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title:“One of the People”
date written:1787-10-17

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:15 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Jan. 23, 2021, 10:40 a.m. UTC

"One of the People." Massachusetts Centinel 1787-10-17 : . Rpt. in The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 13. Ed. Gaspare J. Saladino and John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 1981. 392-95. Print.

One of the People (October 17, 1787)

As I think it of the last consequence to the character and future happiness of this and the other states of America, that the federal constitution should be adopted as unanimously and speedily as possible, and as I know the dæmon of discord is now abroad, permit me through your paper to convey to the publick few hints which I think may not be unseasonable. T
That there ever was a party in this State inimical to the revolution is a well known fact. Had a real love of government, and regard for the welfare of this country been the principles on which their conduct was founded, and by which it was regulated, great allowance would readily have been made by every candid mind for any appearance of errour of judgment, or difference in the mode of conduct which such principles might have inspired. Had this party been sincere in their pretentions, though averse to take a part against the British government, while they thought themselves its lawful subjects; they could not hesitate now (the separation from the English government is compleated) as decidedly to take a part with those who are now endeavouring to establish system on which every thing dear to America depends, as they formerly did with those, who at that time declared love of their country, and a wish to support what they then called a just government, were their only motives .
Thank Heaven! this party has at last discovered its cloven foot. I have devoted great part of my time since the proceedings of convention have been published, to collect the sentiments of this class of gentry, and as I think I have fully and clearly possessed myself of them, I shall lay them before the publick, with a view not only to establish the marks by which the members of this faction may be known, but at the same time to put my countrymen on their guard against their artful, false and diabolical attempts to deceive and mislead the unwary, and as far as in their power to prepossess the minds of the good people of this state against that most excellent constitution for a federal government which is about to be proposed for our acceptance.
I shall proceed to their observations-In the first place I have heard many of them freely acknowledge (thinking all friends present) their fears least the Americans should be wise enough to accept the constitution, for should this be the case, say they, our hopes of ever seeing this country again under a British government, will be forever at an end-they readily allow that should it be adopted, this country will have it in its power to compel the British to accede to an equitable commercial connection-That Congress will be empowered effectually to blunt the edge of the famous British Navigation Act, at least as far as it respects this country.-They add, that the credit of America will be greatly increased in the opinion of all the commercial world; and what, say they, will be of all the most mortifying circumstance, it will blast all the hopes which in the course of the last winter we so fondly and gladly entertained.
Such are the sentiments of the more open and daring enemies of this country at this time-others of the same party, who possess more art, as much ignorance, but not less malice, inform you when you ask their opinion of the new constitution, either that they have not yet read it with sufficient attention-that they are not proper judges-or that it appears to them, such a system of perfection is more than we ought to aim at, at present; and that it is their opinion, such noble regulations are rather calculated for a country that has had a long career of glory and greatness, than for one which is but wishing to make a beginning-and many of them add they do not believe it will go down, as they doubt whether there is yet virtue enough in America to support so good a government.
Another class of the same set are consantly endeavouring to point out what they pretend to conceive to be the defects of the new government-one tells you the President is to have too much power-another adds that the senatorial influence of the different States is too equal-and third that the members of the house are not properly proportioned to the property and numbers of the States, with numberless other remarks of a similar nature,1 in which, though involuntarily they pay the greatest compliments to the whole system.-Would those malignant, ignorant, and short-sighted triflers, for a moment but compare the acknowledged abilities, and well-tried integrity of the late members of Convention, with their own characters, either for knowledge or political honesty, modesty alone (if they had any) would compel them to silence, and prevent their thus exposing the weakness of their heads, and the badness of their hearts.-There is no doubt in Convention every possible objectionable clause was removed by the august body who had the management of the business, as far as was anyway compatible with the good of the great whole, that being the leading object of all their deliberations. I suspect the writer whose seditious scrawls you so judiciously excluded from your paper on Wednesday last, was a tool of this party. The Printers of this town and State have given repeated evidence of their patriotism, and I am not without hopes you will all unite at this critical moment, in refusing to publish the productions of anyone on the federal government, unless he will leave with you his name, that so anyone may, if he wishes, convince himself from the known character of the man, whether he writes from conviction, or to vent his malice, and injure this country.
Let him who has any rational objections to urge, stand forth like a man; he will be heard with attention, and his arguments will be allowed their full force. But at this time it is necessary we should not only hear but see the speaker. The reasons are obvious.
Having lately been through great part of this State, I can assure the publick, that at least nine tenths of its inhabitants are now ready and willing to receive the new government:-Many express the greatest impatience to have the General Court meet together, that so they may proceed upon the business with such speed as may give this State an opportunity to do themselves the honour of being the first in the union to accept it, as they were first to repel the unconstitutional attempts of a British parliament. All eyes are now placed on our patriotick Chief Magistrate; should he warmly take the right side on this important occasion, (and none doubt but he will) he will rear to himself name next only to a Washington-Let it but appear that a HANCOCK, a WASHINGTON, and a FRANKLIN approve the new government, and who will not embrace it?
I would earnestly beg my countrymen when they listen to anyone who harangues on the subject before us, that they carefully endeavour to find out what his character was during the war with Great Britain-what his sentiments were last winter, and what his general thoughts are upon the subjects of paper money, tender acts, &c. From an acquaintance with these particulars, they will be enabled to determine with sufficient accuracy what credit is due to his assertions; what reliance ought to be placed on his opinions; and from these circumstances they may at once determine whether a love of his country, and a wish for its prosperity; or a desire to see us divided among ourselves, that so we may become an easy prey to our enemies, are the motives of his conduct.
I have conversed much with all classes of people on the subject of the federal government, and find that all throughout the State agree in the opinion, that if we do not adopt it, our credit, our character, nay our existence as a nation, is at an end:-But that on the contrary, if we are wise enough to know in this our day the things which make for our peace, we shall at once ratify and confirm it-we shall then behold America with extended arms, inviting the numerous, oppressed and distressed inhabitants of Europe; we shall see them flocking to America; our woods and waste lands will become at once valuable, and in great demand, the present proprietors would of course be greatly benefitted thereby; every European ship which should enter our ports, would, by properly laid duties, assist in paying off our debts;-our taxes will consequently diminish-our national character will rise-arts and sciences will be cultivated with redoubled ardour-every kind of business will increase-and in a word, this continent will soon become, under the new government, the delight and envy of the European world.
The disaffected to the federal constitution may depend on it, they had more attention paid at this time, to their remarks, prophesies and invectives, than they are aware of;-they have now a hint to be cautious how they proceed, for the oppositions they make, or try to make at this time will soon produce their final downfall, and forever exclude them from any appointment of either honour or profit under its establishment. The writer has no view but to serve his country, to that end he is determined to continue his observations, and as occasion may offer, will lay them before the publick.

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