University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Jensen, Merrill (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut
3 (1978)

V. Commentaries on the Constitution, 13 November 1787-7 January 1788,   pp. 456-534

Page 518

little or nothing-good government, national faith, national honor, and
national dignity would take place of course, without any exertions of
our own. But an arduous task was still to be performed. We had
an empire to build. The American Revolution is a distinguished
era in the history of mankind. And the present is to us a period as
important, as delicate and as critical, and perhaps more so, than any
that has yet been. To fight battles and vanquish enemies is far less
difficult than to curb selfish passions, to liberalize the narrow-minded,
to eradicate old prejudices (as the most stupid and silly and ungen-
erous prejudices have subsisted in the several states against each oth-
er), to give up local attachments, and to cement together as one great
people, pursuing one general interest. An opportunity now presents
of realizing the richest blessings. The new Constitution holds out
to us national dignity, respectability, and an energetic form of gov-
ernment. I wish to see candidly discussed the most material objections
against it as they may appear in the public papers, be proposed by
gentlemen of sense and merit, or be started by the common people
and be enlarged upon with malignant pleasure by popular drudges,
who clamor plausibly about the rights of the people, but whose in-
tentions invariably are to promote and secure their own lucrative
posts or honorable employments.
In this publication, I shall consider that objection to the Con-
stitution upon which much is confidently advanced by many, that if
we adopt the Constitution our liberties are gone forever, that moment
the nation receives this form of government, that moment we be-
come a nation of slaves. It is incumbent upon those who make
this objection to point out the dangerous clause. They should be
challenged to show where we may find it. Designing and factious men
throw out this objection; and many honest, well-meaning farmers and
landholders are frightened with it. They hear others, of whose wis-
dom, knowledge in politics, and character, they have an exalted opin-
ion, speak of the Constitution as a dangerous one, an insidious one,
which is to betray the liberties of the people, while it professes to
defend and guard them. They consequently fear the worst of evils
lie hidden under a fair guise. For themselves, they see no danger, and
never would dream of any, were it not from the base surmises of the
designing. With their own eyes they can see no evils, but the more
shrewd have eyes to see. Such, and such characters, important men-
men in high posts-men of reputed principles and integrity-object
against the Constitution as designed to annihilate the state sovereign-
ties, undermine our rights, and to end either in a corrupt aristocracy or
absolute monarchy. Thus stands the objection. Let the well-meaning
who fear no loss of lucrative posts view the mighty scarecrow. 0 ye

Go up to Top of Page