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Kaminski, John P.; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard; Reid, Jonathan M.; Flamingo, Margaret R.; Lannér-Cusin, Johanna E.; Fields, David P.; Conley, Patrick T.; Moore, Timothy D. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Rhode Island (3)
(2013)

VI. The debate over the Constitution in Rhode Island, 20 January-29 May 1790,   pp. 711-897


Page 724

VI. DEBATE OVER CONSTITUTION
An application was accordingly made, and Congress relying upon the
assurances of the Legislature, and willing to conquer opposition by
moderation, have further indulged the State to the first of April next.3
Now let me ask the Delegates appointed to the Convention, most of
whom are members of the General Assembly, what sentiments will Con-
gress entertain of you and the Legislature of the State, if, contrary to
the declarations in the Act last referred to, you should refuse to ratify
the New Constitution, or which will be considered by Congress as tan-
tamount to a rejection, you should adjourn without a decision,-and
what consequences would flow from such refusal or an adjournment
of the Convention.
Would they not consider the Legislature as having trifled with them,
and imposed upon their leniency? you as insensible or wilfully opposed
to the real interest of the State and the United States, and take such
measures to reclaim us as their wisdom and justice should warrant and
direct?-They certainly would.
The operation of the Act imposing foreign tonnage and foreign du-
ties will as the Legislature justly express it, prove greatly injurious to the
commercial interest, and, let me add, for they are inseparably con-
nected, the landed interest of this State.-All intercourse between this
and the United States, by land as well as by water, will, by the operation
of that Act, be so clogged, as to amount to an almost absolute prohi-
bition.-It will be left to the charity of our once Sister States, grown
cold by our obstinacy, if not turned to resentment, to determine whether
some of the principal towns in the State shall be supplied with bread
and fuel or not;-and great numbers who depend immediately on com-
merce for their subsistence must perish.
The farmers in general, and they especially whose estates are nearest
to the large commercial towns, will not be exempted from the common
distress. Some of them receive their fire wood and a considerable part
of their bread from the other States, and the faculty of the inhabitants
of the sea ports for purchasing the produce of the farmer, being di-
minished by the embarrassments of trade, the price of their produce
must fall, and their estates, which have already sunk 25 per cent. must
sink still lower in their value.-These observations are so natural and
so obviously true, that one would think they could not have escaped
the notice of the farmer; and, discerning the truth of them, it would
seem almost impossible that he should not unite with the merchant in
promoting measures calculated to extend trade, agriculture, and me-
chanic arts; and yet as obvious as these observations are some artful
and designing men have so far deluded a number of the citizens of
this State, as to induce them to believe that the interests of the mer-
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