand her wings, and bear our
productions to all the ports in the world—Money is to pour into our
country through every channel—Arts and manufactures are to rear their
heads, and every mecanic find full employ—Those who are in debt, are
to find easy means to procure money to pay them—Public burdens and
taxes are to be lightened, and yet all our public debts are soon to
be discharged.—With such vain and delusive hopes are the minds of
many honest and well meaning people fed, and by these means are they
led inconsiderately to contend for a government, which is made to
promise what it cannot perform; while their minds are diverted from
contemplating its true nature, or considering whether is will not
endanger their liberties, and work oppression.

Far be it from me to object to granting the general government the
power of regulating trade, and of laying imposts and duties for that
purpose, as well as for raising a revenue: But it is as far from me
to flatter people with hopes of benefits to be derived from such a
change in our government which can never be realized. Some advantages
may accrue from vesting in one general government, the right to
regulate commerce, but it is a vain delusion to expect anything like
what is promised. The truth is, this country buys more than it sells:
It imports more than it exports. There are too many merchants in
proportion to the farmers and manufacturers. Until these defects are
remedied, no government can relieve us. Common sense dictates, that
if a man buys more than he sells, he will remain in debt; the same is
true of a country.—And as long as this country imports more goods than
the exports——the overplus must be paid for in money or not paid at
all. These few remarks may convince us, that the radical remedy for the
scarcity of cash is frugality and industry. Earn much and spend little,
and you will be enabled to pay your debts, and have money in your
pockets; and if you do not follow [19] this advice, no government that
can be framed, will relieve you.

As to the idea of being relieved from taxes by this government, it
is an affront to common sense, to advance it. There is no complaint
made against the present confederation more justly founded than this,
that it is incompetent to provide the means to discharge our national
debt, and to support the national government. Its inefficacy to these
purposes, which was early seen and felt, was the first thing that
suggested the necessity of changing the government; other things,
it is true, were afterwards found to require alterations; but this
was the most important, and accordingly we find, that while in some
other things the powers of this government seem to be in some measure
limited, on the subject of raising money, no bounds are set to it.
It is authorised to raise money to any amount, and in any way it
pleases. If then, the capital embarrassment in our present government
arises from the want of money, and this constitution effectually
authorises the raising of it, how are the taxes to be lessened by it?
Certainly money can only be raised by taxes of some kind or other;
it must be got either by additional impositions on trade, by excise,
or by direct taxes, or what is more probable, by all together. In
either way, it amounts to the same thing, and the position is clear,
that as the necessities of the nation require more money than is
now raised, the taxes must be enhanced. This you ought to know, and
prepare yourselves to submit to.—Besides, how is it possible that the
taxes can be decreased when the expences of your government will be
greatly advanced? It does not require any great skill in politics, or
ability at calculation to shew, that the new government will cost more
money to administer it, than the present. I shall not descend to an
estimate of the cost of a federal town, the salaries of the president,
vice-president, judges, and other great officers of state, nor
calculate the amount of the pay the legislature will vote themselves,
or the salaries that will be paid the innumerable and subordinate
officers. The bare mention of these things is sufficient to convince
you, that the new government will be vastly more expensive than the
old: And how is the money to answer these purposes to be obtained?
It is obvious, it must be taken out of the pockets of the people, by
taxes, in some mode or other.

[20] Having remarked upon the arguments which have been advanced, to
induce you to accede to this government, without amendments, and I
trust refuted them, suffer me to close with an address dedicated by the
affection of a brother, and the honest zeal of a lover of his country.

  _Friends, countrymen, and fellow-citizens_,

The present is the most important crisis at which you ever have
arrived. You have before you a question big with consequences,
unutterably important to yourselves, to your children, to generations
yet unborn, to the cause of liberty and of mankind; every motive of
religion and virtue, of private happiness and public good, of honour
and dignity, should urge you to consider cooly and determine wisely.

Almost all the governments that have arisen among mankind, have
sprung from force and violence. The records of history inform us of
none that have been the result of cool and dispassionate reason and
reflection: It is reserved for this favoured country to exhibit to
mankind the first example.——This opportunity is now given us, and we
are to exercise our rights in the choice of persons to represent us in
convention, to deliberate and determine upon the constitution proposed:
It will be to our everlasting disgrace to be indifferent on such a
subject; for it is impossible, we can contemplate anything that relates
to the affairs of this life of half the importance.

You have heard that both sides on this great question, agree, that
there are in it great defects; yet the one side tell you, choose such
men as will adopt it, and then amend it——while the other say, amend
previous to its adoption.——I have stated to you my reasons for the
latter, and I think they are unanswerable.—Consider you the common
people the yeomanry of the country, for to such I principally address
myself, you are to be the principal losers, if the constitution should
prove oppressive; When a tyranny is established, there are always
masters as well as slaves; the great and well-born are generally the
former, and the middling class the latter—Attempts have been made,
and will be repeated, to alarm you with the fear of consequences;
but reflect there are consequences on both sides, and none can be
apprehended more dreadful, than entailing on ourselves and posterity
[21] a government which will raise a few to the height of human
greatness and wealth, while it will depress the many to the extreme of
poverty and wretchedness. Consequences are under the controul of that
all-wise and all-powerful being, whose providence conducts the affairs
of all men: Our part is to act right, and we may then have confidence
that the consequences will be favourable. The path in which you should
walk is plain and open before you; be united as one man, and direct
your choice to such men as have been uniform in their opposition to the
proposed system in its present form, or without proper alterations:
In men of this description you have reason to place confidence, while
on the other hand, you have just cause to distrust those who urge
the adoption of a bad constitution, under the delusive expectation
of making amendments after it is acceded to. Your jealousy of such
characters should be the more excited, when you consider that the
advocates for the constitution have shifted their ground. When men are
uniform in their opinions, it affords evidence that they are sincere:
When they are shifting, it gives reason to believe, they do not change
from conviction. It must be recollected, that when this plan was first
announced to the public, its supporters cried it up as the most perfect
production of human wisdom; It was represented either as having no
defects, or if it had, they were so trifling and inconsiderable, that
they served only, as the shades in a fine picture, to set off the
piece to the greater advantage. One gentleman in Philadelphia went so
far in the ardour of his enthusiasm in its favour, as to pronounce,
that the men who formed it were as really under the guidance of Divine
Revelation, as was Moses, the Jewish lawgiver. Their language is now
changed; the question has been discussed; the objections to the plan
ably stated, and they are admitted to be unanswerable. The same men
who held it almost perfect, now admit it is very imperfect; that it is
necessary it should be amended. The only question between us, is simply
this: Shall we accede to a bad constitution, under the uncertain
prospect of getting it amended, after we have received it, or shall we
amend it before we adopt it? Common sense will point out which is the
most rational, which is the most secure line of conduct. May heaven
inspire you with wisdom, union, moderation and firmness [22], and give
you hearts to make a proper estimate of your invaluable privileges, and
preserve them to you, to be transmitted to your posterity unimpaired,
and may they be maintained in this our country, while Sun and Moon



Since the foregoing pages have been put to the press, a pamphlet has
appeared, entitled, “An address to the people of the state of New York,
on the subject of the new constitution, &c.” Upon a cursory examination
of this performance (for I have not had time to give it more than a
cursory examination) it appears to contain little more than declamation
and observations that have been often repeated by the advocates of the
new constitution.

An attentive reader will readily perceive, that almost everything
deserving the name of an argument in this publication, has received
consideration, and, I trust, a satisfactory answer in the preceding
remarks, so far as they apply to prove the necessity of an immediate
adoption of the plan, without amendments.

I shall therefore only beg the patience of my readers, while I make a
few very brief remarks on this piece.

The author introduces his observations with a short history of the
revolution, and of the establishment of the present existing federal
government. He draws a frightful picture of our condition under the
present confederation. The whole of what he says on that head, stripped
of its artificial colouring, amounts to this, that the existing system
is rather commendatory than coercive, or that Congress have not in most
cases, the power of enforcing their own resolves. This he calls “a new
and wonderful system.” However “wonderful” it may seem, it certainly
is not “new.” For most of the _federal governments_ that have been in
the world, have been of the same nature.——The united Netherlands
are governed on the same plan. There are other governments also now
existing, which are in a similar condition with our’s, with regard to
several particulars, on account of which this author denominates it
“new and wonderful.”——The king of Great Britain “may make war, but
has not power to raise money to carry it on.” He may borrow money, but
it is without the means of repayment, &c. For these he is dependent on
his parliament. But it is needless to add on [24] this head, because
it is admitted that the powers of the general government ought to be
increased in several of the particulars this author instances. But
these things are mentioned to shew, that the outcry made against the
confederation, as being a system new, unheard of, and absurd, is really
without foundation.

The author proceeds to depicture our present condition in the
high-wrought strains common to his party.——I shall add nothing to
what I have said on this subject in the former part of this pamphlet,
but will only observe, that his imputing our being kept out of the
possession of the western posts, and our want of peace with the
Algerines, to the defects in our present government, is much easier
said than proved. The British keep possession of these posts, because
it subserves their interest, and probably will do so, until they
perceive that we have gathered strength and resources sufficient
to assert our rights with the sword. Let our government be what it
will, this cannot be done without time and patience. In the present
exhausted situation of the country, it would be madness in us, had we
ever so perfect a government, to commence a war for the recovery of
these posts.——With regard to the Algerines, there are but two ways
in which their ravages can be prevented. The one is, by a successful
war against them, and the other is by treaty. The powers of Congress
under the confederation are completely competent either to declare war
against them, or to form treaties. Money, it is true, is necessary to
do both these. This only brings us to this conclusion, that the great
defect in our present government, is the want of powers to provide
money for the public exigencies. I am willing to grant _reasonable_
powers, on this score, but not unlimited ones; commercial treaties may
be made under the present powers of Congress. I am persuaded we flatter
ourselves with advantages which will result from them, that will never
be realized. I know of no benefits that we receive from any that have
yet been formed.

This author tells us, “it is not his design to investigate merits of
the plan, nor of the objections made to it.” It is well he did not
undertake it, for if he had, from the specimen he has given, the cause
he assumes would not have probably gained much strength by it.

He however takes notice of two or three of the many objections brought
against the plan.

“We are told, (says he) among other strange things, that the liberty
of the press is left insecure by the proposed constitution, and yet
that constitution says neither more nor less [25] about it, than the
constitution of the state of New York does. We are told it deprives us
of trial by jury, whereas the fact is, that it expressly secures it in
certain cases, and takes it away in none, &c. it is absurd to construe
the silence of this, or of our own constitution relative to a great
number of our rights into a total extinction of them; silence and a
blank paper neither grant nor take away anything.”

It may be a strange thing to this author to hear the people of America
anxious for the preservation of their rights, but those who understand
the true principles of liberty, are no strangers to their importance.
The man who supposes the constitution, in any part of it, is like a
blank piece of paper, has very erroneous ideas of it. He may be assured
every clause has a meaning, and many of them such extensive meaning,
as would take a volume to unfold. The suggestion, that the liberty of
the press is secure, because it is not in express words spoken of in
the constitution, and that the trial by jury is not taken away, because
it is not said in so many words and letters it is so, is puerile and
unworthy of a man who pretends to reason. We contend, that by the
indefinite powers granted to the general government, the liberty of the
press may be restricted by duties, &c. and therefore the constitution
ought to have stipulated for its freedom. The trial by jury, in all
civil cases is left at the discretion of the general government, except
in the supreme court on the appelate jurisdiction, and in this I affirm
it is taken away, not by express words, but by fair and legitimate
construction and inference; for the supreme court have expressly given
them an appelate jurisdiction, in every case to which their powers
extend (with two or three exceptions) both as to _law and fact_. The
court are the judges; every man in the country, who has served as a
juror, knows, that there is a difference between the court and the
jury, and that the lawyers in their pleading, make the distinction. If
the court, upon appeals, are to determine both the law and the fact,
there is no room for a jury, and the right of trial in this mode is
taken away.

The author manifests levity in referring to the constitution of this
state, to shew that it was useless to stipulate for the liberty of the
press, or to insert a bill of rights in the constitution. With regard
to the first, it is perhaps an imperfection in our constitution that
the liberty of the press is not expressly reserved; but still there was
not equal necessity of making this reservation in our State as in the
general Constitution, for the common and statute law of England, and
the laws of the [26] colony are established, in which this privilege is
fully defined and secured. It is true, a bill of rights is not prefixed
to our constitution, as it is in that of some of the states; but still
this author knows, that many essential rights are reserved in the body
of it; and I will promise, that every opposer of this system will be
satisfied, if the stipulations that they contend for are agreed to,
whether they are prefixed, affixed, or inserted in the body of the
constitution, and that they will not contend which way this is done,
if it be but done. I shall add but one remark, and that is upon the
hackneyed argument introduced by the author, drawn from the character
and ability of the framers of the new constitution. The favourers of
this system are not very prudent in bringing this forward. It provokes
to an investigation of characters, which is an inviduous task. I do
not wish to detract from their merits, but I will venture to affirm,
that twenty assemblies of equal number might be collected, equally
respectable both in point of ability, integrity, and patriotism. Some
of the characters which compose it I revere; others I consider as of
small consequence, and a number are suspected of being great public
defaulters, and to have been guilty of notorious peculation and fraud,
with regard to public property in the hour of our distress. I will not
descend to personalities, nor would I have said so much on the subject,
had it not been in self defence. Let the constitution stand on its own
merits. If it be good, it stands not in need of great men’s names to
support it. If it be bad, their names ought not to sanction it.


The Weakness of Brutus exposed: / or, some / Remarks / in /
Vindication of the Constitution / proposed by the late / Federal
Convention, / against the / Objections and gloomy Fears of that Writer
/ Humbly offered to the Public, / By / a Citizen of Philadelphia.
/ Philadelphia, / Printed for, and to be had of John Sparhawk, in
Market-Street, / near the Court House / M.DCC.LXXXVII.

  12mo., pp. 23.

  Written by Pelatiah Webster, a Philadelphia merchant, and author of
  a number of pamphlets on the finances and government of the United
  States, most of which he reprinted in his “Political Essays” in
  Philadelphia in 1791.

  Brutus was the signature (of Thomas Treadwell, of Suffolk County,
  N.Y.?) to a series of sixteen newspaper essays in the _New York
  Journal_, which were extensively copied throughout the country. This
  is an answer to the first essay only, and was published November 4th,

  P. L. F.

The long piece signed BRUTUS, (which was first published in a New-York
paper, and was afterwards copied into the Pennsylvania Packet of the
26th instant) is wrote in a very good stile; the language is easy, and
the address is polite and insinuating: but the sentiments, I conceive,
are not only unsound, but wild and chimerical; the dreary fears and
apprehensions, altogether groundless; and the whole tendency of the
piece, in this important crisis of our politics, very hurtful. I have
therefore thought it my duty to make some animadversions on it; which I
here offer, with all due deference, to the Author and to the Public.

His first question is, _Whether a confederated government is best for
the United States?_

I answer, If Brutus, or any body else, cannot find any benefit
resulting from the union of the Thirteen States; if they can do
_without_ as well as _with_ the respectability, the protection, and
the security, which the States might derive from that union, I have
nothing further to say: but if that union is to be supported in any
such manner as to afford [4] respectability, protection, or security to
the States, I say it must be done by an adequate government, and cannot
be otherwise done.

This government must have a supreme power, _superior to and able to
controul_ each and all of its parts. ’Tis essential to all governments,
that such a power be somewhere existing in it; and if _the place_ where
the proposed Constitution has fixed it, does not suit Brutus and his
friends, I will give him leave to stow it away in any _other place that
is better_: but I will not consent to have it _annihilated_; neither
will I agree to have it _cramped and pinched_ for room, so as to lessen
its energy; for that will _destroy_ both its nature and use.

The supreme power of government ought to be _full_, _definite_,
_established_, and _acknowledged_. Powers of government too limited, or
uncertain and disputed, have ever proved, like _Pandora’s_ box, a most
fruitful source of quarrels, animosities, wars, devastation, and ruin,
in all shapes and degrees, in all communities, states and kingdoms on

Nothing tends more to the honour, establishment, and peace of society,
than public decisions, grounded on principles of right, natural fitness
and prudence; but when the powers of government are _too limited_, such
decisions can’t be made and enforced; so the mischief goes without a
remedy: dreadful examples of which we have felt, in instances more than
enough, for seven years past.

[5] Further, where the powers of government are not _definite_ but
_disputed_, the administration dare not make decisions on the footing
of impartial justice and right; but must temporize with the parties,
lest they lose friends or make enemies: and of course the _righteous_
go off injured and disgusted, and the _wicked_ go grumbling to; for
’tis rare that any sacrifices of a court can satisfy a prevailing party
in the state.

’Tis necessary in States, as well as in private families, that
controversies should have a just, _speedy_,and effectual decision,
that right may be done before the contention has _time_ to grow up
into habits of malignity, resentment, ill nature, and ill offices. If
a controversy happens between two states, must it continue undecided,
and daily increase, and be more and more aggravated, by the repeated
insults and injuries of the contending parties, ’till they are ripe for
the decision of the sword? or must the weaker states suffer, without
remedy, the groundless demands and oppressions of their stronger
neighbours, because they have no avenger, or umpire of their disputes?

Or shall we institute a supreme power with full and effectual authority
to controul the animosities, and decide the disputes of these strong
contending bodies? In the one proposed to us, we have perhaps every
chance of a _righteous judgment_, that we have any reason [6] to hope
for; but I am clearly of opinion, that even a _wrongful decision_,
would, in most cases, be preferable to the continuance of such
destructive controversies.

I suppose that neither Brutus nor any of his friends would wish to
see our government _embroiled abroad_; and therefore will admit it
necessary to institute some federal authority, sufficient to punish
_any individual or State_, who shall violate our treaties with foreign
nations, insult their dignity, or abuse their citizens, and compel due
reparation in all such cases.

I further apprehend, that Brutus is willing to have the _general_
interest and _welfare_ of the States well provided for and supported,
and therefore will consent that there shall exist in the states, an
authority to _do_ all this _effectually_; but he seems grieved that
Congress should be the _judges of this general welfare_ of the states.
If he will be kind enough to point out any other more suitable and
proper judges, I will consent to have them admitted.

Indeed I begin to have hopes of Brutus, and think he may come right at
last; for I observe (after all his fear and tremblings about the new
government) the constitution he _defines and adopts_, is the very same
as that which the federal convention have proposed to us, _viz._ “that
the Thirteen States should continue thirteen confederated republics
under the _direction and controul_ of a supreme [7] federal head, for
certain defined national purposes, only.” Where we may observe,

1. That the new Constitution leaves all the Thirteen States, complete
republics, as it found them, but all confederated under the direction
and controul of a federal head, for certain defined national purposes
only, _i. e._ it leaves all the dignities, authorities, and internal
police of each State in free, full, and perfect condition; unless when
national purposes make the controul of them by the federal head, or
authority, necessary to the general benefit.

2. These powers of controul by the federal head or authority, are
_defined_ in the new constitution, as minutely as may be, in their
principle; and any detail of them which may become necessary, is
committed to the wisdom of Congress.

3. It extends the controuling power of the federal head to no one case,
to which the jurisdiction or power of definitive decision of any one
state, can be competent. And,

4. In every such case, the controuling power of the federal head,
is absolutely necessary to the support, dignity, and benefit of the
national government, and the safety of individuals; neither of which
can, by any possibility, be secured without it.

All this falls in pretty well with Brutus’s sentiments; for he does not
think that the new Constitution in _its present state_ so very bad, [8]
but fears that it will not preserve its purity of institution; but if
adopted, will immediately verge to, and terminate in _a consolidation_,
_i. e._ a destruction of the state governments. For argument, he
suggests the avidity of power natural to rulers; and the eager grasp
with which they hold it when obtained; and their strong propensity to
abuse their power, and encroach on the liberties of the people.

He dwells on the vast powers vested in Congress by the new
Constitution, _i. e._ of levying taxes, raising armies, appointing
federal courts, &c.; takes it for granted, that all these powers will
be abused, and carried to an oppressive excess; and then harangues on
the dreadful case we shall be in, when our _wealth_ is all devoured by
taxes, our _liberty_ destroyed by the power of the army, and our _civil
rights_ all sacrificed by the unbounded power of the federal courts, &c.

And when he has run himself out of breath with this dreary declamation,
he comes to the conclusion he set out with, _viz._ That the Thirteen
States are too big for a republican government, which requires _small
territory_, and can’t be supported in _more extensive nations_; that
in large states liberty will soon be swallowed up, and lost in the
magnitude of power requisite in the government, &c.

[9] If any conclusion at all can be drawn from this baseless assemblage
of gloomy thoughts, I think it must be _against any union at all_;
against _any kind of federal government_. For nothing can be plainer
than this, _viz._ that _the union can’t by any possibility be supported
with success, without adequate and effectual powers of government?_

We must have _money_ to support the union, and therefore the power of
raising it must be lodged somewhere; we must have _a military force_,
and of consequence the power of raising and directing it must exist;
civil and criminal causes of national concern will arise, therefore
there must be somewhere a power of appointing _courts_ to hear and
determine them.

These powers must be vested in Congress; for nobody pretends to wish to
have them vested in any other body of men.

The Thirteen States have a territory very extensive, and inhabitants
very numerous, and every day rapidly increasing; therefore the powers
of government necessary to support their union must be great in
proportion. If the ship is large the mast must be proportionately
great, or it will be impossible to make her sail well. The federal
powers must extend to every part of the federal territory, _i.e._ to
the utmost limits of the Thirteen States, and to every part of them;
and must carry with them, sufficient [10] authority to secure the
execution of them; and these powers must be vested in Congress, and the
execution of them must be under their direction and controul.

These powers are _vast_, I know, and the trust is of the most _weighty
kind_ that can be committed to human direction; and the execution and
administration of it will require the greatest _wisdom_, _knowledge_,
_firmness_, and _integrity_ in that august body; and I hope they will
have all the _abilities and virtues_ necessary to that important
station, and will _perform their duty well_; but if they fail, the
fault is in them, not in the constitution. The best constitution
possible, even a divine one, badly administered, will make a bad

The members of Congress will be the best we can get; they will all of
them derive their appointment from the States, and if the States are
not wise enough to send _good and suitable_ men, great _blame_, great
_sin_ will lie at their door. Put I suppose nobody would wish to mend
this fault by taking away the election of the people, and directing the
appointment of Congress to be made in any other way.

When we have got the best that can be obtained, we ought to be quiet
and cease complaining. ’Tis not in the power of human wisdom to do
more; ’tis the fate of human nature to _be imperfect and to err_;
and [11] no doubt but Congress, with all their _dignity of station
and character_, with all their _opportunities_ to gain _wisdom and
information_, with all their _inducements to virtue and integrity_,
will err, and abuse or misapply their powers in more or less instances.
I have no expectation that they will make _a court of angels_, or
be anything more than _men_: ’tis probable many of them will be
_insufficient_ men, and some of them may be _bad men_.

The greatest wisdom, care, and caution, has been used in the _mode_ of
their appointment; in the _restraints and checks_ under which they must
act; in the numerous _discussions and deliberations_ which all their
acts must pass through, before they can receive the stamp of authority;
in the terrors of _punishment_ if they misbehave. I say, in all _these
ways_ the greatest care has been used to procure and form a good

The _dignity and importance_ of their station and character will afford
all the inducements to virtue and effort, which can influence a mind
_capable_ of their force.

Their own _personal reputation_, with the eyes of all the world on
them,—the _approbation of their fellow citizens_, which every man in
public station naturally wishes to enjoy,—and the _dread of censure
and shame_, all contribute very forceable and strong inducements to
noble, upright and worthy behavior.

[12] The _particular interest_ which every member of Congress has in
every public order and resolution, is _another strong motive_ to right
action. For every act to which any member gives his sanction, if it be
raising an _army_, levying a _tax_, instituting a _court_, or any other
act to bind the _States_,—such act will equally bind _himself, his
nearest connections, and his posterity_.

Another mighty influence to the noblest principle of action will be
_the fear of God before their eyes_; for while they sit in the place
of God, to give law, justice, and right to the States, they must be
_monsters indeed_ if they do not regard _his law_, and imitate _his

If all this will not produce a Congress fit to be trusted, and worthy
of the public confidence, I think we may give the matter up as
impracticable. But still we must make ourselves as easy as we can,
under a _mischief_ which admits _no remedy_, and bear with patience
an _evil_ which can’t be _cured_: for a government we must have; there
is no safety without it; though we know it will be imperfect, we still
must prefer it to anarchy or no government at all. ’Tis the height of
folly and madness to reject a necessary convenience, because it is not
a perfect good.

Upon this statement of facts and principles, (for the truth and reality
of which, I appeal [13] to every candid man,) I beg leave to remark,

1. That the federal Convention, in the constitution proposed to us,
have exerted their utmost to produce _a Congress worthy of the public
confidence_, who shall have _abilities_ adequate to their important
duty, and shall act under every possible inducement to execute it

2. That this affords every chance which the nature of the thing will
admit, of a wise and upright administration.

3. Yet all this notwithstanding, ’tis very possible that Congress _may
err, may abuse, or misapply_ their powers, which no precaution of human
wisdom can prevent.

4. ’Tis _vain_, ’tis _childish_, ’tis _contentious_ to object to a
constitution thus framed and guarded, on pretence that the commonwealth
may suffer by a bad administration of it; or to _withhold_ the
_necessary powers_ of government, from the supreme rulers of it, least
they should _abuse_ or _misapply_ those powers. This is an objection
which will operate with equal force against every institution that
can be made in this world, whether of policy, religion, commerce, or
any other human concern, which can require regulations: for ’tis not
possible to form any institution however necessary, wise and good,
whose uses may not be lessened or destroyed by bad management.

If Brutus, or any body else, can point out [14] any _checks_,
_cautions_, or _regulations_, which have been hitherto omitted, which
will make Congress more _wise_, more _capable_, more _diligent_, or
more _faithful_, I am willing to attend to them. But to set Congress at
the head of the government, and object to their being vested with full
and sufficient power to manage all the great departments of it, appears
to me _absurd_, quite _wild_, and _chimerical_: it would produce a
plan which would destroy itself as it went along, would be a sort of
counter position of contrary parts, and render it impossible for rulers
to render those services, and secure those benefits to the States,
which are the only great ends of their appointment.

The constitution under Brutus’s corrections would stand thus, _viz._
Congress would have power to _raise money_, but must not direct the
_quantity_, or _mode of levying_ it; they might raise _armies_, but
must not judge to the _number_ of soldiers necessary, or direct their
destination; they ought to provide for the _general welfare_, but must
not be judges of what that welfare _consists in_, or in _what manner_
’tis to be provided for; they might controul the several States, for
_defined national purposes_, but must not be judges of _what purposes_
would come within that _definition_, &c.

Any body with half an eye, may see what sort of administration the
constitution, thus corrected, would produce, _e. g._ it would [15]
require much greater trouble to leave the work _undone_, than would be
necessary to get it _well done_, under a constitution of sufficient
powers. If any one wishes to view more minutely this blessed operation,
he may see a lively sample of it, in the last seven years practice of
our federal government.

5. Brutus all along sounds his objections, and fears on _extreme
cases_ of abuse or misapplication of supreme powers, which may
_possibly_ happen, under the administration of a wild, weak, or wicked
Congress; but ’tis easy to observe that all institutions are liable to
_extremes_, but ought not _to be judged by them_; they do not often
appear, and perhaps never may; but if they should happen in the cases
supposed, (which God forbid) there is a remedy pointed out, in the
Constitution itself.

’Tis not supposeable that such abuses could arise to any ruinous
height, before they would affect the States so much, that at least
two-thirds of them would unite in pursuing a remedy in the mode
prescribed by the Constitution, which will always be liable to
amendment, whenever any mischiefs or abuses appear in the government,
which the Constitution in its present state, can’t reach and correct.

6. Brutus thinks we can never be too much afraid of the encroaching
avidity of rulers; but ’tis pretty plain, that however great the
natural lust of power in rulers may be, the jealousy of the people
in giving it, is about [16] equal; these two opposite passions, will
always operate in opposite directions to each other, and like _action_
and _reaction_ in natural bodies, will ever tend to a good ballance.

At any rate, the Congress can never get more power than the people will
give, nor hold it any longer than they will permit; for should they
assume tyrannical powers, and make incroachments on liberty without the
consent of the people, they would soon attone for their temerity, with
shame and disgrace, and probably with their heads.

But ’tis here to be noted, that all the danger does not arise from
the extreme of power in the rulers; for when the ballance verges to
the contrary extreme, and the power of the rulers becomes too much
limited and cramped, all the nerves of government are weakened, and the
administration must unavoidably sicken, and lose that energy which is
absolutely necessary for the support of the State, and the security of
the people. For ’tis a truth worthy of great attention, that laws are
not made so much for the righteous as for the wicked; who never fail
to shelter themselves from punishment, whenever they can, under the
defects of the law, and the weakness of government.

I now come to consider the grand proposition which Brutus sets out
with, concludes with, and interlards all along, and which [17] seems
to be the great gift of his performance, viz. That a confederation of
the Thirteen States into one great republic is not best for them: and
goes on to prove by a variety of arguments, that a republican form of
government is not compatible, and cannot be convenient to so extensive
a territory as the said States possess. He begins by taking one
assumption for granted (for I can’t see that his arguments prove it at
all) _viz._ That the Constitution proposed will melt down and destroy
the jurisdiction of the particular States, and consolidate them all
into one great republic.

I can’t see the least reason for this sentiment; nor the least
tendency in the new Constitution to produce this effect. For the
Constitution does not suffer the federal powers to controul in the
least, or so much as to interfere in the internal policy, jurisdiction,
or municipal rights of any particular State: except where great and
manifest national purposes and interests make that controul necessary.
It appears very evident to me, that the Constitution gives an
establishment, support, and protection to the internal and separate
police of each State, under the superintendency of the federal powers,
which it could not possibly enjoy in an independent state. Under the
confederation each State derives strength, firmness and permanency from
its compact with the other States. Like a stave in a cask well bound
with hoops, it [18] stands firmer, is not so easily shaken, bent, or
broken, as it would be were it set up by itself alone, without any
connection with its neighbours.

There can be no doubt that each State will receive from the union
great support and protection against the invasions and inroads of
foreign enemies, as well as against riots and insurrections of their
own citizens; and of consequence, the course of their internal
administration will be secured by this means against any interruption
or embarrassment from either of these causes.

They will also derive their share of benefit from the respectability
of the union abroad, from the treaties and alliances which may be made
with foreign nations, &c.

Another benefit they will receive from the controul of the supreme
power of the union is this, viz. they will be restrained from making
angry, oppressive, and destructive laws, from declaring ruinous wars
with their neighbours, from fomenting quarrels and controversies, &c.
all which ever weaken a state, tend to its fatal disorder, and often
end in its dissolution. Righteousness exalts and strengthens a nation;
but sin is a reproach and weakening of any people.

They will indeed have the privilege of oppressing their own citizens
by bad laws or bad administration; but the moment the mischief extends
beyond their own State, and [19] begins to affect the citizens of other
States, strangers, or the national welfare,—the salutary controul
of the supreme power will check the evil, and restore strength and
security, as well as honesty and right, to the offending state.

It appears then very plain, that the natural effect and tendency of
the supreme powers of the union is to give strength, establishment,
and permanency to the internal police and jurisdiction of each of the
particular States; not to melt down and destroy, but to support and
confirm them all.

By what sort of assurance, then, can Brutus tell us that the new
Constitution, if executed, must certainly and infallibly terminate in a
consolidation of the whole, into one great republic, subverting all the
State authorities. His only argument is, that the federal powers may be
corrupted, abused, and misapplied, ’till this effect shall be produced.
’Tis true that the constitution, like every other on earth, committed
to human management, may be corrupted by a bad administration, and be
made to operate to the destruction of the very capital benefits and
uses, which were the great end of its institution. The same argument
will prove with equal cogency, that the constitution of each particular
State, may be corrupted in practice, become tyranical and inimical to
liberty. In short the argument proves too much, and therefore proves
nothing: [20] ’tis empty, childish, and futile, and a serious proposal
of it, is, I conceive, an affront to the human understanding.

But after all, supposing this event should take place, and by some
strange fatality, the several states should be melted down, and merged
in the great commonwealth, in the form of counties, or districts;
I don’t see why a commonwealth mode of government, would not be
as suitable and convenient for the great State, as any other form
whatever; I cannot see any sufficient ground or reason, for the
position pretty often and boldly advanced, that a republican form of
government can never be suitable for any nation of extensive territory,
and numerous population: for if Congress can be chosen by the several
States, though under the form and name of counties, or election
districts, and be in every respect, instituted as directed by the new
constitution, I don’t see but we shall have as suitable a national
council, as wise a legislative, and as strong and safe an executive
power, as can be obtained under any form of government whatever; let
our territory be ever so extensive or populous.

The most despotic monarch that can exist, must have his councils, and
officers of state; and I can’t see any one circumstance of their being
appointed under a monarchy, that can afford any chance of their being
any wiser or better, than ours may be. ’Tis true indeed, [21] the
despot may, if he pleases, act without any advice at all; but when he
does so, I conceive it will be very rare that the nation will receive
greater advantages from his unadvised edicts, than may be drawed from
the deliberate acts and orders of our supreme powers. All that can be
said in favour of those, is, that they will have less chance of delay,
and more of secrecy, than these; but I think it probable, that the
latter will be grounded on better information, and greater wisdom; will
carry more weights and be better supported.

The Romans rose, from small beginnings, to a very great extent of
territory, population, and wisdom; I don’t think their constitution of
government, was near so good as the one proposed to us, yet we find
their power, strength, and establishment, were raised to their utmost
height, under a republican form of government. Their State received
very little acquisition of territory, strength, or wealth, after their
government became imperial; but soon began to weaken and decay.

The Carthagenians acquired an amazing degree of strength, wealth, and
extent of dominion, under a republican form of government. Neither
they or the Romans, owed their dissolution to any causes arising from
that kind of government: ’twas the party rage, animosity, and violence
of their citizens, which destroyed them both; it weakened them, ’till
the [22] one fell under the power of their enemy, and was thereby
reduced to ruin; the other changed their form of government, to a
monarchy, which proved in the end, equally fatal to them.

The same causes, if they can’t be restrained, will weaken or destroy
any nation on earth, let their form of government be what it will;
witness the division and dissolution of the Roman empire; the late
dismemberment of Poland; the intestine divisions, rage, and wars of
Italy, of France, of Spain, and of England.

No form of government can preserve a nation which can’t controul the
party rage of its own citizens; when any one citizen can rise above the
controul of the laws, ruin draws near. ’Tis not possible for any nation
on earth, to hold their strength and establishment, when the dignity of
their government is lost, and this dignity will forever depend on the
wisdom and firmness of the officers of government, aided and supported
by the virtue and patriotism of their citizens.

On the whole, I don’t see but that any form of government may be
safe and practicable, where the controuling authority of the supreme
powers, is strong enough to effect the ends of its appointment, and at
the same time, sufficiently checked to keep it within due bounds, and
limit it to the objects of its duty; and I think it appears, that the
constitution proposed to us, has all these qualities [23] in as great
perfection, as any form we can devise.

But after all, the grand secret of forming a good government, is, to
put good men into the administration: for wild, vicious, or idle men,
will ever make a bad government, let its principles be ever so good;
but grave, wise, and faithful men, acting under a good constitution,
will afford the best chances of security, peace, and prosperity, to the
the citizens, which can be derived from civil police, under the present
disorders, and uncertainty of all earthly things.

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 4, 1787.


An / Examination / of the / Constitution / for the / United States / of
/ America, / Submitted to the People / by the / General Convention, /
At Philadelphia, the 17th Day of September, 1787, / and since adopted
and ratified / by the / Conventions of Eleven States, / chosen for the
purpose of considering it, being all / that have yet decided on the
subject. / By an American Citizen. / To which is added, / A Speech /
of the / Honorable James Wilson, Esquire, / on the same subject. /
Philadelphia: / Printed by Zachariah Poulson, Junr. in Fourth-/ Street,
between Market and Arch-Street. / M.DCC.LXXXVIII.

  8vo., pp. 33.

  “An American Citizen” was the pseudonym of Tench Coxe, of
  Pennsylvania, a member of the Annapolis Convention and the
  Continental Congress, and author of a number of pamphlets on the
  finances and commerce of the United States. The four letters written
  over that signature were among the first to appear in favor of the
  Constitution, and were reprinted in many of the newspapers of the day.

  I have seen three copies with “Tench Coxe, Esq.,” interlined on the
  title page in his own handwriting below “By an American Citizen.”

  P. L. F.



Every person, who desires to know _the true situation_ of the United
States of America, in regard to _the freedom and powers_ of their
governments, must carefully consider together the _constitution of the
state_ in which he lives and _the new constitution of fœderal or
general government_. The _latter alone_ is treated of in the following
pages. The former, it is presumed, are sufficiently understood by the
citizens who live under them.


  _On the Federal Government, and first on the safety of the people,
  from the restraints imposed on the President._

It is impossible for an honest and feeling mind, of any nation or
country whatever, to be insensible to the present circumstances of
America. Were I an East Indian, or a Turk, I should consider this
singular situation of a part of my fellow creatures as the most curious
and interesting. Intimately connected with the country, as a citizen of
the union, I confess it entirely engrosses my mind and feelings.

To take a proper view of the ground on which we stand, it may be
necessary to recollect the manner in which the United States were
originally settled and [4] established. Want of charity in the
religious systems of Europe, and of justice in their political
governments, were the principal moving causes, which drove the
emigrants of various countries to the American continent. The
Congregationalists, Quakers, Presbyterians and other British
dissenters, the Catholics of England and Ireland, the Hugonots of
France, the German Lutherans, Calvinists and Moravians, with several
other societies, established themselves in the different colonies,
thereby laying the ground of that liberality in ecclesiastical affairs,
which has been observable since the late revolution. Religious
liberty naturally promotes corresponding dispositions in matters of
government. The constitution of England as it stood on paper, was one
of the freest, at that time, in the world, and the American colonies
considered themselves as entitled to the fullest enjoyment of it.
Thus, when the ill-judged discussions of late times in England brought
into question the rights of this country, as it stood connected with
the British crown, we were found more strongly impressed with their
importance, and accurately acquainted with their extent, than the
wisest and most learned of our brethren beyond the Atlantic. When
the greatest names in parliament insisted on the power of that body
over the commerce of the colonies, and even the right to bind us in
all cases whatsoever, America, seeing that it was only another form
of tyranny, insisted upon the immutable truth, that taxation and
representation are inseparable; and, while a desire of harmony and
other considerations induced her into an acquiescence in the commercial
relations of Great Britain, it was done from the declared necessity
of the case, and with a cautious, full, and absolute saving of our
voluntarily-suspended rights. The parliament was persevering, and
America continued firm, till hostilities and open war commenced, and
finally the late revolution closed the contest forever.

[5] It is evident, from this short detail, and the reflections which
arise from it, that the quarrel between the United States and the
parliament of Great Britain did not arise so much from objections to
the form of government, though undoubtedly a better one by far is now
within our reach, as from a difference concerning certain important
rights, resulting from the essential principles of liberty, which their
constitution actually preserved to all the subjects residing within the
realm. It was not asserted by America, that the people of the island of
Great Britain were slaves, but that we, though possessed absolutely of
the same rights, were not admitted to enjoy an equal degree of freedom.

When the declaration of independence compleated the separation between
the two countries, new governments were necessarily established.
Many circumstances led to the adoption of the republican form, among
which was the predilection of the people. In devising the frames of
government, it may have been difficult to avoid extremes opposite to
the vices of that we had just rejected; nevertheless, many of the state
constitutions we have chosen are truly excellent. Our misfortunes have
been, that in the first instance we adopted no national government at
all; but were kept together by common danger only; and that in the
confusions of a civil war, we framed a fœderal constitution, now
universally admitted to be inadequate to the preservation of liberty,
property, and the union. The question is not, then, how far our state
constitutions are good, or otherwise—the object of our wishes is,
to amend and supply the evident and allowed errors and defects of
the fœderal government. Let us consider awhile, that which is now
proposed to us—let us compare it with the so much boasted British form
of government, and see how much more it favours the people, and how
completely it secures their rights, remembering, at the same time, that
we did not dissolve our connection [6] with that country so much on
account of its constitution, as the perversion and mal-administration
of it.

In the first place, let us look at the nature and powers of the head of
that country, and those of the ostensible head of ours.

The British king is the great bishop or supreme head of an established
church, with an immense patronage annexed. In this capacity he commands
a number of votes in the house of lords, by creating bishops, who,
besides their great incomes, have votes in that assembly, and are
judges in the last resort. These prelates have also many honorable
and lucrative places to bestow, and thus from their wealth, learning,
dignities, powers, and patronage, give a great lustre and an enormous
influence to the crown.

In America, our president will not only be without these influencing
advantages, but they will be in the possession of the people at large,
to strengthen their hands in the event of a contest with him. All
religious funds, honors and powers, are in the gift of numberless
unconnected, disunited and contending corporations, wherein the
principle of perfect equality universally prevails. In short, danger
from ecclesiastical tyranny, that long standing and still remaining
curse of the people—that sacreligious engine of royal power in some
countries—can be feared by no man in the United States. In Britain
their king is for life—in America, our President will always be one
of the people at the end of four years. In that country, the king is
hereditary, and may be an idiot, a knave, or a tyrant by nature, or
ignorant from neglect of his education, yet cannot be removed, for “he
can do no wrong.” This is a favorite maxim of their constitution. In
America, as the President is to be one of the people at the end of
his short term, so will he and his fellow citizens remember, that he
was originally one of the people; and he is created by their breath.
Further, he cannot be [7] an idiot, probably not a knave or tyrant, for
those whom nature makes so discover it before the age of thirty-five,
until which period he cannot be elected. It appears, we have not
admitted that he can do no wrong, but have rather pre-supposed he may,
and sometimes will do wrong, by providing for his impeachment, his
trial, and his peaceable and complete removal.

In England the king has a power to create members of the upper
house, who are judges in the highest court, as well as legislators.
Our President not only cannot make members of the Senate, but
their creation, like his own, is by the people, through their
representatives: and a member of Assembly may and will be as certainly
dismissed at the end of his year, for electing a weak or wicked
Senator, as for any other blunder or misconduct.

The king of England has complete legislative power, while our President
can only use it when the other servants of the people are divided. But
in all great cases affecting the national interests or safety, his
modified and restrained power must give way to the sense of two-thirds
of the legislature. In fact it amounts to no more, than a serious duty
imposed upon him to request both houses to reconsider any matter on
which he entertains doubts or feels apprehensions; and here the people
have a strong hold upon him from his sole and personal responsibility.

The President of the upper-house (or the chancellor) in England, is
appointed by their king, while our Vice-President, who is chosen by the
people, through the electors and the Senate, is not at all dependant
on the President, but may exercise equal powers on some occasions. In
all royal governments, an helpless infant or an inexperienced youth
may wear the crown. Our President must be matured by the experience of
years, and being born among us, his character at thirty-five must be
fully understood. Wisdom, virtue and [8]active qualities of mind and
body can alone make him the first servant of a free and enlightened

Our President will fall very much short indeed of any prince in his
annual income, which will not be hereditary, but the absolute allowance
of the people, passing through the hands of their other servants
from year to year, as it becomes necessary. There will be no burdens
on the nation, to provide for his heir, or other branches of his
family. It is probable, from the state of property in America, and
other circumstances, that many citizens will exceed him in show and
expense,—those dazzling trappings of kingly rank and power. He will
have no authority to make a treaty, without two-thirds of the senate,
nor can he appoint ambassadors or other great officers without their
approbation, which will remove the idea of patronage and influence,
and of personal obligation and dependence. The appointment of even the
inferior officers may be taken out of his hands by an act of congress
at any time; he can create no nobility or titles of honor, nor take
away offices during good behaviour. His person is not so much protected
as that of a member of the house of representatives; for he may be
proceeded against like any other man in the ordinary course of law. He
appoints no officer of the separate states. He will have no influence
from placemen in the legislature, nor can he prorogue or dissolve it.
He will have no power over the treasures of the state; and, lastly, as
he is created through the electors, by the people at large, he must
ever look up to the support of his creators. From such a servant, with
powers so limited and transitory, there can be no danger, especially
when we consider the solid foundations on which our national liberties
are immoveably fixed, by the other provisions of this excellent
constitution. Whatever of dignity or authority he possesses, is a
delegated part of their majesty and their political omnipotence,
transiently vested in him by the people themselves, for their own


  _On the safety of the people, from the restraints imposed upon the

We have seen that the late honorable convention, in designating the
nature of the chief executive office of the United States, having
deprived it of all the dangerous appendages of royalty, and provided
for the frequent expiration of its limited powers—As our president
bears no resemblance to a king, so we shall see the senate have no
similitude to nobles.

First, then, not being hereditary, their collective knowledge, wisdom,
and virtue are not precarious, for by these qualities alone they are to
obtain their offices; and they will have none of the peculiar follies
and vices of those men, who possess power merely because their fathers
held it before them, for they will be educated (under equal advantages,
and with equal prospects) among and on a footing with the other sons
of a free people. If we recollect the characters, who have, at various
periods, filled the seats of congress, we shall find this expectation
perfectly reasonable. Many young men of genius, and many characters of
more matured abilities without fortunes, have been honored with that
trust. Wealth has had but few representatives there, and those have
been generally possessed of respectable personal qualifications. There
have also been many instances of persons not eminently endowed with
mental qualities, who have been sent thither from a reliance on their
virtues, public and private—As the senators are still to be elected by
the legislatures of the states, there can be no doubt of equal safety
and propriety in their future appointment, especially as no further
pecuniary qualification is required by the constitution.

[10] They can hold no other office civil or military under the United
States, nor can they join in making provision for themselves, either
by creating new places, or encreasing the emoluments of old ones. As
their sons are not to succeed them, they will not be induced to aim
at an increase or perpetuity of their powers, at the expence of the
liberties of the people, of which those sons will be a part. They
possess a much smaller share of the judicial power than the upper house
in Britain, for they are not, as there, the highest court in civil
affairs. Impeachments alone are the cases cognizable before them, and
in what other place could matters of that nature be so properly and
safely determined? The judges of the fæderal courts will owe their
appointments to the president and senate, therefore may not feel so
perfectly free from favour, affection and influence, as the upper
house who receive the power from the people, through their state
representatives, and are immediately responsible to those assemblies,
and finally to the nation at large—Thus we see, when a daring or
dangerous offender is brought to the bar of public justice, the
people, who alone can impeach him by their immediate representatives,
will cause him to be tried, not by judges appointed in the heat of
the occasion, but by two-thirds of a select body, chosen a long time
before, for various purposes, by the collective wisdom of their State
legislatures. From a pretence or affectation of extraordinary purity
and excellence of character, their word of honour is the sanction
under which these high courts, in other countries, have given their
sentence—But with us, like the other judges of the union, like the
rest of the people, of which they are never to forget they are a part,
it is required that they be on oath.

No ambitious, undeserving or inexperienced youth can acquire a seat
in this house by means of the most enormous wealth, or most powerful
connections, till [11] thirty years have ripened his abilities, and
fully discovered his merits to his country—a more rational ground of
preference surely than mere property.

The senate, though more independent of the people, as to the
free exercise of their judgment and abilities, than the house of
representatives, by the longer term of their office, must be older and
more experienced men, and are vested with less effective power; for
the public treasures, the sinews of the state, cannot be called forth
by their original motion. They may indeed restrain the profusion or
errors of the house of representatives, but they cannot take any of
the necessary measures to raise a national revenue.

The people, through the electors, prescribe them such a president as
shall be best qualified to controul them.

They can only, by conviction or impeachment, remove and incapacitate
a dangerous officer, but the punishment of him as a criminal remains
within the province of the courts of law, to be conducted under all
the ordinary forms and precautions, which exceedingly diminishes the
importance of their judicial powers. They are detached, as much as
possible, from local prejudices in favor of their respective states,
by having a separate and independent vote, for the sensible and
conscientious use of which every member will find his person, honor and
character seriously bound—He cannot shelter himself, under a vote in
behalf of his state, among his immediate colleagues.

As there are only two, he cannot be voluntarily or involuntarily
governed by the majority of the deputation—He will be obliged, by
wholesome provisions, to attend his public duty, and thus in great
national questions must give a vote, of the honesty of which he will
find it is necessary to convince his constituents.

The senate must always receive the exceptions of the president against
any of their legislative acts, which, without [12] serious deliberation
and sufficient reasons, they will seldom disregard. They will also
feel a considerable check from the constitutional powers of the state
legislatures, whose rights they will not be disposed to infringe, since
they are the bodies to which they owe their existence, and are moreover
to remain the immediate guardians of the people.

And lastly, the Senate will feel the mighty check of the House of
Representatives—a body so truly popular and pure in its election, so
intimately connected, by its interests and feelings, with the people at
large, so guarded against corruption and influence—so much, from its
nature, above all apprehensions, that it must ever be able to maintain
the high ground assigned to it by the fæderal constitution.


  _On the safety of the people, from the nature of the House of

In pursuing the consideration of the new fœderal constitution,
it remains now to examine the nature and powers of the House of
Representatives—the immediate delegates of the people.

Each member of this truly popular assembly will be chosen by about
six thousand electors, by the poor as well as the rich. No decayed or
venal borough will have an unjust share in their determinations—no
old Sarum will send thither a representative by the voice of a single
elector.(35) As we shall have no royal ministers to purchase votes,
so we shall have no votes for sale; for the suffrages of six thousand
enlightened and independent freemen are above all price. When the
increasing population of the country shall render the body too [13]
large at the rate of one member for every thirty thousand persons, they
will be returned at the greater rate of one for every forty or fifty
thousand, which will render the electors still more incorruptible.
For this regulation is only designed to prevent a smaller number than
thirty thousand from having a representative. Thus we see a provision
follows, that no state shall have less than one member, for if a new
and greater number than thirty thousand should hereafter be fixed on,
which should exceed the whole of the inhabitants of any state, such
state, without this wholesome provision, would lose its voice in the
House of Representatives—a circumstance which the constitution renders

The people of England, whose House of commons is filled with military
and civil officers and pensioners, say their liberties would be
perfectly secured by triennial Parliaments. With us no placeman
can sit among the representatives of the people, and two years
are the constitutional term of their existence. Here, again, lest
wealth, powerful connections, or even the unwariness of the people
should place in this important trust an undeserving, unqualified or
inexperienced youth, the wisdom of the Convention has proposed an
absolute incapacity till the age of twenty-five. At twenty-one a
young man is made the guardian of his own interest, but he cannot,
for a few years more be intrusted with the affairs of the nation. He
must be an inhabitant of the state that elects him, that he may be
intimately acquainted with their particular circumstances—The house
of Representatives is not, as the senate, to have a President chosen
for them from without their body, but are to elect their speaker from
their own number—They will also appoint all their other officers. In
great state cases, they will be the grand inquest of the nation, for
they possess the sole and uncontroulable power of impeachment. They are
neither to wait the call, nor abide the prorogations and dissolutions
[14] of a perverse or ambitious Prince, for they are to meet at least
once in every year, and to sit on adjournments to be agreed on between
themselves and the other servants of the people. Should they differ
in opinion, the President, who is a temporary fellow-servant, and not
their hereditary master, has a mediatorial power to adjust it for
them, but cannot prevent their constitutional meeting within the year.
They can compel the attendance of their members, that their public
duty may not be evaded in times of difficulty or danger—The vote of
each representative can be always known, as well as the proceedings
of the house, that so the people may be acquainted with the conduct
of those in whom they repose so important a trust. As was observed
of the Senators, they cannot make new offices for themselves, nor
increase, for their own benefit, the emoluments of old ones, by which
the people will be exempted from needless additions to the public
expences, on such sordid and mercenary principles—They are not to
be restrained from the firm and plain language, which becomes the
independent representatives of freedom, for there is to be a perfect
liberty of speech. Without their consent, no monies can be obtained,
no armies raised, no navies provided. They, alone, can originate bills
for drawing forth the revenues of the union, and they will have a
negative upon every legislative act of the other house.—So far, in
short, as the sphere of fœderal jurisdiction extends, they will be
controulable only by the people, and, in contentions with the other
branch, so far as they shall be right, they must ever finally prevail.

Such, my Countrymen, are some of the cautionary provisions of the
frame of government your faithful convention have submitted to your
consideration—such the foundations of peace, liberty and safety, which
have been laid by their unwearied labors—They have guarded you against
all servants but those “whom choice and common good ordain,” against
all masters, “save preserving Heaven.”


  _The security for national safety and happiness, resulting from other
  parts of the fœderal Government._

In considering the respective powers of the President, the Senate and
the House of Representatives, under the fœderal constitution, we
have seen a part of the wholesome precautions, which are contained in
the new system. Let us examine what further securities for the safety
and happiness of the people are contained in the general stipulations
and provisions.

The United States guarantee to every state in the union a separate
republican form of government. From thence it follows, that any man or
body of men, however rich or powerful, who shall make an alteration in
the form of government of any state, whereby the powers thereof shall
be attempted to be taken out of the hands of the people at large,
will stand guilty of high treason; or should a foreign power seduce
or over-awe the people of any state, so as to cause them to vest in
the families of any ambitious citizens or foreigners the powers of
hereditary governors, whether as Kings or Nobles, that such investment
of powers would be void in itself, and every person attempting to
execute them would also be guilty of treason.

No religious test is ever to be required of any officer or servant
of the United States. The people may employ any wise or good citizen
in the execution of the various duties of the government. In Italy,
Spain, and Portugal, no protestant can hold a public trust. In England
every Presbyterian, and other person not of their established church,
is incapable of holding an office. No such impious deprivation of the
rights of men can take place under the new fœderal constitution. The
convention [16] has the honour of proposing the first public act, by
which any nation has ever divested itself of a power, every exercise of
which is a trespass on the Majesty of Heaven.

No qualification in monied or landed property is required by the
proposed plan; nor does it admit any preference from the preposterous
distinctions of birth and rank. The office of the President, a Senator,
and a Representative, and every other place of power or profit, are
therefore open to the whole body of the people. Any wise, informed and
upright man, be his property what it may, can exercise the trusts and
powers of the state, provided he possesses the moral, religious and
political virtues which are necessary to secure the confidence of his
fellow citizens.

The importation of slaves from any foreign country is, by a clear
implication, held up to the world as equally inconsistent with
the dispositions and the duties of the people of America. A solid
foundation is laid for exploding the principles of negro slavery, in
which many good men of all parties in Pennsylvania, and throughout
the union, have already concurred. The temporary reservation of any
particular matter must ever be deemed an admission that it should be
done away. This appears to have been well understood. In addition
to the arguments drawn from liberty, justice and religion, opinions
against this practice, founded in sound policy, have no doubt been
urged. Regard was necessarily paid to the peculiar situation of our
southern fellow-citizens; but they, on the other hand, have not been
insensible of the delicate situation of our national character on this

The people will remain, under the proposed constitution, the fountain
of power and public honour. The President, the Senate, and the House
of Representatives, will be the channels through which the stream [17]
will flow—but it will flow from the people, and from them only. Every
office, religious, civil and military will be either their immediate
gift, or it will come from them through the hands of their servants.
And this, as observed before, will be guaranteed to them under the
state constitution which they respectively approve; for they cannot be
royal forms, cannot be aristocratical, but must be republican.

The people of those states which have faithfully discharged their duty
to the union will be no longer subjected alone to the weight of the
public debts. Proper arrangements will call forth the just proportion
of their sister states, and our national character will again be as
unstained as it was once exalted. Elevation to independence, with
the loss of our good name, is only to be conspicuous in disgrace.
The liberties of a people involved in debt are as uncertain as the
liberty of an individual in the same situation. Their virtue is more
precarious. The unfortunate citizen must yield to the operation of
the laws, while a bankrupt nation too easy annihilates the sacred
obligations of gratitude and honour, and becomes execrable and
infamous. I cannot refrain from reminding my fellow-citizens of our
near approach to that deplorable situation, which must be our miserable
condition, if the defects of the old confederation remain without
amendment. The proposed constitution will cure the evil, and restore us
to our rank among mankind.

Laws, made after the commission of the fact, have been a dreadful
engine in the hands of tyrannical governors. Some of the most virtuous
and shining characters in the world have been put to death, by laws
formed to render them punishable, for parts of their conduct which
innocence permitted, and to which patriotism impelled them. These have
been called ex post facto laws, and are exploded by the new system. If
a time of public contention shall hereafter arrive, [18] the firm and
ardent friends to liberty may know the length to which they can push
their noble opposition, on the foundation of the laws. Should their
country’s cause impel them further, they will be acquainted with the
hazard, and using those arms which Providence has put into their hands,
will make a solemn appeal to “the power above.”

The destruction of the ancient republics was occasioned in every
instance by their being ignorant of a great political position, which
was left for America to discover and establish. Self-evident as
the truth appears, we find no friend to liberty in ancient Greece or
Rome asserting, that taxation and representation were inseparable.
The Roman citizens, proud of their own liberty, imposed, in the
freest times of the commonwealth, the most grievous burdens on their
wretched provinces. At other times we find thousands of their citizens,
though residing within the walls of Rome, deprived of legislative
representatives. When America asserted the novel truth, Great Britain,
though boasting herself as alone free among the modern nations, denied
it by her legislature, and endeavoured to refute it by her arms—the
reasoning of tyrants. But the attempt was vain, for the voice of truth
was heard above the thunders of the war, and reached the ears of all
nations. Henceforth the people of the earth will consider this position
as the only rock on which they can found the temple of liberty, that
taxation and representation are inseparable. Our new constitution
carries it into execution on the most enlarged and liberal scale, for a
Representative will be chosen by six thousand of his fellow-citizens, a
Senator by half a sovereign state, a President by a whole nation.

The old fœderal constitution contained many of the same things,
which from error or disingenuousness are urged against the new ones.
Neither of them have a bill of rights, nor does either notice the
liberty of the press, because they are already provided for by the [19]
state constitutions; and relating only to personal rights, they could
not be mentioned in a contract among foreign states.

Both the old and new fœderal constitutions, and indeed the
constitution of Pennsylvania, admit of courts in which no use is made
of a jury. The board of property, the court of admiralty, and the high
court of errors and appeals, in the state of Pennsylvania, as also the
court of appeals under the old confederation, exclude juries. Trial
by jury will therefore be in the express words of the Pennsylvania
constitution, “as heretofore,”—almost always used, though sometimes
omitted. Trials for lands lying in any state between persons residing
in such state, for bonds, notes, book debts, contracts, trespasses,
assumptions, and all other matters between two or more citizens of any
state, will be held in the state courts by juries, as now. In these
cases the fœderal courts cannot interfere.(36) But when a dispute
arises between the citizens of any state about lands lying out of the
bounds thereof, or when a trial is to be had between the citizens of
any state and those of another, or the government of another, the
private citizen will not be obliged to go into a court constituted by
the state, with which, or with the citizens of which, his dispute is.
He can appeal to a disinterested fœderal court. This is surely a
great advantage, and promises a fair trial, and an impartial judgment.
The trial by jury is not excluded in these fœderal courts. In all
criminal cases, where the property, liberty or life of the citizen is
at stake, he has the benefit of a jury. If convicted on impeachment,
which is never done by a jury in any country, he cannot be fined,
imprisoned or punished, but only may be disqualified from doing
public mischief by losing his office, [20] and his capacity to hold
another. If the nature of his offence, besides its danger to his
country, should be criminal in itself—should involve a charge of
fraud, murder or treason—he may be tried for such crime, but cannot be
convicted without a jury. In trials about property in the fœderal
courts, which can only be as above stated, there is nothing in the
new constitution to prevent a trial by jury. No doubt it will be the
mode in every case, wherein it is practicable. This will be adjusted
by law, and it could not be done otherwise. In short, the sphere of
jurisdiction for the fœderal courts is limited, and that sphere only
is subject to the regulations of our fœderal government. The known
principles of justice, the attachment to trial by jury whenever it can
be used, the instructions of the state legislatures, the instructions
of the people at large, the operation of the fœderal regulations
on the property of a president, a senator, a representative, a judge,
as well as on that of a private citizen, will certainly render those
regulations as favorable as possible to property; for life and
liberty are put more than ever into the hands of the juries. Under
the present constitution of all the states, a public officer may be
condemned to imprisonment or death on impeachment, without a jury;
but the new fœderal constitution protects the accused, till he
shall be convicted, from the hands of power, by rendering a jury the
indispensible judges of all crimes.

The influence which foreign powers may attempt to exercise in our
affairs was foreseen, and a wholesome provision has been made against
it; for no person holding an office under the United States is
permitted to enjoy any foreign honours, powers or emoluments.

The apprehensions of the people have been excited, perhaps by persons
with good intentions, about the powers of the new government to raise
an army. Let us consider this point with moderation and candour. As
enemies will sometimes insult us, invade our country [21] and capture
our property, it is clear a power in our government to oppose, restrain
or destroy them, is necessary to our honor, safety and existence. The
military should, however, be regarded with a watchful eye; for it is
a profession that is liable to dangerous perversion. But the powers
vested in the fœderal government do not go the length which has been
said. A standing army is not granted or intended, for there can be no
provision for its continuing three years, much less for its permanent
establishment. Two years are the utmost time for which the money can be
given. It will be under all the restrictions which wisdom and jealousy
can suggest, and the original grant of the supplies must be made by
the House of representatives, the immediate delegates of the people.
The Senate and President, who also derive their power from the people,
appoint the officers; and the heads of the departments, who must submit
their accounts to the whole legislature, are to pay and provide them,
as shall be directed by the laws that shall contain the conditions
of the grant. The militia, who are in fact the effective part of the
people at large, will render many troops quite unnecessary. They will
form a powerful check upon the regular troops, and will generally be
sufficient to over-awe them—for our detached situation will seldom
give occasion to raise an army, though a few scattered companies may
often be necessary. But whenever, even on the most obvious reasons,
an army shall be raised, the several states will be called, by the
nature of things, to attend to the condition of the militia. Republican
jealousy, the guardian angel of these states, will watch the motions of
our military citizens, even though they will be the soldiers of a free
people. There is a wide difference however between the troops of such
commonwealths as ours, founded on equal and unalterable principles,
and those of a regal government, where ambition and oppression are the
profession of the king. In the first case, a military officer is the
occasional servant of the people, employed for their defence; in [22]
the second, he is the ever ready instrument to execute the schemes of
conquest or oppression, with which the mind of his royal master may be

Observations have been made on the power given to the fœderal
Government in regard to the elections of Representatives and Senators.
The regulations of these elections are, by the first part of the
clause, to be prescribed by the state legislatures, who are certainly
the proper bodies, if they will always execute the duty. But in case
the union or the public safety should be endangered by an omission
of this duty, as in the case of Rhode-Island, then the legislature
of the United States can name for the people a convenient time, and
do other matters necessary to insure the free exercise of their
right of election. The exception, in regard to the places of chusing
Senators, was made from due respect to the sovereignty of the state
legislatures, who are to elect the senators, and whose place of meeting
ought not to be prescribed to them by any authority, except, indeed,
as we always must, by the authority of the people. This power given to
the fœderal legislature is no more than what is possessed by the
governments of all the states. The constitution of Pennsylvania permits
two-thirds of such cities and counties, as shall elect representatives,
to exercise all the powers of the General Assembly, “as fully and amply
as if the whole were present,” should any part of the state neglect
or refuse to perform their duty in this particular. In short, it is a
power necessary to preserve the social compact of each state and the
confederation of the United States.

Besides the securities for the liberties of the people arising
out of the fœderal government, they are guarded by their state
constitutions, and by the nature of things in the separate states. The
Governor or President in each commonwealth, the Councils, Senates,
Assemblies, Judges, Sheriffs, Grand and Pettit Juries, Officers of
Militia, Clergy and Lay Officers of all churches, state and county
Treasurer, Prothonotaries, Registers, [23] Presidents and other
officers of Universities, Colleges and Academies, Wardens of ports
and cities, Burgesses of towns, Commissioners of counties, County
Lieutenants, and many other officers of power and influence, will
still be chosen within each state, without any possible interference
of the fœderal Government. The separate states will also choose all
the members of the legislative and executive branches of the United
States. The people at large in each state will choose their fœderal
representative, and, unless ordered otherwise by state legislatures,
may choose the electors of the President and Vice-President of the
Union. And lastly, the legislature of the state will have the election
of the senate, as they have heretofore had of the Members of Congress.
Let us then, with a candor worthy of the subject, ask ourselves,
whether it can be feared, that a majority of the Representatives, each
of whom will be chosen by six thousand enlightened freemen, can betray
their country?—Whether a majority of the Senate, each of whom will
be chosen by the legislature of a free, sovereign and independent
state, without any stipulations in favour of wealth or the contemptible
distinctions of birth or rank, and who will be closely observed by the
state legislatures, can destroy our liberties, controuled as they are
too by the house of representatives? or whether a temporary, limited,
executive officer, watched by the fœderal Representatives, by the
Senate, by the state legislatures, by his personal enemies among the
people of his own state, by the jealousy of the people of rival states,
and by the whole of the people of the Union, can ever endanger our

[24] Permit me, my fellow-citizens, to close these observations by
remarking, that there is no spirit of arrogance in the new fœderal
constitution. It addresses you with becoming modesty, admitting that
it may contain errors. Let us give it a trial; and when experience
has taught its mistakes, the people, whom it preserves absolutely
all powerful, can reform and amend them. That I may be perfectly
understood, I will acknowledge its acceptance by all the states,
without delay, is the second wish of my heart. The first is, that our
country may be virtuous and free.


  TO A



_Mr. Chairman and Fellow Citizens_,

Having received the honour of an appointment to represent you in the
late convention, it is, perhaps, my duty to comply with the request of
many gentlemen, whose characters and judgments I sincerely respect,
and who have urged that this would be a proper occasion to lay before
you any information, which will serve to elucidate and explain the
principles and arrangements of the constitution- [26] that has been
submitted to the consideration of the United States. I confess that I
am unprepared for so extensive and so important a disquisition: but the
insidious attempts, which are clandestinely and industriously made to
pervert and destroy the new plan, induce me the more readily to engage
in its defence: and the impressions of four months constant attendance
to the subject, have not been so easily effaced, as to leave me without
an answer to the objections which have been raised.

It will be proper, however, before I enter into the refutation of the
charges that are alleged, to mark the leading discrimination between
the state constitutions, and the constitution of the United States.
When the people established the powers of legislation under their
separate governments, they invested their representatives with every
right and authority which they did not in explicit terms reserve: and
therefore upon every question, respecting the jurisdiction of the house
of assembly, if the frame of government is silent, the jurisdiction is
efficient and complete. But in delegating fœderal powers, another
criterion was necessarily introduced: and the congressional authority
is to be collected, not from tacit implication, but from the positive
grant, expressed in the instrument of union. Hence, it is evident, that
in the former case, everything which is not reserved, is given: but in
the latter, the reverse of the proposition prevails, and every thing
which is not given, is reserved. This distinction being recognized,
will furnish an answer to those who think the omission of a bill of
rights, a defect in the proposed constitution: for it would have been
superfluous and absurd, to have stipulated with a fœderal body of
our own creation, that we should enjoy those privileges, of which we
are not divested either by the intention or the act that has brought
that body into existence. For instance, the liberty of the [27] press,
which has been a copious subject of declamation and opposition: what
controul can proceed from the fœderal government, to shackle or
destroy that sacred palladium of national freedom? If, indeed, a
power similar to that which has been granted for the regulation of
commerce, had been granted to regulate literary publications, it
would have been as necessary to stipulate that the liberty of the
press should be preserved inviolate, as that the impost should be
general in its operation. With respect, likewise, to the particular
district of ten miles, which is to be the seat of government, it will
undoubtedly be proper to observe this salutary precaution, as there
the legislative power will be vested in the president, senate, and
house of representatives of the United States. But this could not be an
object with the convention: for it must naturally depend upon a future
compact; to which the citizens immediately interested, will, and ought
to be parties: and there is no reason to suspect, that so popular a
privilege will in that case be neglected. In truth, then, the proposed
system possesses no influence whatever upon the press; and it would
have been merely nugatory, to have introduced a formal declaration upon
the subject; nay, that very declaration might have been construed to
imply that some degree of power was given, since we undertook to define
its extent.

Another objection that has been fabricated against the new
constitution, is expressed in this disingenuous form—“the trial
by jury is abolished in civil cases.” I must be excused, my fellow
citizens, if, upon this point, I take advantage of my professional
experience, to detect the futility of the assertion. Let it be
remembered, then, that the business of the fœderal constitution was
not local, but general—not limited to the views and establishments
of a single state, but co-extensive with the continent, and
comprehending the [28] views and establishments of thirteen independent
sovereignties. When, therefore, this subject was in discussion, we were
involved in difficulties, which pressed on all sides, and no precedent
could be discovered to direct our course. The cases open to a jury,
differed in the different states; it was therefore impracticable,
on that ground, to have made a general rule. The want of uniformity
would have rendered any reference to the practice of the states idle
and useless: and it could not, with any propriety, be said, that “the
trial by jury shall be as heretofore:” since there has never existed
any fœderal system of jurisprudence, to which the declaration
could relate. Besides, it is not in all cases that the trial by
jury is adopted in civil questions: for causes depending in courts
of admiralty, such as relate to maritime captures, and such as are
agitated in the courts of equity, do not require the intervention of
that tribunal. How, then, was the line of discrimination to be drawn?
The convention found the task too difficult for them: and they left
the business as it stands—in the fullest confidence, that no danger
could possibly ensue, since the proceedings of the supreme court are
to be regulated by the congress, which is a faithful representation of
the people: and the oppression of government is effectually barred,
by declaring that in all criminal cases, the trial by jury shall be

This constitution, it has been further urged, is of a pernicious
tendency, because it tolerates a standing army in the time of peace.
This has always been a popular topic of declamation: and yet I do not
know a nation in the world, which has not found it necessary and useful
to maintain the appearance of strength in a season of the most profound
tranquility. Nor is it a novelty with us; for under the present
articles of confederation, congress certainly possesses this reprobated
power: and the exercise of it is proved at this [29] moment by the
cantonments along the banks of the Ohio. But what would be our national
situation, where it otherwise? Every principle of policy must be
subverted, and the government must declare war before they are prepared
to carry it on. Whatever may be the provocation, however important
the object in view, and however necessary dispatch and secrecy may
be, still the declaration must precede the preparation, and the enemy
will be informed of your intention, not only before you are equipped
for an attack, but even before you are fortified for a defence. The
consequence is too obvious to require any further delineation; and
no man, who regards the dignity and safety of his country, can deny
the necessity of a military force, under the controul, and with the
restrictions which the new constitution provides.

