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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 468

legislature, or Congress, will then have power to oppress the people
at pleasure; an idea so absurd could never 'originate in the breast of
an honest man not destitute of reason. 1s there a single clause in the
Constitution that deprives the people of any liberty which people in
any part of the world do or ought to possess? Are not the people
at large forever to remain the sole governors (under God) of the
land we live in? Are not the Congress and Senate servants of the
people, chosen and instructed by them, because the whole body of
the people cannot assemble at one place to make and execute laws?
And are not the Congress and Senate in regular rotation to return
and descend to the private station from whence they were elected
by the people, and then and there enjoy the blessings resulting from
their good administration, with acclamations from their constituents
and a heartfelt satisfaction which to a susceptible mind must be more
ample reward than the possession of all the wealth in Peru? Or
must they not, upon the other hand, experience and participate [in]
all the evils attendant [upon] injudicious or iniquitous laws, and
receive the execrations of thousands, and be deemed to everlasting
oblivion in the rank of mankind, never more to enjoy the confidence
of the people, which must inevitably produce that horror and com-
punction of mind, only to be described by comparing their situation
to the state of the damned? For my own part, I am convinced that
while Congress are appointed under the restrictions as limited in the
new Constitution, were they as absolute as the Dey of Algiers, no fatal
consequences could ever attend the community at large. Will any
man of common sense suppose that the grand legislature of thirteen
United States can be less interested in the welfare, happiness, and
prosperity of the country than any other set of men whatever? Will
their salaries for two or even for six years (which seldom amounts to
more than their expenses) compensate for loss of character and the
ruin which they and their posterity must participate with the bulk
of mankind should their negotiations produce ruinous consequences
to their constituents? Every man of candor must believe that a Con-
gress and Senate, chosen conformably to the mode pointed out in the
new Constitution, will exert every faculty and strain every nerve to
work out the salvation of their country, because it will be their in-
terest so to do.
Let us for a moment call to view the most specious reason that can
be urged by the advocates for anarchy and confusion and the opposers
to this glorious Constitution, and see what weight a rational man
could give them. And let us in the first instance allow that all man-
kind are actuated by interested motives. The most plausible reason
then that can be adduced for violation of faith, and prostitution of
sentiments, is private interest; but surely real true self-interest, con-

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