Page:Memoir, correspondence, and miscellanies, from the papers of Thomas Jefferson - Volume 1.djvu/45

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dividuality, whenever we come here. The Germanic body is a burlesque on government: and their practice, on any point, is a sufficient authority and proof that it is wrong. The greatest imperfection in the constitution of the Belgic confederacy, is their voting by provinces. The interest of the whole is constantly sacrificed to that of the small states. The history of the war in the reign of Queen Anne, sufficiently proves this. It is asked, shall nine colonies put it into the power of four, to govern them as they please? I invert the question, and ask, shall two millions of people put it in the power of one million, to govern them as they please? It is pretended, too, that the smaller colonies will be in danger from the greater. Speak in honest language and say, the minority will be in danger from the majority. And is there an assembly on earth, where this danger may not be equally pretended? The truth is, that our proceedings will then be consentaneous with the interests of the majority, and so they ought to be. The probability is much greater, that the larger states will disagree, than that they will combine. I defy the wit of man to invent a possible case, or to suggest any one thing on earth, which shall be for the interests of Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and which will not also be for the interest of the other states.[1]

These articles, reported July 12, ’76, were debated from day to day, and time to time, for two years, were ratified July 9, ’78, by ten states, by New-Jersey on the 26th of November of the same year, and by Delaware on the 23rd of February following. Maryland alone held off two years more, acceding to them March 1, ’81, and thus closing the obligation.

Our delegated had been renewed for the ensuing year, commencing on August 11; but the new government was now organized, a meeting of the legislature was to be held in October, and I had been elected a member by my county. I knew that our legislation, under the regal government, had many very vicious points which urgently required information, and I thought I could be of more use in forwarding that work. I therefore retired from my seat in Congress on the 2nd of September, resigned it, and took my place in the legislature of my state, on the 7th of October.

On the 11th, I moved for leave to bring in a bill for the establishment of courts of justice, the organization of which was of importance. I drew the bill; it was approved by the committee, reported and passed, after going through its due course.

On the 12th, I obtained leave to bring in a bill declaring te

  1. Here terminate the author’s notes of the ‘earlier debates on the confederation,’ and recommences the MS. begun by him in 1821.