806. An Observing Countryman
Massachusetts Centinel, 15 March 1788

Mr. RUSSELL, The motto of your paper, encourages me to send the following to your press.—If you do not print it, I must try another.

I was much pleased with your information just after the adoption of the Constitution, that subscriptions were filling up for building three ships—I was in hopes when I came to Boston, to find the several Tradesmen employed in their various occupations—I expected to hear the sound of the hammer, and pleased myself with the idea of visiting the ship yards, to see the expedition of the workmen. But how great was my surprize? Instead of finding the industrious mechanick employed in his business to maintain his family, to my great sorrow, I found him wandering about the streets, with a countenance that bespoke his wants.—Alas, cries I, where are those gentlemen who declared “they would sacrifice half the continent owed them, rather than the Constitution should not be adopted?”—Have they retired behind the curtain, and left the industrious mechanick to pine with fruitless expectations?—Did they suppose a fine, vehement exclamation, “that the Constitution was equal to the mines of Peru,” would feed and clothe a numerous body of men, who were looking to gentlemen of their fortunes for help and assistance?—Surely, thought I, these independent gentlemen will give some small specimen of their faith by their works, and not content themselves with a few warm expressions respecting our “carrying trade,” as if they supposed this was all that was required, to give vigour to our drooping commerce, and revive the countenances of the expecting tradesmen, assembled in the galleries to hear them?—Did they fancy they were only entertaining the audience with poetical fiction, and that each man would retire with applauding the speaker for his oratory, without ever expecting to realize the truth of the sentiments?—Did they suppose that after a few such sallies of rhetorick, there was nothing farther expected from them, and that they were then justified in retiring from the Convention to follow their callings.—Could they suppose that burying their hoards in a cell, and partially dealing it out in discounts, would answer every wish and expectation of the Tradesmen and Mechanicks?

I would not be thought to reflect on any gentleman of the Convention, that he was wanting in attention to the real interest of the Tradesmen, but I only suppose, that a respectable individual has not properly considered, what expectations he has naturally excited by his hearty expressions for the adoption of the Constitution. If so respectable a gentleman will not lend a helping hand at this juncture, to whom are we to look; would he not do well to turn his attention to Commerce, and put some part of his large fortune into navigation? A vessel set up by so venerable a gentleman, would give a spring to industry, and provided it should not turn out greatly to his advantage, yet the experiment could no way sink 1–16th the continent owes him.—Provided the Bank as such should give their aid at this time, it would prove more advantageous to the town, than their discounts; as this measure would most fully convince the people of the blessings of the new Constitution.

The design of the subscription for building three ships was laudible, but I suppose the circumstances of many well disposed persons, would not permit them to subscribe; besides such a number of owners would only serve to embarrass the undertaking—but the BANK are a company consisting of gentlemen of the first fortunes, and being connected in their negotiations, could carry on an undertaking of this kind with the greatest convenience.—An exertion from this quarter would convince every one of the propriety of the assertion of the much respected President, “that the Constitution was equal to the mines of Peru.”