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Constitutional Convention, Pennsylvania Ratification Debates, More, in 1787 Newspaper Run
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The year 1776 is celebrated, says a correspondent, for a revolution in favour of liberty. The year 1787, it is expected will be celebrated with equal joy, for a revolution in favour of government. The impatience with which all classes of people wait to receive the new federal constitution, can only be equalled by their zealous determination to support it.” Sept. 8, 1787.

This fascinating extensive run of the Pennsylvania Herald gives a sense of the anticipation over the results of the closed-door U.S. Constitutional Convention, which deliberated from May through September in Philadelphia. It follows with in-depth coverage of the debates in the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention in November and December, also in Philadelphia.

[U.S. CONSTITUTION]. The Pennsylvania Herald, and General Advertiser, January 3 to December 29, 1787. Philadelphia: Mathew Carey, Christopher Talbot, and William Spotswood. Bound volume of 83 issues of 4 pages each. 332 pp., 11 x 19 x 1½ in. Normally published semi-weekly on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but from September 11 to October 6, it was published on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. (Lacking issues of Jan. 20, 24, 27, 31, Feb. 3, 7, 17, 24, March 17, May 9, 12, 16, 23, July 4, 14, 18, 28, Aug. 11, Sept. 11, 20, 29, Oct. 2, 31, Dec. 1, 5.)

Inventory #24828       Price: $48,000

Individual issues include a wealth of period history, including letters and essays for and against the proposed U.S. Constitution, advertisements for books and serial publications, notices of runaway slaves, advertisements for Dickinson College, excerpts from The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., essays on Shakespeare’s major characters, and much more.

The Pennsylvania Herald, and General Advertiser(1785-1788), was founded by Irish-born Mathew Carey (1760-1839) in January 1785 as Carey’s Pennsylvania Evening Herald. Carey had fled Dublin to avoid prosecution for his anti-British publications, arriving in Philadelphia in November 1784. Learning of his misfortunes, the Marquis de Lafayette gave him $400 to start a newspaper. By March 1785, it had become the Pennsylvania Evening Herald, and the American Monitor, with fellow Irishmen Christopher Talbot and William Spotswood as partners. Carey began attending Pennsylvania’s General Assembly in the summer of 1785, taking down the debates and votes in shorthand. Although newspapers in England had begun to do so, it was novel in the United States, and the circulation of the Herald grew dramatically. At the end of May 1786, the title changed to The Pennsylvania Herald, and General Advertiser. In February 1787, the partnership dissolved, and Spotswood continued publishing the paper alone. In February 1788, when he retired, Carey again became the publisher.

Alexander James Dallas (1759-1817), who later served as Secretary of the Treasury under James Madison, edited the paper in 1787 and 1788, while simultaneously editing the Columbian Magazine. During Pennsylvania’s debates over ratification of the Constitution, Dallas published versions of the debates with his own commentary, which Federalists considered too Anti-Federalist. Carey eventually fired Dallas, but the Herald never recovered from the loss of so many Federalist subscribers and soon went out of business.

Published on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Condition: Several issues have been trimmed tightly, resulting in loss of text on outer margins.  Binding cracked but not broken. Specific damage to the following issues—February 10: fourth column of third page/first column of fourth page torn off with damage to third/second columns; February 28: 4 x 6 in. loss in upper right/left corner of all four pages; March 21: 4 x 4½ in. loss in upper right/left corner of first and second pages; April 7: ½ x ¾ in. hole in first and second pages affecting five lines of text; April 18: 2½ x 4¾ in. clip from upper right/left corner of third and fourth pages affecting last/first column only; April 25: 2½ x 8¾ in. clip from upper right/left corner of third and fourth pages affecting last/first column only; September 25: 2¾ x 3¼ in. clip from upper right/left corner of third and fourth pages affecting last/first column only; November 10: 3 x 2 in. tear from upper right/left corner of third and fourth pages affecting last/first column only; and November 17, 1¾ x 4 in. tear from lower right/left corner of third and fourth pages affecting last/first column only.

Highlights and Excerpts

January 3 and several successive issues contain extensive reporting from the PA General Assembly debates on the charter of the Bank of North America, public credit, etc.

January 6. News from New York that the Confederation Congress had accepted Connecticut’s deed of cession of Western territories (also claimed by Pennsylvania) to the U.S. (p3/c1)

 “Advice to a young Tradesman, from an old one [Supposed to be written by Dr. Franklin]… Remember that TIME is money. He that can earn tell shilling a day by his labour … … though he spends only six pence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, five shilling besides… “Remember that CREDIT is money. … Remember that money is a prolific, generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on… He that kills a breeding sow, destroys all her offspring to the thousandth generation… “[N]ever keep borrowed money an hour beyond the time you promised… The most trifling actions that affect a man’s credit are to be regarded. The sound of your hammer, at five in the morning, or nine at night, heard by a creditor, makes him easy six months longer. But if he sees you at a billiard table or hears your voice at a tavern, when you should be at work,  he sends for his money the next day… “Good natured creditors, - (and such one would always choose to deal with, if one could) feel pain when they are obliged to ask for money. Spare them that pain and they will love you…” In short, the way to wealth, if you desire it, is as plain as the way to market -  It depends chiefly on two words, INDUSTRTY and FRUGALITY, ie waste neither your time nor your money, but make the best use of both. He that gets all he can, and saves all he gets (necessary expenses excepted) will eventually become rich…”

January 13. (p199-3/c2  PA Debt to United States (add quote- great content). 

Bordeaux, France ordinance forbidding any who “Keep either public house, billiard table or coffee house, to let lodging to any public women or girls of the town.. We equally forbid all women of the town from appearing indecently, exciting any noise or disturbance, and from boing in bodies in the streets, or other places, under pain of being sent immediately to prison, and being otherwise punished, according to the exigency of the case…” (pc/c2)

January 17.  American Intelligence, from Boston, Jan. 3. Accounts from Springfield, Mass, or 200 rioters preventing meeting of the Court of Common Pleas. Shays Rebellion. Report from New York, Jan. 9. “The barbarous slave trade is in this enlightened age, for the honour of humanity, rapidly declining. Among the few arguments adduced in favour of that horrid traffic, is the necessity of the measure- for we are given to understand, that a white is not able to endure that fatigue which an African is- and of course that, had it not been for the slave trade, America and the West India island would not have flourished as they have done. But tis may be begging the quest- for if the whites were habituated to it, there is much likelihood that they would be able to stand the labour as the Africans- when it is considered, that one third of the imported are lost in the seasoning, which is not less than 27,000, it is a doubt, as white servants would be better treated, whether near so many would perish in the service. Bit be that as it amy, necessity cannot justify a bad act- and it is a law of the author of our religion, that we are not to do evil that good man ensue.” (202/c4)

February 10. Report from New Haven via NY re a desire “to see the finishing stroke of the frolic in Massachusetts, “as General Benjamin Lincoln arrived with 3,000 troops to quell Shays’ Rebellion. With a report of the battle, where General Shepherd at first fired artillery pieces to warn the rebels, until Shays’ advance led to the next discharge killing “some of his miserable wretches for their temerity.” Printing Captain Luke Day’s Jan. 25 letter about the horrible state of his troops arms prior to the arrival of reinforcements.  Report from Philadelphia mentioning false news of discovery of gold mines in PA.  (p22/2/c1). More reports and correspondence of Shays and others. Note: page 3-4 has a column and a half torn out, likely for an advertisement.

