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Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard (ed.) / Commentaries on the Constitution, public and private. Volume 4: 1 February to 31 March 1788
16 (1986)

Index,   pp. 540-596

Page 581

constitution was viewed in Massachusetts through the medium of a SHAYS,
the terrors of HIS insurrection had not subsided; a government that would
have been execrated at another time was embraced by many as a refuge
from anarchy, and thus liberty deformed by mad riot and dissention, lost
her ablest advocates.
As the liberties of all the states in the union are struck at in common
with those of Pennsylvania, by the conduct of the Post-Master General
and deputies, I trust that the example which her Legislature(a) has set by
instructing her delegates in Congress on this subject,2 will be followed by
the others, that with one accord they will hurl their vengeance on the venal
instruments of ambition, who have presumed to prostrate one of the prin-
cipal bulwarks of liberty. In a confederated government of such extent as
the United States, the freest communication of sentiment and information
should be maintained, as the liberties, happiness and welfare of the union
depend upon a concert of counsels; the signals of alarm whenever ambi-
tion should rear its baneful head, ought to be uniform: without this com-
munication between the members of the confederacy the freedom of the
press, if it could be maintained in so severed a situation, would cease to be
a security against the encroachments of tyranny. The truth of the forego-
ing position is strikingly illustrated on the present occasion; for want of
this intercommunity of sentiment and information, the liberties of this
country are brought to an awful crisis; ambition has made a great stride
towards dominion; has succeeded thro' the medium of muzzled presses to
delude a great body of the people in the other states, and threatens to
overwhelm the enlightened opposition in this by external force. Here, in-
deed, notwithstanding every nerve was strained, by the conspirators, to
muzzle or demolish every newspaper that allowed free discussion, two
printers have asserted the independency of the press, whereby the arts of
ambition have been detected, and the new system has been pourtrayed in
its native villainy; its advocates have long since abandoned the field of
argument, relinquished the unequal contest, and truth and patriotism
reigns triumphant in this state; but the conspirators trust to their success
in the other states for the attainment of their darling object, and therefore
all their vigilance is exerted to prevent the infectious spirit of freedom and
enlightened patriotism communicating to the rest of the union-all inter-
course is as far as possible cut off....
(a) The application to Congress from our Legislature, was made
upon the complaint of all the printers of newspapers in the city of
1. "Centinel" XVIII was also printed in the Philadelphia Freeman'sJournal on 9 April
and was reprinted in the New York Journal, 12 April. For the complete text, see CC:671.
For the controversy over the circulation of the "Dissent of the Minority of the Pennsyl-
vania Convention," see CC:353, pp. 10-11.
2. See "Petition-of the Philadelphia. Newspaper Printers to the Pennsylvania Assem-
bly," 20-29 March (above).

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