You will not forget our old Friend Devens, and if you please mention him to Mr R H Lee.
Adieu my dear Friend and believe me to be sincerely your,
P. S. The joint regards of Mrs A & myself to Mrs Gerry.
[Ms., Lee Papers, American Philosophical Society; a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]
Boston August 24th 1789.
Your very acceptable Letter of the 8th Current came to me by the Post. You flatter me very much when you tell me that any sentiment of mine can please you. I have always been apprehensive that through the weakness of the human Mind often discovered even in the wisest and best of Men, or the perverseness of the interested, and designing, in as well as out of Government; Misconstructions would be given to the federal constitution, which would disappoint the Views, and expectations of the honest among those who acceded to it, and hazard the Liberty, Independence and Happiness of the People. I was particularly affraid that unless great care should be taken to prevent it, the Constitution in the Administration of it would gradually, but swiftly and imperceptably run into a consolidated Government pervading and legislating through all the States, not for federal purposes only as it professes, but in all cases whatsoever: such a Government would soon totally annihilate the Sovereignty of the several States so necessary to the Support of the confederated Commonwealth, and sink both in despotism. I know these have been called vulgar opinions, and prejudices: be it so—I think it is Lord Shaftsbury who tells us, that it is folly to despise the opinions of the Vulgar; this Aphorism, if indeed it is his, I eagerly catched from a Nobleman many years ago, whose writings on some accounts, I never much admired. Should a strong Federalist as some call themselves see what has now dropt from my Pen, he would say that I am an Antifed, an Amendment Monger &c; those are truly vulgar terms, invented and used by some whose feelings would be sorely wounded to be ranked among such kind of Men, and invented and used for the mean purpose of deceiving, and entrapping others whom they call the Vulgar; but in this “enlightned” Age one should think there was no such Vulgar to be thus amused, and ensnared. I mean, my friend, to let you know how deeply, I am impressed with a sense of the Importance of Amendments; that the good People may clearly see the distinction, for there is a distinction, between the federal Powers vested in Congress, and the sovereign Authority belonging to the several States, which is the Palladium of the private, and personal rights of the Citizens. I freely protest to you that I earnestly wish some Amendments may be judiciously, and deliberately made without partial or local considerations—that