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14

Rights



CHAPTER 14 | Document 41

Samuel Chase to John Lamb

13 June 1788Leake 310

I was always averse from the adoption of the proposed Constitution, unless certain amendments, to declare and secure the great and essential rights of the people, could be previously obtained; because I thought, if they could not be procured before the ratification, they, very probably, could not be obtained afterwards; and the conduct of the advocates of the government confirm my opinion. I am convinced that the principal characters who support the government, will not agree to any amendments. A declaration of rights alone will be of no essential service. Some of the powers must be abridged, or public liberty will be endangered, and, in time, destroyed.

I have no hopes that any attempts will be made to obtain previous alterations, and I fear any attempt, after ratification, will be without effect. I consider the Constitution as radically defective in this essential; the bulk of the people can have nothing to say to it. The government is not a government of the people. It is not a government of representation. The people do not choose the House of Representatives. A right of election is declared, but it can not be exercised. It is a useless, nugatory right. By no mode of choice, by the people at large, or in districts, can they choose representatives. The right is immediate and given to all the people, but it is impracticable to be exercised by them.

I believe a very great majority of the people of this state are in favor of amendments, but they are depressed and inactive. They have lost all their former spirit and seem ready to submit to any master.


The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 14, Document 41
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch14s41.html
The University of Chicago Press

Leake, Isaac Q. Memoir of the Life and Times of General John Lamb. Albany, N.Y., 1857.

Easy to print version.


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