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would thus represent the people, and the other the interests of the States, and being independent they would operate as checks upon each other.
Mr. Read thought too much attachment was betrayed for the State governments. The national government must of necessity swallow them up. If we do not establish a good and strong government we should soon have to do the work over again.
Mr. Pinckney and Mr. Wilson were for preserving the State governments. The motion of Mr. Pinckney to elect the first branch by the State legislatures was then negatived.*
From June 7 th till the 14th, the Convention was engaged in the discussion of the remainder of Mr. Randolph's resolutions, when they were reported to the House with amendments.
June 15. Mr. Patterson submitted a series of resolutions, which were afterward designated as "the Jersey plan." They were postponed, however, and on the 19th voted down, receiving but three votes.
June 18. Mr. Hamilton addressed the Convention, and at the close of his remarks, offered his plan of government. We give both the speech and the plan, from Mr. Yates' notes, who observes that Mr. Hamilton saw and corrected the speech at the time. It is worthy of note that, from this speech and plan of government sprang the political animosity between Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Hamilton, that finally resulted in the organization of two great political parties, Federal and Republican, under the lead of those truly great men. Mr. Hamilton, it will be seen, was cautious as to trusting power in the hands of the people, and advocated a kind of elective monarchy. Mr. Jefferson took the opposite view, and, in some form or other, those distinctive ideas, modified, it is true, have pervaded the politics of the country ever since.
* The reader cannot fail to observe, from this discussion, the design of the framers of the Constitntion in giving each State an equal representation in the Senate, and of electing that branch (the second branch) by the State legislatures, viz.: that the Senate should be the conservator of State sovereignty, as suggested by Mr. Dickinson, while the House (the first branch) should represent the people. A happy blending of the two systems proposed, and a full answer to the objection so frequently raised in large States, that they have no more power in the Senate than the smallest. It is here that the strongest barrier against the despotism of a central government is erected. May it never be pulled down I
Mr. Hamilton said : To deliver my sentiments on so important a subject, when the first characters of the Union have gone before me, inspires me with the greatest diffidence, especially when my own ideas are so materially dissimilar to the plans now before the committee. My situation is disagreeable; but it would be criminal not to come forward on a question of so much magnitude. I have well considered the subject, and am convinced that no amendment of the Confederation can answer the purpose of a good government, so long as the State sovereignties do, in any shape exist; and I have great doubts whether a national government on the Virginia plan, can be made effectual. What is federal? An association of several independent States into one. How or in what manner this association is formed, is not so clearly distinguishable. "We find that the diet of Germany has, in some instances, the power of legislation on individuals. We find the United States of America have it in an extensive degree in the case of piracies.
Let us now review the powers with which we are invested. We are appointed with the sole and express purpose of revising the Confederation, and to alter or amend it, so as to render it effectual for the purpose of a good government. Those who suppose it to be federal, lay great stress on the terms sole and express, as if these words intended a confinement to a federal government, when the manifest import is no more than that the institution of a good government must be the sole and express object of your deliberations. Nor can we suppose an annihilation of our powers by forming a national government, as many of the States have made in their constitutions no proper provisions for any alterations, and thus much I can say for the State I have the honor to represent, that when our credentials were under consideration in the Senate, some members were for inserting a restriction in the powers, to prevent an encroachment on the constitution: it was answered by others, and thereupon the resolve carried on the credentials, that it might abridge the constitutional powers of the State, and that possibly in the formation of a new Union, it would be found necessary. This seems reasonable, and leaves us at liberty to form such a national government as we think best adapted to the whole. I have therefore no difficulty as to the extent of our powers, nor do I feel myself restrained in the exercise of my judgment under them. We can only propose and recommend;—the power of ratifying or rejecting is still in the States. But on this great question I am still embarrassed. I have before observed my apprehension of the inefficacy of either plan, and I have doubts whether a more energetic government can pervade this wide and extensive country. I shall now show that both plans are materially defective.
1. A good government ought to be constant, and ought to contain an active principle. 2. Utility and necessity. 3. An habitual sense of obligation. 4. Force. 5. Influence. I hold it that different societies have all different views and interests to pursue, and always prefer local to general concerns. For example, the New York Legislature made an external compliance lately to a requisition of Congress; but do they not, at the same time, counteract their compliance by gratifying the local objects of the State, so as to defeat their concession? And this will ever be the case. Men always love power, and States will prefer their particular concerns to the general welfare; and as the States become large and important, will they not be less attentive to the general government? What, in process of time, will Virginia be? She contains now half a million inhabitants; in twenty-five years she will double that number. Feeling her own weight and importance, must she not become indifferent to the concerns of the Union? And where in such a situation will be found national attachment to the general government?
By force I mean the coercion of law and the coercion of arms. Will this remark apply to the power invested to be instituted by their plan? A delinquent must be compelled to obedience by force of arms. How is this to be done? If you are unsuccessful, a dissolution of your government must be the consequence; and in that case the individual legislatures will resume their powers; nay, will not the interests of the States be thrown into the State governments?
By influence I mean the regular weight and support it will receive from those who find it their interest to support a government intended to preserve the peace and happiness of the community on the whole. The State governments, by either plan, will exert the means to counteract it. They have their State judges and militia, all combined to support their State interests; and these will be influenced to oppose a national government. Either plan therefore is precarious. The national government cannot long exist, opposed by so weighty a rival. The experience of ancient and modern confederacies evinces this point, and throws considerable light on the subject. The Amphictyonic council of Greece had a right to require of its members troops, money, and the force of the country. Were they obeyed in the exercise of those powers? Could they preserve the peace of the greater States and republics? Or, where were they obeyed? History shows that their decrees were disregarded, and that the stronger States, regardless of their power, gave law to the lesser.
Let us examine the Federal Institutions of Germany. It was instituted upon the laudable principle of securing the independency of the several States of which it was composed, and to protect them against foreign invasion. Has it answered these good intentions? Do we not see that their councils are weak and distracted, and that it cannot prevent the wars and confusions which the respective electors carry on against each other? The Swiss Cantons, or the Helvetic Union, are equally insufficient.
Such are the lessons which the experience of others affords us, and from whence results the evident conclusion that all Federal Governments are weak and distracted. To avoid the evils deducible from these observations, we must establish a general and national government, completely sovereign, and annihilate the State distinctions and State operations; and unless we do this, no good purpose can be answered. What does the Jersey plan propose? It surely has not this for its object. By this we grant the regulations of trade and a more effectual collection of the revenue, and some partial duties. These, at five or ten per cent., would only perhaps amount to a fund to discharge the debt of the corporation.
Let us take a review of the variety of important objects which must necessarily engage the attention of a national government. You have to protect your rights against Canada on the North, Spain on the South, and your western frontier against the savages, you have to adopt necessary plans for the settlement of your frontiers, and to institute the mode in which settlements and good governments are to be made.