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come into it. . Virginia has certain scruples. Suppose she will consequently refuse to join with those states: may not they still continue in friendship and union with her ? if she sends her annual requisitions in dollars, do you think their stomachs will be so squeamish as to refuse her dollars? Will they not accept her regiments ? They would intimidate you into an inconsiderate adoption, and frighten you with ideal evils, and that the union shall be dissolved. 'Tis a bugbear, sir: the fact is, sir, that the eight adopting states can hardly stand on their own legs. Public fame tells us, that the adopting states have already heart-burnings and animosity, and repent their precipitate hurry: this, sir, may occasion exceeding great mischief. When I reflect on these, and many other circumstances, I must think those states will be fond to be in confederacy with us. If we pay our quota of money annually, and furnish our rateable number of men, when necessary, I can see no danger from a rejection. The history of Switzerland clearly proves, that we might be in amicable alliance with those states, without adopting this constitution. Switzerland is a confederacy, consisting of dissimilar governments. This is an example, which proves that governments, of dissimilar structures, may be confederated. That confederate republic has stood upwards of four hundred years; and, although several of the individual republics are democratic, and the rest aristocratic, no evil has resulted from this dissimilarity, for they have braved all the power of France and Germany, during that long period. The Swiss spirit, sir, has kept them together: they have encountered and overcome immense difficulties, with patience and fortitude. In the vicinity of powerful and ambitious monarchs, they have retained their independence, republican simplicity and valor. [Here Mr. Henry drew a comparison between the people of that country and those of France, and made a quotation from Addison, illustrating the subject.] Look at the peasants of that country, and of France, and mark the dif
ference. You will find the condition of the former far more desirable and comfortable. No matter whether a people be great, splendid and powerful, if they enjoy freedom. The Turkish Grand Seignior, along side of our president, would put us to disgrace: but we should be abundantly consoled for this disgrace, should our citizen be put in contrast with the Turkish slave..
The most valuable end of government, is the liberty of the inhabitants. No possible advantages can compensate for the loss of this privilege. Show me the reason why the American union is to be dissolved. Who are those eight adopting states ?
Are they averse to give us a little time to consider, before we conclude ? Would such a disposition render a junction with them eligible: or, is it the genius of that kind of government, to precipitate people hastily into measures of the utmost importance, and grant no indulgence? If it be, sir, is it for us to accede to such a government? We have a right to have time to consider-we shall therefore insist upon it. Unless the government be amended, we can never accept it. The adopting states will doubtless accept our money and our regiments; and what is to be the consequence, if we are disunited ? I believe that it is yet doubtful, whether it is not proper to stand by a while, and see the effect of its adoption in other states. In forming a government, the utmost care should be taken, to prevent its becoming oppressive; and this government is of such an intricate and complicated nature, that no man on this earth, can know its real operation. The other states have no reason to think, from the antecedent conduct of Virginia, that she has any intention of seceding from the union, or of being less active to support the general welfare. Would they not, therefore, acquiesce in our taking time to deliberate-deliberate whether the measure be not perilous, not only for us, but the adopting states. Permit me, sir, to say, that a great majority of the people, even in the adopting states, are averse to this government.
I believe I would be right to say, that they have been egregiously misled. Pennsylvania has, perhaps, been tricked into it. If the other states, who have adopted it, have not been tricked, still they were too much hurried into its adoption. There were very respectable minorities in several of them; and, if reports be true, a clear majority of the people are averse to it. If we also accede, and it should prove grievous, the peace and prosperity of our country, which we all love, will be destroyed. This government has not the affection of the people, at present. Should it be oppressive, their affection will be totally estranged from it-and, sir, you know, that a government without their affections, can neither be durable nor happy. I speak as one poor individual-but, when I speak, I speak the language of thousands. But, sir, I mean not to breathe the spirit, nor utter the language of secession.
I have trespassed so long on your patience, I am really concerned that I have something yet.to say. The honorable member has said that we shall be properly represented : remember, sir, that the number of our representatives is but ten, whereof six are a majority. Will those men be possessed of sufficient information? A particular knowledge of particular districts, will not suffice. They must be well acquainted with agriculture, commerce, and a great variety of other matters throughout the continent; they must know not only the actual state of nations in Europe and America, the situation of their farmers, cottagers and mechanics, but also the relative situation and intercourse of those nations. Virginia is as large as England. Our proportion of representatives is but ten men. In England they have five hundred and thirty. The house of commons in England, numerous as they are, we are told, is bribed, and have bartered away the rights of their constituents: what then shall become of us? Will these few protect our rights ? Will they be incorruptible? You say they will be better men than the English commoners. I say they
will be infinitely worse men, because they are to be chosen blindfolded : their election, the term, as applied to their appointment, is inaccurate,) will be an involuntary nomination, and not a choice. I have, I fear, fatigued the committee, yet I have not said the one hundred thousandth part of what I have on my mind, and wish to impart. On this occasion, I conceived myself bound to attend strictly to the interest of the state; and I thought her dearest rights at stake: having lived so long-been so much honored-my efforts, though small, are due to my country. I have found my mind hurried on from subject to subject, on this very great occasion. We have all been out of order, from the gentleman who opened to day, to myself. I did not come prepared to speak on so multifarious a subject, in so general a manner. I trust you will indulge me another time. Before you abandon the present system, I hope you will consider not only its defects, most maturely, but likewise those of that which you are to substitute for it. May you be fully apprised of the dangers of the latter, not by fatal experience, but by some abler advocate than I.
SPEECH OF EDMUND RANDOLPH,
ON THE EXPEDIENCY
OF ADOPTING THE
DELIVERED IN THE CONVENTION OF VIRGINIA, JUNE 6th, 1788.
The first and second sections of the first article of the constitution
being under consideration, Mr. Randolph addressed the convention as follows:
MR. CHAIRMAN, I am a child of the revolution. My country, very early indeed, took me under her protection, at a time when I most wanted it; and by a succession of favors and honors, prevented even my most ardent wishes. I feel the highest gratitude and attachment to my country; her felicity is the most fervent prayer of Conscious of having exerted my faculties to the utmost in her behalf, if I have not succeeded in securing the esteem of my countrymen, I shall reap abundant consolation from the rectitude of my intentions : honors, when compared to the satisfaction accruing from a conscious independence and rectitude of conduct, are no equivalent. The unwearied study of my life, shall be to promote her happiness. As a citizen, ambition and popularity are no objects with me. I expect, in the course of a year, to retire to that private station which I most sincerely and cordially prefer to all others.* The security of public justice, sir, is what I
* Mr. Randolph was at this time Governor of Virginia.