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stract your representatives in the convention to adopt it in all its parts. You are the sovereigns of Pennsylvania. All the power of the state is derived from your votes. Nothing can be obligatory on you which is contrary to your inclinations, or repugnant to your happiness. We do not quote any part of the bill of rights to prove to you that you may call a convention, when and in what manner you please. This privilege is your birth right and no power on earth can deprive you of it. We appeal to you therefore, to decide the great question, whether Pennsylvania shall continue unhappy and distracted under her present constitution, or whether by calling a convention, and amending it, you will restore harmony amongst yourselves and dignity to your government.
We recommend to your serious consideration, the report of our committee, which has been adopted by this council and has become one of its acts. Weigh the reasons upon which it is founded with coolness and deliberation, and suffer not yourselves to be imposed upon, or your passions inflamed by artful men, or by words without meaning. We can have no interest separate from yours; and as to our political principles, when you recollect that all have been the constant opposers of our British foes, and most of us have risked our lives and fortunes, during the whole of the contest, you can entertain no doubt about them. The proposed alterations are not experiments, but are founded on reason and the experience of our sister states. The future welfare of your country is in your hands. If you give her a good government she will be great and free.
If you mistake in this point, the die will be cast, and you are sealed up to insignificance or misery,
We have not the most distant prospect, that the gentlemen in the minority will concur in calling a convention to amend the constitution, which we have thought, we hope not improperly, the most important part of our business; and it is that you might have an opportunity to instruct them on that subject, that we have at present suspended our deliberations
On motion, that the president sign the address, and that it be published with the report, the yeas and nays were as follow:
The convention then adjourned until 3 o'clock on Tuesday the 1st of Jupe, next, P. M.
A view of the proceedings of the second session of the council of censors,
convened at Philadelphia, on the 1st of June, 1784.
TUESDAY, June 1, 1784.
A number of the members met pursuant to adjournment, but there not being a quorum present, they adjourned from day to day until Friday June 4th, 1784, when a quorum appearing, they proceeded to business, and were engaged until the 5th August following in the consideration of other subjects than those connected with the constitution.
TURSDAY, August 5, 1784.
Resolved, That the powers of this council do extend to all abuses and deviations from the constitution, which happen as well during the existence of this council, as previous to its being constituted.
The committee appointed to enquire whether the constitution has been preserved inviolate in every part, and whether the legislative and executive branches of government have performed their duty, as guardians of the people, or assumed to themselves or exercised other or greater powers than they are entitled to by the constitution, delivered in a further report,* which was read and ordered to lie on the table.
WEDNESDAY, August 11, 1784.
It was resolved, that the council will on Monday the 16th instant, take up for a second reading the said report. Monday the 16th of August, the council proceeded to the consideration of the reports of the said conmittee, read the 17th of January and the 5th of August, and the same were considered by paragraphs, amended, and on the 3d of August adopted, in the words following, viz.
The committee appsinted to enquire “ whether the constitution has been preserved inviolate in every part, and whether the legislative or executive branches of government have performed their duty as guardians of the people, or assumed to themselves or exercised other or greater powers than they are entitled to by the constitution,” beg leave to report:
That they have examined and investigated the proceedings of the legislative body of this state, and that they find various and multiplied instances of departure from the frame of government. But conceiving it to be the most important and at the same time the least disa. greeable part of the daty of the council of censors to bring the administration back to its first principles, they have selected such and so many instances of deviation, as are necessary to illustrate and re-establish the several leading principles of the constitution. These, for perspicuity, they have arranged under the respective section, or clause of the section violated; together with the opinion of the committee,
* The committee reported in part on the 17th January, 1783.
thereon, and their reasons for such opinion; and they now submit the whole to the council.
The journals of the general assembly and the laws passed since the revolution, have furnished all the cases referred to; because by the second statute of this commonwealth, in section 3, the acts of assernbly of the late province of Pennsylvania, are revived and declared to be law within the state, so far only as they are not repugnant to, or inconsistent with the constitution.
In our enquiries we considered the constitution as a system, which, in establishing the natural rights of individuals, founds all civil power on the authority of the people only, in whom the sovereignty resides, and whose is that sovereignty in its several parts, as the same is delegated to different bodies of the citizens, as their trustees or servants. The exercise of power in the greatest articles of it, those of making laws, and carrying those laws into execution, is, by the three first sections of this grand bulwark of equal liberty, so honorable to the founders of it, and so invaluable to the citizens, by a most marked and de. cided distribution, assigned to two great branches. The legislative power is vested in the representatives of the people in general assembly, and the executive in a president and council; and from this last, for the greater security of the people, the judicial, of which it is a part, is again severed, and rendered independent of both. Thus wisely precluding an accumulation of power and influence, in the hands of one or of few, which the history of mankind evinces ever to have been subversive of all public justice and private right, and introductive of the capricious, unsteady domination of prejudice, party and self-interest, instead of the government of laws prescribed, promulgated and known.
The legislative, executive and judicial powers of the people being thus severally delegated to different bodies, the convention has carefully guarded against any encroachment of one on the proper authority of either of the other bodies, by making it a principal duty of a council of censors every seventh year to enquire, « Whether the constitution has been preserved inviolate, and whether the legislative and executive branches of government have assumed to themselves, or exercised other or greater powers than they are entitled to by the constitution.'
These observations your committee premise to their report, as they are the clew by, which they have been able to investigate the fabric.
The supposed doubts and difficulties, the contradictions and absurdities imputed to the constitution, which have been industriously and insidiously suggetsed to the people, as rendering it an impracticable system of administration, and as justifying acts of government in violation of it, have vanished before us as we proceeded. By thus recurring to the source of all authority, and recognising the distribution of powers, this frame of government, as established by the convention, appears to your committee to be clear in its principles, accurate in its form, consistent in its several parts, and worthy of the veneration of the good people of Pennsylvania, and of all the attachment they have formerly and during this session of the council of censors shewn to it.
