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How is the expense of supporting and regulating these Important matters to be defrayed? By requisition on the Slates according to the Jersey plan? Will this do it. We have already found it ineffectual. Let one state prove delinquent, and it will encourage others to follow the example; and thus the whole will fail. And what is the standard by which to quota among the States their respective proportions? Can lands be the standard? How would that apply between Russia and Holland? Compare Pennsylvania with North Carolina, or Connecticut with New York. Does not commerce or industry in the one or the other make a great disparity, between these different countries, and may not the comparative value of the States, from these circumstances, make an unequal disproportion when the data are numbers? I therefore conclude that either system would ultimately destroy the Confederation, or any other government which is established on such fallacious principles. Perhaps imposts—taxes on specific articles—would produce a more equal system of drawing a revenue.
Another objection against the Jersey plan is, the unequal representation. Can the great States consent to this? If they did, it would eventually work its own destruction. How are forces to be raised by the Jersey plan? By quotas? Will the States comply with the requisition? As much as they will with the taxes.
Examine the present Confederation, and it is evident they can raise no troops, and equip no vessels, before war is actually declared. They cannot, therefore, take any preparatory measure before an enemy is at your door. How unwise and inadequate their powers I And this must ever be the case when you attempt to define powers; something will always be wanting. Congress, by being annually elected, and subject to recall, will ever come with the prejudices of their States, rather than the good of the Union. Add therefore, additional powers to a body organized, and you establish a sovereignty of the worst kind consisting of a single body. Where are the checks? None. They must either prevail over the State governments, or the prevalence of the State governments must end in their dissolution. This is a conclusive objection to the Jersey plan.
Such are the insuperable objections to both plans, and what is to be done on this occasion? I confess I am at a loss. I foresee the difficulty, on a consolidated plan, of drawing a representation from so extensive a continent to one place. What can be the inducements for gentlemen to come six hundred miles to a legislature? The expense would at least amount to a hundred thousand pounds. This, however, can be no conclusive objection, if it eventuates in an extinction of State governments: reduced to corporations, and with very limited powers, they might be necessary, and the expense of the national government less burdensome.
Yet, I confess, I see great difficulty of drawing forth a good representation. What, for example, will be the inducements for gentlemen of fortune and abilities to leave their houses and business to attend annually and long? It cannot be the wages; for these, I presume, must be small. Will not the power, therefore, be thrown into the hands of the demagogue or middling politician—who, for the sake of a small stipend And the hopes of advancement, will offer himself as a candidate, and the real men of weight and influence, by remaining at home", add strength to the State governments? I am at a loss to know what must be done. I despair that a republican form of government can remove the difficulties. Whatever may be my opinion, I would hold it, however, unwise to change that form of government. I believe the British Government forms the best model the world ever produced; and such has been its progress in the minds of many, that the truth gradually gains ground. This government has for its object public strength and individual security. It is said with us to be unattainable. If it was once formed, it would maintain itself. All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and well born, the others the mass of the people. The voice of the people is said to be the voice of God; and, however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine rightly. Give, therefore, the first class a distinct and permanent share in the government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second, and as they cannot receive any advantage by change, they therefore will ever maintain good government. Can a democratic assembly, who annually revolve in the mass of people, be supposed steadily to pursue the public good? Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy; their turbulent and incontrollable disposition requires checks. The Senate of New York, although chosen for four years, we have found to be inefficient. Will, on the Virginia plan, a continuance of seven years do it? It is admitted that you cannot have a good executive upon a democratic plan. See the excellency of the British executive. He is above temptation—he can have no distinct interest from the public welfare. Nothing short of such an executive can be efficient. The weak side of a republican government is the danger of foreign influence. This is unavoidable, unless it is so constructed as to bring forward its first characters in its support. I am, therefore, for a general government, yet would wish to go the full length of the republican principle.
Let one body of the legislature be constituted during good behavior, or life.
Let one executive be appointed, who dares execute his powers. It may be asked, Is this a republican system 1 It is strictly so, as long as they remain elective.
And let me observe, that an executive is less dangerous to the liberties of the people, when in office during life, than for seven years.
It may be said this constitutes an elective monarchy. Pray what is a monarch? May not the governors of the respective States be considered in that light? But by making the executive subject to impeachment, the term monarch cannot apply. These elective monarchs have produced tumults in Rome, and are equally dangerous to peace in Poland ; but this cannot apply to the mode in which I propose the election. Let electors be appointed in each of the States, to elect the legislature, to consist of two branches ; and I would give them the power of passing all laws, without exception. The assembly to be elected for three years, by the people, in districts; the senate to be elected by electors, to be chosen for that purpose by the people, and to remain in office during life. The executive to have the power of negativing all laws; to make war or peace, with the advice of the senate; to make treaties, with their advice; but to have the sole directions in all military operations, and to send ambassadors, and appoint all military officers, and to pardon all offenders, treason excepted, unless by the advice of the senate. On his death, or removal, the president of the senate to officiate, with the same powers, until another is elected. Supreme judicial officers to be appointed by the executive and the senate. The legislature to appoint courts in each state, so as to make the State government unnecessary to it.
All State laws to be absolutely void, which contravene the general laws. An officer appointed in each State to have a negative on all laws. All the militia, and the appointment of officers, to be under the national government.
I confess that this plan, and that from Virginia, are Tery remote from the idea of the people; perhaps the Jersey plan is nearest their expectation. But the people are gradnally ripening in their opinions of government—they begin to be tired of an excess of democracy—and what even is the Virginia plan, but pork alill, with a Utile change of the sauce f
The following is Mr. Hamilton's plan:
"1. The supreme legislative power of the United States of America to be vested in two different bodies of men; the one to be called the assembly, the other the senate; who, together, shall form the legislature of the United States, with power to pass all laws whatsoever, subject to the negative hereafter mentioned.
"2. The assembly to consist of persons elected by the people, to serve for three years.
"3. The senate to consist of persons elected to serve during good behavior; their election to be made by electors chosen for that purpose by the people. In order to this, the states to be divided into election districts. On the death, removal, or resignation of any senator, his place to be filled out of the district from which he came.
"4. The supreme executive authority of the United States to be vested in a governor, to be elected to serve during good behavior; the election to be made by electors chosen by the people in the election districts aforesaid. The authorities and functions of the executive to be as follows: To have a negative on all laws about to be passed, and the execution of all laws passed; to have the direction of war when authorized or begun; to have, with the advice and approbation of the senate, the power of making all treaties; to have the sole appointment of the heads or chief officers of the departments of finance, war, and foreign affairs; to have the nomination of all other officers, (ambassadors to foreign nations included,) subject to the approbation or rejection of the senate; to have the power of pardoning all offenses except treason, which he shall not pardon without the approbation of the senate.