I think the time for which our Legislators are chosen and are to stand, without alteration, much too long; and the power with which they are vested is so great, that
the body of the people cannot reasonably expect to enjoy the rights of their persons and property under this system; more especially considering, that they are deprived of the benefit of the Habeas Corpus, which is so essential for preserving the rights of freemen, which we so earnestly contended for with united efforts, and freely offered our lives and fortunes to obtain in the late British war.1
These with many other things seem to verge too much towards the British plan, laid by Lord North, for enslaving America before the late war. Sir I must speak freely, but I speak without personalities. The gentlemen on the other side of the question, have frequently urged the probability of our having good men to govern who will not abuse their power I cannot acquiesce in this opinion. None of us supposed it to be a sufficient foundation for trusting the British Parliament; and if men have become infallible now it is, confess, something new under the sun. The prejudices of education, and my own observation, have taught me a very different doctrine, and it will need pretty clear evidence to convince me. I believe I am not singular I dare say that there is not any class of gentlemen within these walls, that would think it a point of prudence in themselves, or in any others, to put the whole of their property into the hands of any set of men, however respected for their virtue and honesty for the term of six years, and to give them authority to appoint their own officers and commissioners, to state their own salaries, and to point out to their constituents the method in which they shall pay them, and to enforce their orders by an army No, surely no gentleman indowed with common sense will do this, and when he is asked a reason for this piece of conduct, reply "why I have good right to petition for redress whenever I find myself aggrieved." Would it not be stupidity in perfection to give up the substantial rights of freemen, merely that we may have opportunity to present petitions and complaints? I confess that if we reject totally the proposed form of government, I fear the consequences. But an adoption of it in all its parts without amendments, I fear much more. I do not see the force of their argument, who tell us that we are to be governed by our representatives, and we need not be afraid to trust them. I do not see, sir what freedom is left to a people that are governed representatives, who may continue themselves in power by altering the time, place and manner of elections. Much has been said in favor of this power but it is not yet made clear to my mind. I think sir that if we grant it, we shall give up all our liberty at once.