Your committee beg leave further to suggest, that the checks and guards provided by the convention upon the proceedings of the legisJative body, carry with them a very strong implied censure against the disposing of public money by vote; legislating for individuals, or in any case, by summary resolutions, which should be considered as nu more than previous declarations of the sense of the house upon
unfinished business; å foundation whereon to raise the superstructure of law, after mature deliberation, and clothed with the solemnities of enacting, which give weight and dignity, as well as public notoriety to the statute. This consideration is the more interesting, as the executive powers, being no longer opposed to the popular interest, and so restricted in this state that they cease to be objects of watchful jealousy.
We believe, with the illustrious Montesquieu, that the representative body is not fit for active resolutions, but for the enacting of laws, and to see whether the laws be duly executed. This latter duty of seeing whether the laws have been duly executed, the convention has assigned to the council of censors: thus wisely providing for a dispassionate review of so important an object, at a distance of time when animosities may have subsided, and calm reason may suffer the law of the land to resume its proper exercise. And we are of opinion with the great Locke, who, speaking of legislative power, lays it down as the fundamental law of all commonwealths, “ that the legislative cannot assume to itself a power to rule by extemporary and arbitrary decrees, but is bound to dispense law and justice, and to decide the rights of the subject by promulgated, standing laws, and known authorised judges; and that men give up their natural independence to the society with this trust, that they shall be governed by known laws; otherwise their peace, quiet and property will be in the same uncer. tainty as in a state of nature.”
This practice of entering into personal discussions and hasty votes, too often in contradiction to express laws, solemnly enacted, we fear, has been too much countenanced in some instances from a determination that the people should experience, practically, what cxtravagancies a single legislature, unrestrained by the rules of the constitution, may be capable of committing. And this while people were yet in some degree under the habits of the former vague, undefined and unsystematical proprietary government of the province; when every increase of power, obtained by their representatives from the executive, and every in. stance in which the force of law could be obtained to a resolve of the house, seemed at least to be favorable to the public interest, have not adverted to the dangerous effects arising to the community from such proceedings, in our present circumstances.
However irregular and inconsistent it may be, in well formed gov. ernments, for the representative body to legislate by a hasty vote, and to execute, or to appoint the officers who execute, yet every instance in which the representative body succeeded in such attempts, tended to restrict or counterbalance the enormous influence of a proprietor, having an interest opposed to that of the people; a negative on their orderly proceedings in legislation in his own person, and another within his influence; and having almost every officer (from the chief justice of the supreme court downwards) the creature of his power, and the servant of his will; every freeholder for his tenant, a rental from the quit rents, and a fixed revenue for his deputies, which made him and his governors independent of the people and their representatives ; and millions of acres to dispose of, as his interest or ambition might suggest. Thus circumstanced, every opportunity was anxiously embraced of getting the public revenues into the disposition of the assem. bly or of officers appointed by them; and thus the same body who levis ed the money from the subject, expended it in some instances by their resolves, without control or accountability. However dangerous the powers of the proprietor may have been, yet your committee be. lieve that these proceedings of the assembly were not the less irregular. They were however practised, and they have unfortunately ac. quired too great a sanction with the people from custom, and from the popular character of the last assembly before the revolution, and of The committees and council of safety since that period, who, having alone the exercise of every power of government, continued the practice of course.
From similar circumstances, and the continued opposition to the alarming influence of the proprietary power, arose and has been handed down, the usage in general assembly, through a committee of grievances, of extending their deliberations to the cases of individuals, who have been taught to consider an application to the legislature as a shorter and more certain mode of obtaining relief from hardships and losses, than the usual process of law. For as the erecting of a court of chancery would be adding to the weight of the proprietor, by giving him new jurisdiction, as well as the appointment of a new corps of of ficers, it was deemed expedient to retain the exercise of equitable power in the hands of the assembly; and there is reason to think that lavor and partiality have from the nature of public bodies of men, predominated in the distribution of this relief. These dangerous procedures have been too often recurred to since the revolution.
Your committee further observe, that from the peculiar circumstances attending the late struggle with great Britain, examples have been set, which it will be extremely dangerous, and in some cases derogatory to the sovereignty of the state, to suffer to pass into precedents.
We are willing to leave the scale of depreciation and some other acts, expost facto, to be justified by the necessity of the case. But law is well defined to be "a rule prescribed or made before hand.” Public monies ought to be appropriated before they are levied. The reward of services should be ascertained when they are prescribed, and neither increased nor diminished afterwards, from favor or prejudice to the party. Innocence and guilt, and all demands by or against the public, ought, in all instances, to be judged by the known and usual course of proceedings ; ever preserving, in case of doubts as to fact and law, the sacred right of trial by jury, and the proper tribupals; jury trial being the only instance of judicial power which the people have reserved to themselves.
These considerations your committee offer to the council, to be recommended to the watchful attention of the citizens of the state, as a standing protest of this council of censors against the tions of the constitution, which are now more generally hinted at, or hereinafter particularly noticed.
We flatter ourselves that by recurring to the line of duty prescribed to the several branches of government by the constitution, the expenses and burthensome length of the sessions of the legislature may be saved to the good people of Pennsylvania.
In some instances it is certainly true that the constitution has been invaded through necessity, in times of extreme danger, when this country was involved in a very unequal struggle for lite and liberty, and when good men were induced to hazard all consequences, for the sake of preserving our existence as a people. Yet in a calin review of