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dissolved. 'Tis a bugbear, sir: the fact is, sir, the utmost care should be taken, to prevent ite that the eight adopting States can hardly stand becoming oppressive; and this government is on their own legs. Public fame tells us, that of such an intricate and complicated nature, the adopting States have already heart-burnings that no man on this earth can know its real and animosity, and repent their precipitate operation. The other States have no reason to hurry: this, sir, may occasion exceeding great think, from the antecedent conduct of Virginia, mischief. When I reflect on these, and many that she has any intention of seceding from the other circumstances, I must think those States Union, or of being less active to support the will be found to be in confederacy with us. If general welfare. Would they not, therefore, we pay our quota of money annually, and fur- acquiesce in our taking time to deliberate--denish our ratable number of men, when neces- liberate whether the measure be not perilous, sary, I can see no danger from a rejection. not only for us, but the adopting States. PerThe history of Switzerland clearly proves, that mit me, sir, to say, that a great majority of the we might be in amicable alliance with those people, even in the adopting States, are averse States, without adopting this constitution. to this government. I believe I would be right Switzerland is a confederacy, consisting of dis- to say, that they have been egregiously misled. similar governments. This is an example, which Pennsylvania has, perhaps, been tricked into it. proves that governments, of dissimilar struc- If the other States, who have adopted it, have tures, may be confederated. That confederate not been tricked, still they were too much hurrepublic has stood upwards of four hundred ried into its adoption. There were very reyears; and, although several of the individual spectable minorities in several of them; and, if republics are democratic, and the rest aristo- reports be true, a clear majority of the people cratic, no evil has resulted from this dissimilar- are averse to it. If we also accede, and it ity, for they have braved all the power of should prove grievous, the peace and prosperity France and Germany, during that long period. of our country, which we all love, will be deThe Swiss spirit, sir, has kept them together; stroyed. This government has not the affection they have encountered and overcome immense of the people, at present. Should it be oppresdifficulties, with patience and fortitude. In the sive, their affection will be totally estranged vicinity of powerful and ambitious monarchs, from it-and, sir, you know, that a government they have retained their independence, repub- without their affections can neither be durable lican simplicity and valor. [Here Mr. Henry nor happy. I speak as one poor individual—but, drew a comparison between the people of that when I speak, I speak the language of thousands. country and those of France, and made a quo- But, sir, I mean not to breathe the spirit, nor tation from Addison, illustrating the subject.] utter the language of secession. Look at the peasants of that country, and of I have trespassed so long on your patience, France, and mark the difference. You will I am really concerned that I have something find the condition of the former far more desir- yet to say. The honorable member has said able and comfortable. No matter whether a that we shall be properly represented: remempeople be great, splendid and powerful, if they ber, sir, that the number of our representatives enjoy freedom.' The Turkish Grand Seignior, is but ten, whereof six are a majority. Will along-side of our president, would put us to those men be possessed of sufficient informadisgrace: but we should be abundantly con- tion? A particular knowledge of particular soled for this disgrace, should our citizen be districts will not suffice. They must be well put in contrast with the Turkish slave.
acquainted with agriculture, commerce, and a The most valuable end of government, is the great variety of other matters throughout the liberty of the inhabitants. No possible advan- continent; they must know not only the actual tages can compensate for the loss of this privi- state of nations in Europe and America, the lege. Show me the reason why the American situation of their farmers, cottagers and meUnion is to be dissolved. Who are those eight chanics, but also the relative situation and inadopting States? Are they averse to give us a tercourse of those nations. Virginia is as large little tiine to consider, before we conclude? as England. Our proportion of representatives Would such a disposition render a junction with is but ten men. In England they have five them eligible; or, is it the genius of that kind hundred and thirty. The House of Commons of government, to precipitate a people hastily in England, numerous as they are, we are told, into measures of the utmost importance, and is bribed, and have bartered away the rights of grant no indulgence? If it be, sir, is it for us their constituents: what then shall become of us? to accede to such a government? 'We have a Will these few protect our rights? Will they right to have time to consider--we shall there be incorruptible? You say they will be better fore insist upon it. Unless the government be men than the English commoners. I say they amended, we can never accept it. The adopt- will be infinitely worse men, because they are ing States will doubtless accept our money and to be chosen blindfolded: their election (the our regiments; and what is to be the conse- term, as applied to their appointment, is inacquence, if we are disunited ? I believe that it curate) will be an involuntary nomination, and is yet doubtful, whether it is not proper to not a choice. I have, I fear, the comstand by awhile, and see the effect of its adop- mittee, yet I have not said the one hundred tion in other States. In forming a government, I thousandth part of what I have on my mind.