February 14. American Intelligence. North Carolina balloting elected delegates for what would become the Constitutional Convention.  Boston, Feb. 1 relaying copy of Jan 26 letter from General Shepherd with his official report to the Governor on the battle of Jan. 25. “The unhappy time is come, in which we have been obliged to shed blood. Shays, who was at the head of about twelve hundred men, marched yesterday about four o’clock towards the public buildings, in battle array… The fourth or fifth shot put the whole column into the utmost confusion… Had I been disposed to destroy then, I might have charged upon their rear and flanks, with my infantry and two field pieces, and could have killed the greater part of his whole army within twenty-five minutes. There was not a single musket fired on either side. I found three men dead on the spot… … I have received no reinforcement yet, and expect to be attacked this day by their whole force combined…

Letter from General Benjamin Lincoln, Jan. 28, 1787, having arrived at noon. “From a consideration of this insult on government; that by an early move, we should instantly convince the insurgents of its ability and determination speedily to disperse them,,, From these considerations, sir, with many others, I was induced to order the troops unmder arms at three o’clock in the afternoon, although the most of them had been so from one in the morning.

“We moved  about half after three, and crossed the river upon the ice, with the four regiments, and four pieces of artillery…“ Many more detailed letters, battle reports, etc.

February 21. Essay by Noah Webster from a lecture given at the College (University of Pennsylvania), “Remarks in Manners, Government, Law and the Domestic Debt of America – addressed to the Citizens of the United States.” (p1/1-2, p 4/1-4, continued on  … concluded on Feb. 25

WANTED, A PERSON of Abilities, who is perfect Master of SHORT HAND, and capable of furnishing the Debates of the honorable the General Assembly. Such a Person will meet a certain Engagement, and suitable Encouragement, by applying to the Printer….” (p3/c2)

“Happy would it be for this country, if these virtues were more generally practiced. Paper money and foreign credit are mere temporary expedients to keep up the appearance of wealth and splendor”

February 28. Message from Pennsylvania President Benjamin Franklin to the General Assembly. “During your recess an election has been held for the county of Luzerne. While this event affords a proof of the wisdom of your measures, we must acknowledge that Mr. Pickering, a commissioner for holding the election, was instrumental in… exposing the many false and artful representations which had been made by people opposed to the authority of the government.

We are convinced it will be of advantage to the state to lower the price of land within the late Indian purchase.” (p2/c1)

March 7. “Norris-Town Goal, Montgomery County, March 5, 1787, A NEGRO MAN, who calls himself Henry Hart, was committed to the custody of the subscriber, on suspicion of being a RUNAWAY. He is about five feet five inches high, a well set fellow, about twenty three years of age, and says he was born in Newcastle-county, and is now a free Negro. His Master, if he has any, is desired to apply for him, pay charges, and remove him in three weeks from this date, otherwise he will be sold to pay charges. / William Stroud, Gaoler.” (p3/c3)

March 10. “TO BE SOLD, The TIME of a German Servant Girl, Who has about three years to serve. She can be well recommended for honesty and sobriety, and would suit the city...” (p2/c4)

Noah Webster (1758-1843) provides details on laws of copyright in each state (p3/c3-4)

March 14. Proclamation by Benjamin Franklin as President of Pennsylvania, offering rewards in addition to those already offered by Massachusetts for Capturing Shays’ Rebellion Leaders.

WHEREAS the General Assembly … by a law entitled ‘An Act for co-operating with the State of Massachusetts Bay, agreeable to the articles of confederation, in the apprehending of the proclaimed rebels Daniel Shays, Luke Day, Adam Wheeler and Eli Parsons,’ have enacted… We do hereby offer the following rewards to any person or persons who shall, within the limits of this State, apprehend the rebels aforesaid, and secure them in the jail of the city and county of Philadelphia—viz. For the apprehending of the said Daniel Shays, and securing him as aforesaid, the reward of One Hundred and Fifty Pounds lawful money of the State of Massachusetts Bay, and One Hundred Pounds lawful money of this State....” (p2/c4)

March 24. Conscientious Objectors Petition by Quakers to Pennsylvania General Assembly

That we cannot, consistent with our christian duty, omit to request your serious attention to our memorial dated in the second month 1786 … and our address in the 9th month following to the committee of that house…. The cause of concern we then expressed still subsisting, and being renewed by the bill lately published, and proposed to be enacted into a law for the establishment of a militia, inflicting fines and forfeitures on those who are restrained by a principle of conscience from actively conforming or contributing thereto.” (p2/c1)

April 14. Anticipating the Constitutional Convention, starting the next month. “The political existence of the United States, perhaps, depends on the result of the deliberations of the Convention … for the purpose of forming a national government. The acknowledged necessity of the measure has induced the States of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, N. York, N. Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North-Carolina and Georgia, severally to appoint delegates to said Convention—Maryland and South Carolina have also made provision for the choice of such delegates—Connecticut has not yet entered on the important subject, but her concurrence cannot be doubted—Rhode-Island has refused to co-operate in this business—from her anti-federal disposition (says a correspondent) nothing better could have been expected.... it is presumed, however, that her dissent will never more be permitted to defeat any federal measure; rather let her be dropped out of the union, or apportioned to the different states which surround her; nor will the American constellation lose one gem thereby; the state of Vermont shines with far superior lustre, and would more than compensate the loss.” (p3/c1)

April 28. The reasons assigned in the following letter of his Excellency General Washington, for declining the presidential chair of the General Society of Cincinnati, will, it is feared, also prevent him from taking his seat in the Federal Convention. Though we are assured, from good authority, that his Excellency has since taken up a resolution to attend that very important Assembly in May next. (p2/c4). Printing Washington’s October 31, 1786 Circular

