891. Hampshire Chronicle, 2 July 1788


Whether any further amendments in the federal Constitution, besides those which have been already proposed, will be necessary, experience can best determine. To suppose it perfect, is to forget that the authors of it are human. The necessity of some efficacious federal Government is so apparent that no one will deny it, unless they wish to make the experiment of living without any government at all; no class of citizens are so deeply interested in such a government as the farmers. Their situation is such in life, that they are not the first to perceive the importance of it. But ultimately they are the persons who must principally suffer for the want of it.—There can be no system of commerce until a general Government is established. If a single State attempts a regulation of trade, she only transfers it from herself to a sister State. In the mean time, foreign powers have the absolute controul of our commerce, and they turn it only into those channels through which the profits may flow to themselves. Our domestick markets are vastly inadequate to the produce of our lands. We can have but little benefit of foreign markets until there is some commercial system. Our produce therefore, as we already begin to experience, must lie in our hands, or be sold at an indifferent price. This calamity the farmers must eventually bear. The merchant gives them for their meat and grain no more than he expects the market will afford, or if he suspects a loss he will provide for it in the price of his goods. The farmers are the grand class of citizens; their industry is the support of the community. If they are crampt in their business, the country sinks in proportion.

The love of liberty is a natural and noble passion; but like other passions, must be guided by reason. If we would possess the most perfect freedom, we must return to the simplicity of nature in our manner of living. If we choose to enjoy the delicacies and luxuries which arise from improvement, we must submit to some abridgment of natural liberty.—To expect all the freedom of native simplicity in a state of civil refinement, is to combine things which nature has made incompatible. Savages can live by the chase, drink at the stream, and sleep in a hut. They can take their ornaments from the shells on the shore, and their covering from the beasts of the forests. They consequently have little property and less commerce. Their wants are bounded within a narrow compass—their vices and their temptations are few—covetousness is scarcely felt, and instances of fraud and injustice are seldom and rare—government therefore, among them, is very simple, though usually absolute; and it consists of very few laws, and inflicts but few penalties. A civilized and white people have a thousand desires and wants unknown to a savage. Not satisfied with the simple gifts of nature, they want numberless arts to refine and exalt their pleasures; and not content with the produce of their own soil, they tempt the ocean and explore distant climes, to supply the supposed defect. Among such a people there will be distinctions of property, interfering interests, and avaricious connexions with the nations of the earth; there will be room for all the passions of the mind to play; pride, ambition and avarice will have scope to operate; and government therefore must be proportionally complex; laws must be various and numerous; penalties must be severe; and power, however limited, must have energy sufficient to preserve internal peace, as well as to defend against external evasion.—Checks against abuse ought not to be such as restrain the necessary exercise of power; for then they annihilate the power and government—A power fettered and hand-cuffed ceases to be power.

Whatever objections may be made against the proposed federal Government (and none will pretend that it is perfect) yet perhaps the world affords not the instance of a government subject to so grand and yet so safe a check as one that is wrought up into the constitution of this. The Congress will grow out of the Legislatures of the several States, and can exist no longer than they exist. The superiour power vested in Congress, will always make it an object of jealousy and inspection of the Legislatures. In case of abuse in these powers, the Legislatures not only may remonstrate, but when remonstrances fail, can make systematical opposition. Fortuitous insurrections against government are often groundless, and always unsuccessful, because they want information to point out their objects; and want government to direct and combine their force; but a systematical opposition to tyranny usually succeeds, because there is a known object against which it is directed. There is the strength of the people to support it, and there is government to give uniformity, energy and perseverance to its motions. With such a check as this, and others of less consequence, it is hoped that the people may be safe under the constitution proposed and adopted. Finis.