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their political systems, without the destructive intervention of the sword,


The various and opposite interests which were to be conciliated, the local prejudices which were to be subdued, the diversity of opinions and sentiments which were to be reconciled, and, in fine, the sacrifices which were necessary to be made, on all sides, for the general welfare, combined to make it a work of so intricate and difficult a nature, that I think it is much to be wondered at, that any thing could have been produced with such unanimity, as the Constitution proposed. 1787.


I do most firmly believe, that, in the aggregate, it is the best Constitution that can be obtained at this epoch; and that this, or a dissolution of the Union awaits our choice, and is the only alternative before us.



Let the reins of Government be braced, and held with a steady hand, and every violation of the Consti

tution be reprehended. If defective, let it be amended, but not suffered to be trampled upon, whilst it has an existence.


We are now an independent people, and have yet to learn political tactics. We are placed among the nations of the earth, and have a character to establish; but how we shall acquit ourselves, time must discover.

The probability is, (at least, I fear it,) that local or State politics will interfere too much with the more liberal and extensive plan of government, which wisdom and foresight, freed from the mist of prejudice, would dictate; and that we shall be guilty of many blunders, in treading this boundless theatre, before we shall have arrived at any perfection in this art; in a word, that the experience which is purchased at the price of difficulties and distress, will alone convince us, that the honor, power, and true interest of this country, must be measured by a Continental scale, and that every departure therefrom weakens the Union, and may ultimately break the band which holds us together.

To avert these evils, to form a New Constitution, that will give consistency, stability, and dignity to the Union, and sufficient powers to the Great Council of the nation, for general purposes, is a duty incum

bent upon every man who wishes well to his country, and will meet with my aid as far as it can be rendered in the private walks of life.


I see one head gradually changing into thirteen. I see one army branching into thirteen; and, instead of looking up to Congress, as the Supreme Controlling Power of the United States, considering themselves as dependent on their respective States. In a word, I see the power of Congress declining too fast for the consequence and respect which are due to them, as the Great Representative Body of America; and I am fearful of the consequences.


The disinclination of the individual States, to yield powers to Congress, for the Federal Government, their unreasonable jealousy of that body and of one another, and the disposition which seems to pervade each, of being all-wise and all-powerful within itself, will, if there be not a change in the system, be our downfall as a nation.

This is as clear to me as A, B, C; and I think we have opposed Great Britain, and have arrived at the present state of peace and independency, to very little purpose, if we cannot conquer our own prejudices. The powers of Europe begin to see this; and our newly acquired friends, the British, are already and professedly acting upon this ground; and wisely

too, if we are determined to persevere in our folly. They know, that individual opposition to their measures is futile; and boast, that we are not sufficiently united as a nation, to give a general one! Is not the indignity alone of this declaration, while we are in the very act of peace-making and conciliation, sufficient to stimulate us to vest more extensive and adequate powers in the Sovereign of these United States? 1784.

I should suppose, no individual State can, or ought to, deprive an officer of rank derived from the States at large; and that it will not be improper for Congress to prohibit the exercise of such a power. The principle and practice are what I cannot reconcile to my ideas of propriety.


Men, chosen as the delegates in Congress are, cannot officially be dangerous. They depend upon the breath, nay, they are so much the creatures of the people, under the present Constitution, that they can have no views, which could possibly be carried into execution, nor any interests distinct from those of their constituents.

My political creed is, to be wise in the choice of delegates, support them like gentlemen while they are our representatives, give them competent powers

for all Federal purposes, support them in the due exercise thereof, and, lastly, compel them to close attendance in Congress, during their delegation. These things, under the present mode and termination of elections, aided by annual instead of constant sessions, would, or I am exceedingly mistaken, make us one of the most wealthy, happy, respectable, and powerful nations that ever inhabited the terrestrial globe. Without them, we shall, in my opinion, soon be every thing which is the direct reverse.



Annual sessions would always produce a full representation, and alertness in business. The delegates, after a separation of eight or ten months, would meet each other with glad countenances. They would be complaisant; they would yield to each other all that duty to their constituents would allow; and they would have better opportunities of becoming acquainted with their sentiments, and removing improper prejudices, when they are imbibed, by mixing with them during the recess.

Men who are always together, get tired of each other's company. They throw off that restraint which is necessary to keep things in proper tune. They say and do things which are personally disgusting. This begets opposition; opposition begets faction; and so

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