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

A. Responses to ratification and to The Dissent of the Minority,   pp. 646-669


Page 655

A. RESPONSES TO RATIFICATION/16 JAN.
dress is meant, a medley composition made up of remarks and asser-
tions upon different and unconnected subjects. The term being ex-
plained, the address itself is next to be considered. In the first place,
observe that history is assumed as the foundation and standard of the
arguments used in the first part of this address; you may take notice al-
so that by history being pregnant is not meant that it is great with
young breeding or fruitful, which are the common senses of the word;
but only that history informs or makes known what has been. We
are informed in the address, "that the successive convulsions that hap-
pened at Rome were the immediate consequence" (that is, a conse-
quence that proceeds from its cause, without the intervention of
secondary causes or means) "of the aspiring ambition of a few great
men," that is, of the minority of great men, or men in public offices.
I say the minority, because history is the standard in this matter;
and it informs us that there were many great men in the Roman
commonwealth; therefore, these few great men were the minority,
who occasioned the successive convulsions of Rome.
Again, these "convulsions were the immediate consequence of the
very organization and construction of the government itself"; there-
fore, since there was means, there must have been a continued and
uninterrupted convulsion in the Roman state, from the first day that
the Roman government was organized and constructed till it was
totally erased. Away then with all the fabulous descriptions of the
glory, peace, happiness, liberty, and grandeur of the Roman state, that
are handed down to us by the historians of all ages since the Roman
state first existed; these historians have been ignorant fools and ill-
designing blockheads to impose such gross falsehoods upon the world!
Falsehoods so glaring, that thirty men in Cumberland County, many
centuries after, have detected? The address informs us also that
"Venice by the encroachments of her nobles has degenerated into an
odious and permanent aristocracy." But America has no nobles to
dread in this respect. Now in the first place, the minority of great
men at Rome occasioned their convulsions. Secondly, the organization
and construction of the Roman government was not the cause of these
convulsions; for then there would have been an uninterrupted con-
vulsion in the Roman state; but history informs us otherwise. Thirdly,
the nobles of Venice brought about an odious and permanent aris-
tocracy; therefore, if the new Federal Constitution be similar to the
Roman constitution, there will be no danger of convulsions being the
immediate consequence of adopting it. And if the convulsions that
happened at Rome were the immediate consequence of the aspiring
ambition of the few great men, or minority, certainly, from a similarity
of causes, similar consequences will happen [to] the Americans, if
655


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