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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 668

IV. AFTERMATH OF RATIFICATION
republican form of government to each of the states? Why not guar-
antee to them   their own forms of government or free forms of
government? It is but too well-known that under aristocratical re-
publics, there is often less personal freedom and political importance
enjoyed by the people at large than under despotic forms, witness,
Poland, Venice, and other aristocracies. In the official letter from
the Convention to Congress, they say that the proposed plan is the
result of that mutual deference and concession, which the peculiarity
of our political situation rendered indispensable.r It is well-known
that all the states have by their own constitution reserved unalienably
unto their citizens, the right of trial by jury, in civil as well as in
criminal cases; and the liberty of the press, as well as restrictions
against standing armies in times of peace, etc. Surely then, theie rights
to the arbitrary will of our future rulers could not arise from the
political situation of the different states. Candor would have dictated
a more honest reason. No doubt remains with me, but an aristocracy
was the design, at least of those who prevailed so far as to vitiate a
plan, the outlines of which I believe were at first well arranged and is
yet capable of being made a good government, and I trust in the
virtue of the United States that the dark and dangerous paths thereof
will be properly altered and then adopted. But it will be asked, no
doubt, who is this that dares so boldly to arraign the conduct and
censure the production of a Convention composed of so chosen a band
of patriots? To this I answer, that I am a freeman, and it is tie char-
acter of freemen to examine and judge for themselves; they know
that implicit faith respecting politics is the handmaid to slavery, and
that the greatness of those names who frame a government cannot
sanctify its faults, nor prevent the evils that result from its imperfec-
tions. Delicacy forbids that scrutiny into particular characters, which
the boasting advocates of the new system seem to invite; and indeed
the adding so much weight on the gilding of great names bestrays a
want of more substantial aid. However, I cheerfully grant that the
names of Franklin and Washington would do honor to any celibera-
tive body; their patriotism is unquestionable; but had those great
men been the framers of the system, we ought not for this to give up
our right of judging, but the case is quite otherwise. We know that
General Washington, being President, was obliged to sign officially,
whatsoever the majority resolved upon, let it be ever so contrary to his
own sentiments; and though the general proceedings of that body
are still a secret, we yet certainly know that he expressed a cons.derable
degree of disapprobation of the system, by breaking through the
established rules, in order to have it amended, in the important in-
stance before mentioned. With respect to Dr. Frankin, it is now also
668


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