Perhaps there never was a charge made with less reason, than that which
predicts the institution of a baneful aristocracy in the fœderal
senate. This body branches into two characters, the one legislative,
and the other executive. In its legislative character, it can effect
no purpose without the co-operation of the house of representatives:
and in its executive character, it can accomplish no object, without
the concurrence of the president. Thus fettered, I do not know any act
which the senate can of itself perform: and such dependence necessarily
precludes every idea of influence and superiority. But I will confess,
that in the organization of this body, a compromise between contending
interests is discernible: and when we reflect how various are the laws,
commerce, habits, population, and extent of the confederated states,
this evidence of mutual concession and accommodation ought rather to
command a generous applause, than to excite jealousy and reproach. For
my part, my admiration can only be equalled by my astonishment, in
beholding so perfect a system formed from such heterogeneous materials.

[30] The next accusation I shall consider, is that which represents the
fœderal constitution as not only calculated, but designedly framed,
to reduce the state governments to mere corporations, and eventually
to annihilate them. Those who have employed the term corporation,
upon this occasion, are not perhaps aware of its extent. In common
parlance, indeed, it is generally applied to petty associations for
the ease and conveniency of a few individuals; but in its enlarged
sense, it will comprehend the government of Pennsylvania, the existing
union of the states, and even this projected system is nothing more
than a formal act of incorporation. But upon what pretence can it be
alleged that it was designed to annihilate the state governments?
For, I will undertake to prove that upon their existence depends the
existence of the fœderal plan. For this purpose, permit me to call
your attention to the manner in which the president, senate, and house
of representatives, are proposed to be appointed. The president is to
be chosen by electors, nominated in such manner as the legislature of
each state may direct; so that if there is no legislature, there can be
no senate. The house of representatives is to be composed of members
chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the
electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite to
electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature—unless,
therefore, there is a state legislature, that qualification cannot be
ascertained, and the popular branch of the fœderal constitution must
likewise be extinct. From this view, then, it is evidently absurd to
suppose, that the annihilation of the separate governments will result
from their union; or, that, having that intention, the authors of the
new system would have bound their connection with such indissoluble
ties. Let me here advert to an arrangement highly advantageous; for
you will perceive, with- [31] out prejudice to the powers of the
legislature in the election of senators, the people at large will
acquire an additional privilege in returning members to the house of
representatives—whereas, by the present confederation, it is the
legislature alone that appoints the delegates to congress.

The power of direct taxation has likewise been treated as an improper
delegation to the fœderal government; but when we consider it as
the duty of that body to provide for the national safety, to support
the dignity of the union, and to discharge the debts contracted upon
the collective faith of the states, for their common benefit, it must
be acknowledged that those, upon whom such important obligations are
imposed, ought, in justice and in policy, to possess every means
requisite for a faithful performance of their trust. But why should we
be alarmed with visionary evils? I will venture to predict, that the
great revenue of the United States must, and always will, be raised by
impost; for, being at once less obnoxious, and more productive, the
interest of the government will be best promoted by the accommodation
of the people. Still, however, the object of direct taxation should be
within reach in all cases of emergency; and there is no more reason
to apprehend oppression in the mode of collecting a revenue from this
resource, than in the form of impost, which, by universal assent, is
left to the authority of the fœderal government. In either case, the
force of civil constitutions will be adequate to the purpose; and the
dread of military violence, which has been assiduously disseminated,
must eventually prove the mere effusion of a wild imagination, or a
factious spirit. But the salutary consequences that must flow from thus
enabling the government to relieve and support the credit of the union,
will afford another answer to the objections upon this ground. The
state of Pennsylvania, particularly, [32] which has encumbered itself
with the assumption of a great proportion of the public debt, will
derive considerable relief and advantage; for, as it was the imbecility
of the present confederation, which gave rise to the funding law, that
law must naturally expire, when a complete and energetic fœderal
system shall be substituted—the state will then be discharged from an
extraordinary burden, and the national creditor will find it to be to
his interest to return to his original security.

After all, my fellow-citizens, 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 officers
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 innovation not, in truth, because it is injurious to the
liberties of his country, but because it effects 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 [33] any thing 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


The / Letters / of / Fabius, / in 1788, / on the Federal Constitution;
/.... / Copy-Right Secured. / From the office of the Delaware /
Gazette, Wilmington, / By W. C. Smith. / 1797. /

  8vo. pp. iv., 202 (1).

  Written by John Dickinson, the “Pennsylvania Farmer,” and member of
  the Annapolis and Philadelphia Conventions. The Letters of Fabius
  were originally published in a Delaware newspaper in 1788, and were
  not issued in pamphlet form till 1797, when they were reprinted as
  above, together with a second series of letters “on the present
  situation of public affairs,” which are omitted in this reprint. They
  were also included in “The Political Writings of John Dickinson,”
  printed in 1801.

  P. L. F.


THE First Nine Letters in this Collection, published in the beginning
of the Year 1788, were occasioned by an alarming hesitation of some
States to ratify the Constitution proposed by the Federal Convention in

They appeared separately in News-papers; and have never been published
together, before the present Edition.

Some Notes are added of Extracts from “_The Rights of Man_,” published
about three years after these Letters, containing similar sentiments,
expressed with a remarkable resemblance of Language, especially on
the two great subject—the _organization_ of a _constitution_ from
original rights, and the _formation_ of _government_ from contributed
rights, both of so much importance in laying regular _foundations_ of
Civil Society, and consequently in securing the advancement of _human


The Constitution proposed by the Federal Convention now engages the
fixed attention of America.

Every person appears to be affected. Those who wish the adoption of
the plan, consider its rejection as the source of endless contests,
confusions, and misfortunes; and they also consider a resolution to
alter, without previously adopting it, as a rejection.

Those who oppose the plan, are influenced by different views. Some of
them are friends, others of them are enemies, to The United States.
[2] The latter are of two classes; either men without principles or
fortunes, who think they may have a chance to mend their circumstances,
with impunity, under a weak government, or in public convulsions, but
cannot make them worse even by the last—or men who have been always
averse to the revolution; and though at first confounded by that event,
yet, their hopes reviving with the declension of our affairs, have
since persuaded themselves, that at length the people, tired out with
their continued distresses, will return to their former connection with
Great Britain. To argue with these opposers, would be vain—The other
opposers of the plan deserve the highest respect.

_What concerns all, should be considered by all_; and individuals
may injure a whole society, by not declaring their sentiments. It
is therefore not only their right, but their duty, to declare them.
Weak advocates of a good cause or artful advocates of a bad one,
may endeavour to stop such communications, or to discredit them by
clamour and calumny. This, however, is not the age for such tricks
of controversy. Men have suffered so severely by being deceived upon
subjects of the highest import, those of religion and freedom, that
_truth_ becomes infinitely valuable to them, not as a matter of curious
speculation, but of beneficial practice—A spirit of inquiry is
excited, information diffused, judgment strengthened.

Before this tribunal of _the people,_ let every one freely speak, what
he really thinks, [3] but with so sincere a reverence for the cause
he ventures to discuss, as to use the utmost caution, lest he should
lead any into errors, upon a point of such sacred concern as the public

It is not the design of this address, to describe the present
derangement of our affairs, the mischiefs that must ensue from its
continuance, the horrors, of a total dissolution of the union, or of
the division of it into partial confederacies. Nor is it intended to
describe the evils that will result from pursuing the plan of another
Federal Convention; as if a better temper of conciliation, or a more
satisfactory harmony of decisions, could be expected from men, after
their minds are agitated with disgusts and disappointments, than before
they were thus disturbed; though from an uncontradicted assertion it
appears, that without such provocations, the difficulty of reconciling
the interests of the several states was so near to _insuperable_, in
the late convention, that after many weeks spent in the most faithful
labours to promote concord, the members were upon the very point of
dispersing in the utmost disorder, jealousy and resentment, and leaving
the states exposed to all the tempests of passions, that have been so
fatal to confederacies of republics.

All these things, with observations on particular articles of the
constitution, have been laid before the public, and the writer of this
address means not to repeat what has been already said. What he wishes,
is to simplify [4] the subject, so as to facilitate the inquiries of
his fellow citizens.

Many are the objections made to the system proposed. They should be
distinguished. Some may be called local, because they spring from
the supposed interests of individual states. Thus, for instance,
some inhabitants of large states may desire the system to be so
altered, that they may possess more authority in the decisions of the
government; or some inhabitants of commercial states may desire it to
be so altered, that the advantages of trade may center almost wholly
among themselves; and this predilection they may think compatible
with the common welfare. Their judgment being thus warp’d, at the
beginning of their deliberations, objections are accumulated as very
important, that, without this prepossession, would never have obtained
their approbation. Certain it is, that strong understandings may be so
influenced by this insulated patriotism, as to doubt—whether general
benefits can be communicated by a general government.(39)

Probably nothing would operate so much for the correction of these
errors, as the perusal of the accounts transmitted to us by the
ancients, of the calamities occasioned in Greece by a conduct founded
on similar mistakes. They are expressly ascribed to this cause—that
each city meditated a part on its own profit and ends——insomuch that
those _who seemed to contend for union_, could never relinquish their
own interests [5] and advancement, while they deliberated for the public.

Heaven grant! that our countrymen may pause in time—duly estimate the
present moment—and solemnly reflect—whether their measures may not
tend to draw down the same distractions upon us, that desolated Greece.

They may now tolerably judge from the proceedings of the Federal
Convention and of other conventions, what are the sentiments of America
upon her present and future prospects. Let the voice of her distress be
venerated—and adhering to the generous Virginian declaration, let them
resolve to “_cling to Union as the political Rock of our Salvation_.”


  Philadelphia, }
  _April 10, 1788_.}


But besides the objections originating from the before mentioned cause,
that have been called local, there are other objections that are
supposed to arise from maxims of liberty and policy.—

Hence it is inferred, that the proposed system has such inherent vices,
as must necessarily produce a bad administration, and at length the
oppression of a monarchy and aristocracy in the federal officers.

The writer of this address being convinced by as exact an investigation
as he could make, that such mistakes may lead to the perdition of his
country, esteems it his indispensable duty, strenuously to contend,
that—_the power of the people_ pervading the proposed system, together
with the _strong confederation of the states_, forms an adequate
security against every danger that has been apprehended.

If this single assertion can be supported by facts and arguments, there
will be reason to hope, that anxieties will be removed from the minds
of some citizens, who are truly devoted to the interests of America,
and who have been thrown into perplexities, by the mazes of multiplied
and intricate disquisitions.

The objectors agree, that the confederation of the states will be
strong, according to the system proposed, and so strong, that many of
them loudly complain of that strength. On this part of the assertion,
there is no dispute: But some of the objections that have been
published, [7] strike at another part of the principle assumed, and
deny, that the system is sufficiently founded on the power of the

The course of regular inquiry demands, that these objections should be
considered in the first place. If they are removed, then all the rest
of the objections, concerning unnecessary taxations, standing armies,
the abolishment of trial by jury, the liberty of the press, the freedom
of commerce, the judicial, executive, and legislative authorities of
the several states, and the rights of citizens, and the other abuses
of federal government, must, of consequence, be rejected, if the
principle contains the salutary, purifying, and preserving qualities
attributed to it. The question then will be—not what may be done, when
the government shall be turned into a tyranny; but how the government
can be so turned?

Thus unembarrassed by subordinate discussions, we may come fairly to
the contemplation of that superior point, and be better enabled to
discover, whether our attention to it will afford any lights, whereby
we may be conducted to peace, liberty, and safety.

The objections, denying that the system proposed is sufficiently
founded on the power of the people, state, that the number of the
federal trustees or officers, is too small, and that they are to hold
their offices too long.

One would really have supposed, that smallness of number could not be
termed a cause of danger, as influence must increase with enlargement.
If this is a fault, it will soon be corrected, [8] as an addition will
be often made to the number of the senators, and a much greater and
more frequently, to that of the representatives; and in all probability
much sooner, than we shall be able and willing to bear the expence of
the addition.

As to the senate, it never can be, and it never ought to be large,
if it is to possess the powers which almost all the objectors seem
inclined to allot to it, as will be evident to every intelligent
person, who considers those powers.

Though small, let it be remembered, that it is to be created by the
sovereignties of the several states; that is, by the persons, whom
the people of each state shall judge to be most worthy, and who,
surely, will be religiously attentive to making a selection, in which
the interest and honour of their state will be so deeply concerned.
It should be remembered too, that this is the same manner, in which
the members of Congress are now appointed; and that herein, the
sovereignties of the states are so intimately involved, that however
a renunciation of part of these powers may be desired by some of the
states, it _never_ will be obtained from the rest of them. Peaceable,
fraternal, and benevolent as these are, they think, the concessions
they have made, ought to satisfy all.

That the senate may always be kept full, without the interference of
Congress, it is provided in the system, that if vacancies happen by
resignation or otherwise, during the recess of the legislature of the
state, the executive thereof may make temporary appointments, until
the [9] next meeting of the legislature, which shall then fill up such

As to the house of representatives, it is to consist of a number of
persons, not exceeding one for every thirty thousand: But each state
shall have at least one representative. The electors will reside,
widely dispersed, over an extensive country. Cabal and corruption will
be as impracticable, as, on such occasions, human institutions, can
render them. The will of freemen, thus circumstanced, will give the
fiat. The purity of election thus obtained, will amply compensate for
the supposed defect of representation; and the members, thus chosen,
will be most apt to harmonize in their proceedings, with the general
interests, feelings, and sentiments of the people.

Allowing such an increase of population as, from experience and a
variety of causes, may be expected, the representatives, in a short
period, will amount to several hundreds, and most probably long before
any change of manners for the worse, that might tempt or encourage our
ruler to mal-administration, will take place on this continent.

That this house may always be kept full, without the interference of
Congress, it is provided in the system, that when vacancies happen
in any state, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of
election to fill such vacancies.

But, it seems, the number of the federal officers is not only too
small: They are to hold their offices too long.

[10] This objection surely applies not to the house of representatives,
who are to be chosen every two years, especially if the extent of
empire, and the vast variety and importance of their deliberations,
be considered. In that view, they and the senate will actually be not
only legislative but also diplomatic bodies, perpetually engaged in the
arduous talk of reconciling, in their determinations, the interests of
several sovereign states, not to insist on the necessity of a competent
knowledge of foreign affairs, relative to the states.

They who desire the representatives to be chosen every year, should
exceed Newton in calculations, if they attempt to evince, that the
public business would, in that case, be better transacted, than when
they are chosen every two years. The idea, however, should be excused
for the zeal that prompted it.

Is monarchy or aristocracy to be produced, without the consent of the
people, by a house of representatives, thus constituted?

It has been unanimously agreed by the friends of liberty, that
_frequent elections of the representatives of the people, are the
sovereign remedy of all grievances in a free government_.—Let us pass
on to the senate.

At the end of two years after the first election, one third is to be
elected for six years; and at the end of four years, another third.
Thus one third will constantly have but four years, and another but two
years to continue in office. The whole number at first will amount to
[11] twenty-six, will be regularly renovated by the biennial election
of one third, and will be overlooked, and overawed by the house of
representatives, nearly three times more numerous at the beginning,
rapidly and vastly augmenting, and more enabled to overlook and
over-awe them, by holding their offices for two years, as thereby they
will acquire better information, respecting national affairs. These
representatives will also command the public purse, as all bills for
raising revenue, must originate in their house.

As in the Roman armies, when the Principes and Hastati had failed,
there were still the Triarii, who generally put things to rights, so we
shall be supplied with another resource.

We are to have a president, to superintend, and if he thinks the public
weal requires it, to controul any act of the representatives and senate.

This president is to be chosen, not by the people at large, because
it may not be possible, that all the freemen of the empire should
always have the necessary information, for directing their choice of
such an officer; nor by Congress, lest it should disturb the national
councils; nor _by any one standing body whatever_, for fear of undue

He is to be chosen in the following manner. Each state shall appoint,
as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to
the whole number of senators and representatives, to which the state
shall be entitled in Congress: but no senator or representative, or
person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States,
shall be appointed an elector. As these elec- [12] tors are to be
appointed, as the legislature of each state may direct, the fairest,
freest opening is given, for each state to chuse such electors for this
purpose, as shall be most signally qualified to fulfil the trust.

To guard against undue influence these electors, thus chosen, are to
meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot; and still further
to guard against it, Congress may determine the time of chusing the
electors, and the days on which they shall give their votes—_which day
shall be the same throughout the United States_. All the votes from the
several states are to be transmitted to Congress, and therein counted.
The president is to hold his office for four years.

When these electors meet in their respective states, utterly vain will
be the unreasonable suggestions derived for partiality. The electors
may throw away their votes, mark, with public disappointment, some
person improperly favored by them, or justly revering the duties of
their office, dedicate their votes to the best interests of their

This president will be no dictator. Two thirds of the representatives
and the senate may pass any law, notwithstanding his dissent; and he is
removable and punishable for misbehaviour.

Can this limited, fluctuating senate, placed amidst such powers, if it
should become willing, ever become able, to make America pass under its
yoke? The senators will generally be inhabitants of places very distant
one from another. They can scarcely be acquainted till [13] they meet.
Few of them can ever act together for any length of time, unless their
good conduct recommends them to a re-election; and then there will be
frequent changes in a body dependant upon the acts of other bodies,
the legislatures of the several states, that are altering every year.
Machiavel and Cæsar Borgia together could not form a conspiracy in such
a senate, destructive to any but themselves and their accomplices.

It is essential to every good government, that there should be some
council, permanent enough to get a due knowledge of affairs internal
and external; so constituted, that by some deaths or removals, the
current of information should not be impeded or disturbed; and so
regulated, as to be responsible to, and controlable by the people.
Where can the authority for combining these advantages, be more
safely, beneficially, or satisfactorily lodged, than in the senate,
to be formed according to the plan proposed? Shall parts of the trust
be committed to the president, with counsellors who shall subscribe
their advices?(40) If assaults upon liberty are to be guarded against,
and surely they ought to be with sleepless vigilance, why should we
depend more on the commander in chief of the army and navy of The
United States, and of the militia of the several states, and on his
counsellors, whom he may secretly influence, than of the senate to be
appointed by the persons exercising the sovereign authority of the
several states? In truth, the [14] objections against the powers of the
senate originated from a desire to have them, or at least some of them,
vested in a body, in which the several states should be represented,
in proportion to the number of inhabitants, as in the house of
representatives. This method is _unattainable_, and the wish for it
should be dismissed from every mind, that desires the existence of a

What assurance can be given, or what probability be assigned, that a
board of counsellors would continue honest, longer than the senate? Or,
that they would possess more useful information, respecting all the
states, than the senators of all the states? It appears needless to
pursue this argument any further.

How varied, balanced, concordant, and benign, is the system proposed
to us? To secure the freedom, and promote the happiness of these and
future states, by giving _the will of the people_ a decisive influence
over the whole, and over all the parts, with what a comprehensive
arrangement does it embrace different modes of representation,
from an election by a county to an election by an empire? What are
the complicated ballot, and all the refined devices of Venice for
maintaining her aristocracy, when compared with this plain-dealing work
for diffusing the blessings of equal liberty and common prosperity over
myriads of the human race?

All the foundations before mentioned, of the federal government, are by
the proposed system to be established, in the most clear, strong, [15]
positive, unequivocal expressions, of which our language is capable.
Magna carta, or any other law, never contained clauses more decisive
and emphatic. While the people of these states have sense, they will
understand them; and while they have spirit, they will make them to be



The writer of this address hopes, that he will now be thought so
disengaged from the objections against the principle assumed, that
he may be excused for recurring to his assertion, that—the power of
the people pervading the proposed system, together with the strong
confederation of the states, will form an adequate security against
every danger that has been apprehended.

It is a mournful, but maybe a useful truth, that the liberty of single
republics has generally been destroyed by some of the citizens, and of
confederated republics, by some of the associated states.

It is more pleasing, and may be more profitable to reflect, that, their
tranquility and prosperity have commonly been promoted, in proportion
to the strength of their government for protecting the worthy against
the licentious.

As in forming a political society, each individual contributes some
of his rights, in order that he may, from _a common stock_ of rights,
derive greater benefits, than he could from merely _his own_; so,
in forming a confederation, each political society should contribute
such a share of their rights, as will, from _a common stock_ of these
rights, produce the largest quantity of benefits for them.

But, what is that share? and, how to be managed? Momentous questions!
Here, flattery is treason; and error, destruction.

[17] Are they unanswerable? No. Our most gracious _Creator_ does not
condemn us to sigh for unattainable blessedness: But one thing he
demands—that we should seek for happiness in his way, and not in our

Humility and benevolence must take place of pride and overweening
selfishness. Reason, rising above these mists, will then discover
to us, that we cannot be true to ourselves, without being true
to others—that to love our neighbours as ourselves, is to love
ourselves in the best manner—that to give, is to gain—and, that we
never consult our own happiness more effectually, than when we most
endeavour to correspond with _the divine designs_, by communicating
happiness, as much as we can, to our fellow-creatures. _Inestimable
truth!_ sufficient, if they do not barely ask what it is, to melt
tyrants into men, and to soothe the inflamed minds of a multitude into
mildness—_Inestimable truth!_ which our Maker in his providence,
enables us, not only to talk and write about, but to adopt in practice
of vast extent, and of instructive example.

Let us now enquire, if there be not some _principle_, simple as the
laws of nature in other instances, from which, as from a _source_, the
many benefits of society are deduced.

We may with reverence say, that our _Creator_ designed men for society,
because otherwise they cannot be happy. They cannot be happy without
freedom; nor free without security; that is, without the absence of
fear; nor thus secure, without society. The conclusion [18] is strictly
syllogistic—that men cannot be free without society. Of course, they
cannot be equally free without society, _which freedom produces the
greatest happiness_.

As these premises are invincible, we have advanced a considerable way
in our enquiry upon _this deeply interesting subject_. If we can
determine, what share of his rights, every individual must contribute
to _the common stock_ of rights in forming a society, for obtaining
equal freedom, we determine at the same time, what share of their
rights each political society must contribute to _the common stock_ or
rights in forming a confederation, which is only a larger society, for
obtaining equal freedom: For, if the deposit be not proportioned to the
magnitude of the association in the latter case, it will generate the
same mischief among the component parts of it, from their inequality,
that would result from a defective contribution to association in the
former case, among the component parts of it, from their inequality.

Each individual then must contribute such a share of his rights,
as is necessary for attaining that _security_ that is essential to
freedom; and he is bound to make this contribution by the law of his
nature, which prompts him to a participated happiness; that is, by the
command of his creator; therefore, he must submit his will, _in what
concerns all_, to the will of all, that is of the whole society. What
does he lose by this submission; The power of doing [19] injuries to
others—and the dread of suffering injuries from them. What does he
gain by it? The aid of those associated with him, for his relief from
the incommodities of mental or bodily weakness—the pleasure for which
his heart is formed—of doing good—_protection_ against injuries—a
capacity of enjoying his undelegated rights to the best advantage—a
repeal of his fears—and tranquility of mind—or, in other words, that
perfect liberty better described in the Holy Scriptures, than any where
else, in these expressions—“When every man shall sit under his vine,
and under his fig-tree, and _none shall make him afraid_.”

The like submission, with a correspondent expansion and accommodation,
must be made between states, for obtaining the like benefits in a
confederation. _Men_ are the materials of both. As the largest number
is but a junction of _units_—a confederation is but an assemblage of
individuals. The auspicious influence of the law of his nature, upon
which the happiness of _man_ depends in society, must attend him in
confederation, or he becomes unhappy; for confederation should promote
the happiness of individuals, or it does not _answer the intended
purpose_. Herein there is a progression, not a contradiction. As
_man_, he becomes a citizen; as a citizen, he becomes a federalist.
The generation of one, is not the destruction of the other. He carries
into society his naked rights: These thereby improved, he carries still
forward into confederation. If that sacred law before mentioned, is not
here [20] observed, the confederation would not be real, but pretended.
He would confide, and be deceived.(41)

[21] The dilemma is inevitable. There must either be one will, or
several wills. If but one will, all the people are concerned: if
several wills, few comparatively are concerned. Surprizing! that this
doctrine should be contended for by those, who declare, that the
constitution is not founded on a bottom broad enough; and, though _the
whole people_ of the United States are to be _trebly_ represented in it
in _three different modes_ of representation, and their servants will
have the most advantageous situations and opportunities of acquiring
all requisite information for the welfare of the [22] whole union, yet
insist for a privilege of opposing, obstructing, and confounding all
their measures taken with common consent for the general weal, by the
delays, negligences, rivalries, or other selfish views of parts of the

Thus, while one state should be relied upon by the union for giving
aid, upon a recommendation of Congress, to another in distress, the
latter might be ruined; and the state relied upon, might suppose, it
would gain by such an event.

When any persons speak of a consideration, do they, or do they not
acknowledge, that the whole is interested in the safety of every
part—in the agreement of parts—in the relation of parts [23] to one
another—to the whole—or, to other societies? If they do—then, the
authority of the whole, must be co-extensive with its interests—and if
it is, the will of the whole must and ought in such cases to govern;
or else the whole would have interests without an authority to manage
them—a position which prejudice itself cannot digest.

If they do not acknowledge, that the whole is thus interested, the
conversation should cease. Such persons mean not a confederation, but
something else.

As to the idea, that this superintending sovereign will must of
consequence destroy the subordinate sovereignties of the several
states, it is begging a concession of the question, by inferring, that
a manifest and great usefulness must necessarily end in abuse; and not
only so, but it requires an extinction of the principle of all society:
for the subordinate sovereignties, or, in other words, the undelegated
rights of the several states, in a confederation, stand upon the
very same foundation with the undelegated rights of individuals in a
society, the federal sovereign will being composed of the subordinate
sovereign wills of the several confederated states. As some persons
seem to think, a bill of rights is the best security of rights, the
sovereignties of the several states have this best security by the
proposed constitution, and more than this best security, for they are
not barely declared to be rights, but are taken into it as component
parts for their perpetual preservation—by themselves. In short, the
government of each state is, and is to be, [24] sovereign and supreme
in all matters that relate to each state only. It is to be subordinate
barely in those matters that relate to the whole; and it will be their
_own faults_ if the several states suffer the federal sovereignty to
interfere in things of their respective jurisdictions. An instance of
such interference with regard to any single state, will be a dangerous
precedent as to all, and therefore will be guarded against by all, as
the trustees or servants of the several states will not dare, if they
retain their senses, so to violate the independent sovereignty of their
respective states, _that justly darling object_ of American affections,
to which they are responsible, besides being endeared by all the
charities of life.

The common sense of mankind agrees to the devolutions of individual
wills in society; and if it has not been as universally assented to in
confederation, the reasons are evident, and worthy of being retained
in remembrance by Americans. They were want of opportunities, or the
loss of them, through defects of knowledge and virtue. The principle,
however, has been sufficiently vindicated in imperfect combinations, as
their prosperity has generally been commensurate to its operation.

How beautifully and forcibly does the inspired Apostle Paul, argue upon
a sublimer subject, with a train of reasoning strictly applicable to
the present? His words are—“If the foot shall say, because I am not
the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? and if
the ear shall say, because I am [25] not the eye, I am not of the body;
is it therefore not of the body?” As plainly inferring, as could be
done in that allegorical manner, the strongest censure of such partial
discontents and dissentions, especially, as his meaning is enforced by
his description of the benefits of union in these expressions—“But,
now they are many members, yet but one body: and the eye _cannot_ say
to the hand, I have no need of thee.”

When the commons of Rome upon a rupture with the Senate, seceded in
arms at the Mons sacer, Menemius Agrippa used the like allusion to
the human body, in his famous apologue of a quarrel among some of
the members. The unpolished but honest-hearted Romans of that day,
understood him, and were appeased.

Another comparison has been made by the learned, between a natural
and a political body; and no wonder indeed, when the title of the
latter was borrowed from the resemblance. It has therefore been justly
observed, that if a mortification takes place in one or some of the
limbs, and the rest of the body is sound, remedies may be applied,
and not only the contagion prevented from spreading, but the diseased
part or parts saved by the connection with the body, and restored to
former usefulness. When general putrefaction prevails, death is to be
expected. History sacred and profane tells us, that, _corruption of
manners sinks nations into slavery_.



Another question remains. How are the contributed rights to be managed?
The resolution has been in great measure anticipated, by what has been
said concerning the system proposed. Some few reflections may perhaps
finish it.

If it be considered separately, a _constitution_ is the _organization_
of the contributed rights in society. _Government_ is the _exercise_
of them. It is intended for the benefit of the governed; of course can
have no just powers but what conduce to that end: and the awfulness of
the trust is demonstrated in this—that it is founded on the nature of
man, that is, on the will of his _Maker_, and is therefore sacred. It
is then an offence against Heaven, to violate that trust.(42)

[27] If the organization of a constitution be defective, it may be

A good constitution promotes, but not always produces a good

The government must never be lodged in a single body. From such an one,
with an unlucky composition of its parts, rash, partial, illegal, and
when intoxicated with success, even cruel, insolent and contemptible
edits, may at times be expected. By these, if other mischiefs do not
follow, the national dignity may be impaired.

[28] Several inconveniences might attend a division of the government
into two bodies, that probably would be avoided in another arrangement.

The judgment of the most enlightened among mankind, confirmed by
multiplied experiments, points out the propriety of government being
committed to such a number of great departments, as can be introduced
without confusion, distinct in office, and yet connected in operation.
It seems to be agreed, that three or four of these departments are a
competent number.

[29] Such a repartition appears well calculated to express the sense
of the people, and to encrease the safety and repose of the governed,
which with the advancement of their happiness in other respects, are
the objects of government; as thereby there will be more obstructions
interposed; against errors, feuds, and frauds, in the administration,
and the extraordinary interference of the people need be less frequent.
Thus, wars, tumults, and uneasinesses, are avoided. The departments so
constituted, may therefore be said to be balanced.

But, notwithstanding, it must be granted, that a bad administration
may take place.—What is then to be done? The answer is instantly
found—Let the Fasces be lowered before—the supreme sovereignty of
the people. _It is their duty to watch, and their right to take care,
that the constitution be preserved_; or in the Roman phrase on perilous
occasions—_to provide, that the republic receive no damage_.

Political bodies are properly said to be balanced, with respect to
this _primary origination_ and _ultimate destination_, not to any
intrinsic or constitutional properties.(43) It [30] is the _power_ from
which they _proceed,_ and which they _serve_, that _truly and of right
balances_ them.(44)

But, as a good constitution not always produces a good administration,
a defective one not always excludes it. Thus in governments very
different from those of United America, general manners and customs,
improvement in knowledge, and the education and disposition of princes,
not unfrequently soften the features, [31] and qualify the defects.
Jewels of value are substituted, in the place of the rare and genuine
orient of highest price and brightest lustre: and though the sovereigns
cannot even in their ministers, be brought to account by the governed,
yet there are instances of their conduct indicating a veneration for
the rights of the people, and an internal conviction of the guilt that
attends their violation. Some of them appear to be fathers of their
countries. Revered princes! Friends of mankind! May peace be in their
lives—and in their deaths—Hope.

By this superior will of the people, is meant a reasonable, not a
distracted will. When frenzy seizes the mass, it would be equal madness
to think of their happiness, that is, of their freedom. They will
infallibly have a Philip or a Cæsar, to bleed them into soberness of
mind. At present we are cool; and let us attend to our business.

Our government under the proposed confederation, will be guarded by a
repetition of the strongest cautions against excesses. In the senate
the sovereignties of the several states will be equally represented;
in the house of representatives, the people of the whole union will be
equally represented; and, in the president, and the federal independent
judges, so much concerned in the execution of the laws, and in the
determination of their constitutionality, the sovereignties of the
several states and the people of the whole union, may be considered as
conjointly represented.

[32] Where was there ever and where is there now upon the face of the
earth, a government so diversified and attempered? If a work formed
with so much deliberation, so respectful and affectionate an attention
to the interests, feelings, and sentiments of all United America, will
not satisfy, what would satisfy all United America?

It seems highly probable, that those who would reject this labour of
public love, would also have rejected the Heaven-taught institution of
_trial by jury,_ had they been consulted upon its establishment. Would
they not have cried out, that there never was framed so detestable,
so paltry, and so tyrannical a device for extinguishing freedom, and
throwing unbounded domination into the hands of the king and barons,
under a contemptible pretence of preserving it? “What! Can freedom
be preserved by imprisoning its guardians? Can freedom be preserved,
by keeping twelve men closely confined without meat, drink, fire,
or candle, until they unanimously agree, and this to be innumerably
repeated? Can freedom be preserved, by thus delivering up a number of
freemen to a monarch and an aristocracy, fortified by dependant and
obedient judges and officers, to be shut up, until under duress they
speak as they are ordered? Why cannot the twelve jurors separate,(45)
after hearing the evidence, return to their respective homes, and
there take time,(45) and think of the matter at their ease?(45) Is
there not a variety of [33] ways, in which causes have been, and can
be tried, without this _tremendous, unprecedented inquisition_? Why
then is it insisted on; but because the fabricators of it know that it
will, and intend that it shall reduce the people to slavery? Away with
it—Freemen will never be enthralled by so insolent, so execrable, so
pitiful a contrivance.”

Happily for us our ancestors thought otherwise. They were not so
over-nice and curious, as to refuse blessings, because, they might
possibly be abused.

They perceived, that the uses included were great and manifest.
Perhaps they did not foresee, that from this acorn, as it were, of
their planting, would be produced a perpetual vegetation of political
energies, that “would secure the just liberties of the nation for a
long succession of ages,(46) and elevate it to the distinguished rank
it has for several centuries held. As to abuses, they trusted to their
own spirit for preventing or correcting them: And worthy is it of deep
consideration by every friend of freedom, that abuses that seem to be
but trifles,”(47) may be attended by fatal consequences. What can be
“trifling,” that diminishes or detracts from the only defence, that
ever was found against “open attacks and secret machinations?”(48)
This establishment originates from a knowledge of human nature.
With a superior force, wisdom, and benevolence united,[34] it
rives the difficulties concerning administration of justice, that
have distressed, or destroyed the rest of mankind. It reconciles
contradictions—vastness of power, with safety of private station. It
is ever new, and always the same.

Trial by jury and the dependence of taxation upon representation,
those corner stones of liberty, were not obtained by a bill of rights,
or any other records, and have not been and cannot be preserved by
them. They and all other rights must be preserved, by _soundness of
sense and honesty of heart_. Compared with these, what are a bill of
rights, or any characters drawn upon paper or parchment, those frail
remembrances? Do we want to be reminded, that the sun enlightens,
warms, invigorates, and cheers? or how horrid it would be, to have his
blessed beams intercepted, by our being thrust into mines or dungeons?
Liberty is the sun of society. Rights are the beams.(49)

[35] “It is the duty which every man owes to his country, his friends,
his posterity, and himself, to maintain to the utmost of his power this
valuable palladium in all its rights; to restore to its ancient
dignity, if at all impaired by the different value of property, or
otherwise deviated from its first institution; to amend it, wherever
it is defective;(50) and above all to guard with the most jealous
circumspection against the new and arbitrary methods of trial, which,
under a variety of plausible pretences, may in time imperceptibly
undermine this best preservative of liberty.”(51) Trial by Jury is our
birthright; and tempted to his own ruin, by some seducing spirit, must
be the man, who in opposition to the genius of United America, shall
dare to attempt its subversion.

In the proposed confederation, it is preserved inviolable in criminal
cases, and cannot be altered in other respects, but when United America
demands it.

There seems to be a disposition in men to find fault, no difficult
matter, rather than to act as they ought. The works of creation itself
have been objected to: and one learned prince declared, that if he had
been consulted, they would have been improved. With what book has so
much fault been found, as with the Bible? Perhaps, principally, because
it so clearly and strongly enjoins men _to do right_. How many, how
plausible objections have been [36] made against it, with how much
ardor, with how much pains? Yet, the book has done more good than all
the books in the world; would do much more, if duly regarded; and might
lead the objectors against it to happiness, if they would value it as
they should.

When objections are made to a system of high import, should they not
be weighed against the benefits? Are these great, positive, immediate?
Is there a chance of endangering them by rejection or delay? _May
they not be attained without admitting the objections at present_,
supposing the objections to be well founded? If the objections are well
founded, may they not be hereafter admitted, without danger, disgust,
or inconvenience? Is the system so formed, that they may be thus
admitted? May they not be of less efficiency, than they are thought
to be by their authors? are they not designed to hinder evils, which
are generally deemed to be sufficiently provided against? May not the
admission of them prevent benefits, that might otherwise be obtained?
In political affairs, is it not more safe and advantageous, for all
to agree in measures that may not be best, than to quarrel among
themselves, what are best?

When questions of this kind with regard to the plan proposed,
are calmly considered, it seems reasonable to hope, that every
faithful citizen of United America, will make up his mind, with much
satisfaction to himself, and advantage to his country.



[37] It has been considered, what are the rights to be contributed,
and how they are to be managed; and it has been said, that republican
tranquility and prosperity have commonly been promoted, in proportion
to the strength of government for protecting the worthy against the

The protection herein mentioned, refers to cases between citizens and
citizens, or states and states: But there is also a protection to be
afforded to all the citizens, or states, against foreigners. It has
been asserted, that this protection never can be afforded, but under
an appropriation, collection, and application, of the general force,
by the will of the whole combination. This protection is in a degree
dependent on the former, as it may be weakened by internal discords
and especially where the worst party prevails. Hence it is evident,
that such establishments as tend most to protect the worthy against
the licentious, tends most to protect all against foreigners. This
position is found to be verified by indisputable facts, from which it
appears, that when nations have been, as it were, condemned for their
crimes, unless they first became suicides, foreigners have acted as

This is not all. As government is intended for the happiness of
the people, the protection of the worthy against those of contrary
characters, is calculated to promote the end of legitimate government,
that is the general welfare; [38] for _the government will partake of
the qualities of those whose authority is prevalent_. If it be asked,
who are the worthy, we may be informed by a heathen poet—

                     “Vir bonus est quis?
  “Qui consulta patrum, qui leges juraque servat.”(52)

The best foundations of this protection, that can be laid by man, are
a constitution and government secured, as well as can be, from the
undue influence of passions either in the people or their servants.
Then in a contest between citizens and citizens, or states and states,
the standard of laws may be displayed, explained and strengthened by
the well-remembered sentiments and examples of our fore-fathers,
which will give it a sanctity far superior to that of their eagles so
venerated by the former masters of the world. This circumstance will
carry powerful aids to the true friends of their country, and unless
counteracted by the follies of Pharsalia, or the accidents of Philippi,
may secure the blessings of freedom to succeeding ages.

It has been contended that the plan proposed to us, adequately secures
us against the influence of passions in the federal servants. Whether
it as adequately secures us against the influence of passions in the
people, or in particular states, time will determine, and _may the
determination be propituous_.

[39] Let us now consider the tragical play of the passions in similar
cases; or, in other words, the consequences of their irregularities.
Duly governed, they produce happiness.

Here the reader, is respectfully requested, to assist the intentions
of the writer, by keeping in mind, the ideas of a single republic with
one democratic branch in its government, and of a confederation of
republics with one or several democratic branches in the government of
the confederation, or in the government of its parts, so that as he
proceeds, a comparison may easily run along, between any of these and
the proposed plan.

History is entertaining and instructive; but if admired chiefly for
amusement, it may yield little profit. If read for improvement, it is
apprehended, a slight attention only will be paid to the vast variety
of particular incidents, unless they be such as may meliorate the
heart. A knowledge of the distinguishing features of nations, the
principles of their governments, the advantages and disadvantages
of their situations, the methods employed to avail themselves of
the first, and to alleviate the last, their manners, customs, and
institutions, the sources of events, their progresses, and determining
causes, may be eminently useful, tho’ obscurity may rest upon a
multitude of attending circumstances. Thus one nation may become
prudent and happy, not only by the wisdom and success, but even by the
errors and misfortunes of another.

[40] In Carthage and Rome, there was a very numerous senate,
strengthened by prodigious attachments, and in a great degree
independent of the people. In Athens, there was a senate strongly
supported by the powerful court of Areopagus. In each of these
republics, their affairs at length became convulsed, and their liberty
was subverted. What cause produced these effects? Encroachments of the
senate upon the authority of the people? No! but directly the reverse,
according so the unanimous voice of historians; that is, encroachments
of the people upon the authority of the senate. The people of these
republics absolutely _laboured_ for their own destruction; and never
thought themselves so free, as when they were promoting their own
subjugation. Though even after these encroachments had been made, and
ruin was spreading around, yet the remnants of senatorial authority
delayed the final catastrophe.(53)

[41] In more modern times, the Florentines exhibited a memorable
example. They were divided into violent parties; and the prevailing one
vested exorbitant powers in the house of Medici, then possessed, as it
was judged, of more money than any crowned head in Europe. Though that
house engaged and persevered in the attempt, yet the people were never
despoiled of their liberty, until they were overwhelmed by the armies
of foreign princes, to whose enterprizes their situation exposed them.

Republics of later date and various form have appeared. Their
institutions consist of old errors tissued with hasty inventions,
somewhat excusable, as the wills of the Romans, made with arms in their
hands. Some of them were condensed(54), by dangers. They are still
compressed by them into a sort of union. Their well-known transactions
witness, that their connection is not enough compact and arranged.
They have all suffered, or are suffering through that defect. Their
existence seems to depend more upon others, than upon themselves. There
might be an impropriety in saying more, considering the peculiarity of
their circumstances at this time.

[42] The wretched mistake of the great men who were leaders in the long
parliament of England, in attempting, by not filling up vacancies, to
extend their power over a brave and sensible people, accustomed to
_popular representation_, and their downfall, when their victories and
puissance by sea and land had thrown all Europe into astonishment and
awe, shew, how difficult it is for rulers to usurp over a people who
are not wanting to themselves.

Let the fortunes of confederated republics be now considered.

“The Amphictionic council,” or “general court of Greece,” claims the
first regard. Its authority was very great: But, the parts were not
sufficiently combined, to guard against the ambitious, avaricious, and
selfish projects of some of them; or, if they had the power, they dared
not to employ it, as the turbulent states were very sturdy, and made a
sort of partial confederacies.(55)

[43] “The Achæan league” seems to be the next in dignity. It was at
first, small, consisting of few states: afterwards, very
extensive, constituting of many. In their diet or Congress, they
enacted laws, disposed of vacant employments, declared war, made peace,
entered into alliances, compelled every state of the union to [44]
obey its ordinances, and managed other affairs. Not only their laws,
but their magistrates, council, judges, money, weights and measures,
were the same. So uniform were they, that all seemed to be but one
state. Their chief officer called Strategos, was chosen in the Congress
by a majority of votes. He presided in [45] the Congress, commanded
the forces, and was vested with great powers, especially in time of
war: but was liable to be called to an account by the Congress, and
punished, if convicted of misbehaviour.

The states have been oppressed by the kings of Macedon, and insulted
by tyrants. “From their incorporation,” says Polybius, “may be dated
the birth of that greatness, that by a constant augmentation, at length
arrived to a marvellous height of prosperity. The same of their wise
laws and mild government reached the Greek colonies in Italy, where the
Grotoniates, the Sybarites, and the Cauloniates, agreed to adopt them,
and to govern their states conformably.”

Did the delegates to the Amphictionic council, or to the Congress of
the Achæan league destroy the liberty of their country, by establishing
a monarchy or an aristocracy among themselves? Quite the contrary.
_While the several states continued faithful to the union, they
prospered_. Their affairs were shattered by dissensions, emulations,
and civil wars, artfully and diligently fomented by princes who thought
it their interest; and in the case of the Achæan league, partly, by
the folly and wickedness of Greeks not of the league, particularly the
Ætolians, who repined at the glories, that constantly attended the
banner of freedom, supported by virtue and conducted by prudence. Thus
weakened, they all sunk together, the envied and the envying, under the
domination, first of Macedon, and then of Rome.

[46] Let any man of common sense peruse the gloomy but instructive
pages of their mournful story, and he will be convinced, that if any
nation could successfuly have resisted those conquerors of the world,
the illustrious deed had been achieved by Greece; that cradle of
republics, if the several states had been cemented by some such league
as the Achæan, and had honestly fulfilled its obligations.

It is not pretended, that the Achæan league was perfect, or that they
were not monarchical and aristocratical factions among the people of
it. Every concession of that sort, that can be asked, shall be made. It
had many defects; every one of which, however, has been avoided in the
plan proposed to us.

With all its defects, with all its disorders, yet such was the life and
vigor communicated through the whole, by the popular representation of
each part, and the close combination of all, that
the true spirit of republicanism _predominated_, and thereby advanced
the happiness and glory of the people to so pre-eminent a state that
_our_ ideas upon the pleasing theme cannot be too elevated. Here is
the proof of this assertion. When the Romans had laid Carthage in
ashes; had reduced the kingdom of Macedon to a province; had conquered
Antiochus the great, and got the better of all their enemies in the
East; these Romans, masters of so much of the then known world,
determined to humble the Achæan league, because as history expressly
informs us, “their great power began to raise no small jealousy at

[47] What a vast weight of argument do these facts and circumstances
add to the maintenance of the principle contended for by the writer of
this address?



Some of our fellow-citizens have ventured to predict the future state
of United America, if the system proposed to us, shall be adopted.

Though every branch of the constitution and government is to be
popular, and guarded by the strongest provisions, that until this day
have occurred to mankind, yet the system will end, they say, in the
oppressions of a monarchy or aristocracy by the federal servants or
some of them.

Such a conclusion seems not in any manner suited to the premises. It
startles, yet, not so much from its novelty, as from the respectability
of the characters by which it is drawn.

We must not be too much influenced by our esteem for those characters:
But, should recollect, that when the fancy is warmed, and the judgment
inclined, by the proximity or pressure of particular objects, very
extraordinary declarations are not unfrequently made. Such are the
frailties of our nature, that genius and integrity sometimes afford no
protection against them.

Probably, there never was, and never will be, such an instance of
dreadful denunciation, concerning the fate of a country, as was
published while the union was in agitation between England and
Scotland. The English were for a joint legislature, many of the Scots
for separate legislatures, and urged, that they should be in [49] a
manner swallowed up and lost in the other, as then they would not
possess one eleventh part in it.

Upon that occasion lord Belhaven, one of the most distinguished orators
of the age, made in the Scottish parliament a famous speech, of which
the following extract is part:

  “My lord Chancellor,

“When I consider this affair of an union between the two nations, as it
is expressed in the several articles thereof, and now the subject of
our deliberation at this time, I find my mind crowded with a variety
of very melancholy thoughts, and I think it my duty to disburthen
myself of some of them, by laying them before and exposing them to the
serious consideration of this honourable house.

“I think, _I see a free and independent kingdom_ delivering up that,
which all the world hath been fighting for since the days of Nimrod;
yea, that, for which most of all the empires, kingdoms, states,
principalities, and dukedoms of Europe, are at this very time engaged
in the most bloody and cruel wars that ever were; to wit, _a power to
manage their own affairs by themselves, without the assistance and
council of any other_.

“I think I see _a National Church_, founded upon a rock, secured by a
claim of right, hedged and fenced about by the strictest and pointedest
legal sanctions that sovereignty could contrive, voluntarily descending
into a plain upon an equal level with Jews, Paptists, Socinians [50],
Armenians, and Anabaptists, and other Sectaries, &c.

“I think I see _the noble and honorable peerage of Scotland_, whose
valiant predecessors led against their enemies upon their own proper
charges and expences, now divested of their followers and vassalages,
and put upon such an equal foot with their vassals, that I think, I see
a petty English _exciseman_ receive more homage and respect, than what
was paid formerly to their quondam Mackallamors.

“I think, I see _the present peers of Scotland_, whose noble ancestors,
conquered provinces, overrun countries, reduced and subjected towns
and fortified places, exacted tribute through the greatest part of
England, now walking in the _court of requests_, like so many English
Attornies, laying aside their walking swords when in company with the
English Peers, lest their self-defence should be found murder.

“I think, I see _the honorable Estate of Barons_, the bold assertors of
the nations rights and liberties in the worst of times, now setting _a
watch upon their lips_ and _a guard upon their tongues_, lest they be
found guilty of _scandalum magnatum_.

“I think I see _the royal State of Boroughs_, walking their _desolate
streets_, hanging down their heads _under disappointments_; worm’d
out of _all the branches of their old trade_, uncertain _what hand to
turn to_, necessitated to become [51] apprentices to their unkind
neighbors, and yet after all finding their _trade so fortified by
companies_ and secured by prescriptions, that they despair of any
success therein.

“I think, I see _our learned Judges_ laying aside their practiques
and decisions, studying the common law of England, gravelled with
certioraries, _nisi priuses_, writs of error, _ejectiones firmæ_,
injunctions, demurrers, &c. and frighted with _appeals_ and
_avocations_, because of _the new regulations_, and _rectifications_
they meet with.

“I think, I see _the valiant and gallant soldiery_, either sent to
learn the plantation trade abroad, or at home petitioning for _a small
subsistence_, as the reward of their honourable exploits, while their
old corps are broken, the common soldiers left to beg, and the youngest
English corps kept standing.

“I think, I see the _honest industrious tradesman_ loaded with _new
taxes and impositions_, disappointed of the equivalents, drinking
water in place of ale, eating his saltless pottage, petitioning for
_encouragement to his manufactories_, and answered by counter petitions.

“In short, I think I see the _laborious ploughman_, with his corn
spoiling upon his hands _for want of sale_, cursing the day of his
birth; dreading the expence of his burial, and uncertain whether to
marry or do worse.

“I think I see the incurable difficulties of _landing men_, fettered
under the golden chain of equivalents, their pretty daughters
petitioning [52] for want of husbands, and their sons for want of

“I think I see _our mariners delivering up their ships_ to their Dutch
partners, and what through _presses and necessity_ earning their bread
as underlings in the English navy. But above all, my lord, I think, I
see _our ancient mother Caledonia_, like Cæsar, sitting in the midst
of our senate, ruefully looking round about her, covering herself with
her royal garment, attending the fatal blows and breathing out her last
with a——_Et tu quoque mi fili_.

“Are not these, my lord, very afflicting thoughts? And yet they are the
least part suggested to me by these dishonorable articles. Should not
the considerations of these things vivify these dry bones of ours?
Should not the memory of our noble predecessors’ valor and constancy
rouse up our drooping spirits? Are our noble predecessors’ souls got so
far into the English cabbage-stalks and cauliflowers, that we should
shew the least inclination that way? Are our eyes so blinded? Are
our ears so deafened? Are our hearts so hardened? Are our tongues so
faultered? Are our hands so fettered? that in this our day, I say, my
lord, that in this our day, we should not mind the things that concern
the very being and well being of our ancient kingdom, before the day be
hid from our eyes.

“When I consider this treaty as it hath been explained, and spoke to,
before us these three weeks by past; I see the English constitution
remaining firm, the same _two houses_ of Parliament [53], the same
_taxes_, the same _customs_, the same _excises_, the same _trading
companies_, the same municipal laws and courts of judicature; _and all
ours either subject to regulations or annihilations_, only we are to
have _the honor_ to pay _their old debts_, and to have some few persons
present for witnesses, to the validity of the deed, when they are
pleased to contract more.”(56)

Let any candid American deliberately compare that transaction with
the present, and laying his hand upon his heart, solemnly answer
this question to himself—Whether, he does not verily believe the
eloquent Peer before mentioned, had ten-fold more cause to apprehend
evils from such an unequal match between the two kingdoms, that any
citizen of these states has to apprehend them from the system proposed?
Indeed not only that Peer, but other persons of distinction and
large numbers of the people of Scotland were filled with the utmost
aversion to the union; and if the greatest diligence and prudence had
not been employed by its friends in removing misapprehensions and
refuting misrepresentations, and by the then subsisting government
for preserving the public peace, there would certainly have been a

Yet, _what were the consequences_ to Scotland of that _dreaded_ union
with England? The cultivation of her virtues and the correction of her
errors—The emancipation of one [54] class of her citizens from the
yoke of her superiors—A relief of other classes from the injuries
and insults of the great—Improvements in agriculture, science, arts,
trade, and manufactures—The profits of industry and ingenuity enjoyed
under the protection of laws—peace and security at home, and encrease
of respectability abroad. Her Church is still eminent—Her laws and
courts of judicature are safe—Her boroughs grown into cities—Her
mariners and soldiery possessing a larger subsistence than she could
have afforded them, and her tradesmen, ploughmen, landed men, and her
people of every rank, in a more flourishing condition, not only than
they ever were, but in a more flourishing condition, than the clearest
understanding could, at the time, have thought it possible for them to
attain in so short a period, or even in many ages. England participated
in the blessings. The stock of their union or ingraftment, as perhaps
it may be called, being strong and capable of drawing better nutriment
and in greater abundance, than they could ever have done apart,

  “Ere long, to Heaven the soaring branches shoot,
  “And wonder at their height, and more than native fruit.”



Thus happily mistaken was the ingenious, learned, and patriotic lord
Belhaven, in his prediction concerning the fate of his country; and
thus happily mistaken, it is hoped, some of our fellow-citizens will
be, in their prediction concerning the fate of their country.

Had they taken large scope, and assumed in their proposition the
vicissitude of human affairs, and the passions that so often confound
them, their prediction might have been a tolerably good guess. Amidst
the mutabilities of terrestrial things, the liberty of United America
may be destroyed. As to that point, it is our duty, humbly, constantly,
fervently, to implore the protection of our most gracious maker,
“who doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men,” and
incessantly to strive, as we are commanded, to recommend ourselves to
that protection, by “doing his will,” diligently exercising our reason
in fulfilling the purposes for which that and our existence were given
to us.

How the liberty of this country is to be destroyed, is another
question. Here, the gentlemen assign a cause, in no manner
proportioned, as it is apprehended, to the effect.

The uniform tenor of history is against them. That holds up the
_licentiousness_ of the people, and _turbulent temper_ of some of the
states, as _the only causes_ to be dreaded, not the conspiracies of
federal officers. Therefore [56], it is highly probable, that, if our
liberty is ever subverted, it will be by one of the two causes first
mentioned. Our tragedy will then have the same acts, with those of the
nations that have gone before us; and we shall add one more example to
the number already too great, of people that would not take warning,
not, “know the things which belong to their peace.” But, we ought not
to pass such a sentence against our country, and the interests of
freedom: Though, no sentence whatever can be equal to the atrocity of
our guilt, if through enormity of obstinacy or baseness, we betray the
cause of our posterity and of mankind, by providence committed to our
parental and fraternal care. There is reason to believe, that the
calamities of nations are the punishments of their sins.

As to the first mentioned cause, it seems unnecessary to say any more
upon it.

As to the second, we find, that the misbehaviour of the constituent
parts acting separately, or in partial confederacies, debilitated the
Greeks under The Amphictionic Council, and under The Achæan League. As
to the former, it was not entirely an assembly of strictly democratical
republics. Besides, it wanted a sufficiently close connection of its
parts. After these observations, we may call our attention from it.

’Tis true, The Achæan League was disturbed by the misconduct of some
parts, but it is as true, that it surmounted these difficulties, and
wonderfully prospered, until it was dissolved in the manner that has
been described.

[57] The glorious operations of its principles bear the clearest
testimony to this distant age and people, that the wit of man never
invented such an antidote against monarchical and aristocratical
projects, as a strong combination of truly democratical republics. By
strictly or truly democratical republics, the writer means republics in
which all the principal officers, except the judicial, are from time to
time chosen by the people.

The reason is plain. As liberty and equality, or as well termed by
Polybius, _benignity_, were the foundations of their institutions, and
the energy of the government pervaded all the parts in things relating
to the whole, it counteracted for the common welfare, the designs
hatched by selfishness in separate councils.

If folly or wickedness prevailed in any parts, friendly offices
and salutary measures restored tranquility. Thus the public good
was maintained. In its very formation, tyrannies and aristocracies
submitted, by consent or compulsion. Thus, the Ceraunians, Trezenians,
Epidaurians, Megalopolitans, Argives, Hermionians, and Phlyayzrians
were received into the league. A happy exchange! For history informs
us, that so true were they to their noble and benevolent principles,
that, in their diet, “_no resolutions were taken, but what were
equally advantageous to the whole confederacy, and the interest of
each part so consulted, as to leave no room for complaints!_”

[58] How degrading would be the thought to a citizen of United America,
that the people of these states, with institutions beyond comparison
preferable to those of The Achæan league, and so vast a superiority in
other respects, should not have wisdom and virtue enough, to manage
their affairs, with as much prudence and affection of one for another
as these ancients did.

Would this be doing justice to our country? The composition of her
temper is excellent, and seems to be acknowledged equal to that of any
nation in the world. Her prudence will guard its warmth against two
faults, to which it may be exposed—The one, an imitation of _foreign
fashions_, which from small things may lead to great. May her citizens
aspire at a national dignity in every part of conduct, private as well
as public. This will be influenced by the former. May _simplicity_
be the characteristic feature of their manners, which, inlaid with
their other virtues and their forms of government, may then indeed
be compared, in the Eastern stile, to “apples of gold in pictures
of silver.” Thus will they long, and may they, while their rivers
run, escape the contagion of luxury—that motley issue of innocence
debauched by folly, and the lineal predecessor of tyranny, prolific
of guilt and wretchedness. The other fault, of which, as yet, there
are no symptoms among us, is the _thirst of empire_. This is a vice,
that ever has been, and from the nature of things, ever must be, fatal
to republican [59] forms of government. Our wants, are sources of
happiness: our irregular desires, of misery. The abuse of prosperity,
is rebellion against Heaven; and succeeds accordingly.

Do the propositions of gentlemen who object, offer to our view, any of
_the great points_ upon which, the fate, fame, or freedom of nations
has turned, excepting what some of them have said about trial by jury;
and which has been frequently and fully answered? Is there one of them
calculated to regulate, and if needful, to _controul_ those tempers and
measures of constituent parts of an union, that have been so baneful to
the weal of every confederacy that has existed? Do not some of them
tend to enervate the authority evidently designed thus to regulate and
controul? Do not others of them discover a bias in their advocates to
particular connections, that if indulged to them, would enable persons
of less understanding and virtue, to repeat the disorders, that have
so often violated public peace and honor? Taking them altogether,
would they afford as strong a security to our liberty, as the frequent
election of the federal officers by the people, and the repartition of
power among those officers, according to the proposed system?

It may be answered, that, they would be an additional security. In
reply, let the writer be permitted at present to refer to what has been

The principal argument of gentlemen who object, involves a direct
proof of the point contended for by the writer of this address, and as
[60] far as it may be supposed to be founded, a plain confirmation of
Historic evidence.

They generally agree, that the great danger of a monarchy or
aristocracy among us, will arise from the federal senate.

The members of this senate, are to be chosen by men exercising the
sovereignty of their respective states. These men therefore must be
monarchically or aristocratically disposed, before they will chuse
federal senators thus disposed; and what merits particular attention,
is, that these men must have obtained an overbearing influence in their
respective states, before they could with such disposition arrive at
the exercise of the sovereignty in them: or else, the like disposition
must be prevalent among the people of such states.

Taking the case either way, is not this a disorder in parts of the
union, and ought it not to be rectified by the rest? Is it reasonable
to expect, that the disease will seize all at the same time? If it is
not, ought not the sound to possess a right and power, by which they
may prevent the infection from spreading? And will not _the extent_ of
our territory, and the _number_ of states within it, vastly increase
the difficulty of any political disorder diffusing its contagion, and
the probability of its being repressed?

From the annals of mankind, these conclusions are deducible—that
confederated states may act prudently and honestly, and apart foolishly
and knavishly; but, that it is a defiance [61] of all probability, to
suppose, that states conjointly shall act with folly and wickedness,
and yet separately with wisdom and virtue.



The proposed confederation offers to us a system of diversified
representation in the legislative, executive, and judicial departments,
as essentially necessary to the good government of an extensive
republican empire. Every argument to recommend it, receives new force,
by contemplating events, that must take place. The number of states in
America will increase. If not united to the present, the consequences
are evident. If united, it must be by a plan that will communicate
equal liberty and assure just protection to them. These ends can never
be attained, but by a close combination of the several states.

It has been asserted, that a very extensive territory cannot be ruled
by a government of republican form. What is meant by this proposition?
Is it intended to abolish all ideas of connection, and to precipitate
us into the miseries of division, either as single states, or partial
confederacies? To stupify us into despondence, that destruction
may certainly seize us? The fancy of poets never feigned so dire a
Metamorphosis, as is now held up to us. The Ægis of their Minerva was
only said to turn men into stones. This spell is to turn “a band of
brethren,” into a monster, preying on itself, and preyed upon by all
its enemies.

If hope is not to be abandoned, common sense teaches us to attempt
the best means of preservation. This is all that men can do, and [63]
this they ought to do. Will it be said, that any kind of disunion,
or a connection tending to it, is preferable to a firm union? Or, is
there any charm in that despotism, which is said, to be alone competent
to the rule of such an empire? There is no evidence of fact, nor any
deduction of reason, that justifies the assertion. It is true, that
extensive territory has in general been arbitrarily governed; and it
is as true, that a number of republics, in such territory, loosely
connected, must inevitably rot into despotism.

It is said—Such territory has never been governed by a confederacy
of republics. Granted. But, where was there ever a confederacy of
republics, in such territory, united, as these states are to be by
the proposed constitution? Where was there ever a confederacy, in
which, the sovereignty of each state was equally represented in one
legislative body, the people of each state equally represented in
another, and the sovereignties and people of all the states conjointly
represented, possessed such a qualified and temperating authority
in making laws? Or, in which the appointment to federal offices was
vested in a chief magistrate chosen as our president is to be? Or,
in which, the acts of the executive department were regulated, as
they are to be with us? Or, in which, the federal judges were to hold
their offices independently and during good behaviour? Or, in which,
the authority over the militia and troops was so distributed and
controuled, as it is to be with us? Or, in which, the people were so
drawn together by religion, blood, language, manners and [64] customs,
undisturbed by former feuds or prejudices? Or, in which, the affairs
relating to the whole union, were to be managed by an assembly of
several representative bodies, invested with different powers that
became efficient only in concert, without their being embarrassed by
attention to other business? Or, in which, a provision was made for
the federal revenue, without recurring to coercion against states, the
miserable expedient, of every other confederacy that has existed, an
expedient always attended with odium, and often with a delay productive
of irreparable damage? Where was there ever a confederacy, that thus
adhered to the first principle in civil society; obliging by its direct
authority every individual, to contribute, when the public good
necessarily required it, a just proportion of aid to the support of the
commonwealth protecting him—without disturbing him in the discharge
of the duties owing by him to the state of which he is an inhabitant;
and at the same time, so amply, so anxiously provided, for bringing the
interests, and even the wishes of every sovereignty and of every person
of the union, under all their various modifications and impressions,
into their full operation and efficacy in the national councils? The
instance never existed. The conclusion ought not to be made. It is
without premises. So far is the assertion from being true, that “a very
extensive territory cannot be ruled by a government of a republican
form,” that such a territory cannot be well-ruled by a government of
any other form.

[65] The assertion has probably been suggested by reflections on the
democracies of antiquity, without making a proper distinction between
them and the democracy of The United States.

In the democracies of antiquity, the people assembled together and
governed personally. This mode was incompatible with greatness of
number and dispersion of habitation.

In the democracy of The United States, the people act by their
representatives. This improvement collects the will of millions upon
points concerning their welfare, with more advantage, than the will of
hundreds could be collected under the ancient form.

There is another improvement equally deserving regard, and that is, the
varied representation of sovereignties and people in the constitution
now proposed.

It has been said, that this representation was a mere compromise.

It was not a mere compromise. _The equal representation of each
state in one branch of the legislature_, was an original substantive
proposition, made in convention, very soon after the draft offered by
Virginia, to which last mentioned state United America is much indebted
not only in other respects, but for her merit in the origination and
prosecution of this momentous business.

The proposition was expressly made upon this principle, that a
territory of such extent as that of United America, could not be
safely and advantageously governed, but by a combination of republics,
each retaining all the rights of supreme [66] sovereignty, excepting
such as ought to be contributed to the union; that for the securer
preservation of these sovereignties, they ought to be represented in
a body by themselves, and with equal suffrage; and that they would be
annihilated, if both branches of the legislature were to be formed
of representatives of the people, in proportion to the number of
inhabitants in each state.(57)

The principle appears to be well founded in reason. Why cannot a very
extensive territory be ruled by a government of republican form? They
answered, because its power must languish through distance of parts.
Granted, if it be not a “body by joints and bands having nourishment
ministered and knit together.” If it be such a body, the objection is
removed. Instead of such a perfect body, framed upon the principle that
commands men to associate, and societies to confederate; that, which by
communicating and extending happiness, corresponds with the gracious
intentions of our maker towards us his creatures? what is proposed?
Truly, that the natural legs and arms of this body should be cut off,
because they are too weak, and their places supplied by strongest limbs
of wood and metal.

[67] Monarchs, it is said, are enabled to rule extensive territories,
because they send viceroys to govern certain districts; and thus the
reigning authority is transmitted over the whole empire. Be it so: But
what are the consequences? Tyranny, while the viceroys continue in
submission to their masters, and the distraction of civil war besides,
when they revolt, to which they are frequently tempted by the very
circumstances of their situation, as the history of such governments
indisputably proves.

America is, and will be, divided into several sovereign states, each
possessing every power proper for governing within its own limits for
its own purposes, and also for acting as a member of the union.

They will be civil and military stations, conveniently planted
throughout the empire, with lively and regular communications. A
stroke, a touch upon any part, will be immediately felt by the whole.
Rome famed for imperial arts, had a glimpse of this great truth; and
endeavoured, as well as her hard-hearted policy would permit, to
realize it in her _colonies_. They were miniatures of the capital: But
wanted the vital principal of sovereignty, and were too small. They
were melted down into, or overwhelmed by the nations around them. Were
they now existing, they might be called curious automatons—something
like to our living originals. These, will bear a remarkable resemblance
to the mild features of patriarchal government, in which each son ruled
his own household, and in other matters the whole family was directed
by the common ancestor.

[68] Will a people thus happily situated, ever desire to exchange their
condition, for subjection to an absolute ruler; or can they ever look
but with veneration, or act but with deference to that union, that
alone can, under providence, preserve them from such subjugation?

Can any government be devised, that will be more suited to citizens,
who wish for equal freedom and common prosperity; better calculated
for preventing corruption of manners; for advancing the improvements
that endear or adorn life; or that can be more conformed to the
understanding, to the best affections, to the very nature of _man_?
What harvests of happiness may grow from the seeds of liberty that are
now sowing? The cultivation will indeed demand continual attention,
unceasing diligence, and frequent conflict with difficulties: but, to
object against the benefits offered to us by our Creator, by excepting
to the terms annexed, is a crime to be equalled only by its folly.

Delightful are the prospects that will open to the view of United
America—her sons well prepared to defend their own happiness, and
ready to relieve the misery of others—her fleets formidable, but only
to the unjust—her revenue sufficient, yet unoppressive—her commerce
affluent, but not debasing—peace and plenty within her borders—and
the glory that arises from a proper use of power, encircling them.

Whatever regions may be destined for servitude, let us hope, that some
portions of this land may be blessed with liberty; let us be con- [69]
vinced, that _nothing short of such an union_ as has been proposed, can
preserve the blessing; and therefore let us be resolved to adopt it.

As to alterations, a little _experience_ will cast more light upon the
subject, than a multitude of debates. Whatever qualities are possessed
by those who object, they will have the candor to confess, that they
will be encountered by opponents, not in any respect inferior, and yet
differing from them in judgment, upon every point they have mentioned.

Such untired industry to serve their country, did the delegates to
the federal convention exert, that they not only laboured to form the
best plan they could, but, _provided for making at any time amendments
on the authority of the people_, without shaking the stability of
the government. For this end, the Congress, whenever two-thirds of
both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to
the constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of
two-thirds of the several 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 several states, or by conventions
in three-fourths thereof, as one or the other mode of ratification may
be proposed by Congress.

Thus, by a gradual progress, we may from time to time _introduce every
improvement in our constitution_, that shall be [70] suitable to our
situation. For this purpose, it may perhaps be advisable, for every
state, as it sees occasion, to form with the utmost deliberation,
drafts of alterations respectively required by them, and to enjoin
their representatives, to employ every proper method to obtain a

In this way of proceeding, the undoubted sense of every state,
collected in the coolest manner, not the sense of individuals, will be
laid before the whole union in congress, and that body will be enabled
with the clearest light that can be afforded by every part of it,
and with the least occasion of irritation, to compare and weigh the
sentiments of all United America; forthwith to adopt such alterations
as are recommended by general unanimity; by degrees to devise modes of
conciliation upon contradictory propositions; and to give the revered
advice of our common country, upon those, if any such there should be,
that in her judgment are inadmissible, because they are incompatible
with the happiness of these states.

It cannot be with reason apprehended, that Congress will refuse to act
upon any articles calculated to promote the _common_ welfare, though
they may be unwilling to act upon such as are designed to advance
_partial_ interests: but, whatever their sentiments may be, they
_must_ call a convention for proposing amendements, on applications of
two-thirds of the legislatures of the several states.

May those good citizens, who have sometimes turned their thoughts
towards a second [71] convention, be pleased to consider, that there
are men who speak as they do, yet do not mean as they do. These borrow
the sanction of their respected names, to conceal desperate designs.
May they also consider, whether persisting in the suggested plan, in
preference to the constitutional provision, may not kindle flames of
jealousy and discord, which all their abilities and virtues can never



When the sentiments of some objectors, concerning the British
constitution, are considered, it is surprising, that they should
apprehend so much danger to United America, as, they say, will attend
the ratification of the plan proposed to us, by the late federal

These gentlemen will acknowledge, that Britain has sustained many
internal convulsions, and many foreign wars, with a gradual advancement
in freedom, power, and prosperity. They will acknowledge, that no
nation has existed that ever so perfectly united those distant
extremes, private security of life, liberty, and property, with
exertion of public force—so advantageously combined the various
powers of militia, troops, and fleets—or so happily blended together
arms, arts, science, commerce, and agriculture. From what spring has
flowed this stream of happiness? The gentlemen will acknowledge, that
these advantages are derived from a single democratical branch in her
legislature. They will also acknowledge, that in this branch, called
the house of commons, only one hundred and thirty-one are members for
counties: that nearly one half of the whole house is chosen by about
five thousand seven hundred persons, mostly of no property; that
fifty-six members are elected by about three hundred and seventy [73]
persons, and the rest in an enormous disproportion(58) to the numbers
of inhabitants who ought to vote.(59)

Thus are all the millions of people in that kingdom, said to be
represented in the house of commons.

