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It is therefore the more astonishing that this grand security to the rights of the people is not to be found in this constitution.It has been said, in answer to this objection, that such declaration of rights, however requisite they might be in the constitutions of the states, are not necessary in the general constitution, because, “in the former case, everything which is not reserved is given, but in the latter the reverse of the proposition prevails, and everything which is not given is reserved.” It requires but little attention to discover that this mode of reasoning is rather specious than solid.
To effect this end, it was necessary that a certain portion of natural liberty should be surrendered, in order that what remained should be preserved.
How great a proportion of natural freedom is necessary to be yielded by individuals, when they submit to government, I shall not now inquire.
In this state of things, every individual was insecure; common interest therefore directed that government should be established, in which the force of the whole community should be collected, and under such directions as to protect and defend everyone who composed it.
The common good, therefore, is the end of civil government, and common consent the foundation on which it is established.
The mutual wants of men at first dictated the propriety of forming societies; and when they were established, protection and defense pointed out the necessity of instituting government.
In a state of nature every individual pursues his own interest; in this pursuit it frequently happened that the possessions or enjoyments of one were sacrificed to the views and designs of another; thus the weak were a prey to the strong, the simple and unwary were subject to impositions from those who were more crafty and designing.
I need say no more, I presume, to an American, than that this principle is a fundamental one in all the constitutions of our own states; there is not one of them but what is either founded on a declaration or bill of rights or has certain express reservation of rights interwoven in the body of them.
From this it appears that, at a time when the pulse of liberty beat high and when an appeal was made to the people to form constitutions for the government of themselves, it was their universal sense that such declarations should make a part of their frames of government.
The principles, therefore, upon which the social compact is founded, ought to have been clearly and precisely stated, and the most express and full declaration of rights to have been made—But on this subject there is almost an entire silence.
If we may collect the sentiments of the people of America from their own most solemn declarations, they hold this truth as self evident, that all men are by nature free.