Samuel Adams and the Constitution

Image: Deposited by the City of Boston. Samuel Adams. Copley, John Singleton. (1772) Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

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Extract of a letter from a gentleman in Salem, to his friend in this town, December 26

“The new constitution meets with general approbation in this town; almost every person of property and honesty wishes for the adoption of it. There are some few, however, whose characters as honest men and good citizens, is thoroughly established, who are rather in opposition to it. This I much wonder at; but candour obliges me to judge favourably of their motives, because they have ever been decided friends to the welfare and happiness of their country. I however hope that time will effect a change of their sentiments; and I think I have some foundation for my hopes;

For truth and reason’s bright’ned rays combin’d,

Will force conviction on the candid mind.

I think, my friend, that it can be demonstrated to the conception of every rational mind, that the new constitution is nobly calculated to support and defend those inestimable rights for which the citizens of America so long toiled and bled. I need not, however delineate its beauties to you, as you are already fully sensible of them.

There is one thing which gives me not a little pain, and it is this. The hon. SAMUEL ADAMS, I hear, is in opposition to the plan of federal government. Although he may act from motives truly patriotick in this affair, you know the caprice of human nature is such, that mankind never put the most favourable construction upon the conduct of each other; and if a man does ninety-nine good actions and neglects the hundredth, he often comes under the goading lash of censure. I may perhaps be mistaken, but it is really my opinion, that Mr. Adams’s opposition to the federal constitution will, in the eyes of America, sully the brightness of those laurels which have so long encircled the brow of that venerable statesman.

You ask me, whether I suppose that there will be much opposition made to the new constitution, in our state convention. I answer, I hope not. For before the federalism of a HANCOCK, a BOWDOIN, a DANA, a KING, and many other illustrious characters, who are members of the convention, anti-federalism must droop, and recoil in silent shame. I think we have every thing to hope, and very little to fear.”

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