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
(1978)

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


Page 527

V. COMMENTARIES
It was thought necessary in order to carry into effect the laws of the
Union, to promote justice, and preserve harmony among the states,
to extend the judicial powers of the United States to the enumerated
cases, under such regulations and with such exceptions as shall be
provided by law, which will doubtless reduce them to cases of such
magnitude and importance as cannot be safely trusted to the final
decision of the courts of the particular states. The Constitution does
not make it necessary that any inferior tribunals should be instituted,
but it may be done if found necessary. Tis probable that the courts of
the particular states will be authorized by Congress to try causes under
the laws of the Union, as has been heretofore done in cases of piracy,
etc., and the Supreme Court may have a circuit to make trials as con-
venient and as little expensive as possible to the parties; nor is there
anything in the Constitution to deprive them of trial by jury in cases
where that mode of trial has been heretofore used. All cases in the
courts of common law between citizens of the same state, except those
claiming lands under grants of different states, must be finally decided
by the courts of the state to which they belong, so that it is not prob-
able that more than one citizen to a thousand will ever have a cause
that can come before a federal court.
Every department and officer of the federal government will be
subject to the regulation and control of the laws, and therefore the
people will have all possible security against oppression. Upon the
whole, the Constitution appears to be well framed to secure the rights
and liberties of the people and for preserving the governments of the
individual states, and, if well administered, to restore and secure public
and private credit, and to give respectability to the states both abroad
and at home. Perhaps a more perfect one could not be formed on
mere speculation; and if upon experience it shall be found deficient,
it provides an easy and peaceable mode to make amendments. Is it
not much better to adopt it than to continue in present circumstances?
Its being agreed to by all the states that were present in Convention is
a circumstance in its favor, so far as any respect is due to their opinions.
1. This item (printed 'CC:421) was written by Roger Sherman, a delegate from
New Haven in the state Convention. For a photographic copy of a manuscript in
Sherman's handwriting which contains several passages appearing in this essay, see
Mfm:Conn. 63. This essay was reprinted in the New Haven Gazette on 25 Decem-
ber 1788. Similar ideas also appear in the Sherman-Ellsworth letter, 26 September
(I above).
The Republican: To the People
Connecticut Courant, 7 January1
It is generally agreed that the old Articles of Confederation are in-
adequate to answer the great national purposes for which they were
527


Go up to Top of Page