A distinction had been set up & urged, between the Northern and Southern States. He [Morris] had hitherto considered this doctrine as heretical. He still thought the distinction groundless. He sees however that it is persisted in, and that the Southern Gentlemen will not be satisfied unless they see the way open to their gaining a majority in the public Councils. ….. Either this distinction is fictitious or real; if fictitious let it be dismissed & let us proceed with due confidence. If it be real, instead of attempting to blend incompatible things, let us at once take a friendly leave with each other.
Gouverneur Morris, as recorded in James Madison’s notes on the Constitutional Convention, July 13, 1787
A “what if” that many have wondered about.
Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus. If it could be understood it would not answer their purpose. Their security is in their faculty of shedding darkness, like the scuttle fish, thro’ the element in which they move, and making it impenetrable to the eye of a pursuing enemy. And there they will skulk, until some rational creed can occupy the void which the obliteration of their duperies would leave in the minds of our honest and unsuspecting brethren.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis van der Kemp, August 6, 1816
According to the pamphlet you sent me, we must all pay, voluntarily or involuntarily, Tithes or Fifths or thirds, or halves, or all we have, to send Bibles and Missionaries, to convert all Men and save their Souls. I am confident that all the property of Europe and America would not be sufficient to convert Asia and Africa. Mankind must have a Crusade, a War of Reformation, a French Revolution, or Anti-Revolution, to amuse them and preserve them from Ennui.
John Adams, letter to Benjamin Waterhouse, December 19, 1815
But Georgia cannot be viewed as a single unconnected sovereign power on whose legislature no other restrictions are imposed than may be found in its own constitution. She is part of a large empire, she is a member of the American union; and that union has a constitution, the supremacy of which all acknowledge, and which imposes limits to the legislatures of the several states, which none claim a right to pass.
John Marshall, Opinion in Fletcher v. Peck, March 16, 1810
Mankind naturally and generally love to be flatter’d: Whatever sooths our Pride, and tends to exalt our Species above the rest of the Creation, we are pleas’d with and easily believe, when ungrateful Truths shall be with the utmost Indignation rejected. “What! bring ourselves down to an Equality with the Beasts of the Field! with the meanest part of the Creation! ‘Tis insufferable!” But (to use a Piece of common Sense) our Geese are but Geese tho’ we may think ‘em Swans; and truth will be Truth tho’ it sometimes prove mortifying and distasteful.
Benjamin Franklin, A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain, 1725
I have often thought, how much happier I should have been, if, instead of accepting of a command under such Circumstances I had taken my Musket upon my Shoulder & enterd the Ranks, or, if I could have justified the Measure to Posterity, & my own Conscience, had retir’d to the back Country, & lived in a Wig-wam.
George Washington, letter to Joseph Reed, January 14, 1776
When a nation changes its opinion and habits of thinking, it is no longer to be governed as before; but it would not only be wrong, but bad policy, to attempt by force what ought to be accomplished by reason. Rebellion consists in forcibly opposing the general will of a nation, whether by a party or by a government. there ought, therefore, to be in every nation a method of occasionally ascertaining the state of public opinion with respect to government.
Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man Part 2, 1792
In theory, the method is elections. And would be a reason to oppose voter suppression laws.
Tis only to consult our own hearts to be convinced that nations like individuals revolt at the idea of being guided by external compulsion. They will at least only yield to that idea after resistance has been fruitlessly tried in all its forms.
Alexander Hamilton, letter to George Washington, April 1794
The General Government is not an assemblage of States, but of individuals for certain political purposes - it is not meant for the States, but for the individuals composing them; the individuals therefore not the States, ought to be represented in it.
James Wilson, as recorded in James Madison’s notes on the Constitutional Convention, June 25, 1787
THE poor people, it is true, have been much less successful than the great. They have seldom found either leisure or opportunity to form an union and exert their strength - ignorant as they were of arts and letters, they have seldom been able to frame and support a regular opposition. This. however, has been known, by the great, to be the temper of mankind, and they have accordingly laboured, in all ages, to wrest from the populace, as they are contemptuously called, the knowledge of their rights and wrongs, and the power to assert the former or redress the latter.
John Adams, A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law No. 1, August 12, 1765
It’s Labor Day in the U.S.A., and it might be a good time to consider what we have been losing. Inequality is greater now than in colonial days, and if we needed unions then we certainly need them now.