University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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

A. Responses to ratification and to The Dissent of the Minority,   pp. 646-669

Page 656

they should follow their minority; especially, as we shall show after-
wards, that they are very probably actuated by the same principles
as the minority at Rome were. Again nothing can be proved by the
comparison of Venice to America, because there are no nobles in
America, and so the causes being dissimilar, the consequences cannot
be proved to be similar. We may, indeed, suppose that all the Ameri-
cans are nobles; but then it would be unreasonable to suppose that
they would bring an odious and permanent aristocracy over them-
selves; therefore, the indubitable demonstration must fall to the
ground. The phrases, "fire of liberty" and "the contact of a very
spark" are so metaphorically plain and easy to be understood, that I
need not explain them, but only to show that the spark is to come into
contact with the fire of liberty, and then, "by its direful explosion,
it will devour not only the enemies of liberty, but both parties" (that
is, both its enemies and friends) "promiscuously." This is the glorious
liberty, tending to the destruction of both its friends and enemies
promiscuously, which is so much endangered by the new Federal
Constitution! Oppose therefore, 0 Americans, like freemen! Next,
let us observe, that discontent, indignation, and revenge are the prin-
ciples mentioned in the address, that are visible in every patriotic
countenance. Patriotic principles indeed! exactly suited to the de-
fenders of that liberty, or fire of liberty, that will devour both its
enemies and friends! Hail happy patriots! Nero, Caligula, Clodius,
and Cataline! It was by these patriotic principles you were actuated,
when you committed all your outrages, and it was in defense of that
liberty, that devours both friends and enemies promiscuouslyl Eternal
disgrace be on Demosthenes, Cicero, Cato, and others who suppressed
these patriotic principles, and managed matters of state with justice,
benevolence, and clemencyl No wonder the addressers have said, "that
little less than the lives of their betrayers will satiate their revenge;
that nothing but an annihilation of the Federal Constitution will
appease the enraged defenders of liberty." No wonder, indeed, when
actuated by the patriotic principles of discontent, indignation, rage,
and revenge, in defense of a liberty, that will devour both friends and
enemies. "Civil discord already raises her sneaky head." The public,
I hope, will pardon this romantic phrase. The next sentence that
needs a little explanation is where the addressers reject the authority
of the clergy, with respect to the Federal Constitution, becaue, "they
seem generally to have been a set of men decidedly opposed to popular
freedom." This is to be understood that they are opposers of that
freedom and liberty that will devour both its friends and enemies.
For with regard to that liberty that is inconsistent with, and tends to
promote the mutual interest, advantage, and support of the citizens,

Go up to Top of Page