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resume or again to exercise that power, until such events take place as will amount to a dissolution of their state government. And it is an estab lished principle, that a dissolution or alteration of a federal government doth not dissolve the state governments which compose it. It was also my opinion that, upon principles of sound policy, the agreement or disagreement to the proposed system ought to have been by the state legislatures; in which case, let the event have been what it would, there would have been but little prospect of the public peace being disturbed thereby; whereas the attempt to force down this system, although Congress and the respective state legislatures should disapprove, by appealing to the people, and to procure its establishment in a manner totally unconstitutional, has a tend. ency to set the state governments and their subjects at variance with each other, to lessen the obligations of government, to wcaken the bands of society, to introduce anarchy and confusion, and to light the torch of discord and civil war throughout this continent. All these considerations weighed with me most forcibly against giving my assent to the mode by which it is resolved that this system is to be ratified, and were urged by me in opposition to the measure.
I have now, sir, in discharge of the duty I owe to this house, given such information as hath occurred to me, which I consider most material for them to know; and you will easily perceive, from this detail, that a great portion of that time, which ought to have been devoted calmly and impartially to consider what alterations in our sederal government would be most likely to procure and preserve the happiness of the Union, was employed in a violent struggle on the one side to obtain all power and dominion in their own hands, and on the other to prevent it; and that the aggrandizement of particular states, and particular individuals, appears to have been much more the subject sought after than the welfare of our country.
The interest of this state, not confined merely to itself, abstracted from all others, but considered relatively, as far as was consistent with the common interest of the other states, I thought it my duty to pursue, according to the best opinion I could form of it.
When I took my seat in the Convention, I found them attempting to bring forward a system which, I was sure, never had entered into the contemplation of those I had the honor to represent, and which, upon the fullest consideration, I considered not only injurious to the interest and rights of this state, but also incompatible with the political happiness and freedom of the states in general. From that time until my business compelled me to leave the Convention, I gave it every possible opposition, in every stage of its progression, I opposed the system there with the same explicit frankness with which I have here given you a history of our proceedings, an account of my own conduct, which in a particular manner I consider you as having a right to know. While there, I endeavored to act as became a freeman, and the delegate of a free state. conduct obtain the approbation of those who appointed me, I will not deny it would afford me satisfaction ; but to me that approbation was at most no more than a secondary consideration : my first was, to deserve it. Left to myself to act according to the best of my discretion, my conduct should have been the same, had I been even sure your censure would have been my only reward, since I hold it sacredly my duty to dash the cup of poison, if possible, from the hand of a state, or an individual, however anxious the one or the other might be to swallow it.
Indulge me, sir, in a single observation further : There are persons who
endeavor to hold up the idea that this system is only opposed by the officers of government. I, sir, am in that predicament I have the honor to hold an appointment in this state. Had it been considered any objection, I presume I should not have been appointed to the Convention. If it could have had any effect on my mind, it would only be that of warming my heart with gratitude, and rendering me more anxious to promote the true interest of that state which has conferred on me the obligation, and to heighten my guilt, had I joined in sacrificing its essential rights. But, sir, it would be well to remember that this system is not calculated to diminish the number or the value of offices. On the contrary, if adopted, it will be productive of an enormous increase in their number. Many of them will also be of great honor and emoluments. Whether, sir, in this variety of appointments, and in the scramble for them, I might not have as good a prospect to advantage myself as many others, is not for me to say: but this, sir, I can say with truth, that, so far was I from being influenced in my conduct by interest, or the consideration of office, that I would cheerfully resign the appointinent I now hold; I would bind myself never to accept another, either under the general government or that of iny own state; I would do more, sir : -so destructive do I consider the present system to the happiness of my country, I would cheerfully sacrifice that share of property with which Heaven has blessed a life of industry ; I would reduce myself to indigence and poverty; and those who are dearer to me than my own existence I would intrust to the care and protection of that Providence who hath so kindly protected myself, — if on those terms only I could procure my country to reject those chains which are forged for it.
THE NOTES OF THE SECRET DEBATES OF THE
FEDERAL CONVENTION OF 1787,
By The Late Hon. ROBERT YATES, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, AND ONE OF THE DELEGATES FROM
THAT STATE TO THE SAID CONVENTION,
Copied from the original manuscript of Chief Justice Yates, by John Lansing, Jun.,
and certified to be a true copy.]
Friday, May 25, 1787. Attended the Convention of the states, at the State House in Philadelphia, when the following states were represented :New York, Alexander Hamilton,
Thos. Fitzsimons Robert Yates.
Richard Basset, Pennsylvania, ... Robert Morris,
Virginia, ........Geo. Washington,
Wm. R. Davie,
Richard D. Spaight,
South Carolina,...John Rutledge,
C. C. Pinckney,
A motion by R. Morris, and seconded, that General Washington take the chair. Unanimously agreed to.
