Friday, June 29, 2007

John Mathews, Aug. 30, 1778 letter to Thomas Bee...

"...It is true I did oppose the Embargo act, as I shall uniformly do, every act of Congress, where I perceive an attempt to step over that constitutional line which has been chaulked out to them, even independent of the Confederation, for if they can exceed their powers in one instance, they may claim an equal right to do it in any & which was the case in this affair for the favourers of the measure claimed a right to do it, because they had done it before & surely said they if we had a right to do it once, we have a right to do it again. This proves to what dangerous lengths Precedents may be carryed, for which reason, I think every, the least attempt in Congress to go beyond the bounds of their Constitution should be immediately checked. Never suffer the plea of necessity to justify the Act, for a specious pretext can never be wanted, by artful men, to cover even the most arbitary measure, under the guise of necessity & if such a doctrine is once admitted, what is to hinder them, from at last totally subverting the Liberties of America. Examples of this nature are within the knowledge of every Man of reading, & because the people of America have a very high Opinion of & a very extensive confidence in the present Congress (I mean previous to our being Confederated) I would for that very reason be doubly watchful of their Conduct, as the precedents they now make will hereafter be excercised by a set of men less virtuous, to the worst purposes...."

[Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 10.]


Saturday, June 23, 2007