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of the states, fully satisfied the scruples of those who were inimical to that instrument as it was first adopted, and by whom the amendments were considered necessary as a safeguard for religious and civil liberty. Thus, and still further, amended, the Constitution, as a great rule of political conduct, has guided the public authorities of the United States through the unprecedented political vicissitudes and the perilous revolutionary commotions which have agitated the human race for the last quarter of a century, to a condition at once so prosperous, so commanding, and so happy, that it has wholly outstripped all previous foresight and calculation. When we look back upon the state of inertness in which we reposed under the Act of Confederation, to the languishment of our commerce, and the indifference with which, in that situation, we were regarded by foreigo governments, and compare that disposition of things with the energy to which we were subsequently roused by the operation of the Constitution, with the vast theatre on which, under the influence of its provisions, our maritime trade has been actively employed, with the freedom and plenty which we enjoy at home, the respect entertained for the American name abroad, and the alacrity with which our favour and friendship are sought by the nations of the earth, our thankfulness to Providence ought to know no bounds, and to the able men who framed and have supported the Constitution should only be limited by those paramount considerations which are indispensable to the perpetuation and increase of the blessings which have been already realized.
The perspicuous brevity of the Constitution has left but little room for misinterpretation. But if at any time ardent or timid minds have exceeded or fallen short of its intentions; is the precision of human language has, in the formation of this instrument, been inadequate to the expression of the exact ideas meant to be conveyed by its framers; if, from the vehemence of party spirit, it has been warped by individuals, so as to incline it either too much towards monarchy or towards an unmodified democracy; let us console ourselves with the reflection, that however these aberrations may have transiently prevailed, the essential principles of the Representative System of government have been well preserved by the clearsighted common sense of the people ; and that our affections all concentre in one great object, which is the improvement and the glory of our country.
After deriving so many and such uncommon benefits from the Constitution, the notion of an eventual dissolution of this Union must be held, by every person of unimpaired intellect, as entirely visionary. The state governments, divested of scarcely any thing but national authority, have answered, or are competent to answer, every purpose of amelioration within the boundaries of the territory to which they are respectively restricted; whilst, in times of difli culty and danger, acting directly upon an intimate knowledge of local resources and feeling, they are enabled to afford efficient aid to the exertions of the national government in the defence and protection of the republic. These truths are obvious: they have been demonstrated in times of domestic tranquillity, of internal commotion, and of foreign hostility. In return, the advantages which the national government dispenses to the several states are keenly felt and highly relished. When the Constitution was ratified, Rhode Island and North Carolina, from honest but mistaken convictions, for a moment withheld their assent. But when Congress proceeded solemnly to enact that the manufactures of those states should be considered as foreign, and that the acts laying a duty on goods imported and on tonnage should extend to them, they hastened, with a discernment quickened by a sense of interest, and at the saine time honourable to their patriotic viewe, to unite themselves to the Confederation.
The only alteration of importance which the Constitution has undergone since its adoption, is that which changes the mode of electing the President and Vice-President. It is believed that, all things being duly weighed, the alteration has been beneficial. If it enables a man to aim, with more directness, at the first office in the gift of the people, it equally tends to prevent the recurrence of an unpleasant contest for precedency, between the partizans of any two individuals, in Congress, to which body, in the last resort, the choice is referred. Besides, whether the Constitution should prescribe it or not, the people themselves would invariably desig. nate the man they intended for chief magistrate; a reflection which may serve to convince us that the change in question is more in form than in fact.
To conclude, the appearance of so perfect an edition of the Federalist as the present must be allowed to be, may be regarded as the more fortunate, as the Journal of the Convention that framed the Constitution is about to be published, and a new light to be thus shed upon the composition of that instrument. The Act of Confederation, and the Constitution itself, have been, by permission of Mr. Adams, the Secretary of State, carefully compared with the originals deposited in the Office of that Department; and their accuracy may therefore be relied on, even to the punctuation.
BY ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
AFTER full experience of the insufficiency of the existing federal government, you are invited to deliberate upon a New Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences, nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire, in many respects, the most interesting in the world. It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country to decide, by their conduct and example, the important ques. tion, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may, with propriety, be regarded as the period when that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act, may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.
This idea, by adding the inducements of philanthropy to those of patriotism, will heighten the solicitude which all considerate and good men must feel for the event. Happy will it be if our choice should be directed by a judicious estimate of our true interests, uninfluenced by considerations foreign to the public good. But this is more ardently to be wished for, than seriously to be ex. pected. The plan offered to our deliberations, affects