CHAPTER 12 | Document 13

George Read to John Dickinson

17 Jan. 1787Life 438--39

Finding that Virginia hath again taken the lead in the proposed convention at Philadelphia in May, as recommended in our report when at Annapolis, as by an act of their Assembly, passed the 22d of November last, and inserted in Dunlap's paper of the 15th of last month [appears], it occurred to me, as a prudent measure on the part of our State, that its Legislature should, in the act of appointment, so far restrain the powers of the commissioners, whom they shall name on this service, as that they may not extend to any alteration in that part of the fifth article of the present Confederation, which gives each State one vote in determining questions in Congress, and the latter part of the thirteenth article, as to future alterations,--that is, that such clause shall be preserved or inserted, for the like purpose, in any revision that shall be made and agreed to in the proposed convention. I conceive our existence as a State will depend upon our preserving such rights, for I consider the acts of Congress hitherto, as to the ungranted lands in most of the larger States, as sacrificing the just claims of the smaller and bounded States to a proportional share therein, for the purpose of discharging the national debt incurred during the war; and such is my jealousy of most of the larger States, that I would trust nothing to their candor, generosity, or ideas of public justice in behalf of this State, from what has heretofore happened, and which, I presume, hath not escaped your notice. But as I am generally distrustful of my own judgment, and particularly in public matters of consequence, I wish your consideration of the prudence or propriety of the Legislature's adopting such a measure, and more particularly for that I do suppose you will be one of its commissioners. Persuaded I am, from what I have seen occasionally in the public prints and heard in private conversations, that the voice of the States will be one of the subjects of revision, and in a meeting where there will be so great an interested majority, I suspect the argument or oratory of the smaller State commissioners will avail little. In such circumstances I conceive it will relieve the commissioners of the State from disagreeable argumentation, as well as prevent the downfall of the State, which [without an equal vote] would at once become a cypher in the union, and have no chance of an accession of district, or even citizens; for, as we presently stand, our quota is increased upon us, in the requisition of this year, more than thirteen-eightieths since 1775, without any other reason that I can suggest than a promptness in the Legislature of this State to comply with all the Congress requisitions from time to time. This increase alone, without addition, would in the course of a few years banish many of its citizens and impoverish the remainder; therefore, clear I am that every guard that can be devised for this State's protection against future encroachment should be preserved or made. I wish your opinion on the subject as soon as convenient.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 12, Document 13
The University of Chicago Press

Read, William Thompson. Life and Correspondence of George Read. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1870.

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