I take this early opportunity, in my character of President of the Cincinnati, of announcing to you, that the triennial general meeting of the society is to be convened at the city of Philadelphia, on the first Monday of May in the year 1787.

it is my desire not to be re-elected… since I should find myself under the necessity of declining the acceptance of it. The numerous applications for information, advice, or assistance which are made to me in consequence of my military command; the multiplicity of my correspondencies in this country as well as in many parts of Europe; the variety and perplexity of my own private concerns, which, having been much deranged by my absence through the war, demand my entire and unremitting attention; the arduousness of the task, in which I have been as it were unavoidably engaged, of superintending the opening the navigation of the great rivers in this state; the natural desire of tranquility and relaxation from business, which almost every one experiences at my time of life, particularly after having acted (during a considerable period) as no idle spectator in uncommonly busy and important scenes; and the present imbecility of my health, occasioned by a violent attack of the fever & ague, succeeded by rheumatick pains (to which till of late I have been an entire stranger); will, I doubt not, be considered as reasons of sufficient validity to justify my conduct in the present instance.” (p2/c4)

May 19. Various opinions are propagated respecting the probable result of the foederal convention; but, whatever means are pursued, it seems to be unanimously agreed, that a strong and efficient executive power must be somewhere established. (p3/c1)

June 2. “Such circumspection and secrecy mark the proceedings of the foederal convention, that the members find it difficult to acquire the habit of communication even among themselves, and are so cautious in defeating the curiosity of the public, that all debate is suspended upon the entrance of their own inferior officers. Though we readily admit the propriety of excluding an indiscriminate attendance upon the discussions of this deliberative council, it is hoped that the privacy of their transactions will be an additional motive for dispatch, as the anxiety of the people must be necessarily encreased, by every appearance of mystery in conducting this important business. (p3/c3)

June 7. We are informed that the Foederal Convention … has resolved that Rhode-Island should be considered as having virtually withdrawn herself from the union, and that the right of emitting paper-money by the states jointly or severally, ought to be abrogated.” (p3/c1)

June 13. “Though the particular arguments, debates, and decisions that take place in the foederal Convention, are considered as matters of secrecy, we understand, in general, that there exists a very great diversity of opinion amongst the members, and that there has been already a wonderful display of wisdom, eloquence and patriotism. Some schemes, it is said, have been projected which preserve the form, but effectually destroy the spirit of a democracy; and others, more bold, which, regarding only the necessity of a strong executive power, have openly rejected even the appearance of a popular constitution. From the plans of this last description, there is little reason to apprehend danger, for the people will hardly be induced to make a voluntary surrender of their rights; but they may indeed be deceived, by the flattery of outward shew, into a passive and destructive acquiescence. The forms of liberty were preserved in the Roman government, after the most intolerable tyranny had usurped its seat; and we are told, that under Tiberius, one of their most execrable emperors, the freedom of the people was still in appearance preserved; the Senate was still employed in managing the business of the public; money, as the marks upon it at this day testify, was coined by their authority, and every other public affair received their sanction. Yet, at the same time we know, the most shocking barbarities were exercised by the emperors, who, while their actions met with no significant opposition, were well satisfied that the people would still flatter themselves with the empty shew of power.” (p3/c2)

June 20. “Whatever measure may be recommended by the Foederal Convention, whether an addition to the old constitution, or the adoption of a new one, it will, in effect, be a revolution in government, accomplished by reasoning and deliberation; an event that has never occurred since the formation of society, and which will be strongly characteristic of the philosophic and tolerant spirit of the age.” (p3/c3)

July 7. “The Twelfth Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America, was celebrated here on Wednesday last, with the heart-felt satisfaction the auspicious event first dictated and inspired.” (p3/c3)

July 21. “So great is the unanimity, we hear that prevails in the Convention, upon all great foederal subjects, that it has been proposed to call the room in which they assemble—Unanimity Hall. In the beginning of the late war, the citizens of America looked up to a foederal government, only, for safety and protection; they were then powerful and successful at home and abroad. As soon as they set up the idol of State Sovereignty, they forgot the rock from whence they derived their freedom and independence, and confined their allegiance and affections only to their state governments: and hence the distress, confusion, debts and disgrace of the United States. Calamities have at last opened their eyes, and they again turn them to a foederal government for safety and protection. May the enemies of the new confederation, whether in Rhode-Island or elsewhere, whether secret or open, meet with the fate of the disaffected in the late war. (p3/c2)

July 25. We are informed that the federal convention will continue their deliberations about a month longer; and that there will then be presented to the public a scheme of continental government adapted to the circumstances and habits of the people….” (p3/c3)

Also prints the full text of “An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States, North-West of the River Ohio.Passed by the Confederation Congress on July 13, 1787, the Northwest Ordinance created the Northwest Territory, prohibited slavery in the territory, encouraged education, and created a mechanism for the admission of new states. (p4/c1-3)  (The First Federal Congress reaffirmed and renewed it through the Northwest Ordinance of 1789.)

August 1. “A gentleman from New-York informs us, that the anti-foederal disposition of a great officer of that state, has seriously alarmed the citizens, as every appearance of opposition to the important measure upon which the people have reposed their hopes, creates a painful anticipation of anarchy and division. At this critical moment, men who have an influence upon society, should be cautious what opinions they entertain, and what sentiments they deliver,—yielding to the passions and exigencies of the country all dogmatic fondness for particular systems and arrangements.” (p3/c3)

August 8. “the Foederal Convention met… and we are told, that they are now debating by paragraphs, the plan which is to be submitted to public consideration.” (p3/c3)

August 18. “We are well informed, that many letters have been written to the members of the federal convention … respecting the reports idly circulating, that it is intended to establish a monarchical government, to send for the Bishop of Osnaburgh, &c. &c.—to which it has been uniformly answered, ‘tho’ we cannot, affirmatively, tell you what we are doing; we can, negatively, tell you what we are not doing—we never once thought of a king.’” (p3/c2)

September 5. “TO BE SOLD, THE time of a NEGRO GIRL, who has 3 years to serve. She is a strong hearty wench, sixteen years old, and sold for want of employ.” (p1/c4)

September 8. The year 1776 is celebrated, says a correspondent, for a revolution in favour of liberty. The year 1787, it is expected will be celebrated with equal joy, for a revolution in favour of government. The impatience with which all classes of people wait to receive the new federal constitution, can only be equalled by their zealous determination to support it.

