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

B. The Dissent of the Minority of the Convention,   pp. 617-640


Page 620

III. PENNSYLVANIA CONVENTION
member [Jared Ingersoll]: the eighth member [Benjamin Franklin]
was added at a subsequent session of the assembly.6
The Continental convention met in the city of Philadelphila at the
time appointed. It was composed of some men of excellent characters;
of others who were more remarkable for their ambition and cunning,
than their patriotism; and of some who had been opponents to the
independence of the United States. The delegates from Pennsylvania
were, six of them, uniform and decided opponents to the constitution
of this commonwealth. The convention sat upwards of four months.
The doors were kept shut, and the members brought under the most
solemn engagements of secrecy.(a) Some of those who opposed their
going so far beyond their powers retired, hopeless, from the conven-
tion, others had the firmness to refuse signing the plan altogether; and
many who did sign it, did it not as a system they wholly approved, but
as the best that could be then obtained, and notwithstanding the time
spent on this subject, it is agreed on all hands to be a work of haste
and accommodation.
Whilst the gilded chains were forging in the secret conclave, the
meaner instruments of despotism without were busily employed in
alarming the fears of the people with dangers which did not exist, and
exciting their hopes of greater advantages from the expected plan
than even the best government on earth could produce.
The proposed plan had not many hours issued forth from the womb
of suspicious secrecy, until such as were prepared for the purpose were
carrying about petitions for people to sign, signifying their approba-
tion of the system, and requesting the legislature to call a convention.
While every measure was taken to intimidate the people against op-
posing it, the public papers teemed with the most violent threats
against those who should dare to think for themselves, and .ar and
feathers7 were liberally promised to all those who would not immedi-
ately join in supporting the proposed government be it what it would.
Under such circumstances petitions in favor of calling a convention
were signed by great numbers in and about the city, before they had
leisure to read and examine the system, many of whom, now they
are better acquainted with it, and have had time to investigate its
principles, are heartily opposed to it. The petitions were ,peedily
handed into the legislature.8
Affairs were in this situation when on the 28th of September last,
a resolution was proposed to the assembly by a member [George Cly-
mer] of the house who had been also a member of the federal conven-
tion, for calling a state convention, to be elected within ten days for
the purpose of examining and adopting the proposed constitution of
620


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