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Jensen, Merrill (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut
3 (1978)

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


Page 504

CONNECTICUT/24 DEC.
It is evident that this mode of proceeding would have been well
calculated for the security of Mr. Mason; he there might have vented
his ancient enmity against the independence of America, and his sore
mortification for the loss of his favorite motion respecting the naviga-
tion act; and all under the mask of sentiments which, with a proper
caution in expressing them, might have gained many adherents in his
own state. But, although Mr. Mason's conduct might have been easily
guarded in this particular, your character would not have been en-
tirely safe even with the precaution above mentioned. Your policy, sir,
ought to have led you one step farther back. You have been so precipi-
tate and unwary in your proceedings that it will be impossible to
set you right, even in idea, without recurring to previous transactions
and recalling to your view the whole history of your conduct in the
Convention, as well as the subsequent display of patriotism contained
in your publication. I undertake this business, not that I think it
possible to help you out of your present embarrassment; but, as those
transactions have evidently slipped your memory, the recollection of
the blunder into which your inexperience has betrayed you may be of
eminent service in forming future schemes of popularity, should the
public ever give you another opportunity to traduce and deceive them.
You will doubtless recollect the following state of facts; if you do
not, every member of the Convention will attest them. That almost
the whole time during the setting of the Convention, and until the
Constitution had received its present form, no man was more plausible
and conciliating upon every subject than Mr. Gerry. He was willing to
sacrifice every private feeling and opinion-to concede every state
interest that should be in the least incompatible with the most sub-
stantial and permanent system of general government-that mutual
concession and unanimity were the whole burden of his song; and
although he originated no ideas himself, yet there was nothing in the
system as it now stands to which he had the least objection. Indeed,
Mr. Gerry's conduct was agreeably surprising to all his acquaintance,
and very unlike that turbulent obstinacy of spirit which they had form-
erly affixed to his character. Thus stood Mr. Gerry; till, towards the
close of the business, he introduced a motion respecting the redemp-
tion of the old continental money-that it should be placed upon a
footing with other liquidated securities of the United States. As Mr.
Gerry was supposed to be possessed of large quantities of this species
of paper, his motion appeared to be founded in such barefaced selfish-
ness and injustice that it at once accounted for all his former plausi-
bility and concession, while the rejection of it by the Convention
inspired its author with the utmost rage and intemperate opposition
to the whole system he had formerly praised. His resentment could do
no more than embarrass and delay the completica of the business for
504


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