“Z” Replies to Franklin’s Speech

Again says the Doctor, “In these sentiments I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults if they are such; because I think a general government is necessary for us, and there is no FORM of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered.” But are we to accept a form of government which we do not entirely approve of, merely in hopes that it will be administered well? Does not every man know, that nothing is more liable to be abused than power. Power, without a check, in any hands, is tyranny; and such power, in the hands of even good men, so infatuating is the nature of it, will probably be wantonly, if not tyrannically exercised. The world has had experience enough of this, in every stage of it. Those among us who cannot entirely approve the new Constitution as it is called, are of opinion, in order that any form may be well administered, and thus be made a blessing to the people, that there ought to be at least an express reservation of certain inherent unalienable rights, which it would be equally sacrilegious for the people to give away, as for government to invade

…Even a bad form of government may, in the Doctor’s opinion, be well administered. He evidently, I think, builds his hopes, that the Constitution proposed, will be a blessing to the people – not on the principles of government itself, but on the possibility, that, with all its faults, it may be well administered – and concludes, with wishing, that others, who had objections to it, would yet, like him, doubt of their own infallibility, and put their names to the instrument, to make an Unanimity MANIFEST! No wonder he shed a tear, as it said he did, when he gave his sanction to the New Constitution.


1. Bailyn, Bernard. “”Z” Replies to Franklin’s Speech.” The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters during the Struggle over Ratification. Vol. 1. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1993. 6-8. Print.


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