« ForrigeFortsett »
whale ; for the Scotch had, in part, got possession of the government, and gave laws to the English. He reprobated the original agreement of Congress to vote by colonies, and therefore was for their voting in all cases according to the number of taxables.
Dr. · WITHERSPOON opposed every alteration of the Article. All men admitted that a confederacy is necessary. Should the idea get abroad that there is likely to be no union among us, it will damp the minds of the people, diminish the glory of our struggle, and lessen its importance; because it will open to our view future prospects of war and dissension among ourselves. If an equal vote be refused, the smaller States will become vassals to the larger; and all experience has shown that the vassals and subjects of free states are the most enslaved. He instanced the helots of Sparta and the provinces of Rome. He observed that foreign powers discovering this blemish, would make it a handle for disengaging the smaller States from so unequal a confederacy. That the colonies should, in fact, be considered as individuals; that as such, in all disputes, they should have an equal vote; and that they are now collected as individuals making a bargain with each other, and of course had a bright to vote as individuals. That in the East India Company they voted by persons, and not by their proportions of stock. That the Belgic Confederacy voted by provinces. That in questions of war the smaller States were as much interested as the larger, and therefore should vote equally; and indeed that the larger States were more likely to bring war on the Confederacy in proportion as their frontier was more extensive. He admitted that equality of representation was an excellent principle, but then it must be of things which are coordinate ; that is, of things similar and of the same nature; that nothing relating to individuals could ever come before Congress; nothing but what would respect colonies. He distinguished between an incorporating and a federal union. The union of England and Scotland was an incorporating one; yet Scotland had 'suffered by that union; for that its inhabitants were drawn from it by the hopes of places and employments; nor was it an instance of equality of representation, because, while Scotland was allowed nearly a thirteenth of representation, they were to pay only one-fortieth of the land tax. не expressed his views that in the present enlightened state of men's minds we might expect a lasting confederacy, if it was founded on fair principles.
Mr. John Adams advocated the voting in proportion to numbers. He said, that we stand here as the representatives of the people; that in some States the people are many, in others they are few; that therefore their vote here should be proportioned to the numbers from whom it comes. Reason, justice, and equity never had justice enough on the face of the earth to govern the councils of men. It is interest alone which does it, and it is interest alone which can be trusted; that therefore the interests within doors should be the mathematical representatives of the interests without doors.
Besides the fallacy of Mr. Adams' reasoning which assumed that members of the Continental Congress were representatives of the people at large instead of what they actually were, representatives of their respective States, he argued against the individuality of States themselves, and maintained that the object of confederation was to obliterate State lines and distinctions so as to incorporate all under one consolidated government.
He said that the individuality of the colonies is a mere sound. Does the individuality of a colony increase its wealth or numbers? If it does, pay equally. If it does not add weight in the scale of the confederacy, it cannot add to their rights nor weigh in argument. A has £50, B £500, C £1,000 in partnership. Is it just that they should equally dispose of the moneys of the partnership? It has been said we are independent individuals making a bargain together. The question is not what we are now, but what we ought to be when our bargain shall be made. The confederacy is to make us one individual only. It is to form us, like separate pieces of metal, into one common mass. We shall no longer retain our separate individuality, but become a single individual as to all matters submitted to the confederacy. Therefore all reasons, which prove the justice and expediency of equal representation in other assemblies, hold good here. It had been objected that a proportional vote would endanger the smaller States. He answered that an equal vote would endanger the larger. Virginia, Pennsyl.
vania and Massachusetts were the three greater colonies. Consider their distance, their difference of products, of interest, and of manners, and it was apparent they can never have an interest or an inclination to combine for the oppression of the smaller; that the smaller would naturally divide on all questions with the larger; that Rhode Island, from its relation, similarity and intercourse, would generally pursue the same objects with Massachusetts; Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, with Pennsylvania.
Mr. Hopkins observed that there were four larger, four smaller and four middle sized colonies. That the four largest would contain more than half the inhabitants of the confederating States, and therefore would govern the others as they should please. That history affords no instance of such a thing as equal representation. The Germanic body vote by states; the Helvetic body does the same; and so does the Belgic Confederacy. That too little is known of the ancient confederations to say what was their practice.
