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as practically to destroy them, needs only to declare that it is necessary to do so in order to carry into execution the power conferred upon it; then, if its court decide that it is right, the destruction is complete, unless we can take up arms to defend ourselves; and we cannot defend ourselves, first, because the United States may take our able-bodied men to recruit its army; and, second, because it has an unlimited power of taxation for necessary purposes; and if the United States compel payment of the taxes which it may decide necessary to levy upon us, we shall have nothing left for state purposes, and cannot even support our troops, if we have the men left from whom to recruit them. How do we know that your President will not make himself king? In the United Netherlands, once its chief magistrates were elective, now they are hereditary. The Venetians, once a republic, are now governed by an aristocracy. History furnishes no example of a confederated republic coercing the states composing it by the influence of laws operating upon the individuals of those states. Your experiment is without precedent or example. It is false in principle, for there cannot be two supreme powers over one individual, namely, the governments of the state and of the United States. No man can obey two masters. Your country is too vast in extent to be governed by one power. You create a national legislature who may vote their own pay, without limitation; who are too few in number to represent the people -New York having only six; and who are in nowise amenable to the state: what security have we against their combinations against our liberties, and their corruption in squandering the contributions they extort from us? Why give the South increased representation because of the slave? Do you wish to compel us to sanction slavery? Representation implies the free agency of the persons represented; the slave cannot be represented, because he is not a free agent; and it is false in principle to give his master double representation, once on his own account, and then again upon account of his wrong to another. And small as our representation is, Congress may reduce it; for the provision is, the representatives shall not
exceed one for every thirty thousand, but it does not say that it may not take twice, or many times thirty thousand to be entitled to one. We prefer more than six; the more, the better we are represented, and the less risk of corruption. The representatives should be chosen every year, instead of every two years; six years as the term of senator is much too long; the government will fall into the hands of the few and the great; it is not a government of the people; it is in everything too far removed from the people, and must inevitably become a government of oppression; not perhaps immediately, but gradually, by construction, and by amplification of jurisdiction and power. This may be slow, it may be almost imperceptible; but knowing the natural tendency of human nature to hold power when once gained, and to extend it when its gratifications have been experienced, we plainly see that the states are to fall beneath the United States, and the people will be crushed beneath a government too remote to hear their voice, and too well assured of its own power and permanency to heed it. True, the Constitution assumes to guarantee to every state a republican form of government; alas, for the substance, when the form only remains!
Hamilton and his associates replied: The radical vice in the Articles of Confederation is that the laws of the Union apply to the states only in their corporate capacity. Our misfortunes proceed from a want of vigor in the continental government. New York and Pennsylvania are the only states that have fully complied with the federal requisitions. New Hampshire, which has not suffered from the war, is totally delinquent. So is South Carolina. The other states have only partly complied. Suppose we amend the Articles as proposed, giving the nation power to compel the state to comply with the requisitions. That may mean war against a hos-. tile state. Do you mean that? If the state refuse to comply, how is the nation to proceed against such a hostile state? If you confer the full and unlimited power of taxation, and also control of the army, upon Congress, you establish a despotism, the meaning of which word is, all power in one body. You
are afraid to trust the representatives of the people. You can have no government of your own unless you trust somebody. Some confidence in our fellows is the basis of human society. Unless you will trust your kind, you are divided by anarchy, and are become the spoil of the strongest. But there are provided all reasonable checks. There are three departments of government, each a check upon the other. The President is the representative of the people. He can veto bad laws. So the two houses are checks upon each other; and these failing, there sits the court, appointed for life, removed from the passion of the partisan, and with no inducement but to do justice. You elect your own representatives; these will be in positions of honor, and if not honorably filled, you will send others in their place. Besides, the President and judges may be impeached for wrong-doing. But human selfishness and ambition also are your safeguards. The public servant is under the eye of the public, a public quick to