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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 637

B. DISSENT OF MINORITY/18 DEC.
in this vast country at absolute command, and even these ten persons,
who are to be our only guardians, who are to supersede the legislature
of Pennsylvania, will not be of the choice of the people, nor amenable
to them. From the mode of their election and appointment they will
consist of the lordly and high-minded; of men who will have no con-
genial feelings with the people, but a perfect indifference for, and
contempt of them; they will consist of those harpies of power, that
prey upon the very vitals; that riot on the miseries of the community.
But we will suppose, although in all probability it may never be
realized in fact, that our deputies in Congress have the welfare of
their constituents at heart, and will exert themselves in their behalf.
What security could even this afford; what relief could they extend
to their oppressed constituents? To attain this, the majority of the
deputies of the twelve other states in Congress must be alike well
disposed; must alike forego the sweets of power, and relinquish the
pursuits of ambition, which from the nature of things is not to be
expected. If the people part with a responsible representation in the
legislature, founded upon fair, certain, and frequent elections, they
have nothing left they can call their own. Miserable is the lot of that
people whose every concern depends on the WILL and PLEASURE
of their rulers. Our soldiers will become Janissaries, and our officers
of government bashaws; in short, the system of despotism will soon
be completed.
From the foregoing investigation, it appears that the Congress under
this constitution will not possess the confidence of the people, which
is an essential requisite in a good government; for unless the laws
command the confidence and respect of the great body of the people,
so as to induce them to support them, when called on by the civil
magistrate, they must be executed by the aid of a numerous standing
army, which would be inconsistent with every idea of liberty; for the
same force that may be employed to compel obedience to good laws,
might and probably would be used to wrest from the people their
constitutional liberties. The framers of this constitution appear to
have been aware of this great deficiency; to have been sensible that
no dependence could be placed on the people for their support; but
on the contrary, that the government must be executed by force. They
have therefore made a provision for this purpose in a permanent
STANDING ARMY, and a MILITIA that may be subjected to as
strict discipline and government.
A standing army in the hands of a government placed so independent
of the people may be made a fatal instrument to overturn the public
liberties; it may be employed to enforce the collection of the most op-
pressive taxes, and to carry into execution the most arbitrary measures.
637


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