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discussed. But the feature, in the structure of the Government, most objected to, was the duration of the Senate. The argument which made most impression, was, that this would produce a consolidation of the States. Ames defended it. “ The State Governments," he observed, " are essential parts of the system, and the defence of this article is drawn from its tendency to their preservation. The Senators represent the Sovereignty of the States; in the other house, Individuals are represented. They are in the quality of Ambassadors of the States, and it will not be denied, some permanency in their office is necessary to a discharge of their duty. If chosen annually, how could they perform their trust? If thus brought more immediately under the influence of the people, they will represent the Legislatures less. If chosen by the people, at large, they would represent not the.Legislatures, but the people. This would totally obliterate the Federal features of the Constitution. A consolidation of the States would ensue, for who would defend them against the encroachments of the Federal Government? The State Governments are the safeguard and ornament of the Constitution. They will protract the period of our liberties. They will afford a shelter against the abuse of power, and will be the natural avengers of our violated rights. The retirement, every two years, of a third part of the Senate, is an effectual check. It will admonish of the responsibility to the State Legislatures. It will infuse, periodically, the sentiments of the States. The Government will then be in practice, as in theory, a Federal Republic."
King remarked: As the Senate preserved the equality of the States, their appointment is equal. To the objection, that it was to be chosen for too long a period, he observed : “If the principle of classing them is con
sidered, although it appears long, it will not be found so long as it appears. The average is four years. The Senators will have a powerful check in those men who wish their seats, who will watch their whole conduct in the General Government, and will give the alarm in case of misbehavior; and the State Legislatures, if they find their delegates erring, can, and will instruct them. Will not this be a check ? When they hear the voice of the people solemnly dictating to them their duty, they will be bold men, indeed, to act contrary to it. These will not be instructions sent them, in a private letter, which can be put in their pockets. They will be public instructions, which all the country will see, and they will be hardy men, indeed, to violate them. The power to control the Senate, is as great as ever was enjoyed in any Government; and, therefore, its duration will not be too great. They are to assist the Executive in the designation and appointment of officers, and they ought to have time to mature their judgments. If elected for a shorter period, how can they be acquainted with the rights and interests of Nations, so as to form advantageous treaties? To understand these rights, is the business of education. Their business being naturally different, and more extensive than that of the other branch, they ought to have different qualifications, and their duration is not too long for a right discharge of their duties.” *
* During the examination of the institution of the Senate, Gerry, who had reported the Compromise, was appealed to. It had been believed, that, " under the idea of stating facts,” it was intended, he should “state his reasons.” The friends of the Constitution determined to oppose this irregularity; and, on the appeal being made, an objection was taken by Gore, which was sustained by a vehement animadversion on the part of Judge Dana. The feeling manifested, determined Gerry to discontinue his attendance. On bis with drawing, it is stated, that he and Dana were each attended to their resi.
The discussion of the POWERS of the Constitution took a wide range. It will be remarked, that, after an able exposition of the necessity of possessing all the powers conferred upon it in relation to commerce, and the exclusive enjoyment of the coasting trade, the direct protection of manufactures was held forth, as one of the great duties, and the most important benefits of a National Government.
The instrument of such protection, the power of levying and collecting taxes, was deprecated in all its extent, as destroying the sovereignty of the States. Sedgwick replied, declaring that all the sources of revenue ought to be in the hands of the government who were to protect us; and that the powers to effect this had always necessarily been unlimited. Congress would exert those easiest to the people—an impost first, then an excise ; last, a direct tax, as being difficult and uncertain. But, in case of war, it would be the only resource. As the exercise of the power of taxation had been not only a frequent subject of jealousy in this State, but had recently disturbed its peace, it was the more important to vindicate that conferred upon the general government, in all its bearings. Gore having ably enlarged upon the views of Sedgwick, was followed by Choate. “It was,” he observed, " the power of the people concentred to a point. As all power is lodged in them, it ought to be supreme. Not only was it a power necessary to the common defence, but of advantage, in forming commercial treaties. As to our defence, the power of credit, of anticipating our resources, is essential. Were these resources competent and well established, could there be any doubt, individuals would offer their property cheerfully for such an object ?” Bowdoin took a masterly view of the tendency of the Constitution—of its checks and cautions—appealing strongly to the past history and present condition of the country, as evincing the necessity of a general pervading power of commercial regulation-a power which, as it would affect all, would not be injuriously exerted. “The whole Constitution,” he remarked, “is a declaration of rights—which, primarily and principally, respect the general government intended to be formed by it. The rights of particular States, or private citizens, not being the object or subject of the Constitution, they are only incidentally mentioned. In considering the Constitution, we shall consider it, in all its parts, upon those general principles which operate through the whole of it, and are equivalent to the most extensive bill of rights that can be formed.” “If,” he said, “ the Constitution should be finally accepted and established, it will complete the temple of American liberty; and, like the Keystone of a grand magnificent arch, be the bond of Union to keep all the parts firm and compacted together. May this temple, sacred to liberty and virtue, sacred to justice, the first and greatest political virtue—and built upon the broad and solid foundation of perfect Union, be dissoluble only by the dissolution of nature; and may this Convention have the honor of erecting one of its pillars on that lasting foundation.” This important discussion was closed by Parsons, in his strong didactic style, adding weight to his arguments by the great weight of his rising reputation.
dences by their respective partisans. After his retirement, Gerry addressed a letter to the Convention, evidently written under a sense of the indignity of which he complained. See also King to Madison.
In the course of these debates, the friends of the Constitution had, in the minds of an intelligent body of practical men, a marked advantage, and were manifestly
gaining the confidence of the House. State jealousy was again appealed to. An amendment of the Confederation was the true course. The Constitution was a new creature. Its formation was unconstitutional. Let us ad. journ for five or six months, and wait the decision of other States. This suggestion was heard in silence. It was not the wont of Massachusetts to wait the decision of others. The opposition now proposed to abandon the discussion of it by paragraphs, and to consider it at large. This proposition was met and defeated. A desultory debate followed, in which the provision for the importation of slaves was earnestly objected to.
The argument on the judiciary department gave rise to a vehement conflict. It was urged as to its criminal jurisdiction—that under it the power of filing informations without indictment might be exercised; that no qualifications were defined as to the juries, who might be chosen by districts, appointed by the sheriffs during good behavior, or for a shorter term. “ Thus, judicatories might be instituted little less inauspicious than the inquisition. Congress might impose whatever punishments they chose to invent. Racks and gibbets might be among the mildest instruments of their discipline. They might compel the accused to furnish evidence against himself; and assume, that the charge exhibited against him was true, unless he can disprove it.” These strained interpretations were fully replied to by Gore and Dawes, showing, that the same inferences might be drawn against the Constitution of Massachusetts ; that a Constitution could not be expected to define every particular legal provision, and that an argument, from the possibility of abuse, might be raised against all governments. The omission to provide for a jury in civil cases, was explained by an allegation, that the different modes of trial in the different States,