When seated, he (General Washington) declared, that, as he never had been in such a situation, he felt himself embarrassed ; that he hoped his errors, as they would be unintentional, would be excused. Mr. Hamilton, in behalf of the state of New York, moved that Major Jackson be appointed secretary. The delegates for Pennsylvania moved for Temple Franklin. By a majority Mr. Jackson carried it — called in and took his seat.
After which, the respective credentials of the seven states were read.
N. B. That of Delaware restrained its delegates from assenting to an abolition of the 5th article of the Confederation, by which it is declared that each state shall have one vote.
Door-keeper and messengers being appointed, the house adjourned to Monday, the 28th day of May, at 10 o'clock.
Monday, May 28, 1787 Met pursuant to adjournment. A committee of three members (whose appointment I omitted in the entry of the proceedings of Friday last) reported a set of rules for the order of the Convention; which, being considered by articles, were agreed to, and additional ones proposed and referred to the same committee. The representation was this day increased to nine states - Massachusetts and Connecticut becoming represented. Adjourned to next day.
Tuesday, May 29, 1787. The additional rules agreed to. His excellency, Gov. RANDOLPH, a member from Virginia, got up, and, in a long and elaborate speech, showed the defects in the system of the present federal government, as totally inadequate to the peace, safety, and security of the Confederation, and the absolute necessity of a more energetic government.
He closed these remarks with a set of resolutions, fifteen
in number, which he proposed to the Convention for their adoption, and as leading principles whereon to form a new government. He candidly confessed that they were not intended for a federal government - he meant a strong, consolidated union, in which the idea of states should be nearly anuihilated. [See page 143 in this volume, where they are printed at large.]
He then moved that they should be taken up in committee of the whole house.
Mr. C. PINCKNEY, a member from South Carolina, then added, that he had reduced his ideas of a new government to a system, which he read, and confessed that it was grounded on the same principles as the above resolutions. [See page 145 of this volume.]
The house then resolved that they would, the next day, form themselves into a committee of the whole, to take into consideration the state of the Union. Adjourned to next day.
Wednesday, May 30, 1787. Convention met pursuant to adjournment. The Convention, pursuant to order, resolved itself into a committee of the whole. Mr. Gorham (a member from Massachusetts) appointed chairman. Mr. RANDOLPH then moved his 1st resolve, to wit :
Resolved, That the Articles of Confederation ought to be so corrected and enlarged, as to accomplish the objects proposed by their instistution, namely, common defence, security of liberty, and general welfare."
Mr. G. MORRIS observed, that it was an unnecessary resolution, as the subsequent resolutions would not agree with it. It was then withdrawn by the proposer, and, in lien thereof, the following were proposed, to wit:
“1. Resolved, That a union of the states, merely federal, will not accomplish the objects proposed by the Articles of Confederation, namely, common defence, security of liberty, and general welfare.
“2. Resolved, That no treaty or treaties among any of the states, as sovereign, will accomplish or secure their common defence, liberty, o welfare.
“ 3. Resolved, That a national government ought to be established, consisting of a supreme judicial, legislative, and executive."
In considering the question on the 1st resolve, various tnodifications were proposed, when Mr. Pinckney observed, at last, that, if the Convention agreed to it, it appeared to
him that their business was at an end; for, as the powers of the house in general were to revise the present Confederation, and to alter or amend it, as the case might require, to determine its insufficiency, or incapability of amendment or improvement, must end in the dissolution of the powers.
This remark had its weight; and, in consequence of it, the 1st and 2d resolves were dropped, and the question agitated on the 3d.
This last resolve had also its difficulties: the term supreme required explanation. It was asked whether it was intended to annihilate state governments.
It was answered, only so far as the powers intended to be granted to the new government should clash with the states, when the latter were to yield.
For the resolution : Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina.
Against it: Connecticut. New York divided : Jersey and other states unrepresented.
The next question was on the following resolve: In substance, that the mode of the present representation was unjust — the suffrage ought to be in proportion to number or property:
To this Delaware objected, in consequence of the restrictions in their credentials, and moved to have the consideration thereof postponed, to which the house agreed. Adjourned to to-morrow.
THURSDAY, May 31, 1787. Met pursuant to adjournment. This day the state of Jersey was represented, so that there were now ten states in Convention.
The house went again into committee of the whole, Mr. Gorham in the chair.
The 3d resolve, to wit, “That the national legislature ought to consist of two branches," was taken into consideration, and without any debate agreed to.
[N. B. As a previous resolution had already been agreed lo, to have a supreme legislature, I could not see any objection to its being in two branches.]
The 4th resolve, “That the members of the first branch of the national legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several states,” was opposed ; and, strange to tell, by Massachusetts and Connecticut, who supposed they onght