94. Massachusetts Centinel, 22 December 1787

Extracts from “An ESSAY, on the Constitution

recommended by the Federal Convention.”1

There is something rotten in the state of Venice.”

“Facts are stubborn things”—One argument founded on facts, outweighs a thousand utopian speculations.—The projector may construct wings and by mathematical reasoning, evince the possibility of soaring to the moon—the alchymist may talk plausibly of his universal menstruum and elixir of life: But when experience shews us the former dashed like Icarus on the ground, and the latter ending a life of futile researches, in poverty and disgrace, we must conclude either, that they proceeded upon false principles, or made sophistical inductions.

From every quarter of the continent, our ears have long been stunned with complaints of State injustice, of State debility, and of State embarrassment—mean while the sovereignty of America, like the expiring lion in the fable, has alternately been spurned and insulted by the ass and the lamb:—Even the voice of publick authority has, at length pronounced the disastrous CRAVEN! and thus given sanction to the clamours of the continent.

So frequently has the catalogue of publick calamities been recited, so long have its gloomy contents engrossed our attention, that I would gladly wa[i]ve coming to particulars, were it less essential to the present enquiry.

These are stubborn facts, too apparent we presume to be contested.

That the UNION of the American States, if not merely nominal is at best imperfect, inefficient and precarious.

That our national character has become contemptible in the sight of mankind.

That our finances are deranged, our resources exhausted, and we consequently [are] unable to satisfy the demands of the national creditors, now clamorous for justice.

That no uniform continental system of justice has been yet established, but that to the disgrace of the American name, there are at this day existing, in several of the States, laws incompatible with the principles of morality, destructive of the good faith by which our domestick and foreign interests can alone be maintained.

That a spirit of discord and rebellion which too visibly pervades the continent on the one hand; and the recent hostilities of the savages, on the other, evince the necessity of a spirited, energetick government, to ward off the calamities of war and insure domestick tranquility.

That while thus endangered we are destitute of the means of defence, without an army to secure us from domestick violence, without a navy to guard our sea-coasts from piratical depredations, without money to raise and maintain an armament, without the credit which might enable us to make use of foreign resources.

That our deranged and enfeebled situation being known to the world, we are become the prey of European policy, ever ready to take advantages of our embarrassments, and deprive us of the many benefits incident to our local situation, and which a wise system of policy might undoubtedly secure.

That our commerce is dwindled to a sound—the trifling trade we carry on, being fettered with restrictions equally injurious and degrading.

And finally, that in our present situation, we have no reasonable prospect of securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.