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Judge ELLSWORTH. I have the greatest respect for the gentleman who spoke last. I respect his abilities, although I differ from him on many points. He asserts that the general government must depend on the equal suffrage of the people. But will this not put it in the power of the few states to control the rest ? It is a novel thing in politics that the few control the many. In the British government, the few, as a guard, have an equal share in the government. The House of Lords, although few in number, and sitting in their own right, have an equal share in the legislature. They cannot give away the property of the community, but they can prevent the Commons from being too lavish in their gifts. Where is, or was, a confederation ever formed, where equality of voices was not a fundamental principle ? Mankind are apt to go from one extreme to another; and because we have found defects in the Confederation, must we therefore pull down the whole fabric, foundation and all, in order to erect a new building, totally different from it, without retaining any of its materials ? What are its defects? It is said equality of votes has embarrassed us. But how? Would the real evils of our situation have been cured, had this not been the case ? Would the proposed amendment on the Virginia plan, as to representation, have relieved us ? I fancy not. Rhode Island has been often quoted as a small state, and by its refusal once defeated the grant of the impost. Whether she was right in doing so, is not the ques tion ; but was it a federal requisition ? And if it was not, she did not, in this instance, defeat a federal measure.
If the larger states seek security, they have it fully in the first branch of the general government. But can we turn the tables, and say that the lesser states are equally secure ? In commercial regulations they will unite. If policy should require free ports, they would be found at Boston, Philadelphia, and Alexandria. In the disposition of lucrative offices they would unite. But I ask no surrender of any of the rights of the great states; nor do I plead duress in the makers of the old Confederation, nor suppose they soothed the danger, in order to resume their rights when the danger
No; small states must possess the power of selfdefence, or be ruined. Will any one say there is no diversity of interests in the states? And if there is, should not chose interests be guarded and secured ? But if there is
none, then the large states have nothing to apprehend from an equality of rights. And let it be remembered, that these remarks are not the result of partial or local views. The state I represent is respectable, and in importance holds a middle rank.
Mr. MADISON. Notwithstanding the admirable and close reasoning of the gentleman who spoke last, I am not yet convinced that my former remarks are not well founded. I apprehend that he is mistaken as to the fact on which he builds one of his arguments. He supposes that equality of votes is the principle on which all confederacies are formed. That of Lycia, so justly applauded by the celebrated Montesquieu, was different. He also appeals to our good faith for the observance of the confederacy. We know we have found one inadequate to the purposes for which it was made. Why then adhere to a system which is proved to be so remarkably defective ? I have impeached a number of states for the infraction of the Confederation ; and I have not even spared my own state, nor can I justly spare his. Did not Connecticut refuse her compliance to the federal requisition ? Has she paid, for the two last years, any money into the Continental treasury? And does this look like government, or the observance of a solemn compact ? Experience shows that the Confederation is radically defective ; and we must, in a new national government, guard against those defects. Although the large states in the first branch have weight proportionate to their population, yet, as the smaller states have an equal vote in the second branch, they will be able to control and leave the larger without any essential benefit. As peculiar powers are intended to be granted to the second branch, such as the negativing state laws, &c., unless the larger states have a proportionate weight in the representation, they cannot be more secure.
Judge ELLSWORTH. My state has always been strictly federal, — and I can with confidence appeal to you excellency [the president] for the truth of it during the
The muster-rolls will show that she had more troops in the field than even the state of Virginia. We strainec every nerve to raise them; and we spared neither money nor exertions to complete our quotas. This extraordinary exer. tion has greatly distressed and impoverished us, and it has accumulated our state debts. We feel the effects of it even
to this day. But we defy any gentleman to show that we ever refused a federal requisition. We are constantly exerting ourselves to draw money from the pockets of our citizens, as fast as it comes in ; and it is the ardent wish of the state to strengthen the federal government. If she has proved delinquent through inability only, it is not more than others have been, without the same excuse.
Mr. SHERMAN. I acknowledge there have been failures in complying with the federal requisition. Many states have been defective, and the object of our Convention is to amend these defects.
Col. DAVIE. I have great objection to the Virginia plan as to the manner the second branch is to be formed. It is impracticable. The number may, in time, amount to two or three hundred. This body is too large for the purposes for which we intend to constitute it. I shall vote for the amendment. Some intend a compromise. This has been hinted by a member from Pennsylvania, but it still has its difficulties. The members will have their local prejudices. The preservation of the state societies must be the object of the general government. It has been asserted that we were one in war, and one in peace. Such we were as states; but every treaty must be the law of the land as it affects individuals. The formation of the second branch, as it is intended by the motion, is also objectionable. We are going the same round with the old Confederation. No plan yet presents sufficient checks to a tumultuary assembly; and there is none, therefore, which yet satisfies me.
