Dr JARVIS. Mr President-The objections which gentlemen have made to the form of ratification which has been submitted by your Excellency have arisen, either from a doubt of our having a right to propose alterations; or from the supposed improbability that any amendments recommended by this assembly will ever become a part of the federal system-If we have no right, sir to propose alterations, there remains nothing further to be attempted, but take the final question independent of the propositions for amendment-But, I hope the mere assertion of anyone is not to operate as an argument in this assembly; and we are yet waiting for evidence to prove this very singular position which has been so often repeated-If have a right, sir to receive, or reject the Constitution, surely we have an equal authority to determine in what way this right shall be exercised-It is a maxim, I believe universally admitted, that in every instance, the manner in which every power is to be exerted, must be in its nature discretionary with that body to which this power is delegated-If this principle be just, sir the ground which has been taken to oppose your Excellency's proposal by disputing the right of recommending alterations, must be necessarily relinquished:-But gentlemen say that they find nothing about amendments in the commission under which they are acting, and they conceive it neither agreeable to the resolution of the legislature, nor to the sense of their constituents, that such a scheme should be adopted-Let us inquire then, sir under what authority we are acting; and to what tribunal we are amenable: Is it then, sir from the late federal Convention, that we derive our authority? Is it from Congress, or is it even from the legislature itself-It is from neither sir- we are convened in right of the people, as their immediate representatives, to execute the most important trust which it is possible to receive, and we are accountable in its execution, to God only and our own consciences-When gentlemen assert then, that we have no right to recommend alterations, they must have ideas strangely derogatory to the influence and authority of our constituents, whom we have the honour of representing:-But should it be thought there was even a part of the people who conceived we were thus restricted as to the forms of our proceedings, we are still to recollect that their aggregate sense, on this point, can only be determined by the voices of the majority in this Convention. The arguments of those gentlemen, who oppose - any propositions amendments, amount simply to this, sir that the whole people of Massachusetts, assembled by their delegates, on the most solemn and interesting occasion, are not at liberty to resolve in what form this trust shall be executed.-When we reflect seriously and coolly on this point, I think, sir we shall doubt no longer But with respect to the prospect of these amendments, which are the subject of discussion, being adopted by the first Congress, which shall be appointed under the new Constitution, I really think, sir that it is not only far from being improbable, but is in the highest degree likely. I have thought long and often, on the subject of amendment, and I know no way in which they could be more likely to succeed-If they were made conditional to our receiving the proposed Constitution, it has ever appeared to me, that a conditional amendment must operate as a total rejection.
As so many other States have received the Constitution, as it is, how can it be made to appear that they will not adhere to their own resolutions; and should they remain as warmly and pertinaciously attached to their opinion, as we might be decidedly in fact vour of our own sentiments, a long and painful interval might elapse before we should have the benefit of a federal Constitution. I have never yet heard an argument to remove this difficulty: Permit me to inquire of gentlemen what reason we have to suppose that the States which have already adopted the Constitution will suddenly consent to call a new Convention at the request of this State: Are we going to expose the Commonwealth to the disagreeable alternative of being forced into a compliance, or of remaining in opposition, provided nine others should agree to receive it. As highly as some persons talk of the force of this State, I believe we should be but a feeble power unassisted by others, and detached from the general benefit of a national government.15
We are told, that under the blessing of Providence, we may do much-It is very true, sir but it must be proved, that we shall be most likely to secure the approbation of Heaven by refusing the proposed system.