We hear that the Convention propose to adjourn next week, after laying America under such obligations to them for their long, painful and disinterested labours, to establish her liberty upon a permanent basis, as no time will ever cancel.” (p3/c2)

September 13. “We are well-informed that the federal convention will break up to-morrow or the next day, having concluded all their business, except determining upon the proper mode of making their report. Some members propose a general return of their proceedings to Congress, others conceive that though the requisition of Congress induced the respective legislatures to adopt the measure, yet as the delegates sit under the authority of the individual states, the return of their proceedings must be made to the power that appointed them.” (p3/c2)

September 18. Pennsylvania General Assembly Proceedings for September 17, P.M.

The speaker presented, a letter to the house from their delegates in convention, of the following purport, viz. that they were happy in being able to inform the house, that THE CONVENTION HAD AGREED UPON THE CONSTITUTION OF A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR THE UNITED STATES, and that the delegates were ready to report to the legislature, at any time that should be appointed.

Mr. Fitzsimons then mentioned that it was the wish of the delegates to the federal convention, after the accomplishment of so arduous a task, to enjoy a social meeting; which on account of the departure of some of them this evening, had been appointed for to-day’s dinner. He hoped therefore, that the house would agree to an adjournment, in order that the speaker and the other members of the house that were delegates, might have it in their power to attend this appointment. Accordingly, the house adjourned to meet to-morrow morning… .” (p2/c3)

Yesterday afternoon, about 4 o’clock the federal convention, after having concluded the important and difficult task of framing a federal system of government, broke up; and many of the delegates, we are informed, are already on their way to communicate to their anxious constituents the result of their deliberations. At 11 o’clock this forenoon, the delegates from Pennsylvania will make their report to the General Assembly, and we trust every friend to the peace and prosperity of America, is prepared to receive with respect, and to consider with candour the propositions which will then be divulged.

[The Pennsylvania Herald, and General Advertiser printed the text of the proposed Constitution in its September 20, 1787 issue, which is not present in this collection]

September 22. “At a meeting of a very respectable number of the inhabitants of the different wards of this city, the district of Southwark and township of the northern Liberties, the following petition and declaration was unanimously agreed to be circulated, and when signed to be presented to the hon. the Representatives of the Freemen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in General Assembly met…

The Petition and Declaration of the Inhabitants of Philadelphia, and of the districts of Southwark and the Northern Liberties,

Respectfully Sheweth, That your petitioners have seen, with great pleasure, the proposed constitution of the United States, and as they conceive it to be wisely calculated to form a perfect union of the States, as well as to secure to themselves and posterity, the blessings of peace, liberty and safety, they have taken this method of expressing their earnest desires, that the said constitution may be adopted as speedily as possible, by the State of Pennsylvania in the manner recommended by the resolution of the late honourable Convention.” (p3/c2-3)

September 25. “We are informed that the constitution proposed by the late foederal convention promises to be highly popular with the citizens of New-York; and that the distinguished person from whom an opposition was predicted, has expressed himself in terms favorably to the plan. Perhaps there never was a subject indeed, upon which men were more unanimous, for even those who cavil at the system itself, are impressed with the necessity of adopting it.” (p3/c2)

September 27. “The true friends of America, are friends to good government—the friends to good government are friends to the plan proposed by the convention—and the plan proposed by the convention is, without doubt, the wisest and best ever devised for the government of a free and a brave people.” (p3/c1)

George Washington, Esq. has already been destined by a thousand voices, to fill the place of the first President of the United States, under the new frame of government. While the deliverers of a nation, in other countries have hewn out a way to power with the sword, or seized upon it by stratagems and fraud, our illustrious hero peaceably retired to his farm after the war, from whence it is expected he will be called, by the suffrages of three millions of people to govern that country by his wisdom (agreeably to fixed laws) which he had previously made free by his arms. Can Europe boast of such a man;—or can the history of the world, shew an instance of such a voluntary compact between the deliverer and the delivered of any country, as will probably soon take place in the United States?” (p3/c2)

October 4. Address by Sixteen Members of the Pennsylvania House to their Constituents

When the Convention met, members from twelve states attended, and after deliberating upwards of four months on the subject, agreed on a plan of government which was sent forward by them to Congress, and which was reported to the House by the delegates of Pennsylvania, as mere matter of information, and printed in the newspapers of the city of Philadelphia; but the house had not received it officially from Congress, nor had we the least idea, that as the annual election was so near, we should be called upon to deliberate, much less to act on so momentous a business; a business of the utmost importance to you and your posterity. We conceived it required the most minute examination and mature consideration, and that it ought to be taken up by the next house. Judge then of our surprise on finding the last day but one in the sessions, a member of the house who had been a delegate in the Convention, without any previous notice or any intimation of his intention to the house, offer a resolution recommending the calling a Convention to consider of the proposed constitution, and to direct the electing members for the same, at so early a period as the day of your annual election, thus attempting to surprize you into a choice of members—to approve or disapprove of a constitution, which is to entail happiness or misery forever without giving time to the greatest part of the state even to see, much less to examine the plan of government.” (p2.c1)

This group stayed away from the legislature to prevent a quorum in the afternoon of that day.

Thus circumstanced and thus influenced, we determined the next morning, again to absent ourselves from the house, when James M’Calmont, Esq. a member from Franklin, and Jacob Miley, Esq. a member from Dauphin, were seized by a number of citizens of Philadelphia, who had collected together for that purpose, their lodgings were violently broken open, their cloaths torn, and after much abuse and insult, they were forcibly dragged through the streets of Philadelphia to the state house, and there detained by force, and in the presence of the majority, who had, the day before, voted for the first of the proposed resolutions, treated with the most insulting language; while the house so formed proceeded to finish their resolution, which they mean to offer to you as the doings of the legislature of Pennsylvania.” (p2/c2)

M’Calmont and Miley are among the sixteen signers.

October 6. Speech of Samuel Chase in Baltimore, September 28

THE Constitution proposed by the late Convention for the United States will alter, and in some instances, abolish our bill of rights and form of government.

The legislature of this state have no right to alter our form of government, but in the mode prescribed by the constitution.

The only question for the general assembly to determine is this, whether they will recommend to the people to elect Delegates to meet in Convention, to consider and decide on the plan proposed.

I have always maintained the union, and the increase of powers in Congress. I think the foederal government must be greatly altered, whether the plan proposed ought to be accepted, as it stands, without any amendment or alteration.—The subject is very momentous, and involves the greatest consequences.

