Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/67

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The Virginia Convention of 1788.

constitutes you one people." He says: "The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any other appellation derived from local discriminations." He deprecates sectional feelings and jealousies and warns the people against political factions and party strife. In his letter addressed to the Governors on his retiring from office, he uses the expression, "the citizens of America," and speaks of the country as "a nation ;" and amongst other things he dwells upon as essential to the well-being of our country, aye, to its very existence as an independent power, "And indissoluble Union of States under one Federal head."

He seemed to hold the view that the tie between the Colonies and Great Britain were irrevocably broken by the Revolution and their acknowledgment of independence by the world, the autonomy of the States were in like manner surrendered, except so far as domestic or local relation and regulations went, when the people, through their duly accredited representatives of their respective States, adopted and ratified the Federal Constitution for the declared purpose of forming "a more perfect union," for common defense and protection, each State, in all its departments, to be subservient to the supreme law of the land – the acts of Congress.

Mason regarded Virginia as an empire within herself, a sovereignty, and was utterly opposed to a consolidated government and the surrender of her rights to a central power. He was in favor of a union for mutual defense and welfare only. He wished Virginia to be a free Commonwealth, not to alienate beyond recall her powers, her liberty. He was as great an objector as Henry himself to the Constitution. These objections were radical and extended to every department of the proposed government. He particularly objected to the connection between the President and the upper house, what he called "the marriage between the President and the Senate," and the extraordinary powers conferred on the latter. When Mason first arose to address the Convention the audience was hushed and the eyes of all men fixed upon him. His once raven hair was now as white as snow, his commanding figure attired in deep mourning, still erect, his black eyes lit up with the flame of in-