Let the gentlemen be so good, on a subject so familiar to them, as to
make a comparison between the British constitution, and that proposed
to us. Questions like these will then probably present themselves:
Is there more danger to our liberty, from such a president as we are
to have, than to that of Britons from an hereditary monarch with a
vast revenue—absolute in the erection and disposal of offices, and
in the exercise of the whole executive power—in the command of the
militia, fleets, and armies, and the direction of their operations—in
the establishments of fairs and markets, the regulation of weights
and measures, and coining of money—who can call parliaments with a
breath, and dissolve them with a nod—who can, at his will, make war,
peace, and treaties irrevocably binding the nation—and who can [74]
grant pardons and titles of nobility, as it pleases him? Is there more
danger to us, from twenty-six senators, or double the number, than
to Britons, from an hereditary aristocratic body, consisting of many
hundreds, possessed of enormous wealth in lands and money—strengthened
by a host of dependants—and who, availing themselves of defects in the
constitution, send many of these into the house of commons—who hold a
third part of the legislative power in their own hands—and who form
the highest court of judicature in the nation? Is there more danger to
us, from a house of representatives, to be chosen by all the freemen
of the union, every two years, than to Britons, from such a sort of
representation as they have in the house of commons, the members of
which, too, are chosen but every seven years? Is there more danger to
us, from the intended federal officers, than to Britons, from such a
monarch, aristocracy, and house of commons together? _What bodies_
are there in Britain, vested with such capacities for enquiring into,
checking, and regulating the conduct of national affairs, _as our
sovereign states_? What proportion does the number of _free holders_
in Britain bear to the number of people? And what is the proportion in
United America?

If any person, after considering such questions, shall say, there will
be more danger to our freedom under the proposed plan, than to that of
Britons under their constitution, he must mean, that Americans are,
or will be, beyond all comparison, inferior to Britons in under- [75]
standing and virtue; otherwise, with a constitution and government,
every branch of which is so extremely popular, they certainly might
guard their rights, at least at well, as Britons can guard theirs,
under such political institutions as they have; unless the person has
some inclination to an opinion, that monarchy and aristocracy are
favourable to the preservation of their rights. If he has, he cannot
too soon recover himself. If ever monarchy or aristocracy appears in
this country, in must be in the hideous form of despotism.

What an infatuated, depraved people must Americans become, if, with
such unequalled advantages, committed to their trust in a manner
almost miraculous, they lose their liberty? Through a single organ of
representation, in the legislature only, of the kingdom just mentioned,
though that organ is diseased, such portions of popular sense and
integrity have been conveyed into the national councils, as have
purified other parts, and preserved the whole in its present state of
healthfulness. To their own vigour and attention, therefore, is that
people, under providence, indebted for the blessings they enjoy. They
have held, and now hold _the true balance_ in their government. While
they retain their enlightened spirit, they will continue to hold it;
and _if they regard what they owe to others_, as well as what they owe
to themselves, they will, most probably, continue to be happy.(60)

[76] They know, that there are powers that cannot be expressly limited,
without injury to themselves; and their magnanimity scorns any fear of
such powers. This magnanimity taught Charles the first, that he was but
a royal servant; and this magnanimity caused James the second’s army,
raised, paid, and kept up by himself, to confound him with huzzas for

They ask not for compacts, of which the national welfare, and, in
some cases, its existence, may demand violations. They despise such
dangerous provisions against danger.

They know, that all powers whatever, even those that, according to the
forms of the constitution [77], are irresistible and absolute, of which
there are many, ought to be exercised for the public good; and that
when they are used to the public detriment, they are unconstitutionally

This plain text, commented upon by their experienced intelligence, has
led them safe through hazards of every kind: and they now are, what we
see them. Upon the review, one is almost tempted to believe, that their
insular situation, soil, climate, and some other circumstances, have
compounded a peculiarity of temperature, uncommonly favourable to the
union of reason and passion.

Certainly, ’tis very memorable, with what life, impartiality, and
prudence, they have interposed on great occasions; have by their
patriotism communicated temporary soundness to their disordered
representation; and have bid public confusions to cease. Two instances
out of many may suffice. The excellent William the third was distressed
by a house of commons. He dissolved the parliament, and appealed to the
people. They relieved him. His successor, the present king, in the like
distress, made the same appeal; and received equal relief.

Thus they have acted: but Americans, who have the same blood in their
veins, have, it seems, very different heads and hearts. We shall be
enslaved by a president, senators, and representatives, chosen by
ourselves, and continually rotating within the period of time assigned
for the continuance in office of members in the house of commons?
’Tis strange: but, we are told, ’tis true. It may be so. As we [78]
have our all at stake, let us enquire, in what way this event is to
be brought about. Is it to be before or after a general corruption of
manners? If after, it is not worth attention. The loss of happiness
then follows of course. If before, how is it to be accomplished? Will
a virtuous and sensible people choose villains or fools for their
officers? Or, if they should choose men of wisdom and integrity, will
these lose both or either, by taking their seats? If they should,
will not their places be quickly supplied by another choice? Is the
like derangement again, and again, and again, to be expected? Can any
man believe, that such astonishing phaænomena are to be looked for?
Was there ever an instance, where rulers, thus selected by the people
from their own body, have, in the manner apprehended, outraged their
own tender connexions, and the interests, feelings, and sentiments
of their affectionate and confiding countrymen? Is such a conduct
more likely to prevail in this age of mankind, than in the darker
periods that have preceded? Are men more disposed now than formerly,
to prefer uncertainties to certainties, things perilous and infamous
to those that are safe and honorable? Can all the mysteries of such
iniquity, be so wonderfully managed by treacherous rulers, that none
of their enlightened constituents, nor any of their honest associates,
acting with them in public bodies, shall ever be able to discover the
conspiracy, till at last it shall burst with destruction to the whole
federal constitution? Is it not ten thousand times less probable,
that such [79] transactions will happen, than it is, that we shall be
exposed to innumerable calamities, by rejecting the plan proposed, or
even by delaying to accept it?

Let us consider our affairs in another light. Our difference of
government, participation in commerce, improvement in policy, and
magnitude of power, can be no favourite objects of attention to
the Monarchies and Sovereignties of Europe. Our loss will be their
gain—our fall, their rise—our shame, their triumph. Divided, they may
distract, dictate, and destroy. United, their efforts will be waves
dashing themselves into foam against a rock. May our national character
be—an animated moderation, that seeks only its own, and will not be
satisfied with less.

To his beloved fellow-citizens of United America, the writer dedicates
this imperfect testimony of his affection, with fervent prayers, for a
perpetuity of freedom, virtue, piety, and felicity, to them and their


Remarks / on the / Proposed Plan / of a / Federal Government, /
Addressed to the Citizens of the / United States of America, / And
Particularly to the People of Maryland, / By Aristides. / “As a
confederated government is composed of petty re-/ “publics, it enjoys
the internal happiness of each; and with / “regard to its external
situation, by means of the associa-/ “tion, it possesses all the
advantages of extensive monarchies.” / Mont. Sp. of Laws, B. 9, Ch. 1.
/ Annapolis; / Printed by Frederick Green, Printer to the State.

  8vo., pp. 42.

  Written by Alexander Contee Hanson, a member of the Maryland State
  Convention, and Chancellor of Maryland from 1789 till his death in
  1806. Both Drake and Lanman have confused Hanson and his son in their
  sketches of him, and the best account is given in Hanson’s _Old Kent_.

  “These remarks are not all original, but they are very judicious,
  calculated to remove objections to the proposed plan of government.”
  [Noah Webster.] in _American Magazine_.

  P. L. F.


Not as a Tribute to the Worth, which no Acknowledgement, or
Distinctions, can reward; but to do himself an Honour, which, by
labouring in the same Common Cause, he flatters himself, in some
Degree, he hath deserved; the Author begs Leave to inscribe the
following imperfect Essay.

It is my intention, with all possible plainness, to examine the
proposed plan of a Federal Government. Its enemies and its advocates
have laid particular stress on the names, wherewith it is subscribed.
As one side would obtain your implicit assent, by a reference to
characters, and as the other would defeat measures by exciting your
jealousy of men, permit me, in the first place, to make some general
observations on the persons who composed the late memorable convention.

In general, they had been distinguished by their talents and services.
They were not principally the men to whom the idea of the convention
first suggested itself, and it is notorious that, in general, they
accepted their appointments with reluctance. It would seem, however,
according to some vague insinuations, that, no sooner did they find
themselves convened, than their natures changed; and fatally have they
combined for the destruction of your liberties. Now this altogether
shocks my faith. I should sooner imagine that the sacredness of the
trust, the unparalleled grandeur of the occasion, and the fellowship of
the great and good, might have elevated the soul of the most abandoned
wretch, had it been possible for such to obtain a seat in that
illustrious assemblage.

If those, who would inspire suspicion and distrust, can suggest any
precise idea, it must be this, that the members of the convention will
be elected into the first federal congress, and there combining again
will compose a body capable of bearing down all opposition to their own

By their scheme, however, thus deeply concerted, the house of
representatives is to be chosen by the people once in [6] two years;
and if they have acted so as to warrant any reasonable apprehension of
their designs, it will be easy at any time, to prevent their election.
The truth is, that very few of them either wish to be elected, or
would consent to serve, either in that house, or in the senate. I have
exercised my imagination to devise in what manner they or any other
men, supposing them to bear full sway in both houses, could erect
this imaginary fabric of power. I request any person to point out any
law, or system of laws, that could be possibly contrived for that
purpose, obtain the final assent of each branch, and be carried into
effect, contrary to the interests and wishes of a free, intelligent,
prying people, accustomed to the most unbounded freedom of inquiry. To
begin by an attempt to restrain the press, instead of promoting their
designs, would be the most effectual thing to prevent them.

I am apprized of the _almost_ universal disposition for the increase
and abuse of authority. But if we are to withhold power because there
is a possibility of its perversion, we must abolish government, and
submit to those evils, which it was intended to prevent. The perfection
of political science consists chiefly in _providing mutual checks
amongst the several departments of power, preserving at the same time,
the dependance of the greatest on the people_. I speak with reference
to a single government. The necessity of another species of government,
for the mutual defence and protection of these American states, no man
of sense and honesty, that I know of, has ever yet denied.

The convention had the above principle constantly in their view. They
have contrived, that it shall be extremely difficult, if not altogether
impracticable, for any person to exceed or abuse his lawful authority.
There is nothing in their plan like the cloathing of individuals
with power, for their own gratification. Every delegation, and every
advantage that may be derived to individuals, has a strict reference to
the general good.

To examine their constitution, by article and section, would be a
painful and needless undertaking. I shall endeavor to answer such
objections, as I have already heard, to anticipate others; to point out
some advantages not generally [7] known; and to correct certain errors,
with respect to construction. When the convention was appointed, I much
feared that the numerous seeds, and principles of discord amongst the
states, would, for ever, prevent them from agreeing to any efficient
system whatever. I apprehended, in particular, that the dispute about
representation would be the rock, on which the vessel containing all
our hopes would be dashed. When, therefore, I discerned that equitable
compromise between the larger and lesser states, my anxiety was
instantly removed, and my soul enlightened by a sudden ray.

How then was I, some months after, disgusted at the repetition, of the
arguments respecting the inequality of representatives in the first
branch. We were told, that the minority in convention reasoned on
first principles, that, as all men, in a state of nature, are equal
with respect to rights, so also are equal all separate and distinct
states;—that, when individuals form a free government, they must
all have equal suffrage, either in framing laws by themselves, or in
choosing representatives, although one man be ten times stronger,
richer, or wiser than another; so also, when several states unite,
for common convenience, they must meet on terms of perfect equality,
although one be ten times more wealthy, expensive and populous than
another;—that, under our present compact, the states are equal, and
that no injury has resulted from the equality.

To these arguments, we may imagine, was opposed something like the
following: “You talk of first principles, and, at the same time, would
let 180,000 free inhabitants of Maryland have no more to do in the
choice of representatives than only 30,000 inhabitants of Delaware. Do
you propose, that these 30,000 shall bear an equal part of burthens and
impositions? As to no injury having resulted from the equality, as you
call it, under the articles of confederation, we think the reverse; and
that this pretended(61) equality was a poison, which pervaded all our
affairs.” [8]

The anticipation of arguments like these had raised those apprehensions
of an irreconcilable difference. It were needless to repeat more. Had
an angel been the umpire, he could propose no expedient more equitable
and more politic, not only as a compromise, but to establish such a
decided difference between the two branches of congress, as will make
them, indeed, two distinct bodies, operating by way of mutual balance
and check.

By this expedient, is safety secured to the lesser states, as
completely as if the senate were the only legislative body. It is
possible (_if such a thing can be devised_) that, from the inequality
in the first branch, propositions will be made to give the larger
states some advantage over the lesser; but the equality in the senate
will, for ever, preclude its adoption. It is well worthy of remark,
that not more than three of the thirteen are, at present, deemed larger
states, in the peculiar sense of the word. There is no reason for
supposing, in the federal, like a state, legislature, the senate will
be intimidated or overawed, by the more numerous branch. A demagogue
may declaim, rave, menace and foam, with as little impression as the
roaring billows produce upon the solid [9] beach. Were it not for this
equality in one, and inequality in the other, a jealousy might be
entertained of too perfect a coincidence of sentiment.

The convention has been censured for an excess of its authority. But
with no other power was it invested, than is possessed by every free
citizen of the states. Its office was to advise, and no further has
it proceeded. Had it been even invested with full powers to amend the
present compact, their proposed plan would not have exceeded their
trust. Amendment, in parliamentary language, means either addition,
or diminution, or striking out the whole, and substituting something
in its room. The convention were not limited. The states did not tell
them, this article must stand, this must be struck out, and this may
be altered. The avowed object of a convention was to consult on the
additional power necessary to be vested in congress. But the members
of this convention perceiving, from the experience of these states,
from the history of ancient and modern states, and, I may add, from
the principles of human nature, that the same body of men ought not
to make and execute laws; and that one body alone ought not to do
the first, have separated the executive, so far as was proper, from
the legislative; and this last they have divided into two branches,
composed of different materials, distinct from, and totally independent
of, each other.

The house of representatives(62) is to be the immediate choice of the
people, and one man is to represent 30,000 souls. In an affair of so
much importance, and in districts containing so many suffrages, it is
not to be supposed, that a worthless character will succeed by those
arts, which have, sometimes, prevailed in county elections. It is to
be expected, that, in general, the people will choose men of talents
and character. Were they even so inclined, they can choose none but
of ripe age, who have been, at least, seven [10] years citizens of
the United States, and, at the time of election, residents of the
respective state. Whatever laws shall be proposed, or assented to
by these men, are to bind themselves, their children, and their
connections. If a single man, or a party, shall propose a measure,
calculated to promote private interest, at the expense of public good,
is it conceivable, that the whole house will be brought into the
measure? Suppose it should. The measure cannot be adopted into a law,
without the concurrence of another house, consisting of men still more
select, possessing superior qualifications of residence and age, and
equally bound by the laws. After gaining the assent of the senate, the
bill must be submitted to the objections of the president. He is not
in any manner dependent on the legislature, which can, in no manner,
punish him, except for some crime known to the laws. He is elected by
persons chosen for that special purpose. He receives a compensation,
which cannot be diminished or increased, during his continuance in
office. The term of his commission is limited to four years, unless
he shall have acted so as to merit the people’s favour. From the mode
of his election, it is impossible he can intrigue to advantage; and,
from the nature of other things, he will never succeed by bribery and
corruption. Like any other individual, he is liable to punishment.
Finally, at the expiration of his office, he returns into the mass of
the people.

In spite of all these circumstances, an idea is gone forth amongst
the enemies of the plan, and they labour to impress it on your minds,
that whatever power may be exercised by these delegates of the people,
will be used contrary to the interests of their constituents. This is
a supposition, so repulsive to my mind, that I wonder any man of the
least generosity, or reflection, can possibly adopt it. The assembly of
Maryland, with respect to internal regulations, is almost omnipotent.
And yet, is there a man who supposes the assembly would, intentionally,
pass laws injurious to the people? Why then should we distrust the
federal assembly, chosen for a short term, bound by the same ties, and
selected on account of their talents and patriotism?

But, say the objectors, although we might probably confide with safety
in congress, it is not consistent with prudence [11], without a
manifest necessity, to empower any men to do us an injury.

Whenever the proposed plan delegates authority, which you imagine might
safely be denied, be assured, that a little reflection will suggest
abundant reason for granting it. At the same time you may be convinced,
that, as some powers were not intended to be exercised, so they never
will be exercised, without absolute necessity.

I have been amused by the writings of an avowed friend to the plan.
“Let no man,” says he, “think of proposing amendments. Should each
person object, and should his objections prevail, not a title of the
system will be left. You are to accept the whole, or reject the whole.”
After speaking in this very sensible way, he advises the states to
reject, with unanimity and firmness, the following provision.

“Art. I, sect. 4. The times, places, and manner of holding elections
for senators and representatives, shall be prescribed in each state, by
the legislature thereof; _but the congress may, at any time, by law,
make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing

Can this writer imagine, that congress will presume to use this
power, without the occurrence of some one or more of the cases, the
contemplation whereof induced the convention to create it. These are
the cases of invasion by a foreign power; of neglect, or obstinate
refusal, in a state legislature; of the prevalance of a party,
prescribing so as to suit a sinister purpose, or injure the general
government. Others might perhaps occur in the convention. But these may
suffice to evince the propriety of such a power in the federal head. It
was never meant, that congress should at any time interfere, unless on
the failure of a state lagislature, or to alter such regulations as may
be obviously improper. The exercise of this power must at all times be
so very invidious, that congress, will not venture upon it without some
very cogent and substantial reason. Let congress, even officiously,
exert every power given by this clause, the representatives must still
be chosen by the people, and the senate by the state legislatures. The
provision cannot by any possibility admit of a different construction.

Should the bare appointment to congress have the magic to pervert
the tempers and principles of men, I perceive not the temptation
for abusing this, or any other of their powers. There are bad men
to be found at times, in every numerous assembly. But, under all
circumstances, I predict, that, in congress, their party will be small.
Should there be thither sent the most prostituted character, that
ever acted, like a pest, to his own state; should he possess talents
superior to the rest, I should have little dread of his influence,
unless I could suppose, that a majority of like characters may be
chosen. Even then, I repeat it—they will be under no temptation
sufficient to influence a sensible mind; and no man of ripe age was
ever yet wicked for the sake of wickedness alone.

You have heard, that, by the privilege of nominating persons to office,
the president will find the congress obsequious enough to pass any
laws, he shall think fit to propose. It is incumbent on the authors
of this suggestion to show some interest in the president, inducing
him to propose prejudicial measures. I have remarked, that under the
constitution, his salary can be neither augmented nor curtailed,
during his commission; and, to change the constitution, is not in
the power of congress. Should he, however, devise, and endeavour to
procure, some dangerous act of the body, can we conceive, that this
lure will be powerful enough to corrupt a majority in each house. No
member can be appointed to an office, created, or of which the profits
shall be increased, during the time for which he was elected. And the
expectation of such, as may fall vacant, within four years, will hardly
corrupt even the smallest number, that can, in any possible case,
be a majority, in the two houses. To make the members of each house
ineligible to any other office whatever, would be even impolitic, on
account of its precluding these states from the services perhaps of
its best men. And it would be unjust to deny men the possibility of
benefits, which might be attained by others less deserving.

In ascertaining and defining this obvious principle, the convention
evidently pursued this obvious principle, that all [13] things, which
concern the union in general, should be regulated by the federal head;
and that each state legislature should regulate those things, which
concern only its own internal government, together with the separate
interests of its citizens. The enemies of the proposed constitution
have deemed it material to shew, that such a one never existed before.
It does not indeed agree with definitions in books, taken from the
Amphyctyonic council, the United Netherlands, or the Helvetic body.
They would therefore infer, that it is wrong. This mode of reasoning
deserves not a serious refutation. The convention examined those
several constitutions, if such a thing they can be called. It found
them either woefully defective, as to their own particular object, or
inapplicable to ours. Peradventure, our own articles of confederation,
in theory, appear more perfect than any of them. These articles were
made according to rule; the legislative and executive authorities being
vested in one assembly. The extreme caution of its framers to secure
the independence of the several states, on account of its principle,
was much to be commended. But experience having fully demonstrated
this constitution to be inadequate to the purposes for which it was
framed, and a general conviction of its defects having occasioned the
convention, it is astonishing, that attempts are now made to prefer
still a theory, not founded on the nature of things, but derived merely
from a few deplorable examples. If two branches in a state legislature
be proper, why, in the name of common sense, are they not so in a
confederate legislature?—Many instances of hasty unadvised proceedings
of congress, as a legislature, have by other writers been adduced;
and so long as mankind shall remain under the influence of passion or
interest, there will be such proceedings in every numerous assembly of

It is universally, by good writers, agreed, that where any one
political body possesses _full_ powers, legislative and executive,
whether it be a single man, or a select few, or a numerous assembly, it
matters not;—the government must, in a short time, become despotic.
That in a free government, therefore, the legislative and executive
ought to be ever distinct and separate, is a position in the Maryland
de- [14] claration of rights. This hackneyed principle, has been urged,
with great confidence, against constituting the senate a council to the
president. It has been urged too, even by the men who would have the
whole power of the federal government centred in a single assembly. I
mean the men who insist that the convention ought to have done no more
than advise in what manner the powers of the present congress should
be increased. Let us understand the principle in its proper extent. It
does not follow, that a body, whose assent is required, in making laws,
but who cannot, by themselves, do any legislative act, may not be a fit
council to the supreme executive magistrate, deriving his authority,
like them, from the people, in no manner dependent on them, or the
immediate of the people, for any private advantage, and possessed of no
share in legislation, except that of offering his advice.

The objection to this part of the constitution, I confess, at first,
appeared formidable. The reasons which I now conjecture to have
influenced the convention, did not then occur. But I have long adhered
to a maxim, which I warmly recommend to others—never to condemn,
absolutely, even within myself, any one kind, until I can hit upon
some other kind which I _conceive_ better. As no human institution can
possess absolute perfection, it is an easy matter to espy some fault
or defect in almost everything, which the wit of man can contrive, or
at least, to reason plausibly against it. But this faculty of finding
faults is by no means sufficient to constitute the politician or
statesman. I deliberated what kind of council might be preferable,
under all circumstances, to the senate. The plainest thing in nature!
Exclaims he, who solves all difficulties at once. Why not appoint a
body to act as council and nothing else?

One reason, and that not very unpopular, is the great additional
expence. However, this reason I deem the lightest of all; and the
general proposition involves a great variety of other considerations.

It is essential to a council, that the members be free, as possible,
from all bias, or improper influence. This separate and distinct
council must be elected by the people, or [15] by special electors; by
the legislature, or by one of its branches; or by some department; or
by the president.

That the people should either make laws to bind themselves, or elect
persons, without whose consent, no laws shall be made, is essential
to their freedom. But universal experience forbids, that they should
immediately choose persons for the execution of the laws. Shall the
legislature then, or the senate, or the house of representatives,
have this appointment? A council thus chosen would be dependent on
its electors; and it would be the same thing in many respects, as if
the legislature should execute its own laws. Can you believe, that a
council, chosen annually, or once in two or three years, would dare to
pursue, in all cases, the dictates of its own judgment, contrary to
the known will of those, who will soon have an opportunity of removing
them? Would they not be emulous to please leading men; and there not
be opened, at every period of election, a fine field for intrigue and
cabal? There would be one way only of rendering a council, thus chosen,
independent of their electors; and that is, the choosing them for life,
with salaries, not to be augmented or diminished.

Against choosing an executive for life the reasons are weighty indeed.
Should they then hold their commissions during good behaviour, there
must be some tribunal to determine on that good behaviour; and what
body it can be, except the congress, would be difficult to decide.
Besides good behaviour in a member of council is not determinable, like
that of a judge, which has relation to the laws, and things universally
known. In the office of the former, there is much left to discretion,
that I cannot conceive with what propriety he can hold it on the
condition of good behaviour. There can be no sure criterion, and the
decision must therefore unavoidably depend on the discretion or mere
opinion of his judges, founded on no established principles whatever.

A council, chosen by the president himself, would probably consist
of creatures devoted to his will. I can discern no reason, wherefore
any officer of the government [16] should make the appointment. There
remains then only the people’s choosing electors, and placing the
council of the president on the same footing with himself. Here occurs
the objection of expence; and here again would arise the controversy
respecting equality of representation.

The senate, will, in all human likelihood, consist of the most
important characters, men of enlightened minds, mature in judgment,
independent in their circumstances, and not deriving their principal
subsistence from their pay, as probably would the members of a board,
distinct and separate from all other public employments.

I am not, therefore, barely reconciled to the article in question. It
commands my warmest admiration, and entire applause.

Is there any power improperly trusted to that select assembly, in which
all the states have equal interest, and to which they will assuredly
make a determined point of sending their best men? It is this
equality, almost as much as any other circumstance, which recommends it
as an executive council. The senate are to try impeachments. By their
advice only, may the president make treaties, appoint ambassadors,
ministers, counsels, judges of the supreme court, and officers, not
otherwise provided for in the constitution. Let us reflect, whether
these things could be better done, by any other body, and whether it be
proper for any one man (suppose even the saviour of his country to be
immortal) to have the appointment of all those important officers. It
has always appeared to me, that neither one man, nor many men, should
possess this transcendent authority, in a republic. A single man, in
high power, if he always means right, can with difficulty discern the
true characters of men. Continual efforts are made to impose on his
judgment. But, indeed, a single man _generally_ confers by favour.
In a large assembly there is perhaps equal partiality; and elections
are conducted by intrigue and cabal. A select assembly is open to
direct application; and although each may be supposed to entertain his
partialities, he cannot recommend his favourites, without pointing
out their essential qualifications and becoming, in some measure,
responsible for their conduct. It is here, that characters are most
fairly [17] investigated, and appointments are most deliberately made.
I appeal to universal experience, whether these remarks be not founded
on fact, and whether the most judicious appointments have not been made
by small select assemblies. I confess, that the number of the senators
for this purpose only is excessive. But I can confidently rely on the
extraordinary selection to compensate for the excess.

The power of the president is alarming peculiarly to that class, who
cannot bear to view others in possession of that fancied blessing, to
which, alas! they must themselves aspire in vain. They tell you, this
supreme magistrate, although he be called the modest name of president,
and elected for only four years, will, in every essential, be an
emperor, king, or stadt-holder at least; and that his dignity in a few
years, will become hereditary. Let us examine the foundation of this
alarming prediction.

Before this appointment can be _entailed_, and before even the term
can be enlarged, the constitution must be changed, by consent of
the people. By what method, then, shall the president effect this
alteration? Every citizen in the union will be a censor on his conduct.
Not even his person is particularly protected; and the means of
oppression are little in his power. Let the jealousy of the people once
take the alarm, and, at the expiration of his term, he is dismissed, as
inevitably as light succeeds to darkness. The election of a president
is not carried on in a single assembly, where the several arts of
corruption may be essayed. He is elected by persons chosen on the same
day, in thirteen different assemblies, in thirteen different states.
An elective monarchy has long been severely reprobated. But had the
countries, where it prevailed, enjoyed regulations like these, they
would perhaps, at this time, be preferred to the rules of hereditary
succession, which have so often placed fools and tyrants on the throne.

It seems, however, that the president may possibly be continued for
life. He may so, provided he deserve it. If [18] not, he retires to
obscurity, without even the consolation of having produced any of the
convulsions, attendant usually on grand revolutions. Should he be
wicked or frantic enough to make the attempt, he atones for it, with
the certain loss of wealth, liberty or life.

I return to the powers of congress. They are almost universally
admitted to be proper for a federal head, except only the _sweeping
clause_, and the power of raising fleets and armies, without any stint
or limitation, in time of peace. The clause runs thus:—

ART. I, sec. 8, par. the last. “To make all laws, which shall be
necessary and be 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

It is apprehended, that this _sweeping clause_ will afford pretext, for
freeing congress from all constitutional restraints.

I will not here again insist on the pledge we enjoy, in the common
interest, and sure attachment of the representatives and senate;
setting aside the little probability of a majority in each branch lying
under the same temptation. Consider the import of the words.

I take the construction of these words to be precisely the same, as
if the clause had preceded further and said, “No act of congress
shall be valid, unless it have relation to the foregoing powers, and
be necessary and proper for carrying them into execution.” But say
the objectors, “The congress, being itself to judge of the necessity
and propriety, may pass any act, which it may deem _expedient_, for
any other purpose.” This objection applies with equal force to each
particular power, defined by the constitution; and, if there were a
bill of rights, congress might be said to be the judge of that also.
They may reflect however, that every judge in the union, whether of
federal or state appointment, (and some persons would say every jury)
will have a right to reject any act, handed to him as a law, which he
may conceive repugnant to the constitution.

It may nevertheless strike you at first view, that a provision, so
obviously apt to excite distrust, might have well [19] been omitted.
So indeed it might, were there a possibility of providing every thing,
necessary and proper, for carrying into effect the various powers,
intended to be conferred. Without this general clause, it were easy to
suppose cases, wherein a particular clause might be incompetent to its
own purpose.

For want of some plain and obvious distinctions, there has been vented
so much senseless clamour against standing armies, that they are become
a political bugbear. A limited monarch, with the means of maintaining,
at all times, an army devoted to his will, might soon trample on the
natural and civil rights of his subjects. Could the present congress
find means of augmenting the force, which it now maintains, which of
you, on that account, would experience the slightest anxiety? Which of
all the European powers is destitute of an army? Which of them if they
were free, could be secure of remaining so without a standing force?
I might go further, and demand, whether any of them have lost their
liberties, by means of a _standing_ army? The troops, continually
kept up in Great Britain, are formidable to its neighbors, and yet no
rational Englishman apprehends the destruction of his rights. It is
true, that he knows, these troops cannot be maintained, without the
consent of his representatives, annually obtained. But the necessity
of an army he readily conceives; and the number he leaves to the
discretion of parliament. Ought then an American to have greater fears
of a president, than an Englishman has of his king? Or may he not trust
his representatives and the senate, with as much confidence, as the
Englishman reposes in the commons and lords?

Let the federal head be constituted as it may, there can be no perfect
security, without both a land force, and naval armament. It is
impossible to say how much will, at all times of peace, be sufficient.
We have the same security against the abuse of this, as of any other
authority. The expenses of an army might indeed raise fears of a
different kind,—that we shall not be able to maintain force enough for
the most proper occasion.

Suppose a limitation in time of peace. What then is to be done on
the prospect of a war? Should you make the [20] distinction between
profound peace and a _threatened_ war, who is there, but congress, to
determine on the exigency? If you make no distinction, then it will be
expedient to declare war, at the instant in which the danger shall be
conceived, in order that it may be lawful to prepare for only a just
defence. In fine, I consider this grand objection, as a mere pretext
for terrifying you, like children, with spectres and hobgoblins. It may
be material here to remark, that although a well regulated militia has
ever been considered as the true defence of a free republic, there are
always honest purposes, which are not to be answered by a militia. If
they were, the burthen of the militia would be so great, that a free
people would, by no means, be willing to sustain it. If indeed it be
possible in the nature of things, that congress shall, at any future
period, alarm us by an improper augmentation of troops, could we not,
in that case, depend on the militia, which is ourselves. In such a
case it would be ridiculous to urge that the federal government, is
invested with a power over the whole militia of the union. Even when
congress shall exercise this power, on the most proper occasions, it is
provided in the constitution, that each state shall officer and train
its own militia.

The objections against the judiciary are probably more sincere. The
article has been generally misconceived, or misrepresented; and after
bestowing much attention, I am not certain that I fully comprehend
it. I am, however, at length satisfied, that no rational construction
can be given to this part of the proposed plan, either to warrant a
rejection of the whole, or to place matters on a worse footing, than
they are at present.

The judiciary power is to be vested in one supreme court, fixed at the
seat of government, with the ease and convenience of the people, the
congress may hereafter appoint inferior courts in each of the states.
The jurisdiction of this supreme court is to be partly original, and
partly appellate. With respect to the extent of either, there can be no
possible doubt, as there is neither ambiguity nor uncertainty in the
relative expressions. [21].

The original jurisdiction of the supreme court extends:—

1. To all cases, in which may be concerned an ambassador, any public
minister, or a consul.

2. To all cases whatever, in which a state may be a party.—This second
division maybe branched into 1. Cases between the United States, and
one or more of the individual states. 2. Cases between two or more
states. 3. Cases between a state and its own citizens. 4. Cases between
a state, and the citizens of another state. 5. Cases between a state,
and a foreign state. 6. Cases between a state, and the citizens, or
subjects of a foreign state.

The appellate jurisdiction of the supreme court extends:—

1. To all cases whatever between parties of every kind, in law and
equity, arising under this constitution, and the laws of congress,
passed agreeably thereto, and to treaties already, or hereafter to be,

2. To all cases of admiralty or maritime jurisdiction.

3. To all cases, in which the United States shall be a party.

4. To all cases between citizens of different states.

5. To all cases between citizens of the same state, claiming lands
under the grants of different states.

6. To all cases between citizens of a state, and foreign states, or
their citizens or subjects.

One doubt arising on the judiciary article is, whether in these cases
of appellate jurisdiction, the appeal lies both from the state courts,
and the inferior federal courts, or only from the former, or only from
the latter.

Another doubt is, whether the inferior courts are to be branches of
the supreme court, constituted for convenience, and having equal
jurisdiction, both original and appellate, with the supreme court,
or whether the inferior courts are to be confined to an _original_
jurisdiction in those cases, wherein the supreme court has _appellate_

I shall not presume to decide absolutely on the genuine construction
of an article, which is said to have caused much private debate and
perplexity. I am however fully persuaded, that, as the article speaks
of an original and appellate jurisdiction, of a supreme court, and
inferior courts; and, as there is no intimation of appeals from the
several [22] state tribunals, the inferior federal courts are intended
to have original jurisdiction in all cases, wherein the supreme court
has appellate jurisdiction; and the appeal lies only from them. I can,
almost, with confidence, maintain, that, as there is no express clause,
or necessary implication, to oust the jurisdiction of state courts, an
action, after the adoption of the plan, may be instituted in any court,
having, at this time, a jurisdiction. And if an action be brought in
a state court, I do not, at present, perceive, that it can, in any
manner, be transferred to the supreme or inferior federal court.

According then to the best of my judgment the affair stands thus. The
supreme federal court will have an exclusive original jurisdiction in
all cases relative to the rights of ambassadors, other ministers, and
consuls; because, as I humbly conceive, the several state governments
have at this time nothing to do with these cases. With respect to the
cases, in which a state may be party, the supreme federal court, and
the several state courts, will have, I conceive, concurrent original
jurisdiction, _provided a state may, at this time, institute an action
in its own name, in the courts of another state_. The inferior federal
courts, and the state courts, will, I conceive, have concurrent
original jurisdiction in all the enumerated cases wherein an appeal
lies to the supreme court, _except only the cases created by or under
the proposed constitution, in which, as they do not now exist, the
inferior federal courts will have exclusive jurisdiction_. From the
state inferior courts, I further apprehend, that an appeal will lie, in
all cases, to their own high courts of appeal, as heretofore.

A choice of jurisdictions has been ever esteemed a valuable right,
even where there are both of the same kind. The purpose of extending
so far the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary, is to give every
assurance to the general government, of a faithful execution of its
laws, and to give citizens, states, and foreigners, an assurance of the
impartial administration of justice. Without the salutary institution,
the federal government might frequently be obstructed, and its servants
want protection. It is calculated not as an engine of oppression, but
to secure the blessings of peace and good [23] order. The provisions
respecting different states, their citizens, and foreigners, if not
absolutely necessary, are much to be applauded, The human mind is so
framed, that the slightest circumstance may prevent the most upright
and well known tribunal from giving complete satisfaction; and there
may happen a variety of cases, where the distrust and suspicion may not
be altogether destitute of a just foundation.

On these principles, an appeal as to fact is no less proper, than the
appeal from judges of law. A jury, whose legal qualifications are
only property and ripe age, may more probably incur the imputation of
weakness, partiality, or undue influence. But in regard to appeals, it
is very material to remark, that congress is to make such regulations
and exceptions, as upon mature deliberation, it shall think proper.
And indeed, before such regulations and exceptions shall be made,
the manner of appeal will not be ascertained. Is it then to be
presumed, that, in making regulations and exceptions, this appellate
jurisdiction shall be calculated as an engine of oppression, or to
serve only the purpose of vexation and delay.

As the rod of Aaron once swallowed up the rods of the Egyptian
_magi_, so also is it feared, that these federal courts, will, at
length, swallow up the state tribunals. A miracle, in one case, is as
necessary, as in the other.

But let not the officers of state courts be overmuch alarmed! The
causes, which, by possibility, may be(63) instituted in the federal
courts bear no comparison to the rest. [24] In the course of ten years,
not one action, that I know of, in Maryland, has concerned either
another state, or an ambassador, consul, or other minister. It is
hoped, that actions by foreigners, will, in a few years, become much
rarer than at any time heretofore, and these may still be determined in
the state courts. [25]

A gentleman, as it is conjectured, in the law department of a
neighboring state, has been pleased to infer, that fictions, similar to
those in the king’s bench and exchequer of England, will be contrived,
to draw causes into the federal courts. He seems not aware, that, even
in England, the established fictions of law are not of modern date.
They were ingenious devices, to remedy defects in the common law,
_without the aid_

_of parliament_. The fundamental principle however, with respect to
their adoption, was, that they _consist with equity, and be requisite
for the advancement of justice_. Now every man, who would establish
over his cause a jurisdiction in a federal court, must shew, that
such cause comes under the description of the constitution. If he
do not, there will be wanting that equity, which is the support of
legal fiction. But can any man seriously imagine, that fiction will
be permitted, to give the judges a power of legislation, denied to
congress itself? Wherefore should the judges, holding their commissions
during good behaviour, be guilty of such gross falsehood, perjury,
and breach of trust? Would there not be a general revolt against
such barefaced impudent innovations. Away then with your trumpery
of fictions! Accuse not the illustrious members of the convention
of having in their contemplation such sophistry, pettifogging and
chicane! But another fear is, that whatever actions may be instituted
in the federal courts will there seek an admission, on account of a
more speedy decision. That man alone, “on whose brow shame is ashamed
to sit,” will avow his opposition to a more speedy administration of

The institution of the trial by jury has been sanctified by the
experience of ages. It has been recognised by the constitution of
every state in the union. It is deemed the birthright of Americans; and
it is imagined, that liberty cannot subsist without it. The proposed
plan expressly adopts it, for the decision of all criminal accusations,
except impeachment; and is silent with respect to the determination of
facts in civil causes.

The inference, hence drawn by many, is not warranted by the premises.
By recognising the jury trial in criminal cases, the constitution
effectually provides, that it shall pre- [26] vail, so long as the
constitution itself shall remain unimpaired and unchanged. But,
from the great variety of civil cases, arising under this plan of
government, it would be unwise and impolitic to say aught about it, in
regard to these. Is there not a great variety of cases, in which this
trial is taken away in each of the states? Are there not many more
cases, where it is denied in England? For the convention to ascertain
in what cases it shall prevail, and in what others it may be expedient
to prefer other modes was impracticable. On this subject a future
congress is to decide; and I see no foundation under Heaven for the
opinion that congress will despise the known prejudices and inclination
of their countrymen. A very ingenious writer of Philadelphia has
mentioned the objections without deigning to refute that, which he
conceives to have originated in “sheer malice.”

I proceed to attack the whole body of anti-federalists in their strong
hold. The proposed constitution contains no _bill of rights_.

Consider again the nature and intent of a federal republic. It consists
of an assemblage of distinct states, each completely organized for the
protection of its own citizens, and the whole consolidated, by express
compact, under one head, for the general welfare and common defence.

Should the compact authorize the sovereign, or head to do all things
it may think necessary and proper, then there is no limitation to its
authority; and the liberty of each citizen in the union has no other
security, than the sound policy, good faith, virtue, and perhaps proper
interests, of the head.

When the compact confers the aforesaid general power, making
nevertheless some special reservations and exceptions, then is the
citizen protected further, so far as these reservations and exceptions
shall extend.

But, when the compact ascertains and defines the power delegated to the
federal head, then cannot this government, without manifest usurpation,
exert any power not expressly, or by _necessary_ implication, conferred
by the compact.

This doctrine is so obvious and plain, that I am amazed any good man
should deplore the omission of a bill of rights.

[27] When we were told, that the celebrated Mr. Wilson had advanced
this doctrine in effect, it was said, Mr. Wilson would not dare to
speak thus to a CONSTITUTIONALIST. With talents inferior to that
gentleman’s, I will maintain the doctrine against any CONSTITUTIONALIST
who will condescend to enter the lists, and behave like a gentleman.

It is, however, the idea of another most respectable character, that,
as a bill of rights could do no harm, and might quiet the minds of many
good people, the convention would have done well to indulge them. With
all due deference, I apprehend, that a bill of rights might not be this
innocent quieting instrument. Had the convention entered on the work,
they must have comprehended within it everything, which the citizens
of the United States claim as a natural or a civil right. An omission
of a single article would have caused more discontent, than is either
felt or pretended, on the present occasion. A multitude of articles
might be the source of infinite controversy, by clashing with the
powers intended to be given. To be full and certain, a bill of rights
might have cost the convention more time, than was expended on their
other work. The very appearance of it might raise more clamour than
its omission,—I mean from those who study pretexts for condemning the
whole fabric of the constitution.—“What! (might they say) did these
exalted spirits imagine, that the natural rights of mankind depend on
their gracious concession. If indeed they possessed that tyrannic sway,
which, the kings of England had once usurped, we might humbly thank
them for their _magna charta_, defective as it is. As that is not the
case, we will not suffer it to be understood, that their _new-fangled_
federal head shall domineer with the powers not excepted by their
precious bill of rights. What! if the owner of 1,000 acres of land
thinks proper to fell one half, is it necessary to take a release from
the vendee of the other half? Just as necessary is it for the people to
have a grant of their natural rights from a government which derives
everything it has, from the grant of the people.” [28]

The restraints laid on the state legislatures will tend to secure
domestic tranquility, more than all the bills, or declarations, of
rights, which human policy could devise. It is very justly asserted,
that the plan contains an avowal of many rights. It provides that
no man, shall suffer by expost facto laws or bills of attainder. It
declares, that gold and silver only shall be a tender for specie debts;
and that no law shall impair the obligation of a contract.

I have here perhaps touched a string, which secretly draws together
many of the foes to the plan. Too long have we sustained evils,
resulting from injudicious emissions of paper, and from the operation
of tender laws. To bills of credit as they are now falsely called,
may we impute the entire loss of confidence between men. Hence it is,
that specie has, in a great degree, ceased its proper office, and
been confined to speculations, baneful to the public, and enriching
a few enterprising sharp-sighted men, at the expence not only of the
ignorant, slothful, and needy, but of their country’s best benefactors.
Hence chiefly are the bankruptcies throughout America, and the
disreputable ruinous state of our commerce. Hence is it principally,
that America hath lost its credit abroad, and American faith become
a proverb. The convention plainly saw, that nothing short of a
renunciation of the right to emit bills of credit could produce that
grand consummation of policy, the RESTORATION OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE

Were it possible for the nations abroad to suppose Great Britain would
emit bills on the terms whereon they have issued in America, how soon
would the wide arch of that mighty empire tumble into ruins? In no
other country in the universe has prevailed the idea of supplying,
by _promissory notes_, the want of coin, for commerce and taxes. In
America, indeed, they have heretofore served many valuable purposes.
It is this consideration, which has so powerfully attached to them
many well meaning honest citizens; and they talk of gratitude to paper
money, as if it were a sensible benefactor, entitled to the highest
rank and distinction; and as if, to abandon it, would be a deadly
sin. But when everything demonstrates the season to be past; when
the credit of America, in all places, depends on the security she
shall give to [29] contracts, it would be madness in the states to be
tenacious of their right. So long as Europe shall believe we regard
not justice, gratitude and honour, so long will America labour under
the disadvantages of an individual, who attempts to make good his way
through the world with a blasted reputation. To the man, who shall say,
“it is of no consequence to consult national honour,” I only answer
thus,—“If thy soul be so narrow and depraved, as to believe this, it
were a needless attempt to cure thee of thy error.”

On this subject there is no necessity for enlarging, to the people of
my native state; their conduct on a recent occasion having acquired
them great and deserved applause. Is it necessary to enlarge on the
propriety of giving more efficient powers to a federal head? At this
moment, congress is little more than a name, without power to effect a
single thing, which is the object of a confederate republic. Reflect
on the recent period, when, in a sister state, a numerous body of her
frantic citizens appeared armed for the destruction of a government,
framed by the people. When that unhappy state was devoted to the
miseries of a civil war, did congress even dare to interpose? Conscious
of its inability to protect, it could only await the result, in silence
and in terror. It indeed ventured to _make application_ to the states
for a small body of troops, under the poor pretext of another, and a
necessary, destination. But, notwithstanding the universal contagion
of the alarm, did the states, on _that_ occasion, comply with the
_requisition_? Suppose even an invasion by a foreign power,—in what
manner could congress provide for its own defence? In the contemptible
light in which America has lately stood, is it reasonable to expect she
will be suffered to remain long in peace? The distance between the two
continents is the only circumstance on which we can rely. All Europe is
now in suspence; and the result of your deliberations will instruct her
in the part she shall act.

With amazement, her nations contemplate a scene, of which the world is
too young to furnish a parallel. We assembled our sages, patriots, and
statesmen, to consult what mode of government is capable of producing
the greatest sum [30] of general good, with the least mixture of
general, and partial evil. Not that each individual in this august
assembly was expected to offer a system; but that the product of their
joint wisdom should be referred to the several states, to be adopted,
or rejected, as the great body of the people shall determine on a free
and full deliberation.

As the occasion was unparalleled so also is the plan, which, after many
months of painful investigation, is submitted, with an unanimity, also

If there be any man, who approves the great outlines of the plan,
and, at the same time, would reject it, because he views some of the
minute parts as imperfect, he should reflect, that, if the states
think as he does, an alteration may be hereafter effected, at leisure.
When the convention determined, that the whole should be received,
or the whole fail, they did not on an arrogant conceit of their own
infallibility, but on the soundest principles of policy and common
sense. Were each state legislature, or convention, to take it up,
article by article, and section by section, with the liberty of
adopting some, and rejecting the rest, in all probability, so small
a part would be approved by nine states, on the narrow view which
each has of the subject, and attached as each is to its own supposed
interest, that, in its mutilated condition, it would be worse than the
present confederation. For thirteen different assemblies, in that way,
to approve so much of any plan whatever, as might merit the name of
system, the convention well knew to be impossible. Were there any one
body of men, invested with full power, in behalf of the whole United
States, to consider, and amend the plan, then would it be proper to
debate it by sections, in the same manner as it was originally debated.

With a view to defeat totally the plan, another general convention
is proposed; not with the power of giving a finishing hand to a
constitution; but _again_ to consider objections, to strike out, to
add, and _again_ to make their report to the several states.

In this way, there can never be an end. We must at last return to
this,—that whatever is agreed on, by the assembly appointed to
propose, must be either adopted in the whole, or in the whole rejected.

The idea of a new convention is started by some men, with the vain
expectation of having amendments made to suit a particular state, or
to advance their own selfish views. Were this fatal idea adopted, I
should bid a last adieu to that elevated hope, which now inspires me,
of living under the happiest form of government which the sun ever
beheld. Recollect again and again, that almost every state in the union
made a determined point of delegating its first characters to this
grand convention. Reflect upon the time spent in the arduous work, and
the sacrifices which those distinguished persons made to their country.
Should the same men be deputed again, would they not, think you, with
the same unanimity, subscribe and recommend the same plan? So far as I
have been informed, those members, who, in the progression of the plan,
had opposed certain parts, and yet afterwards subscribed cheerfully
to the whole, have, with the candour which becomes them, acknowledged
their errors in debate. Even an illustrious character, who was of
the minority, consisting only of three, I have been told, has since
regretted his refusal.

Suppose then a second convention, with a different choice of delegates.
These too would either speedily subscribe, or they might propose some
other system, to be debated, paragraph by paragraph, in thirteen
different assemblies; and then there would be the same probability
of a mutilated plan; or they would propose something, to be adopted
or rejected in the whole; and there would be the same necessity of
another convention. Besides, as the second convention, if it consist
of different men, must _inevitably_ be inferior to the first, there
is little probability that their work will be superior. Never again,
in an assembly constituted as that was, will there be found the same
liberality of sentiment, “the same spirit of amity, and the same mutual
deference and concession.”

If it be contended, that the second, being possessed of the various
objections from the several states, must be better able to determine, I
would ask, what conduct this second convention should adopt? Are they
to take the proposed plan, and strike out every thing objected to by
nine states? Or may they likewise adopt and recommend the entire plan?
In short, to [32] appoint a second convention, merely to consult and
propose, would be the most absurd expedient, that ever, in a matter of
this amazing magnitude, was proposed. Does any man then entertain the
thought of another kind of convention, invested with full powers to
consult, amend, adopt, and confirm? A scheme like this was never yet,
I trust, in agitation. But, if it were, I would propose this single
question. Whether is it better to amend, before it be tried, that plan,
which may be termed the result of the wisdom of America, or leave it to
be amended, at leisure, as mature experience shall direct?

Although a very great variety of ostensible objections have been
publicly offered, the real and sincere objections are hardly ever
disclosed in private. There is a class, opposed to the union of
_thirteen different states_, and the reason they assign, is the vast
extent of our territory. Let us consider well their objection.

To consolidate the whole thirteen states into a single organization,
was out of the convention’s contemplation,—for two unanswerable
reasons. In the first place, they were satisfied, that not one of
the states would renounce its sovereignty. In the next place, they
considered, that, in a single government, with a great extent of
territory, the advantages are most unequally diffused. As the extreme
parts are scarcely sensible of its protection, so are they scarcely
under its domination. It is generally agreed, that a great extended
nation can long continue under no _single_ form of government, except a
despotism into which, either a republic, or a limited monarchy, will
be certain to degenerate. And hence, if I understand the man who styles
himself a _Centinel_, he insinuates, that, if these states will persist
in remaining under one head, they must soon fall under the dominion of
a despot. But, my fellow-citizens, in a confederate
republic, consisting of distinct states, completely organized within
themselves, and each of no greater extent than is proper for a
republican form, almost all the blessings of government are equally
diffused. Its protection extends to the remotest corner, and there
every man is under restraint of laws. [33]

A true federal republic is always capable of accession by the peaceable
and friendly admission of new single states. _Its true size is neither
greater nor less than that, which may comprehend all the states, which,
by their contiguity, may become enemies, unless united under one common
head, capable of reconciling all their differences._ Such a government
as this, excels any single government, extending over the same
territory, as a band of brothers is superior to a band of slaves, or as
thirteen common men, for the purposes of agriculture, would be superior
to a giant, enjoying strength of body equal to them all.

The idea of a balance has long influenced the politics of Europe. But
how much superior to this almost impracticable balance would be a
general league, constituting a kind of federal republic, consisting of
all the independent powers of Europe, for preventing the impositions
and encroachments of one upon another! A true and perfect confederate
government, however, in her situation, is not to be attained; although
the great soul of HENRY THE FOURTH is said to have conceived the idea.

Shall America then form one grand federal republic? Or shall she, after
experiencing the benefits of even an imperfect union, and when a union
the most perfect is requisite for her permanent safety;—shall she, in
this situation, divide into thirteen contemptible single governments,
exposed to every insult and wrong from abroad, and watching each
other’s motions, with all the captiousness of jealous rivals? Or shall
she divide into two or more federal republics, actuated by the same
malignant dispositions? In either of these cases, after struggling
through infinite toils, difficulty, and danger, should the thirteen
single states be, at last, delivered from foreign foes, they will fall
upon each other; and no man can predict, what forms of government, or
division of territory, shall finally obtain——. Two or three federal
republics might possibly retain their independence. But they would
be in the same situation, with respect to each other, as France,
England, and Spain, scarcely ever free from war; practicing the arts
of dissimulation and intrigue; in vain striving to impose, by endless
negotiation; and, after all, relying only on the immense naval and land
forces, which they continually maintain. [34]

Let us then, my countrymen, embrace those blessings which Providence
is ready to shower on us. Open and extend your views! Let the prospect
comprehend the present and future generations, yourselves, your
children, your relatives, your fellow-citizens, dwellers on the same
continent, and inhabitants of the whole terraqueous globe.

With the prospect of my country’s future glory, presented to my
glowing imagination, it is difficult to resist the strong impulse of
enthusiasm. But it is neither _my_ talent, nor desire, to mislead. I
wish only to impress the genuine advantages of the proposed plan; and,
if possible, to rouse every man from that supineness, into which he is
lulled by the present deceitful calm. To acquit themselves, like men,
when visible danger assails; and, when it is repelled, to sink like
savages, into indolence, is said to be characteristic of Americans. I
am not, however, one of those, who imagine a necessity for embracing
almost any scheme, which the convention might have devised, for giving
to the union more efficient powers. Had the plan, they have proposed,
contained the seeds of much, though distant, evil, perhaps a _faithful
patriot_ might address you thus:

“Let us not, my friends, in a fit of unmanly apprehension, betray
that immense charge, with which Americans, at this day are entrusted!
Let us confide in _the wisdom of our great men_, with the assistance
of Heaven, to establish yet our safety and happiness! Let us, in the
meantime, sustain all our evils, with resignation and firmness. Let us
hope, that no foreign power, or lawless internal combinations, shall
do us a mighty injury! Let us be frugal, economical, industrious! Let
us suspend the cruel collection of debts! Let commerce continue to
droop! Let us awhile submit even to infamy; and turn a callous ear
to the indignant reproaches of our late faithful and affectionate
servants, friends and benefactors.”

To this purpose might a man plausibly declaim; provided the proposed
plan contained many and great faults; provided it were not calculated
to promote the general good, without violating the _just rights_
of a single individual; and provided it were not the best, which,
under all circumstances, could be reasonably expected. It was the
parting declaration of [35] the American NESTOR, to his exalted
fellow-labourers, that “he would subscribe, because he thought it
good, and because he did not know, but it was the best that could be
contrived.” My own declaration, which would be the same, were I now
standing on the verge of eternity, is, that if the whole matter were
left to my discretion, I would not change a single part. On reflection,
I was pleased with the conduct of the Virginia and Maryland assemblies,
in appointing distant days for the meeting of their state conventions.
Not that I greatly admired the supposed motive; but because I sincerely
wished every man might have time to comprehend and weigh the plan,
before the ultimate decision of these two states should be pronounced.
The longer it is contemplated, after it is understood, the greater, I
am persuaded, will be the approbation of those, who wish the public
good, and to whose private views and expectations, nothing, which tends
to promote that good, can be greatly detrimental.

But alas! My fellow citizens, on the adoption of this fatal plan,
and when every part of the great complicated machine shall be put in
motion, the lustre of our state assemblies will be diminished by the
superior splendour of the federal head. This single consideration,
although many hesitate to avow it, will cause more opposition, than all
the rest united. Weigh well the objection. If ever it be material to
inquire, by whom reasons are adduced, it is on this peculiar occasion.
From the objection itself, may perhaps be discerned the danger we are
opposed to, from the secret views and selfish considerations of the

What at this moment to the nations abroad is the state of Maryland? The
poor member of a defenceless system of petty republics. In what light
is she viewed by her sister states? Whatever rank she now possesses,
will remain after the great alteration of the system. They will all
rise or fall in the proportion which now exists. What then are the
powers an individual state will lose? She will no longer be able to
deny congress that, which congress, at this moment, has a right to
demand. She will have no power to enter into a treaty, alliance, or
confederation. She shall, in time of war, grant no letters of marque
and reprisal. She shall [36] coin no money, emit no bills of credit,
nor make any thing but gold and silver a tender in payment of debts.
She shall pass no bill of attainder, or ex post facto law, or law
impairing the obligation of a contract. She shall grant no title of
nobility. She shall not, _without consent of congress_, lay any duty
on imports or exports, except what may be necessary for executing her
inspection laws. She shall not, _without consent of congress_, lay any
duty on tonnage, keep troops or(64) ships of war, in time of peace;
enter into any agreement, or compact, with another state, or with a
foreign power; or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such
imminent danger, as will not admit of delay.

Of the several powers, from which an individual state is thus
restrained, some are improper to be used at all; others belong not even
now to the individual states; and the rest are strictly proper for only
the federal head. The aversion from ceding them to congress, is just
as reasonable as in a state of nature would be the reluctance of an
individual to relinquish any of his natural rights, upon entering into
a state of society. The principle, on which, at length, he surrenders,
is the necessity of every one’s making a cession of some rights,
to enable the sovereign to protect the rest. Each state is fully
sensible, that she cannot protect herself; and yet she would enjoy the
advantages of an union, without making the necessary contributions. To
discern how preposterous is the idea, requires not more than a moment’s

For the honour of my countrymen, I hope this extreme reluctance to
surrender power is confined to those, whose ambition, or private
interest, would have all things subservient to the omnipotence of
assembly. In the few years that the state constitutions have endured,
has not everyone seen pregnant proofs of the vain love of domination?
Has he not also seen decisive marks of overbearing secret influence?
Where are the instances of exalted patriotism? But I forbear. [37]
Far from me is the wish to cast wantonly one stinging or disagreeable
reflection. The subject naturally required the general remark, and I
hope, this short hint may be excused.

Is there a possible advantage to be derived to the public, from a
single state’s exercising powers proper only for the federal head;
suppose even each state should use them properly and alike; which,
in the nature of things, is not to be expected? If there be men, who
delight in parliamentary warfare; who choose a fair wide field for
displaying their talents; who wish to see every servant of the public
prostrate before them; whose ears soothed by humble supplication; they
may still enjoy rich sources of gratification. Are not the regulations
of property, the regulations of the penal law, the protection of the
weak, the promotion of useful arts, the whole internal government of
their respective republics; are not these the main objects of every
wise and honest legislature? Are not these things still in their power;
and, whilst free from invasion or injuries abroad, are not these almost
the only things, in which sovereignty is exercised?

That the state legislatures will soon “drop out of sight,” is an idea
most extravagant and absurd; because, in addition to the importance
of their duties, the very existence of the congress depends upon
them. That they will, at least, dwindle into something like city
corporations, is an apprehension, founded on no better principle. May
the Ruler of the universe inspire them with wisdom to discharge those
numerous and extensive duties, which they will find remaining. To do
this, as they ought, will be far preferable to the(65) breaking all
useful national measures, and marring the concerns of a continent.
To do this, as they ought, will afford more true pleasure to a good
mind, than the carrying, by consummate eloquence and address, the
most interesting federal measure, which cannot be contrived by an
enlightened honest politician, in a state assembly, possessing all its
darling sovereignties!

You have been assured, that, soon as this fatal plan shall [38]
succeed, an host of rapacious collectors will _invade_ the land; that
they will wrest from you the hard product of your industry, turn out
your children from their dwellings, perhaps commit your bodies to a
jail; and your own immediate representatives will have no power to
relieve you. This is the mere phrenzy of declamation, the ridiculous
conjuration of spectres and hobgobblins!

To the five per cent. impost most of the states have more than once
given their assent. This is the only tax which congress wishes
immediately to impose. Of the imposition of assessment, capitation, or
direct taxes of any kind, the congress entertains no idea at present;
and although it be proper for the federal head to possess this power
in reserve, nothing but some unforeseen disaster will ever drive them
to such ineligible expedients. Setting aside the immediate advantages
of revived credit and trade, and the increased value of your property
and labour, you will be delivered, in a great measure, from that load
of direct taxation, which has been so unequally borne, and produced so
little substantial good.

Permit me to demand, what mighty benefit has resulted from the exercise
of those sovereign rights, that, in general, you should be loth to
resign them? Has not a perpetual clamour been kept up (it matters not
whether justly or otherwise) concerning the enormous impositions on
the people? And what are the advantages derived to the people of the
respective states, to the union, or to meritorious individuals?

Has not the far greater part of a state’s internal expences been
owing to the extreme length of sessions? Have not these sessions been
consumed in disgusting altercation, and in passing laws, serving to
little better purpose, than to swell the statute book, encourage a
negligence of duty, and obstruct the administration of justice?

To trace each real and ostensible objection up to its proper course,
would be a task equally invidious, irksome and unnecessary. The
characters of the principal advocates and opponents are well known. To
him who declines not a public avowal of his sentiments, some credit is
due, for his candour; and he is entitled to your patient attention.
But, he that prefers a secret corner, for dealing forth his ob- [39]
jections, and expositions, should be heard with caution and distrust.
It is in a land of slavery alone, where truth shuns the open day.—Each
side has imputed to the other illiberal and selfish motives. Consider
then the particular interests of each; and bear this in your minds,
that an interest may be either honourable and praiseworthy, or directly
the reverse.

You have been told that the proposed plan was calculated peculiarly for
the rich. In all governments, not merely despotic, the wealthy must,
in most things, find an advantage, from the possession of that, which
is too much the end and aim of mankind. In the proposed plan, there
is nothing like a discrimination in their favour. How this amazing
objection is to be supported, I am at a loss to conjecture. Is it a
just cause of reproach, that the constitution effectually secures
property? Or would the objectors introduce a general scramble? In
eligibility to office, in suffrage, and in every other civil right, men
are all on terms of perfect equality. And yet, notwithstanding this
just equality, each man is to pay taxes in proportion to his ability,
or his expences.

A still more surpassing objection remains to be considered. “This
new constitution, so much bepraised, and admired, will commence in a
moderate aristocracy. To a corrupt and oppressive one the transition
is easy, and inevitable, unless some Cæsar, or a Cromwell, in their
stead, shall make a seizure of their liberties. As to the house of
representatives, they will either be insignificant spectators of the
contest between the president and the senate, or their weight will be
thrown in to one of the scales.”

No man, indeed, has exactly used these words; but they contain the sum
and scope of several recent publications.

In the course of my remarks, I have already said enough to expose the
futility of certain objections, which are ushered to the world, under
the auspices of a pair of honourable names. Notwithstanding the care
and pomposity, with which they are circulated, it is not worth while to
draw invidious comparison. One gentleman, whose name is thus _freely_
used, I think, calls the house of representatives a mere [40] shred,
or rag of representation. Does he consider the distinction between the
objects of a confederate republic, and of a single government? It is
a poor return for that singular respect which the convention paid to
the majesty of the people, in contriving, that congress shall not only
be a representation of states, as heretofore, but also an immediate
representation of the people. Were 5, 10, or even 20,000, the ratio
proposed, then peradventure the honourable objector might clamour about
the expence of a mobbish legislature.

The fact is, that the new government, constructed on the broad basis
of equality, mutual benefits, and national good, is not calculated to
secure a single state all her natural advantages at the expence of the
natural and acquired advantages of her respectable brethren of New

His real objection against constituting the senate an executive
council arises, I conceive, from the equality of representation. As
to the trite maxim, that the legislative and executive ought ever
to be distinct and separate, I would, in addition to my foregoing
observations on this head, refer him to Montesquieu’s chapter on
the English government. I could wish, the writings of that great
man, and of Judge Blackstone, so often either copied, or cited for
conclusive authority, were better understood. Should a second, or a
third convention, be obtained, the aforesaid honourable gentlemen can
never be _fully_ indulged in their main object of a proportionate

The examples of a genuine aristocracy are rare. They were founded in
times of profound ignorance, and when the mass of property was in
the hands of a few, whilst the rest pined in want and wretchedness.
One European aristocratic government, if such it can be called, has
grown out of the original defective form, the offspring of necessity,
and commenced amidst the horrors of a civil war. Although the people
of that country fought, and intended, to be free, their compact of
government never was complete; they did not attend to the principle
of rotation, and checks; and a genuine representation did never there

An aristocracy can perhaps subsist with only a moderate extent of
territory and population. But it is a farce to talk of an aristocracy;
when there are two branches, so dif- [41] ferently formed; when the
members of each are chosen for a reasonable term; and when their
reappointment depends on the good opinion of their countrymen. It is
not in nature, that a man with the least portion of _common_ sense
can believe the people of America will consent to such a deplorable
change in their constitution, as shall confine all power to a few noble
families, or that, without their consent, the change will be effected,
by internal policy, or force.

Whilst mankind shall believe freedom to be better than slavery;
whilst our lands shall be generally distributed, and not held by a
few insolent barons, on the debasing terms of vassalage; whilst we
shall teach our children to read and write; whilst the liberty of the
press, that grand palladium, which tyrants are compelled to respect,
shall remain; whilst a spark of public love shall animate even a small
part of the people; whilst even self-love shall be the general ruling
principle; so long will it be impossible for an aristocracy to arise
from the proposed plan.—Should Heaven, in its wrath, inflict blindness
on the people of America; should they reject this fair offer of
permanent safety and happiness; to predict what species of government
shall at last spring from disorder, is beyond the short reach of
political foresight.

Believe me, my fellow citizens, that no overweening self conceit,
no vain ambition, no restless meddling spirit, has produced this
address. Long had I waited to see this vast question treated, as it
deserves; and the publication disseminated in my native state. Many
judicious observations had appeared in newspapers and handbills. But
no publication, that I have seen, has gone fully into the merits,
considered the objections, and explained that, which is doubtful and
obscure. On this account I, at length, made the attempt. That my
performance is equal to my wishes, I can by no means believe. I have,
however, a consolation in reflecting, that it will be difficult for
any man to demonstrate, that, in this business, I have a particular
interest. In many of my remarks, I have been anticipated by writings,
which I have seen; and I have collected ma- [42] terials, wherever I
could find them. Could I be convinced, that I have said nothing, which
had not before been said or thought by thousands, the reflection would
yield far less mortification than pleasure.


  Annapolis, January 1st, 1788.

Letter on the Federal Constitution, October 16, 1787, By Edmund
Randolph [Richmond: Printed by Augustin Davis, 1787.]

  16 mo. pp. 16.

  Edmund Randolph was a member of the Annapolis, Philadelphia, and
  Virginia Conventions, in all of which he took a prominent though
  equivocal position. His letter on the Constitution was widely
  circulated in the newspapers, and was printed in pamphlet form as
  above, a copy of which is in the Library of Congress, but cannot be
  found, so I am compelled to give the title from Sabin’s _Dictionary
  of Books relating to America_.

  “I do not know what impression the letter may make in Virginia. It
  is generally understood here that the arguments contained in it in
  favor of the Constitution are much stronger than the objections which
  prevent his assent. His arguments are forcible in all places, and
  with all persons. His objections are connected with his particular
  way of thinking on the subject, in which many of the adversaries to
  the Constitution do not concur.” _Madison to Washington_, Jan. 25,

  P. L. F.

  RICHMOND, Oct. 10, 1787.



The constitution which I enclosed to the general assembly in a late
official letter, appears without my signature. This circumstance,
although trivial in its own nature, has been rendered rather important
to myself at least by being misunderstood by some, and misrepresented
by others.—As I disdain to conceal the reasons for withholding my
subscription, I have always been, still am, and ever shall be, ready to
proclaim them to the world. To the legislature, therefore, by whom I
was deputed to the federal convention, I beg leave now to address them;
affecting no indifference to public opinion, but resolved not to court
it by an unmanly sacrifice of my own judgment.

As this explanation will involve a summary, but general review of our
federal situation, you will pardon me, I trust, although I should
transgress the usual bounds of a letter.

Before my departure for the convention, I believed, that the
confederation was not so eminently defective, as it had been supposed.
But after I had entered into a free communication with those who were
best informed of the condition and interest of each State; after I
had compared the intelligence derived from them with the properties
which ought to characterize the government of our union, I became
persuaded, that the confederation was destitute of every energy, which
a constitution of the United States ought to possess.

For the objects proposed by its institution were, that it should be a
shield against foreign hostility, and a firm resort against domestic
commotion; that it should cherish trade, and promote the prosperity of
the States under its care.

But these are not among the attributes of our present union. Severe
experience under the pressure of war—a ruinous weakness manifested
since the return of peace; and the contemplation of those dangers,
which darken the future prospect, have condemned the hope of grandeur
and of safety under the auspices of the confederation.

In the exigencies of war, indeed, the history of its effects is but
short; the final ratification having been delayed until the year
1781. But however short, this period is distinguished by melancholy
testimonies of its inability to maintain in harmony, the social
intercourse of the States, to defend congress against encroachments on
their rights, and to obtain by requisitions, supplies to the federal
treasury, or recruits to the federal armies. I shall not attempt
an enumeration of the particular instances; but leave to your own
remembrance and the records of congress the support of the assertions.

In the season of peace too, not many years have elapsed; and yet each
of them has produced fatal examples of delinquency, and sometimes of
pointed opposition to federal duties. To the various remonstrances of
congress, I appeal, for a gloomy, but unexaggerated narrative of the
injuries which our faith, honor and happiness, have sustained by the
failure of the States.

But these evils are past; and some may be led by an honest zeal to
conclude that they cannot be repeated. Yes, sir, they will be repeated
as long as the confederation exists, and will bring with them other
mischiefs springing from the same source, which cannot yet be foreseen
in their full array of terror.

If we examine the constitution and laws of the several States, it is
immediately discovered that the law of nations is unprovided with
sanctions in many cases, which deeply affect public dignity and public
justice. The letter however of the confederation does not permit
congress to remedy these defects, and such an authority, although
evidently deducible from its spirit, cannot without violation of the
second article, be assumed. Is it not a political phenomenon, that
the head of the confederacy should be doomed to be plunged into war,
from its wretched impotency to check offences against this law; and
sentenced to witness in unavailing anguish the infraction of their
engagements to foreign sovereigns?

And yet this is not the only grievous point of weakness. After a war
shall be inevitable, the requisitions of congress for quotas of men or
money, will again prove unproductive and fallacious. Two causes will
always conspire to this baneful consequence.

1. No government can be stable, which hangs on human inclination alone,
unbiased by the coercion; and 2, from the very connection between
States bound to proportionate contributions, jealousies and suspicions
naturally arise, which at least chill the ardor, if they do not excite
the murmurs of the whole. I do not forget indeed, that by one sudden
impulse our part of the American continent has been thrown into a
military posture, and that in the earlier annals of the war, our armies
marched to the field on the mere recommendations of congress. But ought
we to argue from a contest, thus signalized by the magnitude of its
stake, that as often as a flame shall be hereafter kindled, the same
enthusiasm will fill our legions, or renew them, as they may be filled
by losses?

If not, where shall we find protection? Impressions, like those, which
prevent a compliance with requisitions of regular forces, will deprive
the American republic of the services of militia. But let us suppose
that they are attainable, and acknowledge as I always shall, that they
are the natural support of a free government. When it is remembered,
that in their absence agriculture must languish; that they are not
habituated to military exposures and the rigour of military discipline,
and that the necessity of holding in readiness successive detachments,
carries the expense far beyond that of enlistments—This resource ought
to be adopted with caution.

As strongly too, am I persuaded, that the requisitions for money will
not be more cordially received. For besides the distrust, which would
prevail with respect to them also; besides the opinion, entertained
by each state of its own liberality and unsatisfied demands against
the United States, there is another consideration not less worth of
attention—the first rule for determining each quota of the value of
all lands granted or surveyed, and of the buildings and improvements
thereon. It is no longer doubted that an equitable, uniform mode of
estimating that value is impracticable; and therefore twelve States
have substituted the number of inhabitants under certain limitations,
as the standard according to which money is to be furnished. But under
the subsisting articles of the union, the assent of the thirteenth
State is necessary, and has not yet been given. This does of itself
lessen the hope of procuring a revenue for federal uses; and the
miscarriage of the impost almost rivets our despondency.

