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

IV. The aftermath of ratification in Pennsylvania,   pp. [641]-645

Page 645

Such exchanges prompted elder-statesman Benjamin Franklin to
submit an essay entitled "On the Abuse of the Press" to the Pennsyl-
vania Gazette. Franklin deplored "the spirit of rancor, malice, and
hatred" which breathed in the state's newspapers. Reading these
newspapers, he said, gave one the impression that Pennsylvania "is
peopled by a set of the most unprincipled, wicked, rascally, and quar-
relsome scoundrels upon the face of the globe." Franklin called upon
printers to be more discreet about what they published. He did not
want men to die before newspapers eulogized them as "good husbands,
good fathers, good friends, good citizens, and good Christians." It is
perhaps significant that the newspaper which Franklin had founded
did not print his essay (Mfm:Pa. 588).
Such documents are among the 435 items from newspapers and
pamphlets illustrating the varieties of public debate after ratification
by Pennsylvania which have been placed in the microform supple-
ment. Others are printed in Commentaries on the Constitution. It
should be remembered, however, that these documents, though volu-
minous, represent only a sample of the material to be found in
Pennsylvania newspapers between the end of the state Convention in
December 1787 and the early summer of 1788.
Documents concerning (1) the response to ratification and the "Dis-
sent of. the Minority," (2) the Carlisle riot and its aftermath, and
(3) the petition campaign requesting the Assembly that the ratification
of the Constitution "not be confirmed," are printed below to illustrate
the continuing debate over the Constitution in Pennsylvania.

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