Log In Register

Source & Citation Info

title:“William Pierce to George Turner”
authors:William Pierce
date written:1787-5-19

permanent link
to this version:
last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:27 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Nov. 27, 2022, 8:51 a.m. UTC

Pierce, William. "Letter to George Turner." Supplement to Max Farrand's The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Ed. James H. Hutson. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987. 9-10. Print.
Autograph Letter Signed, Connecticut State Library

William Pierce to George Turner (May 19, 1787)

New York, May 19, 1787
. . . I wish much to be with you, but Schemmerhorn has not yet made his appearance; and untill he arrives with my credentials, it will be in vain for me to go on. Pray are there any Members with you in my predicament?
The Convention is much talked of here, and various are the conjectures about the alterations that will probably take place in the federal government. You are, I find, for having matters highly toned. I am for powers equal to a prompt and certain execution, but tempered with a proper respect for the liberties of the People. I am for securing their happiness, not by the will of a few, but by the direction of the Law.1
Upon whatever principles a Government is founded, whethers rights are equally distributed among the People at large or among a few, some respect ought to be paid to the temper of the People, as produced by one or the other of these rights. To depart from the general freedom of our Governments [indecipherable phrase] and to step into a Monarchy, which will at times be despotic, would plunge the States into a tumult infinitely worse than anarchy itself: torrents of blood would follow the confusion.
I maintain that it would be even dangerous too suddenly to abolish the State inquisition of Venice. Mankind may be fashioned in some measure to any kind of Government, and when changes are necessary, they should be brought about gradually, keeping in view some of the original principles to which they have been accustomed. From this you may learn, that I am not for a total change of the Commonwealth.
Fortunate indeed would be that People who could live under a Government that would operate only by fixed and established Laws, and not be made liable to obey the will of a Body independent of the Government itself. It is a matter of doubt with me whether any expedient by which I would be understood to mean anything that is extraneous ought ever to be practiced by a People desirous of living under a well regulated system of Laws. The creation of power not recognized by the constitution is ever dangerous to liberty. The exercise of the dictatorial power in Rome was inconsistent with their commonwealth; the creation of Prators, of Tribunes, of the Decemvirs etc. gave such an unsettled Spirit to the People, that they were never satisfied but when they were in pursuit of expedients to suit the various situations to which they were constantly shifting. Unless we can settle down into some permanent System very shortly, our condition will be as fickle and inconstant, as that of the Romans; and our political schemes be nothing more than chimeras and disorders.
Now Sir the great point—shall we be three confederate Republics or not? I leave you to examine the interrogatory.
Mrs. Pierce joins me in the most respectful compliments to Mrs. Turner.
I am dear Sir Yours very affectionately Wm. Pierce The Statesman and the Phylosopher have their attention turned towards us: the oppressed and wretched look to America.

Resource Metadata