The result of the deliberations of the National Convention is now laid before the public, and I congratulate each patriot heart on the important disclosure. The causes which have all pressed, as it were to a point, to render a thorough reform indispensably necessary, have been long the subject of general speculation. The Casuist has disputed—the Orator has harangued—and the Essayist has reasoned on them. Indeed, the necessity of the Convention has been generally admitted, and almost universally felt. We have now offered to us a Constitution, which, if happily received, will disappoint our enemies, render us safe and happy at home, and respected abroad. Heaven, in mercy to us, has furnished this auspicious event, in order to snatch us from impending ruin, and to re-establish this favored land on the substantial basis of liberty, honor and virtue. The means of wiping opprobrium from our country are now in our power; let us neither reject nor forego them. It will be the duty of all honest, well-disposed men, friends to peace and good government, as well in this State as throughout the Union, to cultivate and diffuse, as far as their walk may extend, a spirit of submission to the counsels of this great patriot band; who have sought to procure, and have been anxious in their endeavors to establish, our liberty, and aggrandize our fame. If the New Constitution is not as perfect in every part as it might have been, let it be considered, that it is much more so than the most friendly and sanguine expected; and, at the same time, let it be remembered, that “the mutual deference and concession” and that “spirit of amity” from which this Constitution has resulted, ought to have a strong operation on the minds of all generous Americans, and have due influence with every State Convention, when they come to deliberate upon its adoption.
Every good American, when he reflects, will exult with joy that his countrymen have calmly resorted to so temperate and wise a measure as the late Convention; not only on account of the advantages, which, by the blessing of Heaven, we are likely to derive from it; but also as it furnishes a valuable precedent, if it shall be found necessary hereafter. It will likewise teach foreign nations to reflect, that, tho’ discord may rear its Hydra head, and state jealousies for a while prevail, yet the enlightened Americans will not consent that the fair fabric of Liberty, which they have established with their blood, shall be endangered by anarchy at home, or destroyed by violence from abroad. The conflict which America lately sustained in the cause of Freedom, will be historiated as an important lesson to distant nations and future ages. Let the present epoch be recorded as a lesson to future generations in these United States, as having given birth to a revolution, effected by good sense and deliberation: Let it be stiled the reign of reason, the triumph of discretion, virtue and public spirit!
Perhaps the greatest, if not the only difficulty, which will arise against the adoption of this New Federal System of Government, will be made by those ambitious citizens, in the different States, who either now are in power, or who will practise their political wiles on the ignorant and unsuspicious part of the people, in order to obtain their own private purposes. It is a lamentable consideration, that men of this stamp too frequently, by the folly and blindness of the people, are put in the exercise of such offices as give them a very dangerous degree of influence—Hence the social compact is often violated, and sometimes dissolved.
Let difficulties, if any unhappily arise, be no longer laid to our charge—and let us all, who are friends to order and good government, in the language of scriptural injunction, “watch and pray.”—Watch, and, with open front, manfully oppose every ambitious demagogue, however high in office, who may attempt to form combinations, with a wicked intent to destroy the labors of those distinguished worthies; and pray the Governor of the world to avert, and finally disappoint their nefarious purposes.—If the change, which genius and patriotism has presented to us, as the most advisable to be received, should be rejected, and if (which God avert) such evil-minded men should prevail, what is the alternative? Gorgon-headed anarchy, or a miserable aristocratic domination; all the wretchedness and wickedness of an aristocracy, without a single particle of its dignity.
Certain it is, we have no reason to fear (whatever pseudo-patriots may insinuate) a well digested system, which reconciles in a great measure, various interests, and embraces the happiness of the whole; which has been approved by the most dignified and patriotic citizens in the Union; and which at once gives a power that will be efficient and adequate to the support and happiness of the Confederation; and, at the same time, so guards and checks the administration of it, that there will be little danger of running into a lawless Democracy, on the one hand, or of the Sovereign authority degenerating into Tyranny, on the other.—In short, a system, which it will be wise in us to accept with gratitude—the rejection of which might, perhaps, be dreadful.