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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 735

COMMENTARIES, 25 FEBRUARY 1790
the most envied State in the World.-This plan for advancing our op-
ulence and felicity is so easily executed, and the advantages which will
flow from its execution are so great and obvious that it ought to be
immediately embraced. But if we do not adopt the Constitution we shall
soon cease to exist as a State, says the Freeholder, Congress will destroy our
State jurisdiction, and dismember the State.-It must be confessed that
this threat if it were well founded would be alarming;-but pray what
has this menace to support it, but a metaphysical, cobweb bottom woven
with the subtle threads of distinction between an incorporate Union and
a federal Alliance?-Is not this State a free, distinct sovereignty, abso-
lutely independent of the rightful control of any and all the States and
kingdoms of the Earth?6-and, this being palpably the case, what right
have the United States to interfere with US?-What right have they to
annihilate, and dismember this State?-What right have they to exercise
dominion over us?-We are not a conquered people; nor have they any
right to make war upon us.-If they should attempt to subjugate us,
would not foreign powers, who will find their account in a commercial
intercourse with us, combine to support us, and apart from this, would
not all the Sovereign Powers of the Earth consider such an attempt, even
upon a small Sovereignty, as an insult upon Sovereignty itself?-Did not
every crowned head, in Europe, and in the World feel and resent the
decapitation of Charles the First?7-Trust me my Antifederal Friends,
these hints of a dismemberment are intended solely to intimidate you.-
They are mere scare-crows.-As a free distinct independent, Sovereign
State, you are not bound to enter into any alliance but what you conceive
will be for your interest;-and it is interest alone that doth, and which
alone ought to govern Sovereign, Independent States.
That Commerce is essential to the happiness of this State, is allowed
by its Legislature, and on all hands, and if our commerce must be
ruined unless we accede to the Union, we ought immediately to accede
to it;-but if on the contrary, by rejecting the Constitution, and pur-
suing the plan I have proposed, our commerce, our agriculture, our
manufactures, and our wealth will be encreased, we most clearly ought,
without hesitation to reject it (dallying and adjourning will only pro-
long our distress,) and embrace a measure which will ensure to us such
extensive, and such lasting benefits.
1. For a response to this piece, see "Agricola," Newport Herald, 11 March (below).
2. See "A Friend to the State of Rhode-Island" and "A Freeholder," Newport Herald,
18 February (both above).
3. The option of taking the one thing offered or nothing.
4. In May 1789 the Rhode Island legislature passed an act providing that the state
would collect the same impost duties as Congress would enact (Newport Mercury, 11 May
735


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