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convention had been in session nearly two months, the vote was cast in favor of equal representation in the second chamber. This time Massachusetts was divided, and North Carolina left the ranks of the large-state party. The vote stood five to four;' one state was divided, and three were at that time without representation on the floor.
The large-state men were loath to give up the contest. The strongest among them had seen the impotency of Congress, where narrow jealousy and petty state politics had played so conspicuous a rôle. Some of them had objected for years to the real injustice of the equal representation that had been in vogue from the beginning; and in organizing a national government they had grounds for hoping that a plan agreeable neither to reason nor to justice would be abandoned. The next morning after the eventful vote a caucus of the large-state party was held before the convention assembled. Some of the small-state men were in attendance. Should the compromise be acquiesced in, or should the large-state party, relying on the justice of their cause, persist in their opposition and proceed by themselves to frame a constitution ?? No conclusion could be reached, and when the convention assembled most of the men were in their places and the work went on.
In this way the great cause of disagreement was put aside. Much still remained to be done, requiring wisdom, patience, and thoughtful statesmanship; but from this time forward men could differ without losing their tempers. The small-state men ceased to interfere with the work of the convention. Bedford soon left, or, at least, ceased speaking in the convention. Paterson ere long disappeared from sight. Nothing more was heard of Brearley for over a month. Lansing and Yates had already gone home in disgust. The resolute Martin remained till near the end of the session, and then went home to denounce the large-state party and their success in the establishment of a national government. Ellsworth, Sherman, and Dickinson, who had been all along not ill-disposed to a national government if the security of the states was assured, remained to be of much service in working out the details of the Constitution.
1 Madison, Writings (Hunt's ed.), III., 438.
; Ibid., 443.
The large-state party was much cast down, but there was no real occasion; they had themselves seen that there was no reason for expecting actual diversity of interest between the big and the little states, and there was no real fear that the Senate would become another impotent Congress reproducing the imbecility of the Confederation. The time was not far distant when the citizens of the states themselves would be divided into political parties on national issues, and forget in a measure the old-time state antagonisms. It was, moreover, moved in the convention, only a short time after this critical vote on the great compromise was taken,
that the members of the second branch should vote per capita and not by states; and notwithstanding the objection from Martin that this meant a departure from the idea of representation of the states, the motion was carried. Long as the small-state men had fought for equal representation, the party desiring a continuance of the Confederation and not the establishment of a national government were beaten; those were successful who, not objecting to a national government, wished in one of its members a means of restraint to protect the states in case of attack. If any one has the idea that the particularists believed they had succeeded in preventing the convention from forming a national government, he may well read Lansing and Yates's letter to the governor of New York,” Luther Martin's "Genuine Information,"the writings of Richard Henry Lee * or of George Clinton. The friends of the convention's work, in their defence, felt compelled to insist on the idea that the Constitution provided for a system only partly national.
Before decision was reached on the great compromise, a few fundamental ideas had been hammered out in debate. Little by little the principle had been made clear that in all the arrangements of the new order the state and the national governments should be kept free from interference. This 1 Madison, Writings (Hunt's ed.), IV., 45; Elliot, Debates, I., 215. Elliot, Debates, I., 480-482.
3 Ibid., 344-389. Ford, Pamphlets on the Constitution, 277–325. • Ford, Essays on the Constitution, 248.
thought had found vague expression in the early days, but was brought out more clearly in later discussions. Those who knew the unwholesome rivalries of the Confederation had been taught that a government as such has its own pride and foibles, its own self-love; and that if the new government was to succeed, it must not depend on execution by state officials but be able to work its will without reference to the governments of the states, unaffected, indeed, by the presence of the states. In some measure this idea was involved in the proposition to establish a general government; but a general government could have been established on a different principle, its machinery in contact with the machinery of the states. Such confederacies have in our day been set up in Switzerland and Germany.
In working out this idea of separation, there came out clearly certain foundation principles, which were most remarkable and far-reaching, the essentials of a system of imperial government new to the world: the general government was to legislate for men and not for states; it was to rest directly on its own citizens; it was to legislate directly and immediately for them. Over each citizen there were to be two governments. In a powerful speech, as early as June 25, Wilson explained the significance of the proposed system. He spoke of the "twofold relation in which the people would stand," first as citizens of the general government, and second as citizens of their particular states. “The General Government was meant for them in the first capacity: the State Governments in the second. Both Governments were derived from the people—both meant for the people—both therefore ought to be regulated on the same principles. The same train of ideas which belonged to the relation of the Citizens to their State. Governments were applicable to their relation to the General Government and in forming the latter, we ought to proceed, by abstracting as much as possible from the idea of the State Governments. With respect to the province and object of the General Government they should be considered as having no existence.” I Wilson put forth this argument in opposition to the notion of election of senators by state legislatures. It is true that that method of election was finally adopted; but in the scheme worked out by the convention this was almost the only variation from the principle that he was advocating
This new political idea, which Wilson thus clearly explained, did not involve the establishment of a national government which was to be superior to the state governments. There was evidently to be a distribution of political authority, and each government in its peculiar sphere was to exercise power, not one over the other, but directly and without mediation on its own citizens. Strange, perhaps,
1 Madison, Writings (Hunt's ed.), III., 279; see also King, Life and Corresp. of King, I., 607.