University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Moore, Timothy D. (Historian); Lannér-Cusin, Johanna E.; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Reid, Jonathan M.; Flamingo, Margaret R.; Fields, David P. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Maryland (1)
(2015)

I. The debate over the Constitution in Maryland, 17 September-30 November 1787,   pp. 3-67


Page 59

COMMENTARIES, 20 NOVEMBER 1787
men of virtue stand in need of no apology for having opposed the
enemies to the new Constitution; but if justice requires the infliction
of punishment, it has already overtaken their propagator, who, in deal-
ing out his abuse, has exhibited to the world a fresh proof of the mild
and milky nature of his mind, which broods with extreme delight upon
indiscriminate slander.
In a piece expressly written in defence of the instructions, the public
had a right to expect a clear and explicit disavowal of their object, with a
declaration that their patrons intended them to promote the adoption of the
new Constitution; but, instead of this disavowal and declaration, the In-
structor slides away into another path, contenting himself with saying as
he goes off, that "they were printed that every person might read and
see the meaning of them;" as if the "most virtuous and sensible part of
the community," were so stupid as to take this for reasoning, or so
illiterate, that a thing must be in print to enable them to read and un-
derstand it.
Having delivered this excellent defence of the instructions, he pro-
ceeds to charge the authors of the piece in the Maryland Gazette of
the 6th,2 (for he is pleased to consider it as the joint efforts of many)
with being persons who "do not wish the people to think at all; but
want to be permitted to think for them; for nothing, he adds, will satisfy
them but being elevated to the supreme dignity of dictators." As this
is a charge of a high and heinous nature, let us see how he supports
it. It rests upon his simple assertion. What an evidence for such a charge!
But let us read what this culprit has to say in his own defence. He
contends that it would be the highest insult which could be offered to
a free people to desire them not to form any opinion or judgment concerning
the new Constitution; for, no "free man, he says, who has a sense of the
value of liberty, or who is not dead to all dignity of the human char-
acter, would delegate to any body of men, a right to reject what he ap-
proved of or to fix upon him and his posterity, what he dreaded as the
worst of all tyrannies." Is this like the language of a person who does not
wish the people to think at all?
But Instructor stands guilty himself of the very crime he has accused
another. Under the signature of Caution, this writer, addressing himself
to the inhabitants of Baltimore, when about to sign a petition approving
of the new Constitution, says, "In my opinion it is not necessary or proper
for you, at this time, to express your approbation or disapprobation of
the new Constitution."3 How modest, to desire his fellow-citizens to
suspend the faculties of thought! In the present instance, he carries this
humor much further, and plainly tells the people, in Instructor, they are
too ignorant to know what is good or bad, or what ought, or ought not
59


Go up to Top of Page