Log In Register

Source & Citation Info

title:“Richard Henry Lee and William Grayson to the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates”
authors:Richard Henry Lee, William Grayson
date written:1789-9-28

permanent link
to this version:
last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:35 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Feb. 23, 2024, 2:53 p.m. UTC

Grayson, William and Richard Henry Lee. "Letter to the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates." Creating the Bill of Rights. Ed. Kenneth R. Bowling and Helen E. Veit. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991. 299-300. Print.
Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress

Richard Henry Lee and William Grayson to the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates (September 28, 1789)

We have now the honor of enclosing the propositons of Amendments to the Constitution of the United States that has been finally agreed upon by Congress. We can assure you Sir that nothing on our part has been omitted to procure the success of those Radical Amendments proposed by the Convention and approved by the Legislature of our Country, which as our Constituent, we shall always deem it our duty with respect and reverence to obey. The Journal of the Senate herewith transmitted will at once shew how exact and how unfortunate we have been in this business. It is impossible for us not to see the necessary tendency to consolidate Empire in the natural operation of the Constitution if no further Amended than now proposed. And it is equally impossible for us not to be apprehensive for Civil Liberty when we know no instance in the Records of history that shew a people ruled in freedom when subject to an undivided Government and inhabiting a Territory so extensive as that of the United States, and when, as it seems to us, the nature of Man and things join to prevent it.1 The impracticability in such case of carrying representation sufficiently near to the people for procuring their confidence and consequent obedience compels a resort to fear resulting from great force and excessive power in Government. Confederated Republics when the federal hand is not possessed of absorbing power, may permit the existance of freedom, whilst it preserves Union, strength, and safety. Such amendments therefore as may secure against the annihilation of the State Government we devoutly wish to see adopted.
If a perserving application to Congress from the States that have desired such Amendments should fail of its object we are disposed to think, reasoning from Causes to effects, that unless a dangerous apathy should invade the public mind, it will not be many years before a constitutional number of Legislatures will be found to demand a Convention for the purpose.

Resource Metadata






Annotations (2)