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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)

III. The debate over the Constitution in Maryland, 4 December 1787-29 April 1788,   pp. 101-428 ff.


Page 113

COMMENTARIES, 15 DECEMBER 1787
the great and small States, as such, was in my Opinion very properly
adjusted any necessary Guards for personal Liberty is the common In-
terest of all the Citizens of America and if it is imagined that a defined
power which does not comprehend the Interference with personal
Rights needs negative Declarations I presume such may be added by
the foederal Legislature with equal Efficacy & more propriety than
might have been done by the Convention-Strongly and long im-
pressed with an Idea that no Governmt. can make a people happy
unless they very generally entertain an Opinion that it is good in Form
and well administred I am much disposed to give up a good deal in
the form the least essensial part But those who are clamorous seem to
me to be really more afraid of being restrained from doing what they
ought not to do and being compelled to do what they ought to do than
of being obliged to do what there is no moral Obligation on them to
do-I believe there is no American of Observation Reflection and Can-
dour but will acknowledge Men unhappily need more Government
than he imagined-I flatter myself that the plan recommended will be
adopted in twelve of the thirteen States without Conditions sine qua
non-but let the Event be as it may I shall think myself with America
in general greatly indebted to the Convention and possibly we may
confess it when it may be too late to avail ourselves of their Moderation
& Wisdom-You will pardon me my good Sir the Effusions which I
cannot restrain when on this Subject
1. RC, Washington Papers, DLC. Johnson and Washington worked together through
the Potowmack Company for the improvement of the navigation of the Potomac River.
2. James Madison had written Thomas Jefferson on this matter on 9 December: "Vir-
ginia has set the example of opening the door for amendments, if the Convention there
should chuse to propose them. Maryland has copied it" (CC:334, p. 395). The first res-
olution for both states contains a similar phrase that calls for a convention of the people
to give the Constitution their full investigation and decision. For the Virginia resolutions
of 31 October, see RCS:Va., 118, and for the Maryland resolutions, see "Resolutions Call-
ing a State Convention," 1 December (RCS:Md., 99-100).
In his letter of 9 December Madison also stated: "A more formidable opposition is
likely to be made in Maryland than was at first conjectured. Mr. Mercer, it seems, who
was a member of the Convention, though his attendance was but for a short time, is
become an auxiliary to Chace. Johnson the Carrolls, Govr. [Thomas Sim] Lee, and most
of the other characters of weight are on the other side. Mr. T[homas] Stone, died a little
before the Govermt. was promulged" (CC:334, p. 396). Stone died on 5 October 1787.
Both Lee and Stone had declined to serve in the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
Antoine de la Forest to Comte de Montmorin
New York, 15 December 1787 (excerpt)'
. .. It is not yet known what the Special assemblies of Rhode island,
Newyork, North Carolina, Maryland and virginia will decide.
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