and wish to impart. On this occasion, I con- | free and independent, and have certain inherent ceived myself bound to attend strictly to the rights, of which, when they enter into society, interests of the State; and I thought her dear- they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest est rights at stake: having lived so long—been their posterity. We have a set of maxims of No much honored-my efforts, though small, are the same spirit, which must be beloved by due to my country. I have found my mind every friend to liberty, to virtue, to mankindhurried on from subject to subject, on this very our bill of rights contains those admirable great occasion. We have all been out of order, maxims. from the gentleman who opened to-day, to my- Now, sir, I say, let us consider whether the self. I did not come prepared to speak on so picture given of American affairs ought to drive multifarious a subject, in so general a manner. us from those beloved maxims. I trust you will indulge me another time. Be- The honorable gentleman (Mr. Randolph) fore you abandon the present system, I hope has said, that it is too late in the day for us to you will consider not only its defects most ma- reject this new plan. That system which was turely, but likewise those of that which you are once execrated by the honorable member, must to substitute for it. May you be fully apprised now be adopted, let its defects be ever so glarof the dangers of the latter, not by fatal expe- ing. That honorable member will not accuse rience, but by some abler advocate than I. me of want of candor, when I cast in my mind
what he has given the public,* and compare it On the seventh of June, Mr. IIenry again to what has happened since. It seems to me continned his remarks.
very strange and unaccountable, that what was
the object of his execration should now receive Me. CHAPMAN: I have thought, and still his encomiums. Something extraordinary must think, that a full investigation of the actual sit- have operated so great a change in his opinion. nation of America ought to precede any deci- It is too late in the day! Gentlemen must exsion on this great and important question. That cuse me, if they should declare again and government is no more than a choice among again, that it is too late, and I should think difevils, is acknowledged by the most intelligent ferently. I never can believe, sir, that it is too among mankind, and has been a standing maxim late to save all that is precious. If it be proper,
If it be demonstrated, that the adop- and, independently of every external consideration of the new plan is a little or a trifling evil, tion, wisely constructed, let us receive it: but, then, sir, I acknowledge that adoption ought sir, shall its adoption by eight States induce us to follow : but, sir, if this be a truth, that its to receive it, if it be replete with the most danadoption may entail misery on the free people gerous defects? They urge, that subsequent of this country, I then insist, that rejection amendments are safer than previous amend. ought to follow. Gentlemen strongly urge that ments, and that they will answer the same ends its adoption will be a mighty benefit to us: but, At present, we have our liberties and our prisir, I am made of such incredulous materials
, vileges in our own hands. Let us not relinthat assertions and declarations do not satisfy quish them. Let us not adopt this system till me. I must be convinced, sir. I shall retain we see them secured. There is some small posmy infidelity on that subject till I see our liber- sibility, that should we follow the conduct of ties secured in a manner perfectly satisfactory Massachusetts, amendments might be obtained. to my understanding.
There is a small possibility of amending any There are certain maxims, by which every government: but, sir, shall we abandon our inwise and enlightened people will regulate their estimable rights, and rest their security on a conduct. There are certain political maxims, mere possibility? The gentleman fears the which no free people ought ever to abandon: loss of the Union. If eight States have ratified maxims, of which the observance is essential to it unamended, and we should rashly imitate the security of happiness. It is impiously irri- their precipitate example, do we not thereby tating the avenging hand of Heaven, when a disunite from several other States? Shall those people, who are in the full enjoyment of free- who have risked their lives for the sake of dom, launch out into the wide ocean of human union, be at once thrown out of it? If it be affairs, and desert those maxims which alone amended, every State will accede to it; but by can preserve liberty. Such maxims, humble as an imprudent adoption in its defective and danthey are, are those only which can render a gerous state, a schism must inevitably be the nation safe or formidable. Poor little humble consequence; I can never, therefore, consent repablican maxims have attracted the admira- to hazard our unalienable rights on an absolute tion and engaged the attention of the virtu- uncertainty. You are told there is no peace, ous and wise in all nations, and have stood although you fondly flatter yourselves that all the shock of ages. We do not now admit is peace--no peace; a general cry and alarm in the validity of maxims which we once de- the country; commerce, riches and wealth vanlighted in. We have since adopted maxims ished; citizens going to seek comforts in other of a different, but more refined nature; new parts of the world; laws insulted; many inmaxims, which tend to the prostration of republicanism.