Amidst these disappointments, it would afford some consolation, if when
rebellion shall threaten any State, an ultimate asylum could be found
under the wing of congress. But it is at least equivocal whether they
can intrude forces into a State, rent asunder by civil discord, even
with the purest solicitude for our federal welfare, and on the most
urgent entreaties of the State itself. Nay the very allowance of this
power would be pageantry alone, from the want of money and men.

To these defects of congressional power, the history of man has
subjoined others not less alarming. I earnestly pray that the
recollection of common sufferings, which terminated in common glory,
may check the sallies of violence, and perpetuate mutual friendship
between the States. But I cannot presume, that we are superior to
those unsocial passions, which under like circumstances have infested
more ancient nations. I cannot presume, that through all time, in the
daily mixture of American citizens with each other, in the conflicts
for commercial advantages, in the discontents which the neighborhood
of territory has been seen to engender in other quarters of the
globe, and in the efforts of faction and intrigue—thirteen distinct
communities under no effective superintending control, (as the United
States confessedly now are, notwithstanding the bold terms of the
confederation) will avoid a hatred to each other deep and deadly.

In the prosecution of this enquiry, we shall find the general
prosperity to decline under a system thus unnerved. No sooner is the
merchant prepared for foreign ports, with the treasures which this
new world kindly offers to his acceptance, than it is announced to
him, that they are shut against American shipping, or opened under
oppressive regulations. He urges congress to a counter-policy, and
is answered only by a condolence on the general misfortune. He is
immediately struck with the conviction, that until exclusion shall be
opposed to exclusion, and restriction to restriction, the American flag
will be disgraced. For who can conceive, that thirteen legislatures,
viewing commerce under different regulations, and fancying themselves
discharged from every obligation to concede the smallest of their
commercial advantages for the benefit of the whole, will be wrought
into a concert of action and defiance of every prejudice? Nor is this
all: Let the great improvements be recounted, which have enriched and
illustrated Europe: Let it be noted, how few those are, which will be
absolutely denied to the United States, comprehending within their
boundaries, the choicest blessings of climate, soil and navigable
waters; then let the most sanguine patriot banish, if he can, the
mortifying belief that all these must sleep, until they shall be roused
by the vigor of a national government.

I have not exemplified the preceding remarks by minute details; because
they are evidently fortified by truth, and the consciousness of the
United States of America. I shall, therefore, no longer deplore the
unfitness of the confederation to secure our peace; but proceed with
a truly unaffected distrust of my own opinions to examine what order
of powers the government of the United States ought to enjoy? How
they ought to be defended against encroachments? Whether they can be
interwoven in the confederation, without an alteration of its very
essence, or must be lodged in new hands? Showing, at the same time, the
convulsions which seem to await us, from a dissolution of the union or
partial confederacies.

To mark the kind and degree of authority which ought to be confided
to the government of the United States, is no more than to reverse
the description which I have already given, of the defects of the

From thence it will follow, that the operations of peace and war will
be clogged without regular advances of money, and that these will
be slow indeed, if dependent on supplication alone. For what better
name do requisitions deserve, which may be evaded or opposed without
the fear of coercion? But although coercion is an indispensable
ingredient, it ought not to be directed against a State, as a State;
it being impossible to attempt it except by blockading the trade of
the delinquent, or carrying war into its bowels. Even if these violent
schemes were eligible, in other respects, both of them might, perhaps,
be defeated by the scantiness of the public chest; would be tardy in
their complete effect, as the expense of the land and naval equipments
must be first reimbursed; and might drive the proscribed State into
the desperate resolve of inviting foreign alliances. Against each of
them lie separate unconquerable objections. A blockade is not equally
applicable to all the States, they being differently circumstanced
in commerce and in ports; nay an excommunication from the privilege
of the union would be vain, because every regulation or prohibition
may be easily eluded under the rights of American citizenship, or of
foreign nations. But how shall we speak of the intrusion of troops?
Shall we arm citizens against citizens, and habituate them to shed
kindred blood? Shall we risk the inflicting of wounds which will
generate a rancour never to be subdued? Would there be no room to fear,
that an army accustomed to fight for the establishment of authority,
would salute an emperor of their own? Let us not bring these things
into jeopardy. Let us rather substitute the same process by which
individuals are compelled to contribute to the government of their own
States. Instead of making requisitions to the legislatures, it would
appear more proper that taxes should be imposed by the federal head,
under due modifications and guards; that the collectors should demand
from the citizens their respective quotas, and be supported as in the
collection of ordinary taxes.

It follows, too, that, as the general government will be responsible to
foreign nations, it ought to be able to annul any offensive measure, or
enforce any public right. Perhaps among the topics on which they may be
aggrieved or complain, the commercial intercourse, and the manner in
which contracts are discharged, may constitute the principal articles
of clamor.

It follows, too, that the general government ought to be the supreme
arbiter for adjusting every contention among the States. In all their
connections, therefore, with each other, and particularly in commerce,
which will probably create the greatest discord, it ought to hold the

It follows, too, that the general government ought to protect each
State against domestic as well as external violence.

And lastly, it follows, that through the general government alone, can
we ever assume the rank to which we are entitled by our resources and

Should the people of America surrender these powers, they can be
paramount to the constitutions and ordinary acts of legislation, only
by being delegated by them. I do not pretend to affirm, but I venture
to believe, that if the confederation had been solemnly questioned in
opposition to our constitution, or even to one of our laws, posterior
to it, it must have given away. For never did it obtain a higher
ratification, than a resolution of assembly in the daily form.

This will be one security against encroachment. But another not less
effectual is, to exclude the individual States from any agency in the
national government, as far as it may be safe, and their interposition
may not be absolutely necessary.

But now, sir, permit me to declare, that in my humbled judgment, the
powers by which alone the blessings of a general government can be
accomplished, cannot be interwoven in the confederation, without a
change in its very essence, or, in other words, that the confederation
must be thrown aside. This is almost demonstrable from the inefficacy
of requisitions, and from the necessity of converting them into acts
of authority. My suffrage, as a citizen, is also for additional
powers. But to whom shall we commit those acts of authority, these
additional powers? To congress? When I formerly lamented the defects
in the jurisdiction of congress, I had no view to indicate any other
opinion, than that the federal head ought not to be so circumscribed.
For free as I am at all times to profess my reverence for that body,
and the individuals who compose it, I am yet equally free to make
known my aversion to repose such a trust in a tribunal so constituted.
My objections are not the visions of theory, but the results of my
own observations in America, and of the experience of others abroad.
1. The legislative and executive are concentred in the same persons.
This, where real power exists, must eventuate in tyranny. 2. The
representation of the States bears no proportion to their importance.
This is an unreasonable subjection of the will of the majority to that
of the minority, 3. The mode of election and the liability of being
recalled, may too often render the delegates rather partizans of their
own States than representatives of the union. 4. Cabal and intrigue
must consequently gain an ascendancy in a course of years. 5. A single
house of legislation will sometimes be precipitate, perhaps passionate.
6. As long as seven States are required for the smallest, and nine
for the greatest votes, may not foreign influence at some future day
insinuate itself, so as to interrupt every active exertion? 7. To
crown the whole, it is scarce within the verge of possibility, that so
numerous an assembly should acquire that secrecy, dispatch, and vigour,
which are the test of excellence in the executive department.

My inference from these facts and principles, is, that the new powers
must be deposited in a new body, growing out of a consolidation of
the union, as far as the circumstances of the State will allow.
Perhaps, however, some may meditate its dissolution, and others partial

The first is an idea awful indeed, and irreconcilable with a very
early, and hitherto uniform conviction, that without union, we must be
undone. For, before the voice of war was heard, the pulse of the then
colonies was tried, and found to beat in unison. The unremitted labor
of our enemies was to divide, and the policy of every congress to bind
us together. But in no example was this truth more clearly displayed,
than in the prudence with which independence was unfolded to the sight,
and in the forbearance to declare it, until America almost unanimously
called for it. After we had thus launched into troubles, never before
explored, and the hour of heavy distress, the remembrance of our social
strength not only forbade despair, but drew from congress the most
illustrious repetition of their settled purpose to depise all terms,
short of independence.

Behold, then, how successful and glorious we have been, while we acted
in fraternal concord. But let us discard the illusion, that by this
success, and this glory, the crest of danger has irrecoverably fallen.
Our governments are yet too youthful to have acquired stability from
habit. Our very quiet depends upon the duration of the union. Among
the upright and intelligent, few can read without emotion the future
fate of the States, if severed from each other. Then shall we learn
the full weight of foreign intrigue. Then shall we hear of partitions
of our country. If a prince, inflamed by the lust of conquest, should
use one State as the instrument of enslaving others—if every State
is to be wearied by perpetual alarms, and compelled to maintain large
military establishments—if all questions are to be decided by an
appeal to arms, where a difference of opinion cannot be removed by
negociation—in a word, if all the direful misfortunes which haunt the
peace of rival nations, are to triumph over the land, for what have
we to contend? why have we exhausted our wealth? why have we basely
betrayed the heroic martyrs of the federal cause?

But dreadful as the total dissolution of the union is to my mind, I
entertain no less horror at the thought of partial confederacies. I
have not the least ground for supposing that an overture of this kind
would be listened to by a single State, and the presumption is, that
the politics of the greater part of the States, flow from the warmest
attachment to an union of the whole. If, however, a lesser confederacy
could be obtained by Virginia, let me conjure my countrymen well to
weigh the probable consequences, before they attempt to form it.

On such an event, the strength of the union would be divided in two,
or perhaps three parts. Has it so increased since the war as to be
divisible—and yet remain sufficient for our happiness?

The utmost limit of any partial confederacy, which Virginia could
expect to form, would comprehend the three southern States, and her
nearest northern neighbour. But they, like ourselves, are diminished in
their real force, by the mixture of an unhappy species of population.

Again, may I ask, whether the opulence of the United States has been
augmented since the war? This is answered in the negative, by a load of
debt, and the declension of trade.

At all times must a southern confederacy support ships of war, and
soldiery? As soon would a navy move from the forest, and an army
from the earth, as such a confederacy, indebted, impoverished in its
commerce, and destitute of men, could, for some years at least, provide
an ample defence for itself.

Let it not be forgotten, that nations which can enforce their rights,
have large claims against the United States, and that the creditor may
insist on payment from any of them. Which of them would probably be
the victim? The most productive and the most exposed. When vexed by
reprisals of war, the southern States will sue for alliance on this
continent or beyond sea. If for the former, the necessity of an union
of the whole is decided; if for the latter, America will, I fear,
re-act the scenes of confusion and bloodshed, exhibited among most of
those nations, which have, too late, repented the folly of relying on

Two or more confederacies cannot but be competitors for power. The
ancient friendship between the citizens of America, being thus cut off,
bitterness and hostility will succeed in its place; in order to prepare
against surrounding danger, we shall be compelled to vest some where or
other, power approaching near to military government.

The annals of the world have abounded so much with instances of a
divided people being a prey to foreign influence, that I shall not
restrain my apprehensions of it, should our union be torn asunder. The
opportunity of insinuating it, will be multiplied in proportion to the
parts into which we may be broken.

In short, sir, I am fatigued with summoning up to my imagination the
miseries which will harass the United States, if torn from each other,
and which will not end until they are superseded by fresh mischiefs
under the yoke of a tyrant.

I come, therefore, to the last, and perhaps only refuge in our
difficulties, a consolidation of the union, as far as circumstances
will permit. To fulfil this desirable object, the constitution was
framed by the federal convention. A quorum of eleven States, and the
only member from a twelfth have subscribed it; Mr. Mason, of Virginia,
Mr. Gerry, of Massachusetts, and myself having refused to subscribe.

Why I refused, will, I hope, be solved to the satisfaction of those
who know me, by saying, that a sense of duty commanded me thus to
act. It commanded me, sir, for believe me, that no event of my life
ever occupied more of my reflection. To subscribe, seemed to offer no
inconsiderable gratification, since it would have presented me to the
world as a fellow laborer with the learned and zealous statesmen of

But it was far more interesting to my feelings, that I was about to
differ from three of my colleagues, one of whom is, to the honor of
the country which he has saved, embosomed in their affections, and can
receive no praise from the highest lustre of language; the other two of
whom have been long enrolled among the wisest and best lovers of the
commonwealth; and the unshaken and intimate friendship of all of whom
I have ever prized, and still do prize, as among the happiest of all
acquisitions.—I was no stranger to the reigning partiality for the
members who composed the convention, and had not the smallest doubt,
that from this cause, and from the ardor of a reform of government, the
first applauses at least would be loud and profuse. I suspected, too,
that there was something in the human breast which for a time would
be apt to construe a temperateness in politics, into an enmity to the
union. Nay, I plainly foresaw, that in the dissensions of parties, a
middle line would probably be interpreted into a want of enterprise
and decision.—But these considerations, how seducing soever, were
feeble opponents to the suggestions of my conscience. I was sent to
exercise my judgment, and to exercise it was my fixed determination;
being instructed by even an imperfect acquaintance with mankind, that
self approbation is the only true reward which a political career
can bestow, and that popularity would have been but another name for
perfidy, if to secure it, I had given up the freedom of thinking for

It would have been a peculiar pleasure to me to have ascertained
before I left Virginia, the temper and genius of my fellow citizens,
considered relatively to a government, so substantially differing from
the confederation as that which is now submitted. But this was, for
many obvious reasons, impossible; and I was thereby deprived of what I
thought the necessary guides.

I saw, however, that the confederation was tottering from its own
weakness, and that the sitting of a convention was a signal of its
total insufficiency. I was therefore ready to assent to a scheme of
government, which was proposed, and which went beyond the limits of the
confederation, believing, that without being too extensive it would
have preserved our tranquility, until that temper and that genius
should be collected.

But when the plan which is now before the general assembly, was on its
passage through the convention, I moved, that the State conventions
should be at liberty to amend, and that a second general convention
should beholden, to discuss the amendments, which should be suggested
by them. This motion was in some measure justified by the manner in
which the confederation was forwarded originally, by congress to the
State legislatures, in many of which amendments were proposed, and
those amendments were afterwards examined in congress. Such a motion
was doubly expedient here, as the delegation of so much power was
sought for. But it was negatived. I then expressed my unwillingness to
sign. My reasons were the following:

1. It is said in the resolutions which accompany the constitution, that
it is to be submitted to a convention of delegates chosen in each State
by the people thereof, for their assent and ratification. The meaning
of these terms is allowed universally to be, that the convention must
either adopt the constitution in the whole, or reject it in the whole,
and is positively forbidden to amend. If therefore, I had signed,
I should have felt myself bound to be silent as to amendments, and
to endeavor to support the constitution without the correction of a
letter. With this consequence before my eyes, and with a determination
to attempt an amendment, I was taught by a regard for consistency not
to sign.

2. My opinion always was, and still is, that every citizen of America,
let the crisis be what it may, ought to have a full opportunity to
propose, through his representatives, any amendment which in his
apprehension, tends to the public welfare. By signing, I should have
contradicted this sentiment.

3. A constitution ought to have the hearts of the people on its side.
But if at a future day it should be burdensome after having been
adopted in the whole, and they should insinuate that it was in some
measure forced upon them, by being confined to the single alternative
of taking or rejecting it altogether, under my impressions, and with my
opinions, I should not be able to justify myself had I signed.

4. I was always satisfied, as I have now experienced, that this great
subject would be placed in new lights and attitudes by the criticism
of the world, and that no man can assure himself how a constitution
will work for a course of years, until at least he shall have heard the
observations of the people at large. I also fear more from inaccuracies
in a constitution, than from gross errors in any other composition;
because our dearest interests are to be regulated by it; and power,
if loosely given, especially where it will be interpreted with great
latitude, may bring sorrow in its execution. Had I signed with these
ideas, I should have virtually shut my ears against the information
which I ardently desired.

5. I was afraid that if the constitution was to be submitted to
the people, to be wholly adopted or wholly rejected by them, they
would not only reject it, but bid a lasting farewell to the union.
This formidable event I wished to avert, by keeping myself free to
propose amendments, and thus, if possible, to remove the obstacles
to an effectual government. But it will be asked, whether all these
arguments, were not be well weighed in convention. They were, sir,
with great candor. Nay, when I called to mind the respectability of
those, with whom I was associated, I almost lost confidence in these
principles. On other occasions, I should cheerfully have yielded to a
majority; on this the fate of thousands yet unborn, enjoined me not to
yield until I was convinced.

Again, may I be asked, why the mode pointed out in the constitution
for its amendment, may not be a sufficient security against its
imperfections, without now arresting it in its progress? My answers
are—1. That it is better to amend, while we have the constitution in
our power, while the passions of designing men are not yet enlisted,
and while a bare majority of the States may amend than to wait for
the uncertain assent of three fourths of the States. 2. That a bad
feature in government, becomes more and more fixed every day. 3. That
frequent changes of a constitution, even if practicable, ought not to
be wished, but avoided as much as possible. And 4. That in the present
case, it may be questionable, whether, after the particular advantages
of its operation shall be discerned, three fourths of the States can be
induced to amend.

I confess, that it is no easy task, to devise a scheme which shall
be suitable to the views of all. Many expedients have occurred to
me, but none of them appear less exceptionable than this; that if
our convention should choose to amend, another federal convention be
recommended: that in that federal convention the amendments proposed
by this or any other State be discussed; and if incorporated in the
constitution or rejected, or if a proper number of the other States
should be unwilling to accede to a second convention, the constitution
be again laid before the same State conventions, which shall again
assemble on the summons of the executives, and it shall be either
wholly adopted, or wholly rejected, without a further power of
amendment. I count such a delay as nothing in comparison with so grand
an object; especially too as the privilege of amending must terminate
after the use of it once.

I should now conclude this letter, which is already too long, were it
not incumbent on me, from having contended for amendments, to set forth
the particulars, which I conceive to require correction. I undertake
this with reluctance: because it is remote from my intentions to
catch the prejudices or prepossessions of any man. But as I mean only
to manifest that I have not been actuated by caprice, and now to
explain every objection at full length would be an immense labour,
I shall content myself with enumerating certain heads, in which the
constitution is most repugnant to my wishes.

The two first points are the equality of suffrage in the senate, and
the submission of commerce to a mere majority in the legislature, with
no other check than the revision of the president. I conjecture that
neither of these things can be corrected; and particularly the former,
without which we must have risen perhaps in disorder.

But I am sanguine in hoping that in every other justly obnoxious cause,
Virginia will be seconded by a majority of the States. I hope that she
will be seconded. 1. In causing all ambiguities of expression to be
precisely explained. 2. In rendering the president ineligible after a
given number of years. 3. In taking from him the power of nominating
to the judiciary offices, or of filling up vacancies which may there
happen during the recess of the senate, by granting commissions which
shall expire at the end of their next sessions. 4. In taking from him
the power of pardoning for treason at least before conviction. 5. In
drawing a line between the powers of congress and individual States;
and in defining the former, so as to leave no clashing of jurisdictions
nor dangerous disputes; and to prevent the one from being swallowed
up by the other, under cover of general words, and implication. 6. In
abridging the power of the senate to make treaties supreme laws of
the land. 7. In incapacitating the congress to determine their own
salaries. And 8. In limiting and defining the judicial power.

The proper remedy must be consigned to the wisdom of the convention;
and the final step which Virginia shall pursue, if her overtures shall
be discarded, must also rest with them.

You will excuse me, sir, for having been thus tedious. My feelings
and duty demanded this exposition; for through no other channel could
I rescue my omission to sign from misrepresentation, and no more
effectual way could I exhibit to the general assembly an unreserved
history of my conduct.

I have the honor, sir, to be with great respect, your most obedient


Observation / leading to a fair examination / of the / system of
government, / proposed by the late / Convention; / and to several
essential and neces-/ sary alterations in it. / In a number of /
Letters / from the / Federal Farmer to the Republican. [New York:]
Printed [by Thomas Greenleaf] in the year M,DCC,LXXXVII.

  8vo. pp. 40.

  Written by Richard Henry Lee, who was appointed a member of the
  Philadelphia Convention, but declined to serve. He was one of the
  foremost in opposition to the Constitution, both in the Continental
  Congress and before the people, and was the subject of numerous
  attacks in the press.

  The “Letters of the Federal Farmer” was one of the most popular of
  arguments against the new government, “four editions (and several
  thousands) of the pamphlet ... being in a few months printed and sold
  in the several states,” which induced Lee to write “an additional
  number of Letters,” but it is largely repetitions of the first, and
  I have therefore omitted its republication. A short review will be
  found in the American Magazine for May, 1788, and an elaborate reply
  by Timothy Pickering in Pickering’s Life of Pickering, II, 352.

  P. L. F.


  October 8th, 1787.

  Dear Sir,

My letters to you last winter, on the subject of a well balanced
national government for the United States, were the result of a
free enquiry; when I passed from that subject to enquiries relative
to our commerce, revenues, past administration, &c. I anticipated
the anxieties I feel, on carefully examining the plan of government
proposed by the convention. It appears to be a plan retaining some
federal features; but to be the first important step, and to aim
strongly at one consolidated government of the United States. It
leaves the powers of government, and the representation of the people,
so unnaturally divided between the general and state governments,
that the operations of our system must be very uncertain. My uniform
federal attachments, and the interest I have in the protection of
property, and a steady execution of the laws, will convince you,
that, if I am under any bias at all, it is in favor of any general
system which shall promise those advantages. The instability of our
laws increases my wishes for firm and steady government; but then, I
can consent to no government, which, in my opinion, is not calculated
equally to preserve the rights of all orders of men in the community.
My object has been to join with those who have endeavoured to supply
the defects in the forms of our governments by a steady and proper
administration of them. Though I have long apprehended that fraudalentd
debtors, and embarrassed men, on the one hand, and men, on the other,
unfriendly to republican equality, would produce an uneasiness among
the people, and prepare the way, not for cool and deliberate reforms in
the governments, but for changes calculated to promote the interests
of particular orders of men. Acquit me, sir, of any agency in the
formation of the new system; I shall be satisfied with seeing, if it
shall be adopted with a prudent administration. Indeed I am so much
convinced of the truth of Pope’s maxim, that “That which is best [4]
administered is best,” that I am much inclined to subscribe to it from
experience. I am not disposed to unreasonably contend about forms. I
know our situation is critical, and it behooves us to make the best of
it. A federal government of some sort is necessary. We have suffered
the present to languish; and whether the confederation was capable
or not originally of answering any valuable purposes, it is now but
of little importance. I will pass by the men, and states, who have
been particularly instrumental in preparing the way for a change, and
perhaps, for governments not very favourable to the people at large.
A constitution is now presented which we may reject, or which we may
accept with or without amendments, and to which point we ought to
direct our exertions is the question. To determine this question with
propriety; we must attentively examine the system itself, and the
probable consequences of either step. This I shall endeavour to do, so
far as I am able, with candor and fairness; and leave you to decide
upon the propriety of my opinions, the weight of my reasons, and how
far my conclusions are well drawn. Whatever may be the conduct of
others, on the present occasion, I do not mean hastily and positively
to decide on the merits of the constitution proposed. I shall be open
to conviction and always disposed to adopt that which, all things
considered, shall appear to me to be most for the happiness of the
community. It must be granted, that if men hastily and blindly adopt
a system of government, they will as hastily and as blindly be led
to alter or abolish it; and changes must ensue, one after another,
till the peaceable and better part of the community will grow weary
with changes, tumults and disorders, and be disposed to accept any
government however despotic, that shall promise stability and firmness.

The first principal question that occurs, is, Whether, considering
our situation, we ought to precipitate the adoption of the proposed
constitution? If we remain cool and temperate, we are in no immediate
danger of any commotions; we are in a state of perfect peace, and in
no danger of invasions; the state governments are in the full exercise
of their powers; and our governments answer all present exigencies,
except the regulation of trade, securing credit, in some cases, and
providing for the interest, in some instances, of the public debts;
and whether we adopt a change three or nine months hence, can make
but little odds with the private circumstances of individuals; their
happiness and prosperity, after all, depend principally upon their own
exertions. We are hardly recovered from a long and distressing war:
The farmers, fishermen, &c. have not fully repaired the waste made by
it. Industry [5] and frugality are again assuming their proper station.
Private debts are lessened, and public debts incurred by the war have
been, by various ways, diminished; and the public lands have now become
a productive source for diminishing them much more. I know uneasy men,
who with very much to precipitate, do not admit all these facts; but
they are facts well known to all men who are thoroughly informed in
the affairs of this country. It must, however, be admitted, that our
federal system is defective, and that some of the state governments
are not well administered; but, then, we impute to the defects in our
governments many evils and embarrassments which are most clearly the
result of the late war. We must allow men to conduct on the present
occasion, as on all similar ones. They will urge a thousand pretences
to answer their purposes on both sides. When we want a man to change
his condition, we describe it as wretched, miserable, and despised;
and draw a pleasing picture of that which we would have him assume.
And when we wish the contrary, we reverse our descriptions. Whenever
a clamor is raised, and idle men get to work, it is highly necessary
to examine facts carefully, and without unreasonably suspecting men of
falsehood, to examine, and enquire attentively, under what impressions
they act. It is too often the case in political concerns that men state
facts not as they are, but as they wish them to be; and almost every
man, by calling to mind past scenes, will find this to be true.

Nothing but the passions of ambitious, impatient, or disorderly men,
I conceive, will plunge us into commotions, if time should be taken
fully to examine and consider the system proposed. Men who feel easy in
their circumstances, and such as are not sanguine in their expectations
relative to the consequences of the proposed change, will remain quiet
under the existing governments. Many commercial and monied men, who are
uneasy, not without just cause, ought to be respected; and by no means,
unreasonably disappointed in their expectations and hopes; but as to
those who expect employments under the new constitution; as to those
weak and ardent men who always expect to be gainers by revolutions, and
whose lot it generally is to get out of one difficulty into another,
they are very little to be regarded; and as to those who designedly
avail themselves of this weakness and ardor, they are to be despised.
It is natural for men, who wish to hasten the adoption of a measure, to
tell us, now is the crisis—now is the critical moment which must be
seized or all will be lost; and to shut the door against free enquiry,
whenever conscious the thing presented has defects in it, which time
and investigation will probably discover. This has been the custom of
tyrants, [6] and their dependants in all ages. If it is true, what
has been so often said, that the people of this country cannot change
their condition for the worse, I presume it still behoves them to
endeavour deliberately to change it for the better. The fickle and
ardent, in any community are the proper tools for establishing despotic
government. But it is deliberate and thinking men, who must establish
and secure governments on free principles. Before they decide on the
plan proposed, they will enquire whether it will probably be a blessing
or a curse to this people.

The present moment discovers a new face in our affairs. Our object
has been all along, to reform our federal system, and to strengthen
our governments—to establish peace, order and justice in the
community—but a new object now presents. The plan of government now
proposed is evidently calculated totally to change, in time, our
condition as a people. Instead of being thirteen republics, under
a federal head, it is clearly designed to make us one consolidated
government. Of this, I think, I shall fully convince you, in my
following letters on this subject. This consolidation of the states
has been the object of several men in this country for some time past.
Whether such a change can ever be effected, in any manner; whether it
can be effected without convulsions and civil wars; whether such a
change will not totally destroy the liberties of this country—time
only can determine.

To have a just idea of the government before us, and to shew that
a consolidated one is the object in view, it is necessary not only
to examine the plan, but also its history, and the politics of its
particular friends.

The confederation was formed when great confidence was placed in the
voluntary exertions of individuals, and of the respective states;
and the framers of it, to guard against usurpation, so limited, and
checked the powers, that, in many respects, they are inadequate to the
exigencies of the union. We find, therefore, members of congress urging
alterations in the federal system almost as soon as it was adopted. It
was early proposed to vest congress with powers to levy an impost, to
regulate trade, &c. but such was known to be the caution of the states
in parting with power, that the vestment even of these, was proposed to
be under several checks and limitations. During the war, the general
confusion, and the introduction, of paper money, infused in the minds
of people vague ideas respecting government and credit. We expected too
much from the return of peace, and of course we have been disappointed.
Our governments have been new and unsettled; and several legislatures,
by making tender, suspension, and paper money laws, [7] have given just
cause of uneasiness to creditors. By these and other causes, several
orders of men in the community have been prepared, by degrees, for a
change of government; and this very abuse of power in the legislatures,
which in some cases has been charged upon the democratic part of the
community, has furnished aristocratical men with those very weapons,
and those very means, with which, in great measure, they are rapidly
effecting their favourite object. And should an oppressive government
be the consequence of the proposed change, prosperity may reproach not
only a few overbearing, unprincipled men, but those parties in the
states which have misused their powers.

The conduct of several legislatures, touching paper money, and tender
laws, has prepared many honest men for changes in government, which
otherwise they would not have thought of—when by the evils, on the
one hand, and by the secret instigations of artful men, on the other,
the minds of men were become sufficiently uneasy, a bold step was
taken, which is usually followed by a revolution, or a civil war. A
general convention for mere commercial purposes was moved for—the
authors of this measure saw that the people’s attention was turned
solely to the amendment of the federal system; and that, had the idea
of a total change been started, probably no state would have appointed
members to the convention. The idea of destroying ultimately, the state
government, and forming one consolidated system, could not have been
admitted—a convention, therefore, merely for vesting in congress power
to regulate trade was proposed. This was pleasing to the commercial
towns; and the landed people had little or no concern about it.
September, 1786, a few men from the middle states met at Annapolis,
and hastily proposed a convention to be held in May, 1787, for the
purpose, generally, of amending the confederation—this was done before
the delegates of Massachusetts, and of the other states arrived—still
not a word was said about destroying the old constitution, and making
a new one.—The states still unsuspecting, and not aware that they
were passing the Rubicon, appointed members to the new convention,
for the sole and express purpose of revising and amending the
confederation—and, probably, not one man in ten thousand in the United
States, till within these ten or twelve days, had an idea that the old
ship was to be destroyed, and he put to the alternative of embarking
in the new ship presented, or of being left in danger of sinking.—The
States, I believe, universally supposed the convention would report
alterations in the confederation, which would pass an examination in
congress, and after being agreed to there, would be confirmed by all
the legislatures, [8] or be rejected. Virginia made a very respectable
appointment, and placed at the head of it the first man in America.
In this appointment there was a mixture of political characters;
but Pennsylvania appointed principally those men who are esteemed
aristocratical. Here the favourite moment for changing the government
was evidently discerned by a few men, who seized it with address. Ten
other states appointed, and tho’ they chose men principally connected
with commerce and the judicial department yet they appointed many good
republican characters—had they all attended we should now see, I am
persuaded, a better system presented. The non-attendance of eight or
nine men, who were appointed members of the convention, I shall ever
consider as a very unfortunate event to the United States.——Had they
attended, I am pretty clear that the result of the convention would not
have had that strong tendency to aristocracy now discernable in every
part of the plan. There would not have been so great an accumulation of
powers, especially as to the internal police of this country in a few
hands as the constitution reported proposes to vest in them—the young
visionary men, and the consolidating aristocracy, would have been more
restrained than they have been. Eleven states met in the convention,
and after four months close attention presented the new constitution,
to be adopted or rejected by the people. The uneasy and fickle part of
the community may be prepared to receive any form of government; but I
presume the enlightened and substantial part will give any constitution
presented for their adoption a candid and thorough examination; and
silence those designing or empty men, who weakly and rashly attempt to
precipitate the adoption of a system of so much importance—We shall
view the convention with proper respect——and, at the same time, that
we reflect there were men of abilities and integrity in it, we must
recollect how disproportionately the democratic and aristocratic parts
of the community were represented——Perhaps the judicious friends and
opposers of the new constitution will agree, that it is best to let it
rely solely on its own merits, or be condemned for its own defects.

In the first place, I shall premise, that the plan proposed is a plan
of accommodation—and that it is in this way only, and by giving up a
part of our opinions, that we can ever expect to obtain a government
founded in freedom and compact. This circumstance candid men will
always keep in view, in the discussion of this subject.

The plan proposed appears to be partly federal, but principally
however, calculated ultimately to make the states one consolidated

The first interesting question, therefore suggested, is, how [9] far
the states can be consolidated into one entire government on free
principles. In considering this question extensive objects are to be
taken into view, and important changes in the forms of government to be
carefully attended to in all their consequences. The happiness of the
people at large must be the great object with every honest statesman,
and he will direct every movement to this point. If we are so situated
as a people, as not to be able to enjoy equal happiness and advantages
under one government, the consolidation of the states cannot be

There are three different forms of free government under which the
United States may exist as one nation; and now is, perhaps, the time
to determine to which we will direct our views. 1. Distinct republics
connected under a federal head. In this case the respective state
governments must be the principal guardians of the peoples rights,
and exclusively regulate their internal police; in them must rest the
balance of government. The congress of the states, or federal head,
must consist of delegates amenable to, and removable by the respective
states: This congress must have general directing powers; powers to
require men and monies of the states; to make treaties; peace and war;
to direct the operations of armies, &c. Under this federal modification
of government, the powers of congress would be rather advisary or
recommendatory than coercive. 2. We may do away the federal state
governments, and form or consolidate all the states into one entire
government, with one executive, one judiciary, and one legislature,
consisting of senators and representatives collected from all parts
of the union: In this case there would be a compleat consolidation of
the states. 3. We may consolidate the states as to certain national
objects, and leave them severally distinct independent republics, as
to internal police generally. Let the general government consist of
an executive, a judiciary, and balanced legislature, and its powers
extend exclusively to all foreign concerns, causes arising on the
seas to commerce, imports, armies, navies, Indian affairs, peace and
war, and to a few internal concerns of the community; to the coin,
post-offices, weights and measures, a general plan for the militia, to
naturalization, _and, perhaps to bankruptcies_, leaving the internal
police of the community, in other respects, exclusively to the state
governments; as the administration of justice in all causes arising
internally, the laying and collecting of internal taxes, and the
forming of the militia according to a general plan prescribed. In this
case there would be a compleat consolidation, _quoad_ certain objects

Touching the first, or federal plan, I do not think much can be said
in its favor: The sovereignity of the nation, without [10] coercive
and efficient powers to collect the strength of it, cannot always be
depended on to answer the purposes of government; and in a congress
of representatives of foreign states, there must necessarily be an
unreasonable mixture of powers in the same hands.

As to the second, or compleat consolidating plan, it deserves to
be carefully considered at this time by every American: If it be
impracticable, it is a fatal error to model our governments, directing
our views ultimately to it.

The third plan, or partial consolidation, is, in my opinion, the only
one that can secure the freedom and happiness of this people. I once
had some general ideas that the second plan was practicable, but from
long attention, and the proceedings of the convention, I am fully
satisfied, that this third plan is the only one we can with safety and
propriety proceed upon. Making this the standard to point out, with
candor and fairness, the parts of the new constitution which appear
to be improper, is my object. The convention appears to have proposed
the partial consolidation evidently with a view to collect all powers
ultimately, in the United States into one entire government; and from
its views in this respect, and from the tenacity of the small states
to have an equal vote in the senate, probably originated the greatest
defects in the proposed plan.

Independent of the opinions of many great authors, that a free elective
government cannot be extended over large territories, a few reflections
must evince, that one government and general legislation alone never
can extend equal benefits to all parts of the United States: Different
laws, customs, and opinions exist in the different states, which by a
uniform system of laws would be unreasonably invaded. The United States
contain about a million of square miles, and in half a century will,
probably, contain ten millions of people; and from the center to the
extremes is about 800 miles.

Before we do away the state governments or adopt measures that
will tend to abolish them, and to consolidate the states into one
entire government several principles should be considered and facts
ascertained:——These, and my examination into the essential parts of
the proposed plan, I shall pursue in my next.

  Your’s, &c.



  October 9, 1787.


The essential parts of a free and good government are a full and
equal representation of the people in the legislature, and the jury
trial of the vicinage in the administration of justice—a full and
equal representation, is that which possesses the same interests,
feelings, opinions, and views the people themselves would were
they all assembled—a fair representation, therefore, should be so
regulated, that every order of men in the community, according to the
common course of elections, can have a share in it—in order to allow
professional men, merchants, traders, farmers, mechanics, &c. to bring
a just proportion of their best informed men respectively into the
legislature, the representation must be considerably numerous—We
have about 200 state senators in the United States, and a less number
than that of federal representatives cannot, clearly, be a full
representation of this people, in the affairs of internal taxation
and police, were there but one legislature for the whole union. The
representation cannot be equal, or the situation of the people proper
for one government only—if the extreme parts of the society cannot be
represented as fully as the central—It is apparently impracticable
that this should be the case in this extensive country——it would be
impossible to collect a representation of the parts of the country
five, six, and seven hundred miles from the seat of government.

Under one general government alone, there could be but one judiciary,
one supreme and a proper number of inferior courts. I think it
would be totally impracticable in this case to preserve a due
administration of justice, and the real benefits of the jury trial
of the vicinage——there are now supreme courts in each state in the
union, and a great number of county and other courts subordinate to
each supreme court——most of these supreme and inferior courts are
itinerant, and hold their sessions in different parts every year of
their respective states, counties and districts—with all these moving
courts, our citizens, from the vast extent of the country, must travel
very considerable distances from home to find the place where justice
is administered. I am not for bringing justice so near to individuals
as to afford them any temptation to engage in law suits; though I
think it one of the greatest benefits in a good government, that each
citizen should find a court of justice within a reasonable distance,
perhaps, within a day’s travel of his [12] home; so that, without
great inconveniences and enormous expense, he may have the advantages
of his witnesses and jury—it would be impracticable to derive these
advantages from one judiciary——the one supreme court at most could
only set in the centre of the union, and move once a year into the
centre of the eastern and southern extremes of it—and, in this case,
each citizen, on an average, would travel 150 or 200 miles to find
this court——that, however, inferior courts might be properly placed
in the different counties, and districts of the union, the appellate
jurisdiction would be intolerable and expensive.

If it were possible to consolidate the states, and preserve the
features of a free government, still it is evident that the middle
states, the parts of the union, about the seat of government, would
enjoy great advantages, while the remote states would experience the
many inconveniences of remote provinces. Wealth, offices, and the
benefits of government would collect in the centre: and the extreme
states; and their principal towns, become much less important.

There are other considerations which tend to prove that the idea
of one consolidated whole, on free principles, is ill-founded—the
laws of a free government rest on the confidence of the people, and
operate gently—and never can extend the influence very far—if they
are executed on free principles, about the centre, where the benefits
of the government induce the people to support it voluntarily; yet
they must be executed on the principles of fear and force in the
extremes.—This has been the case with every extensive republic of
which we have any accurate account.

There are certain unalienable and fundamental rights, which in forming
the social compact, ought to be explicitly ascertained and fixed—a
free and enlightened people, in forming this compact, will not resign
all their rights to those who govern, and they will fix limits to
their legislators and rulers, which will soon be plainly seen by those
who are governed, as well as by those who govern: and the latter will
know they cannot be passed unperceived by the former, and without
giving a general alarm.—These rights should be made the basis of
every constitution; and if a people be so situated, or have such
different opinions that they cannot agree in ascertaining and fixing
them, it is a very strong argument against their attempting to form
one entire society, to live under one system of laws only.—I confess,
I never thought the people of these states differed essentially in
these respects; they having derived all these rights from one common
source, the British systems; and having in the formation of their state
constitutions, discovered that their ideas [13] relative to these
rights are very similar. However, it is now said that the states
differ so essentially in these respects, and even in the important
article of the trial by jury, that when assembled in convention, they
can agree to no words by which to establish that trial, or by which
to ascertain and establish many other of these rights, as fundamental
articles in the social compact. If so, we proceed to consolidate the
states on no solid basis whatever.

But I do not pay much regard to the reasons given for not bottoming
the new constitution on a better bill of rights. I still believe a
complete federal bill of rights to be very practicable. Nevertheless I
acknowledge the proceedings of the convention furnish my mind with many
new and strong reasons, against a complete consolidation of the states.
They tend to convince me, that it cannot be carried with propriety
very far—that the convention have gone much farther in one respect
than they found it practicable to go in another; that is, they propose
to lodge in the general government very extensive powers—_powers_
nearly, if not altogether, complete and unlimited, over the purse and
the sword. But, in its organization, they furnish the strongest proof
that the proper limbs, or parts of a government, to support and execute
those powers on proper principles (or in which they can be safely
lodged) cannot be formed. These powers must be lodged somewhere in
every society; but then they should be lodged where the strength and
guardians of the people are collected. They can be wielded, or safely
used, in a free country only by an able executive and judiciary, a
respectable senate, and a secure, full, and equal representation of the
people. I think the principles I have premised or brought into view,
are well founded—I think they will not be denied by any fair reasoner.
It is in connection with these, and other solid principles, we are to
examine the constitution. It is not a few democratic phrases, or a
few well formed features, that will prove its merits; or a few small
omissions that will produce its rejection among men of sense; they will
enquire what are the essential powers in a community, and what are
nominal ones; where and how the essential powers shall be lodged to
secure government, and to secure true liberty.

In examining the proposed constitution carefully, we must clearly
perceive an unnatural separation of these powers from the substantial
representation of the people. The state government will exist, with all
their governors, senators, representatives, officers and expences; in
these will be nineteen twentieths of the representatives of the people;
they will have a near connection, and their members an immediate
intercourse with the people; and the probability is, that the state
governments will possess the [14] confidence of the people, and be
considered generally as their immediate guardians.

The general government will consist of a new species of executive,
a small senate, and a very small house of representatives. As many
citizens will be more than three hundred miles from the seat of this
government as will be nearer to it, its judges and officers cannot be
very numerous, without making our governments very expensive. Thus will
stand the state and the general governments, should the constitution
be adopted without any alterations in their organization; but as to
powers, the general government will possess all essential ones, at
least on paper, and those of the states a mere shadow of power. And
therefore, unless the people shall make some great exertions to restore
to the state governments their powers in matters of internal police; as
the powers to lay and collect, exclusively, internal taxes, to govern
the militia, and to hold the decisions of their own judicial courts
upon their own laws final, the balance cannot possibly continue long;
but the state governments must be annihilated, or continue to exist for
no purpose.

It is however to be observed, that many of the essential powers
given the national government are exclusively given; and the general
government may have prudence enough to forbear the exercise of those
which may still be exercised by the respective states. But this cannot
justify the impropriety of giving powers, the exercise of which
prudent men will not attempt, and imprudent men will, or probably can,
exercise only in a manner destructive of free government. The general
government, organized as it is, may be adequate to many valuable
objects, and be able to carry its laws into execution on proper
principles in several cases; but I think its warmest friends will not
contend, that it can carry all the powers proposed to be lodged in it
into effect, without calling to its aid a military force, which must
very soon destroy all elective governments in the country, produce
anarchy, or establish despotism. Though we cannot have now a complete
idea of what will be the operations of the proposed system, we may,
allowing things to have their common course, have a very tolerable
one. The powers lodged in the general government, if exercised by it,
must intimately effect the internal police of the states, as well
as external concerns; and there is no reason to expect the numerous
state governments, and their connections, will be very friendly to the
execution of federal laws in those internal affairs, which hitherto
have been under their own immediate management. There is more reason
to believe, that the general government, far removed from the people,
and none of its members elected oftener than once in two years, will
be forgot [15] or neglected, and its laws in many cases disregarded,
unless a multitude of officers and military force be continually kept
in view, and employed to enforce the execution of the laws, and to
make the government feared and respected. No position can be truer
than this. That in this country either neglected laws, or a military
execution of them, must lead to a revolution, and to the destruction
of freedom. Neglected laws must first lead to anarchy and confusion;
and a military execution of laws is only a shorter way to the same
point—despotic government.

  Your’s, &c.



  October 10th, 1787.


The great object of a free people must be so to form their government
and laws, and so to administer them, as to create a confidence in, and
respect for the laws; and thereby induce the sensible and virtuous part
of the community to declare in favor of the laws, and to support them
without an expensive military force. I wish, though I confess I have
not much hope, that this may be the case with the laws of congress
under the new constitution. I am fully convinced that we must organize
the national government on different principals, and make the parts
of it more efficient, and secure in it more effectually the different
interests in the community; or else leave in the state governments some
powers proposed to be lodged in it—at least till such an organization
shall be found to be practicable. Not sanguine in my expectations
of a good federal administration, and satisfied, as I am, of the
impracticability of consolidating the states, and at the same time of
preserving the rights of the people at large, I believe we ought still
to leave some of those powers in the state governments, in which the
people, in fact, will still be represented—to define some other powers
proposed to be vested in the general government, more carefully, and to
establish a few principles to secure a proper exercise of the powers
given it. It is not my object to multiply objections, or to contend
about inconsiderable powers or amendments. I wish the system adopted
with a few alterations; but those, in my mind, are essential ones;
if adopted without, [16] every good citizen will acquiesce, though I
shall consider the duration of our governments, and the liberties of
this people, very much dependant on the administration of the general
government. A wise and honest administration, may make the people
happy under any government; but necessity only can justify even our
leaving open avenues to the abuse of power, by wicked, unthinking, or
ambitious men. I will examine, first, the organization of the proposed
government, in order to judge; 2d, with propriety, what powers are
improperly, at least prematurely lodged in it. I shall examine, 3d, the
undefined powers; and 4th, those powers, the exercise of which is not
secured on safe and proper ground.

First. As to the organization——the house of representatives, the
democrative branch, as it is called, is to consist of 65 members:
that is, about one representative for fifty thousand inhabitants, to
be chosen biennially——the federal legislature may increase this
number to one for each thirty thousand inhabitants, abating fractional
numbers in each state.——Thirty-three representatives will make a
quorum for doing business, and a majority of those present determine
the sense of the house.——I have no idea that the interests, feelings,
and opinions of three or four millions of people, especially touching
internal taxation, can be collected in such a house.——In the nature
of things, nine times in ten, men of the elevated classes in the
community only can be chosen——Connecticut, for instance, will have
five representatives——not one man in a hundred of those who form
the democrative branch in the state legislature, will, on a fair
computation, be one of the five.—The people of this country, in one
sense, may all be democratic; but if we make the proper distinction
between the few men of wealth and abilities, and consider them, as we
ought, as the natural aristocracy of the country, and the great body
of the people, the middle and lower classes, as the democracy, this
federal representative branch will have but very little democracy
in it, even this small representation is not secured on proper
principles.——The branches of the legislature are essential parts
of the fundamental compact, and ought to be so fixed by the people,
that the legislature cannot alter itself by modifying the elections
of its own members. This, by a part of Art. I, Sect. 4, the general
legislature may do, it may evidently so regulate elections as to secure
the choice of any particular description of men.——It may make the
whole state one district—make the capital, or any places in the state,
the place or places of election—it may declare that the five men (or
whatever the number may be the state may chuse) who shall have the
most votes shall be considered as chosen. ——In this [17] case it
is easy to perceive how the people who live scattered in the inland
towns will bestow their votes on different men—and how a few men in a
city, in any order or profession, may unite and place any five men they
please highest among those that may be voted for——and all this may be
done constitutionally, and by those silent operations, which are not
immediately perceived by the people in general.——I know it is urged,
that the general legislature will be disposed to regulate elections on
fair and just principles:——This may be true—good men will generally
govern well with almost any constitution: but why in laying the
foundation of the social system, need we unnecessarily leave a door
open to improper regulations?—This is a very general and unguarded
clause, and many evils may flow from that part which authorises the
congress to regulate elections.——Were it omitted, the regulations
of elections would be solely in the respective states, where the
people are substantially represented; and where the elections ought
to be regulated, otherwise to secure a representation from all parts
of the community, in making the constitutions, we ought to provide
for dividing each state into a proper number of districts, and for
confining the electors in each district to the choice of some men, who
shall have a permanent interest and residence in it; and also for this
essential object, that the representative elected shall have a majority
of the votes of those electors who shall attend and give their votes.

In considering the practicability of having a full and equal
representation of the people from all parts of the union, not only
distances and different opinions, customs and views, common in
extensive tracts of country, are to be taken into view, but many
differences peculiar to Eastern, Middle, and Southern States. These
differences are not so perceivable among the members of congress, and
men of general information in the states, as among the men who would
properly form the democratic branch. The Eastern states are very
democratic, and composed chiefly of moderate freeholders; they have but
few rich men and no slaves; the Southern states are composed chiefly
of rich planters and slaves; they have but few moderate freeholders,
and the prevailing influence, in them is generally a dissipated
aristocracy: The Middle states partake partly of the Eastern and partly
of the Southern character.

Perhaps, nothing could be more disjointed, unwieldly and incompetent
to doing business with harmony and dispatch, than a federal house of
representatives properly numerous for the great objects of taxation,
&c. collected from the federal states; whether such men would ever
act in concert; whether they would not worry along a few years, and
then be the means of [18] separating the parts of the union, is very
problematical?——View this system in whatever form we can, propriety
brings us still to this point, a federal government possessed of
general and complete powers, as to those national objects which cannot
well come under the cognizance of the internal laws of the respective
states, and this federal government, accordingly, consisting of
branches not very numerous.

The house of representatives is on the plan of consolidation, but the
senate is entirely on the federal plan; and Delaware will have as
much constitutional influence in the senate, as the largest state in
the union: and in this senate are lodged legislative, executive and
judicial powers: Ten states in this union urge that they are small
states, nine of which were present in the convention.—They were
interested in collecting large powers into the hands of the senate, in
which each state still will have its equal share of power. I suppose
it was impracticable for the three large states, as they were called,
to get the senate formed on any other principles: But this only
proves, that we cannot form one general government on equal and just
principles—and proves, that we ought not to lodge in it such extensive
powers before we are convinced of the practicability of organizing it
on just and equal principles. The senate will consist of two members
from each state, chosen by the state legislatures, every sixth year.
The clause referred to, respecting the elections of representatives,
empowers the general legislature to regulate the elections of senators
also, “except as to the places of chusing senators.”—There is,
therefore, but little more security in the elections than in those of
representatives: Fourteen senators make a quorum for business, and a
majority of the senators present give the vote of the senate, except
in giving judgment upon an impeachment, or in making treaties, or
in expelling a member, when two-thirds of the senators present must
agree.—The members of the legislature are not excluded from being
elected to any military offices, or any civil offices, except those
created, or the emoluments of which shall be increased by themselves:
two-thirds of the members present, of either house, may expel a member
at pleasure. The senate is an independent branch of the legislature, a
court for trying impeachments, and also a part of the executive, having
a negative in the making of all treaties, and in appointing almost all

The vice president is not a very important, if not an unnecessary part
of the system—he may be a part of the senate at one period, and act as
the supreme executive magistrate at another.——The election of this
officer, as well as of the president of the United States seems to be
properly secured; but [19] when we examine the powers of the president,
and the forms of the executive, we shall perceive that the general
government, in this part, will have a strong tendency to aristocracy,
or the government of the few. The executive is, in fact, the president
and senate in all transactions of any importance; the president is
connected with, or tied to the senate; he may always act with the
senate, but never can effectually counteract its views: The president
can appoint no officer, civil or military, who shall not be agreeable
to the senate; and the presumption is, that the will of so important a
body will not be very easily controlled, and that it will exercise its
powers with great address.

In the judicial department, powers ever kept distinct in well balanced
governments, are no less improperly blended in the hands of the same
men—in the judges of the supreme court is lodged the law, the equity
and the fact. It is not necessary to pursue the minute organical parts
of the general government proposed.—There were various interests in
the convention, to be reconciled, especially of large and small states;
of carrying and non-carrying states; and of states more and states
less democratic—vast labour and attention were by the convention
bestowed on the organization of the parts of the constitution offered;
still it is acknowledged there are many things radically wrong in the
essential parts of this constitution—but it is said that these are
the result of our situation: On a full examination of the subject,
I believe it; but what do the laborious inquiries and determination
of the convention prove? If they prove any thing, they prove that we
cannot consolidate the states on proper principles: The organization
of the government presented proves, that we cannot form a general
government in which all power can be safely lodged; and a little
attention to the parts of the one proposed will make it appear very
evident, that all the powers proposed to be lodged in it, will not be
then well deposited, either for the purposes of government, or the
preservation of liberty. I will suppose no abuse of power in those
cases, in which the abuse of it is not well guarded against—I will
suppose the words authorizing the general government to regulate the
elections of its own members struck out of the plan, or free district
elections, in each state, amply secured.—That the small representation
provided for shall be as fair and equal as it is capable of being
made—I will suppose the judicial department regulated on pure
principles, by future laws, as far as it can be by the constitution,
and consist with the situation of the country—still there will be an
unreasonable accumulation of powers in the general government if all be
granted, enumerated in the plan proposed. The plan does not present a
well balanced government: The senatorial [20] branch of the legislative
and the executive are substantially united, and the president, or
the state executive magistrate, may aid the senatorial interest when
weakest, but never can effectually support the democratic, however
it may be opposed;—the excellency, in my mind, of a well-balanced
government is that it consists of distinct branches, each sufficiently
strong and independant to keep its own station, and to aid either of
the other branches which may occasionally want aid.

The convention found that any but a small house of representatives
would be expensive, and that it would be impracticable to assemble
a large number of representatives. Not only the determination of the
convention in this case, but the situation of the states, proves
the impracticability of collecting, in any one point, a proper

The formation of the senate, and the smallness of the house, being,
therefore, the result of our situation, and the actual state of things,
the evils which may attend the exercise of many powers in this national
government may be considered as without a remedy.

All officers are impeachable before the senate only—before the men
by whom they are appointed, or who are consenting to the appointment
of these officers. No judgment of conviction, on an impeachment,
can be given unless two thirds of the senators agree. Under these
circumstances the right of impeachment, in the house, can be of but
little importance; the house cannot expect often to convict the
offender; and, therefore, probably, will but seldom or never exercise
the right. In addition to the insecurity and inconveniences attending
this organization beforementioned, it may be observed, that it is
extremely difficult to secure the people against the fatal effects of
corruption and influence. The power of making any law will be in the
president, eight senators, and seventeen representatives, relative to
the important objects enumerated in the constitution. Where there is
a small representation a sufficient number to carry any measure, may,
with ease, be influenced by bribes, offices and civilities; they easily
form private juntoes, and out-door meetings, agree on measures, and
carry them by silent votes.

Impressed, as I am, with a sense of the difficulties there are in the
way of forming the parts of a federal government on proper principles,
and seeing a government so unsubstantially organized, after so arduous
an attempt has been made, I am led to believe, that powers ought to be
given to it with great care and caution.

In the second place it is necessary, therefore, to examine the extent,
and the probable operations of some of those ex- [21] tensive powers
proposed to be vested in this government. These powers, legislative,
executive, and judicial, respect internal as well as external objects.
Those respecting external objects, as all foreign concerns, commerce,
imposts, all causes arising on the seas, peace and war, and Indian
affairs, can be lodged no where else, with any propriety, but in this
government. Many powers that respect internal objects ought clearly to
be lodged in it; as those to regulate trade between the states, weights
and measures, the coin or current monies, post-offices, naturalization,
&c. These powers may be exercised without essentially effecting the
internal police of the respective states: But powers to lay and collect
internal taxes, to form the militia, to make bankrupt laws, and to
decide on appeals, questions arising on the internal laws of the
respective states, are of a very serious nature, and carry with them
almost all other powers. These taken in connection with the others, and
powers to raise armies and build navies, proposed to be lodged in this
government, appear to me to comprehend all the essential powers in this
community, and those which will be left to the states will be of no
great importance.

A power to lay and collect taxes at discretion, is, in itself, of very
great importance. By means of taxes, the government may command the
whole or any part of the subject’s property. Taxes may be of various
kinds; but there is a strong distinction between external and internal
taxes. External taxes are import duties, which are laid on imported
goods; they may usually be collected in a few seaport towns, and of a
few individuals, though ultimately paid by the consumer; a few officers
can collect them, and they can be carried no higher than trade will
bear, or smuggling permit—that in the very nature of commerce, bounds
are set to them. But internal taxes, as poll and land taxes, excises,
duties on all written instruments, &c. may fix themselves on every
person and species of property in the community; they may be carried to
any lengths, and in proportion as they are extended, numerous officers
must be employed to assess them, and to enforce the collection of
them. In the United Netherlands the general government has compleat
powers, as to external taxation; but as to internal taxes, it makes
requisitions on the provinces. Internal taxation in this country is
more important, as the country is so very extensive. As many assessors
and collectors of federal taxes will be above three hundred miles from
the seat of the federal government as will be less. Besides, to lay and
collect taxes, in this extensive country, must require a great number
of congressional ordinances immediately operating upon the body of the
people; these must continually interfere with the state laws, [22] and
thereby produce disorder and general dissatisfaction, till the one
system of laws or the other, operating on the same subjects, shall be
abolished. These ordinances alone, to say nothing of those respecting
the militia, coin, commerce, federal judiciary, &c. &c. will probably
soon defeat the operations of the state laws and governments.

Should the general government think it politic, as some administration
(if not all) probably will, to look for a support in a system of
influence, the government will take every occasion to multiply laws,
and officers to execute them, considering these as so many necessary
props for its own support. Should this system of policy be adopted,
taxes more productive than the impost duties will, probably, be wanted
to support the government, and to discharge foreign demands, without
leaving any thing for the domestic creditors. The internal sources of
taxation then must be called into operation, and internal tax laws and
federal assessors and collectors spread over this immense country.
All these circumstances considered, is it wise, prudent, or safe, to
vest the powers of laying and collecting internal taxes in the general
government, while imperfectly organized and inadequate; and to trust
to amending it hereafter, and making it adequate to this purpose? It
is not only unsafe but absurd to lodge power in a government before
it is fitted to receive it. It is confessed that this power and
representation ought to go together. Why give the power first? Why
give the power to the few, who, when possessed of it, may have address
enough to prevent the increase of representation? Why not keep the
power, and, when necessary, amend the constitution, and add to its
other parts this power, and a proper increase of representation at
the same time? Then men who may want the power will be under strong
inducements to let in the people, by their representatives, into the
government, to hold their due proportion of this power. If a proper
representation be impracticable, then we shall see this power resting
in the states, where it at present ought to be, and not inconsiderately
given up.

When I recollect how lately congress, conventions, legislatures, and
people contended in the cause of liberty, and carefully weighed the
importance of taxation, I can scarcely believe we are serious in
proposing to vest the powers of laying and collecting internal taxes
in a government so imperfectly organized for such purposes. Should
the United States be taxed by a house of representatives of two
hundred members, which would be about fifteen members for Connecticut,
twenty-five for Massachusetts, &c. still the middle and lower classes
of people could have no great share, in fact, in taxation. I am
aware it is said, that the representation proposed by the new [23]
constitution is sufficiently numerous; it may be for many purposes;
but to suppose that this branch is sufficiently numerous to guard the
rights of the people in the administration of the government, in which
the purse and sword is placed, seems to argue that we have forgot
what the true meaning of representation is. I am sensible also, that
it is said that congress will not attempt to lay and collect internal
taxes; that it is necessary for them to have the power, though it
cannot probably be exercised.——I admit that it is not probable that
any prudent congress will attempt to lay and collect internal taxes,
especially direct taxes: but this only proves, that the power would be
improperly lodged in congress, and that it might be abused by imprudent
and designing men.

I have heard several gentlemen, to get rid of objections to this part
of the constitution, attempt to construe the powers relative to direct
taxes, as those who object to it would have them; as to these, it is
said, that congress will only have power to make requisitions, leaving
it to the states to lay and collect them. I see but very little colour
for this construction, and the attempt only proves that this part of
the plan cannot be defended. By this plan there can be no doubt,
but that the powers of congress will be complete as to all kinds of
taxes whatever—Further, as to internal taxes, the state governments
will have concurrent powers with the general government, and both may
tax the same objects in the same year; and the objection that the
general government may suspend a state tax, as a necessary measure
for the promoting the collection of a federal tax, is not without
foundation.——As the states owe large debts, and have large demands
upon them individually, there clearly will be a propriety in leaving in
their possession exclusively, some of the internal sources of taxation,
at least until the federal representation shall be properly encreased:
The power in the general government to lay and collect internal taxes,
will render its powers respecting armies, navies and the militia, the
more exceptionable. By the constitution it is proposed that congress
shall have power “to raise and support armies, but no appropriation
of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years; to
provide and maintain a navy; to provide for calling forth the militia
to execute the laws of the union; suppress insurrections, and repel
invasions: to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the
militia;” reserving to the states the right to appoint the officers,
and to train the militia according to the discipline prescribed by
congress; congress will have unlimited power to raise armies, and to
engage officers and men for any number of years; but a legislative
act applying money for their support can have operation for no longer
term than two years, and if a subsequent congress, do [24] not within
the two years renew the appropriation, or further appropriate monies
for the use of the army, the army will be left to take care of itself.
When an army shall once be raised for a number of years, it is not
probable that it will find much difficulty in getting congress to pass
laws for applying monies to its support. I see so many men in America
fond of a standing army, and especially among those who probably will
have a large share in administering the federal system; it is very
evident to me, that we shall have a large standing army as soon as
the monies to support them can be possibly found. An army is not a
very agreeable place of employment for the young gentlemen of many
families. A power to raise armies must be lodged some where; still
this will not justify the lodging this power in a bare majority of so
few men without any checks; or in the government in which the great
body of the people, in the nature of things, will be only nominally
represented. In the state governments the great body of the people,
the yeomanry, &c. of the country, are represented: It is true they
will chuse the members of congress, and may now and then chuse a man
of their own way of thinking; but it is not impossible for forty, or
thirty thousand people in this country, one time in ten to find a man
who can possess similar feelings, views, and interests with themselves:
Powers to lay and collect taxes and to raise armies are of the greatest
moment; for carrying them into effect, laws need not be frequently
made, and the yeomanry, &c. of the country ought substantially to have
a check upon the passing of these laws; this check ought to be placed
in the legislatures, or at least, in the few men the common people of
the country, will, probably, have in congress, in the true sense of
the word, “from among themselves.” It is true, the yeomanry of the
country possess the lands, the weight of property, possess arms, and
are too strong a body of men to be openly offended—and, therefore,
it is urged, they will take care of themselves, that men who shall
govern will not dare pay any disrespect to their opinions. It is easily
perceived, that if they have not their proper negative upon passing
laws in congress, or on the passage of laws relative to taxes and
armies, they may in twenty or thirty years be by means imperceptible to
them, totally deprived of that boasted weight and strength: This may be
done in a great measure by congress, if disposed to do it, by modelling
the militia. Should one fifth or one eighth part of the men capable of
bearing arms, be made a select militia, as has been proposed, and those
the young and ardent part of the community, possessed of but little
or no property, and all the others put upon a plan that will render
them of no importance, the former will answer all the purposes of an
[25] army, while the latter will be defenceless. The state must train
the militia in such form and according to such systems and rules as
congress shall prescribe: and the only actual influence the respective
states will have respecting the militia will be in appointing the
officers. I see no provision made for calling out the _posse comitatus_
for executing the laws of the union, but provision is made for congress
to call forth the militia for the execution of them—and the militia
in general, or any select part of it, may be called out under military
officers, instead of the sheriff to enforce an execution of federal
laws, in the first instance, and thereby introduce an entire military
execution of the laws. I know that powers to raise taxes, to regulate
the military strength of the community on some uniform plan, to provide
for its defence and internal order, and for duly executing the laws,
must be lodged somewhere; but still we ought not so to lodge them, as
evidently to give one order of men in the community, undue advantages
over others; or commit the many to the mercy, prudence, and moderation
of the few. And so far as it may be necessary to lodge any of the
peculiar powers in the general government, a more safe exercise of
them ought to be secured, by requiring the consent of two-thirds or
three-fourths of congress thereto—until the federal representation can
be increased, so that the democratic members in congress may stand some
tolerable chance of a reasonable negative, in behalf of the numerous,
important, and democratic part of the community.

I am not sufficiently acquainted with the laws and internal police of
all the states to discern fully, how general bankrupt laws, made by the
union, would effect them, or promote the public good. I believe the
property of debtors, in the several states, is held responsible for
their debts in modes and forms very different. If uniform bankrupt laws
can be made without producing real and substantial inconveniences, I
wish them to be made by congress.

There are some powers proposed to be lodged in the general government
in the judicial department, I think very unnecessarily, I mean
powers respecting questions arising upon the internal laws of the
respective states. It is proper the federal judiciary should have
powers co-extensive with the federal legislature—that is, the power
of deciding finally on the laws of the union. By Art. 3, Sec. 2. the
powers of the federal judiciary are extended (among other things)
to all cases between a state and citizens of another state—between
citizens of different states—between a state or the citizens thereof,
and foreign states, citizens or subjects. Actions in all these cases,
except against a state government, are now brought and finally [26]
determined in the law courts of the states respectively and as there
are no words to exclude these courts of their jurisdiction in these
cases, they will have concurrent jurisdiction with the inferior federal
courts in them; and, therefore, if the new constitution be adopted
without any amendment in this respect, all those numerous actions,
now brought in the state courts between our citizens and foreigners,
between citizens of different states, by state governments against
foreigners, and by state governments against citizens of other states,
may also be brought in the federal courts; and an appeal will lay in
them from the state courts or federal inferior courts to the supreme
judicial court of the union. In almost all these cases, either party
may have the trial by jury in the state courts; except paper money
and tender laws, which are wisely guarded against in the proposed
constitution; justice may be obtained in these courts on reasonable
terms; they must be more competent to proper decisions on the laws of
their respective states, than the federal states can possibly be. I do
not, in any point of view, see the need of opening a new jurisdiction
in these causes—of opening a new scene of expensive law suits, of
suffering foreigners, and citizens of different states, to drag each
other many hundred miles into the federal courts. It is true, those
courts may be so organized by a wise and prudent legislature, as to
make the obtaining of justice in them tolerably easy; they may in
general be organized on the common law principles of the country: But
this benefit is by no means secured by the constitution. The trial by
jury is secured only in those few criminal cases, to which the federal
laws will extend—as crimes committed on the seas, against the laws
of nations, treason and counterfeiting the federal securities and
coin: But even in these cases, the jury trial of the vicinage is not
secured—particularly in the large states, a citizen may be tried
for a crime committed in the state, and yet tried in some states 500
miles from the place where it was committed; but the jury trial is
not secured at all in civil causes. Though the convention have not
established this trial, it is to be hoped that congress, in putting
the new system into execution, will do it by a legislative act, in
all cases in which it can be done with propriety. Whether the jury
trial is not excluded the supreme judicial court is an important
question. By Art. 3, Sec. 2, all cases affecting ambassadors, other
public ministers, and consuls, and in those cases in which a state
shall be party, the supreme court shall have jurisdiction. In all the
other cases beforementioned, the supreme court shall have appellate
jurisdiction, both as to _law and fact_, with such exception, and under
such regulations as the congress shall make. By court is understood a
court consisting of judges; and the [27] idea of a jury is excluded.
This court, or the judges, are to have jurisdiction on appeals, in all
the cases enumerated, as to law and fact; the judges are to decide the
law and try the fact, and the trial of the fact being assigned to the
judges by the constitution, a jury for trying the fact is excluded;
however, under the exceptions and powers to make regulations, congress
may, perhaps, introduce the jury, to try the fact in most necessary

There can be but one supreme court in which the final jurisdiction
will centre in all federal causes—except in cases where appeals by
law shall not be allowed: The judicial powers of the federal courts
extend in law and equity to certain cases: and, therefore, the
powers to determine on the law, in equity, and as to the fact, all
will concentrate in the supreme court:—These powers, which by this
constitution are blended in the same hands, the same judges, are in
Great-Britain deposited in different hands—to wit, the decision of
the law in the law judges, the decision in equity in the chancellor,
and the trial of the fact in the jury. It is a very dangerous thing to
vest in the same judge power to decide on the law, and also general
powers in equity; for if the law restrain him, he is only to step into
his shoes of equity, and give what judgment his reason or opinion may
dictate; we have no precedents in this country, as yet, to regulate
the divisions in equity as in Great Britain; equity, therefore, in the
supreme court for many years will be mere discretion. I confess in the
constitution of this supreme court, as left by the constitution, I do
not see a spark of freedom or a shadow of our own or the British common

This court is to have appellate jurisdiction in all the other cases
before mentioned: Many sensible men suppose that cases before mentioned
respect, as well the criminal cases as the civil ones mentioned
antecedently in the constitution, if so an appeal is allowed in
criminal cases—contrary to the usual sense of law. How far it may be
proper to admit a foreigner or the citizen of another state to bring
actions against state governments, which have failed in performing
so many, promises made during the war is doubtful: How far it may be
proper so to humble a state, as to oblige it to answer to an individual
in a court of law, is worthy of consideration; the states are now
subject to no such actions; and this new jurisdiction will subject the
states, and many defendants to actions, and processes, which were not
in the contemplation of the parties, when the contract was made; all
engagements existing between citizens of different states, citizens and
foreigners, states and foreigners; and states and citizens of other
states were made the parties contemplating the remedies then existing
on the laws of the states—— [28] and the new remedy proposed to be
given in the federal courts, can be founded on no principle whatever.

  Your’s, &c.,



  OCTOBER 12TH, 1787.


It will not be possible to establish in the federal courts the jury
trial of the vicinage so well as in the state courts.

Third, there appears to me to be not only a premature deposit of some
important powers in the general government—but many of those deposited
there are undefined, and may be used to good or bad purposes as honest
or designing men shall prevail. By Art. 1, Sec. 2, representatives and
direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states, &c.——same
art. sect. 8, the congress shall have powers to lay and collect taxes,
duties, &c. for the common defence and general welfare, but all duties,
imposts and excises, shall be uniform throughout the United States:
By the first recited clause, direct taxes shall be apportioned on the
states. This seems to favour the idea suggested by some sensible men
and writers that congress, as to direct taxes, will only have power
to make requisitions; but the latter clause, power to lay and collect
taxes, &c. seems clearly to favour the contrary opinion, and, in my
mind, the true one, the congress shall have power to tax immediately
individuals, without the intervention of the state legislatures, in
fact the first clause appears to me only to provide that each state
shall pay a certain portion of the tax, and the latter to provide that
congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, that is to assess
upon, and to collect of the individuals in the state, the states quota;
but these still I consider as undefined powers, because judicious men
understand them differently.

It is doubtful whether the vice-president is to have any
qualifications; none are mentioned; but he may serve as president,
and it may be inferred, he ought to be qualified therefore as the
president; but the qualifications of the president are required only
of the person to be elected president. By art. 2, sect. 2, “But the
congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers as
they think proper in the president alone, in the courts of law, or
in the heads of the departments.” Who are inferior officers? May not
a congress disposed to vest the appointment of all officers in the
president, [29] under this clause, vest the appointment of almost every
officer in the president alone, and destroy the check mentioned in the
first part of the clause, and lodged in the senate. It is true, this
check is badly lodged, but then some check upon the first magistrate in
appointing officers, ought it appears by the opinion of the convention,
and by the general opinion, to be established in the constitution. By
art. 3, sect. 2, the supreme court shall have appellate jurisdiction
as to law and facts with such exceptions, &c. to what extent is it
intended the exceptions shall be carried—Congress may carry them so
far as to annihilate substantially the appellate jurisdiction, and the
clause be rendered of very little importance.