Mr. Wilson went beyond even Mr. Adams in his advocacy of consolidation, maintaining that the colonies, by the mere sending of delegates to Congress had already sacrificed their individuality. As to those matters, he said, which are referred to Congress, we are not so many States; we are one large State. We lay aside our individuality whenever we come here.
The views of Mr. Adams and Mr. Wilson did not meet the approbation of Congress, and the article as it stood was triumphantly adopted.
The draft of the Confederate Constitution was presented, as we have before observed, on the 12th of July, 1776, and debated from time to time until the 15th of November, 1777, when it was approved in Congress and ordered to be transmitted to the States for their consideration. On the 26th of June a form of ratification was adopted and engrossed on parchment for signature by the delegates acting by authority of their respective States. On subsequent examination, however, it was found that only New Hampshire, New York, Virginia, and North Carolina accepted the Articles as they stood, with a proviso on the part of New York that the same should not be binding on it until all the other States in the Union should have ratified them also. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and South Carolina proposed alterations, additions or amendments, which were all considered by Congress, and all rejected. The delegate from Georgia had received no instructions from his constituents, but had no doubt they would ratify the Articles of Confederation without amendment. Delaware and North Carolina, having no delegates present, made no formal report; but the unanimous accession of North Carolina to the confederation bad been already signified by her Governor Caswell so early as the 26th of April. On the 9th of July, 1778, the ratification of the Articles of Confederation was signed on the part of their respective States by the delegates from New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina, acting under the powers vested in them. The delegates from New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland informed Congress that they had not been empowered to ratify and sign ; North Carolina and Georgia were not represented.
In this critical condition of affairs a letter was addressed to the States which had not authorized their delegates to ratify the confederation, urging them "to conclude the glorious compact which by uniting the wealth, strength, and councils of the whole, might bid defiance to external violence and internal dissensions whilst it secured the public credit at home and abroad." On the 21st of July the ratification was signed by the delegates of North Carolina; and on the 24th by those of Georgia. The delegates of New Jersey, having received their powers, affixed their signatures on the 26th of November following: On the 5th of May, 1779, Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Vandyke signed the Articles of Confederation in behalf of the State of Delaware, Mr. M'Kean having previ. ously signed them on the 12th of February, at which time he had produced a power to that effect. Maryland had instructed her delegates not to agree to the Confederation until an equitable settlement should be made concerning Western lands; but on the 30th of January, 1781, finding that the enemies of the country took advantage of the circumstance to disseminate opinions of an ultimate dissolution of the Union, the Legislature of the State empowered their delegates to ratify and subscribe the Articles ; which was accordingly done on the 1st of March, 1781, and thus the ratification was completed. On the next day Congress assembled under the new powers committed to it by the Articles of Confederation.
Thus, at length, after nearly five years of continual debate and difficulty, was consummated the “ Perpetual Union ” of the States. It lasted practically two years, and nominally about eight. It did not materially add to the efficiency of government during the war with England; nor did it in any great degree strengthen the bond of union between the States. Its importance, nevertheless, is not to be lightly estimated. Had the colonies achieved their independence with no closer tie between them than the military alliance rendered necessary by a foreign invasion, there is little reason to believe that they would ever after have united. Hence they would have become in peace totally independent; and the usual animosities of petty states would have been likely to embroil them with each other in continual feuds, such as disturbed the petty states of Italy in the middle ages. Neither after nor before the war could the States be induced to renounce their separate individuality or independence; and all movements towards a union were suspected by the smaller States of tending to consolidated power. The confederation, therefore, which demonstrated the possibility of union without consolidation, and showed, however imperfectly, the capacity of the federative principle to meet the exigencies of their situation, was of immense importance to the future of the States. It was in fact a rough draft of the application of the Anglo-Saxon system to the circumstances of the colonies; admitting the necessity of union, but equally asserting separate sovereignty as the only possible or even safe foundation of the union. Its model was, in this view, of inestimable value to the framers of the later Constitution; showing them at once the fundamental principle of a federal republic, and the difficulties to be apprehended in its operation.