signifies, if there is any meaning in words, the setting aside the trial by jury. Congress will have the power of guaranteeing to every state a right to import Negroes for twenty one years, by which some of the states, who have now declined that iniquitous traffic, may re-enter into it--for the private laws of every state are to submit to the superior jurisdiction of Congress. A standing army is to be kept on foot, by which the vicious, the sycophantick, and the time-serving will be exalted, and the brave, the patriotic, and the virtuous will be depressed.
The writer, therefore, thinks it the part of wisdom to abide, like the state of Rhode Island, by the old articles of confederation, which, if re-examined with attention, we shall find worthy of great regard; that we should give high praise to the manly and public spirited sixteen members, who lately seceded from our house of Assembly [in Pennsylvania]; and that we should all impress with great care, this truth on our minds--That it is very easy to change a free government into an arbitrary one, but that it is very difficult to convert tyranny into freedom.
EUROPEANS ADMIRE AND FEDERALISTS DECRY THE PRESENT SYSTEM
The historian is constantly faced with the problem of distinguishing between an event, and how the event was perceived by contemporaries. When the primary evidence is contradictory, historiographical controversy seems to be the inevitable result. In particular, such has been the case concerning the condition of the United States in the late 1780's. Federalists portrayed America under the Articles as feeble, divided, embarrassed, anarchical, tottering, and debt-ridden. Antifederalists ran the gamut from a frank admission of the weakness of the Articles to a full-blown defense of the status quo. The anonymous "ALFRED" defended the Articles in the following essay, from The New-York Journal, December 25, 1787, reprinted from the [ Philadelphia] Independent Gazetteer.
To the realPATRIOTS of America: . . . America is now free. She now enjoys a greater portion of political liberty than any other country under heaven. How long she may continue so depends entirely upon her own caution and wisdom. If she would look to herself more, and to Europe less, I am persuaded it would tend to promote her felicity. She possesses all the advantages which characterize a rich country--rich within herself, she ought less to regard the politics, the manufactures, and the interests of distant nations.
When I look to our situation--climate, extent, soil, and its productions, rivers, ports; when I find I can at this time purchase grain, bread, meat, and other necessaries of life at as reasonable a rate as in any country; when I see we are sending great quantities of tobacco, wheat and flour to England and other parts of the globe beyond the Atlantic; when I get on the other side of