Log In Register

Source & Citation Info

title:“Undelivered Speech by Timothy Winn post Feb. 2”
authors:Timothy Winn
date written:1788-2-2

permanent link
to this version:
last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:21 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Feb. 27, 2024, 2:42 a.m. UTC

Winn, Timothy. "Undelivered Speech by Timothy Winn post Feb. 2." 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. 1407-09. Print.

Undelivered Speech by Timothy Winn post Feb. 2 (February 2, 1788)

Before the Convention adjourned, Gen. WHITNEY moved, that a committee, consisting of two from each county should be raised to consider the amendments, or any other that might be proposed and report thereon—Hon. Mr. SEDGWICK, seconded the motion.
Hon. Mr. DALTON. Mr President—I am not opposed to the motion: But, sir that gentlemen may not again say as has been the case several times this day that the gentlemen who advocate the measure of the proposition, were now convinced that amendments to the Constitution are indispensible; I, sir in my place, say that I am willing to accept the Constitution as it is—and I am in favour of the motion of proposing amendments, only as it is of a conciliating nature—and not as a concession that amendments are necessary.
The motion was put, and carried unanimously—The following gentlemen were then appointed on the said committee, viz.
Hon. Mr. Bowdoin, Mr. Southworth—Mr. Parsons, Hon. Mr. Hutchinson—Hon. Mr. Dana, Mr. Winn—Hon. Mr. Strong,Mr. Bodman—Hon. Mr. Turner,Mr. Thomas of Plymouth—Dr. Smith, Mr. Bourn—Hon. Mr. Spooner,Mr. Bishop—Rev. Dr. Hemmenway,Mr. Barrell—Mr. Mayhew—Hon. Mr. Taylor Hon. Mr. Sprague—Mr. Fox, Mr. Longfellow—Mr. Sewall, Mr Sylvester—Mr. Lusk, Hon. Mr. Sedgwick. But taking the matter before us under consideration, I think it a duty I owe to God and my country to oppose the establishment of the proposed form of government, as it stands without any amendments. I have not the faintest wish to set the whole aside; no, by no means, for I think it of the utmost importance to adopt it with some amendments. But to grant a power or to give away my privileges and the privileges of my constituents to any class of gentlemen, in hopes to recover it again by humble petitions, is an absurdity that I hope will not be charged upon us. I shall not at this time endeavour to point out every amendment, that I think necessary but be as brief as possible in my remarks.
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.
I shall ever feel myself very unhappy and my feelings, and I think those of everyman of sense, must be hurt for himself and for his country if he will reflect one moment on the expense of blood and treasure we have been at to keep our necks from under the iron yoke of British bondage, and to think at the same time of calmly bending our necks to as heavy a one of our own make. It is condemning the noble resistance we made to lawless power and shews either a vicious fickleness inconsistent with liberty or an incapacity that unfits us for keeping it. I hope that neither of these things will ever be the lamentable character of North America.
Sir, my feelings are too tender for my country not to feel with them when I see the heavy storm hanging over their heads, and threatning to burst upon them. I heartily wish the welfare of my country and hope they will ever be blessed with such a form of Federal Government, as shall lodge the balance of power in its proper place. And in order to promote this happiness, I think reason and prudence seem to point out this plain and easy method; and therefore, Sir I move, "That we chuse a Committee of both sides the question, and let them concert some method that may bring the points under debate, to a close, and agree on the necessary amendments, before the grand question is put." I doubt not but that something of this nature, will have a tendency to make us happy in an unanimous vote, which as a sincere friend to my country is my earnest desire.

Resource Metadata






Annotations (1)