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The federal councils will derive great advantage from another circumstance. The representatives of each state will not only bring with them a considerable knowledge of its laws, and a local knowledge of their respective districts ; but will probably in all cases have been members, and may even at the very time be members of the state legislature, where all the local information and interests of the state are assembled, and from whence - they may easily be conveyed by a very few hands into the legislature of the United States.
With regard to the regulation of the militia, there are scarcely any circumstances in reference to which local knowledge can be said to be necessary.
The geveral face of the country, whether mountainous or level, most tit for the operations of infantry or cavalry, is almost the only consideration of this nature that can occur. The art of war teaches general principles of organization, movement, and discipline, which apply universally.
T'he attentive reader will discern that the reasoning here used, to prove the sufficiency of a moderate number of representatives, does not, in any respect, contradict what was urged on another occasion, with regard to the extensive information which the representatives ought to possess, and the time that might be necessary for acquiring it. This information, so far as it may relate to local objects, is rendered necessary and difficult, not by a difference of laws and local circumstances within a single state, but of those among different states. Taking each state by itself, its laws are the same, and its interests but little diversified. A few men, therefore, will possess all the knowledge requisite for a proper representation of them. Were the interests and affairs of each individual state, perfectly simple and uniform, & knowledge of them in one part, would involve a know. ledge of them in every other, and the whole state might be competently represented by a single member taken from any part of it. On a comparison of the different states together, we find a great dissimilarity in their laws, and in many other circumstances connected with the objects of federal legislation, with all of wbich the federal representatives ought to have some acquaintance.
Whilst a few representatives, therefore, from each state,
The experience of Great Britain, which presents to
* Burgh's Political Disquisitions.
popular rights. They might, therefore, with great propriety, be considered as something more than a mere deduction from the real representatives of the nation. We will, however, consider them in this light alone, and will not extend the deduction to a considerable number of others, who do not reside among their constituents, are very faintly connected with them, and have very little particular knowledge of their affairs. With all these concessions, two hundred and seventy-nine persons only, will be the depository of the safety, interest, and happiness of eight millions ; that is to say, there will be one representative only, to maintain the rights, and explain the situation, of twenty-eight thousand six hundred and seventy constituents, in an assem. bly exposed to the whole force of executive influence, and extending its authority to every object of legislation within a nation, whose affairs are in the bighest degree diversified and complicated. Yet it is very certain, not only that a valuable portion of freedom has been preserved under all these circumstances, but that the defects in the British code are chargeable, in a very small proportion, on the ignorance of the legislature concerning the circumstances of the people. Allowing to this case the weight which is due to it, and comparing it with that of the house of representatives as above explained, it seems to give the fullest assurance, that a representative for every thirty thousand inhabitants, will render the latter both a safe and competent guardian of the interests which will be confided to it.
BY JAMES MADISON.
tendency of the plan of the convention to elevate the
THE third charge against the house of representatives is, that it will be taken from that class of citizens
which will have least sympathy with the mass of the people ; and be most likely to aim at an ambitious sacri. fice of the many, to the aggrandizement of the few.
Of all the objections which have been framed against the federal constitution, this is perhaps the most extraor. dinary. Whilst the objection itself is levelled against a pretended oligarchy, ihe principle of it strikes at the very root of republican government.
Tbe aim of every political cons itution is, or ought to be, first, to obtain for rulers men who possess most wis. dum to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous, whilst they continue to hold their public trust. The elective mode of obtaining rulers, is the characteristic policy of republican government. The means relied on in this form of government for preventing their degeneracy, are numerous and various. The most effectual one, is such a limitation of the term of appointments, as will maintain a proper responsibility to the people.
Let me now ask, what circumstance there is in the constitution of the bouse of representatives, that violates the principles of republican government; or favours the elevation of the few, on the ruins of the many ? Let me ask, whether every circumstance is not, on the contrary, strictly conformable to these principles ; and scrupulously impartial to the rights and pretensions of every class and description of citizens ?
Who are to be the electors of the federal representatives ? Not the rich, more than the poor ; not the learned, more than the ignorant ; not the haughty heirs of distinguished names, more than the humble sons obscure and unpropitious fortupe. The electors are to be the great body of the people of the United States. They are to be the same who exercise the right in every state of electing the correspondent branch of the legislature of the state.
Who are to be the objects of popular choice ? Every citizen whose merit may recommend bim to the esteem and confidence of his country. No qualification or wealth, of birth, of religious faith, or of civil profession, is permitted to fetter the judgment, or disappoint the inclination of the people.
If we consider the situation of the men on whom the free suffrages of their fellow citizens may confer the representative trust, we shall find it involving every security wbich can be devised or desired for their fidelity to their constituents.
In the first place, as they will have been distinguished by the preference of their fellow citizens, we are to presume that, in general, they will be somewhat distinguished also by those qualities which entitle them to it, and which promise a sincere and scrupulous regard to the nature of their engagements.
In the second place, they will enter into the public service under circumstances which cannot fail to produce a temporary affection at least to their constituents. There is in every breast a sensibility to marks of honour, of favour, of esteem, and of confidence, which, apart from ali considerations of interest, is some pledge for grateful and benevolent returns. Ingratitude is a commou topic of ileclamation against human nature ; and it must be confessel, that instances of it are but too frequent and flagrant, both in public and in private life. But the uni. versal and extreme indignation which it inspires, is itself a proof of the energy and prevalence of the contrary sentiment.
In the third place, those lies which bind the representative to his coustituents, are strengthened by motives of a more selfish nature. His pride and vanity attach him to a form of government which favours bis pretensions, and gives him a share in its honours and distinctions. Whatever hopes or projects might be entertained by a few aspiring characters, it must generally happen, that a great proportion of the men deriving their advance. ment from their influence with the people, would have more to hope from a preservation of their favour, than from innovations in the government subversive of the authority of the people.
All these securities, however, would be found very inufficient without the restraint of frequent elections.