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Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Hogan, Margaret A.; Reid, Jonathan M. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: New York (5)
23 (2009)

Appendix II: Robert R. Livingston on the Constitution, pre-26 July 1788,   pp. 2536-2548


Page 2537

ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON ON THE CONSTITUTION
A: Stop neibour Landlord we have a great field before us if you are
half as ingeneous in making objections as Mr. Smily or findly or Cato2
& others that I have seen in the paper we shall hardly have time to
consider them so the sooner you begin the better-
N: Well well I was only going to tell you how I mean to bring up my
boy-but you say that is no matter now-will go on (to the business in
hand.
All this I admit & acknowledge further that almost any government
is to be preferred to disunion-but still I object first because as the
new government proposes to swallow up all the other governments &
extend itself from one end of this continent to the other now this
continent is ten times bigger than any other kingdom in the world &
as Mr. Wilson3 says can not be fit for so lax a government as a repub-
lic[.] it must as such be governed by an arbitrary monarch & thus our
Liberties be lost by our union. This objection is a sou1 o:ne . &R de-
serves consideration & yet it seems to me if the facts you mention are
truly stated it must apply equaly to our present form of government &
may be urged agt any attempt to unite us-your reasoning if I under-
stand it, is that extensive countrys require vigorous governments-That
dispotic governments are most vigorous & therefore [that?] extensive
governments must be despotic-supposing these observations to be
just the more vigorous a government is, the fitter it is for an extensive
country-now as the new government is much more vigorous than the
present confederation it must follow that it is better adapted to an
extensive country-And I foresee from your setting out that you intend
to quit the beaten track)4 which the Antifederalists have taken & mean
to object to the new government because it is too weak to preserve the
union-for I have                 i   thou [gh] t better too of your
un [der]standing than to believe that you will in the same breath say
that union is necessary to our safety-that a vigorous government is
necessary to our union-that the one proposed is not sufficiently vig-
orous to preserve that union-And yet that it is [i.e., its] powers are
too extensive-in other words that it is too vigorous-
L: Stop my friend I have not said that the United States are too large
for an alliance or union between themselves while they preserve their
respective governments my argument is that the new government may
in time over throw the state government & that the country will then
be too large to be governed as a republick-
[In the left margin opposite the second half of the above paragraph
is written: "I do not see its application for it appears to me that the
new government in no wise tends to destroy the state governments but
admitting for a moment that it does is your reasoning only-"]
2537


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