Mr MADISON conceded to the motion for chusing a select committee-He then observed, That he thought it would be attended with salutary effects, should Congress devote, at the present time, so much at least as one day to this business, to convince the world, that the friends of the Constitution were as firm friends to liberty as those who had opposed it:
The advocates for amendments are numerous and respectable- some alteration of the Constitution lays with great weight upon their minds-they merit consideration. He urged the expediency of the measure, from the situation of Rhode-Island and North-Carolina-He had no doubt that it would conciliate them towards the Union, and induce them to unite, and again become branches of the great American Family.6
He was, he observed, in favour of sundry alterations, or amendments, to the Constitution-he supposed that they could be made without injury to the system-He did not wish a re-consideration of the whole-but supposed that alterations might be made, without effecting the essential principles of the Constitution, which would meet with universal approbation; these he would propose should be incorporated in the body of the Constitution. He then mentioned the several objections which had been made by several of the States, and by people at large: A bill of rights has been the great object contended for-but this was one of those amendments which he had not supposed very essential.
The freedom of the press, and the rights of conscience, those choicest flowers in the prerogative of the people, are not guarded by the British Constitution: With respect to these, apprehensions had been entertained of their insecurity under the new Constitution; a bill of rights, therefore, to quiet the minds of people upon these points, may be salutary7
He then adverted to the several bills of rights, which were annexed to the Constitutions of individual States; the great object of these was, to limit and qualify the powers of Government-to guard against the encroachments of the Executive. In the Federal Government, the Executive is the weakest-the great danger lies not in the Executive, but in the great body of the people-in the disposition which the majority always discovers, to bear down, and depress the minority In stating objections which had been made to affixing a bill of rights to the constitution, Mr. MADISON observed, that objections to a continental bill of rights applied equally to their adoption by the States-
The objection to a bill of rights, from the powers delegated by the Constitution, being defined and limited, has weight, while the Government confines itself to those specified limits; but instances may occur, in which those limits may be exceeded, by virtue of a construction of that clause empowering Congress to make all necessary laws to carry the Constitution into execution-T8
he article of general warrants may be instanced. It has been observed, that the Constitution does not repeal the State bills of rights; to this it may be replied, that some of the States are without any- and that articles contained in those that have them, are very improper, and infringe upon the rights of human nature, in several respects. It has been said, that bills of rights have been violated-but does it follow from thence that they do not produce salutary effects: This objection may be urged against every regulation whatever. From these, and other considerations, Mr. Madison inferred the expediency of a declaration of rights, to be incorporated in the Constitution.