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

V. Commentaries on the Constitution, 13 November 1787-7 January 1788,   pp. 456-534


Page 456

456
V
COMMENTARIES ON THE CONSTITUTION
13 November 1787-7 January 1788
Between the election of Convention delegates and the ratification
of the Constitution by the state Convention, the major Connecticut
items printed were Roger Sherman's "Countryman" essays and the
continuation of Oliver Ellsworth's "Landholder" essays. For the
most part, these and other Connecticut writings were not measured
analyses of the Constitution as a whole. They were instead answers
to objections to various parts of it and, above all, reiterations of the
idea that the Constitution would not endanger the liberties of the
people.
"Countryman" minimized the differences between the old gov-
ernment and the new and argued that the only guarantee of the
liberties of the people was the character of the men they elected
to office, not a bill of rights. Sherman summed up his view of the
nature of the Constitution in "A Citizen of New Haven," which was
published during the state Convention (7 January). He wrote: "The
powers vested in the federal government are particularly defined, so
that each state still retains its sovereignty in what concerns its own
internal government and a right to exercise every power of a sovereign
state not particularly delegated to the government of the United
States."
The nine "Landholder" essays published prior to the state Con.
vention covered a wide range. The first two appealed to farmers for
their support (III above), four others answered the objections of
out-of-state Antifederalists and questioned their personal integrity,
and one justified the omission of religious qualifications for office-
holding under the Constitution.
With a few exceptions, the writings of out-of-state Antifederalists
were not reprinted in Connecticut, but two of them were so that
they could be answered. They were Elbridge Gerry's letter of 18 Oc-
tober to the Massachusetts General Court (CC:227) and George Ma-
son's objections to the Constitution (CC:276-A). Gerry's letter was


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