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1788 - "One of the People Called Quakers" - Anonymous - March 12, 1787

Published in the Virginia Independent Chronicle, Richmond, March 12, 1788
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Mr. DAVIS, "A Virginian"1 might have a right to expect, and would perhaps have received, the thanks of "the people called Quakers in Virginia," for the "hint" he hath given them, if they thought it was wholly dictated by an unfeigned regard for their interests and happiness: but its seeming want of candor, the criterion, by which a plain simple people, lovers of truth, are led to judge, inclines them to think that it springs from some other motive.

He tells the Quakers, that they should "disapprove of the new constitution"—["]because it admits of the importation of slaves to America for a limited time." Hence it would seem, as if he inferred, and would have them to believe that the new constitution would introduce slaves into Virginia contrary to the inclination of the people: which the Quakers apprehend is not the case. Virginia indeed, may import slaves, but she may, as she now does, also prohibit, and which it is reasonable to expect she will continue to do; and therefore, the Quakers, or any other society opposed to the slave trade, have nothing to apprehend on that score; and more especially, when it is considered that the late convention, used every means in their power, to prevail upon the Carolina's and Georgia, the only states in the union, that at present import slaves, at once to put an end to this unjust traffic; but the representatives of these states being inflexible in their opposition thereto, occasioned the limited importation as the best compromise that could be made; hence it is but just to conclude, that the new fœderal government, if established, would eagerly embrace the opportunity not only of putting an end to the importation of slaves, but of abolishing slavery forever.

Though the Quakers, are fully sensible of the favors and protection that they have hitherto experienced under the present constitution, and government of Virginia, they see no great reason to apprehend that their principles would not be as safe under the new constitution, and better secured and protected, under a government of more weight, dignity, and stability.

This "hint" like most of the other hints and objections that have hitherto appeared, rather tend to fix, than to remove any favorable impressions that "the people called Quakers in Virginia" have received of the new constitution. A good cause, will always be supported by plain reasons, addressed to the most common understanding; while a bad one, stands in need of sophistry, subtilty, and even trifling "hints," calculated to operate upon the passions and prejudices of man, in order to mislead and confound, where they cannot convince.

[1. ]The author is responding to a letter from a "Virginian," published in the Virginia Independent Chronicle, 13 February 1788.

Notable Quotes

Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together.

Burke, Speech on Conciliation with the Colonies, March 22, 1775


Founder's Quotes

It is one thing to be subordinate to the laws, and another [for the Executive] to be dependent on the legislative body. The first comports with, the last violates, the fundamental principles of good government; and, whatever may be the forms of the Constitution, unites all power in the same hands.

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 71, March 18, 1788


Did You Know?

Some of the most famous lines in the Declaration of Independence were inspired by Virginia’s Declaration of Rights by George Mason. Mason said: “all men are born equally free and independent.” Jefferson's Declaration of Independence said: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." Mason listed man's “natural Rights” as “Enjoyment of Life and Liberty, with the Means of acquiring and possessing Property, and pursuing and obtaining Happiness and Safety.” Jefferson listed man's "inalienable rights" as "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."


A Government of Laws...

Article V - Amendment Process - United States Constitution

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.


Term Limit Congress
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A Book You Should Read

The Founders and the Classics: Greece, Rome, and the American Enlightenment, Carl J. Richard (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994)