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 (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 465

V. COMMENTARIES
power of doing good. I allow you are oppressed, but not from the
quarter that jealous and wrong-headed men would insinuate. You
are oppressed by the men who, to serve their own purposes, would
prefer the shadow of government to the reality. You are oppressed
for want of a power which can protect commerce, encourage business,
and create a ready demand for the productions of your farms. You are
become poor. Oppression continued will make wise men mad. The
landholders and farmers have long borne this oppression; we have
been patient and groaned in secret, but can promise for ourselves no
longer, unless relieved madness may excite us to actions we now
dread.
1. This item was published in the American Mercury on the same day and re-
printed in the Norwich Packet on 29 November and Connecticut Gazette on 30 No-
vember. (CC:272 for national circulation.)
Nobody: To Elbridge Gerry
American Mercury, 19 November
Sir, Your letter to the Honorable Samuel Adams,' etc., containing
your reasons for dissenting from the opinion of your colleagues in
Convention claims (in my humble opinion) the thanks of the public
at large, not so much for the ingenuous composition, as the opportuni-
ty it affords of detecting its fallacy and dissipating any impression
which so extraordinary a piece, written with such extraordinary art,
might make on the minds of men unacquainted with the nature and
good policy of government.
Your conduct therein appears to me more ambiguous than the Con-
stitution you reprobate, and yet methinks I am not mistaken in my
constructions thereon. Your dissenting from the unanimous voice
of so respectable a body as composed the Convention, every way equal,
if not superior to yourself, borders more of arrogance than genuine
public spirit, as it certainly implies a consciousness on your part of
superior wisdom; and you doubtless conceived that you had a peculiar
talent of representing your conduct in a most plausible and conspic-
uous point of view, and thereby display a greatness of soul, not only
in having dared to stand alone in opposition to many great men,
but in publishing your fortitude to the world, vainly concluding
that the most favorable construction would attend that independent
rectitude thereby manifested; and that in case you could by any
specious pretense or ambiguous innuendoes defeat the completion
of the new Constitution (for you have taken great care not to eluci-
date, to any kind of proof, the facts you have stated, artfully suppos-
ing that it was much easier for you, with all your abilities, to say that
the adoption of the new Constitution would deprive the people of
465


Go up to Top of Page