Alluding to Mr. Randolph's letter on that subject, to the We have one, sir, that all men are by nature / Speaker of the House of Delegates.
stances of tyrannical legislation. These things, legislation, and an ex post facto law in the case sir, are new to me. He has made the discovery of Josiah Phillips. He has misrepresented the As to the administration of justice, I believe facts. That man was not executed by a tyran that failures in commerce, &c., cannot be at- nical stroke of power; nor was he a Socrates. tributed to it. My age enables me to recollect He was a fugitive murderer and an outlaw; a its progress under the old government. I can man who commanded an infamous banditti, at justify it by saying, that it continues in the a time when the war was at the most perilous same manner in this State, as it did under the stage. He committed the most cruel and shockformer government. As to other parts of the ing barbarities. He was an enemy to the hu continent, I refer that to other gentlemen. man name. Those who declare war against As to the ability of those who administer the human race, may be struck out of existence it, I believe they would not suffer by a com- as soon as they are apprehended. lle was not parison with those who administered it un executed according to those beautiful legal cereder the royal authority. Where is the cause monies which are pointed out by the laws, in of complaint if the wealthy go away? Is this, criminal cases. The enormity of his crimes did added to the other circumstances, of such not entitle him to it. I am truly a friend to enormity, and does it bring such danger over legal forms and methods; but, sir, the occasion this commonwealth, as to warrant so impor- warranted the measure. A, irate, an outlaw, tant and so awful a change, in so precipitate a or a comman enemy to all mankind, may be manner? As to insults offered to the laws, I put to death at any time. It is justified by the know of none. In this respect I believe this laws of nature and nations. commonwealth would not suffer by a compari- The honorable member lells us then, that son with the former government. The laws there are burnings and discontents in the hearts are as well executed, and as patiently acqui- of our citizens in general, and that they are esced in, as they were under the royal admin- dissatisfied with their government. I have no istration. Compare the situation of the coun-doubt the honorable member believes this to try; compare that of our citizens to what they be the case, because he says so. But I have were then, and decide whether persons and the comfortable assurance, that it is a certain property are not as safe and secure as they fact, that it is not so. The middle and lower were at that time. Is there a man in this com- ranks of people have not those illumined ideas monwealth, whose person can be insulted with which the well-born are so happily possessed impunity? Cannot redress be had here for per- of; they cannot so readily perceive latent obsonal insults or injuries, as well as in any partjects. The microscopic eyes of modern statesof the world; as well as in those countries men can see abundance of defects in old syswhere aristocrats and monarchs triumph and tems; and their illumined imaginations disreign? Is not the protection of property in cover the necessity of a change. They are full operation here? The contrary cannot, captivated by the parade of the number ten; with truth, be charged on this commonwealth. the charms of the ten miles square. Those severe charges which are exhibited fear this change will ultimately lead to our ruin. against it, appear to me totally groundless. On My fears are not the force of imagination; they a fair investigation, we shall be found to be are but too well founded. I tremble for my surrounded by no real dangers. We have the country: but, sir, I trust, I rely, and I am conanimating fortitude and persevering alacrity of fident, that this political speculation has not republican men, to carry us through misfor-taken so strong a hold of men's minds as some tunes and calamities. 'Tis the fortune of a re- would make us believe. public to be able to withstand the stormy ocean The dangers which may arise from our geoof human vicissitudes. I know of no danger graphical situation, will be more properly conawaiting us. Public and private security are sidered a while hence. At present, what may to be found here in the highest degree. Sir, it be surmised on the subject, with respect to the is the fortune of a free people not to be intimi- adjacent States, is merely visionary. Strength, dated by imaginary dangers. Fear is the pas- sir, is a relative term. When I reflect on the sion of slaves. Our political and natural hem- natural force of those nations that might be inispheres are now equally tranquil. Let us duced to attack us, and consider the difficulty recollect the awful magnitude of the subject of of the attempt and uncertainty of the success, our deliberation. Let us consider the latent and compare thereto the relative strength of consequences of an erroneous decision, and let our country, I say that we are strong. We not our minds be led away by unfair misrepre- have no cause to fear from that quarter; we sentations and uncandid suggestions. There have nothing to dread from our neighboring have been many instances of uncommon lenity States. The superiority of our cause would and temperance used in the exercise of power give us an advantage over them, were they so in this commonwealth. I could call your recol- unfriendly or rash as to attack us. As to that lection to many that happened during the war part of the community which the honorable and since, but every gentleman here must be gentleman spoke of as in danger of being sepaapprised of them.
