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with suspicion on the commercial power of the New England states. Here, as elsewhere, the more thickly populated districts were favorable to the Constitution, and sectional conditions had their influence. In the eastern section four-fifths of the delegates that were chosen to the convention favored adoption; in the middle district, peopled by small farmers, three-fourths were opposed to adoption. The region somewhat farther west, also peopled by small farmers, who were chiefly Scotch - Irish and Germans from Pennsylvania, was almost a unit for adoption. On the other hand, nine-tenths of the delegates from the Kentucky region were AntiFederalists."
The leaders of both parties were able and untiring. Though Lee was not elected a member of the convention, he worked sedulously against adoption. Henry, at the head of the Anti-Federal delegates, exclaimed and expostulated in a turbulent stream of rhetoric. Mason, bitterly complaining over the establishment of a national government and over Congressional authority to regulate commerce, opposed the Constitution to the end with characteristic energy. Grayson also was in opposition, and Monroe, neglecting to follow the guidance of the wiser Madison, gave the Anti-Federalists such aid as he could.
Strong as these men were, they were met by their equals. Washington was not a member of the con
· Libby, Distribution of Vote on Federal Const., 34 et seq.
vention, but his unwavering support of the Constitution and his broad-minded utterances concerning the absolute necessity of union were of incalculable value. Randolph had by this time given up his uncertainty, and he spoke eloquently for adoption. John Marshall, a young man of thirtytwo, with a clear head and an easy command of sound logic, was chosen to the convention and argued ably for the Constitution. Madison was the active leader of the Federalist forces, and he led them well; his temper was never ruffled nor his reason clouded. A careful study of Henry's brilliant oratory leaves one in wonder that day after day his fervid exclamations were answered with imperturbable calmness and placid good sense. Madison had none of the graces of oratory; he was small and unimpressive; his manner seemed at times to betoken irresolution; when he rose to speak, his voice was low, and he stood hat in hand as if he had just come in to give a passing word of counsel." But he knew what he was talking about, he was prepared to speak, and he did not envelop his thought in ornamental rhetorical wrappings.
Henry began the contest in the convention by dramatically declaring that the conduct of the delegates to Philadelphia should be investigated. “Even from that illustrious man who saved us by his valor, I would have a reason for his conduct.” “What
· Fisher Ames, Works, I., 35; Elliot, Debates, III., 86, 305, 395; Hunt, Madison, 151.
right,” he exclaimed, “had they to say, We, the people? Who authorized them to speak the language of, We, the people, instead of, We, the states?" He declared that the Constitution established a consolidated government, and that the sovereignty of the states would be relinquished. Mason, too, asserted that “whether the Constitution be good or bad,” the power to tax clearly showed that the new government was a national government: “The assumption of this power of laying direct taxes does, of itself, entirely change the confederation of the states into one consolidated government.” 1
To such declarations it was hard to give an explicit answer. Madison could only say that the new system was neither a thoroughly consolidated government nor a mere confederation : “It stands by itself. In some respects it is a government of a federal nature; in others, it is of a consolidated nature.' Henry ridiculed this strange new government, new, it wants a name. I wish its other novelties were as harmless as this." 2 But his ridicule was misplaced; though we have lived over a hundred years under the Constitution, we should have difficulty in describing its system much more accurately than Madison then described it. It did not provide for a centralized state nor did it provide for a mere league of states. In the essays that Madison was
1 Elliot, Debates, III., 22, 29, 44; see also 521, 52a.
then writing for the press, seeking to allay the fears of the people for the security of the states, he made a similar assertion: “The proposed Constitution, therefore, even when tested by the rules laid down by its antagonists, is in strictness, neither a National nor a Federal Constitution; but a composition of both."1 Another Federal member of the convention, Mr. Corbin, aptly called the new government "a representative federal republic, as contradistinguished from a confederacy."?
To obtain amendments as a condition of ratification or to secure the meeting of a second federal convention seems to have been Henry's purpose. But, indeed, there was little in the Constitution that suited him and his eager followers. In comparison with such a consolidated government, small confederacies, he declared, were little evils. The dangers of the new system were many and evident: the president would become a tyrant; America would be enslaved; there was no proper security for a safe basis of representation; Congress, by its power of taxation, would clutch the purse with one hand and wave the sword with the other; customs officers, for whom the American people cherished a hereditary hatred, would burden the people with their exactions. “I never will give up that darling word requisitions,” exclaimed Henry, with dramatic pathos;“my country may give it up; a majority may
1 The Federalist, No. xxxix. (Scott's ed.), 215. · Elliot, Debates, III., 107.
wrest it from me, but I will never give it up till
my grave.” 1
The clause giving Congress power to lay taxes to provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States was termed the “sweeping clause";' it would in the end bestow all authority on the central government. There was great and serious danger lurking in the clause giving Congress exclusive power of legislation over a district ten miles square. “This ten miles square, " said Mr. Mason, “may set at defiance the laws of the surrounding states, and may, like the custom of the superstitious days of our ancestors, become the sanctuary of the blackest crimes.";
The treatymaking power was fraught with grave perils, and the Anti-Federalists, desiring to hold the vote of the Kentucky members, insisted that the closure of the Mississippi could more easily be brought about if the Constitution were adopted."
These objections were met by the Federalists with good arguments. The “sweeping clause "was shown to contain no new powers, but to indicate only the purposes of taxation—to provide for the common defence and general welfare. Without exclusive legislation within ten miles square, Congress might be subjected to insult. As for the Mississippi, no reasonable treaty securing America rights of naviga
· Elliot, Debates, III., 59, 60, 147, 148, 161.
• Ibid., 340, 501.
3 Ibid., 431.