Balanced Government

CHAPTER 11 | Document 14

John Marshall, Virginia Ratifying Convention

10 June 1788Papers 1:266--67

The Gentleman tells us, there are no checks in this plan. What has become of his enthusiastic eulogium on the American spirit? We should find a check and controul when oppressed, from that source. In this country, there is no exclusive personal stock of interest. The interest of the community is blended and inseparably connected with that of the individual.--When he promotes his own, he promotes that of the community. When we consult the common good, we consult our own. When he desires such checks as these, he will find them abundantly here. They are the best checks. What has become of his eulogium on the Virginia Constitution? Do the checks in this plan appear less excellent than those of the Constitution of Virginia? If the checks in the Constitution be compared to the checks in the Virginian Constitution, he will find the best security in the former.

The temple of liberty was complete, said he, when the people of England said to their King, that he was their servant. What are we to learn from this? Shall we embrace such a system as that? Is not liberty secure with us, where the people hold all powers in their own hands, and delegate them cautiously, for short periods, to their servants, who are accountable for the smallest mal-administration? Where is the nation that can boast greater security than we do? We want only a system like the paper before you, to strengthen and perpetuate this security.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 11, Document 14
The University of Chicago Press

The Papers of John Marshall. Edited by Herbert A. Johnson et al. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, in association with the Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1974--.

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