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title:“Notes for a speech by John Dickinson”
authors:John Dickinson
date written:1787-6-30

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Dickinson, John. "Notes for a speech by John Dickinson." Supplement to Max Farrand's The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Ed. James H. Hutson. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987. 137-38. Print.
Autograph Document, Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Notes for a speech by John Dickinson (June 30, 1787)

Is the most august Assembly upon Earth to declare to Mankind that Justice and Compact must give Way to partial Convenience, a pretended Necessity. To my poor judgment it appears, that this blending too much of Metaphysics with Politics. The inspired Apostle "All Things to thee are lawful but not convenient." He meant lawful things for the sake of others, but he must be a bold Metaphysician who reverse his rule and say that all things are lawful that are convenient. I think myself at least at liberty to conclude that they who reverse it cannot be inspired by the same spirit that he was. The lesser states will never resign their Dignity. It must be wrested from them by violence. Nor will they then be silent. They will appeal to the awful Tribunal of Mankind plead their Cause urge their Reasons.
Impartial Mankind will decide upon the Question. Is this a Foundation for Empire. It is a copy of Caesar's favorite adage "si violandre" and worse than Caesar's for then every Thing tended to a Monarchy at Rome. worse than Romulus' fractricide for he was in a passion. What an Example to other Nations to our own Posterity. Punica fide. This will be an indelible stigma to our national Character. No individual in this Room no Example within these walls will be able to justify it. What a precedent. What a Doctrine for future Ambition to follow. We shall only be pioneers for succeeding Tyrants. If they follow our steps, they must obtain the summit of their Wishes.1 This Convenience or Necessity or whatever other Name is in fact but a Plan for the Aggrandizement of some states at the Expence of others. There is no other Convenience no other Necessity.
Test of this. Throw all Governments and Territories into Common Stock and divide de novo. Then we shall have the Equity and Equality talked of not otherwise.
Let not gentlemen think so meanly of the smaller states as to believe they will be contented while a beautiful sign of Equality is held out with one Hand but the substance taken away with the other.
This is a mere Novelty an Experiment in Government. Humbly submit if not too costly too curious too useless too cruel. And how far it resembles those I have read of, where living Creatures have been cut up overnicely to examine the palpitation of their dying Hearts.
Great Theatre Eyes of Europe and the World upon us Caution.
We are settling General Principles. Let them be well founded. Great sentiments sagacious sages have in different Countries and Ages been employed also in forming other sets of General Principles. Have succeeded because they have established general Principles to which Mankind has paid an universal pleasing Homage because approved by the Understanding and dear to the Heart. Inculcating Liberty Benevolence Justice. These wise admired Instructors of the World have modestly cloathed their Lessons in the Language of Fable. I beg leave to recite one of them. A Lamb

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