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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 747

COMMENTARIES, 28 FEBRUARY 1790
The quoted verse is adapted from William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, scene 5, lines
32-34.
From Caleb Strong
New York, pre-28 February 17901
The idea of a perpetual separation cannot I am sure find place in
the mind of one reflecting man. There has been no instance in the
history of mankind when two contiguous and unconnected states have
existed for a length of time in [un]interrupted peace, and the sources
of contention in the present case would be numerous-By the acces-
sion of North Carolina you stand alone.
1. Printed: Flying Quill (Goodspeed's), March 1941, Item 51. A longer extract from this
letter, without attribution, was printed in the United States Chronicle, 20 May 1790 (below).
The Chronicle indicated that this letter was written before Strong's letter of 28 February
to Theodore Foster (below).
Strong (1745-1819), a lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College (1764), had been a
Massachusetts delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, but left at least three
weeks before the final adjournment on 17 September 1787. He voted to ratify the Con-
stitution in the Massachusetts Convention on 6 February 1788. Strong was a U.S. Senator,
1789-96, and governor of Massachusetts, 1800-1807, 1812-16.
John Adams to Brown & Francis
New York, 28 February 17901
Your Letter of the 16th. I recd only by the Post of last Wednesday.-
I am really much affected at the obstinate Infatuation of so great a Part
of the People of Rhode Island. It is inconceivable how men of common
Sense can reconcile such a Conduct to their Understanding, men of
common Honesty, to their Consciences; or men of human Feelings, to
their Hearts.
Do the Antis of Rhode Island expect that the Congress of twelve
states will send them a Petition, to pray them humbly, to take a share
in the great Council of the Nation? or do they wait for the President
to send them an Ambassador in great Pomp and state to negotiate their
Accession to the Union?
The Inhabitants of Rhode Island are Freemen and I presume will be
treated like Freemen. Congress will not think themselves authorised,
by the Principles they profess, to make a Conquest of that People, or
to bring them into the Union by Coertion.
If the Convention should reject the Constitution or adjourn without
adopting it, Congress will probably find it necessary to treat them as
they are, as Foreigners, and extend all the Laws to them as such. This
will be disagreable because it will involve our Friends in Inconvenience
747


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