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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 528

designed. It is likewise generally agreed that the new Constitution is
better adapted to answer these great purposes. All the objections
which are made against it are reducible to this single one: that it is
dangerous to liberty. Say the opposers of it, if we adopt it, our liberties
have no security. If this objection be well founded, if the new Consti-
tution does destroy the safeguards of that liberty for which American
blood and treasure has been lavished, let us exert every nerve to op-
pose it. God forbid that we, my countrymen, who have maintained
our liberties in spite of the seducing artifices, the hostile arms, and the
horrid cruelties which Britain has called into action for the purpose of
enslaving us, should now through our folly surrender those precious
rights which God and nature have given to men. But on the other
hand, if those patriotic citizens, whom we have chosen from among
us for their knowledge of government, love of liberty, and love of
their country, have formed a plan of government which, without en-
dangering our liberties, is calculated to render us a great, respectable,
and happy nation; let us not, through folly and ill-directed jealousy,
reject this which is probably the only system for promoting our na-
tional felicity which we shall ever have an opportunity of adopting.
If we reject this system, which comes recommended to us by the
unanimous assent of the ablest and best men that the American con-
tinent could appoint, what reason or encouragement can there be
for the states ever to appoint another convention? I use the expression
unanimous assent because those three gentlemen2 who refused to sub-
scribe to the Constitution did so, not from substantial objections to
it, but from partial considerations which can have no weight with a free
and enlightened people.
In answer to the objection before stated, I say that adopting the new
Constitution will not expose us to the loss of liberty; but the great
barriers of liberty will still remain and, in all human probability, will
continue to be its security for ages and generations to come. The
principal circumstances which render liberty secure are a spirit of
liberty among the people-a general diffusion of knowledge-a general
distribution of property-a militia of freemen-and a fair representa-
tion in the supreme legislature.
The people of the United States possess in a high degree a spirit of
liberty. This is a principle which is natural to the human mind. We
love to have the command of our own actions and the direction of our
own interests. Our minds rise with indignation against oppression and
tyranny. These natural feelings have never been eradicated from our
minds by subjection to the will of a tyrant. But that freedom with
which the principles of liberty have been discussed, that ardor with
which they have been inculcated upon the public minds, that long
struggle for liberty which has called these principles into action, have

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