rated from us, what incitement or inducement The honorable member has given you an could its inhabitants have to wish such an elaborate account of what he judges tyrannical event? It is a matter of doubt whether they
would derive any advantage to themselves, or tions of others ? Sir, were there nothing ob-
of it, let us examine it. When we trusted the ours on the ocean, or that nations, whose inter. great object of revising the confederation to ests come in contrast with ours, in the progress the greatest, the best and most enlightened of of their guilt, will perpetrate the vilest expediour citizens, we thought their deliberations ents to exclude us from a participation in comwould have been solely confined to that revi- mercial advantages? Does he advise us, in sion. Instead of this, a new system, totally order to avoid this evil, to adopt a constitution, different in its nature, and vesting the most ex- which will enable such nations to obtain their tensive powers in Congress, is presented. Will ends by the more easy mode of contaminating the ten men you are to send to Congress, be the principles of our senators? Sir, if our senmore worthy than those seven were? If power ators will not be corrupted, it will be because grew so rapidly in their hands, what may it not they will be good men; and not because the do in the hands of others? If those who go constitution provides against corruption; for from this State will find power accompanied there is no real check secured in it, and the with temptation, our situation must bé truly most abandoned and profligate acts may with critical. When about forming a government, impunity be committed by them. if we mistake the principles, or commit any With respect b Maryland, what danger from other error, the very circumstance promises thence? I know none. I have not heard of that power will be abused. The greatest cau- any hostility premeditated or committed. Ninetion and circumspection are therefore necessary; tenths of the people have not heard of it. nor does this proposed system in its investiga- Those who are so happy as to be illumined, tion here, deserve the least charity.
have not informed their fellow-citizens of it. I The honorable member says, that the na- am so valiant as to say, that no danger can tional government is without energy. I per- come from that source, sufficient to make me fectly agree with him: and when he cried out abandon my republican principles. The honunion, I agreed with him: but I tell him not to orable gentleman ought to have recollected, mistake the end for the means. The end is that there were no tyrants in America, as there union; the most capital means, I suppose, are are in Europe: the citizens of republican boran army and navy: on a supposition I will ac- ders are only terrible to tyrants: instead of knowledge this; still the bare act of agreeing being dangerous to one another, they mutually to that paper, though it may have an amazing support one another's liberties. We might be influence, will not pay our millions. There confederated with the adopting States, without must be things to pay debts. What these ratifying this system. No form of government things are, or how they are to be produced, renders a people more formidable. A confedemust be determined by our political wisdom racy of States joined together, becomes strong and economy.
as the United Netherlands. The government The honorable gentleman alleges, that pre- of Holland (execrated as it is) proves that the vious amendments will prevent the junction of present confederation is adequate to every purour riches from producing great profits and pose of human association. There are seven emoluments, (which would enable us to pay our provinces confederated together for a long time, public debts,) by excluding us from the Union. containing numerous opulent cities and many I believe, sir, that a previous ratification of a of the finest ports in the world. The recollecsystem notoriously and confessedly defective, tion of the situation of that country, would will endanger our riches, our liberty, our all. make me execrate monarchy. The singular Its defects are acknowledged; they cannot be felicity and success of that people, are unparaldenied. The reason offered by the honorable leled; freedom has done miracles there in regentleman for adopting this defective system, is claiming land from the ocean. It is the richest the adoption by eight States. I say, sir, that, spot on the face of the globe. llave they no if we present nothing but what is reasonable in men or money? Have they no fleets or armies? the shape of amendments, they will receive us. Have they no arts or sciences among them? Union is as necessary for them as for us. Will How did they repel the attacks of the greatest they then be so unreasonable as not to join us? nations in the world? How have they acquired If such be their disposition, I am happy to their amazing influence and power? Did they know it in time.
consolidate government, to effect these purposes The honorable member then observed, that as we do? No, sir, they have triumphed over nations will expend millions for commercial ad- every obstacle and difficulty, and have arrived vantages; that is, they will deprive you of at the summit of political felicity, and of unevery advantage if they can. Apply this an- common opulence, by means of a confederacy; other way. Their cheaper way, instead of lay- that very government which gentlemen affect ing out millions in making war upon you, will to despise. They have, sir, avoided a consolibe to corrupt your senators. I know that if dation as the greatest of evils. They have they be not above all price, they may make a lately, it is true, made one advance in that fatal sacrifice of our commercial interests. They progression. This misfortune burst on them by may advise your president to make a treaty iniquity and artifice. That stadtholder, that that will not only sacrifice all your commercial executive magistrate, contrived it, in conjuncinterests, but throw prostrate your bill of rights. tion with other European nations. It was not Does he fear that their ships will outnumber the choice of the people. Was it owing to his