« 上一頁繼續 »
of their political importance, constituted the greatest difficulty the convention had now to meet. Men that were not on principle averse to the establishment of a national government were decidedly opposed to a surrender of the political influence of their constituents.'
For a time after the first appearance of this ominous question all went smoothly. Men differed, but differed amicably. It was quickly decided to have a legislature of two branches, but there were differences of opinion as to the method of electing the members to the legislature. Here evidences of
reaction against popular government disclosed themselves; the excesses of the mobs had startled the New-Englanders. Sherman opposed the election by the people, declaring that they should have as little to do with government as possible, while Gerry maintained that the evils of the country flowed from an excess of democracy. “The people do not want virtue,” he said, “but are the dupes of pretended patriots." Mason admitted that the country had been too democratic, but he thought there was danger of going to the other extreme; and he argued strongly for an election of the first branch of the legislature by the people. He was ably supported by Wilson and Madison. Wilson declared that he “ was for raising the federal pyramid to a considerable altitude," and therefore “wished to give it as broad a
1 Madison, Writings (Hunt's ed.), III., 166, n. Grayson' statement, ibid., 36.
basis as possible.”? In spite of these differences of opinion a conclusion was soon reached in favor of popular election of the first branch. Although the question came up again for debate,' on this point the convention had no serious troubles. But to reach a conclusion as to the method of electing the members of the second branch was evidently out of the question at that time, and the matter was postponed, to be discussed more than once again in the weeks that followed.
* Madison, Writings (Hunt's ed.), III., 46-48. • Elliot, Debates, I., 152.
• June 6.
SHALL THE CONFEDERATION BE PATCHED UP?
rapidly forward in the early days of the convention. The discussions were in the committee of the whole house, and there was so much agreement that there seemed good reason for hoping that within a short time all the essential features of the new Constitution could be decided on.
The convention was in the hands of the large-state men, and opposition to their general plans was not as yet crystallized. For the time being the critical proposition, the suggestion of proportional representation, was postponed.
Without discussion it was resolved that each branch of the legislature should have the right to originate laws, and that all powers belonging to the Congress of the Confederation should be transferred to the new government. The proposal to give the central authority legislative power in "cases to which the separate states are incompetent met with some objection, for the fear naturally arose that the states would be robbed of · Elliot, Debates, I., 153; Madison, Writings (Hunt's ed.), III., 53.
their essential powers. Madison and Randolph declared their preference for definite and enumerated powers; but for the time being the resolution in the general form was adopted. Without opposition it was resolved to bestow on the national legislature the right to negative all laws contravening in its opinion the Articles of Union or any treaties subsisting under the authority of the Union. The adoption of such a resolution (May 31), before the convention had been at work a week, shows the settled purposes of the men controlling its deliberations, their determination to remedy the chief fault of the Confederation, and also the advantage they had in the early days over the localists, who were as yet without organization.
There also arose even before June 1 the critical proposition to grant the national legislature the right “to call forth the force of the Union against any member ... failing to fulfil its duty under the articles thereof." Madison, the real author of the Virginia plan,' which was meeting such favor, was eager for effective government but he doubted the practicability, justice, and efficacy of force, “when applied to people collectively and not individually.' “The use of force against a State, would look more like a declaration of war, than an infliction of punishment.": He hoped that a better system could be found, and on his motion the resolution was for a time put by. Plainly the delegates had not yet quite freed themselves from the old notion of the Confederation; they did not yet see the significance of their task or just where the Virginia plan was leading them. Some saw that government must act on men, but even the full force of this was not yet clear.
* Madison, Writings (Hunt's ed.), II., 338. Abbreviations are not literally followed in my quotations from this edition.
• Ibid., III., 56.
So rapidly did the work of the convention go forward that by June 5 a large portion of the Virginia plan had been adopted in committee. True, as we have seen, some of the really critical questions were postponed and many of the resolutions as adopted were very general in terms; nevertheless, the main features of the new order were coming into sight-a government with executive, legislative, and judicial branches, possessed of wide general authority. There was, obviously, a determination on the part of the leaders to frame a system which would not be burdened by the failings of the distracted Confederation. The states must be preserved; but they must not be allowed to disregard their obligations. It was evident, too, that the nationalists were not to be easily discouraged. When the resolution recommending conventions for the adoption of the Constitution was under discussion, Wilson spoke in plain terms; he hoped that a disposition on the part of a plurality of states to organize “anew on better principles" would not be allowed “to be defeated by the in