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title:“Newspaper Report of Pennsylvania Convention Proceedings”
date written:1787-11-28

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:14 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Feb. 26, 2024, 12:16 a.m. UTC

"Newspaper Report of Pennsylvania Convention Proceedings." 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. 421-22. Print.

Newspaper Report of Pennsylvania Convention Proceedings (November 28, 1787)

In the Convention on Wednesday last, the debates were chiefly confined to the question of a bill of rights for the Federal Constitution. In favor of it was said, it was common and necessary, that it existed in Great Britain, and that it would be an additional security for our liberties. Against it was urged, that bills of rights in England were a gift of the Crown, that the liberties of the people in that country originated with the king; but that the case was widely different in the United States. Here liberty originated with the people. Why then should the people by a bill of rights conveyor grant to themselves what was their own inherent and natural right? It was further said, that only five of the thirteen states had bills of rights in their constitutions, and that even those were adopted at a time when we were ignorant of the nature and forms of government.1 Several objections were made by Mr. Whitehill to the Congress having the power of altering the times and places of electing the House of Representatives. To which Mr. Wilson replied, that it was necessary for Congress to possess this power, as the means of its own preservation, otherwise an invasion, a civil war, a faction, or a secession of a minority of the Assembly might at any time prevent the representation of a state in Congress.2
It was further urged by Mr. Whitehill, that the Federal Constitution annihilated the state governments. To this Mr. Wilson replied, by observing, that the Congress and the state governments must stand or fall together, for that the election of the President, Senators, and House of Representatives all made the state governments essential to the very existence of Congress.
The speakers against the Constitution showed great ingenuity and zeal, while the advocates of it, Mr. Wilson and Mr. M'Kean, showed equal candor and a profound knowledge of the principles and forms of government.

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