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Jensen, Merrill (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut
(1978)

VI. The Connecticut Convention, 3-9 January 1788,   pp. 535-562


Page 555

VI. CONVENTION55
this Convention do assent. to, ratify and adopt the Constitution re-
ported by the Convention of delegates in Philadelphia on the 17th
day of September A. D. 1787 and referred to the determination of
this Convention by an act of General Assembly in October last."1
This motion was seconded by General Jedidiah Huntington.2
[Connecticut Courant, 14 January]
SAMUEL HUNTINGTON: Upon the general discussion of the subject,
His Excellency Governor Samuel Huntington expressed himself near-
ly as follows.
Mr. President, I do not rise to detain this Convention for any length
of time. The subject has been so fully discussed that very little can
be added to what has been already offered. I have heard and attended
with pleasure to what has been said upon this subject. The importance
of it merited a full and ample discussion. It does not give me pain,
but pleasure, to hear the sentiments of those gentlemen who differ
from me. It is not to be expected from human nature that we should
all have the same opinion. The best way to learn the nature and
effects of different systems of government is not from theoretical dis-
sertations, but from experience from what has actually taken place
among mankind. From this latter source of information,. it is that
mankind have obtained a more complete knowledge of the nature
of government than they had in ages past. It is an established truth
that no nation can exist without a coercive power, a power to enforce
the execution of its political regulations. There is such a love of
liberty implanted in the human breast that no nation ever willingly
gave up its liberty. If they lose this inestimable birthright of man, it
is from a want not of will but of the proper means to support it. If
we look into history, we shall find that the common avenue through
which tyranny has entered in, and enslaved nations who were once
free, has been their not supporting government. The great secret of
preserving liberty is to lodge the supreme power so as to be well sup-
ported and not abused. If this could only be effected, no nation
would ever lose its'liberty. The history of mankind clearly shows
that it is dangerous to entrust the supreme power in the hands of
one man. The same source of knowledge proves that it is not only
inconvenient but dangerous to liberty for the people of a large com-
munity to attempt to exercise in person the supreme authority.
Hence arises the necessity that the people should act by their repre-
sentatives; but this method, so necessary for the support of civil
liberty, is an improvement of modern times. Liberty however is
not so well secured as it ought to be when the supreme power is
lodged in one body of representatives. There ought to be two branch-
es of the legislature, that the one may be a check upon the other.
555


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