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“ 16. That a republican constitution and its existing laws ought to be guarantied to each state by the United States.
“ 17. That provision ought to be made for the amendment of the articles of union whensoever it shall seem necessary.
“ 18. That the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers, within the several states, ought to be bound by oath to support the articles of the union.
“ 19. That the amendments which shall be offered to the Confedera. tion by this Convention, ought, at a proper time or tinjes, after the approbation of Congress, to be subunitted to an assembly or assemblies, recommended by the legislatures, to be expressly chosen by the people, to consider and decide thereon."
These propositions, sir, were acceded to by a majority of the members of the committee a systern by which the large states were to have not only an inequality of suffrage in the first branch, but also the same inequality in the second branch, or Senate. However, it was not designed the second branch should consist of the same number as the first. It was proposed that the Senate should consist of twenty-cight members, formed on the following scale :- Virginia to send five, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts each four ; South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, and Connecticut, two each, and the states of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Jersey, Delaware, and Georgia, each of them one. Upon this plan, the three large states, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, would have thirteen senators out of twenty-eight - almost one half of the whole number. Fifteen senators were to be a quorum to proceed to business; those three states would, therefore, have thirteen out of that quorum. Having this inequality in each branch of the legislature, it must be evident, sir, that they would make what laws they pleased, however injurious or disagreeable to the other states, and that they would always prevent the other states
from making any laws, however necessary and proper, if not agreeable to ihe views of those three states. They were not only, sir, by this system, to have such an undue superiority in making laws and regulations for the Union, but to have the same superiority in the appointment of the President, the judges, and all other officers of government.
Hence these three states would, in reality, have the appointment of the President, judges, and all other officers. This President, and these judges so appointed, we may be morally certain, would be citizens of one of those three states; and the President, as appointed by them, and a citizen of one of them, would espouse their interests and their views, when they came in competition with the views and interests of the other states This President, so appointed by the three large states, and so unduly under their influence, was to have a negative upon every law that should be passed, which, if negatived by hirn, was not to take effect unless assented to by two thirds of each branch of the legislature - a provision which deprived ten states of even the faintest shadow of liberty ; for if they, by a miraculous unanimity, having all their members
present, should outvote the other three, and pass a law contrary to their wishes, those three large states need only procure the President to negative it, and thereby prevent a possibility of its ever taking effect, because the representatives of those three states would amount to much more than one third (alınost one half of the representatives in each branch. And, sir, this government, so organized, with all this undue superiority in those three large states, was, as you see, to have a power of negativing the laws passed
by every state legislature in the Union. Whether, therefore, laws passed by the legislature of Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Georgia, or of any other of the ten states, for the regulation of their internal police, should take effect, and be carried into execution, was to depend on the good pleisure of the representatives of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Mas. sachusetts.
This system of slavery, which bound hand and foot ten states in the Union, and placed them at the mercy of the other three, and under the most abject and servile subjection to them, was approved by a majority of the meinbers of the Convention, and reported by the comunittee.
On this occasion, the house will recollect that the Convention was resolved into a committee of the whole. Of this committee Mr. Gorham was chairman. The Hon. Mr. Washington was then on the floor, in the same situation with the other members of the Convention at large, to oppose any system he thought injurious, or to propose any alterations or amendments he thought beneficial. To these propositions, so reported by the committee, no opposition was given by that illustrious personage, or by the president of the state of Pennsylvania. They both appeared cordially to approve them, and to give them their hearty concurrence. Yet this system, I am confident, Mr. Speaker, there is not a member in this house would advocate, or who would hesitate one moment in saying it ought to be rejected. I mention this circumstance, in compliance with the duty I owe this honorable body, not with a view to lessen those exalted characters, but to show how far the greatest and best of men may be led to adopt very improper measures, through error in judgment, state influ. ence, or by other causes; and to show that it is our duty not to suffer our eyes to be so far dazzled by the splendor of names as to run blindfolded into what may be our destruction.
Mr. Speaker, 1 revere those illustrious personages as much as any man here. No man has a higher sense of the important services they have rendered this country. No member of the Convention went there more disposed to pay deference to their opinions. But I should little have deserved the trust this state reposed in me, if I could have sacrificed its dearest interests to my complaisance for their sentiments.
