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title:“Newspaper Report of the Massachusetts Ratification Convention”
authors:Freeman's Oracle
date written:1788-1-25

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:30 a.m. UTC
retrieved:June 27, 2022, 2:30 p.m. UTC

Oracle, Freeman's. "Newspaper Report of the Massachusetts Ratification Convention." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 6. Ed. Gaspare J. Saladino and John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2000. 1348-50. Print.

Newspaper Report of the Massachusetts Ratification Convention (January 25, 1788)

ripe. There is a time to sow and a time to reap we sowed our seed when we sent men to the federal convention, now is the harvest, now is the time to reap the fruit of our labour and if we don't do it now I am afraid we never shall have another opportunity.
Mr. PARSONS considered the several charges of ambiguity which gentlemen had laid to the Constitution; and with a great deal of accuracy stated the obvious meaning of the clauses thus supposed to be ambiguous. He concluded his explanation, by saying, that no compositions which men can pen, could be formed, but what would be liable to the same charge. Wedgery from Cumberland county to ask what he meant by east—he answered Bristol county) and the effect of it was anarchy and tyranny—I shall speak a few words on both these in my own way—first of anarchy—People got disaffected to government, people that we used to be intimate with, and lived peaceably and was good neighbours before, got under a bad influence and took up arms against government, and then if you went to speak to them, they would hold the musket of death to your breast; they would come and rob you and threaten to burn your houses, and keep you on your guard night and day; people were in great distress, families broken up—a tender mother would cry, 0 my son is among them! 0 what shall I do for my child!—We had alarms from town to town—some were carried captive—children were taken out of their schools—and then we should hear of an action—and these very persons were placed in the front that they might be killed by their own friends. (Here one Kinnsly called to order and said, what had the history of last winter to do with the Constitution? Several answered that the gentleman was in order—Go on, go on.) I say Mr President, and you brother Farmers, that I am shewing the bad effects of the want of good government as a reason for the adoption of this Constitution. Our distress was great, sir so great that we should have been glad to catch at any thing that look'd like government: Had any body come and set up a standard and offered to protect us, we have flocked to it—and that might have brought on a monarchy and the monarchy might have proceeded to tyranny: So that a state of anarchy leads to tyranny and it is certainly better to have one tyrant than many at once—These are my reasons—I speak from experience and I speak feelingly why I wish the present form may be adopted—1As soon as I saw it I was pleased with it—I read it over very carefully—I had been a member of the convention for forming our own state government, and had learnt , something of the checks and balances of powers, and I found them all here—I am no lawyer sir and there is no lawyer in the town where I live—I did not consult any body's opinion, but formed my own, and I think it is such a Constitution as we want—I do not expect to have any share in administering it: My honourable old Daddy there (pointing to Mr Singletarry the person he was answering) cannot think that I ever shall be a Congress-man; I have no post, I want none, and I believe you will think before I have done, that I deserve none; but I am not afraid to trust other men to govern me; I am not of a jealous make—A man that is honest himself is not apt to suspect other people. There has been a great deal said in this House about the Congress abusing their power: Why sir should we suspect they will abuse their power anymore than we shall abuse our power? Have not our constituents as good a right to be jealous of us? I think those gentlemen that are so very suspicious and jealous, that as soon as a man is made ruler he turns rogue, ought to look at home. We are by this Constitution allowed to send ten members to Congress—Have we not more than that number fit to go? Yes—I dare say if we pick out ten men to go to Congress, we shall have another ten left, and I hope ten times ten; and will not these be a check upon those that go? Will those go to Congress and abuse their power when they know they must return and look the other ten in the face, and be called to account for their conduct? Some gentlemen think that our liberties and properties are not safe in the hands of monied men and men of learning; for my part I think otherwise: Suppose you had a small farm of 50 acres, and your title to it was disputed, and you joined to a man that had 5000 acres, and was a monied man and a man of learning, and his title was involved in the same dispute—don't you think it would be an advantage to you to have him interested in your cause? Well the case is the same—These men of learning, these lawyers, these monied men, are all embarked with us, and we must all swim or sink together; and shall we throw the Constitution overboard because we don't like every part of it? Suppose you had been at great pains to clear up a rough piece of ground in company with a few neighbours, and sow it with wheat—would you let it be without a fence, because you could not agree what sort of a fence to make? Would it not be better to have a fence that did not please all your fancies than to have no fence at all?—Some gentlemen say,—Don't let us be in a hurry to adopt the Constitution—it is not time yet to do it—we had better let it alone for the present. No sir I say there is a time when things are ripe—there is a time to sow and a time to reap—we have been sowing our seed when we sent men to the federal convention, and now is the harvest—now let us reap the fruit of their labours—and if we do not do it now I am afraid we shall never have another opportunity.2

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