4th. There are certain rights which we have always held sacred in the
United States, and recognized in all our constitutions, and which, by
the adoption of the new constitution in its present form, will be left
unsecured. By article 6, the proposed 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.

It is to be observed that when the people shall adopt the proposed
constitution it will be their last and supreme act; it will be adopted
not by the people of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, &c., but by the
people of the United States; and wherever this constitution, or any
part of it, shall be incompatible with the ancient customs, rights, the
laws or the constitutions heretofore established in the United States,
it will entirely abolish them and do them away: And not only this, but
the laws of the United States which shall be; made in pursuance of
the federal constitution will be also supreme laws, and wherever they
shall be incompatible with those customs, rights, laws or constitutions
heretofore established, they will also entirely abolish them and do
them away.

By the article before recited, treaties also made under the authority
of the United States, shall be the supreme law: It is not said that
these treaties shall be made in pursuance of the constitution—nor
are there any constitutional bounds set to those who shall make them:
The president and two-thirds of the senate will be empowered to make
treaties indefinitely, and when these treaties shall be made, they will
also abolish all laws and state constitutions incompatible with them.
This power in the president and senate is absolute, and the judges
will be bound to allow full force to whatever rule, article or thing
the president and senate shall establish by treaty, whether it be [30]
practicable to set any bounds to those who make treaties, I am not
able to say; if not, it proves that this power ought to be more safely

The federal constitution, the laws of congress made in pursuance of
the constitution, and all treaties must have full force and effect
in all parts of the United States; and all other laws, rights and
constitutions which stand in their way must yield: It is proper the
national laws should be supreme, and superior to state or district
laws; but then the national laws ought to yield to unalienable or
fundamental rights——and national laws, made by a few men, should
extend only to a few national objects. This will not be the case with
the laws of congress: To have any proper idea of their extent, we
must carefully examine the legislative, executive and judicial powers
proposed to be lodged in the general government, and consider them in
connection with a general clause in art. 1, sect. 8, in these words
(after enumerating a number of powers) “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 thereof.”——The
powers of this government as has been observed, extend to internal as
well as external objects, and to those objects to which all others are
subordinate; it is almost impossible to have a just conception of their
powers, or of the extent and number of the laws which may be deemed
necessary and proper to carry them into effect, till we shall come
to exercise those powers and make the laws. In making laws to carry
those powers into effect, it is to be expected, that a wise and prudent
congress will pay respect to the opinions of a free people, and bottom
their laws on those principles which have been considered as essential
and fundamental in the British, and in our government: But a congress
of a different character will not be bound by the constitution to pay
respect to those principles.

It is said that when people make a constitution, and delegate powers,
that all powers are not delegated by them to those who govern, is
reserved in the people; and that the people, in the present case,
have reserved in themselves, and in their state governments, every
right and power not expressly given by the federal constitution to
those who shall administer the national government. It is said, on the
other hand, that the people, when they make a constitution, yield all
power not expressly reserved to themselves. The truth is, in either
case, it is mere matter of opinion, and men usually take either side
of the argument, as will best answer their purposes: But the general
[31] presumption being, that men who govern, will in doubtful cases,
construe laws and constitutions most favourably for increasing their
own powers; all wise and prudent people, in forming constitutions,
have drawn the line, and carefully described the powers parted with
and the powers reserved. By the state constitutions, certain rights
have been reserved in the people; or rather, they have been recognized
and established in such a manner, that state legislatures are bound
to respect them, and to make no laws infringing upon them. The state
legislatures are obliged to take notice of the bills of rights of their
respective states. The bills of rights, and the state constitutions,
are fundamental compacts only between those who govern, and the people
of the same state.

In the year 1788 the people of the United States made a federal
constitution, which is a fundamental compact between them and their
federal rulers; these rulers, in the nature of things, cannot be
bound to take notice of any other compact. It would be absurd for
them, in making laws, to look over thirteen, fifteen, or twenty state
constitutions, to see what rights are established as fundamental, and
must not be infringed upon, in making laws in the society. It is true,
they would be bound to do it if the people, in their federal compact,
should refer to the state constitutions, recognize all parts not
inconsistent with the federal constitution, and direct their federal
rulers to take notice of them accordingly; but this is not the case,
as the plan stands proposed at present; and it is absurd, to suppose
so unnatural an idea is intended or implied. I think my opinion is not
only founded in reason, but I think it is supported by the report of
the convention itself. If there are a number of rights established by
the state constitutions, and which will remain sacred, and the general
government is bound to take notice of them—it must take notice of one
as well as another; and if unnecessary to recognize or establish one
by the federal constitution, it would be unnecessary to recognize or
establish another by it. If the federal constitution is to be construed
so far in connection with the state constitution, as to leave the
trial by jury in civil causes, for instance, secured; on the same
principles it would have left the trial by jury in criminal causes,
the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus, &c. secured; they all stand
on the same footing; they are the common rights of Americans, and have
been recognized by the state constitutions: But the convention found
it necessary to recognize or re-establish the benefits of that writ,
and the jury trial in criminal cases. As to _expost facto_ laws, the
convention has done the same in one case, and gone further in another.
It is a part of the com- [32] pact between the people of each state
and their rulers, that no _expost facto_ laws shall be made. But the
convention, by Art. 1, Sect. 10, have put a sanction upon this part
even of the state compacts. In fact, the 9th and 10th Sections in
Art. 1, in the proposed constitution, are no more nor less, than a
partial bill of rights; they establish certain principles as part of
the compact upon which the federal legislators and officers can never
infringe. It is here wisely stipulated, that the federal legislature
shall never pass a bill of attainder, or _expost facto_ law; that no
tax shall be laid on articles exported, &c. The establishing of one
right implies the necessity of establishing another and similar one.

On the whole, the position appears to me to be undeniable, that this
bill of rights ought to be carried farther, and some other principles
established, as a part of this fundamental compact between the people
of the United States and their federal rulers.

It is true, we are not disposed to differ much, at present, about
religion; but when we are making a constitution, it is to be hoped, for
ages and millions yet unborn, why not establish the free exercise of
religion, as a part of the national compact. There are other essential
rights, which we have justly understood to be the rights of freemen;
as freedom from hasty and unreasonable search warrants, warrants
not founded on oath, and not issued with due caution, for searching
and seizing men’s papers, property, and persons. The trials by jury
in civil causes, it is said, varies so much in the several states,
that no words could be found for the uniform establishment of it. If
so, the federal legislation will not be able to establish it by any
general laws. I confess I am of opinion it may be established, but not
in that beneficial manner in which we may enjoy it, for the reasons
beforementioned. When I speak of the jury trial of the vicinage, or
the trial of the fact in the neighborhood, I do not lay so much stress
upon the circumstance of our being tried by our neighbours: in this
enlightened country men may be probably impartially tried by those who
do not live very near them: but the trial of facts in the neighbourhood
is of great importance in other respects. Nothing can be more essential
than the cross examining witnesses, and generally before the triers of
the facts in question. The common people can establish facts with much
more ease with oral than written evidence; when trials of facts are
removed to a distance from the homes of the parties and witnesses, oral
evidence becomes intolerably expensive, and the parties must depend on
written evidence, which to the common people is expensive and almost
[33] useless; it must be frequently taken ex porte, and but very seldom
leads to the proper discovery of truth.

The trial by jury is very important in another point of view. It is
essential in every free country, that common people should have a part
and share of influence, in the judicial as well as in the legislative
department. To hold open to them the offices of senators, judges,
and offices to fill which an expensive education is required, cannot
answer any valuable purposes for them; they are not in a situation to
be brought forward and to fill those offices; these, and most other
offices of any considerable importance, will be occupied by the few.
The few, the well born, &c. as Mr. Adams calls them, in judicial
decisions as well as in legislation, are generally disposed, and very
naturally too, to favour those of their own description.

The trial by jury in the judicial department, and the collection of
the people by their representatives in the legislature, are those
fortunate inventions which have procured for them, in this country,
their true proportion of influence, and the wisest and most fit means
of protecting themselves in the community. Their situation, as jurors
and representatives, enables them to acquire information and knowledge
in the affairs and government of the society; and to come forward,
in turn, as the sentinels and guardians of each other. I am very
sorry that even a few of our countrymen should consider jurors and
representatives in a different point of view, as ignorant, troublesome
bodies, which ought not to have any share in the concerns of government.

I confess I do not see in what cases the congress can, with any
pretence of right, make a law to suppress the freedom of the press;
though I am not clear, that congress is restrained from laying any
duties whatever on printing, and from laying duties particularly heavy
on certain pieces printed, and perhaps congress may require large bonds
for the payment of these duties. Should the printer say, the freedom
of the press was secured by the constitution of the state in which he
lived, congress might, and perhaps, with great propriety, answer, that
the federal constitution is the only compact existing between them
and the people; in this compact the people have named no others, and
therefore congress, in exercising the powers assigned them, and in
making laws to carry them into execution, are restrained by nothing
beside the federal constitution, any more than a state legislature is
restrained by a compact between the magistrates and people of a county,
city, or town of which the people, in forming the state constitution,
have taken no notice.

It is not my object to enumerate rights of inconsiderable [34]
importance; but there are others, no doubt, which ought to be
established as a fundamental part of the national system.

It is worthy of observation, that all treaties are made by foreign
nations with a confederacy of thirteen states—that the western country
is attached to thirteen states—thirteen states have jointly and
severally engaged to pay the public debts.—Should a new government be
formed of nine, ten, eleven, or twelve states, those treaties could
not be considered as binding on the foreign nations who made them.
However, I believe the probability to be, that if nine states adopt the
constitution, the others will.

It may also be worthy our examination, how far the provision for
amending this plan, when it shall be adopted, is of any importance.
No measures can be taken towards amendments, unless two-thirds of the
congress, or two-thirds of the legislature of the several states shall
agree.—While power is in the hands of the people, or democratic part
of the community, more especially as at present, it is easy, according
to the general course of human affairs, for the few influential men in
the community, to obtain conventions, alterations in government, and to
persuade the common people that they may change for the better, and to
get from them a part of the power. But when power is once transferred
from the many to the few, all changes become extremely difficult; the
government, in this case, being beneficial to the few, they will be
exceedingly artful and adroit in preventing any measures which may
lead to a change; and nothing will produce it, but great exertions
and severe struggles on the part of the common people. Every man of
reflection must see, that the change now proposed, is a transfer of
power from the many to the few, and the probability is, the artful
and ever active aristocracy, will prevent all peaceful measures for
changes, unless when they shall discover some favorable moment to
increase their own influence. I am sensible, thousands of men in
the United States, are disposed to adopt the proposed constitution,
though they perceive it to be essentially defective, under an idea that
amendments of it, may be obtained when necessary. This is a pernicious
idea, it argues a servility of character totally unfit for the support
of free government; it is very repugnant to that perpetual jealousy
respecting liberty, so absolutely necessary in all free states, spoken
of by Mr. Dickinson.—However, if our countrymen are so soon changed,
and the language of 1774, is become odious to them, it will be in
vain to use the language of freedom, or to attempt to rouse them to
free enquiries: But I shall never believe this is the case with them,
whatever present appearances may be, till I shall have very strong
evidence indeed of it.

  Your’s, &c.


[35] LETTER V.

  OCTOBER 15th, 1787.


Thus I have examined the federal constitution as far as a few days
leisure would permit. It opens to my mind a new scene; instead of
seeing powers cautiously lodged in the hands of numerous legislators,
and many magistrates, we see all important powers collecting in one
centre, where a few men will possess them almost at discretion. And
instead of checks in the formation of the government, to secure the
rights of the people against the usurpations of those they appoint to
govern, we are to understand the equal division of lands among our
people, and the strong arm furnished them by nature and situation, are
to secure them against those usurpations. If there are advantages in
the equal division of our lands, and the strong and manly habits of our
people, we ought to establish governments calculated to give duration
to them, and not governments which never can work naturally, till
that equality of property, and those free and manly habits shall be
destroyed; these evidently are not the natural basis of the proposed
constitution. No man of reflection, and skilled in the science of
government, can suppose these will move on harmoniously together for
ages, or even for fifty years. As to the little circumstances commented
upon, by some writers, with applause—as the age of a representative,
of the president, &c.—they have, in my mind, no weight in the general
tendency of the system.

There are, however, in my opinion, many good things in the proposed
system. It is founded on elective principles, and the deposits of
powers in different hands, is essentially right. The guards against
those evils we have experienced in some states in legislation are
valuable indeed; but the value of every feature in this system is
vastly lessened for the want of that one important feature in a free
government, a representation of the people. Because we have sometimes
abused democracy, I am not among those men who think a democratic
branch a nuisance; which branch shall be sufficiently numerous to admit
some of the best informed men of each order in the community into the
administration of government.

While the radical defects in the proposed system are not so soon
discovered, some temptations to each state, and to many classes of
men to adopt it, are very visible. It uses the democratic language of
several of the state constitutions, particularly that of Massachusetts;
the eastern states will receive advantages so far as the regulation
of trade, by a bare majority, is committed to it: Connecticut and New
Jersey will receive their share of a [36] general impost: The middle
states will receive the advantages surrounding the seat of government;
The southern states will receive protection, and have their negroes
represented in the legislature, and large back countries will soon have
a majority in it. This system promises a large field of employment
to military gentlemen, and gentlemen of the law; and in case the
government shall be executed without convulsions, it will afford
security to creditors, to the clergy, salary-men and others depending
on money payments. So far as the system promises justice and reasonable
advantages, in these respects, it ought to be supported by all honest
men; but whenever it promises unequal and improper advantages to any
particular states, or orders of men, it ought to be opposed.

I have, in the course of these letters observed, that there are many
good things in the proposed constitution, and I have endeavored to
point out many important defects in it. I have admitted that we want a
federal system—that we have a system presented, which, with several
alterations may be made a tolerable good one—I have admitted there
is a well founded uneasiness among creditors and mercantile men. In
this situation of things, you ask me what I think ought to be done? My
opinion in this case is only the opinion of an individual, and so far
only as it corresponds with the opinions of the honest and substantial
part of the community, is it entitled to consideration. Though I am
fully satisfied that the state conventions ought most seriously to
direct their exertions to altering and amending the system proposed
before they shall adopt it—yet I have not sufficiently examined the
subject, or formed an opinion, how far it will be practicable for those
conventions to carry their amendments. As to the idea, that it will
be in vain for those conventions to attempt amendments, it cannot be
admitted; it is impossible to say whether they can or not until the
attempt shall be made; and when it shall be determined, by experience,
that the conventions cannot agree in amendments, it will then be an
important question before the people of the United States, whether they
will adopt or not the system proposed in its present form. This subject
of consolidating the states is new: and because forty or fifty men
have agreed in a system, to suppose the good sense of this country, an
enlightened nation, must adopt it without examination, and though in a
state of profound peace, without endeavouring to amend those parts they
perceive are defective, dangerous to freedom, and destructive of the
valuable principles of republican government—is truly humiliating. It
is true there may be danger in delay; but there is danger in adopting
the system in its present form; and I see the danger in either case
will arise principally from the conduct and views of [37] two very
unprincipled parties in the United States—two fires, between which
the honest and substantial people have long found themselves situated.
One party is composed of little insurgents, men in debt, who want no
law, and who want a share of the property of others; these are called
levellers, Shayites, &c. The other party is composed of a few, but
more dangerous men, with their servile dependents; these avariciously
grasp at all power and property; you may discover in all the actions of
these men, an evident dislike to free and equal government, and they
will go systematically to work to change, essentially, the forms of
government in this country; these are called aristocrats, m——ites,
&c. &c. Between these two parties is the weight of the community; the
men of middling property, men not in debt on the one hand, and men,
on the other, content with republican governments, and not aiming at
immense fortunes, offices, and power. In 1786, the little insurgents,
the levellers, came forth, invaded the rights of others, and attempted
to establish governments according to their wills. Their movements
evidently gave encouragement to the other party, which, in 1787, has
taken the political field, and with its fashionable dependants, and
the tongue and the pen, is endeavoring to establish in a great haste,
a politer kind of government. These two parties, which will probably
be opposed or united as it may suit their interests and views, are
really insignificant, compared with the solid, free, and independent
part of the community. It is not my intention to suggest, that either
of these parties, and the real friends of the proposed constitution,
are the same men. The fact is, these aristocrats support and hasten the
adoption of the proposed constitution, merely because they think it is
a stepping stone to their favorite object. I think I am well founded
in this idea; I think the general politics of these men support it,
as well as the common observation among them, that the proffered plan
is the best that can be got at present, it will do for a few years,
and lead to something better. The sensible and judicious part of the
community will carefully weigh all these circumstances; they will view
the late convention as a respectable body of men—America probably
never will see an assembly of men, of a like number, more respectable.
But the members of the convention met without knowing the sentiments
of one man in ten thousand in these states respecting the new ground
taken. Their doings are but the first attempts in the most important
scene ever opened. Though each individual in the state conventions will
not, probably, be so respectable as each individual in the federal
convention, yet as the state conventions will probably consist of
fifteen hundred or two thousand men of abilities, and versed in the
science of government, [38] collected from all parts of the community
and from all orders of men, it must be acknowledged that the weight of
respectability will be in them.—In them will be collected the solid
sense and the real political character of the country. Being revisers
of the subject, they will possess peculiar advantages. To say that
these conventions ought not to attempt, coolly and deliberately, the
revision of the system, or that they cannot amend it, is very foolish
or very assuming. If these conventions, after examining the system,
adopt it, I shall be perfectly satisfied, and wish to see men make the
administration of the government an equal blessing to all orders of
men. I believe the great body of our people to be virtuous and friendly
to good government, to the protection of liberty and property; and
it is the duty of all good men, especially of those who are placed
as sentinels to guard their rights—it is their duty to examine into
the prevailing politics of parties, and to disclose them—while they
avoid exciting undue suspicions, to lay facts before the people, which
will enable them to form a proper judgment. Men who wish the people of
this country to determine for themselves, and deliberately to fit the
government to their situation, must feel some degree of indignation at
those attempts to hurry the adoption of a system, and to shut the door
against examination. The very attempts create suspicions, that those
who make them have secret views, or see some defects in the system,
which, in the hurry of affairs, they expect will escape the eye of a
free people.

What can be the views of those gentlemen in Pennsylvania, who
precipitated decisions on this subject? What can be the views of
those gentlemen in Boston, who countenanced the Printers in shutting
up the press against a fair and free investigation of this important
system in the usual way. The members of the convention have done their
duty——why should some of them fly to their states——almost forget a
propriety of behaviour, and precipitate measures for the adoption of a
system of their own making? I confess candidly, when I consider these
circumstances in connection with the unguarded parts of the system I
have mentioned, I feel disposed to proceed with very great caution,
and to pay more attention than usual to the conduct of particular
characters. If the constitution presented be a good one, it will stand
the test with a well informed people: all are agreed that there shall
be state conventions to examine it; and we must believe it will be
adopted, unless we suppose it is a bad one, or that those conventions
will make false divisions respecting it. I admit improper measures
are taken against the adoption of the system as well for it——all
who object to the plan proposed ought to point out the defects [39]
objected to, and to propose those amendments with which they can accept
it, or to propose some other system of government, that the public
mind may be known, and that we may be brought to agree in some system
of government, to strengthen and execute the present, or to provide
a substitute. I consider the field of enquiry just opened, and that
we are to look to the state conventions for ultimate decisions on the
subject before us; it is not to be presumed, that they will differ
about small amendments, and lose a system when they shall have made
it substantially good; but touching the essential amendments, it is
to be presumed the several conventions will pursue the most rational
measures to agree in and obtain them; and such defects as they shall
discover and not remove, they will probably notice, keep them in
view as the ground work of future amendments, and in the firm and
manly language which every free people ought to use, will suggest to
those who may hereafter administer the government, that it is their
expectation, that the system will be so organized by legislative
acts, and the government so administered, as to render those defects
as little injurious as possible. Our countrymen are entitled to an
honest and faithful government; to a government of laws and not of
men; and also to one of their chusing—as a citizen of the country,
I wish to see these objects secured, and licentious, assuming, and
overbearing men restrained; if the constitution or social compact be
vague and unguarded, then we depend wholly upon the prudence, wisdom
and moderation of those who manage the affairs of government; or on
what, probably, is equally uncertain and precarious, the success of the
people oppressed by the abuse of government, in receiving it from the
hands of those who abuse it, and placing it in the hands of those who
will use it well.

In every point of view, therefore, in which I have been able, as yet,
to contemplate this subject, I can discern but one rational mode of
proceeding relative to it: and that is to examine it with freedom and
candour, to have state conventions some months hence, which shall
examine coolly every article, clause, and word in the system proposed,
and to adopt it with such amendments as they shall think fit. How
far the state conventions ought to pursue the mode prescribed by the
federal convention of adopting or rejecting the plan in toto, I leave
it to them to determine. Our examination of the subject hitherto has
been rather of a general nature. The republican characters in the
several states, who wish to make this plan more adequate to security of
liberty and property, and to the duration of the principles of a free
government, will, no doubt, collect their opinions to certain points,
and accurately define those [40] alterations and amendments they wish;
if it shall be found they essentially disagree in them, the conventions
will then be able to determine whether to adopt the plan as it is, or
what will be proper to be done.

Under these impressions, and keeping in view the improper and
unadvisable lodgment of powers in the general government, organized
as it at present is, touching internal taxes, armies and militia, the
elections of its own members, causes between citizens of different
states, &c. and the want of a more perfect bill of rights, &c. I
drop the subject for the present, and when I shall have leisure
to revise and correct my ideas respecting it, and to collect into
points the opinions of those who wish to make the system more secure
and safe, perhaps I may proceed to point out particularly for your
consideration, the amendments which ought to be ingrafted into this
system, not only in conformity to my own, but the deliberate opinions
of others—you will with me perceive, that the objections to the plan
proposed may, by a more leisure examination be set in a stronger point
of view, especially the important one, that there is no substantial
representation of the people provided for in a government in which the
most essential powers, even as to the internal police of the country,
is proposed to be lodged.

I think the honest and substantial part of the community will wish
to see this system altered, permanency and consistency given to the
constitution we shall adopt; and therefore they will be anxious
to apportion the powers to the features and organizations of the
government, and to see abuse in the exercise of power more effectually
guarded against. It is suggested, that state officers, from interested
motives will oppose the constitution presented——I see no reason for
this, their places in general will not be effected, but new openings to
offices and places of profit must evidently be made by the adoption of
the constitution in its present form.

  Your’s, &c.


  _To the_ REPUBLICAN.

The Objections of the / Hon. George Mason, / to the proposed Foederal
Constitution. / Addressed to the Citizens of Virginia. /..... / Printed
by Thomas Nicholas.

  Folio, Broadside.

  George Mason was a member of the Federal Convention, but refused to
  sign the Constitution, and was a leader of the opposition to its
  ratification in the Virginia Convention.

  “I take the liberty to enclose to you my objections to the new
  Constitution of government, which a little moderation and temper at
  the end of the convention might have removed.... You will readily
  observe, that my objections are not numerous (the greater part of the
  enclosed paper containing reasonings upon the probable effects of
  the exceptionable parts), though in my mind some of them are capital
  ones.” Mason to Washington, October 7th, 1787.

  Madison’s letter to Washington of October 18th, 1787, contains a
  cursory answer to Mason’s “Objections,” and a more elaborate one by
  James Iredell is printed in this volume.

  P. L. F.

There is no declaration of rights: and the laws of the general
government being paramount to the laws and constitutions of the several
states, the declarations of rights, in the separate states, are no
security. Nor are the people secured even in the enjoyment of the
benefit of the common law, which stands here upon no other foundation
than its having been adopted by the respective acts forming the
constitutions of the several states.

In the House of Representatives there is not the substance, but
the shadow only of representation; which can never produce proper
information in the legislature, or inspire confidence in the
people.—The laws will, therefore, be generally made by men little
concerned in, and unacquainted with their effects and consequences.(66)

The Senate have the power of altering all money-bills, and of
originating appropriations of money, and the salaries of the officers
of their appointment, in conjunction with the President of the United
States—Although they are not the representatives of the people, or
amenable to them. These, with their other great powers, (viz. their
powers in the appointment of ambassadors, and all public officers, in
making treaties, and in trying all impeachments) their influence upon,
and connection with, the supreme executive from these causes, their
duration of office, and their being a constant existing body, almost
continually sitting, joined with their being one complete branch of the
legislature, will destroy any balance in the government, and enable
them to accomplish what usurpations they please, upon the rights and
liberties of the people.

The judiciary of the United States is so constructed and extended, as
to absorb and destroy the judiciaries of the several states; thereby
rendering laws as tedious, intricate, and expensive, and justice as
unattainable by a great part of the community, as in England; and
enabling the rich to oppress and ruin the poor.

The President of the United States has no constitutional council (a
thing unknown in any safe and regular government,) he will therefore
be unsupported by proper information and advice; and will generally
be directed by minions and favorites—or he will become a tool to
the Senate—or a council of state will grow out of the principal
officers of the great departments—the worst and most dangerous of
all ingredients for such a council, in a free country; for they
may be induced to join in any dangerous or oppressive measures, to
shelter themselves, and prevent an inquiry into their own misconduct
in office. Whereas, had a constitutional council been formed (as was
proposed) of six members, viz., two from the eastern, two from the
middle, and two from the southern states, to be appointed by vote of
the states in the House of Representatives, with the same duration
and rotation of office as the Senate, the executive would always have
had safe and proper information and advice; the president of such a
council might have acted as Vice-President of the United States, _pro
tempore_, upon any vacancy or disability of the chief magistrate; and
long continued sessions of the Senate, would in a great measure have
been prevented. From this fatal defect of a constitutional council,
has arisen the improper power of the Senate, in the appointment of the
public officers, and the alarming dependence and connexion between
that branch of the legislature and the supreme executive. Hence, also,
sprung that unnecessary officer, the Vice-President, who, for want of
other employment, is made President of the Senate; thereby dangerously
blending the executive and legislative powers; besides always giving to
some one of the states an unnecessary and unjust pre-eminence over the

The President of the United States has the unrestrained power of
granting pardon for treason; which may be sometimes exercised to screen
from punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the
crime, and thereby prevent a discovery of his own guilt. By declaring
all treaties supreme laws of the land, the executive and the Senate
have, in many cases, an exclusive power of legislation, which might
have been avoided, by proper distinctions with respect to treaties, and
requiring the assent of the House of Representatives, where it could be
done with safety.

By requiring only a majority to make all commercial and navigation
laws, the five southern states (whose produce and circumstances are
totally different from those of the eight northern and eastern states)
will be ruined: for such rigid and premature regulations may be made,
as will enable the merchants of the northern and eastern states not
only to demand an exorbitant freight, but to monopolize the purchase
of the commodities, at their own price, for many years, to the great
injury of the landed interest, and the impoverishment of the people:
and the danger is the greater, as the gain on one side will be in
proportion to the loss on the other. Whereas, requiring two-thirds
of the members present in both houses, would have produced mutual
moderation, promoted the general interest, and removed an insuperable
objection to the adoption of the government.

Under their own construction of the general clause at the end of
the enumerated powers, the Congress may grant monopolies in trade
and commerce, constitute new crimes, inflict unusual and severe
punishments, and extend their power as far as they shall think proper;
so that the state legislatures have no security for the powers now
presumed to remain to them; or the people for their rights. There is no
declaration of any kind for preserving the liberty of the press, the
trial by jury in civil cases, nor against the danger of standing armies
in time of peace.

The state legislatures are restrained from laying export duties
on their own produce—the general legislature is restrained from
prohibiting the further importation of slaves for twenty odd years,
though such importations render the United States weaker, more
vulnerable, and less capable of defence. Both the general legislature,
and the state legislatures are expressly prohibited making _ex post
facto_ laws, though there never was, nor can be, a legislature, but
must and will make such laws, when necessity and the public safety
require them, which will hereafter be a breach of all the constitutions
in the union, and afford precedents for other innovations.

This government will commence in a moderate aristocracy; it is at
present impossible to foresee whether it will, in its operation,
produce a monarchy, or a corrupt oppressive aristocracy; it will most
probably vibrate some years between the two, and then terminate in the
one or the other.


[Answers to Mr. Mason’s objections to the new Constitution, recommended
by the late Convention. By Marcus. Newbern: Printed by Hodge and Wills.

  By James Iredell, member of the first North Carolina Convention.
  This argument was originally published in the _State Gazette of
  North Carolina_, and was republished in pamphlet form, together with
  pieces by Archibald Maclaine and William R. Davie. The most careful
  search has not enabled me to find the pamphlet, so I am forced to
  reprint the “answers” from McRee’s _Life of James Iredell_, a work of
  considerable rarity; and in consequence the above title is certainly
  not that of the pamphlet.

  “I have read with great pleasure your answer to Mr. Mason’s
  objections; and surely every man who read them, and on whom Mr.
  Mason’s observations, or indeed the arguments of those in opposition
  in general have had any effect, must be convinced that the objections
  to the constitution are without foundation.” _Witherspoon to Iredell,
  April 3, 1788._

  P. L. F.


“There is no declaration of rights, and the laws of the general
government being paramount to the laws and constitutions of the
several States, the declarations of rights in the separate States are
no security. Nor are the people secured even in the enjoyment of the
benefit of the common law, which stands here upon no other foundation
than its having been adopted by the respective acts forming the
Constitutions of the several States.”


1. As to the want of a declaration of rights. The introduction of
these in England, from which the idea was originally taken, was in
consequence of usurpations of the Crown, contrary, as was conceived, to
the principles of their government. But there no original constitution
is to be found, and the only meaning of a declaration of rights in
that country is, that in certain particulars specified, the Crown had
no authority to act. Could this have been necessary had there been a
constitution in being by which it could have been clearly discerned
whether the Crown had such authority or not? Had the people, by a
solemn instrument, delegated particular powers to the Crown at the
formation of their government, surely the Crown, which in that case
could claim under that instrument only, could not have contended for
more power than was conveyed by it. So it is in regard to the new
Constitution here: the future government which may be formed under that
authority certainly cannot act beyond the warrant of that authority.
As well might they attempt to impose a King upon America, as go one
step in any other respect beyond the terms of their institution. The
question then only is, whether more power will be vested in the future
government than is necessary for the general purposes of the union.
This may occasion a ground of dispute—but after expressly defining
the powers that are to be exercised, to say that they shall exercise
no other powers (either by a general or particular enumeration) would
seem to me both nugatory and ridiculous. As well might a Judge when he
condemns a man to be hanged, give strong injunctions to the Sheriff
that he should not be beheaded.(67)

2. As to the common law, it is difficult to know what is meant by that
part of the objection. So far as the people are now entitled to the
benefit of the common law, they certainly will have a right to enjoy it
under the new Constitution until altered by the general legislature,
which even in this point has some cardinal limits assigned to it.
What are most acts of Assembly but a deviation in some degree from
the principles of the common law? The people are expressly secured
(contrary to Mr. Mason’s wishes) against _ex post facto_ laws; so that
the tenure of any property at any time held under the principles of
the common law, cannot be altered by any future act of the general
legislature. The principles of the common law, as they now apply,
must surely always hereafter apply, except in those particulars in
which express authority is given by this constitution; in no other
particulars can the Congress have authority to change it, and I
believe it cannot be shown that any one power of this kind given
is unnecessarily given, or that the power would answer its proper
purpose if the legislature was restricted from any innovations on the
principles of the common law, which would not in all cases suit the
vast variety of incidents that might arise out it.


“In the House of Representatives there is not the substance, but
the shadow only of representation; which can never produce proper
information in the legislature, or inspire confidence in the people;
the laws will therefore generally be made by men little concerned in,
and unacquainted with their effects and consequences.”


This is a mere matter of calculation. It is said the weight of this
objection was in a great measure removed by altering the number of
40,000 to 30,000 constituents. To show the discontented nature of man,
some have objected to the number of representatives as being too large.
I leave to every man’s judgment whether the number is not sufficiently
respectable, and whether, if that number be sufficient, it would have
been right, in the very infancy of this government, to burthen the
people with a great additional expense to answer no good purpose.(68)


“The Senate have the power of altering all money bills, and of
originating appropriations of money, and the salaries of the officers
of their own appointment, in conjunction with the President of the
United States; although they are not the representatives of the people
or amenable to them.—These, with their other great powers (viz. their
powers in the appointment of Ambassadors, and all public officers,
in making treaties and trying all impeachments) their influence upon
and connection with the supreme Executive, from these causes, their
duration of office, and their being a constant existing body almost
continually sitting, joined with their being one complete branch of the
legislature, will destroy any balance in the government, and enable
them to accomplish what usurpations they please upon the rights and
liberties of the people.”


This objection, respecting the dangerous power of the Senate, is one
of that kind which may give rise to a great deal of gloomy prediction,
without any solid foundation: An imagination indulging itself in
chimerical fears, upon the disappointment of a favorite plan, may
point out danger arising from any system of government whatever, even
if angels were to have the administration of it; since I presume none
but the Supreme Being himself is altogether perfect, and of course
every other species of beings may abuse any delegated portion of power.
This sort of visionary scepticism therefore will lead us to this
alternative, either to have no government at all, or to form the best
system we can, making allowance for human imperfection. In my opinion
the fears as to the power of the Senate are altogether groundless, as
to any probability of their being either able or willing to do any
important mischief. My reasons are,

1. Because, though they are not immediately to represent the people,
yet they are to represent the representatives of the people who are
annually chosen, and it is therefore probable the most popular, or
confidential, persons in each State, will be elected members of the

2. Because one-third of the Senate are to be chosen as often as the
immediate representatives of the people, and as the President can act
in no case from which any great danger can be apprehended without the
concurrence of two-thirds, let us think ever so ill of the designs
of the President, and the danger of a combination of power among a
standing body generally associated with him, unless we suppose every
one of them to be base and infamous (a supposition, thank God, bad as
human nature is, not within the verge of the slightest probability),
we have reason to believe that the one-third newly introduced every
second year, will bring with them from the immediate body of the
people, a sufficient portion of patriotism and independence to check
any exorbitant designs of the rest.

3. Because in their legislative capacity they can do nothing without
the concurrence of the House of Representatives, and we need look no
farther than England for a clear proof of the amazing consequence which
representatives of the people bear in a free government. There the
King (who is hereditary, and therefore not so immediately interested,
according to narrow views of interest which commonly govern Kings, to
consult the welfare of his people) has the appointment to almost every
office in the government, many of which are of high dignity and great
pecuniary value, has the creation of as many Peers as he pleases, is
not restricted from bestowing places on the members of both houses of
Parliament, and has a direct negative on all bills, besides the power
of dissolving the Parliament at his pleasure. In theory would not any
one say this power was enormous enough to destroy any balance in the
constitution? Yet what does the history of that country tell us?—that
so great is the natural power of the House of Commons (though a very
imperfect representation of the people, and a large proportion of them
actually purchasing their seats) that ever since the revolution the
Crown has continually aimed to corrupt them by the disposal of places
and pensions; that without their hearty concurrence it found all the
wheels of government perpetually clogged; and that notwithstanding
this, in great critical emergencies, the members have broke through the
trammels of power and interest, and by speaking the sense of the people
(though so imperfectly representing them) either forced an alteration
of measures, or made it necessary for the Crown to dissolve them.
If their power, under these circumstances, is so great, what would
it be if their representation was perfect, and their members could
hold no appointments, and at the same time had a security for their
seats? The danger of a destruction of the balance would be perhaps on
the popular side, notwithstanding the hereditary tenure and weighty
prerogatives of the Crown, and the permanent station and great wealth
and consequence of the Lords. Our representatives therefore being
an adequate and fair representation of the people, and they being
expressly excluded from the possession of any places, and not holding
their existence upon any precarious tenure, must have vast influence,
and considering that in every popular government the danger of faction
is often very serious and alarming, if such a danger could not be
checked in its instant operation by some other power more independent
of the immediate passions of the people, and capable therefore of
thinking with more coolness, the government might be destroyed by a
momentary impulse of passion, which the very members who indulged it
might for ever afterwards in vain deplore. The institution of the
Senate seems well calculated to answer this salutary purpose. Excluded
as they are from places themselves, they appear to be as much above the
danger of personal temptation as men can be. They have no permanent
interest as a body to detach them from the general welfare, since six
years is the utmost period of their existence, unless their respective
legislatures are sufficiently pleased with their conduct to re-elect
them. This power of re-election is itself a great check upon abuse,
because if they have ambition to continue members of the Senate they
can only gratify this ambition by acting agreeably to the opinion
of their constituents. The House of Representatives, as immediately
representing the people, are to _originate_ all money bills. This I
think extremely right, and it is certainly a very capital acquisition
to the popular representative. But what harm can arise from the Senate,
who are nearly a popular representative also, proposing amendments,
when those amendments must be concurred with by the original proposers?
The wisdom of the Senate may sometimes point out amendments, the
propriety of which the other House may be very sensible of, though
they had not occurred to themselves. There is no great danger of
any body of men suffering by too eager an adoption of any amendment
proposed to any system of their own. The probability is stronger of
their being too tenacious of their original opinion, however erroneous,
than of their profiting by the wise information of any other persons
whatever. Human nature is so constituted, and therefore I think we
may safely confide in the free admission of an intercourse of opinion
on the detail of business, as well as to taxation as to other points.
Our House of Representatives surely could not have such reason to
dread the power of a Senate circumstanced as ours must be, as the
House of Commons in England the permanent authority of the Peers, and
therefore a jealousy, which may be well grounded in the one case would
be entirely ill-directed in the other. For similar reasons I dread
not any power of originating appropriations of money as mentioned in
the objection. While the concurrence of the other House must be had,
and as that must necessarily be the most weighty in the government, I
think no danger is to be apprehended. The Senate has no such authority
as to awe or influence the House of Representatives, and it will be
as necessary for the one as for the other that proper active measures
should be pursued: And in regard to appropriations of money, occasions
for such appropriations may, on account of their concurrence with the
executive power, occur to the Senate, which would not to the House
of Representatives, and therefore if the Senate were precluded from
laying any such proposals before the House of Representatives, the
government might be embarrassed; and it ought ever to be remembered,
that in our views of distant and chimerical dangers we ought not to
hazard our very existence as a people, by proposing such restrictions
as may prevent the exertion of any necessary power. The power of
the Senate in the appointment of Ambassadors, &c., is designed as a
check upon the President. They must be appointed in some manner. If
the appointment was by the President alone, or by the President and
a _Privy_ Council (Mr. Mason’s favorite plan), an objection to such
a system would have appeared much more plausible. It would have been
said that this was approaching too much towards monarchical power,
and if this new Privy Council had been like all I have ever heard of,
it would have afforded little security against an abuse of power in
the President. It ought to be shown by reason and probability (not
bold assertion) how this concurrence of power with the President can
make the Senate so dangerous. It is as good an argument to say that
it will not as that it will.(69) The power of making treaties is
so important that it would have been highly dangerous to vest it in
the Executive alone, and would have been the subject of much greater
clamor. From the nature of the thing, it could not be vested in the
popular representative. It must therefore have been provided for with
the Senate’s concurrence, or the concurrence of a Privy Council (a
thing which I believe nobody has been mad enough to propose), or the
power, the greatest monarchical power that can be exercised, must have
been vested in a manner that would have excited universal indignation
in the President alone.—As to the power of trying impeachments:—Let
Mr. Mason show where this power could more properly have been placed.
It is a necessary power in every free government, since even the Judges
of the Supreme Court of Judicature themselves may require a trial, and
other public officers might have too much influence before an ordinary
and common court. And what probability is there that such a court,
acting in so solemn a manner, should abuse its power (especially as it
is wisely provided that the sentences shall extend only to removal from
office and incapacitation) more than any other court? The argument as
to the possible abuse of power, as I have before suggested, will reach
all delegation of power, since all power may be abused when fallible
beings are to execute it; but we must take as much caution as we can,
being careful at the same time not to be too wise to do any thing
at all.—The bold assertions at the end of this objection are mere
declamation, and till some reason is assigned for them, I shall take
the liberty to rely upon the reasons I have stated above, as affording
a belief that the popular representative must for ever be the most
weighty in this government, and of course that apprehensions of danger
from such a Senate are altogether ill-founded.


“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
enabling the rich to oppress and ruin the poor.”


Mr. Mason has here asserted, “That the judiciary of the United
States is so constructed and extended, as to absorb and destroy the
judiciaries of the several States.” How is this the case? Are not
the State judiciaries left uncontrolled as to the affairs of that
_State_ only? In this, as in all other cases, where there is a wise
distribution, power is commensurate to its object. With the mere
internal concerns of a State, Congress are to have nothing to do: In
no case but where the Union is in some measure concerned, are the
federal courts to have any jurisdiction. The State Judiciary will be a
satellite waiting upon its proper planet: That of the Union, like the
sun, cherishing and preserving a whole planetary system.

In regard to a possible ill construction of this authority, we must
depend upon our future legislature in this case as well as others, in
respect to which it is impracticable to define every thing, that it
will be provided for so as to occasion as little expense and distress
to individuals as can be. _In parting with the coercive authority
over the States as States, there must be a coercion allowed as to
individuals. The former power no man of common sense can any longer
seriously contend for; the latter is the only alternative._ Suppose
an objection should be made that the future legislature should not
ascertain salaries, because they might divide among themselves and
their officers all the revenue of the Union.(70) Will not every man see
how irrational it is to expect that any government can exist which is
to be fettered in its most necessary operations for fear of abuse?


“The President of the United States has no constitutional Council (a
thing unknown in any safe and regular government), he will therefore
be unsupported by proper information and advice, and will generally
be directed by minions and favorites—or he will become a tool to
the Senate—or a Council of State will grow out of the principal
officers of the great departments; the worst and most dangerous of
all ingredients for such a Council in a free country, for they may be
induced to join in any dangerous or oppressive measures, to shelter
themselves, and prevent an inquiry into their own misconduct in office:
Whereas, had a constitutional Council been formed (as was proposed)
of six members, viz., two from the eastern, two from the middle, and
two from the southern States, to be appointed by a vote of the States
in the House of Representatives, with the same duration and rotation
of office as the Senate, the Executive would always have had safe and
proper information and advice: The President of such a Council might
have acted as Vice-President of the United States, _pro tempore_, upon
any vacancy or disability of the Chief Magistrate, and long-continued
sessions of the Senate would in a great measure have been prevented.
From this fatal defect of a constitutional Council has arisen the
improper power of the Senate, in the appointment of public officers,
and the alarming dependence and connection between that branch of
the legislature and the Supreme Executive. Hence also sprung that
unnecessary and dangerous officer, the Vice-President, who for want of
other employment, is made President of the Senate; thereby dangerously
blending the Executive and Legislative powers; besides always giving to
some one of the States an unnecessary and unjust pre-eminence over the


Mr. Mason here reprobates the omission of a particular Council for
the President, as a thing contrary to the example of all safe and
regular governments. Perhaps there are very few governments now in
being deserving of that character, if under the idea of safety he means
to include safety for a proper share of personal freedom, without
which their safety and regularity in other respects would be of little
consequence to a people so justly jealous of liberty as I hope the
people in America ever will be. Since however Mr. Mason refers us to
such authority, I think I cannot do better than to select for the
subject of our inquiry in this particular, a government which must
be universally acknowledged to be the most safe and regular of any
considerable government now in being (though I hope America will soon
be able to dispute that pre-eminence). Every body must know I speak
of Great Britain, and in this I think I give Mr. Mason all possible
advantage, since in my opinion it is most probable he had Great
Britain principally in his eye when he made this remark, and in the
very height of our quarrel with that country, so wedded were our ideas
to the institution of a Council, that the practice was generally if
not universally followed at the formation of our governments, though
we instituted Councils of a quite different nature, and so far as
the little experience of the writer goes, have very little benefited
by it. My inquiry into this subject shall not be confined to the
actual present practice of Great Britain; I shall take the liberty
to state the Constitutional ideas of Councils in England, as derived
from their ancient law subsisting long before the Union, not omitting
however to show what the present practice really is. By the laws of
England(71) the King is said to have four Councils,—1, The High Court
of Parliament; 2, The Peers of the realm; 3, His Judges; 4, His Privy
Council. By the first, I presume is meant, in regard to the making
of laws; because the usual introductory expressions in most acts
of Parliament, viz., “By the King’s most excellent Majesty, by and
with the advice and consent of the Lords spiritual and temporal, and
Commons,” &c., show that in a constitutional sense, they are deemed the
King’s laws, after a ratification in Parliament. The Peers of the realm
are by their birth hereditary Counsellors of the Crown, and may be
called upon for their advice, either in time of Parliament, or when
no Parliament is in being: They are called in some law books _Magnum
Concilium Regis_ (the King’s Great Council). It is also considered the
privilege of every particular Peer to demand an audience of the King,
and to lay before him anything he may deem of public importance. The
Judges, I presume, are called “Council of the King,” upon the same
principle as the Parliament is, because the administration of justice
is in his name, and the Judges are considered as his instruments in
the distribution of it. We come now to the Privy Council, which I
imagine, if Mr. Mason had any particular view towards England when
he made this objection, was the one he intended as an example of a
_Constitutional Council_ in that kingdom. The Privy Council in that
country is undoubtedly of very ancient institution, but it has one
fixed property invariably annexed to it, that it is a mere creature
of the Crown, dependent on its will both for number and duration,
since the King may, whenever he thinks proper, discharge any member,
or the whole of it, and appoint another.(72) If this precedent is of
moment to us, merely as a precedent, it should be followed in all its
parts, and then what would there be in the regulation to prevent the
President being governed by “minions and favorites?” It would only be
the means of riveting them on constitutional ground. So far as the
precedents in England apply, the Peers being constitutionally the
_Great Council_ of the King, though also a part of the legislature, we
have reason to hope that there is by no means such a gross impropriety
as has been suggested in giving the Senate, though a branch of the
legislature, a strong control over the Executive. The only difference
in the two cases is, that the Crown in England may or may not give
this consequence to the Peers at its own pleasure, and accordingly
we find that for a long time past this great Council has been very
seldom consulted; under our constitution the President is allowed no
option in respect to certain points wherein he cannot act without the
Senate’s concurrence. But we cannot infer from any example in England,
that a concurrence between the Executive and a part of the legislative
is contrary to the maxims of their government, since their government
allows of such a concurrence whenever the Executive pleases. The rule,
therefore, from the example of the freest government in Europe, that
the Legislative and Executive powers must be altogether distinct,
is liable to exceptions; it does not mean that the Executive shall
not form a part of the Legislative (for the King, who has the whole
Executive authority, is one entire branch of the legislature, and
this Montesquieu, who recognizes the general principle, declares is
necessary); neither can it mean (as the example above evinces) that the
Crown must consult neither House as to any exercise of the Executive
power. But its meaning must be, that one power shall not include _both
authorities_. The King, for instance, shall not have the sole Executive
and sole Legislative authority also. He may have the former, but must
participate the latter with the two Houses of Parliament. The rule
also would be infringed were the three branches of the legislature
to share jointly the Executive power. But so long as the people’s
representatives are altogether distinct from the Executive authority,
the liberties of the people may be deemed secure. And in this point
surely, there can be no manner of comparison between the provisions by
which the independence of our House of Representatives is guarded, and
the condition in which the British House of Commons is left exposed to
every species of corruption. But Mr. Mason says, for want of a Council,
the President may become “a tool of the Senate.” Why? Because he cannot
act without their concurrence. Would not the same reason hold for
his being “a tool to the Council,” if he could not act without their
concurrence, supposing a Council was to be imposed upon him without his
own nomination (according to Mr. Mason’s plan)? As great care is taken
to make him independent of the Senate as I believe human precaution
can provide. Whether the President will be a tool to any persons will
depend upon the man, and the same weakness of mind which would make
him pliable to one body of control, would certainly attend him with
another. But Mr. Mason objects, if he is not directed by minions and
favorites, nor becomes a tool of the Senate, “a Council of State will
grow out of the principal officers of the great departments; the worst
and most dangerous of all ingredients for such a Council in a free
country; for they may be induced to join in any dangerous or oppressive
measures, to shelter themselves, and prevent an inquiry into their
own misconduct in office.” I beg leave to carry him again to my old
authority, England, and ask him, what efficient Council they have there
but one formed of their great officers. Notwithstanding their important
_Constitutional Council_, everybody knows that the whole movements of
their Government, where a Council is consulted at all, are directed by
their _Cabinet Council_, composed entirely of the principal officers
of the great departments; that when a Privy Council is called, it is
scarcely ever for any other purpose than to give a formal sanction
to the previous determinations of the other, so much so that it is
notorious that not one time in a thousand one member of the Privy
Council, except a known adherent of administration, is summoned to it.
But though the President under our constitution may have the aid of
the “principal officers of the great departments,” he is to have this
aid, I think, in the most unexceptionable manner possible. He is not
to be assisted by a Council summoned to a jovial dinner perhaps, and
giving their opinions according to the nod of the President; but the
opinion is to be given with the utmost solemnity _in writing_. No after
equivocation can explain it away. It must for ever afterwards speak
for itself, and commit the character of the writer, in lasting colors,
either of fame or infamy, or neutral insignificance, to future ages, as
well as the present. From those _written reasons_, weighed with care,
surely the President can form as good a judgment, as if they had been
given by a dozen formal characters, carelessly met together on a slight
appointment; and this further advantage would be derived from the
proposed system (which would be wanting if he had constitutional advice
to screen him), that the President must be _personally responsible_
for everything—for though an ingenious gentleman has proposed, that
a Council should be responsible for _their opinions_, and the same
sentiment of justice might be applied to these opinions of the great
officers, I am persuaded it will in general be thought infinitely more
_safe_, as well as more _just_, that the President who _acts_ should
be responsible for his _conduct_, following advice at his peril, than
that there should be a danger of punishing any man for an erroneous
opinion which might possibly be sincere. Besides the morality of this
scheme, which may well be questioned, its inexpediency is glaring,
since it would be so plausible an excuse and the insincerity of it
so difficult to detect, the hopes of impunity this avenue to escape
would afford would nearly take away all dread of punishment. As to the
temptation mentioned to the officers joining in dangerous or oppressive
measures to shelter themselves, and prevent an inquiry into their
own misconduct in office, this proceeds upon a supposition that the
President and the great officers may form a very wicked combination
to injure their country, a combination that in the first place it
is utterly improbable, in a strong respectable government should be
formed for that purpose, and in the next, with such a government as
this constitution would give us, could have little chance of being
successful, on account of the great superior strength and natural and
jealous vigilance of one at least, if not both the weighty branches
of legislation. This evil, however, of the possible depravity of _all
public officers_, is one that can admit of no cure, since in every
institution of government the same danger in some degree or other must
be risked; it can only be guarded against by strong checks, and I
believe it be difficult for the objectors to our new Constitution to
provide stronger ones against any abuse of the Executive authority than
will exist in that. As to the Vice President, it appears to me very
proper he should be chosen much in the same manner as the President,
in order that the States may be secure, upon any accidental loss by
death or otherwise of the President’s service, of the services in the
same important station of the man in whom they repose their second
confidence. The complicated manner of election wisely prescribed would
necessarily occasion a considerable delay in the choice of another,
and in the mean time the President of the Council, though very fit for
the purpose of advising, might be very ill qualified, especially in a
critical period, for an active Executive department. I am concerned
to see, among Mr. Mason’s other reasons, so trivial a one as the
little advantage one State might accidentally gain by a Vice President
of their country having a seat, with merely a casting vote, in the
Senate. Such a reason is utterly unworthy of that spirit of amity, and
rejection of local views, which can alone save us from destruction.
It was the glory of the late Convention, that by discarding such they
formed a general government upon principles that did as much honor to
their hearts as to their understandings. God grant, that in all our
deliberations, we may consider America as _one_ body, and not divert
our attention from so able a prospect to small considerations of
partial jealousy and distrust. It is in vain to expect upon any system
to secure an exact equilibrium of power for all the States. Some will
occasionally have an advantage from the superior abilities of its
members; the field of emulation is however open to all. Suppose any
one should now object to the superior influence of Virginia (and the
writer of this is not a citizen of that State), on account of the high
character of General Washington, confessedly the greatest man of the
present age, and perhaps equal to any that has existed in any period of
time; would this be a reason for refusing a union with her, though the
other States can scarcely hope for the consolation of ever producing
his equal?


“The President of the United States has the unrestrained power of
granting pardons for treason; which may be sometimes exercised to
screen from punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit
the crime, and thereby prevent a discovery of his own guilt.”


Nobody can contend upon any rational principles, that a power of
pardoning should not exist somewhere in every government, because it
will often happen in every country that men are obnoxious to a lawful
conviction, who yet are entitled, from some favorable circumstances in
their case, to a merciful interposition in their favor. The advocates
of monarchy have accordingly boasted of this, as one of the advantages
of that form of government, in preference to a republican; nevertheless
this authority is vested in the Stadtholder in Holland, and I believe
is vested in every Executive power in America. It seems to have been
wisely the aim of the late Convention, in forming a general government
for America, to combine the acknowledged advantages of the British
constitution with proper republican checks to guard as much as possible
against abuses, and it would have been very strange if they had omitted
this, which has the sanction of such great antiquity in that country,
and if I am not mistaken, a universal adoption in America.(73) Those
gentlemen who object to other parts of the constitution as introducing
innovations, contrary to long experience, with a very ill grace attempt
to reject an experience so unexceptionable as this, to introduce an
innovation (perhaps the first ever suggested) of their own. When a
power is acknowledged to be necessary, it is a very dangerous thing
to prescribe limits to it, for men must have a greater confidence in
their own wisdom than I think any men are entitled to, who imagine
they can form such exact ideas of all possible contingencies as to
be sure that the restriction they propose will not do more harm than
good. The probability of the President of the United States committing
an act of treason against his country is very slight; he is so well
guarded by the other powers of government, and the natural strength
of the people at large must be so weighty, that in my opinion it is
the most chimerical apprehension that can be entertained. Such a
thing is however possible, and accordingly he is not exempt from a
trial, if he should be guilty or supposed guilty, of that or any other
offence. I entirely lay out of the consideration of the probability of
a man honored in such a manner by his country, risking like General
Arnold, the damnation of his fame to all future ages, though it is a
circumstance of some weight in considering whether for the sake of such
a remote and improbable danger as this, it would be prudent to abridge
this power of pardoning in a manner altogether unexampled, and which
might produce mischiefs the full extent of which it is not perhaps
easy at present to foresee. In estimating the value of any power it is
possible to bestow we have to choose between inconveniences of some
sort or other, since no institution of man can be entirely free from
all. Let us now therefore consider some of the actual inconveniences
which would attend an abridgment of the power of the President in this
respect. One of the great advantages attending a single Executive power
is the degree of secrecy and dispatch with which on critical occasions
such a power can act. In war this advantage will often counterbalance
the want of many others. Now suppose, in the very midst of a war of
extreme consequence to our safety or prosperity, the President could
prevail on a gentleman of abilities to go into the enemy’s country,
to serve in the useful, but dishonorable character of a spy. Such are
certainly maintained by all vigilant governments, and in proportion
to the ignominy of the character, and the danger sustained in the
enemy’s country, ought to be his protection and security in his own.
This man renders very useful services; perhaps by timely information,
prevents the destruction of his country. Nobody knows of these secret
services but the President himself; his adherence however to the enemy
is notorious: he is afterwards intercepted in endeavoring to return to
his own country, and having been perhaps a man of distinction before,
he is proportionably obnoxious to his country at large for his supposed
treason. Would it not be monstrous that the President should not have
it in his power to pardon this man? or that it should depend upon mere
solicitation and favor, and perhaps, though the President should state
the fact as it really was, some zealous partisan, with his jealousy
constantly fixed upon the President, might insinuate that in fact the
President and he were secret traitors together, and thus obtain a
rejection of the President’s application. It is a consideration also
of some moment, that there is scarcely any accusation more apt to
excite popular prejudice than the charge of treason. There is perhaps
no country in the world where justice is in general more impartially
administered than in England, yet let any man read some of the trials
for treason in that country even since the revolution; he will see
sometimes a fury influencing the judges, as well as the jury, that is
extremely disgraceful. There may happen a case in our country where
a man in reality innocent, but with strong plausible circumstances
against him, would be so obnoxious to popular resentment, that he might
be convicted upon very slight and insufficient proof. In such a case
it would certainly be very proper for a cool temperate man of high
authority, and who might be supposed uninfluenced by private motives,
to interfere and prevent the popular current proving an innocent man’s
ruin. I know men who write with a view to flatter the people, and
not to give them honest information, may misrepresent this account
as an invidious imputation on the usual impartiality of juries. God
knows no man more highly reverences that blessed institution than I
do; I consider them the natural safeguard of the personal liberties
of a free people, and I believe they would much seldomer err in the
administration of justice than any other tribunal whatever. But no man
of experience and candor will deny the probability of such a case
as I have supposed sometimes, though rarely, happening; and whenever
it did happen, surely so safe a remedy as a prerogative of mercy in
the Chief Magistrate of a great country ought to be at hand. There
is little danger of an abuse of such a power, when we know how apt
most men are in a republican government to court popularity at too
great an expense, rather than do a just and beneficient action in
opposition to strong prevailing prejudices among the people. But says
Mr. Mason, “The President may sometimes exercise this power to screen
from punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the
crime, and thereby prevent a discovery of his own guilt.” This is
possible, but the probability of it is surely too slight to endanger
the consequences of abridging a power which seems so generally to have
been deemed necessary in every well regulated government. It may also
be questioned, whether supposing such a participation of guilt, the
President would not expose himself to greater danger by pardoning,
than by suffering the law to have its course. Was it not supposed, by
a great number of intelligent men, that Admiral Byng’s execution was
urged on to satisfy a discontented populace, when the administration,
by the weakness of the force he was entrusted with, were perhaps the
real cause of the miscarriage before Minorca? Had he been acquitted, or
pardoned, he could have perhaps exposed the real fault: as a prisoner
under so heavy a charge his recrimination would have been discredited,
as merely the effort of a man in despair to save himself from an
ignominious punishment. If a President should pardon an accomplice,
that accomplice then would be an unexceptionable witness. Before,
he would be a witness with a rope about his own neck, struggling to
get clear of it at all events. Would any men of understanding, or at
least ought they to credit an accusation from a person under such


“By declaring all treaties the supreme law of the land, the Executive
and the Senate have, in many cases an exclusive power of legislation;
which might have been avoided by proper distinctions with respect to
treaties, and requiring the assent of the House of Representatives,
where it could be done with safety.”


Did not Congress very lately unanimously resolve, in adopting the very
sensible letter of Mr. Jay, that a treaty when once made pursuant to
the sovereign authority, _ex vi termini_ became immediately the law of
the land? It seems to result unavoidably from the nature of the thing,
that when the constitutional right to make treaties is exercised, the
treaty so made should be binding upon those who delegated authority
for that purpose. If it was not, what foreign power would trust us?
And if this right was restricted by any such fine checks as Mr. Mason
has in his imagination, but has not thought proper to disclose, a
critical occasion might arise, when for want of a little rational
confidence in our own government we might be obliged to submit to a
master in an enemy. Mr. Mason wishes the House of Representatives to
have some share in this business, but he is immediately sensible of
the impropriety of it, and adds “where it can be done with safety.”
And how is it to be known whether it can be done with safety or not,
but during the pendency of a negotiation? Must not the President and
Senate judge whether it can be done with safety or not? If they are of
opinion it is unsafe, and the House of Representatives of course not
consulted, what becomes of this boasted check, since, if it amounts
to no more than that the President and Senate may consult the House
of Representatives if they please, they may do this as well without
such a provision as with it. Nothing would be more easy than to assign
plausible reasons, after the negotiation was over, to show that a
communication was unsafe, and therefore surely a precaution that could
be so easily eluded, if it was not impolitic to the greatest degree,
must be thought trifling indeed. It is also to be observed, that this
authority, so obnoxious in the new Constitution (which is unfortunate
in having little power to please some persons, either as containing
new things or old), is vested indefinitely and without restriction in
our present Congress, who are a body constituted in the same manner as
the Senate is to be, but there is this material difference in the two
cases, that we shall have an additional check, under the new system of
a President of high personal character chosen by the immediate body of
the people.


“Under their own construction of the general clause at the end of the
enumerated powers, the Congress may grant monopolies in trade and
commerce, constitute new crimes, inflict unusual and severe punishment,
and extend their power as far as they shall think proper; so that the
State Legislatures have no security for the powers now presumed to
remain to them: or the people for their rights. There is no declaration
of any kind for preserving the liberty of the press, the trial by jury
in civil causes, nor against the danger of standing armies in time of


The general clause at the end of the enumerated power is as follows:—

“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 United States, or in any department or office

Those powers would be useless, except acts of legislation could be
exercised upon them. It was not possible for the Convention, nor is it
for any human body, to foresee and provide for all contingent cases
that may arise. Such cases must therefore be left to be provided for by
the general Legislature as they shall happen to come into existence.
If Congress, under pretence of exercising the power delegated to them,
should in fact, by the exercise of any other power, usurp upon the
rights of the different Legislatures, or of any private citizens, the
people will be exactly in the same situation as if there had been an
express provision against such power in particular, and yet they had
presumed to exercise it. It would be an act of tyranny, against which
no parchment stipulations can guard; and the Convention surely can be
only answerable for the propriety of the powers given, not for the
future virtues of all with whom those powers may be intrusted. It does
not therefore appear to me that there is any weight in this objection
more than in others. But that I may give it every fair advantage, I
will take notice of every particular injurious act of power which Mr.
Mason points out as exercisable by the authority of Congress under this
general clause.

The first mentioned is, “That the Congress may grant monopolies
in trade and commerce.” Upon examining the constitution I find it
expressly provided, “That no preference shall be given to the ports
of one State over those of another;” and that “citizens of each State
shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the
several States.” These provisions appear to me to be calculated for the
very purpose Mr. Mason wishes to secure. Can they be consistent with
any monopoly in trade and commerce?(75) I apprehend therefore, under
this expression must be intended more than is expressed, and if I may
conjecture from another publication of a gentleman of the same State
and in the same party of opposition, I should suppose it arose from a
jealousy of the eastern States very well known to be often expressed by
some gentlemen of Virginia. They fear, that a majority of the States
may establish regulations of commerce which will give great advantage
to the carrying trade of America, and be a means of encouraging New
England vessels rather than Old England. Be it so. No regulations can
give such advantage to New England vessels, which will not be enjoyed
by all other American vessels, and many States can build as well as
New England, though not at present perhaps in equal proportion.(76) And
what could conduce more to the preservation of the Union than allowing
to every kind of industry in America a peculiar preference! Each State
exerting itself in its own way, but the exertions of all contributing
to the common security, and increasing the rising greatness of our
country! Is it not the aim of every wise country to be as much the
carriers of their own produce as they can be? And would not this be
the means in our own of producing a new source of activity among the
people, giving to our fellow-citizens what otherwise must be given to
strangers, and laying the foundation of an independent trade among
ourselves, and of gradually raising a navy in America which, however
distant the prospect, ought certainly not to be out of our sight.
There is no great probability however that our country is likely soon
to enjoy so glorious an advantage. We must have treaties of commerce,
because without them we cannot trade to other countries. We already
have such with some nations; we have none with Great Britain, which can
be imputed to no other cause but our not having a strong respectable
government to bring that haughty nation to terms. And surely no man,
who feels for the honor of his country, but must view our present
degrading commerce with that country with the highest indignation,
and the most ardent wish to extricate ourselves from so disgraceful a
situation. This only can be done by a powerful government which can
dictate conditions of advantage to ourselves, as an equivalent for
advantages to them; and this could undoubtedly be easily done by such
a government, without diminishing the value of any articles of our own
produce; or if there was any diminution it would be too slight to be
felt by any patriot in competition with the honor and interest of his

As to the constituting of new crimes, and inflicting unusual and severe
punishment, certainly the cases enumerated wherein the Congress are
empowered either to define offences, or prescribe punishments, are
such as are proper for the exercise of such authority in the general
Legislature of the Union. They only relate to “counterfeiting the
securities and current coin of the United States,” to “piracies and
felonies committed on the high seas, and offences against the law
of nations,” and to “treason against the United States.” These are
offences immediately affecting the security, the honor or the interest
of the United States at large, and of course must come within the
sphere of the Legislative authority which is intrusted with their
protection. Beyond these authorities, Congress can exercise no other
power of this kind, except in the enacting of penalties to enforce
their acts of legislation in the cases where express authority is
delegated to them, and if they could not enforce such acts by the
enacting of penalties those powers would be altogether useless, since
a legislative regulation without some sanction would be an absurd
thing indeed. The Congress having, for these reasons, a just right to
authority in the above particulars, the question is, whether it is
practicable and proper to prescribe limits to its exercise, for fear
that they should inflict punishments unusual and severe. It may be
observed, in the first place, that a declaration against “cruel and
unusual punishments” formed part of an article in the Bill of Rights at
the revolution in England in 1688. The prerogative of the Crown having
been grossly abused in some preceding reigns, it was thought proper to
notice every grievance they had endured, and those declarations went
to an abuse of power in the Crown only, but were never intended to
limit the authority of Parliament. Many of these articles of the Bill
of Rights in England, without a due attention to the difference of the
cases, were eagerly adopted when our constitutions were formed, the
minds of men then being so warmed with their exertions in the cause
of liberty as to lean too much perhaps towards a jealousy of power
to repose a proper confidence in their own government. From these
articles in the State constitutions many things were attempted to be
transplanted into our new Constitution, which would either have been
nugatory or improper. This is one of them. The expressions “unusual
and severe” or “cruel and unusual” surely would have been too vague to
have been of any consequence, since they admit of no clear and precise
signification. If to guard against punishments being too severe, the
Convention had enumerated a vast variety of cruel punishments, and
prohibited the use of any of them, let the number have been ever so
great, an inexhaustible fund must have been unmentioned, and if our
government had been disposed to be cruel their invention would only
have been put to a little more trouble. If to avoid this difficulty,
they had determined, not negatively what punishments should not be
exercised, but positively what punishments should, this must have led
them into a labyrinth of detail which in the original constitution of
a government would have appeared perfectly ridiculous, and not left a
room for such changes, according to circumstances, as must be in the
power of every Legislature that is rationally formed. Thus when we
enter into particulars, we must be convinced that the proposition of
such a restriction would have led to nothing useful, or to something
dangerous, and therefore that its omission is not chargeable as a fault
in the new Constitution. Let us also remember, that as those who are to
make those laws must themselves be subject to them, their own interest
and feelings will dictate to them not to make them unnecessarily
severe; and that in the case of treason, which usually in every country
exposes men most to the avarice and rapacity of government, care is
taken that the innocent family of the offender shall not suffer for
the treason of their relation. This is the crime with respect to which
a jealousy is of the most importance, and accordingly it is defined
with great plainness and accuracy, and the temptations to abusive
prosecutions guarded against as much as possible. I now proceed to the
three great cases: The liberty of the press, the trial by jury in civil
cases, and a standing army in time of peace.

The liberty of the press is always a grand topic for declamation,
but the future Congress will have no other authority over this than
to secure to authors for a limited time an exclusive privilege of
publishing their works.—This authority has been long exercised in
England, where the press is as free as among ourselves or in any
country in the world; and surely such an encouragement to genius is
no restraint on the liberty of the press, since men are allowed to
publish what they please of their own, and so far as this may be deemed
a restraint upon others it is certainly a reasonable one, and can be
attended with no danger of copies not being sufficiently multiplied,
because the interest of the proprietor will always induce him to
publish a quantity fully equal to the demand. Besides, that such
encouragement may give birth to many excellent writings which would
otherwise have never appeared.(77) If the Congress should exercise
any other power over the press than this, they will do it without any
warrant from this constitution, and must answer for it as for any other
act of tyranny.

In respect to the trial by jury in civil cases, it must be observed
it is a mistake to suppose that such a trial takes place in all civil
cases now. Even in the common law courts, such a trial is only had
where facts are disputed between the parties, and there are even some
facts triable by other methods. In the Chancery and Admiralty Courts,
in many of the States, I am told they have no juries at all. The States
in these particulars differ very much in their practice from each
other. A general declaration therefore to preserve the trial by jury
in all civil cases would only have produced confusion, so that the
courts afterwards in a thousand instances would not have known how to
have proceeded.—If they had added, “as heretofore accustomed,” that
would not have answered the purpose, because there has been no uniform
custom about it.—If therefore the Convention had interfered, it must
have been by entering into a detail highly unsuitable to a fundamental
constitution of government; if they had pleased some States they must
have displeased others by innovating upon the modes of administering
justice perhaps endeared to them by habit, and agreeable to their
settled conviction of propriety. As this was the case it appears
to me it was infinitely better, rather than endanger everything by
attempting too much, to leave this complicated business of detail to
the regulation of the future Legislature, where it can be adjusted
coolly and at ease, and upon full and exact information. There is no
danger of the trial by jury being rejected, when so justly a favorite
of the whole people. The representatives of the people surely can have
no interest in making themselves odious, for the mere pleasure of being
hated, and when a member of the House of Representatives is only sure
of being so for two years, but must continue a citizen all his life,
his interest as a citizen, if he is a man of common sense, to say
nothing of his being a man of common honesty, must ever be uppermost in
his mind. We know the great influence of the monarchy in the British
government, and upon what a different tenure the Commons there have
their seats in Parliament from that prescribed to our representatives.
We know also they have a large standing army. It is in the power of
the Parliament, if they dare to exercise it, to abolish the trial by
jury altogether. But woe be to the man who should dare to attempt it.
It would undoubtedly produce an insurrection, that would hurl every
tyrant to the ground who attempted to destroy that great and just
favorite of the English nation. We certainly shall be always sure of
this guard at least upon any such act of folly or insanity in our
representatives. They soon would be taught the consequence of sporting
with the feelings of a free people. But when it is evident that such
an attempt cannot be rationally apprehended, we have no reason to
anticipate unpleasant emotions of that nature. There is indeed little
probability that any degree of tyranny which can be figured to the most
discolored imagination as likely to arise out of our government, could
find an interest in attacking the trial by jury in civil cases;—and in
criminal ones, where no such difficulties intervene as in the other,
and where there might be supposed temptations to violate the personal
security of a citizen, it is sacredly preserved.

