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

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

Page 466

all liberty, than to prove it), your greatness would rise in proportion
to the magnitude of the feat you had performed, that your wisdom
and integrity would then be established as immovable as Atlas. While
all your brethren, colleagues in Convention, must sink in public
esteem for having presumed to form a constitution so glaringly big
with errors that even common capacities could discover its insidious-
ness, altho you by yourself remonstrated and bore testimony against
it, which alone was sufficient reason for its abolition; could you, sir,
effect this, you might reasonably expect that no constitution would
take place, but such as you should model and approve. Our worthy
General [Washington], who was at the head of the Convention
(whose wisdom and zeal for the welfare of America never has been
called in question, and who, under God, may be considered as the
savior of our country), would no longer be able to vie with you. His
conduct must be censured, while yours would be extolled, and your
greatness built upon his ruins.
I conceive that no further remarks are necessary in order to point
out the absurdity of your observations (until you shall by fair rules
of logic and clear reasoning demonstrate the same to be well ground-
ed) than to declare that there is adequate provision in the Constitu-
tion for a representation of the people, that they have security for
the right of election, and that all the bugbears you suggest are ground-
less, and exist only in your own wild imagination, and that these
observations of mine are, to all intents and purposes, as conclusive
as yours. Until you shall more fully elucidate the facts you state,
and then you may expect a reply.
I would fain ask you whether a complete federal government can
be formed without bearing in some measure a resemblance of a na-
tional government, and whether the present Constitution will be the
worse because it has the shadow of a national government and the
substance of a republican one? Is there anything so baneful in the
name of nation that because we cannot form a good constitution
totally dissimilar from that of all other nations that we must have no
government at all? For my own part, I conceive that the greater re-
semblance our Constitution bears to that of a national government,
the greater will be the advantages resulting from it, as other nations
will stamp it with credit, less or more, as it approaches a national
system. And will you grumble because they are pleased with a shadow
that frightens you, while we retain the substance of a complete re-
publican government.
Your observation that anarchy may ensue should the Constitution
be rejected is a just one, and sufficiently alarming to dispel any
groundless fears predicated on capricious suggestions that any ill
consequence can take place by its adoption.

Go up to Top of Page