If elected, I will vote for, and use my endeavours to procure a recommendation by the legislature, to call a Convention, as soon as it can conveniently be done, unless otherways directed by this town.” (p3/c1)

October 10. From Boston, September 26. “A correspondent observes, that the proceedings of the continental convention, published in our last, must receive the approbation of every man of independent sentiments; of every man who calculates not only for the honor of Individual States, and the happiness and glory of Independent America, but for those EMPIRES OF REPUBLICAN FREEDOM, which that NOBLE FABRICK, THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTION, may usher into existence.” (p2/c2)

Speech of James Wilson of Pennsylvania. “The outlines of this speech we shall endeavor to lay before the public, as tending to reflect great light upon the interesting subject now in general discussion.

It will be proper however, before I enter into the refutation of the charges that are alledged, to mark the leading discrimination between the state constitutions, and the constitution of the United States. When the people established the powers of legislation under their separate governments, they invested their representatives with every right and authority which they did not in explicit terms reserve: and therefore upon every question, respecting the jurisdiction of the house of assembly, if the frame of government is silent, the jurisdiction is efficient and complete. But in delegating federal powers, another criterion was necessarily introduced, and the congressional authority is to be collected, not from tacit implication, but from the positive grant expressed in the instrument of union. Hence it is evident, that in the former case everything which is not reserved is given, but in the latter the reverse of the proposition prevails, and every thing which is not given, is reserved. This distinction being recognized, will furnish an answer to those who think the omission of a bill of rights, a defect in the proposed constitution....” (p2/c4)

This constitution, it has been further argued, is of pernicious tendency, because it tolerates a standing army in the time of peace.—This has always been a topic of popular declamation; and yet, I do not know a nation in the world, which has not found it necessary and useful to maintain the appearance of strength in a season of the most profound tranquility.... But what would be our national situation were it otherwise? Every principle of policy must be subverted, and the government must declare war, before they are prepared to carry it on.... no man, who regards the dignity and safety of his country, can deny the necessity of a military force, under the control and with the restrictions which the new constitution provides.” (p3/c1)

The power of direct taxation has likewise been treated as an improper delegation to the federal government; but when we consider it as the duty of that body to provide for the national safety, to support the dignity of the union, and to discharge the debts contracted upon the collective faith of the states for their common benefit, it must be acknowledged, that those upon whom such important obligations are imposed, ought in justice and in policy to possess every means requisite for a faithful performance of their trust.” (p3/c1)

After all, my fellow citizens, it is neither extraordinary or unexpected, that the constitution offered to your consideration, should meet with opposition. It is the nature of man to pursue his own interest, in preference to the public good; and I do not mean to make any personal reflection, when I add, that it is the interest of a very numerous, powerful, and respectable body to counteract and destroy the excellent work produced by the late convention.... I will confess indeed, that I am not a blind admirer of this plan of government, and that there are some parts of it, which if my wish had prevailed, would certainly have been altered. But, when I reflect how widely men differ in their opinions, and that every man (and the observation applies likewise to every state) has an equal pretention to assert his own, I am satisfied that any thing nearer to perfection could not have been accomplished.... Regarding it then, in every point of view, with a candid and disinterested mind, I am bold to assert, that it is the best form of government which has ever been offered to the world.” (p3/c1)

October 17. Letter by “A DEMOCRATIC FEDERALIST

The arguments of the Honourable Mr. Wilson, expressed in the speech he made at the state-house on the Saturday preceding the general election (as stated in the Pennsylvania Herald,) although extremely ingenious and the best that could be adduced in support of so bad a cause, are yet extremely futile, and will not stand the test of investigation.” (p2/c2)

there is a material difference between this Constitution and the present confederation, for Congress in the latter are merely an executive body; it has no power to raise money, it has no judicial jurisdiction. In the other, on the contrary, the federal rulers are vested with each of the three essential powers of government—their laws are to be paramount to the laws of the different States, what then will there be to oppose to their encroachments? Should they ever pretend to tyrannize over the people, their standing army, will silence every popular effort, it will be theirs to explain the powers which have been granted to them; Mr. Wilson’s distinction will be forgot, denied or explained away, and the liberty of the people will be no more.” (p2/c3)

Petition of citizens of Burlington County to the Legislature of New Jersey, October 3

Respectfully sheweth,

THAT they have read and considered with attention the constitution for the United States of America, as proposed by the late federal convention; that the same appears to them well calculated to amend the defects of the former constitution, and to promote the lasting welfare and happiness of the union.

They therefore humbly request, that your Honorable body, in conformity to the opinion of the said convention, would recommend to the people of this state, immediately to chuse delegates for a state convention, in order to take into consideration the said federal constitution, and if approved of, to ratify the same in behalf of the state of New-Jersey.” (p3/c1)

October 20. “We are informed by a gentleman from Massachusetts, that Shays has prevailed upon some of the officers of government to solicit his pardon, and there is reason to suppose it will be granted. This rebel, equally defective in spirit and understanding, has shewn that it is in the power of the most contemptible of beings, to disturb the peace of society; but we hope that his fate will be a lesson to the factious heroes of Tioga and Greenbriar, and convince their adherents, that honesty and industry are preferable to tumult and licentiousness.” (p3/c2)

October 24. From the Massachusetts Centinel. Every unalienable right of the free citizens of these States is sacred; and it is political suicide to resign the full exercise of these rights—one of which is to think for ourselves—upon this principle the AMERICAN CONSTITUTION is to be submitted to the discussion of CONVENTIONS chosen by the people for that purpose. The truly honourable Continental Convention, after debating upon every possible consequence and attendant of the new constitution, UNANIMOUSLY agreed upon the form handed to the people. It is difficult to conceive of an objection that can be started, which was not thoroughly canvassed in the debates of that honourable body.

FOUR MONTHS CLOSE APPLICATION to the important business of their appointment, has produced a constitution which can be equaled by no form of government upon earth; nothing short of inspiration can excel it—and we ought to remember that had Heaven’s own finger penned a constitution for us, there can be no doubt but objections to it would be raised by many persons.

