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Jensen, Merrill; Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Pennsylvania
2 (1976)

C. Public and private commentaries on the proceedings of the assembly on 28-29 September 1787,   pp. 121-126


Page 123

C. COMMENTARIES ON PROCEEDINGS/29 SEPT.
and finish the resolution of yesterday for calling the convention.
Today again the nineteen refused giving their attendance. An order
was signed for taking them into custody by the sergeant at arms, and
the clerk of the House was directed to attend him. A number of
volunteer gentlemen also attended him. The whole proceeded to
Boyd's where two only were found. These were apprehended and
brought by force of arms and seated. One of them rose, and plead [ed]
duress, and tendered his fine of 5 shillings and demanded liberty
to depart, but he was immediately silenced, and the business was in-
troduced and passed as you will perceive by the enclosed paper. This
conduct has put an end to the Constitutional interest in this city.
The principals in the business are universally despised, and their
abettors hide their heads. The House having finished this and some
other business dissolved themselves, and writs are out for holding
an election on the ninth of next month, at which time [John] Frank-
lin3 may try what interest he has yet in your county [Luzerne].
1. RC, Pickering Papers, MHi. Hodgdon was Pickering's business partner.
2. See also Hodgdon to Pickering, 4 October, Mfm:Pa. 91.
3. See "Daniel Shays to the Antifederal Junto," 25 September, n. 1, II:A below.
Pennsylvania Herald, 29 September1
A correspondent laments the scandal to which our legislature was
yesterday exposed by the wanton desertion of nineteen of its members.
It is thus that the affairs of government may be transferred from the
majority to the minority, and the public business must either be
transacted conformably to the will of a few men; or, conformably
to their will, it must be left undone. The maxim of necessity, which
has hitherto been employed to palliate so gross a violation of civil
polity, could have no operation in the present case, for the question
was merely as to the mode of proceeding to appoint the delegates of a
convention, which the House had already agreed it was proper and
necessary to summon. Could the matter of form, therefore, be mag-
nified into the necessity, which excuses an attack upon the funda-
mental principles of government? Or, was it the mortification of a
previous defeat, which introduced this attempt to counteract the
end, by denying the means requisite to accomplish it? Whatever was
the motive, every honest citizen will deprecate the consequences; and
we have only to hope, continues our correspondent, that this event,
manifesting the evils of a weak and inefficient government, will excite
a constant and universal attachment to a plan of a contrary descrip-
tion. In the meantime, let it be left to the seceding party to reconcile
123


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