« ZurückWeiter »
would each choose to have some counterpoise; and pretences could easily be contrived. In this situation, military establishments, nourished by mutual jealousy, would be apt to swell beyond their natural or proper size; and being at the separate disposal of the members, they would be engines for the abridgment, or demolition, of the national authority.
Reasons have been already given to induce a suppo. sition, that the state governments will too naturally be prone to a rivalship with that of the union, the foundation of which will be the love of power; and that in any contest between the federal head and one of its members, the people will be most apt to unite with their local government. If, in addition to this in mense advantage, the ambition of the members should be stimulated by the separate and independent possession of military forces, it would afford too strong a temptation, and too great facility to them to make enterprises upon, and finally to subvert, the constitutional authority of the union. On the other hand, the liberty of the people would be less safe in this state of things, than in that which left the national forces in the hands of the national government. As far as an army may be considered as a dangerous weapon of power, it had better be in those hands, of which the people are most likely to be jealous, than in those of which they are least likely to be so, For it is a truth which the experience of all ages has attested, that the people are commonly most in danger, when the means of injuring their rights are in the pos. session of those of whom they entertain the least suspi. cion.
The framers of the existing confederation, fully aware of the danger to the union from the separate possession of military forces by the states, hare in express terms prohibited them from having either ships or troops, unless with the consent of congress. The truth is, that the existence of a federal government and military establishments, under state authority, are not less at variance with each other, than a due supply of the federal treasury and the system of quotas and requisitions.
hot. If it be.com and it will be anonce raised, what
time shall be
h; a year? Or the violation ?" 1
lits danger.ime of neuld be recasioned may be com.week.
There are other views besides those already presented, in which the impropriety of restraints on the discretion of the national legislature will be equally inanifest. The design of the objection, which has been mentioned, is to preclude standing armies in time of peace; though we have never been informed bow far it is desired the prohibition should extend : whether to raising armies, as well as to keeping them up, in a season of tranquillity, or not. If it be confined to the latter, it will have no precise signification, and it will be ineffectual for the parpose intended. When armies are once raised, what shall be denominated 6 keeping them up,” contrary to the sense of the constitution? What time shall be requisite to ascertain the violation ? Shall it be a week, a month, a year? Or shall we say, they may be continued as long as the danger which occasioned their being raised continues? This would be to admit that they might be kept up in time of peace, against threatening or impending danger; which would be at once to deviate from the literal meaning of the prohibition, and to introduce an extensive latitude of construction. Who shall judge of the continuance of the danger? This must undoubtedly be submitted to the national government, and the matter would then be brought to this issue, that the national government, to provide against apprebended danger, might, in the first instance, raise troops, and might afterwards keep them on foot, as long they supposed the peace or safety of the community was in any degree of jeopardy. It is easy to perceive, that a discretion so latitudinary as this, would afford ample room for eluding the force of the provision.
The utility of a provision of this kind, can only be vindicated on the hypothesis of a probability, at least possibility, of combination between the executive and legislature, in some scheme of usurpation. Should this at any time happen, how easy would it be to fabricate pretences of approaching danger? Indian hostilities, instigated by Spain or Britain, would always be at hand. Provocations to produce the desired appearances, might eveu be given to some foreign power, and appeascal
ågain by timely concessions. If we can reasonably presume such a combination to have been formed, and that the enterprise is warranted by a sufficient prospect of success; the army when once raised, from whatever cause, or on whatever pretext, may be applied to the execution of the project..
If to obviate this consequence, it should h resolved to extend the probibition to the raising of armies in time of peace, the United States would then exbibit the most extraordinary spectacle, which the world has yet seen.... that of a nation incapacitated by its constitution to prepare for defence, before it was actaally invaded. As the ceremony of a formal denunciation of war has of late fallen into disuse, the presence of an enemy within our territories must be waited for, as the legal warrant to the goveryment to begin its levies of men for the protection of the state. We must receive the blow, before we could even prepare to return it. All that kind of policy by which nations anticipate distant danger, and meet the gathering storm, must be abstained from, as contrary to the genuine maxims of a free government, We must expose our property and liberty to the mercy of foreign invaders, and invite them by our weakness, to seize the naked and defenceless prey, because we are afraid that rulers, created by our choice, dependent on our will, might endanger that liberty, by an abuse of the means necessary to its preservation.