The subject of a standing army has been exhausted in so masterly a
manner in two or three numbers of the Federalist (a work which I hope
will soon be in every body’s hands) that but for the sake of regularity
in answering Mr. Mason’s objections, I should not venture upon the
same topic, and shall only presume to do so, with a reference for
fuller satisfaction to that able performance. It is certainly one of
the most delicate and proper cases for the consideration of a free
people, and so far as a jealousy of this kind leads to any degree of
caution not incompatible with the public safety, it is undoubtedly to
be commended. Our jealousy of this danger has descended to us from our
British ancestors; in that country they have a Monarch, whose power
being limited, and at the same time his prerogatives very considerable,
a constant jealousy of him is both natural and proper. The two last
of the Stuarts having kept up a considerable body of standing forces
in time of peace for the clear and almost avowed purpose of subduing
the liberties of the people, it was made an article of the bill of
rights at the revolution, “That the raising or keeping a standing army
within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with the consent
of Parliament, is against law;” but no attempt was made, or I dare
say even thought of, to restrain the Parliament from exercise of
that right. An army has been kept on foot annually by authority of
Parliament, and I believe ever since the revolution they have had some
standing troops; disputes have frequently happened about the number,
but I don’t recollect any objection by the most zealous patriot,
to the keeping up of any at all. At the same time, notwithstanding
the above practice of an annual vote (arising from a very judicious
caution), it is still in the power of Parliament to authorize the
keeping up of any number of troops for an indefinite time, and to
provide for their subsistence for any number of years. Considerations
of prudence, not constitutional limits to their authority, alone
restrain such an exercise of it—our Legislature however will be
strongly guarded, though that of Great Britain is without any check
at all. No appropriations of money for military services can continue
longer than two years. Considering the extensive services the general
government may have to provide for upon this vast continent, no forces
with any serious prospect of success could be attempted to be raised
for a shorter time. Its being done for so short a period, if there
were any appearance of ill designs in the government, would afford
time enough for the real friends of their country to sound an alarm,
and when we know how easy it is to excite jealousy of any government,
how difficult for the people to distinguish from their real friends,
those factious men who in every country are ready to disturb its peace
for personal gratifications of their own, and those desperate ones
to whom every change is welcome, we shall have much more reason to
fear that the government may be overawed by groundless discontents,
than that it should be able, if contrary to every probability such
a government could be supposed willing, to effect any designs for
the destruction of their own liberties as well as those of their
constituents; for surely we ought ever to remember, that there will
not be a man in the government but who has been either mediately or
immediately recently chosen by the people, and that for too limited
a time to make any arbitrary designs consistent with common sense,
when every two years a new body of representatives with all the energy
of popular feelings will come, to carry the strong force of a severe
national control into every department of government. To say nothing
of the one-third to compose the Senate coming at the same time, warm
with popular sentiments, from their respective assemblies. Men may
be sure to suggest dangers from any thing, but it may truly be said
that those who can seriously suggest the danger of a premeditated
attack on the liberties of the people from such a government as this,
could with ease assign reasons equally plausible for mistrusting the
integrity of any government formed in any manner whatever; and really
it does seem to me, that all their reasons may be fairly carried to
this position, that inasmuch as any confidence in any men would be
unwise, as we can give no power but what may be grossly abused, we
had better give none at all, but continue as we are, or resolve into
total anarchy at once, of which indeed our present condition falls very
little short. What sort of a government would that be which, upon the
most certain intelligence that hostilities were meditated against it,
could take no method for its defence till after a formal declaration
of war, or the enemy’s standard was actually fixed upon the shore? The
first has for some time been out of fashion, but if it had not, the
restraint these gentlemen recommend, would certainly have brought it
into disuse with every power who meant to make war upon America. They
would be such fools as to give us the only warning we had informed
them we would accept of, before we would take any steps to counteract
their designs. The absurdity of our being prohibited from preparing to
resist an invasion till after it had actually taken place(78) is so
glaring, that no man can consider it for a moment without being struck
with astonishment to see how rashly, and with how little consideration
gentlemen, whose characters are certainly respectable, have suffered
themselves to be led away by so delusive an idea. The example of other
countries, so far from warranting any such limitation of power, is
directly against it. That of England has already been particularly
noticed. In our present articles of confederation there is no such
restriction. It has been observed by the Federalist, that Pennsylvania
and North Carolina appear to be the only States in the Union which
have attempted any restraint of the Legislative authority in this
particular, and that their restraint appears rather in the light of
a caution than a prohibition; but notwithstanding that, Pennsylvania
had been obliged to raise forces in the very face of that article
of her bill of rights. That great writer from the remoteness of his
situation, did not know that North Carolina had equally violated her
bill of rights in a similar manner. The Legislature of that State in
November, 1785, passed an act for raising 200 men for the protection of
a county called Davidson county against hostilities from the Indians;
they were to continue for _two years_ from the time of their first
rendezvous, unless sooner disbanded by the Assembly, and were to be
subject to the same “rules with respect to their government as were
established in the time of the late war by the Congress of the United
States for the government of the Continental army.” These are the very
words of the act. Thus, from the examples of the only two countries in
the world that I believe ever attempted such a restriction, it appears
to be a thing incompatible with the safety of government. Whether their
restriction is to be considered as a caution or a prohibition, in less
than five years after peace the caution has been disregarded, or the
prohibition disobeyed.(79) Can the most credulous or suspicious men
require stronger proof of the weakness and impolicy of such restraints?


“The State Legislatures are restrained from laying export duties on
their own produce.”


Duties upon exports, though they may answer in some particulars a
convenience to the country which imposes them, are certainly not things
to be contended for, as if the very being of a State was interested in
preserving them. Where there is a kind of monopoly they may sometimes
be ventured upon, but even there perhaps more is lost by imposing such
duties, than is compensated for by any advantage. Where there is not a
species of monopoly, no policy can be more absurd. The American States,
are so circumstanced that some of the States necessarily export part of
the produce of neighboring ones. Every duty laid upon such exported
produce operates in fact as a tax by the exporting State upon the
non-exporting State. In a system expressly formed to produce concord
among all, it would have been very unwise to have left such a source
of discord open; and upon the same principle, and to remove as much as
possible every ground of discontent, Congress itself are prohibited
from laying duties on exports, because by that means those States which
have a great deal of produce to export would be taxed much more heavily
than those which had little or none for exportation.


“The general Legislature is restrained from prohibiting the further
importation of slaves for twenty odd years, though such importation
renders the United States weaker, more vulnerable; and less capable of


If all the States had been willing to adopt this regulation, I should
as an individual most heartily have approved of it, because even if the
importation of slaves in fact rendered us stronger, less vulnerable and
more capable of defence, I should rejoice in the prohibition of it,
as putting an end to a trade which has already continued too long for
the honor and humanity of those concerned in it. But as it was well
known that South Carolina and Georgia thought a further continuance of
such importations useful to them, and would not perhaps otherwise have
agreed to the new constitution, those States which had been importing
till they were satisfied, could not with decency have insisted upon
their relinquishing advantages themselves had already enjoyed. Our
situation makes it necessary to bear the evil as it is. It will be
left to the future legislatures to allow such importations or not.
If any, in violation of their clear conviction of the injustice of
this trade, persist in pursuing it, this is a matter between God and
their own consciences. The interests of humanity will, however, have
gained something by the prohibition of this inhuman trade, though at a
distance of twenty odd years.


“Both the general Legislature and the State Legislatures, have
expressly prohibited making _ex post facto_ laws, though there never
was, nor can be, a legislature but must and will make such laws, when
necessity and the public safety require them; which will hereafter be a
breach of all the constitutions in the Union, and offer precedents for
other innovations.”


My ideas of liberty are so different from those of Mr. Mason, that in
my opinion this very prohibition is one of the most valuable parts of
the new constitution. _Ex post facto_ laws may sometimes be convenient,
but that they are ever absolutely necessary I shall take the liberty
to doubt, till that necessity can be made apparent. Sure I am, they
have been the instrument of some of the grossest acts of tyranny that
were ever exercised, and have this never failing consequence, to put
the minority in the power of a passionate and unprincipled majority,
as to the most sacred things, and the plea of necessity is never
wanting where it can be of any avail. This very clause, I think, is
worth ten thousand declarations of rights, if this, the most essential
right of all, was omitted in them. A man may feel some pride in his
security, when he knows that what he does innocently and safely to-day
in accordance with the laws of his country, cannot be tortured into
guilt and danger to-morrow. But if it should happen, that a great and
overruling necessity, acknowledged and felt by all, should make a
deviation from this prohibition excusable, shall we not be more safe
in leaving the excuse for an extraordinary exercise of power to rest
upon the apparent equity of it alone, than to leave the door open to
a tyranny it would be intolerable to bear? In the one case, every one
must be sensible of its justice, and therefore excuse it; in the other,
whether its exercise was just or unjust, its being lawful would be
sufficient to command obedience. Nor would a case like that, resting
entirely on its own bottom, from a conviction of invincible necessity,
warrant an avowed abuse of another authority, where no such necessity
existed or could be pretended.

I have now gone through Mr. Mason’s objections; one thing still
remains to be taken notice of, his prediction, which he is pleased to
express in these words: “This government will commence in a moderate
aristocracy; it is at present impossible to foresee, whether it
will in its operation produce a monarchy, or a corrupt, oppressive
aristocracy; it will most probably vibrate some years between the two,
and then terminate in the one or the other.” From the uncertainty of
this prediction, we may hope that Mr. Mason was not divinely inspired
when he made it, and of course that it may as fairly be questioned
as any of his particular objections. If my answers to his objections
are, in general, solid, a very different government will arise from
the new constitution, if the several States should adopt it, as I hope
they will. It will not probably be too much to flatter ourselves with,
that it may present a spectacle of combined strength in government,
and genuine liberty in the people, the world has never yet beheld. In
the meantime, our situation is critical to the greatest degree. Those
gentlemen who think we may at our ease go on from one convention to
another, to try if all objections cannot be conquered by perseverance,
have much more sanguine expectations than I can presume to form. There
are critical periods in the fate of nations, as well as in the life of
man, which are not to be neglected with impunity. I am much mistaken
if this is not such a one with us. When we were at the very brink of
despair, the late excellent Convention with a unanimity that none
could have hoped for, generously discarding all little considerations
formed a system of government which I am convinced can stand the nicest
examination, if reason and not prejudice is employed in viewing it.
With a happiness of thought, which in our present awful situation
ought to silence much more powerful objections than any I have heard,
they have provided in the very frame of government a safe, easy and
unexceptionable method of correcting any errors it may be thought to
contain. Those errors may be corrected at leisure; in the mean time the
acknowledged advantages likely to flow from this constitution may be
enjoyed. We may venture to hold up our head among the other powers of
the world. We may talk to them with the confidence of an independent
people, having strength to resent insults; and avail ourselves of our
natural advantages. We may be assured of once more beholding justice,
order and dignity taking place of the present anarchical confusion
prevailing almost every where, and drawing upon us universal disgrace.
We may hope, by proper exertions of industry, to recover thoroughly
from the shock of the late war, and truly to become an independent,
great and prosperous people. But if we continue as we now are,
wrangling about every trifle, listening to the opinion of a small
minority, in preference to a large and most respectable majority of
the first men in our country, and among them some of the first in the
world, if our minds in short are bent rather on indulging a captious
discontent, than bestowing a generous and well-placed confidence in
those who we have every reason to believe are entirely worthy of it,
we shall too probably present a spectacle for malicious exultation to
our enemies, and melancholy dejection to our friends; and the honor,
glory and prosperity which were just within our reach, will perhaps be
snatched from us for ever.


  _January, 1788._

An / Address / to the / Freemen / of / South Carolina, / on the subject
of the / Federal Constitution, / Proposed by the Convention, which met
in / Philadelphia, May, 1787. / Charleston, / Printed by Bowen and Co.,
No. 31, Bay.

  16 mo., pp. 12.

  Written by Dr. David Ramsay, member of the Continental Congress
  and of the South Carolina State Convention which ratified the

_Friends, Countrymen, and Fellow Citizens_:

You have, at this time a new federal constitution proposed for your
consideration. The great importance of the subject demands your most
serious attention. To assist you in forming a right judgment on this
matter, it will be proper to consider,

1st. It is the manifest interest of these states to be united.
Internal wars among ourselves, would most probably be the consequence
of disunion. Our local weakness particularly proves it to be for the
advantage of South Carolina to strengthen the federal government; for
we are inadequate to secure ourselves from more powerful neighbours. [4]

2d. If the thirteen states are to be united in reality, as well as in
name, the obvious principle of the union will be, that the congress, or
general government, should have power to regulate all general concerns.
In a state of nature, each man is free, and may do what he pleases:
but in society, every individual must sacrifice a part of his natural
rights; the minority must yield to the majority, and the collective
interest must control particular interests. When thirteen persons
constitute a family, each should forego everything that is injurious to
the other twelve. When several families constitute a parish, or county,
each may adopt what regulations it pleases with regard to its domestic
affairs, but must be abridged of that liberty in other cases, where the
good of the whole is concerned.

When several parishes, counties, or districts, form a state, the
separate interests of each must yield to the collective interest of
the whole. When several states combine in one government, the same
principles must be observed. These relinquishments of natural rights,
are not real sacrifices: each person, county, or state, gains more than
it loses, for it only gives up a right of injuring others, and obtains
in return aid and strength to secure itself in the peaceable enjoyment
of all remaining rights. If then we are to be an united people, and
the obvious ground of union must be, that all continental concerns
should be managed by Congress—let us by those principles examine the
new constitution. Look over the 8th section, which enumerates the
powers of Congress, and point out one that is not essential on the
before recited principles of union. The first is a power to lay and
collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and
provide for the [5] common defence and general welfare of the United

When you authorised Congress to borrow money, and to contract debts,
for carrying on the late war, you could not intend to abridge them of
the means of paying their engagements, made on your account. You may
observe that their future power is confined to provide _common defence
and general welfare_ of the United States. If they apply money to any
other purposes, they exceed their powers. The people of the United
States who pay, are to be judges how far their money is properly
applied. It would be tedious to go over all the powers of Congress,
but it would be easy to show that they all may be referred to this
single principle, “that the general concerns of the union ought to be
managed by the general government.” The opposers of the constitution
cannot show a single power delegated to Congress, that could be spared
consistently with the welfare of the whole, nor a single one taken
from the states, but such as can be more advantageously lodged in the
general government, than in that of the separate states.

For instance, the states cannot emit money: This is not intended to
prevent the emission of paper money, but only of state paper money. Is
not this an advantage? To have thirteen paper currencies in thirteen
states is embarrassing to commerce, and eminently so to travellers.
It is _therefore_, obviously our interest, either to have no paper,
or such as will circulate from Georgia to New Hampshire. Take another
instance—the Congress are authorized to provide and maintain a
navy.—Our sea-coast, in its whole extent needs the protection
thereof; but if this was to be done [6] by the states, they who build
ships, would be more secure than they who do not. Again, if the local
legislatures might build ships of war at pleasure, the Eastern would
have a manifest superiority over the Southern states. Observe, how
much better this business is referred to the regulations of Congress.
A common navy, paid out of the common treasury, and to be disposed
of by the united voice of a majority for the common defence of the
weaker as well as of the stronger states, is promised, and will result
from the federal constitution. Suffer not yourselves to be imposed
on by declamation. Ask the man who objects to the powers of Congress
two questions, _is_ it not necessary that the supposed dangerous
power should be lodged somewhere? And secondly, where can it be
lodged, consistently with the general good, so well as in the general
government? Decide for yourselves on these obvious principles of union.

It has been objected, that the eastern states have an advantage in
their representation in Congress. Let us examine this objection—the
four eastern states send seventeen members to the house of
representatives, but Georgia, South-Carolina, North-Carolina and
Virginia, send twenty-three. The six northern states send twenty-seven,
the six southern thirty. In both cases, we have a superiority;—but,
say the objectors, add Pennsylvania to the northern states, and there
is a majority against us. It is obvious to reply, add Pennsylvania to
the southern states, and they have a majority. The objection amounts to
no more than that seven are more than six. It must be known to many of
you, that the Southern states, from their vast extent of uncultivated
country, are daily receiving new settlers; but in New England their
country is [7] so small, and their land so poor, that their inhabitants
are constantly emigrating. As the rule of representation in Congress
is to vary with the number of inhabitants, our influence in the
general government will be constantly increasing. In fifty years, it
is probable that the Southern states will have a great ascendancy
over the Eastern. It has been said that thirty-five men, not elected
by yourselves, may make laws to bind you. This objection, if it has
any force, tends to the destruction of your state government. By our
constitution, sixty-nine make a quorum; of course, thirty-five members
may make a law to bind all the people of South-Carolina.—Charleston,
and any one of the neighboring parishes send collectively thirty-six
members; it is therefore possible, in the absence of all others, that
three of the lower parishes might legislate for the whole country.
Would this be a valid objection against your own constitution? It
certainly would not—neither is it against the proposed federal plan.
Learn from it this useful lesson—insist on the constant attendance of
your members, both in the state assembly, and Continental Congress;
your representation in the latter, is as numerous in a relative
proportion with the other states as it ought to be. You have a
thirteenth part in both houses; and you are not, on principles of
equality, entitled to more.

It has been objected, that the president, and two-thirds of the senate,
though not of your election, may make treaties binding on the state.
Ask these objectors—do you wish to have any treaties? They will say
yes. Ask then who can be more properly trusted with the power of making
them, than they to whom the convention have referred it? Can the state
legislature? They would con- [8] sult their local interests.—Can the
Continental House of Representatives? When sixty-five men can keep a
secret, they may.—Observe the cautious guards which are placed round
your interests. Neither the senate nor president can make treaties by
their separate authority.—They must both concur.—This is more in
your favour than the footing on which you now stand. The delegates in
Congress of nine states, without your consent, can now bind you; by the
new constitution there must be two-thirds of the members present, and
also the president, in whose election you have a vote. Two-thirds are
to the whole, nearly as nine to thirteen. If you are not wanting to
yourselves by neglecting to keep up the state’s compliment of senators,
your situation with regard to preventing the controul of your local
interests by the Northern states, will be better under the proposed
constitution than it is now under the existing confederation.

It has been said, we will have a navigation act, and be restricted to
American bottoms, and that high freight will be the consequence. We
certainly ought to have a navigation act, and we assuredly ought to
give a preference, though not a monopoly, to our own shipping.

If this state is invaded by a maritime force, to whom can we apply for
immediate aid?—To Virginia and North-Carolina? Before they can march
by land to our assistance, the country may be overrun. The Eastern
states, abounding in men and in ships, can sooner relieve us, than
our next door neighbours. It is therefore not only our duty, but our
interest to encourage their shipping. They have sufficient resources on
a few months notice, to furnish tonnage enough to carry off all your
exports; and they can afford, and doubtless will undertake [9] to be
your carriers on as easy terms as you now pay for freight in foreign

On this subject, let us consider what we have gained, also what they
have lost, by the revolution. We have gained a free trade with all the
world, and consequently a higher price for our commodities; it may be
said, and so have they. But they who reply in this manner, ought to
know, that there is an amazing difference in our favour; their country
affords no valuable exports, and of course the privilege of a free
trade is to them of little value, while our staple commodity commands
a higher price than was usual before the war. We have also gained
an exemption from quit-rents, to which the eastern states were not
subjected. Connecticut and Rhode Island were nearly as free before the
revolution as since. They had no royal governor or councils to controul
them, or to legislate for them. Massachusetts and New Hampshire were
much nearer independence in their late constitution than we were. The
eastern states, by the revolution, have been deprived of a market for
their fish, of their carrying trade, their ship-building, and almost of
every thing but their liberties.

As the war has turned out so much in our favour, and so much against
them, ought we to grudge them the carrying of our produce, especially
when it is considered, that by encouraging their shipping, we increase
the means of our own defence? Let us examine also the federal
constitution, by the principles of reciprocal concession. We have
laid a foundation for a navigation act. This will be a general good;
but particularly so to our northern brethren. On the other hand,
they have agreed to change the federal rule of paying the continental
debt, according to the value of land, as laid down in the confede- [10]
ration, for a new principle of apportionment, to be founded on the
numbers of inhabitants in the several states respectively. This is
an immense concession in our favour. Their land is poor; our’s rich;
their numbers great; our’s small; labour with them is done by white
men, for whom they pay an equal share; while five of our negroes only
count as equal to three of their whites. This will make a difference of
many thousands of pounds in settling our continental accounts. It is
farther objected, that they have stipulated for a right to prohibit the
importation of negroes after 21 years. On this subject observe, as they
are bound to protect us from domestic violence, they think we ought
not to increase our exposure to that evil, by an unlimited importation
of slaves. Though Congress may forbid the importation of negroes after
21 years, it does not follow that they will. On the other hand, it is
probable that they will not. The more rice we make, the more business
will be for their shipping; their interest will therefore coincide with
our’s. Besides, we have other sources of supply—the importation of the
ensuing 20 years, added to the natural increase of those we already
have, and the influx from our northern neighbours, who are desirous
of getting rid of their slaves, will afford a sufficient number for
cultivating all the lands in this state.

Let us suppose the union to be dissolved by the rejection of the new
constitution, what would be our case? The united states owe several
millions of dollars to France, Spain, and Holland. If an efficient
government is not adopted, which will provide for the payment of our
debt, especially of that which is due to foreigners—who will be the
losers? Most certainly the southern states. Our ex- [11] ports, as
being the most valuable, would be the first objects of capture on
the high seas, or descents would be made on our defenceless coasts,
till the creditors of the United States had paid themselves at the
expense of this weaker part of the union. Let us also compare the
present confederation with the proposed constitution. The former can
neither protect us at home, nor gain us respect abroad; it cannot
secure the payment of our debts, nor command the resources of our
country, in case of danger. Without money, without a navy, or the means
of even supporting an army of our own citizens in the field, we lie
at the mercy of every invader; our seaport towns may be laid under
contribution, and our country ravaged.

By the new constitution, you will be protected with the force of the
union, against domestic violence and foreign invasion. You will have a
navy to defend your coast.—The respectable figure you will make among
the nations, will so far command the attention of foreign powers, that
it is probable you will soon obtain such commercial treaties, as will
open to your vessels the West-India islands, and give life to your
expiring commerce.

In a country like our’s, abounding with free men all of one rank,
where property is equally diffused, where estates are held in fee
simple, the press free, and the means of information common, tyranny
cannot reasonably find admission under any form of government; but
its admission is next to impossible under one where the people
are the source of all power, and elect either mediately by their
representatives, or immediately by themselves the whole of their rulers.

Examine the new constitution with candor and liberality. Indulge no
narrow prejudices to the disadvantage of your brethren of the [12]
other states; consider the people of all the thirteen states, as a
band of brethren, speaking the same language, professing the same
religion, inhabiting one undivided country, and designed by heaven
to be one people. Content that what regards all the states should be
managed by that body which represents all of them; be on your guard
against the misrepresentations of men who are involved in debt; such
may wish to see the constitution rejected, because of the following
clause, “no state shall emit bills of credit, make any thing but
gold and silver coin, a tender in payment of debts, pass any _expost
facto_ law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts.” This will
doubtless bear hard on debtors who wish to defraud their creditors,
but it will be real service to the honest part of the community.
Examine well the characters and circumstances of men who are averse
to the new constitution. Perhaps you will find that the above recited
clause is the real ground of the opposition of some of them, though
they may artfully cover it with a splendid profession of zeal for state
privileges and general liberty.

On the whole, if the proposed constitution be not calculated to better
your country, and to secure to you the blessings for which you have
so successfully contended, reject it: but if it be an improvement on
the present confederation, and contains within itself the principles
of farther improvement suited to future circumstances, join the mighty
current of federalism, and give it your hearty support. You were among
the first states that formed an independent constitution; be not among
the last in accepting and ratifying the proposed plan of federal
government; it is your sheet anchor; and without it independence may
prove a curse.




The titles in the following list are arranged alphabetically, by
the authors or editors names if known, or by the first word of the
title, omitting participles, with the exception of the editions of
the Constitution, which are brought together under that head, and the
debates and journals of the State Conventions, which are placed under
each State.

The initials which precede the numbers at the end of the description,
indicate certain public libraries in which the work may be consulted.

  A.       signifies Astor Library.
  A. A. S.     “     Am. Antiquarian Society Library.
  B.           “     Boston Public Library.
  B. A.        “     Boston Athenæum Library.
  B. M.        “     British Museum Library.
  C.           “     Library of Congress.
  H.           “     Library of Harvard University.
  M.           “     Mass. Historical Society Library.
  N.           “     N. Y. Historical Society Library.
  P.           “     Library Company of Philadelphia.
  P. H. S.     “     Penn. Historical Society Library.
  S.           “     New York State Library.
  S. D.        “     Department of State Library.
  ...          “     A line omitted in the title.
  .....        “     Two or more lines omitted in the title.
  +            “     That what is omitted is already sufficiently given
                       in title of previous edition.

The numbers attached to certain titles in the reference list are cross
references to the same title in the bibliography.

I am under obligation to Mr. C. A. Cutter, Mr. W. Eames, Mr. William
Kelby, Mr. E. M. Barton and Mr. Bumford Samuels, for aid in compiling
this list.


_Account of the Grand Federal Procession. See Nos. 77-8. Additional
number of Letters. See No. 90._

The / Address and Reasons of Dissent / of the / Minority of the
Convention, / Of the State of Pennsylvania, to their Constituents.
[Colophon] Philadelphia: Printed by E. Oswald, at the Coffee House.

  Folio, pp. (3)A. A. S. 1

  Reprinted in Carey’s _American Museum_, ii, 536, and answered by
  Noah Webster’s “To the Dissenting members of the late Convention of
  Pennsylvania,” in his “_Collection of Essays.... Boston_: 1790,” page

Address and Reasons of Dissent of the Minority of the Convention of the
State of Pennsylvania, to their Constituents. [Philadelphia: 1787.]

  8vo. pp. 22. B. A. 2

  Title from Sabin’s _Dictionary of Books relating to America_. See No.

Address / to the / Citizens of Pennsylvania./ Calculated to shew
the Safety,—Advantages—and Necessity of adopting the proposed
Constitution of the / United States./ In which are included answers to
the objections that have been made to it./ [Colophon] Philadelphia:
Printed by Hall and Sellers.

  Folio. pp. (4)N. 3 A Federalist compilation, containing

  Reply to the Address of the seceding members of the Pennsylvania

  To the Freemen of Pennsylvania [in reply to the Address of the
  seceding members], by Federal Constitution.

  Speech of James Wilson, October 6th, 1787.

  Examination of the Federal Constitution, by An American [Tench Coxe.]

  Circular Letter from the Federal Convention. _Address to the Freemen
  of S. C. See Nos_. 114-15.

_Address to the People of N. Y. See Nos_. 83-4 _and_ 120-21.

_American Citizen. See Nos_. 3, 21-2.

_Aristides. See Nos_. 74-5.

_Articles. See No. 6.

Baldwin (Simeon)._

An / Oration / pronounced before the / Citizens of New Haven,/ July
4th, 1788;/ in commemoration of the / Declaration / of / Independence
/ and establishment of the Constitution / of the / United States of
America./ By Simeon Baldwin, Esquire,/ New Haven./ Printed by J. Meigs,

  8vo. pp. 16. 4

_Bancroft_ (_George_).

History / of the / Formation of the Constitution / of the / United
States of America./ By George Bancroft./ In two volumes,/ Vol. 1./ New
York:/ D. Appleton and Company,/ 1, 3, and 5 Bond Street,/ 1882.

  2 Vols., 8vo. pp. xxiv, 520—xiv, 501(2).5

  Each volume contains not only Mr. Bancroft’s History, but a series
  of hitherto unpublished “Letters and Papers,” adding greatly to the
  value of the work. In 1885 a one volume edition was published, from
  the same plates, but omitting these documents—pp. xxii., 495.

  Reviewed by B. F. De Costa, in the _Mag. of Am. Hist_., viii, 669;
  and in _The Nation_, xxxiv, 524 and xxxvi, 127. _Bryan, Samuel. See
  No_. 108.

_Centinel_. _See No_. 108.

_Childs, Francis. See No_. 103.

_Citizen of America. See Nos_. 130-31.

_Citizen of New York. See No. 83_.

_Citizen of Philadelphia. See Nos_. 132-4.

_Civis. See Nos_. 82, 114-15.

_Columbian Patriot. See Nos_. 69-71.


  In the following list of editions, I have only attempted to
  include such as were published during the discussion of the
  Constitution, prior to its ratification, and so conscious am I of its
  imperfections, that I should omit it altogether, were it not that
  no such list has ever been attempted, and this may make the task
  an easier one to some future bibliographer. It is almost certain
  that the Federal Convention, the Continental Congress, and each of
  the states printed public official editions, (of which, excepting
  Massachusetts, New York, and possibly Pennsylvania, I have been
  unable to trace copies) while the editions printed for the use of the
  people were undoubtedly numerous. The list includes every edition
  that I could find, in any bibliographies or library catalogues that
  I have examined, except the “Portsmouth, N. H. 1787” given in the
  Library of Congress catalogue, which cannot now be found. I have also
  included the two drafts (Nos. 19 and 20) used by the Convention,
  which, though not properly editions of the Constitution, nevertheless
  seemed best classed among them. The arrangement is alphabetical, by
  the first word of the title or caption participles excepted.

 See also—View of the Proposed Constitution. No. 125.

_Constitution. New York_. 1787.

Articles agreed upon by the Federal Convention of the United States of
/ America, his Excellency, General Washington, Esq., President, / ... /
New York: Printed by J. M’Lean, No. 41, Hanover Square [1787].

 Folio, pp. 4.N. 6

_Constitution. Albany_. 1788.

De / Constitutie, / eenpariglyk gea ecordeerd by de / Algemeene
Conventie, / gehonden in de / Stad von Philadelphia, / in ’t Jaar
1787: / en gesubmitteer aan hit / Volk de Vereenigde Staaten / van
Noord-Amerika: / Zynde van ses derzelvir Staaten alreede / geadopteerd,
namentlyk, / Massachusetts, Connecticut, Nieuw-Jersey, Pennsylvania,
Delaware en Georgia / Vertaald door Lambertus de Ronde, V. D. M. /
Gedrukt by Ordervan de Federal Committee, in de Stad van Albany, / Door
Charles R. Webster, in zyne Vrye Boek-/ Druking, No. 36, Staat-Straat,
na by de / Engelsche Kirke in dezelvde Stad, 1788.

  Sq. 12mo. pp. 32. B. 7

_Constitution. Boston_. 1787.

The / Constitution / or Frame of / Government, / For the United States
of / America, / as reported by the Convention of Delegates, from the
/ United States, begun and held at Philadelphia on the / first Monday
of May, 1787, and continued by Adjournments to / the seventeenth Day
of September following—[Colophon at p. 16] Printed by Thomas and John
Fleet, in Boston.

  8vo. pp. 20 M. 8

  Includes the resolves of the Continental Congress and the
  Massachusetts General Court. Sabin gives a copy “12mo, pp. 16,” but
  it is this edition, lacking the last four leaves, or the “resolves.”

_Constitution. Boston_. 1787.

The / Constitution / or Frame of / Government, / for the /
United States / of / America. / As reported by the Convention of
Delegates, from / the United States, begun and held at Philadel-/ phia,
on the first Monday of May, 1787, and continued / by adjournments to
the seventeenth Day of September fol-/ lowing.—Which they resolved
should be laid before the / United States in Congress assembled;
and afterwards be / submittted to a Convention of Delegates, chosen
in each State,/ by the People thereof, under the recommendation of
its Le-/ gislature, for their Assent and Ratification / Together
with the Resolutions of the General Court of the / Commonwealth of
Massachusetts, for calling said Convention, agreea-/ ble to the
recommendation of Congress. / Published by order of Government. /
Printed at Boston, Massachusetts, By Adams & Nourse, / Printers to the
Honourable the General Court. / M,DCC,LXXXVII.

  8vo. pp. 32. C. M., A. A. S. 9

_Constitution. Philadelphia_. 1787.

The / Constitution / proposed for / The Government of the United States
of / America, by the Foederal Conven-/ tion, held at Philadelphia,
in the / Year One Thousand Seven Hundred / and Eighty-seven. / To
which is Annexed, / The Ratifications thereof by the Dele-/ gates of
Pennsylvania in the / State Convention. / Philadelphia: Printed by Hall
& Sellers. / M,DCC,LXXXVII.

  8vo. pp. 24. C. 10

_Constitution. Philadelphia_. 1787.

The / Constitution / as formed for the / United States / by the /
Foederal Convention, / Held at Philadelphia, / In the year 1787,
/ With the Resolves of / Congress, / and of the / Assembly of
Pennsylvania / thereon. / Philadelphia: / Printed by T. Bradford, / in
Front-Street, four doors below the Coffee House / M,DCC,LXXXVII.

 12mo. pp. 16. C. H. S. 11

_Constitution. Richmond_. 1787 or 8.

The / Federal Constitution / for the United States of America, &c.
[Colophon] Richmond: Printed by Augustin Davis.

  4to. pp. 11. 12

_Constitution. London_. 1787.

Plan / of the / New Constitution / for the / United States of America,
/ Agreed upon in a / Convention of the States / with / a Preface by the
Editor. / London: / Printed for J. Debrett, Piccadilly. / M.DCCLXXXVII.

  8vo. pp. (2) 30,8. 13

_Constitution. Boston_. 1787.

(1) Proceedings / of the / Federal Convention. / [Colophon at p. 16]
Printed by Thomas and John Fleet, in Boston.

  8vo. pp. 20. P. 14

  The Constitution, with the resolutions, etc., of the Massachusetts
  General Court. See No. 8.

_Constitution. Philadelphia_. 1787.

Proceedings / of the / Federal Convention. / Held at / Philadelphia /
in the Year 1787. / And the Twelfth Year / of / American Independence.
/ Philadelphia: / Printed by T. Bradford, / in Front-street, four doors
below the Coffee-House / M,DCC,LXXXVII

  8vo. pp. 15. C. 15

_Constitution. Philadelphia_. 1787.

Results / of the Deliberations / of the / Federal Convention. / In
Convention, Sept. 17, 1787 [Philadelphia:? 1787].

  8vo. pp. 16. P. H. S. 16

_Constitution. New York_. 1787.

Supplement to the Independent Journal, / Saturday, September 22, 1787.
/ Copy of the Result of the Deliberations of the / Federal Convention /
In Convention, September 17, 1787, / [New York: J. M’Lean. 1787].

  Folio, pp. 4. S. L. 16*

_Constitution. Hartford_. 1787.

We the People / of the United /States, /...../ ... do ordain and esta-/
blish this Constitution for the United States of / America. / Hartford:
/ Printed and sold by Nathaniel Patten. / M,DCC,LXXXVII.

  Sq. 16mo. pp. 16. P. H. S. 17

_Constitution. Poughkeepsie_. 1788.

We the People of the United States, in order to form a / more perfect
Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tran-/ quility, provide
for the common Defense, promote the ge-/ neral Welfare, and secure
the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves / and our Posterity, do ordain
and establish this Constitu-/ tion for the United States of America.
[Poughkeepsie: Nicholas Power, 1788.]

  4to. pp. 20, S. 18

  The official edition printed for the use of the New York Convention.
  The text is only printed on one side of page, to page 17—after that
  on both sides.

_Constitution. Philadelphia. 1787._

We, the People of the United States in order to form / a more perfect
union, to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide /
for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the
blessings / of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and
establish this Constitution for the / United States of America....

  Folio, 4 11. S. D., C., M. 19

  The “Report” of the “Committee on style and arrangement” of the
  Federal Convention, brought in September 13th, 1787. It was printed
  for the use of the members only and with the utmost secrecy.

_Constitution. Philadelphia. 1787._

We the People of the States / of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, / Rhode
Island and Providence Plan-/ tations, Connecticut, New York, New
Jersey, Penn-/ sylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Caro-/
lina, South-Carolina, and Georgia, do ordain, declare / and establish
the following Constitution for the Government of Ourselves and our

  Folio, 7 11. S. D., C., M. 20

  The “Report” of the “Committee of five,” of the Federal Convention,
  brought in August 6th, 1787. Printed only for the use of the
  members, as a basis for a continuation of the discussion. Both
  these last two editions, it is needless to say, are of the greatest
  rarity, the number printed being probably not over sixty copies,
  and as confidential documents, were saved by few of the members.
  The Department of State possesses Washington’s copy of No. 19, and
  David Brearly’s and James Madison’s copies of both drafts. The
  Library of Congress possesses William Samuel Johnson’s copies, and
  the Massachusetts Historical Society has those of Elbridge Gerry.
  All of these contain Mss. alterations by their respective owners,
  and George Mason’s copy of No. 19 in the possession of Miss Kate
  Mason Rowland of Virginia, contains not only alterations, but the
  objections of Mason to the Constitution, in his own handwriting.
  What are apparently the original Mss. compilations from which these
  drafts were printed are in the Wilson Papers, now in the Pennsylvania
  Historical Society.

[_Coxe_ (_Tench_)].

An / Examination / of the / Constitution / for the / United States / of
/ America, / Submitted to the People / by the / General Convention, /
at Philadelphia, the 17th Day of September, 1787, / and since adopted
and ratified / by the / Conventions of Eleven States, / chosen for
the purpose of considering it, being all / that have yet decided on
the subject. / By an American Citizen. /To which is added, / a Speech
/ of the / Hon. James Wilson, Esquire. / on the same subject. /
Philadelphia: / Printed by Zachariah Poulson, Junr. in Fourth / Street,
between Market and Arch-Streets. / M.DCC.LXXXVIII.

  8vo. pp. 33. P. 21

  Reprinted in Ford’s _Pamphlets on the Constitution_ and in No. 3. and
  the Letters by “An American Citizen” are printed in No. 99, and in
  Carey’s _American Museum_, ii, pp. 301 and 387.

_Coxe_ (_Tench_).

[An Examination of the Constitution. Reprinted, Brooklyn, N.Y.: 1887.]

 8vo.pp. 22. 22

 A few copies separately printed from No. 68.

_Curtis_ (_George Ticknor_).

History / of the / Origin, Formation, and Adoption / of the /
Constitution of the United States; / with / notices of its principal
framers. / By /George Ticknor Curtis. / In two volumes. / Volume I. /
New York: / Harper and Brothers, / Franklin Square. / 1854 [-8].

  2 vols., 8vo. pp. xxxvi, 518—xvi, 663. 23

  This work, which is by far the best history of our Constitution, has
  been for several years out of print, and is difficult to procure in
  second hand condition. There are issues with different dates. It
  was reviewed, by C. C. Smith, in _The Christian Examiner_, lviii,
  75, lxv, 67; in _The Methodist Review_, xv, 187; in _The American
  Quarterly Church Review_, xv, 541; and in _The North American
  Review_, lxxx, 259, by A. P. Peabody.

[_Davie_ (_William Richardson and others_)].

[An Address to the People of North Carolina, by Publicola. Answer to
George Mason’s Objections to the new Constitution recommended by the
late Convention, by Marcus, etc. Newbern: Printed by Hodge and Wills.
1788.] pp. 24

  A hypothetical title of a tract frequently alluded to in McRee’s
  _Life of James Iredell_, but which I have been able to find no other
  trace. William R. Davie wrote Publicola, James Iredell wrote Marcus,
  and Archibald Maclaine apparently contributed as well. See No. 81.

_Debates of the State Conventions_ (_Elliot_). _See Nos. 27-30._

_Decius’s Letters. See Nos. 100 and 105._

[_Dickinson_ (_John_)].

The / Letters / of / Fabius, / in 1788, / on the Federal Constitution,
/ and / in 1797, / on the present situation / of / public affairs.
/ Copy-Right Secured. / From the office of the Delaware / Gazette,
Wilmington, / by W. C. Smyth. / 1797.

  8vo. pp. iv, 202 (1).H. 25

  Reprinted in _Political Writings of John Dickinson_, and the first
  series is in Ford’s _Pamphlets on the Constitution_.

  See Washington’s _Writings_, xi, 354.

  The first series of _Fabius_ were also printed in _The New Hampshire
  Gazette_, from which Mr. Dawson reprinted a single number in the _The
  Historical Magazine_, xviii, 359; apparently under the impression
  that it was an original New Hampshire essay.

_Dickinson_ (_John_).

[The Letters of Fabius, Brooklyn, N. Y.; 1888].

 8vo. pp. 54. 26

 A few copies separately printed from No. 68.

_Examination into the leading principles. See Nos. 130-1._

_Examination of the Constitution. See Nos. 21-2._

_Fabius. See Nos. 25-6._

_Federal Constitution. See No. 12._

_Federal Farmer. See Nos. 86-90._

_Elliot_ (_Jonathan_). _First edition._

The / Debates, / Resolutions, and other Proceedings, / in / Convention,
/ on the adoption of the / Federal Constitution, / as recommended by
the / General Convention at Philadelphia, / on the 17th of September,
1787: / With the yeas and nays on the decision of the / main question.
/ Collected and revised, from contemporary publications, / by Jonathan
Elliot. /.... / .... / Washington, / Printed by and for the Editor, /
on the Pennsylvania Avenue. / 1827 [-30].

  3 vols., 8vo. 27

  “Volume I. / Containing the Debates in Massachusetts and New York.”
  pp. viii, 358, *8.

  “Volume II. / Containing the Debates in the Commonwealth of
  Virginia.” pp. viii, 33-487.

  “Volume III. / Containing the Debates in the States of North Carolina
  and Pennsylvania.” pp. (8), 17-322.

  The star leaves in Volume I. were originally issued in Volume III.,
  and are sometimes found bound in that volume. They are a fragment of
  the debates in the New York Convention.

  An additional volume was issued in 1830, with the following title:

  Journal / and / Debates of the Federal Convention, / Held at
  Philadelphia, from May 14, to September 17, 1787 / with the /
  Constitution / of the / United States, / illustrated by the
  opinions of twenty / successive Congresses, / and a / Digest of
  Decisions in the Courts of the Union, / involving constitutional
  principles: / thus shewing / the rise, progress, present condition,
  and practice / of the Constitution, / In the / National Legislature
  and Legal Tribunals of the Republic. / With / full indexes on all
  subjects embraced in the Work. / By Jonathan Elliot. / Volume IV. /
  (Supplementary to the State Constitutions, in 3 Vols. on adopting the
  Federal Constitution) / Washington, / Printed and sold by the Editor,
  / on the Pennsylvania Avenue. / 1830. /

  8vo. pp. (8), 272, 404, (4). 28

  Reviewed by Jared Sparks in the _North American Review_, xxv. 249.

_Elliot_ (_Jonathan_). _Second Edition._

The / Debates / in the several / State Conventions, / on the adoption
of the / Federal Constitution, / as recommended by the / General
Convention at Philadelphia, / in / 1787. / Together with / the Journal
of the Federal Convention, Luther / Martin’s Letter, Yates’ Minutes,
Congressional / Opinions, Virgina & Kentucky Resolutions of ’96-’99, /
and other illustrations of the Constitution. / In four volumes—Volume
I. / Second Edition, / with considerable additions, / collected and
revised from contemporary publications, / by Jonathan Elliot. /
Published under the Sanction of Congress. Washington: / Printed by and
for the Editor, / on the Pennsylvania Avenue. / 1836.

  4 vols. 8vo. 29

  I.   pp. vii, (3), xix-xxxii, 33-*79, 73-551.
  II.  pp.
  III. pp.
  IV.  pp. (4), vii-xvi, 33-662, xvi.

 _Elliot_ (_Jonathan_). [_Third_] _Edition._

The / Debates / in the several / State Conventions, / on the adoption
of the / Federal Constitution, / as recommended by the / General
Convention at Philadelphia, in 1787. / together with the / Journal of
the Federal Convention, / Luther Martin’s Letter, / Yates’ Minutes, /
Congressional Opinions, / Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of ’98-’99,
/ and / other illustrations of the Constitution. / In Four Volumes.
/ Vol. I. / Second Edition, with considerable additions. / Collected
and Revised from contemporary publications, / by Jonathan Elliot. /
Published under the sanction of Congress. / Washington: Printed for the
Editor. / 1836.

  4 vols. 8vols. 30

  I. pp. xvi, 508 Ante-Constitutional History, Journal of Convention,
  Martin’s Genuine Information, Yates’ Minutes, Ratifications and
  Amendments, Official letters of Delegates, Partizan arguments, and
  private letters.

  II. pp. xi, 556. Debates in the Conventions of Massachusetts,
  Connecticut, (fragmentary), New Hampshire, (fragmentary). New York,
  and Pennsylvania (fragmentary.) Account of Maryland and Harrisburg

  III. pp. xi, 663. Debates in the Virginia Convention.

  IV. pp. xii, 639. Debates in the (first) North Carolina Convention
  and in the Legislature and Convention (fragment) of South Carolina,
  Opinions on Constitutional questions, 1789-1836.

  In 1845 a supplementary volume was added, with the following title:

  Debates / on the / adoption of the Federal Constitution, / in the
  Convention held at Philadelphia, / in / 1787;/ with a diary of the
  debates of / the Congress of the Confederation; / as reported / By
  James Madison, / a member, and deputy from Virginia. / Revised and
  newly arranged / By Johnathan Elliot. / Complete in one volume.
  Vol. V. / Supplementary to Elliot’s Debates. / Published under the
  sanction of Congress. / Washington: / Printed for the Editor. / 1845.

  8vo. pp. xxii, 641. 31

  Elliot’s Debates (especially this edition), in spite of its
  imperfections, is the great store house of American constitutional
  history. It is almost impossible to exaggerate its importance,
  and though Nos. 92 and 99 have rendered the portion relating to
  Massachusetts and Pennsylvania of little value, the remaining
  contents are only to be found in contemporary publications of greater
  or lesser rarity.

  In 1858 the plates passed into the hands of J. B. Lippincott & Co.,
  who have printed several issues, with change of date only.

The Foederalist. No. I. To the People of the State of New
York....[signed] Publius.


  This is the heading to the first of the series of eighty-five essays,
  now known as the _The Federalist_, and was first published October
  27, 1787. With occasional breaks in its regularity, it continued to
  be published by at least two New York newspapers until August 16,

  Nos. 1-7, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 26, 31, 33, 35, 37-8, 55, 65, 71,
  and 76 first appeared in _The Independent Journal_. Nos. 8, 12, 16,
  18, 20, 22, 27, 29, 30, 32, 56, 64, 70, 72 and 75 first appeared in
  _The New York Packet_. Nos. 10 and 36 first appeared in _The Daily
  Advertiser_. Nos. 9, 14, 23-5, and 34 appeared simultaneously in two
  or more papers. Nos. 77-85 first appeared in the first edition in
  book form. The first publication of the remaining essays I have not
  been able to find.

  Jay wrote Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 64; Madison, Nos. 10, 14, 37 to 48
  inclusive; Nos. 18, 19 and 20 are the joint work of Madison and
  Hamilton; Nos. 49 to 58, 62 and 63 are claimed by both Madison and
  Hamilton; the rest of the numbers are by Hamilton. The authorship
  of the 12 numbers claimed by both Madison and Hamilton are fully
  discussed by Mr. Lodge in _The Proceedings of the American
  Antiquarian Society for 1882_, and Volume ix of _The Works of
  Hamilton_; by Mr. Dawson and Mr. J. C. Hamilton in the introductions
  to their respective editions of _The Federalist_; by Mr. Rives in his
  _History of the Life and Times of James Madison_; by Mr. Bancroft, in
  the _History of the Formation of the Constitution_, ii, 236; and in
  _The Historical Magazine_, viii, 305.

  “He is certainly a judicious and ingenious writer, though not well
  calculated for the common people.—_Maclaine to Iredell, March 4,

  “In a series of essays in the New York Gazettes, under title of
  _Federalist_, it [the Constitution] has been advocated with great
  ability. _Washington to Luzerne_, Feb. 7, 1788.

  “The Federalist, as he terms himself, or Publius, puts me in mind
  of some of the gentlemen of the long robe when hard pressed, in a
  bad cause, with a rich client. They frequently say a good deal,
  which does not apply; but yet if it will not convince the judge
  and jury, may perhaps, help to make them forget some part of the
  evidence—embarass their opponents, and make the audience stare.” _N.
  Y. Journal_, Feb. 14, 1788.

  “It would be difficult to find a treatise, which, in so small a
  compass, contains so much valuable political information, or in which
  the true principles of republican government are unfolded with such
  precision.” _American Magazine_ for March, 1788.

  See also,

  A / List of Editions / of / “The Federalist.” / By / Paul Leicester
  Ford, / Brooklyn, N. Y., / 1886. 8vo, pp. 25.

_The Federalist. New York._ 1788.

The / Federalist: / A Collection / of / Essays, / written in Favour of
the / New Constitution, / as agreed upon by the Federal Convention,
/ September 17, 1787. / In Two Volumes. / Vol. I. / New York: /
Printed and Sold by J. and A. M’Lean, / No. 41, Hanover-Square. /

  2 vols. 12mo, pp. vi, 227-vi, 384. C., P., N., B.A. 33

  The first edition in book form. It is difficult to find in uncut
  condition, or on thick paper. Ordinary copies were priced by Leon at
  $30, and Hawkins’ copy sold for $48.

  Reviewed in _The American Magazine_, 1788. 260, 327, 423, 503.

  _The Federalist. Paris._ 1792.

Le Fédéraliste, / ou / Collection de quelques Ecrits en faveur de /
la Constitution proposée aux États-Unis / de / l’Amérique, par la
Convention convoquée / en 1787; / Publiés dans les États-Unis de
l’Amérique par / MM. Hamilton, Madisson et Gay, / Citoyens de l’Etat
de New York. / Tome Premier. / A Paris, / Chez Buisson, Libraire, rue
Hautefeuille, / No. 20. / 1792.

  2 vols., 8vo. pp. lii, 366—(4), 511. 34

  2 vols., 8vo. pp. (5), xxii-lii, 366—(4), 511. S.

  The two variations noted above are identical as to matter and
  composition, with the exception of the introduction, which is omitted
  in the second.

  Translated by Trudaine de la Sablière, who added an Introduction, and
  Notes, most of which are merely explanatory of such parts of the
  text as would be unintelligible to the French reader.

  “Both issues of this first French edition are of the utmost rarity.
  I have heard of but one example of the first issue, the imperfect
  copy in the library of Harvard College, referred to by Mr. Dawson.
  The second is almost equally rare. There is one copy in the New York
  State Library (mentioned by Mr. Dawson), another in the library of
  Yale College, and a third was sold at auction not long since, in
  Boston for twenty-five dollars a volume.” _Mr. Lodge’s Introduction
  to The Federalist._

_The Federalist. Paris._ 1795.

Le Fédéraliste, / ou / Collection de quelques Ecrits en faveur / de la
Constitution proposée aux États-Unis / de l’Amérique, par la Convention
convoquée / en 1788;/ Publiés dans les États-Unis de l’Amérique par
/ MM. Hamilton, Madisson et Jay./ Citoyens de l’Etat de New York./
Seconde Edition. / Tome Premier, / A Paris, / Chez Buisson, Librarie,
rue Hautefeuille, No. 20. / An 3e. de la Republique.

  2 vols., 8vo. pp. (5), xxii-lii, 366—(4), 511. 35

  A reissue with new titles of the second issue of No. 34.

_The Federalist. New York._ 1799.

The / Federalist: / A Collection of / Essays, / written in favour of
the / new Constitution, / as agreed upon by the / Federal Convention, /
September 17, 1787. / In Two Volumes. / Vol. I. / New-York: / Printed
and sold by John Tiebout, / No. 358 Pearl-Street. / 1799.

  2 vols., 12mo. pp. vi, 227—vi, 384. 36

  Of the first edition of _The Federalist_ a few copies remain unsold,
  which passed into the hands of John Tiebout, who reissued it with new
  titles only.

  “It is said that in the year 1799, a new edition of _The Federalist_,
  the fifth in book-form, was published by John Tiebout.... The most
  diligent search has been made for a copy of that edition, but
  without finding it or obtaining any other information concerning
  it. It is not in any of the principal public libraries, nor, so far
  as can be learned, is a copy of it in any private library in this
  part of the country. The newspapers of that period—both Foederal and
  Republican—have been carefully examined, with the hope of finding the
  Proposals for its publication; personal enquiries have been made of
  Mr. Tiebout’s sons, and of several of the older inhabitants of the
  city; and those whose intimate knowledge of books entitles them to
  the respect of every student have been applied to on the subject; yet
  no trace whatever, beyond the single allusion above referred to, has
  been obtained from any quarter concerning this or any other edition
  of _The Federalist_ from the press of John Tiebout.” _Mr. Dawson’s
  Introduction to The Federalist_, lxvii

  “Mr. Dawson, after the most exhaustive research, failed to find a
  copy, and only heard of one, or what appeared to be one, in the
  collection of Mr. Force, while his own volume was passing through the
  press, and he was therefore compelled to leave the existence of such
  an edition largely a matter of conjecture. This gap is now filled.
  There is a copy of this edition, probably unique, for the Force copy
  has disappeared, in the Long Island Historical Society.” _Mr. Lodge’s
  Introduction to The Federalist._

  This copy mentioned by Mr. Lodge is however, imperfect, there being
  but one volume.

_The Federalist. New York._ 1802.

The / Federalist, / on the New Constitution. / By Publius. / Written
in 1788. / To which is added, / Pacificus, / on the Proclamation of
Neutrality. / Written in 1793. / Likewise, / The Federal Constitution,
/ with all the Amendments. / Revised and Corrected. / In Two Volumes. /
Vol. I. / Copy-right secured. / New-York: / Printed and sold by George
F. Hopkins, / At Washington’s Head. / 1802.

  2 vols., 8vo pp. viii, 317, (I)—v, 351. C., H., N. 37

  Mr. Dawson hazards the guess that this edition was edited by William
  Coleman, but by Mr. Hopkins statement, he appears in error.

  “Mr. Hopkins informed me to-day that this edition was in the
  first instance corrected by John Wells, who compared it with the
  original edition, published by McLean [sic] in 1788, and that it
  was subsequently revised by my father, at whose casual suggestion
  Pacificus was printed with it.” _Memoranda by J. C. Hamilton, Feb. 6,

  From the “prefatory remarks” prefixed to the Washington edition, it
  would appear that Mr. Jay also revised in this edition the numbers
  contributed by him. See No. 41.

  “In the year 1802, Mr. Hopkins, printer, of this city, intending to
  publish a new edition of The Federalist, took this opportunity to
  apply to Gen. Hamilton, and solicit him to correct and revise the
  numbers, and, so far succeeded, as to obtain his consent to assist in
  the revisal, provided a gentleman of competent literary talents would
  undertake to make the first verbal corrections, for the original idea
  was to be strictly adhered to:—He then examined the whole with his
  own eye, previous to its being committed to the press, and saw that
  it was free from literary blemishes.” William A. Coleman in the _N.Y.
  Evening Post_, March 25, 1817.

_The Federalist. New York._ 1810.

The / Federalist, / on the New Constitution; / written in 1788,/
by Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Jay, and Mr. Madison. / To which is added, /
Pacificus, / on the Proclamation of Neutrality; / written in 1793, /
by Mr. Hamilton./ A new edition, with the Names and Portraits of the
several Writers. / In Two Volumes. / Vol. I. / New-York: / Published by
Williams & Whiting, / at their Theological and Classical Bookstore, /
No. 118, Pearl-Street. / Printed by J. Seymour. / 1810.

  2 vols., 8vo. pp. iv, 368, 2 portraits—iv, 368, portrait. 38

  A separate edition of volumes ii. and iii. of the “_Works of
  Hamilton_,” as edited by John Wells, in 1810. It is identical in
  matter with No. 37, with the addition of the names of the authors
  from “a private memorandum in his (Hamilton’s) own handwriting.”

_The Federalist. Philadelphia_, 1817.

The / Federalist, / on the New Constitution; / written in 1788, / by
Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Jay, and Mr. Madison, / A New Edition, / with the
Names and Portraits of the several Writers. / Philadelphia: / Published
by Benjamin Warner, No. 147, Market Street. / William Greer. Printer.
Harrisburg. / 1817.

  8vo. pp. 477, 3 portraits.

  The first single volume edition. It follows the 1810 edition in text.

  _The Federalist. Philadelphia._ 1818.

The / Federalist, / on the New Constitution; / written in 1788, / by
Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Jay, and Mr. Madison. / A New Edition, / with the
Names and Portraits of the several Writers. / Philadelphia: / Published
by Benjamin Warner, No. 147, Market Street, / and sold at his stores,
Richmond, Virginia, / and Charleston, South Carolina. / 1818.

  8vo, pp, 504, 3 portraits. B. 40

  Printed from the same forms as No. 39, with the addition of
  an appendix containing the Articles of Confederation and the

_The Federalist. Washington._ 1818.

The / Federalist, / on / the New Constitution, / written in / the
Year 1788, / by / Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Jay, / with / an
Appendix, / Containing / the Letters of Pacificus and Helvidius, /
on the / Proclamation of Neutrality of 1793; / Also, the / Original
Articles of Confederation, / and / the Constitution of the United
States, / with the / Amendments made thereto. / A New Edition. /
The Numbers written by Mr. Madison corrected by Himself. / City of
Washington: / Printed and published by Jacob Gideon, Jun. / 1818.

  8vo, pp. 671. 41

  “The present edition of the Federalist contains all the numbers of
  that work, as revised by their authors, and is the only one to which
  the remark will apply. Former editions, indeed, it is understood, had
  the advantage of a revisal from Mr. Hamilton, and Mr. Jay, but the
  numbers written by Mr. Madison still remain in the state in which
  they originally issued from the press, and contain many inaccuracies.
  The publisher of this volume has been so fortunate as to procure from
  Mr. Madison the copy of the work which that gentleman had preserved
  for himself, with corrections of the papers of which he was the
  author, in his own hand.” Prefatory remarks by Jacob Gideon, Jr.

  Mr. Madison claims the authorship, in this edition, of Nos. 18, 19
  and 20, which Hamilton had given as their joint work; and 49 to 58,
  62 and 63, which Mr. Hamilton had claimed for himself. In spite
  of the research and study devoted to the dispute, it is to-day
  impossible to give the authorship to either with any certainty.

_The Federalist. Washington._ 1821.

The / Federalist, / on / the New Constitution, / Written in / the
Year 1788, / by / Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Jay, / with / an
Appendix, / Containing / the Letters of Pacificus and Helvidius, /
on the / Proclamation of Neutrality of 1793; / Also, the / Original
Articles of Confederation, / and / the Constitution of the United
States, / with the / Amendments made thereto. / A New Edition. /
The Numbers written by Mr. Madison corrected by Himself. / City of
Washington: / Printed and published by Jacob Gideon, Jun. / 1821.

  8vo. pp. 671. 42

  A reissue of No. 41 with new titles only. It is not in Mr. Dawson’s
  list of editions.

_The Federalist. Hallowell._ 1826.

The / Federalist, / on the New Constitution, / Written in / the Year
1788, /by / Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Jay: / With / an
Appendix, / Containing / the Letters of Pacificus and Helvidius, /
on the / Proclamation of Neutrality of 1793; / Also, the / Original
Articles of Confederation, / and the / Constitution of the United
States, / with the / Amendments made thereto. / A New Edition. / The
Numbers written by Mr. Madison corrected by Himself. / Hallowell,
(Me.): / Printed and published by Glazier & Co. / 1826.

  8vo. pp. 582. H. 43

  A reprint of Gideon’s edition of 1818.

_The Federalist. Philadelphia._ 1826.

The / Federalist, / on the New Constitution, / written in the year
/ 1788, / by / Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Madison and Mr. Jay: / With / an
Appendix, / containing / The Letters of Pacificius and Helvidius /
on the Proclamation of Neutrality of 1793; / Also the / Articles of
Confederation, / and the / Constitution of the United States, / with
the amendments made thereto. / A New Edition. / The numbers written
by Mr. Madison corrected by himself. / Philadelphia: / Published by
McCarty and Davis, / 171 Market-street. / 1826.

  8vo. pp. 582. 44

  Identical with No. 43, excepting title page. It is not in Sabin’s or
  Dawson’s lists, or in Ford’s _List of editions of “The Federalist.”_

_The Federalist. Hallowell._ 1831.

The / Federalist / on / the New Constitution,/ written in the Year
1788, /by / Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Jay: / With / an
Appendix, / Containing / the Letters of Pacificus and Helvidius, /
on the / Proclamation of Neutrality of 1793; / also, the / Original
Articles of Confederation, and the Con-/ stitution of the United
States, / with the Amendments made thereto. / A New Edition. / The
Numbers written by Mr. Madison corrected by Himself. / Hallowell: /
Printed and published by Glazier, Masters & Co. / 1831.

  8vo. pp. 542. 45

  Not in Mr. Sabin’s _Dictionary of Books relating to America_, and Mr.
  Dawson, who had heard of such an edition, was unable to find a copy.

_The Federalist. Washington._ 1831.

The / Federalist, / on / The New Constitution, / written in / the Year
1788, / by / Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, / With
an Appendix, / Containing the Original Articles of Confederation; the
/ Letter of General Washington, as President of the / Convention, to
the President of Congress; the Consti-/ tution of the United States,
and the Amendments to / the Constitution. / A New Edition, / with a
Table of Contents, / and / a copious Alphabetical Index. / The Numbers
written by Mr. Madison corrected by Himself. / Washington: / Published
by Thompson & Homans. / Way & Gideon, Printers. / 1831.

  12mo. pp. vii, 3-420. C. 46

  The first edition with an index, prepared by Phillip R. Fendall.

_The Federalist. Hallowell._ 1837.

The / Federalist, / on / the New Constitution, / written in the year
1788, / by / Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Jay: / with / an
Appendix, / Containing / the Letters of Pacificus and Helvidius /
on the / Proclamation of Neutrality of 1793; / also, / the Original
Articles of Confederation, and the / Constitution of the United States,
/ with the Amendments made thereto. / A New Edition. / The Numbers
written by Mr. Madison corrected by Himself. / Hallowell: / Glazier,
Masters & Smith. / 1837.

  8vo. pp. 500. A., C. 47

_The Federalist. Rio de Janeiro._ 1840.

O Federalista, publicado em inglez por Hamilton, Madison e Jay,
cidadãos de Nova-York, e tradizido em portuguez por ... Rio de Janeiro:
Typ. Imperial e Const, de J. Villeneuve & Ca. 1840.

  3 vols. 8vo. pp. 244—285—246. 48

  Title from Mr. Sabin’s _Dictionary of Books relating to America_. It
  is unknown to Mr. Dawson, and I have been unable to find a copy. From
  the misspelling of Madison’s name, it is apparently a translation of
  the Paris edition, No. 34.

_The Federalist. Hallowell._ 1842.

The / Federalist, / on / the New Constitution, / Written in 1788, /
by / Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Jay: / With / an Appendix,
/ Containing / the Letters of Pacificus and Helvidius / on the /
Proclamation of Neutrality of 1793; / also, / the Original Articles of
Confederation, / and the / Constitution of the United States. / A New
Edition. / The Numbers written by Mr. Madison corrected by Himself. /
Hallowell: / Glazier, Masters & Smith. / 1842.

  8vo. pp. 484. 49

  Reviewed by J. Parker, in the _North American Review_, xciv, 435.

_The Federalist. Washington._ 1845.

The / Federalist, / on / the New Constitution, / Written in / the Year
1788, / by / Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, / With an
Appendix, / Containing / the Original Articles of Confederation; the
Letter of General Wash-/ ington, as President of the Convention, to
the President of Con-/ gress; the Constitution of the United States;
the Amend-/ ments to the Constitution; and the Act of Congress in /
Relation to the election of President, passed / January 23, 1845. /
Sixth Edition, / with / a Copious Alphabetical Index. / The numbers
written by Mr. Madison corrected by Himself. / Washington: / Printed by
J. & G. S. Gideon. / 1845.

  8vo. pp. (2), v, (1), 391. 50

  Neither in Mr. Dawson’s nor Mr. Sabin’s lists of editions.

_The Federalist. Philadelphia._ 1847.

The / Federalist, / on / the New Constitution, / Written in / the Year
1788, / by / Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. / With
an Appendix, / Containing / the Letters of Pacificus and Helvidius
on the Proclamation of Neu-/ trality of 1793; the Original Articles
of Confederation; the Let-/ ter of General Washington, as President
of the Convention, to the President of Congress; the Constitution of
the / United States; the Amendments to the Constitution; / and the
Acts of Congress in Relation to the Elec-/ tion of President, passed
January 23, 1845. / Sixth edition, / with / a Copious Alphabetical
Index. / The Numbers written by Mr. Madison corrected by Himself. /
Philadelphia: / R. Wilson Desilver, 18 South Fourth Street, / 1847.

  8vo. pp. (2), v, 392, 102. B. M., 51

  The “Letters of Pacificus and Helvidius,” has a separate title-page
  and pagination, and is often found as a separate work.

_The Federalist. Washington._ 1847.

The Federalist, on the New Constitution ... Washington: J. & G. S.
Gideon 1847.

  8vo. pp. 52

  Title quoted by Sabin from “Mr. Bartlett’s List.”

_The Federalist. Hallowell._ 1852.

The / Federalist, / on / the New Constitution, / Written in 1788, /
by / Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Jay: / With / an Appendix,
/ Containing the / Letters of Pacificus and Helvidius / on the /
Proclamation of Neutrality of 1793; / Also, / the Original Articles of
Confederation, / and the / Constitution of the United States. / New
Edition: / The Numbers written by Mr. Madison corrected by Himself. /
Hallowell: / Masters, Smith, & Company. / 1852.

  8vo. pp. 496. 53

_The Federalist. Hallowell._ 1857.

The / Federalist, / on the / New Constitution, / Written in 1788, /
by / Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Jay: / With / an Appendix,
/ Containing Letters of / Pacificus and Helvidius / on the /
Proclamation of Neutrality of 1793; / Also, / the Original Articles
of Confederation, / and the Constitution of the United States. / New
Edition: / The Numbers written by Mr. Madison corrected by Himself. /
Hallowell: / Masters, Smith, & Co. / 1857.

  8vo. pp. 496. B. 54

_The Federalist. New York._ 1863.

The Foederalist: / A / Collection of Essays, Written in Favor / of
the New Constitution, as / agreed upon by / the Federal Convention,
/ September 17, 1787. / Reprinted from the Original Text, / with an
/ Historical Introduction and Notes, / By Henry B. Dawson. / In Two
Volumes. /

Vol. I. / New York: / Charles Scribner, 124 Grand Street, / London:
Sampson Low, Son & Co. / 1863.

  8vo. pp. cxlii, (2), 615, portrait. 55

  All ever printed. This volume contains the text of _The Federalist_,
  entire, and an Introduction, containing a history of the origin,
  original publication, the controversy over the disputed numbers,
  and a bibliographical list of editions, all being treated with
  great thoroughness. It was Mr. Dawson’s intention to give, in the
  second volume, the alterations which had been made in the text of
  the various editions, and MSS. notes from copies of the work which
  had belonged to the authors and other statesmen. The Introduction
  gave offense to the Hamilton and Jay families, and occasioned the
  following pamphlets:

  Correspondence / between / John Jay and Henry B. Dawson, / and
  between / James A. Hamilton and Henry B. Dawson, / concerning / The
  Federalist. / New York: / Printed by J. M. Bradstreet & Son./ 1864.

  8vo. and 4to. pp. 48, covers. 56

  Of the 4to. edition only 25 copies were printed. The title on the
  cover reads _Current Fictions tested by Uncurrent Facts_. Mr. Dawson
  advertised _Current Fictions No. II._, but it was never printed.

  New Plottings in Aid of the Rebel Doctrine of / State Sovereignty.
  / Mr. Jay’s Second Letter / on / Dawson’s Introduction to the
  Federalist, / Exposing its Falsification of the History of the
  Constitution; its / Libels on Duane, Livingston, Jay and Hamilton;
  and / its relation to recent efforts by Traitors at home, and /
  Foes abroad, to maintain the Rebel Doctrine of State / Sovereignty,
  for the subversion of the Unity of / the Republic and the Supreme
  Sovereignty of / the American People / ..... / New York: / A. D. F.
  Randolph. / 1864. / 8vo. pp. 54, viii, covers. 57

  [Same.] New York: / American News Company, 121 Nassau street. /
  London: / Trubner & Company, 60 Paternoster Row. / 1864. / 8vo, pp.
  54. vii, covers. 58

  [Same.] London: Samson Low ... 1864. 8vo. pp. 50. 59

  All three editions were suppressed by Mr. Jay, and the bulk of the
  copies burnt. See _Current Fictions_, p. 26.

  This edition is reviewed by H. W. Torrey in _The North American
  Review_, cxcviii, 586; and by Historicus in _The New York Times_,
  Feb. 17, 1864.

_The Federalist. New York._ 1864.

The Foederalist: / A / Collection of Essays, Written in Favor / of
the New Constitution, as / agreed upon by / the Foederal Convention,
/ September 17, 1787. / Reprinted from the Original Text. / With an
/ Historical Introduction and Notes, / By Henry B. Dawson. / In Two
Volumes. / Vol. I. / New York: / Charles Scribner & Co.... / ... 1864.

  8vo. pp. cxlii, (2), 615, portrait. 60

_The Federalist. Morrisania._ 1864.

The Foederalist: / A Collection of Essays, written in Favor / of
the New Constitution, as agreed / upon by the Foederal Conven-/
tion, September 17, 1787. / Reprinted from the Original Text, / with
an / Historical Introduction and Notes / By Henry B. Dawson. / In Two
Volumes. / Vol. I. / Morrisania, N.Y.: / 1864.

  Royal 8vo. pp. cxlii, (2), 615, portrait. 61

  Printed from the same plates as the New York editions of 1863 and
  1864. 250 copies printed.

_The Federalist. Philadelphia._ 1865.

The / Federalist: / A Commentary / on the / Constitution of the United
States. / A Collection of Essays, / By Alexander Hamilton, / Jay,
and Madison. / Also, / The Continentalist, and other Papers, / By
Hamilton. / Edited by / John C. Hamilton, / Author of “The History of
the Republic of the United States.” / Philadelphia: / J. B. Lippincott
& Co. / 1864.

  8vo. pp. clxv, (1), 659, vi, portrait. B. A. 62

  Many reissues, with a change of date only.

  Contains an “Historical Notice,” which is an endeavor to prove
  Hamilton the author of the doubtful numbers; in fact, the whole
  tendency is to magnify Hamilton’s part of the work, even the names
  of the other authors being printed in much smaller type on the title

  The alterations in the text made by the different editions is added,
  as also the papers signed “Philo-Publius” by William Duer.

  Reviewed by Mr. Horace Binney in the following:

  A Review of Hamilton’s Edition of the Federalist. Philadelphia: 1864.

  8vo. pp. 8. 63

_The Federalist. Philadelphia._ 1865.

The / Federalist: / A Commentary / on the / Constitution of the United
States. / A Collection of Essays / By Alexander Hamilton, / Jay, and
Madison. / Also, / The Continentalist, and other Papers, / By Hamilton.
/ Edited by John C. Hamilton, / Author of “The History of the Republic
of the United States.” / Vol. I. / Philadelphia: / J. B. Lippincott &
Co. / 1865.

  2 vols. Rl. 8vo. pp. clxv, (1), 242.—(2), 243-659, vi, portrait. 64

  From the same plates as No. 62, but divided into two volumes, and
  printed on larger and finer paper. 100 copies only printed.

_The Federalist. New York._ 1876.

University Edition, / The Federalist: / A / Collection of Essays,
written in Favor / of the New Constitution, as / agreed upon by /
Federal Convention, / September 17, 1787 / Reprinted from the Original
Text / under the Editorial Supervision of / Henry B. Dawson. / New
York: / Scribner, Armstrong and Co. / 1876.

