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the right of private judgment, prescribed boundaries to that right, beyond which if any one dared to pass, he must seal his rashness with the blood of martyrdom. The history of the parent country, too, could not fail to instruct them in the uses, and the abuses of religious tests. They there found the pains and penalties of non-conformity written in no equivocal language, and enforced with a stern and vindictive jealousy.

972. Of the English laws respecting papists, Montesquieu observes, that they are so rigorous, though not professedly of the sanguinary kind, that they do all the hurt, that can possibly be done in cold blood. To this just rebuke, (after citing it, and admitting its truth,) Mr. Justice Blackstone has no better reply to make, than that these laws are seldom exerted to their utmost rigour; and, indeed, if they were, it would be very difficult to excuse them. The meanest apologist of the worst enormities of a Roman emperor could not have shadowed out a defence more servile, or more unworthy of the dignity and spirit of a freeman. It was easy to foresee, that without some prohibition of religious tests, a successful sect, in our country, might, by once possessing power, pass testlaws, which would secure to themselves a monopoly of all the offices of trust and profit, under the national government.

973. The seventh and last article of the constitution is: "The ratification of the conventions of "nine states shall be sufficient for the establishment "of this constitution between the states so ratifying "the same."

§ 974. Upon this article it is now wholly unnecessary to bestow much commentary, since the

constitution has been ratified by all the states. If a ratification had been required of all the states, instead of nine, as a condition precedent, to give it life and motion, it is now known, that it would never have been ratified. North Carolina in her first convention rejected it; and Rhode-Island did not accede to it, until more than a year after it had been in operation.

§ 975. And here closes our review of the constitution in the original form, in which it was framed for, and adopted by, the people of the United States. The concluding passage of it is, "Done in convention by the unanimous consent of all the states present, the seventeenth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the twelfth." At the head of the illustrious men, who framed, and signed it, (men, who have earned the eternal gratitude of their country,) stands the name of GEORGE WASHINGTON, "President and Deputy from Virginia;" a name, at the utterance of which envy is dumb, and pride bows with involuntary reverence, and piety, with eyes lifted to heaven, breathes forth a prayer of profound gratitude,

CHAPTER XLIV.

AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION.

§ 976. WE have already had occasion to take notice of some of the amendments made to the constitution, subsequent to its adoption, in the progress of our review of the provisions of the original instrument. The present chapter will be devoted to a consideration of those, which have not fallen within the scope of our former commentaries.

§ 977. It has been already stated, that many objections were taken to the constitution, not only on account of its actual provisions, but also on account of its deficiencies and omissions. Among the latter, none were proclaimed with more zeal, and pressed with more effect, than the want of a bill of rights. This, it was said, was a fatal defect; and sufficient of itself to bring on the ruin of the republic. To this objection several answers were given; first, that the constitution did in fact contain many provisions in the nature of a bill of rights, if the whole constitution was not in fact a bill of rights; secondly, that a bill of rights was in its nature more adapted to a monarchy, than to a government, professedly founded upon the will of the people, and executed by their immediate representatives and agents; and, thirdly, that a formal bill of rights, beyond what was contained in it, was wholly unnecessary, and might even be dangerous.

§ 978. It was further added, that in truth the constitution itself was, in every rational sense, and to every useful purpose, a bill of rights for the Union.

It specifies, and declares the political privileges of the citizens in the structure and administration of the government. It defines certain immunities and modes of proceeding, which relate to their personal, private, and public rights and concerns. It confers on them the unalienable right of electing their rulers; and prohibits any tyrannical measures, and vindictive prosecutions. So, that, at best, much of the force of the objection rests on mere nominal distinctions, or upon a desire to make a frame of government a code to regulate rights and remedies.

979. Although it must be conceded, that there is much intrinsic force in this reasoning, it cannot in candour be admitted to be wholly satisfactory, or conclusive on the subject. It is rather the argument of an able advocate, than the reasoning of à constitutional statesman. In the first place, a bill of rights (in the very sense of this reasoning) is admitted in some cases to be important; and the constitution itself adopts, and establishes its propriety to the extent of its actual provisions. Every reason, which establishes the propriety of any provision of this sort in the constitution, such as a right of trial by jury in criminal cases, is, pro tanto, proof, that it is neither unnecessary nor dangerous. It reduces the question to the consideration, not whether any bill of rights is necessary, but what such a bill of rights should properly contain. This is a point for argument, upon which different minds may arrive at different conclusions. That a bill of rights may contain too many enumerations, and especially such, as more correctly belong to the ordinary legislation of a government, cannot be doubted. Some of our state bills of right contain clauses of this description, being either in

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their character and phraseology quite too loose, and general, and ambiguous; or covering doctrines quite debateable, both in theory and practice; or even leading to mischievous consequences, by restricting the legislative power under circumstances, which were not foreseen, and if foreseen, the restraint would have been pronounced by all persons inexpedient, and perhaps unjust. Indeed, the rage of theorists to make constitutions a vehicle for the conveyance of their own crude, and visionary aphorisms of government, requires to be guarded against with the most unceasing vigilance.

§ 980. In the next place, a bill of rights is important, and may often be indispensable, whenever it operates, as a qualification upon powers, actually granted by the people to the government. This is the real ground of all the bills of rights in the parent country, in the colonial constitutions and laws, and in the state constitutions. In England, the bills of rights were not demanded merely of the crown, as withdrawing power from the royal prerogative; they were equally important, as withdrawing power from parliament. A large proportion of the most valuable of the provisions in Magna Charta, and the bill of rights of 1688, consists of a solemn recognition of limitations upon the power of parliament; that is, a declaration, that parliament ought not to abolish, or restrict those rights. Such are the right of trial by jury; the right to personal liberty and private property according to the law of the land; that the subjects ought to have a right to bear arms; that elections of members of parliament ought to be free; that freedom of speech and debate in parliament ought not to be impeached, or questioned elsewhere; and that excessive bail

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