Here I expect we shall be told, that the militia of the country is its natural bulwark, and would at all times be equal to the national desence. This doctrine, in substance, had like to have lost us our independence. It cost millions to the United States, that might bave been saved. The facts, which from our own experience forbid a reliance of this kind, are too recent to permit us to be the ciupes of such a suggestion. The steady operations of war against a regular and disciplined army, can only be successfully conducted by a force of the same kind. Considerations of economy, not less than of stability and vigour, confirm this position. The American militia, in the course of the late war, have, by
wat libertu Oce, denese we are
gerall violed course a instant hill of vi
their valour on numerous occasions, erected eternal monuments to their fame; but the bravest of them feel and know, that the liberty of their country could not have been established by their efforts alone, however great and valuable they were. War, like most other things, is a science to be acquired and perfected by diligence, by perseverance, by time, and by practice.
All violent policy, as it is contrary to the natural and experienced course of human affairs, defeats itself. Pennsylvania at this instant affords an example of the truth of this remark. The bill of rights of that state declares, that standing armies are dangerous to liberty, and ought not to be kept up in time of peace. Pennsyl. Fania, nevertheless, in a time of profound peace, from the existence of partial disorders in one or two of her counties, has resolved to raise a body of troops; and in all probability, will keep them up as long as there is apy appearance of danger to the public peace. The conduct of Massachusetts affords a lesson on the same subject, though on different ground. That state (without waiting for the sanction of congress, as the articles of the confederation require) was compelled to raise troops to quell a domestic insurrection, and still keeps a corps in pay to prevent a revival of the spirit of revolt. The particular constitution of Massachusetts opposed no obstacle to the measure; but the instance is still of use to instruct us, that cases are likely to occur under our governments, as well as under those of other nations, which will sometimes render a military force in time of peace, essential to the security of the society, and that it is therefore improper, in this respect, to control the legislative discretion. It also teaches us, in its application to the United States, how little the rights of a feeble government are likely to be respected, even by its own constituents. And it teaches us, in addition to the rest, how unequal are parchment provisions, to a struggle with public necessity.
It was a fundamental maxim of the Lacedemonian commonwealth, that the post of admiral should not be conferred twice on the same person. The Peloponnesian confederates, having suffered a severe defeat at sea from the Athenians, demanded Lysander, who had before served with success in that capacity, to command the combined fleets, The Lacedemonians, to gratify their allies, and yet proserve the semblance of an adherence to their ancient institutions, had recourse to the finsy şubterfuge of investing Lysander with the real power of armiral, under the nominal title of vice admiral. This instance is selected from among a multitude that might be cited, to confirm the truth already advanced and illustrated by domestic examples; which is, that nations pay little regard to rules and maxims, calculated in their very nature to run counter to the necessities of society. Wise politicians will be cautious about fettering the government with restrictions, that cannot be observed ; because they know, that every breach of the fundamental laws, though dictated by pecessity, impairs that sacred reverence, which ought to be maintained in the breast of rulers towards the constitution of a country, and forms a precedent for other breaches, where the same plea of necessity does not exist at all, or is less urgent and palpable.
I'T was a thing hardly to have been expected, that In a popular revolution, the minds of men should stop at that happy mean which marks the salutary boundary between Power and PRIVILEGE, and combines the energy of government with the security of private rights. A failure in this delicate and important point, is the great source of the inconveniences we experience; and if we are not cautious to avoid a repetition of the error, in our future attempts to rectify and ameliorate our system, we may travel from ope chimerical project to another :: wę