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Kaminski, John P.; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard; Reid, Jonathan M.; Flamingo, Margaret R.; Lannér-Cusin, Johanna E.; Fields, David P.; Conley, Patrick T.; Moore, Timothy D. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Rhode Island (3)
26 (2013)

VI. The debate over the Constitution in Rhode Island, 20 January-29 May 1790,   pp. 711-897

Page 721

upon Application would have been excluded.-It is true, Sir, the Meet-
ing consisted principally of Mechanics; but then, even if the Members
of the Convention who were the same Evening assembled at the Lower
End of the Town, threatning Destruction to the Liberties of those poor
ignoble Mechanics, had advanced in a Body, tho' the Phalanx must
have appeared terrible, without Opposition it would have been admit-
These Sir, are Facts,-if any Person could be found to deny them,
he would not be called "a Liar"-but with all Politeness imaginable,
he would be proved to be such.-But allowing that this was a Meeting
of the Mechanics and Manufacturers alone, and from which all other
Classes of Men would have been excluded, where was the Criminality
of it.-Is there any existing Law, in this State which forbids such Meet-
ings?-Does not the Disapprobation of this Meeting come from the
wrong Persons? With what Propriety can Men who have for Years past
met in Convention and agreed upon certain Persons for Representatives
for the Town, and indeed almost all the other Officers, come forward,
and with so much Warmth and ill Temper execrate the Proceedings of
the Meeting at Gen. Thayer's.-Do they suppose themselves the "well
born" few,-and that they alone are to regulate the Choice of the Rep-
resentatives, and other Officers of this Town.-This, Sir, has heretofore
been too much the Case-the Mechanics and other Freemen of this
Town have been a long Time duped by a certain Class of Men-but,
thank God, the Scales have fallen from their Eyes,4 and they have opened
them to a Sense of their Liberties.
If these Nocturnal Conventions do strike at the Freedom of Elections;
if they are as replete with Evils as the Box of Pandora,5 who are to
blame?-Let those who introduced them decide?
Providence, Feb. 9, 1790
1. "Nocturnal conventions" was a term usually used to describe the Country party
caucuses to plot strategy or nominate officers (see "Glossary," RCS:R.I., 317).
2. Simeon Thayer, a major in the Continental Army during the Revolution and then
a brigadier-general in the Rhode Island militia, owned a tavern on Constitution Hill in
3. In March 1789, the Rhode Island legislature incorporated the Providence Associa-
tion of Mechanics and Manufacturers (Bartlett, Records, X, 315-17).
4. In Acts 9:18, scales fell from Saul's eyes, curing his blindness; whereupon, he was
filled with the Holy Spirit and converted to Christianity, becoming St. Paul.
5. In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman on earth. She was given a box
(or a large jar) which was not to be opened. Curiosity, however, consumed her and she
opened the box, which then released all the evils that spread throughout the world.
Hurriedly she closed the box, to retain in it only Hope.

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