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title:“Jasper Yeates Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention”
date written:1787-12-11

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 7:58 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Nov. 28, 2023, 4:02 p.m. UTC

"Jasper Yeates Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 2. Ed. Gaspare J. Saladino and John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 1976. 570-71. Print.

Jasper Yeates Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention (December 11, 1787)

Wilson: I congratulate you on this business drawing to a conclusion. It is of great consequence to us and our posterity whether we shall continue under a Confederation without efficient powers to carry its purposes into execution, despised abroad and without credit at home; or whether we shall adopt a system of Union; with energetic powers, which can effectually carry into execution such measures as maybe calculated and devised for the common safety.
The gentlemen in opposition cannot complain of precipitancy or hurry. I beg to ask whether we have not, on the other hand, delayed and procrastinated the main question perhaps unnecessarily and improvidently. The objections to the new Federal Constitution have been urged repeatedly in different lights and the same arguments have been brought before the Convention in a variety of shapes.
Objection 1. They have urged the want of a bill of rights; that the right of conscience and liberty of the press are not thereby secured to us.1
Response 1. We answer such an enumeration is unnecessary and at best dangerous. In the instances where power is not delegated to our rulers, the rights still remain in the people. Whatever is not given is reserved.2 Many of the states have no bills of rights in the formation of their constitutions.
Objection 2. It is said to be a consolidated government, annihilating and absorbing all the state legislatures which must necessarily fall of themselves.
Response 2. The government is consolidated to certain purposes and vigor given to the general Union. The sovereignty rests with the people. In them consists the supreme power.3 We are a confederate republic with proper balancing powers vested in certain bodies for the benefit of the whole. The existence of the Federal Constitution must depend on the continuance of the state legislatures in the case of the election of the House of Representatives, the Senate, the President and the judges. A republican form of government is guaranteed to each state and are to be guarded from foreign as well as domestic violence.4 The powers given to the new Congress reach to objects beyond the compass of the state legislatures. They only are competent to it.

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