  8vo. pp. lvi, 615. 65

  Also issues with no date. A cheap edition from the plates of No. 55,
  with the omission of the Introduction, a short Preface taking its

_The Federalist. New York._ 1886.

The Works / of / Alexander Hamilton / Edited by / Henry Cabot Lodge
/ ... / Vol. IX. / New York & London / G. P. Putnam’s Sons / The
Knickerbocker Press / 1886.

  8vo. pp. xlv, 598. 66

_Federal Republican. See No. 119._

_Ford_ (_Paul Leicester_).

A List of the Members of the Federal Convention of 1787. By Paul
Leicester Ford. Brooklyn, N. Y.: 1888.


  100 copies privately printed.

  “In 1819, when John Quincy Adams, by direction of Congress, edited
  and published the Journal of the Federal Convention, he drew up ...
  a list of the members.... This list was accepted and republished by
  Elliot, ... by Curtis ... and more recently in the Official Programme
  of the Constitutional Centenial, and no additions are promised in
  the forthcoming memorial of that celebration—Thus this list prepared
  in 1819, has become a fixture.... There are, however, several
  omissions and by reference to original documents, acts, etc., I have
  increased the list to seventy-four. To this I have added, in such
  cases as I have been able, the reasons of members for declining the
  appointment, and non-attendance of such as failed to be present in
  the Convention; the day of arrival of attending members; the absence
  of attending members; the date of leaving of those who failed to sign
  the Constitution, with their reasons, and the part the non-attending
  and non-signing members took in their own States in support or
  opposition to the ratification.” _Extract from preface._

_Ford_ (_Paul Leicester_).

Pamphlets / on the / Constitution of the United States / Published
during / its discussion by the People / 1787-1788. / Edited / with
notes and a bibliography / by / Paul Leicester Ford. / Brooklyn, N. Y.:
/ 1888.

  8vo, pp. 68

  Includes reprints of the following pamphlets, and a  bibliography
  and reference list to the literature relating to the formation and
  adoption of the Constitution.

  [GERRY (ELBRIDGE)]. Observations on the New Constitution, and on the
  Federal and State Conventions. By a Columbian Patriot.

  [WEBSTER (NOAH)]. An Examination into the leading principles of the
  Federal Constitution. By a Citizen of America.

  [JAY (JOHN)]. An Address to the People of the State of New York. By a
  Citizen of New York.

  [SMITH (MELANCTHON)]. Address to the People of the State of New York.
  By a Plebeian.

  [WEBSTER (PELATIAH)]. The Weakness of Brutus exposed: or some remarks
  in vindication of the Constitution. By a Citizen of Philadelphia.

  [COXE (TENCH)]. An Examination of the Constitution of the United
  States of America. By an American Citizen.

  WILSON (+James+). Speech on the Federal Constitution, delivered in

  [DICKINSON (JOHN)]. Letters of Fabius on the Federal Constitution.

  [HANSON (ALEXANDER CONTEE)]. Remarks on the Proposed Plan of a
  Federal Government. By Aristides.

  RANDOLPH (EDMUND). Letter on the Federal Constitution.

  [Lee (Richard Henry)]. Observations on the System of Government
  proposed by the late Convention. By a Federal Farmer.

  MASON (GEORGE). Objections to the Federal Constitution.

  [IREDELL (JAMES)]. Observations on George Mason’s Objections to the
  Federal Constitution. By Marcus.

  [RAMSAY (DAVID)]. An Address to the Freemen of South Carolina on the
  Federal Constitution. By Civis.

[_Gerry_ (_Elbridge_)].

Observations / On the new Constitution, and on the Federal / and State
Conventions. / By a Columbian Patriot. / ... [Boston: 1788.]

  12mo. pp. 19. C., M., B. A. 69

  The above title is merely a caption on the first page. It is not
  advertised in any Massachusetts paper that I have been able to find,
  and was probably printed for Gerry for limited circulation only. It
  is reprinted in Ford’s _Pamphlets on the Constitution_, and as below.

[_Gerry_ (_Elbridge._)]

Observations / on the / New Constitution, / and on the / Foederal and
State Conventions. / By a Columbian Patriot / ..., Boston Printed, New
York Reprinted, / M,DCC.LXXXVIII.

  8vo. pp. 22. N., C., S. 70

  Printed by Thomas Greenleaf, in the N. Y. Journal, and reprinted,
  from the same forms, for the “New York [Anti] Federal Committee,” who
  distributed 1630 copies among the county committees in the State.

_Gerry_ (_Elbridge_).

[Observations on the New Constitution. Brooklyn, N. Y.: 1887].

  8vo. pp. 23. 71

  A few copies separately printed from No. 68.

_Hall, Aaron._

An / Oration, / delivered at the Request / of the / Inhabitants of
Keene, June 30, 1788; / To Celebrate the Ratification / of the /
Federal Constitution / by the / State of New-Hampshire. / By Aaron
Hall, M. A. / Member of the late State Convention. / Keene: State of
New-Hampshire: / Printed by James D. Griffith. / M,DCC,LXXXVIII.

 8vo. pp. 15. B. A. 72

_Hamilton_ (_Alexander_). _See also Nos. 32-66._

Propositions / of Col. Hamilton, of New York, / In Convention for
Establishing a Consti- / tutional Government for the / United States.
/ Also / a Summary of the Political Opinions of / John Adams, / ... /
Pittsfield: Printed by Phineas Allen. 1802.

 8vo. pp. 32. N. 73

[_Hanson_ (_Alexander Contee_)].

Remarks / on the / Proposed Plan / of a / Federal Government, /
Addressed to the Citizens of the / United States of America, / and
Particularly to the People of / Maryland, / By Aristides. / ... / ... /
... / ... / ... / Annapolis; / Printed by Frederick Green, / Printer to
the State.

  8vo. pp. 42. N., P. H. S., M. 74

  Reprinted in Ford’s _Pamphlets on the Constitution_.

_Hanson_ (_Alexander Contee_).

[Remarks on the Proposed Plan of a Federal Government. Brooklyn, N. Y.:

  8vo. pp. 39. 75

  A few copies separately printed from No. 68.

_Hitchcock_ (_Enos_).

An / Oration: / delivered July 4, 1788, / at the request of the
Inhabitants / of the / Town of Providence, / in / celebration / of the
/ Anniversary / of / American Independence, / and of / the accession of
nine States / to the / Federal Constitution. / By Enos Hitchcock, A.
M. / Providence: / Printed by Bennett Wheeler.

  8vo. pp. 24. 76

[_Hopkinson_ (_Francis_)].

Account / of the / Grand Federal / Procession, / Philadelphia, July 4,
1788. / To which is added, / a / Letter / on the / same Subject. / ...
/ [Philadelphia:] M. Carey, Printer. [1788.]

  8vo. pp. (2), 22. 77

  Appeared originally in Carey’s _American Museum_, iv, 57, and the
  same forms were used to print this edition. Only the “Account” and
  Wilson’s speech are reprinted in Hopkinson’s _Miscellaneous Essays_,
  ii, 349, showing that the “Letter” is not by him.

[_Hopkinson_ (_Francis_)].

Account / of the / Grand Federal / Procession, / Philadelphia, July 4,
1788. / ... / To which is added, / Mr. Wilson’s [Sic] Oration, / and a /
Letter / on the / Subject of the Procession. / [Philadelphia: M. Carey.

  8vo. pp. (2), 22. 78

An / Impartial / Address, / to the / Citizens / of the / City and
County of Albany: / or, the / 35 Anti-Federal Objections / refuted. /
By the Federal Committee / of the City of Albany. / Printed by Charles
R. Webster, at / his Free Press, No. 36, State-street, near / the
English Church, Albany.

  12vo. pp. 28 S. 79

Interesting Documents, / Containing: / An Account of the Federal
Procession, &c. July 23, 1788. / Sketch of the Proceedings of the
Convention of the State of New York, which adopted the Constitution
2 days after the Procession. / The Articles of Confederation and
perpetual Union between Thirteen United States, as propounded by the
Congress of the United States, 17th Nov. 1777, and approved by this
State; Feb. 6, 1778. / The Constitution of the U. S. with all its
Amendments. / The Constitution of the State of New-York, with its
Amendments. / The Declaration of Independence, New York. / Published by
John S. Murphy, Southwick & Pilsner, Print. 9 Wall St. 1819.

  12vo. pp. 128 N. 80

_Introduction. See No. 105._

_Iredell_ (_James._) _See also No. 24._

Answers to Mr. Mason’s Objections to the New Constitution, recommended
by the late Convention at Philadelphia. By Marcus. [Brooklyn, N. Y.:

  8vo. pp. 38. 81

  Printed in Ford’s _Pamphlets on the Constitution_, from which a
  few copies were separately printed as above. The original tract is
  described in No. 24.

[_Jackson_ (_Jonathan_)].

Thoughts / upon the / Political Situation / of the / United States of
America, / in which that of / Massachusetts / Is more particularly
considered. / With some / Observations on the Constitution / for
a / Federal Government. / Addressed to the People of the Union. /
By a Native of Boston. / ... / ... / ... / Printed at Worcester,
Massachusetts, / by Isaiah Thomas, MDCCLXXXVIII.

  8vo. pp. 209. M., B. A., S. 82

  Signed at end “Civis.” The authorship of this pamphlet is also
  frequently given to G. R. Minot, but both Sabin and Cushing give it
  as above. Reviewed in _The American Magazine_, 744 and 804.

[_Jay_ (_John_)]. _See also Nos. 32-66._

An / Address / to the / People / of the / State of New-York / On the
Subject of the Constitution, / Agreed upon at Philadelphia, / the 17th
of September, 1787. / New-York: / Printed by Samuel London, Printer to
the State.

  4to. pp. 19. N., B. A., C. S. 83

  Reprinted in Ford’s _Pamphlets on the Constitution_.

_Jay_ (_John_).

An Address to the People of the State of New York, on the Subject of
the Constitution. [Brooklyn, N. Y.: 1887.]

  8vo. pp. 20. 84

  A few copies separately printed from No. 68.

Journal, / Acts and Proceedings, / of the Convention, / assembled
at Philadelphia, Monday, May 14, and dis-/ solved Monday, September
17, 1787, / which formed / The Constitution of the United States, /
Published under the direction of the President of the United States,
conformably to a / Resolution of Congress of March 27, 1818. / Boston:
/ Printed and Published by Thomas B. Wait. / 1819.

  8vo. pp. 510. N., P., B., H. 85

  Edited by John Quincy Adams. Reviewed in the _Southern Review_, ii,
  432, and in Taylor’s _New Views of the Constitution_. _Washington_:
  1823. See also No. 28.

[_Lee_ (_Richard Henry_)].

Observations / leading to a fair examination / of the / System of
Government, / proposed by the late / Convention; / and to several
essential and necessary / alterations in it. / In a number of / Letters
/ from the / Federal Farmer to the Republican. / Printed in the Year

  8vo. pp. 40. A. A. S. 86

  The _Letters of a Federal Farmer_, was, to the Anti-Federalists, what
  _The Federalist_ was to the supporters of the Constitution. Reprinted
  in Ford’s _Pamphlets on the Constitution_.

[_Lee_ (_Richard Henry_)].

Observations / leading to a fair examination / of the / System of
Government, / proposed by the late / Convention; / and to several
essential and neces-/ sary alterations in it. / In a number of /
Letters / from the / Federal Farmer to the Republican. / Printed [in
New York, by Thomas Greenleaf] in the Year M,DCC,LXXXVII.

 8vo. pp. 40. B. A., H., A. A. S., N., C. 87

[_Lee_ (_Richard Henry_)].

Observations / leading to a fair examination / of the / System of
Government; / proposed by the late / Convention; / and to several
essential and necessary / alterations in it. / In a number of /
Letters / from the / Federal Farmer to the Republican. / Reprinted [in
New York by Thomas Greenleaf] by order of a Society of Gentlemen. /

  8vo. pp. 40. A. A. S. 88

_Lee_ (_Richard Henry_).

Observations leading to a fair examination of the System of Government,
Proposed by the late Convention. [Brooklyn, N. Y.: 1888.]

  8vo. pp. (2), 47. 89

  A few copies separately printed from No. 68.

[_Lee_ (_Richard Henry_)].

An / Additional number / of / Letters / from the / Federal Farmer / to
the / Republican; / leading to fair examination / of the / System of
Government, / proposed by the late / Convention; / to several essential
and neces-/ sary alterations in it; / And calculated to Illustrate and
Support the / Principles and Positions / Laid down in the preceding
/ Letters. / Printed [in New York by Thomas Greenleaf] in the year

  8vo. pp. [41]-181. B. A., H., C. 90

_Letters of Fabius. See Nos. 25-6._

_Lloyd, Thomas. See Nos. 91-110._

_Maclaine, Archibald. See No. 24._

_M’Kean_ (_Thomas_), _and Wilson_ (_James_).

Commentaries / on the / Constitution / of the / United States of
America, / with that Constitution prefixed, / In which are unfolded, /
the / Principles of Free Government, / and the Superior / Advantages
of Republicanism Demonstrated. / By James Wilson, L.L.D. / ... /
and Thomas M’Kean, L.L.D. / ... / The whole extracted from Debates
published in Philadelphia by / J. Lloyd. / London: / Printed for J.
Debrett, opposite Burtington-House, Piccadilly; / J. Johnson’s, St.
Paul’s Church Yard; and J. S. Jordan, / No. 166 Fleet Street. / 1792.

  8vo. pp. (2), 5-23. 25-147. (1). 91

  This is a reissue of the remainder of the edition of Lloyd’s
  _Debates in the Convention of Pennsylvania_ (No. 110) with a  new
  title and pp. 20-23, which were printed in England.

_McMaster_ (_John Bach_), _and Stone_ (_Frederick D_).

Pennsylvania / and the / Federal Constitution / 1787-1788 / Edited by
/ John Bach McMaster/ and / Frederick D. Stone / Published for the
Subscribers by / The Historical Society of Pennsylvania / 1888.

  8vo. pp. viii, 803, 15 portraits. 92

  A most valuable volume, including a history of the struggle over
  the ratification, the debates in the convention, now for the first
  time collected, sketches of the Pennsylvania members of the Federal
  Convention, and of the Pennsylvania Convention, and the letters of

_Madison_ (_James_). _See Nos. 31-66._

The / Papers / of / James Madison, / purchased by order of Congress; /
being / his Correspondence and Reports of Debates during / the Congress
of the Confederation / and / his Reports of Debates / in the / Federal
Convention; / now published from the original manuscripts, depos-/
ited in the Department of State, by direction of / the joint library
committee of Congress, / under the superintendence / of / Henry D.
Gilpin. / Volume I. / Washington: / Lantree & O’Sullivan. / 1840.

  3 vols. 8vo. pp. (2) lx, 580, xxii, (2), xxii, (2), (581)-1242, (2),
  xiv, (2), (1243)-1624, ccvlvi, 16 ll. 93

  Also issues with change of date in New York and Mobile and Boston.
  The whole of these three volumes were also embodied in the fifth
  volume of _Elliot_ (No. 31), but this edition is much preferable from
  the larger type.

  Reviewed in _The Democratic Review_, v, 243; vi, 140, 337: in _The
  American Church Review_ xv, 541, and by C. F. Adams in _The North
  American Review_, liii, 41.

_Marcus. See Nos. 24 and 81._

_Martin_ (_Luther_).

The / Genuine Information, / delivered to the / Legislature of the
State of / Maryland, / Relative to the Proceedings / of the / General
Convention, / Lately held at Philadelphia; / By / Luther Martin,
Esquire, / Attorney-General of Maryland, / and / One of the Delegates
in the said Convention. / Together with / A Letter to the Hon. Thomas
C. Deye / Speaker of the House of Delegates, / An Address to the
Citizens of the United / States, / And some Remarks relative to a
Standing / Army, and a Bill of Rights. / ... / Philadelphia; / Printed
by Eleazer Oswald, at the Coffee-House. / M,DCC,LXXXVIII.

  8vo. pp. viii, 93. 94

  By direction of the Legislature of Maryland, Mr. Martin reported the
  proceedings of the Federal Convention to them. It is a work of the
  greatest value from the inside light that this member, and opposer of
  the Constitution, sheds on this secret history of the Convention, but
  must be taken as a partizan statement. It is reprinted in _Elliot_
  and in Nos. 138-42.

_Mason_ (_George_).

The Objections of the / Hon. George Mason, / to the proposed
Foederal Constitution. / Addressed to the Citizens of Virginia. / ...
/ Printed by Thomas Nicolas [in Richmond: 1787 or 8].

  Folio. Broadside. S. 95

  Reprinted in Ford’s _Pamphlets on the Constitution_ and “extracts”
  are given in _Elliot_, i.

_Mason_ (_George_).

[The objections of the Hon. George Mason, to the proposed Foederal
Constitution. Brooklyn, N. Y.: 1888].

  8vo. pp. 6. 96

  A few copies separately printed from No. 68.

_Massachusetts Debates. Boston: 1788._

Debates, / Resolutions and other Proceedings, / of the / Convention
/ of the / Commonwealth of Massachusetts, / Convened at Boston, on
the 9th of January, 1788, / and continued until the 7th of February
follow-/ ing, for the purpose of assenting to and ratify-/ ing the
Constitution recommended by the / Grand Federal Convention. / Together
with / The Yeas and Nays on the / Decision of the Grand Question. / To
which / The Federal Constitution / is prefixed. / Boston: / Printed and
sold by Adams and Nourse, in Court-Street; and / Benjamin Russell, and
Edmund Freeman, in State-Street. / M,DCC,LXXXVIII.

  8vo. pp. 219. C., M., B. A. 97

  Reported by Benjamin Russell, printer of _The Massachusetts
  Centinel_. His own account is given in Buckingham’s _Specimens of
  Newspaper Literature_, ii, 49.

_Massachusetts Debates. Boston: 1808._

Debates, / Resolutions and other proceedings / of the / Convention
/ of the / Commonwealth of Massachusetts. / Convened at Boston, on
the 9th of January, / 1788, and continued until the 7th of Februa-/
ry following, for the purpose of assenting / to and ratifying the
Constitution recom-/ mended by the grand Federal Convention. /
Together with the / Yeas and Nays / on / the decision of the grand
question. / To which / The Federal Constitution is prefixed; / and to
which are added, / the Amendments / which have been made therein. /
Boston: / Printed and sold by Oliver & Monroe, / and Joshua Cushing,
State-Street, / 1808.

  12mo. pp. 236. H. 98

_Massachusetts Debates. Boston: 1856._

Debates and Proceedings / in the / Convention / of the / Commonwealth
of Massachusetts, / held in the year / 1788, / and which finally
ratified the / Constitution of the United States. / Printed by
authority of Resolves of the Legislature, 1856. / Boston: / William
White, / Printer to the Commonwealth. / 1856.

  8vo. pp. (16), 442. 99

  Edited by Bradford K. Pierce and Charles Hale. It contains not only
  the debates as printed in the two former editions, but the ante and
  post proceedings of the General Court; Gerry’s official letter; the
  Journal of the Convention; Judge Parsons “Minutes” of the debates; an
  account of the reception of the news of the ratification, and of the
  procession which followed; the “Letters of an American;” Speeches of
  Franklin in the Federal Convention, and Wilson in the Pa. Convention;
  4 “Letters of Brutus,” and a series of personal letters relating to
  the proceedings in Massachusetts, mostly taken from Spark’s _Writings
  of Washington_.

  It is a most valuable volume for the history of the struggle over
  ratification in Massachusetts, but it is a little strange that
  the editors should pass over the essays on the Constitution from
  Massachusetts pens and select the letters of “An American” and of
  “Brutus”—the first a Pennsylvania series, by Tench Coxe, and the
  second by a New York writer.

_Minot, George R. See No. 82._

_Minutes of the Convention. See Nos. 101-2 and 111._

[_Montgomery, James_].

Decius’s / Letters / on the / Opposition / to the / New Constitution /
in / Virginia, / 1789. / Richmond: / Printed by Aug. Davis.

  8vo. pp. 134. C. 100

  “Written by Dr. Montgomery, except the dedication, which was by John
  Nicholas, of Albemarle. MS. notes by John Nicholas.” MS. note by
  Jefferson, in his own copy now in the Congressional Library.

  This volume includes, not only the Letters signed Decius, contributed
  to the _Virginia Independent Chronicle_, between December, 1788 and
  July, 1789, but also many answers to the same, signed “Juvenal,”
  “Philo Pat. Pat. Patria,” “Anti Decius,” “Honestus,” and others.

  It is a most scathing attack on the Anti-Federalists in Virginia,
  and especially on their leader, Patrick Henry. Perhaps nothing
  illustrates better the rarity and difficulty of finding the pamphlets
  of this period than the fact that Mr. Tyler, so well read in American
  literature, has in his _Life of Patrick Henry_, entirely overlooked
  this most plain spoken laying bare of the motives and actions
  of Henry, of which I  have been able to discover only a single
  (imperfect) copy.

  I have been able to find nothing concerning Dr. Montgomery, except
  that he was a member of the Virginia Convention. The so called third
  edition is under John Nicholas—No. 105.

_Native of Boston. See No. 82._

_New Jersey Journal._

Minutes / of the / Convention / of the / State of New Jersey, / Holden
at Trenton the 11th Day of December 1787. / Trenton: / Printed by Isaac
Collins, Printer to the State. / M,DCCC,LXXXVIII.

  4to. pp. 31. P. H. S. 101

  750 copies printed.

_New Jersey Journal._

Minutes / of the / Convention / of the / State of New Jersey, / Holden
at Trenton the 11th Day of December 1787. / Trenton: / Printed by Isaac
Collins, Printer to the State. / M,DCC,LXXXVIII. / Trenton—Reprinted
by Clayton L. Traver, MDCCCLXXXVIII.

  4to. pp. 31. 102

_New York Debates._

The / Debates / and / Proceedings / of the / Convention / of the /
State of New-York, / Assembled at Poughkeepsie, / on the 17th June,
1788. / To deliberate and decide on the Form of Federal Govern-/ ment
recommended by the General Convention at / Philadelphia, on the 17th
September, 1787. / Taken in shorthand. / New-York: / Printed and sold
by Francis Childs. / M,DCC,LXXXVIII.

  8vo. pp. (2), 144. N. S. 103

  From a letter in the Lamb papers (N. Y. Historical Soc.) it appears
  probable that at least Hamilton, Jay and Lansing revised their
  speeches, though Francis Childs, the reporter, virtually, in his
  preface, says that no such revision took place. It is reprinted in
  _Elliot_. ii.

_New York Journal._

Journal / of the / Convention / of the / State of New-York, / Held
at Poughkeepsie, in Dutchess County, the 17th of June, 1788. /
Poughkeepsie: / Printed by Nicholas Power, a few rods East from the
Court-house. [1788.]

 4to. pp. 86. S. 104

[_Nicholas_ (_John_)].

[1/2 title] Introduction / and Concise View of / Decius’s Letters,/
With the Title-page, and the Substance and contents of the whole work,
/ Hereafter to be published at full length in a volume / ...

Decius’s Letters, / on the / opposition to the / Federal Convention, /
in Virginia: / Written in 1788 and 1789. / The Third Edition. / With
/ a new Introduction, / and additional pieces and notes, / on the /
Principles and Operation of Party Spirit since. / With an Appendix. /
consisting of / Various Interesting Letters, &c. / from Washington,
Jefferson, Madison, / and other High Characters, / in support of the
last Letters; / Written in 1818. / Richmond: / Published by the Author.
/ Printed at the office of the Virginia Patriot. / 1818

  8vo. pp. 48. B. A. 105

  “Written by John Nicholas, Esqr. formerly a member of Congress from
  Virginia now resident in the State of New York. Boston 25 Sept 1818
  W. S. Shaw Sec. Bost. Athen.”

  Mr. Shaw probably derived his note given above, from John Adams,
  whose copy this was.

  The first edition (No. 100) is referred by Jefferson, apparently on
  Nicholas’ own authority to Dr. Montgomery, so that we seemingly have
  Jefferson giving the authorship to Montgomery, and Adams giving it
  to Nicholas. They may both be right, however, for the above pamphlet
  is merely the prospectus of a new edition, and therefore might be
  written by an entirely different man than the author.

  The prospectus was issued immediately after the appearance of Wirt’s
  _Life of Patrick Henry_, with the avowed purpose of neutralizing that
  rose-colored narrative. It was never however, carried further than
  the prospectus.

_North Carolina Amendments._

State of North Carolina: / In Convention, August 1, 1788.

  Folio. I1. S. 106

  The Declaration of Rights, and Amendments, of the first Convention of
  North Carolina.

_North Carolina Debates._

Proceedings / and / Debates / of the / Convention / of /
North-Carolina, / Convened at Hillsborough on Monday the 21st Day / of
July, 1788, for the Purpose of deliberating/ and determining on the
Constitution recom-/ mended by the General Convention at Philadel-/
phia the 17th Day of September 1787. / To which is prefixed / The
Federal Constitution. / Edentown: / Printed by Hodge & Wills, Printers
to the State. / M,DCC,LXXXIX.

  8vo. pp. 280. N., C., S., A. A. S. 107

  Reported by David Robertson. 1000 copies printed at the expense of
  a few Federalists for distribution among the people. Reprinted in
  _Elliot_, iv, I. The debates of the second Convention are only to be
  found, in fragmentary condition, in the North Carolina papers of
  that date.

_Observations leading to. See Nos. 86-9._

_Observations on the New Constitution. See Nos. 69-71._

Observations / on the / Proposed / Constitution / for the / United
States of America, / clearly shewing it to be a complete System / of
/ Aristocracy and Tyranny, and / Destructive / of the / Rights and
Liberties / of the / People. / Printed in the State of New-York, /

  8vo. pp. 126. S., B., B. A. 108

  An Anti-Federal compilation, containing:

  Address and Reasons of Dissent of the Minority of the Convention of
  Pennsylvania. (No. 2 infra.)

  Letter of Edmund Randolph (No. 116 infra.)

  Letters of Centinel.

  The Constitution.

  Two hundred and twenty-five copies were distributed by the New York
  Anti-Federal committee to the local county committees of the State.

  The “Letters of Centinel,” were by Samuel Bryan, of Philadelphia,
  and appeared originally in _The Independent Gazetteer_ of that
  city. The letters were exceedingly personal, and especially severe
  on Washington and Franklin, so it is rather amusing to find Bryan
  writing to George Clinton in 1790 and requesting that he use his
  influence with Washington to obtain for his father a judgeship in the
  new government, and using his authorship of the letters as the reason
  for Clinton’s furthering his request.

Order of Procession, / In Honor of the Establishment of the
Constitution of the United States. / To parade ... Friday the 4th of
July, 1788. /..... Philadelphia: / Printed by Hall and Sellers.

 Folio. 1. l. 109

_Pennsylvania Debates._

Debates / of the / Convention, / of the / State of Pennsylvania, / on
the / Constitution, / proposed / for the / Government / of the / United
States. / In Two Volumes. / Vol. I / Taken accurately in Short-Hand,
by / Thomas Lloyd, / ... / ... / Printed by Joseph James, / in
Philadelphia, A. D. M.DCC.LXXXVIII.

  8vo. pp. 147. (2 ll.) 110

  All ever published, being only the speeches of M’Kean and Wilson, on
  the Federal side of the argument. It is reviewed in _The American
  Magazine_, 262. See Nos. 1-2, and 92.

_Pennsylvania Journal._

Minutes / of the / Convention / of the / Commonwealth / of /
Pennsylvania, / which commenced at Philadelphia, on Tuesday, the
/ Twentieth Day of November, One Thousand / Seven Hundred and
Eighty-Seven, / for the purpose of / Taking into Consideration the
Constitution framed by / the late Foederal Convention for the United
States of America. / Philadelphia: / Printed by Hall and Sellers, in
Market-street. / M,DCC,LXXXVII.

  Folio, pp. 28. P. H. S., H. 111

_Pennsylvania Resolution._

[Resolution of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, September 29, 1787.]


  The resolve for holding a Convention to discuss the Constitution.
  3000 copies ordered to be printed, 1000 of which were to be in German.

_Pinckney_ (_Charles_).

Observations / on the / Plan of Government / submitted to / Federal
Convention, / In Philadelphia, on the 28th of May, 1787. / By the
Hon. Charles Pinckney, Esq. L.L.D. / Delegate from the State of
South-Carolina. / Delivered at different Times in the course of their
Discussions. / New York:—Printed by Francis Childs [1787].

  4to. pp 27. B. A., N., M., A., 113

  This is really the speech of Pinckney, introducing his draft of a
  constitution in the Convention, May 29, 1787, which for some reason
  was omitted by both Yates and Madison in their minutes. Though it
  does not include the proposed draft, it nevertheless enables one to
  form a clear idea of what it was, and proves that the draft furnished
  by Pinckney at the request of J. Q. Adams, for publication in the
  Journal, and from that generally copied into other places, to be
  fictitious in both form and substance.

_Plan of the New Constitution. See No. 13._

_Plebeian_ (_A_). _See Nos. 120-1._

_Proceedings of the Federal Convention. See Nos. 14-5._

[_Ramsay_ (_David_)].

An / Address / to the / Freemen / of / South Carolina, / on the Subject
of the / Federal Constitution, / Proposed by the Convention, which met
in / Philadelphia, May, 1787. / Charleston, / Printed by Bowen and Co.,
No. 31, Bay.

  16mo. pp. 12. C. 114

  Signed Civis. Reprinted in Ford’s _Pamphlets on the Constitution_.

_Ramsay_ (_David_).

[An Address to the Freemen of South Carolina, on the Subject of the
Federal Constitution. Brooklyn, N. Y.: 1888].

  8vo. pp. 10. 115

  A few copies separately printed from No. 68.

_Randolph_ (_Edmund_).

Letter on the Federal Constitution, October 16, 1787. By Edmund
Randolph. [Richmond: Printed by Augustin Davis. 1787.]

  16mo. pp. 16. 116

  Reprinted in Ford’s _Pamphlets on the Constitution_ and in No. 108.

_Randolph_ (_Edmund_).

[Letter on the Federal Constitution, October 16, 1787. By Edmund
Randolph. Brooklyn, N. Y.; 1888.]

  8vo. pp. 18. 117

  A few copies separately reprinted from No. 68.

The / Ratifications / of the / New Foederal Constitution,/ together
with the Amendments, / proposed by the / Several States. / ... /
Richmond; / Printed by Aug. Davis / M,DCC,LXXXVIII.

 12mo. pp. (4), 32. A. A. S. 118

_Remarks on the Address. See No. 132_.

_Remarks on the proposed plan See Nos. 74-5._

_Result of the Debates. See No. 16._

A Review of the Constitution Proposed by the late Convention, Held at
Philadelphia, 1787. By a Federal Republican.... Philadelphia: Printed
by Robert Smith and James Prang. 1787.

  8vo. pp. 39. 119

  A copy was sold in the O’Callaghan sale, (lot 668), and a copy is
  mentioned in the Bowdoin College Library Catalogue, which cannot now
  be found. Otherwise I have seen no mention of this pamphlet except in
  the original advertments, from which the above title is taken.

_Robertson, David. See Nos. 107 and 127-8.

Russell, Benjamin. See Nos. 97-8.

Secret Proceedings. See Nos. 138-42._

[_Smith_ (_Melancthon_)]

An / Address / to the / People / of the / State of New-York: / Showing
the Necessity of Making / Amendments / to the / Constitution, proposed
for the United States, / previous to its / Adoption. / By a Plebeian,
/ Printed [by Robert Hodge, in New York] in the State of New York, /

  8vo. pp. 26. B. A., A. A. S. 120

  Reprinted in Ford’s _Pamphlets on the Constitution_.

_Smith_ (_Melancthon_).

[An Address to the People of the State of New York: Shewing the
Necessity of making Amendments to the Constitution. Brooklyn, N. Y.,

  8vo. pp. 27. 121

  A few copies separately printed from No. 68.

_South Carolina_

Debates / which arose in the / House of Representatives / of South
Carolina, / on the Constitution framed for the / United States, / by a
Convention of Delegates, / Assembled at Philadelphia. / Charleston: /
Collected by R. Haswell, and published at the City Gazette / Printing
Office, No. 47, Bay. / M,DCC,XXXVIII.

  4to. pp. 55. B. A. 122

_South Carolina._

Debates / which arose in the / House of Representatives / of /
South-Carolina, / on the Constitution framed for the United States, /
by a / Convention of Delegates assembled at Philadelphia. / Together
with such / notices of the Convention / as could be procured. / ... /
... / ... / ... / Charleston: / Printed by A. E. Miller, / No. 4 Broad
Street. / 1831.

  8vo. pp. (4), 95. M. 123

  The first edition of Elliot’s _Debates_ contained nothing relating to
  South Carolina, and this volume was prepared by some citizen of the
  State to piece out the omission. In the later editions of Elliot, he
  reprinted this volume entire.

_State of North Carolina. See No. 106._

_Stone, Frederick D. See No. 92._

_Supplement to the Independent Journal. See No. 16._

_Thoughts upon the Political. See No. 83._

_Tucker_ (_John Randolph_).

The History / of the / Federal Convention of 1787 and its Work. /
An Address / delivered before the graduating classes / at the /
Sixty-third Anniversary / of the / Yale Law School, / on / June 28th,
1887 / by / Hon. John Randolph Tucker, LL.D. / New Haven: / Published
by the Law Department of Yale College. 1887.

  8vo. pp. 54. H. 124

A / View / of the / Proposed Constitution / of the / United States, /
as agreed to by the / Convention / of Delegates from several States
at Philadelphia, the 17th Day of September, / 1787—Compared with
the present Confederation. / With sundry Notes and Observations. /
Philadelphia: / Printed by R. Aitken & Son, at Popes Head / in Market
Street. / M.DCC.LXXXVII.

  8vo. pp. 37. B. A., N., B. 125

  A comparison in parallel columns between the Articles of
  Confederation, and the proposed Constitution, with anti-federal notes.

_Virginia. Act calling Convention._

Virginia, to wit: / General Assembly begun and held at the Capitol in
the city of / Richmond on Monday the fifth day of October, in the year
/ of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven. / An Act /
concerning the convention to be held / in June next. / Passed December
12th, 1787.

 Folio. Broadside. S. 126

_Virginia. Debates. 1788-9._

Debates / and other / Proceedings / of the / Convention / of /
Virginia, / Convened at Richmond, on Monday the 2d day of / June, 1788,
for the purpose of deliberating on the / Constitution recommended by
the Grand Federal / Convention. / To which is prefixed, / the / Federal
Constitution. / Petersburg: / Printed by / Hunter and Prentis. /

  3 vols. 8 vo. pp. 194; 195; 228. N., C., B. A., 127

  The imprints of volumes II. and III. vary slightly from the above,
  being + / Federal Constitution. / Volume II. [III]. Petersburg: /
  Printed by William Prentis, / M,DCC,LXXXIX. /

  Printed without being proof read. In 1805 it was already described as
  a rare book, and at present is only equalled in rarity in the state
  debates, by those of North Carolina. Volumes two and three are of
  much greater rarity than the first.

_Virginia. Debates. Richmond. 1805._

Debates / and other / Proceedings / of the / Convention of Uirginia,
[sic] convened at Richmond, on Monday the second day of June, / 1787,
for the purpose of deliberating on the Con-/ stitution recommended
by the grand / Federal Convention. / To which is prefixed / the
Federal Constitution. / Taken in short hand, / by David Robertson—of
Petersburg. / Second Edition. / Richmond: / Printed at the
Enquirer-Press / for Ritchie & Worsley and Augustine Davis. / 1805.

  8vo. pp. viii, 477. N., C., A. A. S. 128

  This edition was corrected and compared with a portion of the
  original stenographic notes, by the reporter.

_Virginia Journal._

Journal / of the / Convention / of / Virginia; / held in the / City of
Richmond, / on the / First Monday in June, / in the Year of our Lord
One thousand seven hundred and / eighty-eight. / Richmond: / Printed by
Thomas W. White, / Main-st. opposite the Bell Tavern. / 1827.

  8vo. pp. 39. B. A., P. 129

  _Weakness of Brutus. See No. 133-4._

[_Webster_ (_Noah_)].

An / Examination / into the / leading principles / of the /
Federal Constitution / proposed by the late / Convention / held at
Philadelphia. / With / Answers to the principal objections / that have
been raised against the system. / By a Citizen of America. / ... /
... / Philadelphia: / Printed and sold by Prichard & Hall, in Market
Street, / the second door above Lætitia Court. / M.DCC.LXXXVII.

  8vo. pp. 55. C., B. A., P., H. 130

  Reprinted, from the Author’s annotated copy, in Ford’s _Pamphlets on
  the Constitution_.

_Webster, Noah._

[An Examination into the leading principles of the Federal
Constitution. Brooklyn, N. Y.: 1887.]

  8vo. pp. 41. 131

  A few copies separately printed from No. 68.

[_Webster_ (_Pelatiah_)].

Remarks / on the / Address of Sixteen Members / of the / Assembly of
Pennsylvania, / to their / Constituents, / Dated September 29, 1787.
/ With some Strictures on the Objections to the / Constitution, /
Recommended by the late Federal Convention, / Humbly offered to the
Public / By a Citizen of Philadelphia. / Philadelphia: / Printed by
Eleazer Oswald, at the Coffee-House. / M,DCC,LXXXVII.

  8vo. pp. 28. B. A., M. 132.

  Also (abridged) in Webster’s _Political Essays_, and (entire) in No.

[_Webster_ (_Pelatiah_)].

The Weaknesses of Brutus exposed: / or some / Remarks / in /
Vindication of the Constitution / proposed by the late / / Federal
Convention, / against the / Objections and gloomy Fears of that Writer.
/ Humbly offered to the Public. / By / A Citizen of Philadelphia. /
Printed for and to be had of John Sparhawk, Market-street, / near the
Court House / M.DCC.LXXXVII.

  8vo. pp. 23. B. A., A. A. S., M. 133

  Reprinted in Webster’s _Political Essays_, and in Ford’s _Pamphlets
  on the Constitution_. In reprinting this pamphlet I suggested, with
  a question mark, that Brutus was written by Thomas Tredwell, having
  found that he used that signature to a newspaper essay published in
  1789. I have since concluded that they were from the pen of Robert
  Yates, member of the Federal Convention from New York.

_Webster_ (_Pelatiah_).

[The Weakness of Brutus exposed: or some Remarks in Vindication of the
Constitution proposed by the late Federal Convention. Brooklyn, N. Y.:

  8vo. pp. 15. 134

  A few copies separately printed from No. 68.

  _We the People. See Nos. 17-20._

_Williamson_ (_Hugh_).

Address to the Freemen of Edentown and the County of Chowan, etc. on
the New Plan of Government.

  8vo. 135

  Title from the _N. Y. Historical Society Catalogue_, but an
  examination shows it to be merely a newspaper clipping mounted on
  sheets of writing paper.

_Wilson_ (_James_). _See No. 91._

Substance of an Address / to a / meeting of the Citizens of
Philadelphia, / delivered, October sixth, MDCCLXXXVII, / by the
honorable / James Wilson, Esquire, one of the delegates from the State
of Pennsylvania to the / late Continental Convention. [Brooklyn, N. Y.:

  8vo. pp. 7. 136

  A few copies separately printed from No. 68.

  “Mr. Wilson’s speech is read with much approbation here by _one
  party_; the other party see nothing but nonsense in it.”

  “It has varnished an iron trap.”

_Wilson_ (_James_).

The Substance / of a / Speech / delivered by / James Wilson, Esq.
/ Explanatory of the general Principles of the proposed / Federal
Constitution; / Upon a Motion made by the / Honorable Thomas McKean,
/ in the Convention of the State of Pennsylvania. / On Saturday the
24th of November, 1787. / Philadelphia: / Printed and Sold by Thomas
Bradford, in Front-Street, / four Doors below the Coffee-House,

  8vo. pp. 10. 137

  Reported by Alexander J. Dallas, Editor of _The Pennsylvania Herald_.
  Thomas Lloyd charged Dallas in a communication to the papers, with
  misrepresenting what Wilson had said.

_Yates (Robert). Secret Proceedings. Albany. 1821_.

Secret / Proceedings and Debates / of the / Convention / assembled
at Philadelphia, in the Year 1787, for the purpose / of forming the
/ Constitution / of / the United States of America. / From the Notes
taken by the late Robert Yates, Esq. Chief / Justice of New-York, and
copied by John Lansing, Jun. / Esq. late Chancellor of that State,
Members / of that Convention. / Including / “The Genuine Information,”
laid before the Legislature of / Maryland, by Luther Martin, Esq.
then Attorney Gen-/ eral of that State, and a member of the same /
Convention. / Also, / other Historical Documents relative to the
Federal Compact / of the North American Union. / Albany: / Printed by
Webster and Skinners, / at their Bookstore, in the White House, corner
of State and Pearl Streets. / 1821.

  8vo. pp. 308. 138

  An outline of Yate’s Minutes appeared in Hall’s _American Law
  Journal_, iv, 563, 1813.

  Yates was a member of the Federal Convention and though his memoranda
  only is to July 5, at which time he left the Convention, it is
  only second to Madison’s _Debates_ in importance. It is noticed in
  Taylor’s _New Views of the Constitution_.

  This first edition is by no means a common volume.

_Yates (Robert). Secret Proceedings. Washington. 1836._

Secret / Proceedings and Debates / + / Washington: / Printed for G.
Templeman, / Bookseller and Stationer, Pennsylvania Avenue. / 1839.

  8vo. pp 308. 139

_Yates (Robert). Secret Proceedings. Richmond. 1839_

Secret / Proceedings and Debates / + / Richmond, Va. / Published by
Wilbur Curtiss. / 1839.

  8vo. pp. xi, 335.

  _Yates (Robert). Secret Proceedings. Louisville. 1844_

Secret / Proceedings and Debates / + / Louisville, Ky. / Published by
Alston Mygatt. / 1844.

  8vo. pp. xi, 335. 140

  Also copies dated 1845.

_Yates (Robert). Secret Proceedings. Cincinnati._

Secret / Proceedings and Debates, / + / Cincinnati. / Published by
Alston Mygatt. / [184-?]

 8vo. pp. xi, 335. 141


_General Works—Histories._

Allen (T.) Facts ... in the origination of the American Union (new
Series). Boston: 1870.

Bancroft (G.) History of the Constitution. No. 5.

Cocke (W. A.) Constitutional History of the U. S. Phila.: 1858.

Coffin (C. C.) Building the Nation. N. Y.: 1883.

Curtis (G. T.) History of the Constitution. No. 23.

Elliot (J.) Debates in the several State Conventions. No. 30.

Frothingham (R.) Rise of the Republic of the United States. Boston:

Hildreth (R.) History of the U. S. (1st series, iii). N. Y.: 1852.

McMaster (J. B.) History of the People of the U. S. (i). N. Y.: 1883.

McMaster (J. B.) Making a Government, in _The_ [Philadelphia] _Press_.
Sept. 15, 1887.

Miller (S. F.) Oration at the 100 Anniversary of the Constitution.
Phila.: 1887.

Patton (J. H.) Concise History of the American People. N.Y.: 1882.

Porter (L. H.) Outlines of the Constitutional History of the U. S. N.
Y.: 1883.

Schouler (J.) History of the U. S. (i). N. Y.: 1881.

Sterne (S.) Constitutional History ... of the U. S. N. Y.: 1883.

Thorpe (F. N.) Origin of the Constitution, in _Mag. of Am. Hist._
xviii, 130.

Towle (N. C.) History and Analysis of the U. S. Constitution. Boston:
v. d.

Von Holst (H.) Constitutional and Political History of the U. S. (i).
Chicago: 1876.

Winsor (J.) Narrative and Critical History of America. (vii). Boston:

_General Works—Printed documentary sources._

Ames (F.) Works of ... Boston: 1809.

Ames (F.) Works of ... edited by S. Ames. Boston: 1854.

Belknap Papers. (Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll. 5th series, ii and iii).
Boston: 1877.

Diplomatic Correspondence of the U. S. 1783-1789. Boston: 1837.

Franklin (B.) Works of ... edited by J. Sparks. Boston: 1840.

Franklin (B.) Works of ... edited by J. Bigelow. N. Y.: 1887.

Hamilton (A.) Works of ... edited by J. C. Hamilton. N. Y.: 1850.

Hamilton (A.) Works of ... edited by H. C. Lodge. N. Y.: 1885.

Jay (J.) Writings of ... edited by H. P. Johnson. (in preparation). N.

Leake (J. Q.) Life and Times of John Lamb. Albany: 1857.

Letters and Papers illustrating the formation of the Constitution, in
No. 5.

McRee (G. J.) Life of James Iredell, (ii). N. Y.: 1858.

Madison (J.) Papers of ... No. 93.

Madison (J.) Letters and other writings. Phila.: 1865.

Morris (G.) Writings of, (in preparation). N. Y.:——

Washington (G.) Writings of ... edited by J. Sparks. Boston: 1837.

Washington (G.) Writings of ... edited by W. C. Ford. N. Y.: 1888.

_General Works—Periodicals._

New Hampshire.

  Freemans Oracle and N. H. Advertiser. [Exeter].
  N. H. Gazette and the General Advertiser. [Exeter].
  N. H. Mercury. [Portsmouth].
  N. H. Recorder and Weekly Advertiser. [Keene].
  N. H. Spy. [Portsmouth].


  American Herald. [Worcester].
  Berkshire Chronicle.
  Boston Gazette.
  Cumberland Gazette. [Portland, Me].
  Essex Journal. [Salem].
  Hampshire Chronicle. [Springfield].
  Hampshire Gazette. [Northampton].
  Hampshire Herald. [Springfield].
  Independent Chronicle. [Boston].
  Massachusetts Centinel. [Boston].
  Massachusetts Gazette. [Boston].
  Massachusetts Spy. [Worcester].
  Salem Mercury.
  Western Star. [Stockbridge].

Rhode Island.

  Newport Herald.
  Providence Gazette.
  United States Chronicle. [Providence].


  American Mercury. [Hartford].
  Connecticut Courant. [Hartford].
  Connecticut Gazette. [New London].
  Connecticut Journal. [New Haven].
  Middlesex Gazette. [Middletown].
  New Haven Chronicle.
  New Haven Gazette.
  Norwich Packet.
  Weekly Monitor. [Litchfield].

New York.

  Albany Gazette.
  Albany Register.
  American Magazine. [New York.]
  Goshen Repository.
  Hudson Gazette.
  Independent Journal. [New York].
  New York Daily Advertiser. [New York].
  New York Journal. [New York].
  New York Museum. [New York].
  New York Packet. [New York].
  Northern Centinel or Lansingburg Advertiser.
  Poughkeepsie Journal.

New Jersey.

  Brunswick Gazette. [New Brunswick].
  New Jersey Gazette. [Trenton].
  New Jersey Journal. [Elizabethtown].


  American Museum. [Philadelphia].
  Freemen’s Journal. [Philadelphia].
  Independent Gazetteer. [Philadelphia].
  Pennsylvania Gazette. [Philadelphia].
  Pennsylvania Herald. [Philadelphia].
  Pennsylvania Journal. [Philadelphia].
  Pennsylvania Mercury. [Philadelphia].
  Pennsylvania Packet. [Philadelphia].
  Pittsburg Gazette.


  Wilmington Courant.
  Wilmington Gazette.


  Maryland Chronicle. [Frederick].
  Maryland Gazette. [Annapolis].
  Maryland Gazette. [Baltimore].
  Maryland Journal. [Baltimore].


  The Norfolk and Portsmouth Chronicle.
  Virginia Gazette. [Winchester].
  Virginia Gazette and Petersburg Advertiser.
  The Virginia Gazette and Weekly Advertiser. [Richmond].
  The Virginia Herald and Independent Advertiser.
  Virginia Independent Chronicle. [Richmond].
  The Virginia Journal and Alexandria Advertiser.

North Carolina.

  North Carolina Chronicle. [Fayettville].
  State Gazette of North Carolina. [Newberne & Edentown].

South Carolina.

  The Columbian Herald or the Independent Courier. [Charleston].
  City Gazette, or Daily Advertiser. [Charleston].
  State Gazette of South Carolina. [Charleston].
  South Carolina Weekly Chronicle.


  Augusta Chronicle.
  Georgia Gazette. [Savannah].

  _General Works—Biographies._

  See under “Federal Convention—Biographies of attending members” and
  “Contests in the States.”

_Federal Convention—Histories._

Anecdotes of the Federal Convention, in _Living Age_, xxv, 557.

Bledsoe (A. T.) North and South in the Convention of 1787, in _Southern
Review_, (new series), ii, 359.

Clason (A. W.) The Fallacy of 1787, in _Mag. of Am. Hist._, xiv, 373.

Jameson (J. A.) The Constitutional Convention. N. Y.: v. d.

McMaster (J. B.) Framers and Framing of the Constitution, in _The
Century_, xxxiv, 746.

Martin (L.) Genuine Information, No. 94.

Sparks (J.) Convention of 1787, in _North Am. Rev._, xxv, 249.

Tucker (J. R.) History of the Federal Convention. No. 124.

_Federal Convention—Proceedings._

Journal, Acts and Proceedings of the Convention, No. 85.

King (R.) Minutes of Debates. MS. in possession of family.

Madison (J.) Minutes of Debates, No. 93.

Martin (L.) Genuine Information, No. 94.

Yates (R.) Secret proceedings and Debates, No. 138.

_Federal Convention—Drafts and Plans._

Cruger (L. N.) Authorship of the U. S. Constitution, in _Southern
Monthly_, x, 635.

Hamilton (A.) Proposition in Convention, June 18, 1787, No. 73.

Hamilton (A.) Plan of Government, (p. 584) of No. 31.

New Jersey Resolutions, June 15, 1787, in Nos. 30, 31, 85 and 138.

Pinckney (C.) [Spurious] plan of Government, in Nos. 30, 31, 85 and 138.

Pinckney (C.) Observations on the Plan of Government, No. 113.

Randolph (E.) Draft of a Constitution, in _Scribners_ (new) _Mag._, ii,

Randolph (E.) Draft of a Constitution, in (forthcoming) Life of
Randolph, by M. D. Conway.

Report of the Committee of Detail, Aug. 6, 1787, No. 20.

Report of the Committee of Revision, Sept. 12, 1787. No. 19.

Resolutions as agreed to in Committee of the whole. June 19, 1787, in
Nos. 30, 31, 85 and 138.

Resolutions referred to the Committee of Detail, July 26, 1787, in Nos.
30, 31, 85 and 138.

Virginia Resolutions, May 29, 1787, in Nos. 30, 31, 85 and 138.

_Federal Convention—Biographies of attending Members._

General Works.

Ford (P. L.) List of the Members of. No. 69.

  Lamb (M. J.) The Framers of the Constitution, in _Mag. of Am. Hist._
  xiii, 313.

  Memorial of the Constitutional Centennial Celebration. Phila.: 1889.

  Official Programme of the Constitutional Centennial Celebration.
  Phila.: 1887.

Baldwin, Abraham.

  Barlow (J.) and Baldwin (H.) in Herring’s _Nat. Portrait Gallery_, iv.

Blair, John.

  Biographia Americana. N. Y.: 1825.

  Miller (S. F.) The Supreme Court. Phila.: 1877.

  Grigsby (H. B.) Virginia Convention of 1776, (p. 70). Richmond: 1855.

Brearly, David.

  Elmer (L. Q. C.) Constitution and Government of N. J., (p. 274).
  Newark: 1872.

Butler, Pierce.

  Simpson (H.) Lives of Eminent Philadelphians, (p. 157). Phila.: 1859.

Carroll, Daniel.

  _Scharf (J. T.) History of Western Maryland._

Clymer, George.

  Dickinson (W.) in _Mag. of Am. Hist._, v, 196.

  Wain (B.) in Sanderson’s _Biography of the Signers_, iv, 173.

  Simpson (H.) Lives of Eminent Philadelphians, (p. 211). Phila.: 1859.

  McMaster (J. B.) and Stone (F. D.) p. 704, of No. 92.

Davie, William Richardson.

  Garden (A.) Anecdotes of the American Revolution (p. ?). Charleston:

  Hubbard (F. M.) in Spark’s _American Biography_, xxv.

  Davie (A. H.) in Herring’s _Nat. Portrait Gallery_, iii.

  _Southern Literary Messenger_, xiv, 510.

Dickinson, John.

  Armor (W. C.) Lives of the Governors of Pa., (p. 234). Phila.: 1873.

  Budd (T. A.) in Herring’s _Nat. Portrait Gallery_, iii.

  Dickinson (W.) in _Mag. of Am. Hist._, x, 223.

  Hines (C. F.) Sketch of Dickinson College, (p. 17). Harrisburg: 1879.

  Simpson (H.) Lives of Eminent Philadelphians, (p. 309). Phila.: 1859.

Ellsworth, Oliver.

  _Analytical Mag._, iii, 382.

  _American Literary Mag._, i, 195.

  Duychinck (E.) _Nat. Portrait Gallery_, i, 345.

  Flanders (H.) Lives of the Chief Justices, (i). Phila.: 1855.

  Miller (S. F.) The Supreme Court. Phila.: 1877.

  _The Portfolio_, xxxiv, 185.

  Rowland (H. A.) Eulogy on ... Hartford: 1808.

  Sigourney (L. H.) in Herring’s _Nat. Portrait Gallery_, iv.

Few, William.

  Autobiography of ... in _Mag. of Am. Hist._, vii, 340.

  Jones (C. C.) in _Mag. of Am. Hist._, vii, 343.

  White (G.) Historical Collections of Georgia, (p. 409). N. Y.: 1855.

Fitzsimons, Thomas.

  Flanders (H.) in _Pa. Mag. of Hist. and Biography_, ii, 307.

  _American Catholic Historical Researches_, Jan. 1888.

  McMaster (J. B.) and Stone (F. D.) p. 706, of No. 92.

  Simpson (H.) Lives of Eminent Philadelphians, (p. 372). Phila.: 1859.

Franklin, Benjamin.

  See Lindsay Swift’s _Catalogue of works relating to Benjamin
  Franklin_. _Boston_: 1883.

Gerry, Elbridge.

  Austin (J. T.) Life of ... Boston: 1828.

  Gilpin (H. D.) in Sanderson’s _Biography of the Signers_, viii, 7.

Gilman, Nicholas.

  Gilman (A.) The Gilman Genealogy, (p. 108). Albany: 1869.

Gorham, Nathaniel.

  Biographia Americana. N. Y.: 1825.

  Welch (T.) Eulogy on ... Boston: 1796.


  See P. L. Ford’s _Bibliotheca Hamiltoniana_. _N. Y._: 1886.

Ingersoll, Jared.

  McMaster (J. B.) and Stone (F. D.) p. 707, of No. 92.

  Simpson (H.) Lives of Eminent Philadelphians, (p. 594). Phila.: 1859.

Johnson, William Samuel.

  Beardsley (E. E.) Life of ... N. Y.: 1876.

  Irving (J. T.) Discourse on Classical Learning. N. Y.: 1830.

King, Rufus.

  Curtis (G. T.) History of the Constitution, (i, 448), No. 23.

  Delaplaine’s _Repository_, ii, 177.

  Duyckinck (E.) _Nat. Portrait Gallery_.

  Herring (J.) in Herring’s _Nat. Portrait Gallery_, iii.

  King (C.) Homes of American Statesmen (p. 355). N. Y.: 1856.

  _American Annual Register_ for 1826-7, p. 341

Langdon, John.

  Brewster (C. W.) Rambles about Portsmouth, (1st series, 364).
  Portsmouth: 1873.

Lansing, John.

  Street (A. B.) Council of Revision of the State of N. Y., (p. 168).
  Albany: 1859.

Livingston, William.

  Sedgewick (T.) Memoir of ... N. Y.: 1833.

  Elmer (L. Q. C.) Constitution and Government of N. J., (p. 56).
  Newark: 1872.

M’Henry, James.

  Brown (F. J.) Sketch of ... Baltimore: 1877.

  _Mag. of Am. Hist._, vii, 104.

McClung, James.

  Duyckinck (E.) Cyclopaedia of Am. Literature, (i, 283). N. Y.: 1855.

  Thacher (J.) American Medical Biography. Boston: 1828.

Madison, James.

  Rives (W. C.) Life and Times of ... Boston: 1873.

  Gay (S. H.) American Statesmen, James Madison. Boston: 1884.

  Stoddard (W. O.) Lives of the Presidents. N. Y.: 1885.

  Curtis (G. T.) History of the Constitution, (i, 420). No. 23.

  Ingersoll (C. J.) in Herring’s Nat. Portrait Gallery, iii.

Martin, Luther.

  Lanman (J. H.) in Herring’s _Nat. Portrait Gallery_, iv.

  _American Law Review_, i, 273.

Mason, George.

  Rowland (K. M.) Life of ... [in preparation].

  Grigsby (H. B.) Virginia Convention of 1776, (p. 154). Richmond: 1855.

  _American Historical Record_, ii, 113.

  Colvin (S.) in _The Portfolio_, ii, 231, [from Poole’s Index].

Mercer, John Francis.

  _Potter’s American Monthly_, vii, 178.

Mifflin, Thomas.

  Budd (T. A.) in Herring’s _Nat. Portrait Gallery_, iv.

  Armor (W. C.) Lives of the Governors of Pa., (p. 273). Phila.: 1873.

  McMaster (J. B.) and Stone (F. D.) p. 701, of No. 92.

  Simpson (H.) Lives of Eminent Philadelphians, (p. 693). Phila.: 1859.

Morris, Gouverneur.

  Sparks (J.) Life and Writings of ... Boston: 1837.

  Tuckerman (H. T.) Essays, Biographical and Critical. Boston: 1857.

  Meredith (C. K.) in _Pa. Mag. of History and Biography_, ii, 185.

 Roosevelt (T.) Life of ... Boston: 1888.

  Curtis (G. T.) History of the Constitution, (i, 440), No. 23.

  Francis (J. W.) in _Hist. Mag._, xiii.

Morris, Robert.

  Life of ... Phila.: 1841.

  Duyckinck (E.) _Nat. Portrait Gallery_, i, 240.

  Waln (R.) in Sanderson’s _Biography of the Signers_, v, 189.

  Delaplaine’s _Repository_, iii, 139.

  Hart (A. N.) in _Pa. Mag._ of History and Biography, i, 333.

  Herring (J.) in Herring’s _Nat. Portrait Gallery_, iv.

Paterson, William.

  Clark (J.) Funeral Sermon on ... New Brunswick: n. d.

  Messier (A.) in _Pa. Mag. of History and Biography_, iii, 429.

  Elmer (L. Q. C.) Constitution and Government of N. J., (p. 77).
  Newark: 1872.

  Barber (J. W.) and Howe (H.) Historical Collections of N. J., (p.
  314). N. Y.: 1845.

  Miller (S. F.) The Supreme Court. Phila.: 1877.

Pinckney, Charles.

  Biographia Americana, N. Y.: 1825.

Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth.

  Gadsden (E. C.) A Sermon on ... Charleston: 1825,

  Garden (A.) Eulogy on ... Charleston: 1825.

  Lynch (J.) in Herring’s _Nat. Portrait Gallery_, iv.

  Duyckinck (E.) in _Nat. Portrait Gallery_.

  Garden (A.) Anecdotes of the American Revolution. Charleston: 1822.

  _American Annual Register for 1825-6_, p. 207.

  Curtis (G. T.) History of the Constitution, (i, 454). No. 23.

  Simms (W. G.) in _Hist. Mag._, xii, 134.

Randolph, Edmund.

  [Daniels (P. V.)] Memoir of ... Richmond: 1869.

  Conway (M. D.) Life of ... N.Y.: 1888.

  Conway (M. D.) in _Lippincott’s Mag._, Sept. 1887.

  Grigsby (H. B.) Virginia Convention of 1776, (p. 76). Richmond: 1855.

  Curtis (G. T.) History of the Constitution, (i, 480). No. 23.

  Public Characters for 1800-1, (p. 439). London: 1801.

Read, George.

  Read (W. T.) Life of ... Phila.: 1870.

  Read (——?) in Sanderson’s _Biography of the Signers_, iv, 21.

  [Tilton (J.)] History of Dionysius, Tyrant of Delaware, [n. p.] 1788.

Rutledge, John.

  Gayarré (C.) Life of ...

  Van Santvoord (G.) Chief Justices of the U. S., (p. 91). N. Y.: 1854.

  Flanders (H.) Lives of the Chief Justices. Phila.: 1855.

  Miller (S. F.) The Supreme Court. Phila.: 1877.

  Ramsay (D.) in Herring’s _Nat. Portrait Gallery_, iv.

  Ramsay (D.) History of S. C., (ii. 510). Charleston: 1809.

  Sargent (W.) in _North American Rev._, lxxxi, 346.

  _American Whig Rev._, vi, 125, 277.

  _Southern Quarterly_, xxvii, 332.

Sherman, Roger.

  Everett (E.) in Sanderson’s _Biography of the Signers_, iii, 199.

  Duyckinck (E.) _Nat. Portrait Gallery_, i, 334.

  _Harper’s Mag._, iii, 145, vii, 156.

  _Worcester Mag._, i, 164.

  _New Englander_, iv, 1.

Spaight, Richard Dobbs.

  Wheeler (J. H.) in _Pa. Mag. of History and Biography_, iii, 426.

Strong, Caleb.

  Bradford (A.) Biography of ... Boston: 1820.

  Lyman (J.) Sermon on ... Northampton: 1819.

  Dwight (E. S.) in _The Congregational Quarterly_, ii 161.

  _American Quarterly_, xii, 1.

  _Polyanthus_ (enlarged), ii, 225.

Washington, George.

  Marshall (J.) Life of ... Phila.: 1805.

  Irving (W.) Life of ... N. Y.: 1855.

  Lossing (B. J) Life of ... N. Y.: 1860.

Williamson, Hugh.

  Hosack (D.) Biographical Memoirs of ... N. Y.: 1820.

  Also in _Proceedings of the N. Y. Historical Society_, iii.

  Thacher (J.) American Medical Biography. Boston: 1828.

  _The Portfolio_, xxiii, 102; xxvi, 388.

  Everett (A. H.) in _North American Rev._, xi, 31.

Wilson, James.

  Wain (R.) in Sanderson’s _Biography of the Signers_, vi, 113.

  Curtis (G. T.) History of the Constitution, (i, 462), No. 23.

  Simpson (H) Lives of Eminent Philadelphians, (p. 964), Phila.: 1859.

Wythe, George.

  Jefferson (T.) in Sanderson’s _Biography of the Signers_, ii, 156.

  Grigsby (H. B.) Virginia Convention of 1776, (p. 120). Richmond: 1855.

Yates, Robert.

  Lansing (J.) Secret Proceedings, (p. 303). No. 138.

  Street (A. B.) Council of Revision of the State of N. Y., (p. 168).
  Albany: 1859.

_Partizan Pamphlets—Pro._

Address to Citizens of Albany, No. 79.

[Coxe (T.)] Examination of the Constitution, No. 21.

[Dickinson (J.)] Letters of Fabius, No. 25.

Duer (W.) Philo Publius, in No. 62.

[Hanson (A. C.)] Remarks on the Constitution, No 74.

[Hamilton, Madison and Jay]. The Federalist, No. 32.

[Jackson (J.)] Thoughts upon the Political Situation, No. 82.

[Jay (J.)] Address to People of N. Y., No. 83.

[Ramsay (D.)] Address on the Constitution, No. 114.

Randolph (E.) Letter on the Constitution, No. 116.

[Webster (N.)] Examination of the Constitution, No. 130.

[Webster (P.)] Remarks on the Address, No. 132.

[Webster (P.)] The Weakness of Brutus, No. 133.

Williamson (H.) Address to the Freemen, No. 135.

Wilson (J.) Speech of October 6th, 1787, No. 136.

Partizan Pamphlets—Con.

[Bryan (S.)] Letters of Centinel, Nos. 92 and 97.

[Gerry (E.)] Observations on the Constitution, No. 70.

[Lee (R. H.)] Letters of a Federal Farmer, No. 88.

Letters of Brutus, No. 99.

Martin (L.) Genuine Information, No. 94.

Mason (G.) Objections to the Constitution, No. 95.

Review of the Constitution, No. 119.

[Smith (M.)] Address to the People of N. Y., No. 120.

View of the proposed Constitution, No. 125.

_Contests in the States._

  See also “General Works—Periodicals” and “Federal
  Convention—Biographies of attending members.”

New Hampshire.

  Amory (T. C.) Life of John Sullivan. Boston: 1868.

  Barstow (G.) History of N. H. Concord: 1842.

  Belknap (J.) History of N. H. Various editions.

  Biographies of the Members of the N. H. Convention in Bouton’s N. H.
  State Records, x, 8.

  Debates (fragment) in Convention, (ii, 202). No. 30.

  Fragment of Debate in N. H. Convention, in _N. H. Gazette_, Feb. 20,

  Hall, A. Oration, June 30, 1788, No. 72.

  Journal of the N. H. Convention, in Bouton’s N. H. Records, x, 1.
  Also in _Hist. Mag._, xiii, 257.

  Outlines of proceeding of the first session of Convention in _N. Y.
  Journal_, Feb. 28, 29, March 3, 6, 1788.

  Peabody (A. P.) Life of William Plummer. Boston: 1866.

  Sanborn (E. D.) History of N. H. Manchester: 1875.


  Ames (Fisher.) Works of ... Boston: 1809 and 1854.

  Amory (T. C.) Life of James Sullivan. Boston: 1859.

  Austin (G. L.) History of Massachusetts. Boston: 1870.

  Barry (J. S.) History of Massachusetts. Boston: 1855.

  Belknap Papers, [Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll. Vols. II & III], Boston: 1877.

  Bradford (A.) History of Massachusetts. Boston: 1825.

  Clason (A. W.) Outlines of Debates in Mass. Convention, in _Mag. of
  Am. Hist._, xiv, 529.

  [Gerry (E.)] Observations on the Constitution, by A Columbian
  Patriot, No. 70.

  [Jackson (J.)] Thoughts on the Political Situation, No. 82.

  Journal of the Convention, No. 99.

  Lodge (H. C.) Life of George Cabot. Boston: 1877.

  Parsons (T.) Minutes of Debates, No. 99.

  Parsons (T. Jr.) Memoir of Theophilus Parsons. Boston: 1861.

  Procession in Boston, No. 99.

  Russell’s Debates in the Convention, No. 97.

  Smith (C. C.) History of the Mass. Convention, in Supplement to
  _Boston Post_, Sept. 15, 1887.

  Warren (E.) Life of John Warren. Boston: 1874.

  Wells (W. V.) Life of Samuel Adams. Boston: 1866.

Rhode Island.

  Arnold (S. G.) History of the State of R. I.N. Y.: 1859.

  Hitchcock (E.) An Oration, July 4. 1788, No. 76.

  Minutes of R. I. Convention, in Staple’s R. I., and the Continental
  Congress, (p. 641). Providence: 1870.

  Peterson (E.) History of R. I.N. Y.: 1853.

  Staples (W. R.) R. I. and the Constitution, in R. I., and the
  Continental Congress. Providence: 1870.


  Baldwin (S.) Oration, July 4th, 1788, No. 4.

  Debates in the Convention, in _New Haven Gazette_, 1788.

  Debates in Convention (fragment) in No. 30.

  Hollister (G. H.) History of Conn. New Haven: 1855.

  Johnson (A.) American Commonwealths. Connecticut. Boston: 1887.

  Official letter from Sherman and Ellsworth, in No. 30.

New York.

  Address to Citizens of Albany, No. 81.

  Campbell (W. W.) Life of DeWitt Clinton. N. Y.: 1849.

  Circular Letter of Convention, (ii, 413) of No. 30.

  Debates in Convention, No. 104.

  Dunlap (W.) History of N. Y.: 1840.

  [Hamilton, Madison and Jay]. The Federalist, No. 32.

  Hammond (J. B.) Political History of N. Y. Albany: 1842.

  [Jay (J.)] Address to People of N. Y. No. 83.

  Jay (W.) Life of John Jay. N. Y.: 1833.

  Jenkins (J. S.) History of Political Parties in the State of N. Y.
  Auburn: 1846.

  Journal of Convention, No. 104.

  Leake (I. Q.) Memoirs of John Lamb. Albany: 1857.

  Letters of Brutus, No 99.

  Macauley (J.) History of the State of N. Y. Albany: 1842.

  Official letters from Yates and Lansing, (i, 480), No. 30.

  Roberts (E. H.) American Commonwealth. New York. Boston: 1887.

  Sketch of the Proceedings of the Convention, No. 80.

  [Smith (M.)] Address to the People of N. Y., No. 120.

  Stevens (J.A.) N. Y. and Federal Constitution, in _Mag. of Am.
  Hist._, ii. 385.

  [Webster (N.)] Account of the Procession, No. 80.

  [Webster (P.)] The Weakness of Brutus, No. 133.

  Whitlock (W.) Life of John Jay. N. Y.: 1887.

New Jersey.

  Address to the Citizens of N. J. by a Jerseyman, in Carey’s _Am.
  Museum_, ii. 436.

  Gordon (T. F.) History of N. J. Trenton: 1834.

  Minutes of the Convention, No. 102.

  Mulford (G. S.) History of N. J. Phila.: 1851.

  Proceedings of the Convention, in _N. Y. Journal_, Dec., 1787.

  Raum (J. O.) History of N. J. Phila.: 1877.


  Address and Dissent of Minority of Pa. Convention. No. 1.

  [Bryan (S.)] Letters of Centinel, Nos. 92 and 97.

  [Coxe (T.)] Examination of the Constitution, No. 21.

  Debates in the Convention. No. 92.

  Debates in the Convention (fragment). No. 110.

  Also in No. 30, ii, 415.

  Egle (W. H.) Biographical Sketches of Members of the Pa. Convention,
  in _Pa. Mag. of History and Biography_, x and xi.

  Also in No. 92.

  Graydon (A.) Memoirs of ... Harrisburg: 1811.

  [Hopkinson (F.)] Account of the Procession. No. 77

  Illustrated History of Pennsylvania. Phila.: 1880.

  McMaster and Stone. Pa. and the Federal Constitution, No. 92.

  Minutes of the Convention. No. 111.

  Order of Procession at Philadelphia. No. 109.

  Pickering (O.) and Upham (W. C.) Life of Timothy Pickering. Boston:

  Reply to Address of Seceding Members Pa. Legislature, No. 3.

  Reply to Seceding Members of Pa. Legis. by “Federal Constitution,”
  No. 3.

  Report of the Deputies of Northampton Co. in late Pa. Convention, in
  Carey’s _Am. Museum_, iii, 75.

  Review of the Constitution, No. 119.

  View of the Proposed Constitution, No. 125.

  [Webster (P.)] Remarks on the Address, 132.

  [Webster (P.)] The Weakness of Brutus, No. 133.

  Wilson (J.) Speech of October 6th, 1787. No. 136.

  Wilson (J.) Substance of a Speech, No. 137.

  Wilson (J.) and M’Kean (J.) Commentaries on the Constitution, No. 91.


