University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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 739

COMMENTARIES, 25 FEBRUARY 1790
These remarks may serve to account for the greater confidence re-
posed in the present Congress, in regard to the collection and expen-
diture of the national revenues.
It would not be difficult to point out, in a variety of particulars, the
changeableness, and the want of economy(a) as well as of system, in the
old Congress-but it becomes us to tread lightly on the ashes of the
dead;-many venerable patriots have at all times belonged to that body,
and as much, good, and as little mischief, has been done by them, as
was to be expected from the deliberations of a single assembly, ap-
pointed and authorized as they were.
It may not perhaps become an individual, whose abilities and learn-
ing are felt by him to be incompetent to the deep research, to attempt
to decide on the merits of the new federal Constitution, relatively to
the amendments made, or to be made; nor doth the Writer of these
lines even flatter himself with the vain hope of bringing all his fellow-
citizens to the standard of his own scanty ideas of political propriety.
He knows that the opinions of mankind are, and always will be discor-
dant, and that "difference of sentiments is no crime among freemen," and he
expects to submit ultimately to the general voice of his country-that
is to be governed, and not to govern by his single voice.-Yet at a time
when a question, in which the fortunes of his fellow-citizens, as well as
himself, and of those he expects to leave behind him on the stage of
life at his departure, are so deeply concerned, is about to receive a sol-
emn decision, he cannot think he has discharged the duties of a good
citizen, without declaring his sentiments in the most explicit manner.
(a) It will appear by their Journals, that upwards ofTHIRTY-FOUR
THOUSAND DOLLARS, in real money, were ordered to be paid, and
actually were paid, to one of their general Officers, between the years
1784 and 1788 inclusively.7
1. "Solon, junior" was perhaps David Howell. See "Solon, jun.," Providence Gazette, 5
July 1788, note 1 (RCS:R.I., 348).
2. On 30 April 1784 Congress sent to the states an amendment to the Articles of
Confederation granting Congress the power to regulate commerce for fifteen years (CDR,
153-54). On 23 October 1786 a congressional committee reported on the acts adopted
by the various states ratifying that amendment. The committee found that the ratifications
of New Hampshire, North Carolina, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and South
Carolina were not proper. Congress resolved that these states reconsider their ratifications
and make them acceptable to Congress (JCC, XXXI, 907-9).
3. See the second paragraph of the letter from George Washington, president of the
Constitutional Convention, to the president of Congress, 17 September 1787 (RCS:R.I.,
322). The last eight words were not in small capital letters in the original letter.
4. A reference to the Impost of 1783, which Rhode Island finally granted to Congress
in March 1786 (RCS:R.I., Vol. 1, xxviii-xxix). For New York's action on the Impost of
739


Go up to Top of Page