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

C. The petition campaign for legislative rejection of ratification, 2 January-29 March 1788,   pp. 709-[726]


Page 713

C. CAMPAIGN AGAINST RATIFICATION/2 FEB.
state I think that it would be prudent in them to make their Wills
before they leve Home
P.S: Sir please to excuse this hurried piece-
1. RC (LT), Nicholson Papers, PHarH. This letter is endorsed: "Letter from
Richard Beard Esqr. Recd Feby 6th 1788-." Bard had represented Franklin County
in the state Convention, where he voted against ratification.
2. Colonel Smith, one of the seceding assemblymen in September 1787, was
elected to represent Franklin County in the Supreme Executive Council on 9 October
1787.
James Marshel to John Nicholson,
Washington, 2 February1
The new Federal Constitution is seldom mentioned in this coun-
ty [Washington]. The people's minds are so well prepared for a
change that even those who opposed it with considerable warmth
appear to be in suspense whether it is not our true interest to receive
it; therefore a spirited opposition is not to be expected, unless the
government in its operation (should it ever operate) prepare the minds
of the people as well for another change.2 Nor do I believe that a
petition would be very generally signed for calling another convention.
At any rate, it would require considerable address and the same de-
gree of address would no doubt prevail with a great number to con-
tradict themselves and sign a petition of a contrary nature. The
truth is the people at large do not understand the subject and an ap-
peal to them is certainly dangerous. While men of influence in every
part of the state are so much divided, of consequence so will the peo-
ple. I freely confess that I'm not able to determine with precision
what is our true interest as a people in the present crisis for I neither
think the proposed government so diabolical as some in the opposition
seem to hold forth nor so good as its advocates represent. I feel strong-
ly inclined to wait with patience the decision of other states before
I take up strong and rooted prejudices against it, for it may be I
shall be obliged to live under it and a rash and unadvised opposition
might be attended with the worst consequence.
1. RC, Nicholson Papers, PHarH. This letter, addressed "(Private) pr favr. Jas
Allison Esqr.," was endorsed by Nicholson "Recd Feby 21st 1788-Answered March
26th 1788." Marshel had represented Washington County in the state Convention
and voted against ratification.
2. A report published in the Pennsylvania Gazette, 16 April, stated that there was
"but a small opposition" to the Constitution in Washington County (Mfm:Pa. 631).
On 10 May, however, Thomas Rodney reported that eight men lost their lives
in a battle between the advocates and the opponents of the Constitution in Wash-
ington County (Mfm:Pa. 676).
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