Mr. President, I do not rise to detain this Convention for any length of time. The subject has been so fully discussed that very little can be added to what has been already offered. I have heard and attended with pleasure to what has been said upon this subject. The importance of it merited a full and ample discussion. It does not give me pain, but pleasure, to hear the sentiments of those gentlemen who differ from me. It is not to be expected from human nature that we should all have the same opinion. The best way to learn the nature and effects of different systems of government is not from theoretical dissertations, but from experience from what has actually taken place among mankind. From this latter source of information, it is that mankind have obtained a more complete knowledge of the nature of government than they had in ages past. It is an established truth that no nation can exist without a coercive power, a power to enforce the execution of its political regulations.
There is such a love of liberty implanted in the human breast that no nation ever willingly gave up its 'liberty. If they lose this inestimable birthright of man, it is from a want not of will but of the proper means to support it. If we look into history, we shall find that the common avenue through which tyranny has entered in, and enslaved nations who were once free, has been their not supporting government. The great secret of preserving liberty is to lodge the supreme power so as to be well supported and not abused. If this could only be effected, no nation would ever lose its 'liberty. The history of mankind clearly shows that it is dangerous to entrust the supreme power in the hands of one man. The same source of knowledge proves that it is not only inconvenient but dangerous to liberty for the people of a large community to attempt to exercise in person the supreme authority. Hence arises the necessity that the people should act by their representatives; but this method, so necessary for the support of civil liberty, is an improvement of modern times. Liberty however is not so well secured as it ought to be when the supreme power is lodged in one body of representatives. There ought to be two branches of the legislature, that the one may be a check upon the other. It is difficult for the people at large to know when the supreme power is verging towards abuse and to apply the proper remedy. But if the government be properly balanced, it will possess a renovating principle by which it will be able to right itself.1
The constitution of the British nation affords us great light upon the subject of government. Learned men in other countries have admired it, but they thought it too finespun to prove beneficial in practice. But a long trial has now shown its excellence; and the difficulties which that nation now experiences arise not from their constitution but from other circumstances.