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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 726

VI. DEBATE OVER CONSTITUTION
public credit?-Will Congress suffer a single refractory State to em-
barrass its great, necessary national measures? Have not the United
States an undoubted right, on the principles of national justice, to pre-
vent, in such way as they shall judge proper, our embarrassing the ex-
ecution of their political system?-Hath not Congress a right to insist
upon, and even to compel us to pay our quota of the debt contracted
by the war;-and although this State should consider itself as foreign,
and independent, yet, upon the principles of an incorporate union, to
view us as a part of the United States, subject to its general government,
and to demand from the State its proportion of the expence accrued,
and accruing by the General Government?-Now let me ask what would
be the consequence if the Congress should make a demand solely of
the payment of our quota of the debt contracted by the late war?-Is
this State able to pay it?-And would not the country suffer essential
injury by distraints?-Let me further ask, is it just that the other States
should sustain the whole expence of establishing and administering the
Federal Government,-securing the Western Territory, &c. &c. and that
this State, without contributing towards it, should enter the Union, and
reap all the benefits of that Government and that territory, whenever
it shall please to adopt it?5
Can justice admit such an ungenerous sentiment, and will the wis-
dom of the United States, to use a familiar proverb, beat the bush and
suffer this State to take the bird?6
What measures the Great Council of the Union may take with us,
besides leaving us to the operation of her acts of trade, and to our own
destruction it would be presumptuous in me to suggest.-But if any
degree of resentment could be supposed to enter into their delibera-
tions, might we not expect the most rigorous treatment, would be the
consequence of unexampled moderation, ignominiously abused.
The hints I have thrown out are intended to awaken the attention
of the Delegates to the Convention to the true interests of this State;
for the honor and happiness of which I am anxiously solicitous. Sure
I am that if they will advert to this, and deliberately weigh the merits
of the New Constitution, we shall not experience the calamities which
a rejection of it will most certainly bring upon us.-But if on the con-
trary this State must fall a sacrifice to inconsideration and invincible
prejudice, which may Heaven prevent! they who have endeavored, and
shall still endeavor to support it, will have this consolation that they
have done their duty, while the stings which will goad the consciences
of those who have contributed to her ruin will be sharpened by ever-
lasting reproach.
726


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