[Volume 1, Page 448]
CHAPTER 14|Document 21
Richard Henry Lee to George Mason1 Oct. 1787Mason Papers 3:997--98
It having been found from Universal experience that the most express declarations and reservations are necessary to protect the just rights and liberty of Mankind from the silent powerful and ever active conspiracy of those who govern--And it appearing to be the sense of the good people of America by the various Bills or Declarations of Rights whereon the Governments of the greater number of the States are founded; that such precautions are proper to restrain and regulate the exercise of the great powers necessarily given to Rulers--In conformity with these principles, and from respect for the public sentiment on this subject it is submitted
That the new Constitution proposed for the Government of the U. States be bottomed upon a declaration, or Bill of Rights, clearly and precisely stating the principles upon which this Social Compact is founded to wit, That the right of Conscience in matters of Religion shall not be violated--That the freedom of the Press shall be secured--That the trial by Jury in Criminal and Civil cases, and the modes prescribed by the Common Law for safety of Life in criminal prosecutions shall be held sacred--That standing Armies in times of peace are dangerous to liberty and ought not to be permitted unless assented to by two thirds of the Members composing each house of the Legislature under the new Constitution--That elections of the Members of the Legislature should be free and frequent--That the right administration of Justice should be secured by the freedom and independency of the Judges--That excessive Bail, excessive Fines, or cruel and unusual punishments should not be demanded or inflicted--That the right of the people to assemble peaceably for the purpose of petitioning the Legislature shall not be prevented. That the Citizens shall not be exposed to unreasonable searches, seizures of their persons, papers, houses, or property. And whereas it is necessary for the good of Society that the administration of government be conducted with all possible maturity of judgement; for which reason it hath been the practise of civilized nations, and so determined by every state in this Union, that a Council of State or Privy Council should be appointed to advise and assist in the arduous business assigned to the executive power--therefore, that the new Constitution be so amended as to admit the appointment of a Privy Council, to consist of eleven Members appointed by the President, but responsible for the advice they may give--for which purpose, the advice given shall be entered in a Council book, and signed by the Giver in all affairs of great concern. And that the Counsellors act under an oath of office.
The Papers of George Mason, 1725--1792. Edited by Robert A. Rutland. 3 vols. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1970.
© 1987 by The University of Chicago