I imagine I have stated to the committee abundant reasons to prove the entire safety of the State governments and of the people. I would go into a more minute consideration of the nature of the concurrent jurisdiction, and the operation of the laws in relation to revenue; but at present I feel too much indisposed to proceed. I shall, with leave of the committee, improve another opportunity of expressing to them more fully my ideas on this point. I wish the committee to remember that the Constitution under examination is framed upon truly republican principles; and that, as it is expressly designed to provide for the common protection and the general welfare of the United States, it must be utterly repugnant to this Constitution to subvert the State governments or oppress the people.
OF VIRGINIA. (BORN 1751, DIED 1836.)
June 6, 1788.
In what I am about to offer to this assembly, I shall not attempt to make impressions by any ardent professions of zeal for the public welfare. We know that the principles of every man will be, and ought to be, judged not by his professions and declarations, but by his conduct. By that criterion, I wish, in common with every other member, to be judged; and even though it should prove unfavorable to my reputation, yet it is a criterion from which I by no means would depart, nor could if I would. Comparisons have been made between the friends of this constitution and those who oppose it. Although I disapprove of such comparisons, I trust that in everything that regards truth, honor, candor, and rectitude of motives, the friends of this system, here and in other States, are not inferior to its opponents. But professions of attachment to the public good, and comparisons of parties, at all times invidious, ought not to govern or influence us now. We ought, sir, to examine the Constitution exclusively on its own merits. We ought to inquire whether it will promote the public happiness; and its aptitude to produce that desirable object ought to be the exclusive subject of our researches. In this pursuit, we ought to address our arguments not to the feelings and passions, but to those understandings and judgments which have been selected, by the people of this country, to decide that great question by a calm and rational investigation. I hope that gentlemen, in displaying their abilities on this occasion, will, instead of giving opinions and making assertions, condescend to prove and demonstrate, by fair and regular discussion. It gives me pain to hear gentlemen continually distorting the natural construction of language. Assuredly, it is sufficient if any human production can stand a fair discussion.