When, contrary to our hopes, it was found that a majority of the members of the Convention had, in the committee, agreed' to the system I have laid before you, we then thought it necessary to bring forward the propositions which such of us who had disapproved the plan before had prepared. The members who prepared these resolutions were principally of the Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland delegations. The Hon. Mr. Patterson, of the Jerseys, laid them before the Convention. Of these propositions I am in possession of a copy, which I shall beg leave to read to you.
These propositions were referred to a committee of the whole house. Unfortunately, the New Hampshire delegation had not yet arrived; and the sickness of a relation of the Hon. Mr. M'Henry obliged him still to be absent a circumstance, sir, which I considered much to be regretted, as Maryland thereby was represented by only two delegates, and they unhappily differed very widely in their sentiments.
The result of the reference of these last propositions to a committee, was a speedy and hasty determination to reject them. I doubt not, sir, to those who consider them with attention, so sudden a rejection will appear surprising ; but it may be proper to inform you, that, on our meeting in
Convention, it was soon found there were among us three parties of very different sentiments and views :
One party, whose object and wish it was to abolish and annihilate all state governments, and to bring forward one general government over this extensive continent, of a monarchical nature, under certain restrictions and limitations. Those who openly avowed this sentiment were, it is true, but few; yet it is equally truc, sir, that there was a considerable number who did not openly avow it, who were, by myself and many others of the Convention, considered as being in reality favorers of that sentiment, and, acting upon those principles, covertly endeavoring to carry into effect what they well knew openly and avowedly could not be accomplished. The second party was not for the abolition of the state governments, nor for the introduction of a monarchical government under any form; but they wished to establish such a system as could give their own states undue power and influence, in the government, over the other states.
A third party was what I considered truly federal and republican. This party was nearly equal in number with the other two, and was composed of the delegations from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and in part from Maryland ; also of some individuals from other representations. This party, sir, were for proceeding upon terms of federal cquality; they were for taking our present federal system as the basis of their proceedings, and, as far as experience had shown us that there were defects, to remedy those defects; as far as experience had shown that other powers were necessary to the federal government, to give those powers. They considered this the object for which they were sent by their states, and what their states expected from them. They urged that if, after doing this, experience should show that there still were defects in the system, (as no doubt there would be,) the same good sense that induced this Convention to be called, would cause the states, when they found it necessary, to call another; and if that convention should aci with the same moderation, the menībers of it would proceed to correct such errors and defects as experience should have brought to light — that, by proceeding in this train, we should have a prospect at length of obtaining as perfect a system of federal government as the nature of things would admit.
On the other hand, if we, contrary to the purpose for which we were intrusted, considering ourselves as master-builders, too proud to amend our original government, should demolish it entirely, and erect a new system of our own, a short time might show the new system as defective as the old, perhaps more so. Should a convention be found necessary again, if the members thereof, acting upon the same principles, instead of amending and correcting its defects, should demolish that entirely, and bring forward a third system, that also might soon be found no better than either of the former; and thus we might always remain young in government and always suffering the inconveniences of an incorrect, imperfect system.
But, sir, the favorers of monarchy, and those who wished the total abolition of state governments, well knowing that a government founded on truly federal principles, the bases of which were the thirteen state governments preserved in full force and energy, would be destructive of their views; and knowing they were too weak in numbers openly to bring forward their system; conscious, also, that the people of America would reject it if proposed to them, — joined their interest with that party who wished a system giving particular states the porocr and influence over the others, procuring, in return, mutual sacrifices from them, in giving the govern
ment great and undefined powers as to its legislative and erecutive ; well knowing that, by departing from a federal system, they paved the way for their favorite object — the destruction of the state governments, and the introduction of monarchy. And hence, Mr. Speaker, I apprehend, in a great measure, arose the objections of those honorable members, Mr. Mason and Mr. Gerry. In every thing that tended to give the large status power over the smaller, the first of those gentlemen could not forget he belonged to the Ancient Dominion; nor could the latter forget that he represented Old Massachusetts; that part of the system which tended to give those states power over the others met with their perfect approbation. But when they viewed it charged with such powers as would destroy all state governments, their own as well as the rest, when they saw a President so constituted as to differ from a monarch scarcely but in name, and having it in his power to become such in reality when he pleased, -- they, being republicans and federalists, as far as an attachment to their own states would permit thein, warınly and zealously opposed those parts of the system. From these different sentiments, and from this combination of interest, I apprehend, sir, proceeded the fate of what was called the Jersey resolutions, and the report made by the committee of the whole house.