Although the AMERICAN CONSTITUTION is to be submitted to the consideration of POPULAR CONVENTIONS, it can certainly be of no service to the common interest, to have the public mind prejudiced and harrassed by fears, surmises, jealousies, and carpings previous to the meeting of these Conventions.” (p2/c2-3)

Also includes “Nuts, for the Aristocraticks to Crack. / Bag the First / Trial by Jury” by “HICKORY” asking questions about trial by jury under the proposed Constitution. (p2/c4-p3/c1)

October 27. Letter “To the PEOPLE of AMERICA” by “VERITAS POLITICA

on a national topic like this, whose fruit (whatever it be) an extended continent is to reap, it is necessary to throw off the bias of party, and introduce in its stead open and impartial reflection. Some objections to the constitution have been proposed to the public; but amongst them all I do not find that the most essential have been mentioned or even hinted at.” (p2/c1-2)

The constitution it must be confessed is like all other human productions, not faultless; and were it not that to err is the lot of humanity, it would probably have been perfect.” (p2/c2)

there are some faults in this constitution and two very considerable. They are—1st. The inequality of representation from the several states in one house, and 2d. the direct taxes being apportioned according tot eh number of inhabitants in each state.” (p2/c2)

Letter to the Editor by “A Confederationalist”

The arguments, if they be arguments, most insisted upon, in favor of the proposed constitution are, that if the plan is not a good one, it is impossible that either George Washington or Dr. Franklin would have recommended it. Thus under the authority of those ever to be respected names, its advocates wish to silence all opposition. But it ought to be asked, and it ought to be understood, whether or no, both or either of those two distinguished patriots do actually approved of the proposed frame of government. It is by no means certain that they do approve it. No doubt, it is the best that they could then get: But does it follow from thence, that they wish it to be adopted in its present form? Or is it not more probable that they wish it to be considered and amended?” (p2/c3)

November 3. “A correspondent is happy to observe that Dr. Franklin is in the list of persons proposed for the state Convention, since it is thought necessary to introduce a member of the Federal Convention to explain the new plan of government. His worth as a Patriot, and his wisdom as a Politician entitle him to that distinction, and as he enjoys the unbounded confidence of his fellow citizens, it is hoped that no personal consideration will induce him to wave this important service, at so critical a juncture.” (p2/c4)

November 7. “Delaware … appointed the third Monday of the present month for the election of delegates to a convention for considering the proposed plan of government for the United States—the said convention to meet on the Monday following the election.

Five states have agreed to the appointment of conventions for the above purpose, viz. Massachusetts, Connecticut, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.” (p3/c2)

November 10. “Tuesday last came on the election for five persons to represent this city in the ensuing state convention. On the close of the poll, at the state-house, the votes stood as follows, viz.  George Latimer, 1215  Benjamin Rush, 1211   Hilary Baker, 1204  James Wilson, 1203

Thomas M’Kean, 1157  Benjamin Franklin, 235  Charles Pettit,  150 David Rittenhouse, 148  John Steinmetz, 137  James Irvine, 132” (p3/c2)

Third of 18 letters by “Centinel” (likely Anti-Federalist author Samuel Bryan of Pennsylvania)  published between October 5, 1787, and April, 9, 1788.

My fellow citizens, as a lover of my country, as the friend to mankind, whilst it is yet safe to write, and whilst it is yet in your power to avoid it, I warn you of the impending danger. To this remote quarter of the world, has liberty fled—Other countries now subject to slavery, were once as free as we yet are; therefore for your own sakes, for the sake of your posterity, as well as for that of the oppressed of all nations, cherish this remaining asylum of liberty.” (p4/c3)

November 17. Anti-Federalist Elbridge Gerry to the Massachusetts legislature, October 18, 1787

I have the honour to inclose, pursuant to my commission, the constitution proposed by the federal convention.

To this system I gave my dissent, and shall submit my objections to the honourable legislature.

It was painful for me, on a subject of such national importance, to differ from the respectable members who signed the constitution: but conceiving as I did, that the liberties of America were not secured by the system, it was my duty to oppose it.

My principal objections … are, that there is no adequate provision for a representation— that they have no security for the right of election—that some of the powers of the legislature are ambiguous, and others indefinite and dangerous—that the Executive is blended with and will have an undue influence over the legislature—that the judicial department will be oppressive—that treaties of the highest importance may be formed by the president with the advice of two thirds of a quorum of the senate—and that the system is without the security of a bill of rights. These are objections which are not local, but apply equally to all the states.” (p2/c4)

Rhode Island General Assembly, “An ACT to prevent the Slave-Trade, and to encourage the Abolition of Slavery.”(p3/c1-2)

November 21. “Yesterday 38 members of the [Pennsylvania Ratifying] convention met at the state-house and adjourned ’till this afternoon at 3 o’clock.” (p3/c3)

November 24. Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention for November 21-23

Sixty members of the convention being assembled, Mr. M’Kean proposed that the returns be read over, whereupon it was found that the following persons were duly elected, [list of 69 delegates from Philadelphia and eighteen counties.] (p2/c2). The Convention elected Fred. A. Muhlenburg as president and agreed to meet at 10 a.m. each day.

November 28. Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention for November 24, 26

Mr. M’Kean....For the present, however, I shall move you Sir, that we come to the following resolution—‘Resolved, that this convention do adopt and ratify the constitution of federal government as agreed upon by the federal convention at Philadelphia on the 17th day of September, 1787.’ This measure, Mr. President, is not intended to introduce an instantaneous decision of so important a question, but merely to bring the object of our meeting fully and fairly into discussion. It is not my wish that it should be determined this day, nor do I apprehend it will be necessary that it should be determined this day week....” (p2/c4)

As soon as Mr. M’Kean’s motion had been read from the table, Mr. Wilson rose, and in a long and elaborate speech, delineated the general principles upon which the foederal constitution has been founded.” (p2/c4)

When Mr. Wilson had concluded, Mr. Smilie rose, and entered into a severe animadversion upon the nature of the motion offered by Mr. M’Kean, which however, he observed, was consistent with the system of precipitancy that had uniformly prevailed in respect to the important subject before the convention. He observed that we were repeatedly told of the peculiar advantages which we enjoy in being able deliberately and peaceably to decide upon a government for ourselves and our posterity, but we find every measure that is proposed leads, to defeat those advantages, and to preclude all argument, and deliberation, in a case confessedly of the highest consequence to the happiness of a great portion of the globe.” (p3/c1)

December 8. Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention, November 28 (partial)

Mr. Wilson. Mr. President, I shall now beg leave to trouble you with a few observations upon the preamble to the proposed constitution. In delivering my sentiments on a former day, I had occasion to shew that the supreme power of government, was the inalienable and inherent right of the people, and the system before us opens with a practical declaration of that principle. Here, Sir, it is expressly announced, ‘We the people of the United States do ordain, constitute, and establish,’ and those who can ordain and establish, may certainly repeal or annul the work of government, which in the hands of the people, is like clay in the hands of the potter, and may be moulded into any shape they please. This single sentence in the preamble, is tantamount to a volume, and contains the essence of all the bills of rights that have been or can be devised; for, it established, at once, that in the great article of government, the people have a right to do what they please.” (p2/c1)