  [Dickinson (J.)] Letters of Fabius, No. 25.

  Vinton (F.) History of Delaware. Phila.: 1870.


  [Hanson (A. C.)] Remarks on the Constitution, No. 74.

  McSherry (J.) History of Maryland. Baltimore: 1849.

  Martin (G.) Genuine Information, No. 94.

  Outline of Proceedings in Convention, (ii, 546), of No. 30.

  Scharf (J. T.) History of Maryland. Baltimore: 1879.


  Act Calling Convention, No. 126.

  Clason (A. W.) Outline of Debates in Va. Convention, in _Mag. of Am.
  Hist._, xv, 566.

  Cooke (J. E.) American Commonwealth, Virginia. Boston: 1883.

  Debates of the Convention, No. 127.

  Howe (H.) Historical Coll. of Va. Charlston: 1856.

  Howison (R. R.) History of Virginia. Phila.: 1846.

  Journal of the Convention. No. 129.

  Lee (R. H. Jr.) Life of Richard Henry Lee. Phila.: 1825.

  Mason (G.) Objections to the Constitution, No 95.

  [Montgomery (J.)] Letters of Decius. Nos. 100 and 105.

  Randolph (E.) Letter on the Constitution, No. 116.

  Tyler (M.C.) American Statesmen. Patrick Henry. Boston: 1887.

  Wirt (W.) Life of Patrick Henry. Phila.: 1818.

North Carolina.

  Amendments to the Constitution, No. 106.

  Clason (A. W.) Outline of Debates in first Convention, in _Mag. of
  Am. Hist._, xv, 352.

  Hawks (F. L.) History of N. C. Fayetteville: 1857.

  McRee (G. J.) Life of James Iredell. N. Y.: 1858.

  Moore (J. W.) History of N. C. Raleigh: 1880.

  Proceedings and Debates of First Convention, No. 107.

  Williamson (H.) Address to the Freemen, No. 135.

South Carolina.

  Clason (A. W.) Outline of Debates in S. C. Convention, in _Mag. of
  Am. Hist._, xv, 153.

  Debate in the House of Representatives on Convention, No. 122.

  Fragments of Debates in Convention, No. 123.

  [Ramsay (D.)] Address to the Freemen of S. C., No. 114.

  Ramsay (D.) History of S. C. Charleston: 1809.

  Simms (W. G.) History of S. C. Charleston: 1850.


  Stevens (W. B.) History of Georgia. Phila.: 1859.

  White (G.) Historical Collections of Georgia. N. Y.: 1854.

_Celebrations of Ratifications._

Baldwin (S.) Oration, July 4th, 1788, No. 5.

Hall (A.) Oration, June 30, 1788, No. 72.

Hitchcock (E.) An Oration, July 4, 1788, No. 76.

[Hopkinson (F.)] Account of the Procession, No. 77.

Order of Procession at Philadelphia, No. 109.

Procession in Boston, No. 99.

[Webster (N.)] Account of N. Y. Federal Procession, in No. 80.




(3) A division of the legislature has been adopted in the new
constitution of every state except Pennsylvania and Georgia.

(4) I cannot help remarking the singular jealousy of the constitution
of Pennsylvania, which requires that a bill shall be published for
the consideration of the people, before it is enacted into a law,
except in extraordinary cases. This annihilates the legislature, and
reduces it to an advisory body. It almost wholly supersedes the uses of
_representation_, the most excellent improvement in modern governments.
Besides the absurdity of constituting a legislature, without supreme
power, such a system will keep the state perpetually embroiled. It
carries the spirit of discussion into all quarters, without the means
of reconciling the opinions of men, who are not assembled to hear
each others’ arguments. They debate with themselves—form their own
opinions, without the reasons which influence others, and without the
means of information. Thus the warmth of different opinions, which, in
other states, dies in the legislature, is diffused through the state
of Pennsylvania, and becomes personal and permanent. The seeds of
dissension are sown in the constitution, and no state, except Rhode
Island, is so distracted by factions.

(5) In the decline of the republic, bribery or military force obtained
this office for persons who had not attained this age—Augustus was
chosen at the age of twenty; or rather obtained it with his sword.

(6) [“Query.”]

(7) [of]

(8) I say the senate was _elective_—but this must be understood with
some exceptions; or rather qualifications. The constitution of the
Roman senate has been a subject of enquiry, with the first men in
modern ages. Lord Chesterfield requested the opinion of the learned
Vertot, upon the manner of chusing senators in Rome; and it was a
subject of discussion between Lord Harvey and Dr. Middleton. The most
probable account of the manner of forming the senate, and filling
up vacancies, which I have collected from the best writers on this
subject, is here abridged for the consideration of the reader.

Romulus chose one hundred persons, from the principal families in Rome,
to form a council or senate; and reserved to himself the right of
nominating their successors; that is of filling vacancies. “Mais comme
Romulus avoit lui même choisi les premiers senateurs il se reserva le
droit de nommer a son gré, leurs successeurs.”—Mably, sur les Romains.
Other well informed historians intimate that Romulus retained the right
of nominating the president only. After the union of the Sabines with
the Romans, Romulus added another hundred members to the senate, but by
_consent of the people_. Tarquin, the _ancient_, added another hundred;
but historians are silent as to the manner.

On the destruction of Alba by Hostilius, some of the principal Alban
families were added to the senate, _by consent of the senate and

After the demolition of the monarchy, Appius Claudius was admitted into
the senate by _order of the people_.

Cicero testifies that, from the extinction of the monarchy, all the
members of the senate were admitted by _command of the people_.

It is observable that the first creation of the senators was the act of
the monarch; and the first patrician families claimed the sole right
of admission into the senate. “Les familles qui descendoient des deux
cent senateurs que “Romulus avoit créés,—se crurent seules en droit
d’entrer dans le sénat.”—Mably

This right however was not granted in its utmost extent; for many
of the senators in the Roman commonwealth, were taken from plebian
families. For sixty years before the institution of the _censorship_,
which was A. U. C. 311, we are not informed how vacancies in the senate
were supplied. The most probable method was this; to enrol, in the list
of senators, the different magistrates; viz., the consuls, prætors, the
two quætors of patrician families, the five tribunes (afterwards ten)
and the two ædiles of plebian families: The office of quæstor gave an
immediate admission into the senate. The tribunes were admitted two
years after their creation. This enrollment seems to have been a matter
of course; and likewise their confirmation by the people in their
comitia or assemblies.

On extraordinary occasions, when the vacancies of the senate were
numerous, the consuls used to nominate some of the most respectable of
the equestrian order, to be chosen by the people.

On the institution of the censorship, the censors were invested with
full powers to inspect the manners of the citizens,—enrol them in
their proper ranks according to their property,—make out lists of the
senators and leave out the names of such as had rendered themselves
unworthy of their dignity by any scandalous vices. This power they
several times exercised; but the disgraced senators had an appeal to
the people.

After the senate had lost half its members in the war with Hannibal,
the dictator, M. Fabius Buteo, filled up the number with the
magistrates, with those who had been honored with a civic crown, or
others who were respectable for age and character. One hundred and
seventy new members were added at once, with _the approbation of the
people_. The vacancies occasioned by Sylla’s proscriptions amounted to
three hundred, which were supplied by persons nominated by Sylla and
_chosen by the people_.

Before the time of the Gracchi, the number of senators did not
exceed three hundred. But in Sylla’s time, so far as we can collect
from direct testimonies, it amounted to about five hundred. The
age necessary to qualify for a seat in the senate is not exactly
ascertained; but several circumstances prove it to have been about
thirty years.

See Vertot, Mably, and Middleton on this subject.

In the last ages of Roman splendor, the property requisite to qualify
a person for a senator, was settled by Augustus at eight hundred
sestertia—more than six thousand pounds sterling.

(9) [“Between states, and excluding negroes,” added in author’s
copy.—P. L. F.]

(10) It is a capital defect of most of the state-constitutions, that the
senators, like the representatives, are chosen in particular districts.
They are thus inspired with local views, and however wrong it may be
to entertain them, yet such is the constitution of human nature, that
men are almost involuntarily attached to the interest of the district
which has reposed confidence in their abilities and integrity. Some
partiality therefore for constituents is always expectable. To destroy
it as much as possible, a political constitution should remove the
grounds of local attachment. Connecticut and Maryland have wisely
destroyed this attachment in their senates, by ordaining that the
members shall be chosen in the _state at large_. The senators hold
their seats by the suffrages of the state, _not of a district_; hence
they have no particular number of men to fear or to oblige.—They
represent _the state_; hence that union and firmness which the senates
of those states have manifested on the most trying occasions, and by
which they have prevented the most rash and iniquitous measures.

It may be objected, that when the election of senators is vested in the
people, they must choose men in their own neighborhood, or else those
with whom they are unacquainted. With respect to representatives, this
objection does not lie; for they are chosen in small districts; and as
to senators, there is, in every state, a small number of men, whose
reputation for abilities, integrity and good conduct will lead the
people to a very just choice. Old experienced statesmen should compose
the senate; and people are generally, in this free country, acquainted
with their characters. Were it possible, as it is in small states, it
would be an improvement in the doctrine of representation, to give
every freeman the right of voting for every member of the legislature,
and the privilege of choosing the men in any part of the state. This
would totally exclude bribery and undue influence; for no man can bribe
a state; and it would almost annihilate partial views in legislation.
But in large states it may be impracticable.

(11) [of]

(12) It is said by some, that no property should be required as a
qualification for an elector. I shall not enter into a discussion of
the subject; but remark that in most free governments, some property
has been thought requisite, to prevent corruption and secure government
from the influence of an unprincipled multitude.

In ancient Rome none but the free citizens had the right of a suffrage
in the _comitia_ or legislative assemblies. But in Sylla’s time the
Italian cities demanded the rights of the Roman citizens; alledging
that they furnished two-thirds of the armies, in all their wars, and
yet were despised as foreigners. Vell Paterc. lib. 2. cap. 15. This
produced the _Marsic_ or _social_ war, which lasted two years, and
caried off 300,000 men. Ibm. It was conducted and concluded by Pompey,
father of Pompey the Great, with his lieutenants Sylla and Marius.
But most of the cities eventually obtained _the freedom of Rome_; and
were of course entitled to the rights of suffrage in the comitia.
“Paulatim deinde recipiendo in civitatem, qui arma aut non ceperant aut
deposuerant maturiùs, vires refectæ sunt.” Vell. Paterc. 2. 16.

But Rome had cause to deplore this event, for however reasonable it
might appear to admit the allies to a participation of the rights of
citizens, yet the concession destroyed all freedom of election. It
enabled an ambitious demagogue to engage and bring into the assemblies,
whole towns of people, slaves and foreigners;—and everything was
decided by faction and violence. This Montesquieu numbers among the
causes of the decline of the Roman greatness. De la grandeur des
Romains, c. 9.

Representation would have, in some measure, prevented the consequences;
but the admission of every man to a suffrage will ever open the door to
corruption. In such a state as Connecticut, where there is no conflux
of foreigners, no introduction of seamen, servants, &c., and scarcely
an hundred persons in the state who are not natives, and very few whose
education and connexions do not attach them to the government; at the
same time few men have property to furnish the means of corruption,
very little danger could spring from admitting every man of age and
discretion to the privilege of voting for rulers. But in the large
towns of America there is more danger. A master of a vessel may put
votes in the hands of his crew, for the purpose of carrying an election
for a party. Such things have actually taken place in America. Besides,
the middle states are receiving emigrations of poor people, who are
not at once judges of the characters of men, and who cannot be safely
trusted with the choice of legislators.

(13) [These two paragraphs struck out in author’s copy.—P. L. F.]

(14) [Last two sentences struck out in author’s copy.—P. L. F.]

(15) The clause may at first appear ambiguous. It may be uncertain
whether we should read and understand it thus—“The Congress shall
have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises
_in order to pay the debts_,” &c. or whether the meaning is—“The
Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and
excises, and _shall have power to pay the debts_,” &c. On considering
the construction of the clause, and comparing it with the preamble,
the last sense seems to be improbable and absurd. But it is not very
material; for no powers are vested in Congress but what are included
under the general expressions, of _providing for the common defence
and general welfare of the United States_. Any powers not promotive
of these purposes, will be unconstitutional;—consequently any
appropriations of money to any other purpose will expose the Congress
to the resentment of the states, and the members to impeachment and
loss of their seats.

(16) [“O” changed to “good” in author’s copy P. L. F.]

(17) “Quod nemo plebeius auspicia haberet, ideoque decemviros connubium
diremisse, ne incerta prole auspicia turbarentur.” Tit. Liv. lib. 4.
cap. 6.

(18) Auguriis certe sacerdotisque augurum tantus honos accessit, ut
nihil belli domique postea, nisi auspicato, gereretur: concilia populi,
exercitus vocati, summa rerum, ubi aves non admisissent, dirimerentur.
Liv. lib. 1. cap. 37.

(19) [“The” and “of” struck out—“without” substituted in author’s
copy—P. L. F.]

(20) [Last two sentences struck out in author’s copy.—P. L. F.]

(21) Essay on the Roman government.

(22) Livy, 2.33.

(23) Livy, 3.54.

(24) Livy, 3.33.

(25) Livy, 4.6.

(26) Livy, 6. 35. 42. “Ne quis plus quingenta jugera agri possideret.”

(27) Montesquieu supposed _virtue_ to be the principle of a republic.
He derived his notions of this form of government, from the astonishing
firmness, courage and patriotism which distinguished the republics of
Greece and Rome. But this _virtue_ consisted in pride, contempt of
strangers and a martial enthusiasm which sometimes displayed itself in
defence of their country. These principles are never permanent—they
decay with refinement, intercourse with other nations and increase of
wealth. No wonder then that these republics declined, for they were not
founded on fixed principles; and hence authors imagine that republics
cannot be durable. None of the celebrated writers on government seems
to have laid sufficient stress on a general possession of real property
in fee-simple. Even the authors of the _Political Sketches_, in the
_Museum_ for the month of September, seems to have passed it over
in silence; although he combats Montesquieu’s system, and to prove
it false, enumerates some of the principles which distinguish our
governments from others, and which he supposes constitutes the support
of republics.

The English writers on law and government consider Magna Charta,
trial by juries, the Habeas Corpus act, and the liberty of the press,
as the bulwarks of freedom. All this is well. But in no government
of consequence in Europe, is freedom established on its true and
immoveable foundation. The property is too much accumulated, and
the accumulations too well guarded, to admit the _true principle of
republics_. But few centuries have elapsed, since the body of the
people were vassals. To such men, the smallest extension of popular
privileges, was deemed an invaluable blessing. Hence the encomiums upon
trial by juries, and the articles just mentioned. But these people
have never been able to mount to the source of _liberty_, _estates
in fee_, or at least but partially; they are yet obliged to drink at
the streams. Hence the English jealousy of certain rights, which are
guaranteed by acts of parliament. But in America, and here alone, we
have gone at once to the _fountain of liberty_, and raised the people
to their true dignity. Let the lands be possessed by the people in
fee-simple, let the fountain be kept pure, and the streams will be
pure of course. Our jealousy of _trial by jury_, _the liberty of
the press_, &c., is totally groundless. Such rights are inseparably
connected with the _power_ and _dignity_ of the people, which rest on
their _property_. They cannot be abridged. All _other_ [free] nations
have wrested _property_ and _freedom_ from _barons_ and _tyrants_; _we_
begin our empire with full possession of property and all its attending

(28) [Last three sentences struck out in author’s copy.—P. L. F.]

(29) [Revise to “The constitution is generally good.”—P. L. F.]

(30) [“utterly” struck out.—P. L. F.]

(31) The state debt of Connecticut is about 3,500,000 dollars, its
proportion of the federal debt about the same sum. The annual interest
of the whole 420,000 dollars.

(32) [Last three sentences, the following paragraph and foot note
struck out in author’s copy.—P. L. F.]

(33) [“The convention was composed of,” added after “that,” by
author.—P. L. F.]

(34) [“This proves how little dependence can be placed on theory.
Twelve years experience, or four elections demonstrates the
contrary.”—Note in author’s copy.—P. L. F.]

(35) This is the case with that British Borough.

(36) Trials between a state and its own Citizens, and between Citizens
of the same state, involving questions concerning state laws that
infringe this constitution, may be carried by appeal, it is presumed,
into a fœderal court.

(37) There is one grand operation of the new fœderal constitution,
favorable to general liberty, which I do not remember to have heard
from any of its friends. It is well known, that in most of the
states the members of their Houses of Representatives are chosen in
equal numbers from each county, and in the eastern states, in equal
numbers from each town, without any regard to the number of taxable
inhabitants, or the number of souls. Hence it is very frequent for
a county, with ten thousand souls, to send only the same number of
members to the state house of representatives, as a county with two
thousand souls, by which each person in the least populous county has
five times as great a voice in electing representatives, as his fellow
citizen of the most populous county. This is clearly a departure from
the principles of equal liberty, and ought to be altered in the several
states. I speak the more plainly because our state constitution is free
from that fault in the formation of our house of Assembly. Now the new
constitution expressly declares, that the fœderal Representatives shall
be in the proportion of one to every thirty thousand, which accords
with reason and the true principles of liberty. This house, therefore,
so far as national matters go, will remedy the evil spoken of in the
several states, and is one more great step towards the perfection of
equal liberty and genuine republicanism in America. It must strongly
recommend the fœderal constitution to the serious reflecting patriot,
even though he may formerly have had doubts, and it will suggest to
the several states the propriety of reconsidering that point in their
respective constitutions. Pennsylvania, though right in the principles
on which her legislative elections are and will be held, is less safe
from the existence of this fault in the adjoining sister states of
Virginia, Maryland, Jersey, Delaware and New York, and in others more

(38) The candid Reader will suppose Mr. WILSON here means, that it is
the best form of fœderal government, which has ever been offered to the
world—and it is surely true that the fœderal constitution, considered
in due connexion with the state constitutions, is the best form of
government that has ever been communicated to mankind.

(39) See some late publications.

(40) See late publications.

(41) “The error of those who reason by precedent, drawn from antiquity,
respecting the rights of man, is, that they do not go far enough into
antiquity. They do not go the whole way. They stop in some of the
intermediate stages of an hundred or a thousand years, and produce what
was then done, as a rule for the present day. This is no authority at
all. If we travel still further into antiquity, we shall find a direct
contrary opinion and practice prevailing; and if antiquity is to be
authority, a thousand such authorities may be produced, successively
contradicting each other: but if we proceed on, at last we shall come
out right: We shall then come to the time when man came from the hand
of his Maker. What was he then? _Man._ Man was his high and only title,
and a higher cannot be given him——We are now got at the origin of
man, and at the origin of his rights.——Every history of the creation,
and every traditionary account, whether from the lettered or unlettered
world, however they may vary in their opinion or belief of certain
particulars, all agree in establishing one point, the _unity_ of man;
by which I mean that man is all of one degree, and consequently that
all men are born equal, and with equal natural rights. By considering
man in this light, it places him in a close connection with all his
duties, whether to his _Creator_, or to the creation, of which he is a
part; and it is only where he forgets his _origin_, or, to use a more
fashionable phrase, his birth and family, that he becomes dissolute.

“Hitherto we have spoken only (and that but in part) of the natural
rights of man. We have now to consider the civil rights of man, and to
shew how the one _originates_ out of the other.—Man did not enter into
society, to become worse than he was before, nor to have less rights
than he had before, but to have those rights _better secured_. His
natural rights are the foundation of all his civil rights. But in order
to pursue this distinction with more precision, it will be necessary to
mark the different qualities of natural and civil rights.

“A few words will explain this. Natural rights are those which
appertain to man in the right of his existence—civil rights are those
which appertain to man in right of his being a member of society. Every
civil right has for its foundation some natural right pre-existing in
the individual, but to unite his individual power is not, in all cases,
sufficiently competent. Of this kind are all those which relate to
_security_ and _protection_.

“From this short review it will be easy to distinguish between that
class of natural rights which man retains after entering into society,
and those which he throws into _common stock_ as a member of society.
The natural rights which he retains, are all those in which the power
to execute is as perfect in the individual as the right itself.—The
natural rights which are not retained, are all those in which, though
the right is perfect in the individual, the power to execute them is
defective: _they answer not his purpose_—those he _deposits_ in the
_common stock_ of society, and takes the arm of society, of which he is
a part, in preference and in addition to his own. Society grants him
nothing. Every man is a proprietor in society, and draws on the capital
as a matter of right.”—“_Rights of Man_,” 1791, page 30, 31.

(42) “We have now traced Man from a natural individual to a member of
society——Civil power, properly considered as such is made up of the
_aggregate_ of that class of the natural rights, which become defective
in the individual in point of power, and _answers not his purpose_; but
when collected into a focus, becomes competent to the purpose of every
one.——Let us now apply those principles to government.——

“Individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right,
entered into a compact with each other, to produce a government; and
this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and
the only principle on which they have a right to exist.

“A _constitution_ is not a thing in name only, but in fact.—It
has not an ideal but a real existence, and wherever it cannot be
produced in a visible form, there is none. A _constitution_ is a thing
antecedent to a _government_; and a government is only the creature
of a constitution.—A constitution of a country is not the act of its
government, but of the people constituting a government. It is the
body of elements to which you can refer, and quote article by article;
and which contains the principles on which the government shall be
established, the manner in which it shall be organized, the powers
it shall have, the mode of election, the duration of parliaments, or
by what other name such bodies may be called, the powers which the
executive part of the government shall have; and, in fine, every thing
that relates to the complete _organization_ of a civil government,
and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be
bound.”—“_Rights of Man_,” page 35, 36.

“What is a constitution? it is the form of government, delineated by
the mighty hand of the people, in which certain first principles or
fundamental laws are established. The constitution is certain and
fixed; it contains the permanent will of the people, and is the supreme
law of the land; it is paramount to the power of the legislature, and
can be revoked or altered only by the authority that made it.—What
are legislatures? creatures of the constitution, they owe their
existence to the constitution—they derive their powers from the
constitution.—It is their commission, and therefore all their acts
must be conformable to it, or else void. The _constitution_ is the work
or will of the _people themselves_, in their original, sovereign, and
unlimited capacity. Law is the work or will of the legislature in their
derivative capacity.”

Judge Patterson’s charge to the Jury in the Wioming case of Vanhorne’s
lessee against Dorrance; tried at the circuit-court for the United
States, held at Philadelphia, April term, 1795.

(43} Constitutional properties are only, as has been observed at the
beginning of this letter, parts in the organization of the contributed
rights. As long as those parts preserve the orders assigned to them
respectively by the constitution, they may so far be said to be
balanced: but, when one part, without being sufficiently checked by the
rest, abuses its power to the manifest danger of public happiness, or
when the several parts abuse their respective powers so as to involve
the commonwealth in the like peril, _the people_ must restore things
to that order, from which their functionaries have departed. If _the
people_ suffer this living principle of watchfulness and controul to
be extinguished among them, they will assuredly not long afterwards
experience that of their “temple,” “there shall not be left one stone
upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

(44) When the _controuling power_ is in a constitution, it has
the _nation_ for its support, and the _natural_ and the political
controuling powers are together. The laws which are enacted by the
governments, controul men only as individuals, but the _nation_, thro’
its constitution controuls _the whole government,_ and has a _natural
ability_ to do so. The _final controuling_ power, therefore, and the
_original constituting_ power, _are one and the same power_.—“_Rights
of Man_,” 1792. part 2d, b. 4, page 42.

(45) See late publications against the Federal Constitution.

(46) Blackstone, III. 279

(47) Idem, IV. 350.

(48) Idem, III. 381.

(49) Instead of referring to musty records and mouldy parchments
to prove that the rights of the living are lost, “renounced, and
abdicated for ever,” by those who are now no more.—M. de la Fayette,
in his address to the national assembly, applies to the living world,
and says—“Call to mind the sentiments which nature has engraved
in the heart of every citizen, and which take a new face when they
are solemnly recognized by all. For a nation to love liberty, it is
sufficient that she knows it; and to be free, it is sufficient that she
wills it,”—“_Rights of Man_,” page 11.

(50) See an enumeration of defects in trials by jury. Blackstone, III.

(51) Idem, IV. 350.

(52) He who reverses the constitution, liberties and laws of his

(53) The great Bacon, in enumerating the art by which Cæsar enslaved
his country, says—“His first artifice was to break the strength of the
_senate_, for while that remained safe, there was no opening for any
person to immoderate or extraordinary power.——‘_Nam initio sibi erani
frangendæ senatus opes et autoritas qua salva nemini ad, immodica et
extra ordinaria imperia aditus erat._’ Bossuet, bishop of Meaux, takes
notice in his universal history, that the infamous Herod, to engross
authority, attacked the Sanhedrim, which was in a manner the senate,
where the supreme jurisdiction was exercised.”

(54) “If we consider what the principles are that first condense man
into society, and what the motive is that regulates their mutual
intercourse afterwards, we shall find, by the time we arrive at what is
called government, that nearly the whole of the business is performed
by the natural operation of the parts upon each other.”—_Rights of

(55) When Xerxes invaded Greece with the largest host and the greatest
fleet that ever were collected, events occurred, which being preserved
in history, convey to us a very affecting and instructive information.

While the danger was at some distance, the states of Greece looked to
remote friends for assistance. Disappointed in these speculations, tho’
the vast armaments of their enemies were constantly rolling towards
them, still there was no firmness in their union, no vigor in their

The Persian army passed the Hellespont, and directed its march
westward. It was then decided, that Thessaly was the frontier to be
first attacked.

The Thessalians, than whom no people had been more forward in the
common cause, hastened a remonstrance to Corinth, urging that unless
they were immediately and powerfully supported, necessity would oblige
them to make terms with the invaders.

This reasonable remonstrance roused the sluggish and hesitating
councils of the confederacy. A body of foot was dispatched who soon
occupied the valley of Tempe, the only pass from Lower Macedonia, into

In a few days, these troops being informed that there was another pass
from Upper Macedonia, returned to the Corinthian Isthmus.

The Thessalians thus deserted made their submission.

“This retreat from Tempe appears to have been a precipate measure,
rendered necessary by nothing so much as by _the want of some powers_
of government extending over the several states which composed the
confederacy.”—Mitford’s _History of Greece_.

With diminished forces, the defence of the confederates was now
to be contracted. But in the conduct even of this business daily
becoming more urgent, we find them laboring under the defects of their

“Destitute of any sufficient power extending over the whole, no
part could confide in the protection of the whole, while the naval
superiority of their enemy put it in his choice, where, when, and
how to make his attacks; and therefore each republic seems to have
been anxious to reserve its own strength for future contingencies.

Their generous hearts all beat at the call of freedom; but their
efforts were embarrassed and enfeebled by the vices of their political
constitution, to their prodigious detriment, and almost to their total
destruction. For these vices, the ardor of heroism united with love of
country could not compensate. These very vices therefore, may truly be
said to have wasted the blood of patriots, and to have betrayed their
country into the severest calamities.

If we shall hereafter by experience discover any vices in our
constitution, let us _hasten_ with prudence and a fraternal affection
for each other, to correct them. We are all embarked in the same
vessel, and equally concerned in repairing any defects.

(56) See objections against the Federal constitution, very similar to
those made in Scotland.

(57) Justice Blackstone argues in like manner, after admitting the
“expediency” of titles of nobility. “It is also expedient that
their owners should form an independent and separate branch of the
legislature”—otherwise “their privileges would soon be borne down and
overwhelmed.”—Comment. 2. 157.

(58) No member of parliament ought to be elected by fewer than the
majority of 800, upon the most moderate calculation, according to
Doctor Price.

(59) By the constitution proposed to us, a majority of the house of
representatives, and of the senate, makes a quorum to do business: but,
if the writer is not mistaken, about a fourteenth part of the members
of the house of commons, makes a quorum for that purpose.

(60) If to the union of England and Scotland, a just connection with
Ireland be added, ecclesiastical establishments duly amended; additions
to the peerage regulated, and representation of the commons properly
improved, it is to be expected, that the tranquility, strength,
reputation, and prosperity of the empire will be greatly promoted, the
monarchy will probably change into a republic, if representation in the
house of commons is not encreased by additions from the counties and
great trading cities and towns, without this precaution, an increase
of the peerage seems likely to accelerate an alteration. These two
measures should have, it is apprehended, in such a government and in
such a progress of human affairs, a well-tempered co-operation. The
power of the crown might thereby become more dignified, moderated, and

The discussion of this subject would embrace a very great number
of considerations; but the conclusion seems to approach as near to
demonstration, as an investigation of this kind can do.

(61) Against what is called equality in representation, the great
Montesquieu seems to have declared by the strongest implication. In
his Spirit of Laws, b. ch. 2, he says, that the confederate republic
of Lycia contained twenty-three associated towns: that, in the common
council, the larger towns had three votes, the middling towns two,
and the lesser only one; that they contributed to the common expence
according to the proportion of suffrages; and, that were he to give
the model of an excellent confederate republic, it should be that of
Lycia. Could the immortal spirit of Montesquieu revisit the earth, and
behold the model now offered to America, how quickly would his favorite
republic sink in his estimation. In a new quarter of the globe scarcely
heard of by the greater part of Europeans in his day, and since the
commencement of the present century, he would see men who have attained
a perfection in the science most conducive to human happiness, in that
study which was the principal occupation of his life, in which his
predecessors had acquired only a few glimmering lights, and of which it
was reserved for him to develope most of the true first principles.

(62) Whether the state of Maryland shall be divided into six districts,
for each to choose one man, or the people at large give their suffrage
for the whole six, is hereafter to be settled by the assembly. The
latter mode, on a variety of occasions, would be preferable.

(63) The importance of having the western territory determined a common
stock, needs only to be mentioned, to excite attention.

As the articles of confederation contain no provision, for adjusting
the dispute between the United States, and particular states, Maryland,
for a long time, refused her ratification. An adequate provision is
made by the proposed plan. That the United States will assuredly
institute actions against two of the states, setting up claims equally
wild and extensive, may appear from the following statement.

New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, have
been always interested in making good the common claim; as they never
laid any particular claim to the territory in question.

Massachusetts, if the province of Maine be separate, is likewise become
interested in the common claim.

Connecticut, and New York, have both made cessions, which congress has
accepted. These two are therefore become interested.

Pennsylvania, although very extensive, has her limits ascertained. She
likewise is interested.

Virginia, having made a cession to congress, has since relinquished
a part of the reserved lands, or at least offered independence, to

North Carolina, having once made a cession, thought proper, in the
omnipotence of her destined sovereignty, to repeal the act. Will not
the cession be determined valid, and the repeal void?

South Carolina also, it is said, has ceded part of that territory,
which lately she disputed with Georgia. In this case the United States
have their claim fortified.

But Georgia, the weakest of all, lays claim to an immense tract of
country. In this territory there are warlike and independent tribes
of the aborigines, now carrying terror and desolation towards the
heart of the country occupied by the whites. It is expected, that
this circumstance, with a consciousness of the weak foundation of her
claims, will dispose Georgia to give up without a suit, and consent to
be circumscribed within narrower limits, so soon as a proper tribunal
shall have power to enter upon a rational investigation.

N. B.—For the above statement I am principally indebted to a member of
the late continental convention, and who for a considerable time, was a
member of congress, a gentleman of established honour and accuracy.

(65) The advantage derived from this to the southern states, is easily
perceived. Have not serious apprehensions been entertained on account
of the vast superiority of the eastern states by sea?

(65) Is it possible to reflect, without indignation, on the fate of the
five per cent. impost scheme?

(66) This objection has been in some degree lessened, by an amendment,
often before refused, and at last made by an erasure, after the
engrossment upon parchment, of the word forty, and inserting thirty, in
the third clause of the second section of the first article.

(67) It appears to me a very just remark of Mr. Wilson’s, in his
celebrated speech, that a bill of rights would have been dangerous, as
implying that without such a reservation the Congress would have had
authority in the cases enumerated, so that if any had been omitted (and
who would undertake to recite all the State and individual rights not
relinquished by the new Constitution?) they might have been considered
at the mercy of the general legislature.

(68) I have understood it was considered at the Convention, that the
proportion of one Representative to 30,000 constituents, would produce
at the very first nearly the number that would be satisfactory to Mr.
Mason. So that I presume this reason was wrote before the material
alteration was made from 40,000 to 30,000, which is said to have taken
place the very last day just before the signature.

(69) It seems by the letter which has been published of Mr. Elsworth
and Mr. Sherman, as if one reason of giving a share in these
appointments to the Senate was, that persons in what are called the
lesser States might have an equal chance for such appointments, in
proportion to their merit, with those in the larger, an advantage that
could only be expected from a body in which the States were equally

(70) When I wrote the above, I had not seen Governor Randolph’s letter.
Otherwise, I have so great a respect for that gentleman’s character
I should have treated with more deference an idea in some measure
countenanced by him. One of his objections relates to the Congress
fixing their own salaries. I am persuaded, upon a little reflection,
that gentleman must think this is one of those cases where a trust
must unavoidably be reposed. No salaries could certainly be fixed now
so as to answer the various changes in the value of money that in the
course of time must take place. And in what condition would the supreme
authority be if their very existence depended on an inferior power! An
abuse in this case too would be so gross that it is very unlikely to
happen, but if it should it would probably prove much more fatal to the
authors than injurious to the people.

(71) See Coke’s Commentary upon Littleton, 110. 1. Blackstone’s
Commentary, 227 and seq.

(72) 1. Blackstone’s Commentaries, 232.

(73) I have since found that in the constitutions of some of the States
there are much stronger restrictions on the Executive authority in
this particular than I was aware of. In others the restriction only
extends to prosecutions carried on by the General Assembly, or the
most numerous branch of legislature, or a contrary provision by law;
Virginia is in the latter class. But when we consider how necessary
it is in many cases to make use of accomplices to convict their
associates, and what little regard ought in general to be paid to a
guilty man swearing to save his own life, we shall probably think
that the jealousies which (by prohibiting pardons before convictions)
even disabled the Executive authority from procuring unexceptionable
testimony of this sort, may more fairly be ascribed to the natural
irritation of the public mind at the time when the constitutions were
formed, than to an enlarged and full consideration of the subject.
Indeed, it could scarcely be avoided, that when arms were first taken
up in the cause of liberty, to save us from the immediate crush
of arbitrary power, we should lean too much rather to the extreme
of weakening than of strengthening the Executive power in our own
government. In England, the only restriction upon this power in the
King, in case of Crown prosecutions (one or two slight cases excepted)
is, that his pardon is not pleadable in bar of an impeachment. But
he may pardon after conviction, even on an impeachment; which is an
authority not given to our President, who in case of impeachments has
no power either of pardoning or reprieving.

(74) The evidence of a man confessing himself guilty of the same crime
is undoubtedly admissable, but it is generally, and ought to be always
received with great suspicion, and other circumstances should be
required to corroborate it.

(75) One of the powers given to Congress is, “To promote the progress
of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors
and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and
discoveries.” I am convinced Mr. Mason did not mean to refer to this
clause. He is a gentleman of too much taste and knowledge himself
to wish to have our government established upon such principles of
barbarism as to be able to afford no encouragement to genius.

(76) Some might apprehend, that in this case as New England would at
first have the greatest share of the carrying trade, the vessels of
that country might demand an unreasonable freight. But no attempt could
be more injurious to them as it would immediately set the Southern
States to building, which they could easily do, and thus a temporary
loss would be compensated with a lasting advantage to us; the very
reverse would be the case with them. Besides, that from that country
alone there would probably be competition enough for freight to keep it
on reasonable terms.

(77) If this provision had not been made in the new constitution no
author could have enjoyed such an advantage in all the United States,
unless a similar law had constantly subsisted in each of the States

(78) Those gentlemen who gravely tell us that the militia will be
sufficient for this purpose, do not recollect that they themselves
do not desire we should rely solely on a militia in case of actual
war, and therefore in the case I have supposed they cannot be deemed
sufficient even by themselves, for when the enemy landed it would
undoubtedly be a time of war, but the misfortune would be, that they
would be prepared; we not. Certainly all possible encouragement should
be given to the training of our militia, but no man can really believe
that they will be sufficient, without the aid of any regular troops, in
time of foreign hostility. A powerful militia may make fewer regulars
necessary, but will not make it safe to dispense with them altogether.

[79] I presume we are not to be deemed in a state of war whenever any
Indian hostilities are committed on our frontiers. If that is the
case I don’t suppose we have had six years of peace since the first
settlement of the country, or shall have for fifty years to come. A
distinction between peace and war would be idle indeed, if it can be
frittered away by such pretences as those.


  Adams, Charles Francis, 413.

  Adams, John, cited, 316.

  Adams. J. Q., 406; 411.

  Address to the people of the State of New York, 67; 87; 111.

  Agriculture, diminished values of products of, 73.

  Albany, committee of, 1;
      address to the citizens of, 409.

  Algerines, method of obtaining peace with the, 112.

  Amendments, _see Constitution_.

  American Citizen, An, pseudonym of T. Coxe, 134; 391.

  Appointment, powers of, 311; 339.

  Appointing power, necessity of check on President’s, 341.

  Aristides, pseudonym of A. C. Hanson, 217; 408.

  Aristocracy, (_see also Monarchy._) 17; 285; 332;
      natural, in the U. S., 295;
      party of, in the U. S., 321;
      rarity of, genuine, 256.

  Army, Standing, dangers of, 10; 150;
      discussion of, 363;
      impossibility of in America, 56;
      lack of restrictions on, 51; 103; 365;
      necessity of, 157; 235;
      powers of congress over, 150; 303;
      restriction of, by North Carolina, 365;
      restriction of, by Pennsylvania, 365;
      unnecessary fear of, 234.

  Arnold, Benedict, 352.

  Articles of Confederation, _see Confederation_.

  Attainder, Bills of, forbidden, 314.

  Austin, James T., 1.

  Baldwin, Abraham, biographies of, 432.

  Baldwin, Simeon, Oration of, 386.

  Bancroft, George, History by, 386.

  Bankrupt laws, necessity of uniform, 306.

  Belhaven, Lord, quotation from speech of, 195.

  Bills of Rights, 73; 114; 229; 329;
      adoption of, 359;
      necessity of, 75; 315;
      unnecessary in constitution, 241; 335.

  Blackstone, Judge, cited, 10.

  Blair, John, biographies of, 432.

  Brearly, David, 390;
      biographies of, 432.

  Brutus, pseudonym to newspaper essay, 118; 424.

  Bryan, Samuel, 418.

  Butler, Pierce, biographies of, 432.

  Byng, admiral, 354.

  Cabinet, dangers of, 330.

  Carolinas, the, importance of their decision on the constitution, 21.

  Carroll, Daniel, biographies of, 432.

  Caucus, dangers from, 300.

  Centinel, cited, 248;
      pseudonym of Samuel Bryan, 418.

  Citizen of America, pseudonym of N. Webster, 25; 423

  Citizen of New York, pseudonym of John Jay, 67; 410.

  Citizen of Philadelphia, pseudonym of P. Webster, 118; 424.

  Civil list, 7.

  Civil service, 189;
      want of rotation in, 11.

  Civis, pseudonym of Jonathan Jackson, 410;
      pseudonym of David Ramsay, 380; 420.

  Clinton, George, 418.

  Clymer, George, biographies of, 432.

  Columbian Patriot, pseudonym of E. Gerry, 1; 407.

  Commerce, (_see also, Navigation, Shipping, Treaties._) 73; 265; 357;
      condition of, 358;
      control of, by a few states, 62;
      impositions on, 264;
      improper power to enact laws relating to, 331;
      powers of congress over, 357;
      right of English parliament over colonial, 136;
      should not be submitted to a mere majority of congress, 275;
      wretched condition of, 265.

  Confederation (_see also, Congress, Continental, United States
      compared with constitution, 148; 379;
      defective nature of, 136; 228; 261;
      dissolution of, 268; feebleness of, 272;
      government under the, 72;
      history of, 262; 283;
      impossibility of suitably amending, 267;
      necessity of amending, 96; 136;
      positions of the states under, in reference to the new constitution,
      97; 267.

  Confederacies, separate, 120; 127; 204; 247; 269;
      southern, 270;
      evils of, 278.

  Congress, Continental (_see also Confederation, Impost, Paper Money._)
      absurd measures of, 32;
      bad constitution of, 267;
      lack of power of, 78;
      merging of powers in, 268;
      misrepresentation in, 267;
      omitted in consideration of new government, 14;
      origin of, 70;
      powers of, 70; 72; 374;
      power to amend constitution, 284;
      proposition to vest with impost, 283;
      requisitions of, 263;
      unsuitable to lodge powers in, 267.

  Congress, (_see also, Armies, Commerce, Constitution, Election,
    Judiciary, Jury, Impost, Paper Money, Press, Representation,
    Representatives, Senate, Treaties, United States government._)
    33; 107;
      abuse of powers of, 122;
      attendance in, 376;
      binding effects of acts of on its own members, 124;
      checks on, 125;
      definition of necessary powers, 45;
      delegates to, 40;
      division into two branches, 30;
      extensive powers of, 45; 122; 233;
      formed of the best men, 123;
      great expense of, 47;
      interference of with states, 46;
      length of term, 170;
      limited powers of, to deal with common law, 336;
      members of, remarks on, 123;
      method of passing laws, 44;
      necessary powers only given to, 173; 374;
      necessity of a line between states and, 273;
      objection to two branches in, 47;
      powers conceded by anti-federalists to, 126;
      powers of, limited to what the people allow, 127;
      powers of taxation of, 49; 303;
      powers over elections, 44;
      powers over printing, 316;
      powers to define and punish crime, 359;
      powers to grant monopolies, 357;
      power to provide for the general interest and welfare, 121;
      probable misuse of their power, 123;
      representation in, 12; 289;
      right of the people to control delegates to, 6;
      to determine their own salaries, 11;
      unnecessary power over elections, 61.

  Connecticut, adopted from local causes, 104;
      adoption of the constitution by, 98;
      and the constitution, 439;
      construction of Senate of, 41;
      disagreement in legislature of, 33;
      hostile feelings towards New York, 84; 96;
      imports of, from New York, 62;
      legislative action on act of Congress, 33;
      probable refusal to attend second convention, 81;
      reasons for her ratification, 21;
      representation in House of Representatives, 293.

  Constitution, (_see also Army, Bills of Rights, Congress, Continental
    Congress, Conventions, Elections, Judiciary, Jury, Militia, Navy,
    Press, Ratification, Representation, Representatives, Senate, United
    States government._)

  ——Adoption of, danger of delay in, 93;
      necessity of 62;
      should not be precipitate in, 280.

  ——Advantages of, 61; 64; 319;
      control over states clearly defined, 121;
      diverse representation in, 204;
      increase of values if adopted, 47;
      mutual checks in the departments of government as, 222;
      no qualification in wealth or birth under, 146;
      plan of accommodation, 80; 285;
      security in, from federal servants, 189.

  ——Amendments to, 15; 34; 103;
      adoption before making, 93;
      agreement in, 102;
      dangers of, 226;
      difficulty of agreeing to, prior to adoption, 99; 245;
      methods for obtaining, 111; 317;
      necessity of, prior to adoption, 99; 101; 274;
      necessity of, 93; 106; 273; 324;
      power of making, 209;
      state conventions should make, 322;
      unreasonableness of, 104.

  ——Compared with other constitutions, compared with articles of
      confederation, 148; 379;
      compared with Roman and English, 35;
      compared with Great Britain, 137;
      difference between the state constitutions and the, 155.

  ——Defects of, 318;
      a consolidated fabric of aristocratic tyranny, 17;
      agreement in, 93;
      a heterogeneous phantom, 7;
      complicated nature of, 7;
      contains no feature of democracy or republicanism, 8;
      designed for the rich, 254;
      executive and legislative powers dangerously blended in, 9;
      ignorance of the people in its formation, 284;
      impracticable over so vast a territory, 13;
      impossibility of suiting all, 63;
      lack of declaration of rights in, 73; 329;
      neither federal nor national, 279;
      unequal advantages enjoyed by different localities, 298;
      want of title, 8.

  ——Powers of, 156;
      amount delegated by, 313;
      divisions of, 75;
      fundamental rights of, 313;
      general clauses of, 233; 312; 331;
      general, 356;
      guarantee against ex post facto laws, 147; 314; 332; 368.

  ——Ratification of, _see ratification_.

  ——Tendencies of; consolidating, 14; 102; 121; 127; 129; 282; 286;
    289; 294; 299; 320;
      dangers of corruption of, 129;
      construction with reference to state constitutions, 159; 314;
      founded on monarchy and aristocracy, 7;
      guarded against excesses, 184;
      liable to result in monarchy, 195;
      partly federal but tending towards consolidation, 286;
      possibility of ending in tyranny, 169;
      probable encroachments under, 122;
      will end in monarchy or aristocracy, 254; 285.

  ——Absurd prospects in case of adoption, 106;
      character of the supporters of, 5;
      classes interested in, 283;
      division of legislature into two branches, 30;
      documentary sources of the history of the adoption of, 428;
      editions of, 386;
      general histories of the, 427;
      partizan pamphlets pro and con, 437;
      possibility of obtaining a better, 78;
      sources of objections to, 166.

  Conventions, ease in obtaining, 317.

  Convention, Annapolis, 284.

  Convention, Federal, (_see also Constitution, States._) 271; 285;
      biographies of attending members of, 432;
      character of members, 114;
      composition of, 74;
      compromises in, 76; 158;
      dangers of discord in, 222;
      debates and proceedings of, 431;
      diverse interests in, 166;
      drafts and plans of constitutions in, 431;
      histories of, improper secrecy of, 15; 18;
      journal of, 410;
      list of members of, 406;
      local interest in, 75;
      members of, 221;
      non-attendance of members, 285;
      not limited, 224;
      opinion of, 74;
      origin of, 284;
      quality of the delegates of, 285;
      secrecy in proceedings, 101;
      unauthorized powers assumed by, 14; 16; 224;
      want of authority, 101.

  Convention, Second, 21; 210; 272;
      evils of, 166;
      great delay in obtaining, 83;
      impossible to agree upon a better plan, 82;
      necessity of, 19; 274;
      possibility of a successful, 80; 246;
      probability that the states which have already ratified will refuse
      to attend, 81.

  Conventions, State, (_see also each State and Ratification._) 17; 274;
      ratifications against the wish of the people, 19;
      should be allowed to amend constitution, 272; 322;
      value of, 322.

  Council, (_see also Executive._)
      necessity of, 230;
      objections to, 341.

  Courts, _see Judiciary_.

  Coxe, Tench, pamphlet by, 134; 391.

  Curtis, G. T., History by, 391.

  Dallas, A. J., 425.

  Davie, W. R., biographies of, 433;
      pamphlet by, 333; 391.

  Dawson, H. B., editor of The Federalist, 404;
      correspondence about The Federalist, 404.

  Debt, federal, change of system for paying, 378;
      condition of, 95;
      equalization of, 147;
      failure to meet, 73;
      probable treatment of, 105;
      responsibility of, 317.

  Decius, pseudonym of J. Montgomery, 415; 417.

  Declaration of Rights _see Bill of Rights_.

  De Costa, B. F., review by. 386.

  Delaware and the constitution, 433;
      probable refusal to attend second convention, 81;
      representation of, 223;
      selfish motives in adopting the constitution, 21.

  Democracy, disapproval of, 319.

  Despotism, methods of, 9.

  Dickinson, John, biographies of, 433;
      cited, 318;
      pamphlet by, 163; 392.

  Duties, _see Export, Import, Taxation_.

  Eastern States, _see States, Eastern_.

  Elections, (_see also Constitution, Congress, Representatives, House
    of, Senate._)
      biennial found by Massachusetts, 8;
      control of, by congress, 103; 151; 227; 295;
      frequency of, 8; 11; 13;
      great barrier to corruption, 61;
      probable misuse of the power granted over, 103.

  Elliot, Jonathan, debates of, 392.

  Ellsworth, Oliver, biographies of, 433;
      cited, 341.

  English Constitution, _see Great Britain_.

  Entail, dangerous to liberty, 60.

  Executive, (_see also Appointment, Constitution, Impeachment, Pardon,
    Treaty, Vice President._)

  ——Council, 230; 330;
      lack of, 333;
      objections to, 345;
      unnecessary, 346.

  ——National, 64;
      advantage of single, 352;
      American compared with English, 137;
      composition of, 225;
      election of, 35; 171; 298;
      entailment of, 233;
      exclusion of the people in the choice of, 12;
      nominating power of, 228;
      pardoning power of, 275; 338; 351;
      powers of, 36; 171; 225; 232;
      requisite age of, 36;
      should be ineligible after a certain time, 275;
      should not fill vacancies, 275;
      should not nominate judiciary offices, 275;
      small probability of treason of, 352;
      term of, 231; tool of the Senate, 330;
      veto power of, 45.

  ——State, (_see also State_,) restrictions on, 351.

  Export duties, restraint on, 331;
      restriction of states from, 366.

  Ex post facto laws, desirability of restrictions on, 368;
      guarantee against, 147; 314; 336;
      restraint from, 332.

  Fabius, pseudonym of John Dickinson, 163; 392.

  Federal administration, 394.

  Federal city, advantage to middle states, 319;
      jurisdiction of, improperly used, 18;
      resolution for, by the continental congress, 32.

  Federal convention, see _Convention, Federal_.

  Federal Constitution, pseudonym, 385. _see Constitution, Federal_.

  Federal Farmer; pseudonym of Richard Henry Lee, 277; 411.

  Federalist, The, authorship of, 395;
      list of editions, 394;
      opinions concerning, 395;
      original publication of, 395.

  Federal Republican, A, 420.

  Federal Republic, title invented by James Wilson, 8.

  Federal requisitions, 105.

  Few, William, biographies of, 433.

  Fitzsimons, Thomas, 25; biographies of, 433.

  Ford, P. L., list of editions of The Federalist, 395;
      list of members of federal convention, 406.

  Foreign affairs, indifference to, 72.

  Foreign goods, excessive importation of, 95.

  Franklin, Benjamin, 27; 64;
      biographies of, 433.

  Fur trade, loss of, 73.

  Georgia, accession of, to insure protection, 20;
      amendment of constitution of, 34;
      and the constitution, 441;
      probable refusal to attend second convention, 81.

  Gerry, Elbridge, biographies of, 433;
      failure to sign constitution, 271;
      pamphlet by, 1; 407.

  Gilman, Nicholas, biographies of, 433.

  Gorham, Nathaniel, biographies of, 433.

  Greenleaf, T., 1.

  Great Britain, House of Commons, 42; 143; 211;
      constitution of, compared with the American, 35; 137;
      House of Peers of, 42;
      paper money would destroy the credit of, 243;
      Privy Council of, 345;
      right of the colonists to constitution of, 135;
      standing army of, 235;
      union of, 195; 213.

  Government, (_see also under each country_,)
      dangers of all strong, 131;
      effect on character and manners, 5;
      elements of, 263;
      instituted for protection and happiness, 6;
      must not be lodged in a single body, 182;
      nature of, 92;
      origin of, 174;
      primary principles of, 373;
      the result of fraud or violence, 18.

  Hale, Charles, 415.

  Hale, Sir Mathew, cited, 10.

  Hall, Aaron, 408.

  Hamilton, Alexander, biographies of, 433;
      The Federalist, 395;
      proposition in convention, 408.

  Hamilton. J. A., correspondence about The Federalist, 404.

  Hamilton, J. C., editor of The Federalist, 405.

  Hanson, Alexander Contee, pamphlet by, 217; 408.

  Helvetius, cited, 5.

  Henry, Patrick, attack on, 415; 417.

  Hillsborough, Lord, 8.

  Hitchcock, Enos, 408.

  Hopkinson, Francis, 409.

  Hutchinson, Gov. T., recommends triennial elections, 8; 13.

  Impeachment, (_see also Constitution, Executive, Senate_), 342;
      improperly lodged with senate, 300.

  Imports, 62; foreign, 95.

  Impost, (_see also Congress, Taxation_), 104; 283;
      Connecticut and New Jersey share of, 319;
      general acceptance of the five per cent., 253;
      the great source of revenue in the U. S., 160.

  Imprimatur, danger of, 9.

  Ingersoll, Jared, biographies of, 433.

  Insurgents, party of, in the U. S., 321.

  Iredell, James, pamphlet by, 327; 333; 392; 410.

  Jackson, Jonathan, 410.

  Jay, John, pamphlet by, 67; 410;
      reply to his pamphlet, 111;
      The Federalist, 395.

  Jay, John, (Jr.) correspondence about The Federalist, 404.

  Johnson, W. S., 390;
      biographies of, 433.

  Judiciary, National (_see also Appointment, Executive, Jury, Senate_,)
      analysis of, 343;
      appellate jurisdiction of, 12; 236; 308; 311;
      coersive powers of, 343;
      dangers from jurisdiction as to both law and fact, 308;
      discussion of, 236;
      impossibility of trial by jury in, 310;
      necessity of national, 122;
      power to decide law and fact, 114;
      powers of, 53; 149; 236; 298; 306;
      want of limitation in, 9; 102.

  Judiciary, State, (_see also Jury, State_,) 289; 307;
      absorption of by national, 53; 329;
      position under constitution, 343.

  Jury, Trial by, absence in state courts, 361;
      discussion of, 157;
      impracticable in national courts, 289;
      necessity of, 184; 315;
      not altered by constitution, 148;
      not a universal practice, 361;
      not secured in civil cases, 9; 103; 114; 307;
      reply to insinuations concerning, 52;
      should be left to wisdom of congress, 362;
      the birthright of Americans, 241;
      under Pennsylvania constitution, 148.

  King, Rufus, biographies of, 434;
      on Elbridge Gerry, 1.

  Land, (_see also Western Territory_),
      decline in the price of, 74.

  Langdon, John, biographies of, 434.

  Lansing, John, 425; biographies of, 434.

  Law, (_see also Congress, Constitution, Judiciary, Ex post facto,
      multiplication of, 302;
      necessity of supreme, 312;
      people entitled to common, 336.

  Lee, Richard Henry, pamphlet by, 277; 411.

  Legislature, _see Congress and State Legislatures_.

  Livingston, William, biographies of, 434.

  Lloyd, Thomas, 412; 418.

  Lodge, H. C., editor of The Federalist, 406.

  Mablé, Ablé, cited, 4.

  M’Henry, James, biographies of, 434.

  McClurg, James, biographies of, 434.

  M’Kean, Thomas, speeches of, 412.

  Maclaine, Archibald, pamphlet by, 333; 392; 412;
      opinion of The Federalist, 395.

  MacMaster, John Bach, 412.

  Madison, James, 327; 390;
      biographies of, 434;
      debate of, 394; 413;
      quotation from, 259;
      The Federalist, 395.

  Marcus, pseudonym of James Iredell, 333; 391; 410.

  Martin, Luther, biographies of, 434;
      cited, 18;
      Genuine Information of, 413; 425.

  Maryland and the constitution, 440;
      construction of senate of, 41;
      declaration of rights, 229;
      delay in appointing convention, 250;
      local actions in courts of, 239;
      method of electing federal representatives, 225;
      omnipotence of legislature of, 226;
      position toward Europe, 251;
      position under new constitution, 251;
      probable rejection of the constitution by, 28;
      proposed emission of paper money, 33;
      representation of, 223;
      resistance of the people to paper money, 244.

  Mason, George, 390;
      biographies of, 434;
      failure to sign constitution, 271;
      pamphlet by, 327; 413;
      reply to, 255; 333; 391.

  Massachusetts, 13;
      adoption of the constitution by, 98;
      ambiguous expressions in ratification of, 6;
      amendments of the convention of, 15; 103;
      and the constitution, 438;
      debates in the convention, 414;
      hostile feeling towards New York, 96;
      means used to obtain ratification of, 19;
      ratification by, 6.

  Mediterranean, exclusion of Americans from, 73.

  Mercer, J. F., biographies of, 435.

  Mifflin, Thomas, biographies of, 435.

  Militia, congressional power over, 52; 305;
      necessary general powers over, 122; 306;
      no longer under civil control, 11;
      subject to president and senate, 11.

  Minot, G. R., 410.

  Monarchy, (_see also Aristocracy_), 7;
      advocates for, 19;
      dangers of, 195; 254; 285;
      partisans of, in the state conventions, 17;
      spirit of, in America, 5.

  Money, (s_ee also Paper Money, Representatives, Senate, Taxation_),
    power to raise, necessary to general government, 122;
      scarcity of, 73; 113.

  Monopolies, congressional power to grant. 357.

  Montesquien, cited, 59.

  Montgomery, J., pamphlet by, 415; 417.

  Morris, Robert, biographies of, 435.

  Morris, Gouverneur, biographies of, 435.

  Native of Boston, pseudonym of J. Jackson, 410.

  Navigation laws, necessity of, 377.

  Navy, power of congress to form, 374;
      will be obtained by constitution, 379.

  New England, commerce of, 357.

  New Hampshire and the constitution, 438.

  New Jersey, adopted from local causes, 104;
      and the constitution, 439;
      hostile feelings towards New York, 84; 96;
      imports of, from New York, 62;
      journal of the convention of, 416;
      probable refusal to attend second convention, 81;
      selfish motives in adopting the constitution, 21.

  New York, address to the people of, 67; 87; 111;
      and the constitution, 439;
      anti-federal committee of, 1;
      constitution of, 114;
      dangers from contiguous states, 96;
      debates of the convention of, 416;
      failure to guarantee liberty of the press in constitution of, 76;
      ill feeling towards, of New Jersey and Connecticut, 84;
      imports for other states, 62;
      imports, 104;
      journal of the convention of, 416;
      lack of bill of rights, 114;
      position, in case nine states ratify, 86;
      undoubted rejection of constitution by, 21.

  North Carolina and the constitution, 441;
      debates in the convention of, 417;
      forbids standing army in time of peace, 51; 365.

  Nicholas, J., 415; 417.

  Paine, Thomas, The Rights of Man, 164.

  Paper money, 33;
      baneful effects of, 243;
      conduct of the state legislatures concerning, 244; 284;
      congress not restricted from issuing, 374;
      only the states restricted in issuing, 374;
      renunciation of the right to issue, 243;
      the secret reason of opposition to the constitution, 243.

  Pardon, (_see also Executive_,)
      power of executive to, 351.

  Parker, J., review of The Federalist, 402.

  Paterson, William, biographies of, 435.

  Peabody, A. P., review by, 391.

  Pennsylvania, 33;
      address to the citizens of, 385;
      and the constitution, 412;
      advantages from new constitution, 161;
      aristocratic delegates in Federal convention from, 285;
      debates in convention of, 418;
      dissent of minority of convention, 102: 385;
      forbids standing army in time of peace, 51; 365;
      general assembly under her constitution 152;
      hasty conduct due to construction of legislature, 33;
      hostile feeling towards New York, 96;
      journal of the convention of, 419;
      legislature of, 34;
      opposition to division of congress, 30;
      ratification by, 20;
      trial by jury under constitution of, 148.

  People, desire for union of the, 17;
      equal representation necessary in free government, 168; 288;
      position in adoption of constitution, 311;
      real power with the, 6; 57; 147;
      true influence of, 60; 168; 316.

  Pickering, Timothy, Life of, cited, 277.

  Pierce, B. K., 415.

  Pinckney, Charles, biographies of, 435;
      pamphlet by, 419.

  Pinckney, Charles C., biographies of, 435.

  Plebeian, pseudonym of Melancthon Smith, 67; 87; 421.

  Police, internal, 292.

  President, _see Executive_.

  Press, Liberty of, 9; 76;
      congress without power over, 361;
      failure to guarantee liberty of, 9; 48; 76; 113;
      needless to guarantee, 156;
      powers of congress over, 316;
      power to tax, 114.

  Printers, refusal of, to print against the constitution, 323.

  Production, difficulty in disposing of surplus, 73.

  Property, equal distribution of, the foundation of a republic, 61;
      the basis of freedom, 60;
      the real power, 57.

  Publicola, pseudonym of W. R. Davie, 391.

  Quakers, influenced by slave trade, 54.

  Ramsay, David, pamphlet by, 371; 421.

  Randolph, Edmund, biographies of, 435;
      cited, 343;
      failure to sign constitution, 261; 271;
      independence of, 20; 271;
      motion of, 272;
      pamphlet by, 259; 418; 420.

  Ratification of the constitution, (_see also Conventions, and each
    state_.) 420;
      celebrations of the ratifications of, 441;
      improperly hurried, 18;
      influences that cause opposition to, 165;
      methods used to aid acceptance, 7;
      of nine states improper, 14;
      probability of, by each state, 20;
      probability of nine states agreeing to, 104;
      submittal to state legislatures and conventions, 272.

  Read, George, biographies of, 436.

  Religion, free exercise of, should be guaranteed, 315.

  Religious sentiment of America, 135.

  Religious test, none required, 146.

  Representation (_see also Congress, Constitution_,) 8; 12; 289;
      and taxation inseparable, 148;
      advantages of eastern states in, 375;
      basis for, 263;
      by wealth or population, 39;
      direct taxation apportioned by, 310;
      equality of the states in, 206;
      inadequacy of, 12; 300; 303;
      inequality in, 223;
      improvement of, in constitution, 206;
      origin of, 30;
      possibilities of equal, 296;
      in the constitution a compromise, 206;
      superior in state governments, 293;
      too small to secure liberty, 102;
      treble method in, 178.

  Representatives, House of (_see Congress, Constitution, Representation,
    Senate, Treaties,_) 293;
      comparison with house of commons, 42; 143;
      composition and powers of, 143; 170; 225; 295;
      difficulties in formation of, 297;
      election of members of federal convention to, 221;
      expense of, 299;
      money bills in, 340;
      no state to have less than one member in, 143;
      proportion of members to population, 143;
      qualifications of, 144;
      reply to Mason’s opinion of, 255;
      representation in, 12; 337;
      shadow of representation in, 329;
      share in treaties, 355; 376;
      term of, 43;
      the seat of local interests and parties, 41;
      the voice of the separate states, 41.

  Republics, constitution of ancient, 189.

  Revenue (_see also Impost, Taxation_,)
      all sources of, subject to general government, 11;
      necessity of equalizing, 62.

  Revolutionary war caused by a difference concerning rights, 136.

  Rhode Island and the constitution, 438;
      failure to choose representatives, 151;
      senate of, 32.

  Robertson, David, 418; 422.

  Rome, colonies of, 208;
    constitution compared with proposed constitution, 35;
    senate of, 42.

  Rowland, Kate M., 390.

  Russell, Benjamin, report of debates, 414.

  Rutledge, John, biographies of, 436.

  Sablière, T. de la, editor of The Federalist, 396.

  Sarum, English borough of, 143.

  Senate, (_see also Congress, Constitution, Executive, Representation,
      a compromise between contending interests, 158;
      advantages of, 30;
      appointing power of, 341;
      a restraint on the House of Representatives, 141;
      aristocratic tendencies in, 158;
      compared with Roman and English senates, 148; 371;
      composition and powers of, 37; 140; 297; 338;
      conservative nature of, 340;
      constitution of ancient, 189;
      dangers from, 172; 203;
      dangerous powers of, 173; 297; 329;
      detached from local prejudices, 142;
      equal suffrage in, 38; 40; 207; 275;
      federal formation of, 297;
      frequency of election of, 338;
      House of Representatives a check on, 338;
      irresponsibility of, 12;
      length of term, 12; 170;
      mixture of functions in, 103; 229; 231; 299;
      money bills in, 340;
      necessity to be small, 169;
      power to remove officers, 142;
      qualifications for, 42; 141;
      reply to Mason’s objections to, 255;
      representation in the, 40; 206;
      the representatives of state sovereignties, 169; 224;
      uselessness of the, 34;
      useless power of impeachment, 300;
      vacancies in, 170.

  Sherman, Roger, biographies of, 436;
      cited, 341.

  Shipping, (_see also Commerce_,) 73;
      cessation of, 73;
      decline of, 73;
      necessities of encouraging, 377.

  Slavery, abolition of, would bring ruin, 54;
      legislation left to the states, 54.

  Slaves, representation of, 319.

  Slave trade, desire of South Carolina and Georgia for continuance of,
      foundation for prevention of, 146;
      interest of the eastern states to allow, 378;
      lack of restriction on, 54;
      necessity of the evil of, 367;
      power to prohibit after twenty-one years, 378;
      weakening effect of, 331.

  Smith, C. C., review by, 391.

  Smith, Melancthon, pamphlet by, 67; 87; 421.

  South Carolina, address to the freemen of, 371;
      and the constitution, 440;
      debates of legislature, 421;
      local weakness of, 373;
      protection of, 377.

  Southern confederacy, (_see also Confederacy_,)
      proposition for, 270.

  Southern states, _see States_.

  Spraight, R. D., biographies of, 436.

  State Conventions, _see Conventions, State_.

  State Legislatures, (_see also Constitution and each state_,)
      absorption of, 48; 252;
      a check on senators, 142;
      control of commerce, 265;
      division of, 30; 32; 33;
      misbehaviour of, 254;
      omitted in consideration of constitution, 14;
      restraints on, 243.

  State Sovereignty, _see Congress, Constitution, States_.

  States, (_see also Congress, Constitution, Judiciary, Jury,
    Representation, Senate, United States government, and each state_,)
      a check on the general government, 126; 152;
      all necessary for present exigencies, 96;
      Bills of Rights in constitutions, 359;
      boundaries of, 62;
      cases between citizens and, 307;
      civil war during the, 97; 264; 373;
      constitution of, 286; 289; 294; 299; 320;
      constitutional control of, 46; 120; 129; 145; 292;
      constitutions and laws of, 262;
      contention between, adjusted by general government, 120; 267;
      controversies between the, in the convention, 297;
      delusory promise to guarantee republican government to, 11;
      differences in the governments of, 291;
      dissolution of, 268;
      embarrassment of all issuing paper money, 374;
      excluded from all agency in national government, 267;
      failure to secure liberty and property, 55;
      interest of, to unite, 373;
      jurisdiction of, as opposed to national, 48; 97; 121; 267; 275; 314;
      necessity of coercive power against, 266;
      partial confederacies of, 120; 127; 204; 247; 269; 270; 278;
      power over their own citizens, 128;
      protected from each other, 128;
      rebellion in, 264;
      reservations in constitutions of, 313;
      separate interests of, 39;
      sovereignty of, 11; 14; 38; 46; 179; 207; 379.

  ——Eastern, 357;
      advantages from new constitution, 319;
      advantages of encouraging the shipping of, 377;
      future miserable condition of, 3;
      loss of, by revolution, 377;
      loss of markets by, 377;
      representation of, 375.

  ——Southern, advantages of navy to, 374;
        advantages to, of union, 319; 374;
        danger to, from commercial laws, 331;
        future hopeless poverty of, 3;
        gain of, by revolution, 377;
        position of, if constitution is rejected, 378;
        probable ascendency over eastern, 375;
        representation of, 375.

  Stone, Frederick D., 412.

  Strong, Caleb, biographies of, 436.

  Taxation, absorption of production by national, 3;
      and representation inseparable, 148; 186;
      certainty of increase under proposed government, 108;
      direct, 160; 253; 310;
      internal, 48; 302;
      laws of, interfering with state laws, 302;
      method of collection, 49; 253; 310;
      powers of congress over, 48; 102; 301; 303;
      relief from, 106; 108.

  Tender laws, conduct of the state legislatures concerning, 284.

  Territories, _see Constitution, Western Territory_.

  Trade, (_see also Commerce, Treaties_,) 73; 379;
      balance against the U. S., 107;
      congressional power over, 107;
      necessity of government to, 7;
      regulation of, approved by the eastern states, 319.

  Treaties, (_see also Commerce, Congress, Executive, Representatives,
      dangers arising from, 312;
      dangers of making them the supreme law, 311;
      necessity of commercial, 358;
      of the confederation not binding under, 317;
      power of Executive and Senate in, 376;
      powers to make, 356;
      safer in new government than under the confederation, 376;
      should not be trusted to House of Representatives, 376;
      the supreme law of the land, 355;
      undue influence of Executive and Senate in, 331.

  Tucker, J. R., History of the Convention, 422.

  Tyler, M. C., 416.

  Union, not possible without adequate power, 122;
      true friends of opposed to constitution, 7.

  United States, condition of, 94; 281;
      credit of, 244;
      extension of, 203;
      future additions to, 248;
      future of, 208;
      is it too large for one, 13; 122; 127; 204; 247;
      necessity of supreme government for, 119;
      neglect of laws of, 293;
      opulence of, 270;
      parties in, 321;
      position if constitution is rejected, 378;
      suitable government for, 119; 127; 286.

  United States, Government of, a moderate aristocracy 332;
      checks on, 152;
      composition of, 292;
      control over the states, 120; 129; 145; 292;
      dangers of weak, 119;
      division of, 228;
      great increase in cost predicted, 108;
      institution of, after the separation from England, 136;
      lack of, during the revolution, 136;
      necessary concessions in order to form, 265;
      necessary conditions of, 289;
      necessary powers of, 120; 129; 287; 301;
      necessity of, 280;
      not restricted from issuing paper money, 374;
      powers must be equal to territory, 123;
      responsibility to foreign nations, 266;
      separate functions of, 225;
      tendency of, 369;
      unreasonable accumulation of powers in, 299;
      want of independence in departments of, 103; 229.

  Vermont, probable combination with New Jersey and Connecticut in
      opposition to New York, 84.

  Veto power, _see Executive_.

  Vice-President, (_see also Executive_,)
      method of selection, 330; 349;
      position in Senate, 350;
      qualifications of, 310;
      necessary, 298.

  Virginia, alterations wished by, in constitution, 275;
      and the constitution, 441;
      debates in convention of, 422;
      delay in appointing convention, 250;
      delegates to federal convention, 284;
      hesitation of, to ratify, 20;
      journal of convention of, 423;
      possibility of her obtaining a partial confederacy, 269.

  Warrants, insecurity from, 12;
      protection from, 315.

  Washington, George, 64; 67; 390;
      biographies of, 436;
      dedication to, 218;
      letters to, 327;
      opinion of, 350;
      opinion of The Federalist, 395.

  Webb, S. B., 67.

  Webster, Noah, pamphlet by, 25; 423;
      reply to minority of Pa. convention, 385;
      review by, 67; 87; 217.

  Webster, Pelatiah, pamphlet by, 118; 424.

  Wells, John, editor of The Federalist, 397.

  Western posts, method of obtaining, 96.

  Western Territory, claims of the states to, 239;
      question of ownership, 317.

  West Indies, exclusion of American vessels from, 73;
     will be opened to trade by new government, 379.

  Williamson, Hugh, 424;
      biographies of, 436.

  Wilson, James, 242; 390; 412;
      biographies of, 436;
      cited, 336;
      invents title of “Federal Republic,” 8;
      speech of, 134; 155; 385; 425.

  Witherspoon, D., quotation from letters of, 333.

  Writs of Assistance in Massachusetts, 13.

  Wyoming, action of Pennsylvania legislature in reference to, 33.

  Wythe, George, biographies of, 437.

  Yates, Robert, 425; 424;
      biographies of, 437.


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