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necessary and proper to disregard the opinions which the majority of the people have formed. But in the general course of things, the popular views, and even prejudices, will direct the actions of the rulers.
All governments, even the most despotic, depend, in a great degree, on opinion. In free republics, it is most peculiarly the case. In these, the will of the people makes the essential principle of the government; and the laws which control the community, receive their tone and spirit from the public wishes. It is the fortunate situation of our country, that the minds of the people are exceedingly enlightened and refined. Here then we may expect the laws to be proportionably agreeable to the standard of perfect policy; and the wisdom of public measures to consist with the most intimate conformity between the views of the representative and his constituent. If the general voice of the people be for an increase, it undoubtedly must take place. They have it in their power to instruct their representatives; and the state legislatures, which appoint the senators, may enjoin it also upon them. Sir, if I believed that the number would remain at sixtyfive, I confess I should give my vote for an amendment; though in a different form from the one proposed.
The amendment proposes a ratio of one for twenty thousand, I would ask, by what rule or reasoning it is determined, that one man is a better representative for twenty than thirty thousand ? At present we have three millions of people; in twenty-five years, we shall have six millions; and in forty years, nine millions: and this is a short period, as it relates to the existence of states. Here then, according to the ratio of one for thirty thousand, we shall have, in forty years, three hundred representatives. If this be true, and if this be a safe representation, why be dissatisfied? Why embarrass the constitution with amendments, that are merely speculative and useless ? I agree with the gentleman, that a very small number
might give some color for suspicion : I acknowledge, that ten would be unsafe ; on the other hand, a thousand would be too numerous. : But I ask him, why will not ninety-one be an adequate and safe representation? This at present appears to be the proper medium. Besides, the president of the United States will be himself the representative of the people. From the competition that ever subsists between the branches of government, the President will be induced to protect their rights, whenever they are invaded by either branch. On whatever side we view this subject, we discover various and powerful checks to the encroachments of Congress. The true and permanent, interests of the members are opposed to corruption : their number is vastly, too large for easy combination: the rivalship between the houses will for ever prove an insuperable obstacle : the people have an obvious and powerful protection in their state governments. Should any thing dangerous be attempted, these bodies of perpetual observation, will be capable of forming and conducting plans of regular opposition. Can we suppose the people's love of liberty will not, under the incitement of their legislative leaders, be roused into resistance, and the madness of tyranny be extinguished at a blow ? Sir, the danger is too distant; it is beyond all rational calculation.
It has been observed by an honorable gentleman, that a pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved, that no position in politics is more false than this. The ancient democracies, in which the people themselves deliberated, never possessed one feature of good government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity. When they assembled, the field of debate presented an ungovernable mob, not only incapable of deliberation, but prepared for every enormity. In these assemblies, the enemies of the people brought forward their plans of ambition systematically. They were opposed by their enemies, of
another party; and it became a matter of contingency, whether the people, subjected themselves to be led blindly by one tyrant or by another.
It was remarked yesterday, that a numerous representation was necessary to obtain the confidence of the people. This is not generally true. The confidence of the people will easily be gained by a good administration. This is the true touchstone. I could illustrate the position, by a variety of historical examples, both ancient and modern. In Sparta, the Ephori were a body of magistrates, instituted as a check upon the senate, and representing the people. They consisted of only five men; but they were able to protect their rights, and therefore enjoyed their confidence and attachment. In Rome, the people were represented by three Tribunes, who were afterwards in
creased to ten. Every one acquainted with the histo· ry of that republic, will recollect how powerful a check to the senatorial encroachments, this small body proved; how unlimited a confidence was placed in them by the people whose guardians they were; and to what a conspicuous station in the government their influence at length elevated the plebeians. Massachusetts has three hundred representatives; New York has sixtyfive. Have the people in this state less confidence in their representation than the people of that? Dela| ware has twenty-one: do the inhabitants of New York feel a higher confidence than those of Delaware? I have stated these examples, to prove that the gentle'man's principle is not just. The popular confidence depends on circumstances very distinct from considerations of number. Probably the public attachment is more strongly secured by a train of prosperous events, which are the result of wise deliberation and vigorous execution, and to which large bodies are much less competent than small ones. sentative conducts with propriety, he will necessarily enjoy the good will of the constituent. It appears then, if my reasoning be just, that the clause is perfect
If the repre
ly proper, upon the principles of the gentleman who contends for the amendment; as there is in it the greatest degree of present security, and a moral certainty of an increase equal to our utmost wishes.
It has been further, by the gentlemen in opposition, observed, that a large representation is necessary to understand the interests of the people. This principle is by no means true, in the extent to which the gentlemen seem to carry it. I would ask, why may not a man understand the interests of thirty as well as of twenty? The position appears to be made upon the unfounded presumption, that all the interests of all parts of the community must be represented. No idea is more erroneous than this. Only such interests are proper to be represented, as are involved in the powers of the general government. These interests come completely under the observation of one, or a few men; and the requisite information is by no means augmented in proportion to the increase of number. What are the objects of the government ? Commerce, taxation, &c. In order to comprehend the interests of commerce, is it necessary to know how wheat is raised, and in what proportion it is produced in one district and in another? By no means. Neither is this species of knowledge necessary in general calculations upon the subject of taxation. The information necessary for these purposes, is that which is open to every intelligent inquirer; and of which, five men may be as perfectly possessed as fifty. In royal governments, there are usually particular men to whom the business of taxation is committed. These men have the forming of systems of finance; and the regulation of the revenue. I do not mean to commend this practice. . It proves, however, this point; that a few individuals may be competent to these objects; and that large numbers are not necessary to perfection in the science of taxation. But granting for a moment, that this minute and local knowledge, the gentlemen contend for, is necessary, let us see, if under the new constitu
tion, it will not probably be found in the representation. The natural and proper mode of holding elections, will be to divide the state into districts, in proportion to the number to be elected. This state will consequently be divided, at first, into six. One man froin each district will probably possess all the knowledge gentlemen can desire. Are the senators of this state more ignorant of the interests of the people, than the assembly? Have they not ever enjoyed their confidence as much? Yet, instead of six districts, they are elected in four ; and the chance of their being collected from the smaller divisions of the state consequently diminished. Their number is but twenty-four; and their powers are co-extensive with those of the assembly, and reach objects, which are most dear to the people-life, liberty and property.
Sir, we hear constantly a great deal, which is rather calculated to awake our passions, and create preju- : dices, than to conduct us to the truth, and teach us our real interests. I do not suppose this to be the design of the gentlemen. Why then are we told so often of an aristocracy? For my part, I hardly know the meaning of this word as it is applied. If all we hear be true, this government is really a very bad one. But who are the aristocracy among us? Where do we find men, elevated to a perpetual rank above their fellow-citizens; and possessing powers entirely independent of them? The arguments of the gentlemen only go to prove that there are men who are rich, men who are poor; some who are wise, and others who are not. That indeed every distinguished man is an aristocrat. This reminds me of a description of the aristocrats, I have seen in a late publication, styled the Federal Farmer. The author reckons in the aristocracy, all governors of states, members of congress, chief magistrates, and all officers of the militia. This description, I presume to say, is ridiculous. The image is a phantom. Does the new government render a rich man more eligible than a poor