Primary tabs

To the Freemen of Pennsylvania

v2:940

TO THE FREEMEN OF PENNSYLVANIA.

FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS: The affairs of our State now wear a most gloomy aspect. The Convention have risen, and without consulting the prejudices, habits, or even inclinations of their constituents, have forced a Government upon us big with anarchy and slavery.

The people of the neighbouring States, we are told, are now enjoying the sweets of Governments founded upon their own authority, and are employing their whole wisdom and strength in promoting their own safety and happiness. The reason is plain: They removed those parts of their constitutions only which were derived from the Crown, and substituted in their stead an executive power founded upon an authority derived from themselves. They have all reserved the inestimable pillars in a free government, a Legislative Council or Governour. Such a government would have been most agreeable to the people of Pennsylvania, and if they have spirit or sense remaining they will never be happy without it.

A people who could be free and happy with one Legislature, might be equally free and happy without any Government. Both situations suppose equal degrees of virtue in a people. The history of all countries shows us that power has done as much mischief when lodged in the hands of one assembly, as it has done when lodged in the hands of one man. The arbitrary Rump Parliament, which sat eighteen years without dissolving itself, was a single assembly or legislature.

But it is unnecessary to travel into past ages to find examples of the danger of trusting power into the hands of a single legislature. The conduct of the late Convention of Pennsylvania seems intended by Divine Providence to awaken our fears upon this subject, and to point out to us the mischiefs which have arisen from the exercise of power by a single assembly.

What body of men has disposed of our liberty, property, and lives, without our consent, by cruel and tyrannical ordinances? The Convention. What body of men paid themselves above three thousand pounds for sitting above two months for doing business which might have been transacted in ten days? The Convention. What body of men published a constitution for a State, deficient in perspicuity, grammar, and English? . The Convention. What body of men appointed Justices of the Peace wholly unacquainted with the business of their offices, and equally unfit and unwilling to execute them? The Convention. What body of men secured to themselves a perpetuity of their power, by fencing it in with oaths unprecedented in any free country? The Convention.

If this is not enough to show us the danger of a single Legislature, we deserve to be slaves. SCIPIO.

Philadelphia, October 8, 1776.

Notes

nts

* "No justice of the Peace shall sit in the General Assembly unless he first resign his commission." — Section 30.

Share