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title:“Richard Henry Lee to Samuel Adams”
authors:Richard Henry Lee
date written:1789-4-25

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Lee, Richard Henry. "Letter to Samuel Adams." Creating the Bill of Rights. Ed. Kenneth R. Bowling and Helen E. Veit. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991. 233. Print.
New York Public Library

Richard Henry Lee to Samuel Adams (April 25, 1789)

The issue of your government election gives me singular pleasure for many reasons, and especially because the hot headed fœderalists as they call themselves, placed the contest upon Mr. Hancocks proposition to your Convention for amenments to our new Constitution. This procedure argues the extremity of Art, deception, and impudence in these people—because they joined with the idea as a most happy means of procuring Union, and obtaining a ratification of the proffered plan—But now that they have gained their point, they are traducing the Men, and wish to neglect the conditions upon which probably their success was founded. Deceit, whether in public or in private life, seldom fails in the end to injure those who practice it. I observe that you mention efficient government—I assure you my dear friend that there lives not a Man who more cordially wishes for a Government possessed of the fullest means for procuring the happiness, prosperity and security of our union—But for these salutary ends it is not in my judgement necessary to establish a system full of ambiguity respecting old and long esteemed Safeguards, whilst the ways, in some instances, to pernicious exertions of power are left much too open. I might object some fundamental errors, such as the idea too prevalent, of one Government, founded on the ruin of State Governments—The want of safety to Elections, and the utter want of responsibility. I hope the idea of Amendments is not lost in Massachusetts where we have been used to find the firmest defenders of Civil liberty. It is probable that this Session of Congress will pass Laws of a nature so gracious as to quiet alarms among those who reflect not, that "the safety of liberty depends not so much upon the gracious manner, as upon the Limitation of Power."

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