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Jensen, Merrill; Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Pennsylvania
(1976)

B. The Dissent of the Minority of the Convention,   pp. 617-640


Page 622

III. PENNSYLVANIA CONVENTION
ommendation have authority to do any act or thing, that can alter or
annihilate the constitution of Pennsylvania (both of which will be
done by the new constitution) nor are their proceedings in our opinion,
at all binding on the people.
The election for members of the convention was held at 3o early
a period and the want of information was so great, that some of us
did not know of it until after it was over, and we have reason to be-
lieve that great numbers of the people of Pennsylvania have not yet
had an opportunity of sufficiently examining the proposed constitu-
tion. We apprehend that no change can take place that will affect the
internal government or constitution of this commonwealth, unless a
majority of the people should evidence a wish for such a change; but
on examining the number of votes given for members of the present
state convention, we find that of upwards of seventy thousand free-
men who are entitled to vote in Pennsylvania, the whole convention
has been elected by about thirteen thousand voters, and though two-
thirds of the members of the convention have thought proper to ratify
the proposed constitution, yet those two-thirds were elected by the
votes of only six thousand and eight hundred freemen.
In the city of Philadelphia and some of the eastern couni-ies, the
junto that took the lead in the business agreed to vote for none but
such as would solemnly promise to adopt the system in toto, without
exercising their judgment. In many of the counties the people did
not attend the elections as they had not an opportunity of judging
of the plan. Others did not consider themselves bound by the call of
a set of men who assembled at the state house in Philadelphia, and
assumed the name of the legislature of Pennsylvania; and some were
prevented from voting by the violence of the party who were deter-
mined at all events to force down the measure.9 To such lengths did
the tools of despotism carry their outrage, that in the night of the
election for members of convention, in the city of Philadelphia, sev-
eral of the subscribers (being then in the city to transact your business)
were grossly abused, ill-treated and insulted while they were quiet in
their lodgings, though they did not interfere, nor had anything to do
with the said election, but, as they apprehend, because they were sup-
posed to be adverse to the proposed constitution, and would not
tamely surrender those sacred rights, which you had committed to their
charge.10
The convention met, and the same disposition was soon manifested
in considering the proposed constitution, that had been exhibited in
every other stage of the business. We were prohibited by an express
vote of the convention, from taking any question on the separate
622


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