The Jersey propositions being thus rejected, the Convention took up those reported by the coinmittee, and proceeded to debate them by paragraphs. It was now that they who disapproved the report found it necessary to make a warm and decided opposition, which took place upon the discussion of the seventh resolution, which related to the inequality of representation in the first branch. Those who advocated this inequality, urged, that, when the Articles of Confeder tion were formed, it was only from necessity and erpediency that the states were admitted each to have an equal vote ; but that our situation was now altered, and therefore those states who considered it contrary to their interest would no longer abide by it. They said no state ought to wish to have influence in government, except in proportion to what it contributes to it; that if it contributes but little, it ought to have but a small vote; that taxation and representation ought always to go together ; that, if one state had sixteen times as many inhabitants as another, or was sitteen times as wealthy, it ought to have sixteen times as many votes ; that an inhabitant of Pennsylvania ought to have as much weight and consequence as an inhabitant of Jersey or Delaware; that it was contrary to the feelings of the human mind what the large states would never submit to; that the large states would have great objects in view, in which they would never permit the smaller states to thwart them; that equality of suffrage was the rotten part of the Constitution, and that this was a happy time to get clear of it. In fine, it was the poison which contaminated our whole system, and the source of all the evils we experienced.
This, sir, is the substance of the arguments, if arguments they may be called, which were used in favor of inequality of suffrage. Those who advocated the equality of suffrage took the matter up on the original principles of government. They urged that all men, considered in a state of nature, before any government is formed, are equally free and independent, no one having any right or authority to exercise power over another, and this without any regard to difference in personal strength, understanding, or wealth — that, when such individuals enter into government, they have each a right to an equal voice in its first formation, and afterwards have each a right to an equal vote in every matter which relates
to their government:- that if it could be done conveniently, they have a right to exercise it in person: where it cannot be done in person, but, for convenience, representatives are appointed tv act for them, every person has a right to an equal vote in choosing that representative who is intrusted w do, for the whole, that which the whole, if they could assemble, might do in person, and in the transacting of which each would have an equal voice :- that if we were to adınit, because a man was more wise, more strong, or more wealthy, he should be entitled to more votes than another, it would be inconsistent with the freedom and liberty of that other, and would reduce him to slavery.
Suppose, for instance, ten individuals, in a state of nature, about to enter into government, nine of whom are equally wise, equally strong, and equally wealthy; the tenth is ten times as wise, ten times as strong, or ien times as rich: if, for this reason he is to have ten votes for each vote of either of the others, the nine might as well have no vote at all — since, though the whole nine might assent to a measure, yet the vote of the tenth would countervail, and set aside all their votes. If this tenth approved of what they wished to adopt, it would be well; but if he disapproved, he could prevent it; and in the same manner he could carry into execution any measure he wished, contrary to the opinions of all the others, he have ing ten votes, and the others altogether but nine. It is evident that, on these principles, the nine would have no will nor discretion of their own, but must be totally dependent on the will and discretion of the tenth: to him they would be as absolutely slaves as any negro is to his master. If he did not attempt to carry into execution any measures injurious to the other nine, it could only be said that they had a good master; they would not be the less slaves, because they would be totally dependent on the will of another, and not on their own will. They might not feel their chains, but they would, notwithstanding wear them; and whenever their master pleased, he might draw them so tight as to gall them to the bone. Hence it was urged, the inequality of representation, or giving to one man more votes than another, on account of his wealth, &c., was altogether inconsistent with the principles of liberty; and in the same proportion as it should be adopted, in favor of one or more, in that proportion are the others enslaved. It was urged that, though every individual should have an equal voice in the government, yet even the superior wealth, strength, or understanding, would give great and undue advantages to those who possessed them — that wealth attracts respect and attention; superior strength would cause the weaker and more feeble to be cautious how they offended, and to put up with small injuries rather than engage in an unequal contest. In like manner, superior understanding would give its possessor many opportunities of profiting at the expense of the more ignorant.
Having thus established these principles with respect to the rights of individuals in a state of nature, and what is due to each on entering into government, - principles established by every writer on liberty, - they proceeded to show that states, when once formed, are considered, with respect to each other, as individuals in a state of nature; that, like individuals, cach state is considered equally free and equally independent, the one having no right to exercise authority over the other, though more strong, more wealthy, or abounding with more inhabitants — that, when a number of statcs unite themselves under a ferleral government,
the same principles apply to them as when a number of individual men unite them