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Jensen, Merrill (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut
(1978)

V. Commentaries on the Constitution, 13 November 1787-7 January 1788,   pp. 456-534


Page 461

V. COMMENTARIES
measure as will be sufficient inducement to adopt the proposal, pro-
vided it can be done without sacrificing more important advantages
which we now do or may possess. By a wise provision in the constitu-
tion of man, whenever a proposal is made to change any present habit
or practice, he much more minutely considers what he is to lose
by the alterations, what effect it is to have on what he at present
possesses, than what is to be hoped for in the proposed expedient.
Thus people are justly cautious how they exchange present ad-
vantages for the hope of others in a system not yet experienced.
Hence all large states have dreaded a division into smaller parts,
as being nearly the same thing as ruin; and all smaller states have
predicted endless embarrassment from every attempt to unite them
into larger. It is no more than probable that if any corner of this
state of ten miles square was now, and long had been independent
of the residue of the state, that they would consider a proposal to
unite them to the other parts of the state as a violent attempt to wrest
from them the only security for their persons or property. They
would lament how little security they should derive from sending
one or two members to the legislature at Hartford and New Haven,
and all the evils that the Scots predicted from the proposed union
with England, in the beginning of the present century, would be
thundered with all the vehemence of American politics from the little
ten miles district. But surely no man believes that the inhabitants of
this district would be less secure when united to the residue of the
state, than when independent. Does any person suppose that the
people would be more safe, more happy, or more respectable if every
town in this state was independent and had no state government?
Is it not certain that government would be weak and irregular, and
that the people would be poor and contemptible? And still it must
be allowed that each town would entirely surrender its boasted in-
dependence if they should unite in state government, and would re-
tain only about one-eightieth part of the administration of their own
affairs.
Has it ever been found that people's property or persons were less
regarded and less protected in large states than in small?
Have not the legislature in large states been as careful not to over-
burden the people with taxes as in small? But still it must be admit-
ted that a single town in a small state holds a greater proportion of
the authority than in a large.
If the United States were one single government, provided the con-
stitution of this extensive government was as good as the constitution
of this state now is, would this part of it be really in greater danger
of oppression or tyranny than at present? It is true that many people
who are great men, because they go to Hartford to make laws for us
461


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