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title:“William R. Davie to James Madison”
authors:William Richardson Davie
date written:1789-6-10

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:33 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Dec. 1, 2023, 12:43 p.m. UTC

Davie, William Richardson. "Letter to James Madison." Creating the Bill of Rights. Ed. Kenneth R. Bowling and Helen E. Veit. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991. 245-46. Print.
Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress

William R. Davie to James Madison (June 10, 1789)

You are well acquainted with the political situation of this State {North Carolina}, its unhappy attachments to paper money, and that wild scepticism which has prevailed in it since the publication of the Constitution. It has been the uniform cant of the enemies of the Government, that Congress would exert all their influence to prevent the calling of a Convention, and would never propose an amendment themselves, or consent to an alteration that would in any manner diminsh their powers. The people whose fears had been already alarmed, have received this opinion as fact, and become confirmed in their opposition; your notification however of the 4th. of May has dispersed almost universal pleasure, we hold it up as a refutation of the gloomy profecies of the leaders of the oppositon, and the honest part of our antifœderalists have publickly expressed great satisfaction on this event.1 Our Convention meet again in November, with powers to adopt the Constitution and any Amendments, that may be proposed; this renders it extremely important that the amendments, if any, should be proposed before that time. And although we may be nominally a foreign State, yet I hope the alterations will come officially addressed to the people of this Country, an attention however trifling in itself, that will be of importance in the present state of the public mind here.
That farago of Amendments borrowed from Virginia is by no means to be considered the sense of this Country; they were proposed amidst the violence and confusion of party heat, at a critical moment in our convention, and adopted by the opposition without one moment's consideration. I have collected with some attention the objections of the honest and serious—they are but few & perhaps necesary—They require some explanations rather than alteration of power of Congress over elections—2an abridgment of the Jurisdiction of the federal Court in a few instances, and some fixed regulations respecting appeals—they also insist on the trial by jury being expressly secured to them in all cases—3and a constitutional guarantee for the free exercise of their religious rights and priveledges—t4he rule of representation is thought to be too much in the power of Congress—and the Constitution is silent with respect to the existing paper money an important and interesting property. Instead of a Bill of rights attempting to enumerate the rights of the Indivi[du]al or the State Governments, they seem to prefer some general negative confining Congress to the exercise of the powers particularly granted, with some express negative restriction in some important cases.5 I am extremely anxious to know the progress of this delicate and interesting business; and if you could find leisure from the duties of office and the obligations of Friendship to give me some information on this subject, it might perhaps be of some consequence to this Country and would in any event be gratefully acknowledged . . . .

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