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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 744

VI. DEBATE OVER CONSTITUTION
1. RC, Smith-Carter Family Papers, MHi. The letter was addressed "Willm. Smith Esqr./
Merch [an] t/Boston." Otis (1740-1814), a graduate of Harvard College (1759) and a
Federalist from Massachusetts, was a delegate to Congress, 1787-88, and secretary to the
U.S. Senate, 1789-1814. Smith (1755-1816) was a very wealthy Boston merchant-shipowner.
Solon, junior
Providence Gazette, 27 February 17901
It was observed, in a former paper, that the happiness of the people
in all countries is the result of the spirit of the times, and of the ad-
ministration of government, rather than the letter of their Constitu-
tions, on paper or parchment;2 and it must give real satisfaction to
those who have seen or thought they saw defects in the new Federal
Constitution, to learn that those defects are in any cases remedied by
legislative regulation. I need instance only in one particular.-The want
of security for trial by jury, in civil causes, has been a very popular
objection against the Constitution. The act for establishing the judicial
courts of the United States provides, that "the trial of issues in fact, in
the district courts, in all causes except civil causes of admiralty and maritime
jurisdiction, shall be by jury."
As all three of the branches of the legislative body are elective, and
in a shorter period than even the only popular part of the British leg-
islature,4 let us hope, that, while the people at large are attentive to
the characters of their rulers, and preserve and cherish a diffusive spirit
of liberty and justice, the nation may be happy, and that constitutional
defects may be remedied by legislative regulation.
Such is the crisis of our present affairs, that the question, however,
does not seem to be, whether the best possible Constitution is pre-
sented to us?-But, whether it is for the interest of the State to remain
in its present abandoned situation, in preference to adopting it, such
as it is?
The public happiness is the aggregate of that of individuals; and just
and faithful rulers will have an equal and impartial eye to the condi-
tions of all classes of people, as the head of a family regards all branches
of it with the same paternal affection. That will be thought a very de-
fective administration, that does not attend to the distresses of a part,
and even a small part, of the people; nay, let me say, of an individual-
for no individual can be supposed ever to have entered into society on
such terms, as that he might fall a sacrifice to any policy, without any
crime on his part. Protection and allegiance ought to be in all cases
reciprocal. That government which provides only for the majority of
the people, treads on too narrow ground.-The reasonable wants and
744


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