Mr. M’Kean...bills of rights are instruments of modern invention, unknown among the antients, and unpracticed but by the British nation and the governments descended from them.... Of the constitutions of the United States, there are but five out of the thirteen which have bills of rights. In short, though it can do no harm, I believe, yet it is an unnecessary instrument, for, in fact the whole plan of government is nothing more than a bill of rights,—a declaration of the people in what manner they chuse to be governed.” (p2/c2)

The convention has again returned to one meeting in each day. The first article of the proposed constitution having been fully discussed, the second, respecting the executive power was yesterday taken into consideration, as the whole of the plan has in a great degree been investigated in the argument on the first article, it is supposed that the convention will break up in the course of the ensuing week.” (p3/c2)

December 12. Petition to the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention by Citizens of Pennsylvania

Such of the citizens of Pennsylvania as are not clearly ascertained of the propriety of adopting the proposed constitution without amendment or further consideration, may think it proper to join the following petition.

That the plan proposed by the general convention, instead of offering to our consideration such amendments as were generally expected and might be easily understood, contains a total abolition of the existing confederation and is in itself, as a late writer expresses it, ‘a novelty in the practice of legislation, essentially different, both in principles and organization, from any system of government heretofore formed.’ And although it may be an improvement on all those which have preceded it, and better calculated for political happiness than our present system of confederation is capable of being made, yet your petitioners conceive it is no less the duty than the right of every citizen to examine it with care and attention, and deliberately to consider its probable operations and effects, before he assents to the adoption of a system of such infinite importance.” (p2/c1)

Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention, November 28 (partial)

Mr. Wilson. Mr. President, we are repeatedly called upon to give some reason why a bill of rights has not been annexed to the proposed plan. I not only think that enquiry is at this time unnecessary and out of order, but I expect, at least, that those who desire us to shew why it was omitted, will furnish some arguments to shew that it ought to have been inserted; for the proof of the affirmative naturally falls upon them. But the truth is, Sir, that this circumstance, which has since occasioned so much clamour and debate, never struck the mind of any member in the late convention ’till, I believe, within three days of the dissolution of that body, and even then, of so little account was the idea, that it passed off in a short conversation, without introducing a formal debate, or assuming the shape of a motion.” (p2/c1)

Mr. Whitehill.... If indeed the constitution itself so well defined the powers of the government that no mistake could arise, and we were well assured that our governors, would always act right, then we might be satisfied without an explicit reservation of those rights which the people ought not, and mean not to part. But, Sir, we know that it is the nature of power to seek its own augmentation, and thus the loss of liberty is the necessary consequence of a loose or extravagant delegation of authority.... ‘We the people of the United States,’ is a sentence that evidently shews the old foundation of the union is destroyed, the principle of confederation excluded, and a new and unwieldy system of consolidated empire is set up, upon the ruins of the present compact between the states. Can this be denied? No, Sir; it is artfully indeed, but it is incontrovertibly, designed to abolish the independence and sovereignty of the states individually, an event which cannot be the wish of any good citizen of America, and therefore it ought to be prevented, by rejecting the plan which is calculated to produce it.” (p2/c2-3)

On Saturday last [December 8] a very warm altercation passed in the convention, of which we submit to our readers the following impartial statement.” (p3/c1)

Mr. Smilie...was about to proceed in his animadversion upon the conduct of the majority, who presumed thus, he added, upon their numbers, when several members started up, but at length, Mr. Chambers claimed the attention of the president. He began a speech of some length with terming Mr. Smilie’s language indecent, because, he said, it alluded to Mr. M’Kean as a judge. He then proceeded with great heat to reprobate the behavior of the three gentlemen, who managed the arguments against the proposed system, and declared that they had abused the indulgence which the other side of the house had granted to them in consenting to hear all their reasons. He next animadverted upon the characters of those who composed the opposition, and loudly asked, where had they been found in the day of danger?” (p3/c1)

To this Mr. Findley subjoined that he did not rise to argue upon the question, but to claim what was just and right, he therefore referred to the president to determine, whether he or his co-adjutors had transgressed any of the established rules of the convention? Upon this the President said, it was true that no positive rule had been transgressed, but he could not avoid considering Mr. Smilie’s language highly improper. On this there was a unanimous cry of adjourn, which at last, put a stop to the altercation.” (p3/c1)

The Deputies of the State Convention of Delaware met at Dover, on Monday the third instant (December) and a House being formed, they elected James Latimer, Esquire, President. On Thursday they ratified the New Federal Constitution by an unanimous vote, and on Friday every member signed the ratification as follows:

‘We the Deputies of the people of the Delaware State in Convention met, having taken into our serious consideration, the federal constitution, proposed in a General Convention, held at the city of Philadelphia, on the seventh day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, have approved of, assented to, ratified and confirmed, and by these presents, DO, in virtue of the power and authority to us given for that purpose, for, and in behalf of ourselves and our constituents, fully, freely and entirely approve of, assent to, ratify and confirm the said CONSTITUTION.’” (p3/c2)

December 15. Benjamin Franklin, Last Speech in the Federal Constitutional Convention

I confess that I do not entirely approve of this constitution at present; but sir, I am not sure I shall never approve of it: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others.

I doubt too whether any other convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better constitution: For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonished me, sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does....

Thus I consent, sir, to this constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that this is not the best. The opinions I have had of its error I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die.

On the whole, sir, I cannot help expressing a wish that every member of the convention who may still have objections to it would with me on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.” (p2/c1)

Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention, November 28 (partial)

Mr. appears from the origin and nature of the commission under which the late convention assembled, that a more perfect confederation was the only object submitted to their wisdom, and not, as it is attempted by this plan, the total destruction of the government of Pennsylvania, and of every other state.... does the plan now in discussion propose a consolidation of the states? And will consolidated government be most likely to promote the interests and happiness of America? If it is satisfactorily demonstrated, that in its principles or in its operation, the dissolution of the state sovereignties is not a necessary consequence, I shall then be willing to accompany the gentlemen on the other side in weighing more particularly its merits and demerits. But my judgment, according to the information I now possess, leads me to anticipate the annihilation of the several state governments, an event never expected by the people, and which would I fervently believe destroy the civil liberties of America.” (p2/c1-3)

On December 12, John Whitehill offered a series of fifteen amendments.

