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nature will teach us, that their ease and security have been a principal cause of their want of exertion. While danger is distant, its impression is weak, and while it affects only our neighbors, we have few motives to provide against it. Sir, if we have national objects to pursue, we must have national revenues. If you make requisitions and they are not complied with, what is to be done? It has been well observed, that to coerce the states is one of the maddest projects that was ever devised. A failure of compliance will never be confined to a single state: this being the case, can we suppose it wise to hazard a civil war? Suppose Massachusetts, or any large state, should refuse, and Congress should attempt to compel them ; would they not have influence to procure assistance, especially from those states who are in the same situation as themselves? What picture does this idea present to our view ? A complying state at war with a non-complying state: Congress marching the troops of one state into the bosom of another: this state collecting auxiliaries and forming perhaps a majority against its federal head. Here is a nation at war with itself. Can any reasonable man be well disposed towards a government which makes war and carnage the only means of supporting itself—a government that can exist only by the sword ? Every such war must involve the innocent with the guilty. This single consideration should be sufficient to dispose every peaceable citizen against such a government.
But can we believe that one state will ever suffer itself to be used as an instrument of coercion? The thing is a dream—it is impossible—then we are brought to this dilemma: either a federal standing army is to enforce the requisitions, or the federal treasury is left without supplies, and the government without support. What, sir, is the eure for this great evil ? Nothing, but to enable the national laws to operate on individuals, in the same manner as those of the states do. This is the true reasoning upon the subject, sir.
THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION.
27 The gentlemen appear to acknowledge its force; and yet while they yield to the principle, they seem to fear its application to the government.
What then shall we do? Shall we take the old confederation, as the basis of a new system? Can this be the object of the gentlemen ? Certainly not. Will any man who entertains a wish for the safety of his country, trust the sword and the purse with a single assembly organized on principles so defective--so rotten? Though we might give to such a government certain powers, with safety, yet to give them the full and unlimited powers of taxation and the national forces, would be to establish a despotism; the definition of which is, a government in which all power is concentred in a single body. To take the old confederation, and fashion it upon these principles, would be establishing a power which would destroy the liberties of the people. These considerations show clearly, that a government totally different must be instituted. They had weight in the convention which formed the new system. It was seen, that the necessary powers were too great to be trusted to a single body: they therefore formed two branches, and divided the powers, that each might be a check upon the other. This was the result of their wisdom; and I presume that every reasonable man will agree to it. The more this subject is explained, the more clear and convincing it will appear to every member of this body. The fundamental principle of the old confederation is defective-we must totally eradicate and discard this principle before we can expect an efficient government. The gentlemen who have spoken to-day, have taken up the subject of the ancient confederacies: but their view of them has been extremely partial and erroneous. The fact is, the same false and impracticable principle ran through most of the ancient governments. The first of these governments that we read of, was the Amphictyonic confederacy. The council which managed the affairs of this league, possessed powers
of a similar complexion to those of our present Congress. The same feeble mode of legislation in the head, and the same power of resistance in the members, prevailed. When a requisition was made, it rarely met a compliance; and a civil war was the consequence Those which were attacked, called in foreign aid to protect them; and the ambitious Philip, under the mask of an ally to one, invaded the liberties of each, and finally subverted the whole.
The operation of this principle appears in the same light in the Dutch Republics. They have been obliged to levy taxes by an armed force. In this confederacy, one large province, by its superior wealth and influence, is commonly a match for all the rest; and when they do not comply, the province of Holland is obliged to compel them. It is observed, that the United Provinces have existed a long time; but they have been constantly the sport of their neighbors, and have been supported only by the external pressure of the surrounding powers. The policy, of Europe, not the policy of their government, has saved them from dissolution. Besides, the powers of the Stadtholder have served to give an energy to the operations of this government, which is not to be found in ours. This prince has a 'vast personal influence: he has independent revenues: he commands an army of forty thousand men.
The German confederacy has also been a perpetual source of wars. They have a diet, like our Congress, who have authority to call for supplies: these calls are never obeyed; and in time of war, the imperial army never takes the field till the enemy are returning from it. The emperor's Austrian dominions, in which he is an absolute prince, alone enable him to make head against the common foé. The members of this confederacy are ever divided and opposed to each other. The king of Prussia is a member; yet he has been constantly in opposition to the emperor. Is this a desirable government ?
I might go more particularly into the discussion of examples and show, that wherever this fatal principle has prevailed, even as far back as the Lycian and Achæan leagues, as well as the Amphictyonic confederacy; it has proved the destruction of the
government. But I think observations of this kind might have been spared. Had they not been entered into by others, I should not have taken up so much of the time of the committee. No inference can be drawn from these examples, that republics cannot exist: we only contend that they have hitherto been founded on false principles. We have shown how they have been conducted, and how they have been destroyed. Weakness in the head has produced resistance in the members: this has been the immediate parent of civil war: auxiliary force has been invited; and a foreign power has annihilated their liberties and their name. Thus Philip subverted the Amphictyonic, and Rome the Achæan Republic.
We shall do well, sir, not to deceive ourselves with the favorable events of the late war. Common danger prevented the operation of the ruinous principle, in its full extent: but, since the peace, we have experienced the evils; we have felt the poison of the system in its unmingled purity.
Without dwelling any longer on this subject, I shall proceed to the question immediately before the committee.
In order that the committee may understand clearly the principles on which the general convention acted, I think it necessary to explain some preliminary circumstances.
Sir, the natural situation of this country seems to divide its interests into different classes. There are navigating and non-navigating states—the northern are properly the navigating states: the southern appear to possess neither the means nor the spirit of navigation. This difference of situation naturally produces a dissimilarity of interests and views respecting
foreign commerce. It was the interest of the northern states, that there should be no restraints on their navigation, and that they should have full power, by a majority in Congress, to make commercial regulations in favor of their own, and in restraint of the navigation of foreigners. The southern states wished to impose a restraint on the northern, by requiring that two-thirds in Congress, should be requisite to pass an act in regulation of commerce: they were apprehensive that the restraints of a navigation law would discourage foreigners, and by obliging them to employ the shipping of the northern states, would probably enhance their freight
This being the case, they insisted strenuously on having this provision engrafted in the constitution; and the northern states were as anxious in opposing it. On the other hand, the small states seeing themselves embraced by the confederation upon equal terms, wished to retain the advantages which they already possessed: the large states, on the contrary, thought it improper that Rhode Island and Delaware should enjoy an equal suffrage with themselves: from these sources a delicate and difficult contest arose. It became necessary, therefore, to compromise; or the convention must have dissolved without, effecting any thing. Would it have been wise and prudent in that body, in this critical situation, to have deserted their country? No. Every man who hears me-every wise man in the United States, would have condemned them. The convention were obliged to appoint a committee for accommodation. In this committee the arrangement was formed as it now stands; and their report was accepted. It was a delicate point; and it was necessary that all parties should be indulged. Gentlemen will see, that if there had not been unanimity, nothing could have been done: for the convention had no power to establish, but only to recommend a government. Any other
system would have been impracticable. Let a convention be called to-morrow-let them meet twenty times;