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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 746

VI. DEBATE OVER CONSTITUTION
on our credit as a people, which it is to be feared will not be easily
wiped off.
This State has an account open with the other twelve, which are now
in the receipt of a great revenue from their trade. Can it be thought
that we shall be admitted to a rateable participation of it hereafter, with-
out producing an equivalent? as, suppose two years elapse before our
accession, and the net proceeds of their revenue amount to 2,000,000
dollars, and our estimated quota of it amounts to a fiftieth, or 40,000
dollars-shall we not be called on to make good our 40,000 dollars on
acceding to the Union, and from what funds will it be raised? Is it not
well known, that our present duties are payable in paper, in which the
State may sustain a loss of 30 to 40 per cent.? And after our accession
to the Union, what resources will be at our command to supply the
deficiency, other than a capitation or a land tax?-Let those resolve
this difficulty, who advise a longer continuance in our present situation.)'
1. "Solon, junior" was perhaps David Howell. See "Solon, jun.," Providence Gazette, 5
July 1788, note 1 (RCS:R.I., 348).
2. See "Solon, junior," Providence Gazette, 9 August 1788 (RCS:R.I., 386).
3. The quoted text is the last sentence in section nine of the Judiciary Act of 1789
(DHFFC, V, 1154).
4. U.S. representatives were elected for a two-year term, the president for a four-year
term, and U.S. senators for a six-year term, while members of the House of Commons,
per the Septennial Act (1716), were elected for a term that could last no more than seven
years.
5. The New York Daily Advertiser, 16 March, and Pennsylvania Packet, 20 March, re-
printed the text in angle brackets under a "PROVIDENCE (R.I.) March 5." dateline with
substantial revisions to the first paragraph. The Daily Advertiser's revision of the first par-
agraph is as follows:
The people of this state, from its first settlement have been used to
breath in a free air, their spirits are firm and unbroken by the modes of
arbitrary power. Even the persons who apprehend the present zeal of those
who opposed the adoption of the new constitution to be of a mistaken kind
cannot fail, in many instances, to applaud the principles that nourish it. But
let us attend for a moment to the actual situation of our seaport towns and
of our sea faring brethren. Let us take a view of the people planted round
our bay, in a circuit of more than 100 miles, consider their various distresses
and will they not move the humane, the tender feelings of the mind.
"Yes-duller must he be than the fat weed
That roots itself in ease on Lethe's wharf,
Who would not grieve for this."
Will not the complaints of a long train of mechanics and day labourers in
want of business and of bread, be of some weight in the federal scale-the
still greater distresses of the poor, daily increasing in the streets-the im-
poverish'd widow in her lonely cell dividing her mouldy bread among her
famished children-will not such scenes-scenes not of imagination, but
real life, interest all the feelings natural to the heart of man, and force the
tear of compassion?-
746


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