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title:“James Wilson in the Pennsylvania Convention”
authors:James Wilson
date written:1787-11-28

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retrieved:June 13, 2021, 5:27 a.m. UTC

Wilson, James. "James Wilson in the Pennsylvania Convention." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.

James Wilson in the Pennsylvania Convention (November 28, 1787)

November 28, 1787.
Mr. President, we are repeatedly called upon to give some reason why a bill of rights has not been annexed to the proposed plan . . . But the truth is, Sir, that this circumstance, which has since occasioned so much clamor and debate, never struck the mind of any member in the late convention till, I believe, within three days of the dissolution of that body, and even then of so little account was the idea that it passed off in a short conversation, without introducing a formal debate or assuming the shape of a motion. . . .
. . . Thus, Sir, it appears from the example of other states, as well as from principle, that a bill of rights is neither an essential nor a necessary instrument in framing a system of government, since liberty may exist and be as well secured without it. But it was not only unnecessary, but on this occasion it was found impracticable — for who will be bold enough to undertake to enumerate all the rights of the people? — and when the attempt to enumerate them is made, it must be remembered that if the enumeration is not complete, everything not expressly mentioned will be presumed to be purposely omitted.

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