Log In Register

Source & Citation Info

title:“Theophilus Parson's Notes of the Massachusetts Ratification Convention”
authors:Theophilus Parsons
date written:1788-1-25

permanent link
to this version:
last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:23 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Feb. 8, 2023, 9:13 p.m. UTC

Parsons, Theophilus. "Theophilus Parson's Notes of the Massachusetts Ratification Convention." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 6. Ed. Gaspare J. Saladino and John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2000. 1355-57. Print.

Theophilus Parson's Notes of the Massachusetts Ratification Convention (January 25, 1788)

Mr AMES called upon gentlemen to show why Congress, under this new Constitution, has more power than under the old Confederation.
Mr SINGLETARY, in answer showed the checks were different—an—elections—rotation—recall—in the old, and not in the new.
Mr WEDGERY. By the new Constitution, Congress can lay no direct tax but on polls, where the poor will pay as much as the rich objects to representation—thirty thousand men on a sand hill will pay as much as the same numbers in the Garden of Eden—our debt is our safety as long as we can pay the interest. Mr Ames appears to be conscience—struck; a lawyer consciencestruck!—perhaps it is for the poor paying as much as the rich.1 States ought not to have an equal representation in the Senate, according to interest—but it is said we could not do better—very pretty—the great must give way to the less—2suppose nine adopt and four reject, what will you do? Use the sword? No, we shall be ruined—the four will be justified, because each State must consent by the old Confederation—some benefit will arise if nine States accept, as it will prevent paper money and save the States, by endorsing them to a citizen of another State.3
Mr GORHAM. His objection to impost goes to the old Confederation as well as to the new—one State has a provision in its Constitution that there shall be no poll tax.
Mr COOLEY said, he never had advanced that all direct tax was on the polls.
Mr JONES, of Boston, shows the advantages, to all classes, from the new Constitution.
Mr JONES, of Bristol, says, power to regulate the trade abroad is enough.
Col. PORTER. To grant only an impost is to invite enemies to attack us, for shutting up our ports is to destroy our resources.
Col. TAYLOR says, he is now convinced we have no need of granting a direct tax, as the impost is enough for war and peace.
Gen. VARNUM. To say we will not grant a direct tax to Congress, is to say that we will not have the power of a direct tax, for Congress are the people, especially as in war our imposts are destroyed. Mr. DENCH wishes to go to the next session [i.e., section].
Mr. KING. If direct taxes can only be collected from polls, a good reason for rejecting the Constitution—but it is not true—the apportionment in the Constitution is only among the States, and not upon the individuals in a State—in the last case, Congress have a discretionary power—as to equal vote of States in the Senate, we could have no union without it.
Mr. PIERCE, of Partridgefield. Powers in Constitution are dangerous; 1. Direct taxes; 2. Duty on imposts include excises, and so a State can, by the tenth section, lay excises.
Mr. SEDGWICK was going to give an answer but it was said not to be in order and the ninth section was read.
Mr. DALTON. In favor of first paragraph because we gain a right in time to abolish the slave trade.
Mr. KINSLEY wants to know the reason why vessels from one State to another are not obliged to enter &c.
Mr. JONES. That no duties should be laid on the exports of a State.
Gen. THOMPSON. It is contrived to enable them to run.
Dr. JARVIS. It is when a vessel bound to one State makes a harbor in another he is held to pay duties.
Deacon SEVER and Deacon PHILLIPS give the same.
Mr. GORE the same.
Mr. CABOT explains it fully.
Mr. NEAL talks against the slave trade.
Mr. COOLEY asks, whether negro slaves, emigrating into this State, will not be considered as a poll, to increase our ratio of taxes?
Rev. Mr. BACKUS answers Mr Neal, and shows we have now gained a check which we had not before, and hopes in time we shall stop the slave trade.
Mr. BODMAN says, those born slaves in the southern States may still continue slaves.
Gen. THOMPSON. If the southern States would not give up the right of slavery then we should not join with them—Washington's character fell fifty per cent, by keeping slaves—it is all a contrivance, and Washington at the head—our delegates overpowered by Washington and others.
Mr. JONES, of Bristol, objects to Article V, because we can't amend this section for twenty years.

Resource Metadata