men of this continent are weary of that power and freedom they have so dearly bought and so shortly enjoyed--the power of judging and determining what laws are most wholesome; what taxes are requisite and sufficient--I say, if the people are tired of these privileges, now is the time to part with them forever. Much more might be said to show the bitterness and mischief contained in this gilded pill, but being fond of brevity, I shall rely on the good sense of the public to keep themselves out of the trap, and sign myself in plain English,

A NEWPORT MAN


Antifederalist No. 21
WHY THE ARTICLES FAILED

"The Anti-Federalists had enlisted one biting, facile pen which appointed itself 'the Centinel of the people's liberties,'" writes Charles Page Smith. "[Centinel] belabored the Federalists with considerable wit and persuasiveness. His barbs, penetrating the thin skins of his enemies, brought howls of pain and rage." ( Wilson, p. 272).

The following essay is made up of excerpts from the letters of "CENTINEL" (see Antifederalist No. 6) which appeared in the [Philadelphia] Independent Gazetteer, October 5 and November 30, 1787, and The Freeman's Journal; Or, The North-American Intelligencer, October 24, 1787, reprinted in McMaster and Stone, pp. 575, 587-88, 601-06. This essay, in shortened form, was again published in The Freeman's Journal, March 26, 1788, but over the signature DELIBERATOR.

That the present confederation is inadequate to the objects of the union, seems to be universally allowed. The only question is, what additional powers are wanting to give due energy to the federal government? We should, however, be careful, in forming our opinion on this subject, not to impute the temporary and extraordinary difficulties that have hitherto impeded the execution of the confederation, to defects in the system itself. For years past, the harpies of power have been industriously inculcating the idea that all our difficulties proceed from the impotency of Congress, and have at length succeeded to give to this sentiment almost universal currency and belief. The devastations, losses and burdens occasioned by the late war; the excessive importations of foreign merchandise and luxuries, which have drained the country of its specie and involved it in debt, are all overlooked, and the inadequacy of the powers of the present confederation is erroneously supposed to be the only cause of our difficulties. Hence persons of every description are revelling in the anticipation of the halcyon days consequent on the establishment of the new constitution. What gross deception and fatal delusion! Although very considerable benefit might be derived from strengthening the hands of Congress, so as to enable them to regulate commerce, and counteract the adverse restrictions of other nations, which would meet with the concurrence of all persons; yet this benefit is accompanied in the new constitution with the scourge of despotic power. . . .

-51-

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