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they will be chosen by their immediate representatives, as well as from their characters, as men of wisdom and integrity. And I see not why all the branches of government should not harmonize in promoting the great end of their institution, the good and happiness of the people.
“ The senators and representatives being eligible from the citizens at large, and wealth not being a requisite qualification for either, they will be persons nearly equal as to wealth and other qualifications, so that there seems not to be any principle tending to aristocracy; which, if I understand the term, is a government by nobles, independent of the people, which cannot take place with us in either respect, without a total subversion of the constitution. I believe the more this provision of the constitution is attended to and experienced, the more the wisdom and utility of it will appear. As senators cannot hold any other office themselves, they will not be influenced in their advice to the president by interested motives. But it is said they may have friends and kindred to provide for ; it is true they may, but when we consider their character and situation, will they not be diffident of nominating a friend or relative who may wish for an office and be well qualified for it, lest it should be suspected to proceed from partiality? And will not their fellow members have a degree of the same reluctance, lest it should be thought they acted from friendship to a member of their body? so that their friends and connections would stand a worse chance, in proportion to their real merit, than strangers. But if the president was left to select a council for himself, though he may be supposed to be actuated by the best motives—yet he would be surrounded by flatterers, who would assume the character of friends and patriots, though they had no attachment to the public good, no regard to the laws of their country, but influenced wholly by self interest, would wish to extend the power of the executive in order to increase their own; they would often advise him to dispense with laws that should thwart their schemes, and in excuse plead that it was done from necessity to promote the public good—they will use their own influence, induce the president to use his to get laws
repealed, or the constitution altered to extend his powers and prerogatives, under pretext of advancing the public good, and gradually render the government a despotism. This seems to be according to the course of human affairs, and what may be expected from the nature of things. I think that members of the legislature would be most likely duly to execute the laws both in the executive and judiciary departments."*
The ratification of the constitution by the state of New Hampshire, being the ninth in order, was laid before congress, on the 2d of July, 1788, and with the ratifications of the other states, referred to a committee, to report an act for carrying the new system into operation. An act for this purpose was reported on the 14th of the same month, but in consequence of a division as to the place where the first congress should meet, did not pass until the 13th of September following. By this act, the electors of president were to be appointed on the first Wednesday of January, 1787, and to give in their votes on the first Wednesday of the succeeding February; the first Wednesday of March, being the 4th day of that month, was fixed as the time, and the city of New York, as the place for commencing proceedings under the new constitution.
Before noticing these proceedings, we shall give a brief view of the state constitutions.
* MSS Letters.
States institute forms of government agreeably to the advice of congress--States of
Connecticut and Rhode Island proceed according to their charters-Massachusetts at first conform to their charter as far as practicable--New Hampshire, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and North Carolina, establish new governments in the course of the year 1776---Those of New Hampshire, South Carolina, and New Jersey, limited to the continuance of the disputes with Great Britain---General principles and outlines of these constitutions---New York establishes a government in 1777---Its general features---Constitution of Massachusetts not finally completed until 1780..-Vermont not a part of the union until 1791---Claimed by New York and New Hampshire--Declares independence in 1777.--Outlines of her constitution, formed in 1786---Constitution of Georgia as established in 1789---After the formation and adoption of the general government, principles of making constitutions better understood --Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Delaware, revise and alter their systems of government.
It will be remembered that on the 10th of May, 1776, congress recommended to the assemblies and conventions of the several colonies where no governments sufficient to the exigences of their affairs had been established, to adopt such systems, as, in the opinion of the representatives of the people would best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.
The difficulties in forming state governments or constitutions, were much less than in forming a system, embracing all the states. The people had long been familiar with the civil institutions of their respective states, and could with comparative ease make such alterations, as would suit their new political situation. The people of the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island, as we have before noticed in our colonial summary, had from their first settlement, chosen all their rulers, and'in these states, a change of forms was only requisite.
Massachusetts, after the alteration of her charter by parliament, agreeably to the advice of congress, continued her old system, as far as practicable, until she was able and had leisure to form a
new and more permanent one. From the peculiar situation of New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Virginia, congress in the latter part of the year 1775, recommended to them, if they judged it necessary for their peace and security, to establish governments to continue during the disputes with Great Britain. In pursuance of these recommendations, the states of New Hampshire, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Mary. land, and North Carolina, during the year 1776, established new systems of government. Those of New Hampshire, South Car. olina, New Jersey and Virginia were adopted before the final declaration of independence, and with the exception of that of Virginia, were expressly limited in their duration to the continuance of the dispute between the colonies and Great Britain.
We would here observe, that in all the constitutions thus formed, except that of Pennsylvania, the legislative power was vested in two branches, each having a negative.
The constitution of New Hampshire was comprised in a few short paragraphs. In January, 1776, the representatives who had met in a provincial congress, assumed the name, power and authority of a house of representatives or an assembly of the colony of New Hampshire ; and as a house proceeded to elect twelve persons from the several counties, who were to constitute a distinct and separate branch of the legislature, by the name of a council, to continue until the third Wednesday of December then next, seven to be a quorum to do business. The council to appoint their president; and no act or resolve was to be valid or put in execution, unless passed by both branches—all public officers, with the exception of clerks of courts, to be appointed by the council and assembly—and all money bills to originate in the house. Should the disputes with Great Britain continue longer than the year 1776, and the general congress should give no instructions to the contrary, it was provided, that the council be chosen by the people in each county, in such manner as the council and house should order—all general and field officers of the militia, in case of vacancy, and all officers of the army to be appointed by the two houses; but in case of emergency, the
officers of the army might be appointed otherwise, as the houses should direct—all civil officers, with the exception of some of minor importance, were also to be chosen by the legislature, and all writs of election to be issued in the name of the council and assembly, signed by the president and speaker.
This form of goveroment, imperfect as it was, continued through the war of the revolution, and until the year 1792, when a new constitution was substituted, similar to that which had been established in Massachusetts.
In February, 1776, the provincial congress of South Carolina, chose a committee of eleven, “to prepare and report a plan or form of government, as would best promote the happiness of the people, and would most effectually secure peace and good order in the colony, during the continuance of the dispute between Great Britain and the colonies."*
On the 5th of March, this committee reported a plan of civil government, which was under consideration until the 24th, when it was adopted.
While this important subject was under debate, the prohibitory act of parliament of the December preceding arrived, and in a great measure silenced opposition.
This congress, like that of New Hampshire, resolved itself into a“ general assembly,” to continue until the 21st of October of
the same year.
The general assembly, from their own body, elected by ballot, a legislative council, to consist of thirteen members, to continue for the same period—the council and assembly were jointly to elect a president, and commander in chief, and a vice-president; and the legislative authority was vested in the president, the general assembly and legislative council—all money bills to originate in the assembly, and could not be amended or altered by the
* The committee were Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, John Rutledge, Charles Pinckney, Henry Laurens, Christopher Gadsden, Rawlins Lowndes, Arthur Middleton, Henry Middleton, Thomas Bee, Thomas Lynch, Jun. and Thomas Hayward, Jun.-Drayton's Memoirs of the American Revolution in South Carolina, vol. 2,