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Jensen, Merrill; Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Pennsylvania
(1976)

B. The Dissent of the Minority of the Convention,   pp. 617-640


Page 619

B. DISSENT OF MINORITY/18 DEC.
were set at naught by some of the states, while others complied with
them by legislative acts, but were tardy in their payments, and Con-
gress found themselves incapable of complying with their engage-
ments, and supporting the federal government. It was found that
our national character was sinking in the opinion of foreign nations.
The Congress could make treaties of commerce, but could not enforce
the observance of them. We were suffering from the restrictions of
foreign nations, who had shackled our commerce, while we were un-
able to retaliate; and all now agreed that it would be advantageous
to the union to enlarge the powers of Congress; that they should be
enabled in the amplest manner to regulate commerce, and to lay
and collect duties on the imports throughout the United States. With
this view a convention was first proposed by Virginia,3 and finally
recommended by Congress for the different states to appoint deputies
to meet in convention, "for the purposes of revising and amending the
present articles of confederation, so as to make them adequate to the
exigencies of the union."4 This recommendation the legislatures of
twelve states complied with so hastily as not to consult their constitu-
ents on the subject; and though the different legislatures had no
authority from their constituents for the purpose, they probably ap-
prehended the necessity would justify the measure; and none of them
extended their ideas at that time further than "revising and amend-
ing the present articles of confederation." Pennsylvania by the act
appointing deputies expressly confined their powers to this object;5
and though it is probable that some of the members of the assembly
of this state had at that time in contemplation to annihilate the
present confederation, as well as the constitution of Pennsylvania, yet
the plan was not sufficiently matured to communicate it to the public.
The majority of the legislature of this commonwealth were at that
time under the influence of the members from the city of Philadelphia.
They agreed that the deputies sent by them to convention should
have no compensation for their services, which determination was cal-
culated to prevent the election of any member who resided at a dis-
tance from the city. It was in vain for the minority to attempt elect-
ing delegates to the convention, who understood the circumstances,
and the feelings of the people, and had a common interest with them.
They found a disposition in the leaders of the majority of the house
to choose themselves and some of their dependents. The minority
attempted to prevent this by agreeing to vote for some of the leading
members, who they knew had influence enough to be appointed at
any rate, in hopes of carrying with them some respectable citizens of
Philadelphia, in whose principles and integrity they could have more
confidence; but even in this they were disappointed, except in one
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