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title:“Pinckney: Speech in South Carolina House of Representatives”
authors:Charles Pinckney
date written:1788-1-18

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:03 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Dec. 2, 2023, 2:29 a.m. UTC

Pinckney, Charles. "Pinckney: Speech in South Carolina House of Representatives." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.

Pinckney: Speech in South Carolina House of Representatives (January 18, 1788)

Friday, January 18, 1788.
. . . He said, that the time for which the President should hold his office, and whether he should be reëligible, had been fully discussed in the Convention. It had been once agreed to by a majority, that he should hold his office for the term of seven years, but should not be reëlected a second time. But upon reconsidering that article, it was thought that to cut off all hopes from a man of serving again in that elevated station, might render him dangerous, or perhaps indifferent to the faithful discharge of his duty. His term of service might expire during the raging of war, when he might, perhaps, be the most capable man in America to conduct it; and would it be wise and prudent to declare in our Constitution that such a man should not again direct our military operations, though our success might be owing to his abilities? The mode of electing the President rendered undue influence almost impossible; and it would have been imprudent in us to have put it out of our power to reëlect a man whose talents, abilities, and integrity, were such as to render him the object of the general choice of his country. With regard to the liberty of the press, the discussion of that matter was not forgotten by the members of the Convention. It was fully debated, and the impropriety of saying any thing about it in the Constitution clearly evinced. The general government has no powers but what are expressly granted to it; it therefore has no power to take away the liberty of the press. That invaluable blessing, which deserves all the encomiums the gentleman has justly bestowed upon it, is secured by all our state constitutions; and to have mentioned it in our general Constitution would perhaps furnish an argument, hereafter, that the general government had a right to exercise powers not expressly delegated to it. For the same reason, we had no bill of rights inserted in our Constitution;1 for, as we might perhaps have omitted the enumeration of some of our rights, it might hereafter be said we had delegated to the general government a power to take away such of our rights as we had not enumerated; but by delegating express powers, we certainly reserve to ourselves every power and right not mentioned in the Constitution.2 Another reason weighed particularly, with the members from this state, against the insertion of a bill of rights. Such bills generally begin with declaring that all men are by nature born free. Now, we should make that declaration with a very bad grace, when a large part of our property consists in men who are actually born slaves. As to the clause guarantying to each state a republican form of government being inserted near the end of the Constitution, the general observed that it was as binding as if it had been inserted in the first article. The Constitution takes its effect from the ratification, and every part of it is to be ratified at the same time, and not one clause before the other; but he thought there was a peculiar propriety in inserting it where it was, as it was necessary to form the government before that government could guaranty any thing.

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