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one? No. It requires no such qualification. It is bottomed on the broad and equal principle of your state constitution.
Sir, if the people have it in their option, to elect their most meritorious men, is this to be considered as an objection? Shall the constitutior oppose their wishes, and abridge their most invaluable privilege? While property continues to be pretty equally divided, and a considerable share of information pervades the community, the tendency of the people's suffrages, will be to elevate merit even from obscurity. As riches 'increase and accumulate in few hands; as luxury prevails in society, virtue will be in a greater degree considered as only a graceful appendage of wealth, and the tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard. This is the real disposition of human nature : it is what neither the honorable member nor myself can correct; it is a common misfortune, that awaits our state constitution, as well as all others.
There is an advantage incident to large districts of election, which perhaps the gentlemen, amidst all their apprehensions of influence and bribery, have not adverted to. In large districts, the corruption of the electors is much more difficult. Combinations for the purposes of intrigue are less easily formed : factions and cabals are little known. In a small district, wealth will have a more complete influence; because the people in the vicinity of a great man, are more immediately his dependants, and because this influence has fewer objects to act upon. It has been remarked, that it would be disagreeable to the middle class of men to go to the seat of the new government. If this be so, the difficulty will be enhanced by the gentleman's proposal. If his argument be true, it proves, that the larger the representation is, the less will be your choice of having it filled. But, it appears to me frivolous to bring forward such arguments as these. It has answered no other purpose, than to induce me,
by way of reply, to enter into discussions, which I consider as useless, and not applicable to our subject.
It is a harsh doctrine, that men grow wicked in proportion as they improve and enlighten their minds. Experience has by no means justified us in the supposition, that there is more virtue in one class of men than in another. Look through the rich and the poor of the community; the learned and the ignorant. Where does virtue predominate? The difference indeed consists, not in the quantity but kind of vices, which are incident to various classes; and here the advantage of character belongs to the wealthy." Their vices are probably more favorable to the prosperity of the state, than those of the indigent, and partake less of moral depravity.
After all, sir, we must submit to this idea, that the true principle of a republic is, that the people should choose whom they please to govern them. Representation is imperfect, in proportion as the current of po-pular favor is checked. This great source of free government, popular election, should be perfectly pure, and the most unbounded liberty allowed. Where this principle is adhered to; where, in the organization of the government, the legislative, executive and judicial branches are rendered distinct; where again the legislative is divided into separate houses, and the operations of each are controlled by various checks and balances, and above all, by the vigilance and weight of the state governments; to talk of tyranny, and the subversion of our liberties, is to speak the language of enthusiasm. This balance between the national and state governments ought to be dwelt on with peculiar attention, as it is of the utmost importance. It forms a double security to the people. If one encroaches on their rights, they will find a powerful protection in the other. Indeed, they will both be prevented from overpassing their constitutional limits, by a certain rivalship, which will ever subsist between them. . I am persuaded, that a firm union is as necessary to perpetuate
our liberties, as it is to make us respectable ; and 'experience will probably prove, that the national government will be as natural a guardian of our freedom, as the state legislatures themselves.
Suggestions, sir, of an extraordinary nature, have been frequently thrown out in the course of the present political controversy. It gives me pain to dwell on topics of this kind; and I wish they might be dismissed. We have been -told, that the old confederation has proved inefficacious, only because intriguing and powerful men, aiming at a revolution, have been for ever instigating the people, and rendering them disaffected with it. This, sir, is a false insinuation. The thing is impossible. I will venture to assert, that no combination of designing men under Heaven, will be capable of making a government unpopular, which is in its principles a'wise and good one, and vigorous in its operations. • The confederation was framed amidst the agitation and tumult of society. It was composed of unsound materials put together in haste. "Men of intelligence discovered the feebleness of the structure, in the first stages of its existence; but the great body of the people, too much engrossed with their distresses, to contemplate any but the immediate causes of them, were ignorant of the defects of their constitution. But when the dangers of war were removed, they saw clearly what they had suffered, and what they had yet to suffer, from a feeble form of government. There was no need of discerning men to convince the people of their unhappy situation; the complaint was co-extensive with the evil, and both were common to all classes of the community. We have been told, that the spirit of patriotism, and love of liberty, are almost extinguished among the people; and that it has become a prevailing doctrine, that republican principles ought to be hooted out of the world. Sir, I am confident that such remarks as these are rather occasioned by the heat of argument, than by a cool conviction of their truth and
justice. As far as my experience has extended, I have heard no such doctrine, nor have I discovered any diminution of regard for those rights and liberties, in defence of which, the people have fought and suffered. There have been, undoubtedly, some men who have had speculative doubts on the subject of government; but the principles of republicanism are founded on too firm a basis to be shaken by a few speculative and sceptical reasoners. Our error has been of a very different kind. We have erred through excess of caution, and a zeal false and impracticable. Our counsels have been destitute of consistency and stability. I am flattered with a hope, sir, that we have now found a cure for the evils under which we have so long labored. I trust, that the proposed constitution affords a genuine specimen of representative and republican government, and that it will answer, in an eminent degree, all the beneficial purposes of society,
SPEECH OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON,
ON THE EXPEDIENCY OF ADOPTING TAE
DELIVERED IN THE CONVENTION OF NEW YORK, JUNE 24th, 1788.
The following speech was made in opposition to a resolution brought
forward by Mr. G. Livingston, as an amendment to the constitution, which proposed; That no person should be eligible as a senator for more than six years, in any term of twelve years, and that the legislatures of the several states should have power to recall their senators, or either of them, and to elect others in their stead, to serve for the remainder of the time for which such senator, or senators, so recalled, were appointed.
I Ampersuaded, Mr. Chairman, that I in my turn shall be indulged, in addressing the committee. We all, in equal sincerity, profess to be anxious for the establishment of a republican government, on a safe and solid basis. It is the object of the wishes of every honest man in the United States, and I presume I shall not be disbelieved, when I declare, that it is an object of all others, the nearest and most dear to my own heart. The means of accomplishing this great purpose, become the most important study which can interest mankind. It is our duty to examine all those .. means with peculiar attention, and to ehoose the best and most effectual. It is our duty to draw from