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

A. Responses to ratification and to The Dissent of the Minority,   pp. 646-669


Page 665

A. RESPONSES TO RATIFICATION/16 FEB.
is happy that to examine freely is not yet declared to be treason, or
that the liberty of the press is not already restrained. Was it the
result of candor? Let us first examine facts. The State of Virginia
set the example and eleven other states followed the example in ap-
pointing delegates to hold a federal convention, and Congress recom-
mended the measure. The delegates were strictly limited by the law
of their appointment solely to the revising the existing Confederation
and reporting the result to Congress.4 In the meantime the people at
large had great hopes and few jealousies, because the Convention had
powers to brace, but not to destroy the Confederation; they had
authority to recommend more extensive federal powers to the general
government, but not dissolve the constitutions of the several states,
and give ultimately the whole internal sovereign power to Congress,
was as far from being included in their appointment, as it was from
the expectation and wishes of the people. If they had strengthened
the Confederation, and increased the federal powers; if they had
clothed Congress with every general power belonging to the United
States, would they not have done their duty? Would they not have
fulfilled their trust according to the law of their appointment? Would
they then not have merited the character of candor? But if it doth
not appear that they have discharged any part of the sacred trust
reposed in them, but that they, on the contrary, as far as in them lay,
destroyed the very object of their appointment; whatever may be said
of them otherwise, I hope the character of candor will be given up.
But to be more particular; that honorable body, after entering into
a bond of secrecy which, however plausible and artful the reasons
might be which brought that measure about, was certainly not neces-
sary at least after their business was brought into form; because the
secret transactions of government, such as making treaties, conduct-
ing war, and the like, was not the object of their deliberations.
When four months was spent in mysterious secrecy, a system of a
very novel and unexpected nature was transmitted to Congress, who
though vehemently urged (by a number of such as were members both
of the Convention and of Congress) to signify their approbation of
the system, entirely refused to do it, and [---] [---] transmit
it to the states without any [recomm] endation. With respect to such
members of the Federal Convention, who were also members of the
Pennsylvania Assembly, they, upon the designed last day of the sitting
of that House, moved and urged the calling a convention for adopting
the Constitution before the people could be acquainted with it, and
they finally compelled a vote of the House by the aid of a mob, and
imposed upon the people a declaration that it had been transmitted
to them by Congress, whereas the truth is, it was not so transmitted
665


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