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directions, in different dimensions, and at different heights, watering, adorning, and fertilizing the fields and meadows, through which their courses are led; but if we trace them, we shall discover, that they all originally flow from one abundant fountain. In this constitution, all authority is derived from THE PEOPLE,
Fit occasions will hereafter offer for particular remarks on the different parts of the plan. I have now to ask pardon of the house for detaining them so long.
SPEECH OF. ALEXANDER HAMILTON,
ON THE EXPEDIENCY OF ADOPTING THE
DELIVERED IN THE CONVENTION OF NEW YORK, JUNE 20, 1788.
The second section of the first article of the constitution having
been read, the following amendment was proposed : " Resolved, That it is proper that the number of representatives be
fixed at the rate of one for every twenty thousand inhabitants, to be ascertained on the principles mentioned in the second section of the first article of the constitution, until they amount to three hundred; after which, they shall be apportioned among the states, in proportion to the number of inhabitants of the states respectively: and that before the first enumeration shall be made, the several states shall be entitled to choose double the number of representatives for that purpose, mentioned in the constitution;' when Mr. Hamilton *addressed the convention as follows.
MR. CHAIRMAN, The honorable member, who spoke yesterday, went into an explanation of a variety of circumstances to prove the expediency of a change in our national government, and the necessity of a firm union: at the same time, he described the great advantages which this state, in particular, receives from the confederacy, and its peculiar weaknesses when abstracted from the union. In doing this, he advanced a variety of arguments, which deserve serious consideration. Gentlemen have this day come forward to answer him. He
has been treated as having wandered in the flowery fields of fancy; and attempts have been made, to take off from the minds of the committee, that sober impression, which might be expected from his arguments.
trust, sir, that observations of this kind are not thrown out to cast a light air on this important subject; or to give any personal bias, on the great question before
I will not agree with gentlemen, who trifle with the weaknesses of our country; and suppose, that they are enumerated to 'answer a party purpose, and to terrify with ideal dangers. No; I believe these weaknesses to be real, and pregnant with destruction. Yet, however weak our country may be, I hope we shall never sacrifice our liberties. If, therefore, on a full and candid discussion, the proposed system shall appear to have that tendency, for God's sake, let us reject it. But, let us not mistake words for things, nor accept doubtful surmises as the evidence of truth. Let us consider the constitution calmly and dispassionately, and attend to those things only which merit consideration.
No arguments drawn from embarrassment or inconvenience ought to prevail upon us to adopt a system of government radically bad; yet it is proper that these arguments, among others, should be brought into view. In doing this, yesterday, it was necessary to reflect upon our situation; to dwell upon the imbecility of our union; and to consider whether we, as a state, could stand alone. Although I am persuaded this convention will be resolved to adopt nothing that is bad; yet I think every prudent man will consider the merits of the plan in connexion with the circumstances of our country; and that a rejection of the constitution may involve most fatal consequences. I make these remarks to show, that though we ought not to be actuated by unreasonable fear, yet we ought to be prudent.
This day, sir, one gentleman has attempted to answer the arguments advanced by my honorable friend;
another has treated him as having wandered from the subject: this being the case, I trust I shall be equally indulged in reviewing the remarks which have been made.
Sir, it appears to me extraordinary, that while gentlemen in one breath acknowledge, that the old confederation requires many material amendments, they should in the next deny, that its defects have been the cause of our political weakness, and the consequent calamities of our country. I cannot but infer from this, that there is still some lurking, favorite imagination, that this system, with corrections, might become a safe and permanent one. It is proper that we should examine this matter. We contend that the radical vice in the old confederation 'is, that the laws of the union apply only to states in their corporate capacity. Has not every man, who has been in our legislature, experienced the truth of this position? It is inseparable from the disposition of bodies, who have a constitutional power of resistance, to examine the merits of a law. This has ever been the case with the federal requisitions. In this examination, not being furnished with those lights, which directed the deliberations of the general government, and incapable of embracing the general interests of the union, the states have almost uniformly weighed the requisitions by their own local interests, and have only executed them so far as answered their particular convenience or advantage. Hence there have ever been thirteen different bodies to judge of the measures of Congress—and the operations of government have been distracted by their taking different courses : those, which were to be benefitted, have complied with the requisitions; others have totally disregarded them. Have not all of us been witnesses to the unhappy embarrassments which resulted' from these proceedings? Even during the late war, while the pressure of common danger connected strongly the bond of our union, and incited to vigorous exertions, we have felt many distressing ef
fects of the impotent system. How have we seen this state, though most exposed to the calamities of the war, complying, in an unexampled manner, with the federal requisitions, and compelled by the delinquency of others, to bear most unusual burdens. Of this truth, we have the most solemn proof on our records. In 1779 and 1780, when the state, from the ravages of war, and from her great exertions to resist them, became weak, distressed, and forlorn, every man avowed the principle which we now contend for; that our misfortunes, in a great degree, proceeded from the want of vigor in the continental government. These were our sentiments when we did not speculatė, but feel. We saw our weakness, and found ourselves its victims. Let us reflect that this may again, in all probability; be our situation. This is a weak state; and its relative station is dangerous. Your capital is accessible by land, and by sea is exposed to every daring invader; and on the north-west, you are open to the inroads of a powerful foreign nation. Indeed, this state, from its. situation, will, in time of war, probably be the theatro of its operations.
Gentlemen have said that the non-compliance of the states has been occasioned by their sufferings. This may in part be true. But has this state been delinquent? Amidst all our distresses, we have fully complied. If New York could comply wholly with the requisitions, is it not to be supposed, that the other states could in part comply? Certainly every state in the union might have executed them in some degree. But New Hampshire, who has not suffered at all, is totally delinquent: North Carolina 'is totally delinquent : many others have contributed in a very small proportion; and Pennsylvania and New York are the only states, which have perfectly discharged their federal duty.
From the delinquency of those states who have suf: fered little by the war, we naturally conclude, that they have made no efforts; and a knowledge of human