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title:“Elbridge Gerry to President of Senate and Speaker of House of Representatives of Massachusetts”
authors:Elbridge Gerry
date written:1787-10-18

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Gerry, Elbridge. "Letter to President of Senate and Speaker of House of Representatives of Massachusetts." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.

Elbridge Gerry to President of Senate and Speaker of House of Representatives of Massachusetts (October 18, 1787)

New York, Oct. 18, 1787.
Gentlemen, 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 to the plan, are, that there is no adequate provision for a representation of the people — 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.
As the convention was called for "the sole and express purpose of revising the articles of confederation, and reporting to congress, and the several legislatures, such alterations and provisions as shall render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of government, and the preservation of the union," I did not conceive that these powers extend to the formation of the plan proposed: but the convention being of a different opinion, I acquiesced in it, being fully convinced that to preserve the union, an efficient government was indispensably necessary; and that it would be difficult to make proper amendments to the articles of confederation.
The constitution proposed has few if any federal features; but is rather a system of national government. Nevertheless, in many respects, I think it has great merit, and, by proper amendments, may be adapted to the "exigencies of government, and preservation of liberty."1
[Footnotes as included or written by Farrand]
  • 1 A reply to Gerry's "Objections" will be found in C. R. King, Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, I, 303-306. An extract is printed in CLXXXIII below.
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