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Kaminski, John P.; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard; Reid, Jonathan M.; Flamingo, Margaret R.; Lannér-Cusin, Johanna E.; Fields, David P.; Conley, Patrick T.; Moore, Timothy D. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Rhode Island (3)
26 (2013)

VI. The debate over the Constitution in Rhode Island, 20 January-29 May 1790,   pp. 711-897


Page 895

COMMENTARIES, 29 MAY 1790
Thing to talk of an Independence against the Union, which cannot be
maintained a Minute longer than the Union shall permit. Is it not in-
consistent and absurd to say, we cannot live with you as Fellow-Citizens
under one Government, but we are willing to live near you under a
separate one, which your Will and Pleasure may demolish? The less
your People like the Constitution, the more strange this Language and
Conduct will appear. Whatever is bad in it, or pretended to be in it,
you will suffer-and whatever is valuable you will be deprived of, if you
make yourselves Strangers to the Union. As Citizens, you would be en-
titled to the Privileges, and secured by the many Checks upon the Pow-
ers of Government. While you keep out of the Union, you have no
Claim to these. Your People therefore say what amounts to this-the
Government is under several Restraints-but still we do not think it
safe to live under-but without any of these Securities we chearfully
consent, nay insist upon living exposed to the Operation of this Gov-
ernment. I do not know whether I have explained the Idea I have
endeavoured to convey, so as to make it intelligible.-To my Under-
standing, however, there seems to be a singular Absurdity in the Reason
given for refusing to adopt the Constitution. We are afraid of it, say
they; but we are not afraid of that, and worse.
"I have been informed that infinite Pains have been taken to embit-
ter the Minds of your People against their Brethren in the twelve States.
I can easily conceive that it is very unpleasant to tread back the Steps
which have been taken in a wrong Path, and that the human Mind
readily assents to any Story which will justify a Man in his own Eyes.
We ought not to expect, that even honest and discerning Men will
escape being deceived under Circumstances which make Truth unde-
sirable. Your People refused to have any Thing to do with framing the
Government,' and afterwards to adopt it. That soon created a Distinc-
tion between them and the Union-what was hastily begun, was pas-
sionately maintained. Self-Love would certainly justify itself-supposing
themselves perfectly in the Right, as People ever do, and that they were
going to be oppressed by the Union, they have been open to a Thou-
sand Deceptions, and afflicted with a Thousand groundless Fears. In
this Situation of Things, some will find it convenient to help deceive
others, perhaps being themselves deceived.-I have been trying to ac-
count for the Refusal of your State to join the Union, on such Principles
as will throw the least possible Censure upon the great Body of your
Citizens who have supported that Refusal. When we judge of the Mo-
tives of great Bodies of Men, we cannot exercise too much Candour.
But whatever Reason may have guided your State in rejecting the Union,
it is a Subject of perfect Astonishment among all Ranks of People in
895


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