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According to his own ideas the national legislature should have authority to pass all laws whatsoever, subject to a veto in the hands of the executive. Members of the Senate and the executive were to be elected by electors, and to hold office during good behavior. The supreme judicial authority was to be vested in judges holding office during good behavior. Laws of the states contrary to the Constitution of the United States were to be utterly void; and, to prevent the passage of such laws, state governors, appointed by the general government, were to have the right to veto all laws about to be passed in their respective states. From our present point of view, we see that these propositions had few merits, and that Hamilton either failed to grasp the idea or was out of sympathy with the cardinal thought of the new Constitution, which, under the influence of Randolph, Wilson, Madison, and King, was gradually unfolding. Toward the close of the convention Hamilton gave to Madison a paper which he said described the plan he should have liked to see adopted.'

Hamilton's general scheme was not seriously considered, but the debate continued on Paterson's plan. Madison fairly riddled it with objections which showed its failure to meet the exigencies of the moment; and it was at length determined, by a vote of seven to three, to adhere to Randolph's plan as preferable to Paterson's. Maryland's vote was divided. Connecticut voted with the majority. The delegates from that state were still desirous of protecting its interests by some method of equal representation, but nevertheless were unwilling to put up with the makeshift proposition. Thus far (June 19) the national party was clearly in the lead, and there was no longer much danger that their whole plan would be overthrown; but there was danger that the convention would be broken up or the plan spoiled by vicious alterations.

1 Madison, Writings (Hunt's ed.), III., 197. * Elliot, Debates, I., 180.

CHAPTER XIV

THE GREAT COMPROMISE

(1787)

WHEN

HEN the Virginia plan, as modified in the

committee of the whole, was formally taken up by the house (June 19) it had been under consideration for three weeks. Each clause was now debated anew, and another opportunity was given for discussion on every portion of the plan. Old differences reappeared. Evidently the small-state party was not yet utterly routed; evidently long weeks of debate still remained before adjournment.

On the consideration of the first resolution, which had been adopted in committee May 30, an inter.esting discussion arose. Wilson said that by a national government he did not mean one that would swallow up the states. Hamilton again advocated the bestowal of indefinite authority on the national government: "If it were limited at all, the rivalship of the States would gradually subvert it.' King declared that the states had never, properly speaking, been sovereign. “They did not possess the peculiar features of sovereignty, they could not

Madison, Writings (Hunt's ed.), III., 221.

VOL. X.-16

make war, nor peace, nor alliances, nor treaties. Considering them as political Beings, they were dumb, for they could not speak to any foreign Sovereign whatever. They were deaf, for they could not hear any propositions from such Sovereign. They had not even the organs or faculties of defence or offence, for they could not of themselves raise troops, or equip vessels, for war. On the other side, if the Union of the States comprises the idea of a confederation, it comprises that also of consolidation. A Union of the States is a Union of the men composing them, from whence a national character results to the whole. . . . If the States therefore retained some portion of their sovereignty, they had certainly divested themselves of essential portions of it.” 1

It may be that the reader will say that King was wrong and that the states were sovereign. Possibly they were; so much depends on what the muchabused word sovereign signifies. In the development of modern metaphysics, a development applied in America to practical politics, has come the announcement that it is impossible to divide sovereignty or for a true state to be divested of “portions” of sovereignty. However that may be for to discuss metaphysical sovereignty is to get lost in mazes of intangible argument and of more impalpable assertion-King was bent on bringing out clearly the necessity of establishing a national government and of preserving the states as real political entities—a difficult task, it is true—but on the proper working out of this middle ground, on the proper balancing of the national power and local interest, depended the success of the convention and the foundation of a new political order, which should be neither a thoroughly consolidated state on the one hand nor a mere group of states on the other.

1 Madison, Writings (Hunt's ed.), III., 221.

It was at this time that the word “national” was stricken from the Randolph plan (June 20),' and surely it is unnecessary to assert that the unanimous consent for such erasure was not obtained because men had given up the hope of establishing a national government; for the change was made when those in favor of the Randolph plan and opposed to the Paterson movement had won in the convention by a vote of more than two to one. Ellsworth had asked that the word be erased, so that the resolution would run: “that the Government of the United States ought to consist of a supreme Legislative, Executive and Judiciary." This change, he said, would give "the proper title, 'the United States.' He wished the plan “to go forth as an amendment of the articles of the Confederation, since under this idea the authority of the Legislatures could ratify it.” Randolph, in reply,“ did not object to the change of expression, but apprised the gentleman who wished for it that he did not admit it for the reasons as1 Madison, Writings (Hunt's ed.), III.,

226.

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