Some confusion arose on these articles being presented to the chair, objections were made by the majority to their being officially read, and, at last, Mr. Wilson desired that the intended motion might be reduced to writing, in order to ascertain its nature and extent. Accordingly, Mr. Whitehill drew it up, and it was read from the chair in the following manner.

‘That this Convention do adjourn to the       day of              next, then to meet in the city of Philadelphia, in order that the propositions for amending the proposed constitution may be considered by the people of this state; that we may have an opportunity of knowing what amendments or alterations may be proposed by other states, and that these propositions, together with such other amendments as may be proposed by other states, may be offered to Congress, and taken into consideration by the United States, before the proposed constitution shall be finally ratified.’” (p2/c4)

The motion lost, with 23 in favor, and 46 opposed.

The great and conclusive question was then taken, that ‘this convention do assent to and ratify the plan of federal government, agreed to and recommended by the late federal convention?’ when the same division took place.” [followed by a list of 46 delegates who voted Yea and 23 delegates who voted Nay] (p3/c1)

Thursday last the convention of this state (accompanied by his excellency the President, the Vice-President and the members of the supreme executive council; also by several members of Congress, the faculty of the university, the magistrates and militia officers of the city) went in procession to the Courthouse, where the ratification of the Constitution of the United States was read, amidst the acclamations of a great concourse of citizens—13 cannon were fired and the bells were rung on this joyful occasion; after this the Convention returned to the State-house and subscribed the two copies of the ratification.” (p3/c1)

December 19. Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention, November 28 (partial)

Mr. Smilie. I am happy, Mr. President to find the argument placed upon the proper ground, and that the honorable member from the city, has so fully spoken on the question, whether this system proposes a consolidation or a confederation of the states, as that is, in my humble opinion, the source of the greatest objection, which can be made to its adoption.” (p3/c1)

December 22. Speech of Dr. Benjamin Rush to Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention, Dec. 12

Here the Doctor added that he believed the same voice which thundered from Mount Sinai, ‘thou shalt not steal,’ now proclaimed in our ears by a number of plain and intelligible providences, ‘thou shalt not reject the new federal constitution.’” (p2/c1)

‘I have no doubt, concluded the Doctor but a respectable majority will rise to the question of the ratification—but, Mr. President, this will not come up to my wishes—nothing will satisfy me perfectly but an unanimous vote.’” (p2/c1)

Reprint of Christopher Columbus Letter to the King of Spain, from Jamaica, 1503 (p2/c2-3)

Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention, November 28 (partial)

Mr. M’Kean.... Sir, there is not a power given in the article before us that is not in its expression, clear, plain, and accurate, and in its nature proper and absolutely necessary to the great objects of the Union.” (p3/c2)

December 26. Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention, November 28-29

Mr. M’Kean. (continued)

Includes letter of George Washington to Congress, September 17, 1787

I confess, Sir, that reading this letter, and examining the work to which it refers, though there are some points that I might wish had been otherwise, yet, upon the whole, I am struck with wonder and admiration, that this constitution should have been rendered so unexceptionable as it is, and that so many men, the representatives of states differing essentially in their views and interests, should have concurred in presenting it to their country.” (p2/c3)

The solicitude of our sister states respecting the conduct of Pennsylvania upon the great question in agitation, is evident from the republication of all the debates and essays which have appeared in the papers of this city. As it is certain, that truth and reason must ultimately prevail over prejudice and party, the friends to the proposed plan ought not to relax in their endeavours to prove that it is the best the world ever saw, as well by the advancement of new arguments in its favor, as by the refutation of the arguments opposed to it. There is, at least, something so specious in the reasoning of the enemies to the system, as to require contradiction; and what is not denied is too often taken for granted.” (p3/c1)

A correspondent remarks that already one third of the number of states necessary to the establishment of the proposed constitution, have passed the Rubicon. His sentiments are favourable to that system, but he wishes anxiously to be relieved from one doubt:—what is to be done, if four states refuse, or even one refuses, to acquiesce in the measure? Under the present articles of confederation an unanimous concurrence is necessary to an alteration;—no state can be obliged to concur in an alteration, but all the states are bound to abide by the original compact, if a single state should refuse its concurrence. Again, twelve states were represented in the federal convention, by what rule, therefore, has that body released and destroyed a compact at the will of nine, to which there were twelve parties, equally interested? The federal convention were called together to amend the old constitution, but they chose to make a new one, (this the writer does not complain of) but they were called upon to act for twelve states, and, in effect, they have only acted for nine. It appears to our correspondent on this view, that the consequence must be either a civil war between the assenting and dissenting states, or the establishment of separate republics on the American continent. The former event must be painful to every friend of humanity, and the latter it is agreed by all men, and expressly stated by Mr. Wilson, would be incompatible with the peace and welfare of the states. In this dilemma, however the proposed constitution meets the approbation of our correspondent, he cannot give a negative to his important question—is it not better to refer the proposed plan with the explicit sentiments of the people on its principles, to another convention, than to incur either of the consequences above stated?” (p3/c1-2)

December 29. Confederation Congress Delegate Richard Henry Lee to Governor Edmund Jennings Randolph of Virginia, October 16, 1787

The establishment of the new plan of government, in its present form, is a question that involves such immense consequences to the present times and to posterity, that it calls for the deepest attention of the best and wisest friends of their country and of mankind. If it be found good after mature deliberation, adopt it; if wrong, amend it at all events, for to say (as many do) that a bad government must be established for fear of anarchy, is really saying that we must kill ourselves for fear of dying.” (p1/c4)

Upon the whole, Sir, my opinion is, that as this constitution abounds with useful regulations, at the same time that it is liable to strong and fundamental objections; the plan for us to pursue, will be to propose the necessary amendments, and express our willingness to adopt it with the amendments, and to suggest the calling of a new convention for the purpose of considering them.” (p2/c1)

Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention, November 30

Mr. Whitehill.... the defect is in the system itself,—there lies the evil which no argument can palliate, no sophistry can disguise.” (p2/c4)

A correspondent informed us, that a gentleman who has just returned from a tour through the states of Maryland and Virginia, says that he was repeatedly assured, that there would not be a dissenting voice in the convention of Maryland against the new constitution; and that at least nineteen-twentieths of the yeomanry of Virginia, are on the side of General Washington, the Man of the People, in favour of the new government. He adds further, that the Nabobs, or great men, (falsely so called) of Virginia, are its only enemies.” (p3/c2)

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