Texas and the Massachusetts Resolutions Page: 7 of 54
This book is part of the collection entitled: From Republic to State: Debates and Documents Relating to the Annexation of Texas, 1836-1856 and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the UNT Libraries.
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cess of their eflorts. And they labored to erect a system of
government which should answer the public expectation.
They strove to incorporate into it the safeguards of every
known principle of liberty, and what they did not formally
recognise, the people, by amendments, insisted upon expressly
securing. Thus it was that the writ of habeas corpus
was reserved, except in cases of extreme public danger,
bills of attainder and ex post facto laws were prohibited, trial
by jury was secured, convictions for treason should be had
only upon the concurrent testimony of two witnesses to a single
overt act, no corruption of blood should be made a punishment
of the offence, and republican forms of government
were guaranteed to the several States. These were provisions
made to guard against invasions of personal liberty, of which
history had furnished examples under arbitrary governments
on the other side of the water. But the people of the States,
not content with all this, insisted upon articles of amendment
which expressly guard against an establishment of religion,
against the prohibition of the free exercise of speech by Congress,
the abridgement of the freedom of speech or of the
press, and the infringement of the right of the people to assemble
and to petition for a redress of grievances. So with
their right to bear arms, and to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and
seizures, and also with their right to an impartial trial. All
this, and more that might be enumerated, has but one end, and
that is-" the securing the blessings of liberty to the people
and their posterity"-the very end mentioned in the preamble.
The care that was taken to define all these points sufficiently
proves the sincerity ofthe persons engaged in making
the form of government. They thought they were creating
a republic,-or, as it is now more common though less proper
to style it, a democracy. They recommended it, because it
appeared to carry out the principles of the revolutionary
struggle. It gave a practical sanction to the doctrines of the
Declaration of Independence. The people thought so too.
They ratified it and adopted it, and boasted of enjoying the
freest government on the face of the earth.
And yet Mr. Stiles tells us that " slavery and the constitution
have flourished together--their existence is the same and
inseparable. " The first part of the sentence, at least, is true.
Slavery has flourished under the constitution. Not because it
was the design of the constitution to make it flourish. No !
we abhor the idea as a slander upon our forefathers. It was
because the framers of the constitution whished to deal mildly
with an existing evil. They trusted to the healing influences
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Adams, Charles Francis. Texas and the Massachusetts Resolutions, book, January 1, 1844; Boston, Massachusetts. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2355/m1/7/: accessed October 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .