which the popular odium hath fixed derision and contempt, will then resume their natural emphasis; their genuine signification will be perfectly understood, and no more perverted or abused.
ON THE GUARANTEE OF CONGRESSIONAL BIENNIAL ELECTIONS
The 1787-88 debates constituted a "great awakening" of Americans to the political process. For example, when elections to the state ratifying conventions took place, many people in New England town meetings attempted to instruct and bind their delegates; others contended that the delegates should be left free and uninstructed to hear and weigh arguments and to decide accordingly.
The following essay was one of two letters some delegates to the Massachusetts convention felt constrained to address to their constituents, to explain their reasons for voting against the Constitution. Among the major faults they found in the proposed Constitution, was the lack of an iron-clad guarantee that at least biennial elections would be maintained. The letter was signed by Consider Arms, Malichi Maynard, and Samuel Field, in The Hampshire Gazette, April 9, 1788.
We the subscribers being of the number, who did not assent to the ratification of the federal constitution, under consideration in the late state convention, held at Boston, to which we were called by the suffrages of the corporations to which we respectively belong--beg leave, through the channel of your paper, to lay before the public in general, and our constituents in particular, the reasons of our dissent, and the principles which governed us in our decision of this important question.
Fully convinced, ever since the late revolution, of the necessity of a firm, energetic government, we should have rejoiced in an opportunity to have given our assent to such a one; and should in the present case, most cordially have done it, could we at the same time been happy to have seen the liberties of the people and the rights of mankind properly guarded and secured. We conceive that the very notion of government carries along with it the idea of justice and equity, and that the whole design of instituting government in the world, was to preserve men's properties from rapine, and their bodies from violence and bloodshed.
These propositions being established, we conceive must of necessity produce the following consequence: That every constitution or system, which does not quadrate with this original design, is not government, but in fact a subversion of it.
Having premised thus much, we proceed to mention some things in this constitution to which we object, and to enter into an inquiry, whether, and how far they coincide with those simple and original notions of government before mentioned.