Virginia Independent Chronicles
March 12, 1788
Mr. DAVIS, “A Virginian” 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 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 federal government, if established, would eagerly embrace the opportunity not only of putting and end to the importation of slaves, but of abolishing slaver 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 fi, that 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.