Letter from Luther Martin to Thomas Cockey Deye (1788)

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The Genuine Information, delivered to the Legislature of the State of Maryland, relative to the Proceedings of the General Convention, held at Philadelphia, in 1787, by Luther Martin, Esq., Attorney-General of Maryland, and one of the Delegates in the said Convention.

To the Hon. Thomas Cockey Deye, Speaker of the House of Delegates of Maryland.

Sir, I flatter myself the subject of this letter will be a sufficient apology for thus publicly addressing it to you, and, through you, to the other members of the House of Delegates. It cannot have escaped your or their recollection, that, when called upon, as the servant of a free state, to render an account of those transactions in which I had a share, in consequence of the trust reposed in me by that state, among other things, I informed them, “that, some time in July, the Hon. Mr. Yates and Mr. Lansing, of New York, left the Convention; that they had uniformly opposed the system, and that, I believe, despairing of getting a proper one brought forward, or of rendering any real service, they returned no more.” You cannot, sir, have forgotten—for the incident was too remarkable not to have made some impression—that, upon my giving this information, the zeal of one of my honorable colleagues, in favor of a system which I thought it my duty to oppose, impelled him to interrupt me, and, in a manner which I am confident his zeal alone prevented him from being convinced was not the most delicate, to insinuate, pretty strongly, that the statement which I had given of the conduct of those gentlemen, and their motives for not returning, was not candid.

Those honorable members have officially given information on this subject, by a joint letter to his excellency, Governor Clinton. [See elsewhere in this volume.] Indulge me, sir, in giving an extract from it, that it may stand contrasted in the same page with the information I gave, and may convict me of the want of candor of which I was charged, if the charge was just: if it will not do that, then let it silence my accusers.—

“Thus circumstanced, under these impressions, to have hesitated would have been to be culpable. We therefore gave the principles of the Constitution, which has received the sanction of a majority of the Convention, our decided and unreserved dissent. We were not present at the completion of the new Constitution; but, before we left the Convention, its principles were so well established as to convince us that no alteration was to be expected to conform it to our ideas of expediency and safety. A persuasion that our further attendance would be fruitless and unavailing, rendered us less solicitous to return.”

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