Mr. WILSON. On the present motion it was not proper to propose another plan. I think the second branch ought not to be numerous. I will propose an expedient: Let there be onc member for every 100,000 souls, and the smallest states not less than one member each. This would give about twenty-six members. I make this proposal, not because I belong to a large state, but in order to pull down a rotten house, and lay a foundation for a new building. To give additional weight to an old building is to hasten its ruin.
Gov. FRANKLİN. The smaller states, by this motion, would have the power of giving away the money of the greater states. There ought to be some difference between the first and second branches. Many expedients have been proposed, and, I am sorry to remark, without effect. A joiner,
when he wants to fit two boards, takes off with his plant the uneven parts from each side, and thus they fit. Let us do the same. We are all met to do something.
I shall propose an expedient : Let the Senate be elected by the states equally ; in all acts of sovereignty and authority, let the votes be equally taken — the same in the appointment of all officers, and salaries; but in passing of laws, each state shall have a right of suffrage in proportion to the sums they respectively contribute. Amongst merchants, where a ship has many owners, her destination is determined in that proportion. I have been one of the ministers to France from this country during the war, and we should have been very glad, if they would have permitted us a vote in the distribution of the money to carry on the war.
Mr. MARTIN. Mr. Wilson's motion or plan would amount to nearly the same kind of inequality.
Mr. KING. The Connecticut motion contains all the vices of the old Confederation. It supposes an imaginary evil — the slavery of the state governments.
And should this Convention adopt the motion, our business here is at an end.
Capt. DAYTON. Declamation has been substituted for argument. Have gentlemen shown, or must we believe it because it is said, that one of the evils of the old Confederation was unequal representation ? We, as distinct societies, entered into the compact. Will you now undermine the thirteen pillars that support it?
Mr. MARTIN. If we cannot confederate on just principles, I will never confederate in any other manner.
Mr. MADISON. I will not answer for supporting chimerical objects ; but has experience evinced any good in the old Confederation ? I know it never can answer, and I have therefore made use of bold language against it. I do assert that a national Senate, elected and paid by the people, will have no more efficiency than Congress; for the states wil! usurp, the general government. I mean, however, to preserve the state rights with the same care as I would trials by jury; and I am willing to go as far as my honorable colleague
Mr. BEDFORD. That all the states at present are equally sovereign and independent, has been asserted from every quarter of this house. Our deliberations here are a confirmation of the position ; and I may add to it, that each
of them acts from interested, and many from ambitious motives. Look at the votes which have been given on the floor of this house, and it will be found that their numbers, wealth, and local views, have actuated their determinations ; and that the larger states proceed as if our eyes were already perfectly blinded. Impartiality, with them, is already out of the question ; the reported plan is their political creed, and they support it, right or wrong. Even the diminutive state of Georgia has an eye to her future wealth and great
South Carolina, puffed up with the possession of her wealth and negroes, and North Carolina, are all, from different views, united with the great states. And these latter, although it is said they can never, from interested views, form a coalition, we find closely united in one scheme of interest and ambition, (notwithstanding they endeavor to amuse us with the purity of their principle and the rectitude of their intentions,) in asserting that the general government must be drawn from an equal representation of the people. Pretences to support ambition are never wanting. Their cry is, Where is the danger ? and they insist that although the powers of the general governinent will be increased, yet it will be for the good of the whole ; and although the three great states form nearly a majority of the people of America, they never will hurt or injure the lesser states. gentlemen, trust you. If you possess the power, the abuse of it could not be checked ; and what then would prevent you from exercising it to our destruction? You gravely allege that there is no danger of combination, and triumphantly ask, “ How could combinations be effected? The large states," you say, "all differ in productions and cominerce; and expeļience shows that, instead of combinations, they would be rivals, and counteract the views of one another.” This, I repeat, is language calculated only to amuse us. Yes, sir, the larger states will be rivals, but not against each other — they will be rivals against the rest of the states. But it is urged that such a government would suit the people, and that its principles are equitable and just. How often has this argument been refuted, when applied to a federal government! The small states wever can agree to the Virginia plan; and why, then, is it still urged? But it is said that it is not expected that the state governments will approve the proposed system, and that this house
I do not,