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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 742

VI. DEBATE OVER CONSTITUTION
arbitrary will of foreigners, on the rejection, or even the postponement of the
adoption of the Constitution, will be utterly ruined: We must not again
expect from Congress a continuance of lenity.3-However well disposed
they may be, justice to their own citizens demands an alteration of
measures, and an entire stoppage of all commerce by land, and no
other by sea except as foreigners, will follow.
Would to God our sufferings were at an end here, or that I had
abilities to depicture, and you time to read them. Alas, difficulties crowd
on difficulties-turn your eyes on which side you please; the prospect
darkens, and not a glimpse of relief opens from any other quarter than
our union with those States, we are allied to by kindred, by inclination,
by interest and by situation.
Their impost promises a sufficiency to pay the expences of govern-
ment, and their proportion of the foreign debt. When they call on us
for payment of our part, how shall we be prepared? Will the present
warm opposers, find any other method than by direct taxation-a mode
of raising a revenue the present Congress will never adopt, but in case
of invasion-no dependence can be placed on the payment of our
Impost but in paper-money, whilst the present act continues;4 and even
allowing specie were paid, we should not raise one-third the sum by
impost that we should if joined in the Union, with the advantage our
local situation affords us, of importing for the consumption of a large
part of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont.
Without dwelling longer on the misfortunes which surround us, and
which you are sensible are daily in a rapid manner increasing,-Let
me assure you the eyes of the world are on you-and individually, your
names will be held up, either as the fomenters of discord and injustice,
or the promoters of public justice and private virtue.-Let me request
you to give a candid unbiassed hearing to the arguments used on both
sides, and let me intreat you to give that construction which arises from
your good judgment, not your jealousy to those around you. Beware of
those intriguing, designing men, who will flock round and cry down all
order and good government-be assured they are never happy but in
broils, and that their importance continues only whilst the minds of
honest men are unhappily heated by party prejudice-be wise, there-
fore, adopt, and Make Hay while the Sun shines.5
1. For Rhode Island's refusal to send delegates to the Constitutional Convention, see
RCS:R.I., Vol. 1, xxxv-xxxvii, 8-23.
2. See the letter from George Washington, the president of the Constitutional Con-
vention, to the president of Congress, 17 September 1787 (RCS:R.I., 322-23).
3. See Newport Herald, 25 February 1790 (RCS:R.I., 736-37).
4. For Rhode Island's 1789 impost law, see "Greenwichiensis," Newport Herald, 25 Feb-
ruary, note 4 (RCS:R.I., 734-36n).
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