see, and prompt to strike dead the madness of tyranny and corruption. What reasonable precaution is omitted? Your country is too large to admit of a pure democracy, wherein all the people assemble, deliberate, and decide. You must from necessity be represented, and better so; for men may be incapable of public affairs and yet choose one of their number to represent them who is capable. And so a representative government is the best. The ancient democracies, in which the people themselves deliberated, never possessed one feature of good government. Their character was tyranny, their figure deformity. Their assemblies were mobs; the field of debate was the theatre of enormity, of mad ambition, of bloodshed; it was matter of chance whether the people were blindly led by one tyrant or another. You want more representatives. The ratio is one to thirty thousand; you want it one to twenty thousand. We cannot argue with your emotions, but may not one man understand the interests of thirty as well as of twenty? Remember that he will not represent all your interests, but only those of federal concern. These are princi. pally commerce and taxation. Are these questions generally
understood by many, or by few? The people may choose whom they please, and we hope they will choose their best. Suppose they choose the bad; they must conform to the scheme of the Constitution, and if that is wise and good, we may yet enjoy good government from bad men. Bad grain does not grow from good seed, though the wicked sow it. We hope that the popular elections will be pure, and unbounded liberty of choice allowed. Public opinion will be a great element of safety. Your state government will, by their watchfulness and jealousy of federal encroachment, be a check upon it. The national and the state governments have their respective spheres; each will hold the other to its place, and the two, thus related, form a double security to the people. Surely, if you can appeal to the nation against the injustice of your state; if you can ask your state to interpose against the injustice of the nation, you will, indeed, be fortunate. We predict that the national government will be as natural a guardian of our freedom as the states themselves. But how open to corruption is the confederate Congress! Each state has one vote; nine states must concur in the most important measures. Suppose nine states present, and a foreign enemy bribes the two delegates who represent one state. The other eight are instantly paralyzed, and the measure thwarted which may be essential to your national existence. What a difference between the old and the new! The old was made of rotten materials put together in haste. The new government will not encroach upon the just powers of the state. Does it remodel the internal police of any state? No. Does it alter or abrogate any of its civil or criminal institutions? No. Any of its forms or safeguards of justice? No. Does it affect the domestic or private life of any citizen? No. Does it ask the state to surrender any power or function essential to its welfare? No. The declared object of the new government is to insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, and promote the general welfare. How is it to be done? Not in the least by taking away any of the safeguards or
means by which every state may now compass these blessed objects, but by strengthening those safeguards and means by the added power of all the other states; not separately, either, in their capacity as states, but by the union of all the people who dwell therein. The allotment of representatives in proportion to the population, the inclusion of three-fifths of the slaves in ascertaining the people to be represented, the exemption of exports from taxation, the non-interference with the importation of slaves until 1808, the imposition of a tax upon slaves imported, were matters of accommodation, agreed to in order to secure the assent of the states more especially benefited by these provisions. You may, indeed, discuss them upon their merits, and possibly condemn them; but the states which insisted upon them as important are not here to persuade or reply to you; unless you respect the accommodation, it is in vain to remind you that to some of the states equality in the Senate and power in Congress to regulate commerce, to make navigation laws, to impose taxes upon imports, to exercise any power with respect to the slave, were conceded in the same spirit of compromise. It is easier to calculate the evils than the advantages of a measure, and we can only deprecate that appeal to the passions which creates a prejudice fatal to deliberate examination. We have sought to equalize the power of the states; to balance the departments of the government; to lodge the sword in one department and the purse in another; to connect the virtue of the rulers with their interests; to make the Union dependent upon the states for its executive and senate; to make the states independent of the Union, except in those matters of highest concern to the safety, protection, and benefit of all. We thought it right that the Union, in the exercise of these powers of high concern, should not be impeded or trammelled by the interposition of the state. Such powers may not be efficiently used when most urgently needed, unless they are completely and supremely held. The members of the Union will be stronger than the head; the number of their powers will always be