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title:“Journal Notes of the Virginia Ratification Convention Proceedings”
date written:1788-6-12

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"Journal Notes of the Virginia Ratification Convention Proceedings." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 10. Ed. Gaspare J. Saladino and John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 1993. 1184-1228. Print.
The Library of Virginia

Journal Notes of the Virginia Ratification Convention Proceedings (June 12, 1788)

The Convention, according to the order of the day, again resolved itself into a Committee of the whole Convention, to take into farther consideration the proposed plan of Government-Mr. Wythe in the Chair.
(The first and second sections still under consideration.)
Mr. Grayson–Mr. Chairman,–I asserted yesterday that there were two opinions in the world-the one that mankind were capable of governing themselves, the other, that it required actual force to govern them. On the principle that the first position was true, and which is consonant to the rights of humanity, the House will recollect that it was my opinion to amend the present Confederation, and infuse a new portion of health and strength into the State Governments; to apportion the public debts in such a manner as to throw the unpopular ones on the back lands–to divide the rest of the domestic debt among the different States–and to call for requisitions only for the interest of the foreign debt. If contrary to this maxim, force is necessary to govern men, I then did propose as an alternative, not a Monarchy like that of Great-Britain, but a milder Government, one which under the idea of a general corruption of manners and the consequent necessity of force, should be as gentle as possible. I shewed in as strong a manner as I could, some of the principle defects in the Constitution. The greatest defect is the opposition of the component parts to the interests of the whole. For let Gentlemen ascribe its defects to as many causes as their imaginations may suggest, this is the principle and radical one. I urged, that to remedy the evils which must result from this Government, a more equal representation in the Legislature and proper checks against abuse, were indispensibly necessary. I do not pretend to propose for your adoption, the plan of Government which I mentioned as an alternative to a Monarchy, in case mankind were incapable of governing themselves. I only meant, that if it were once established, that force was necessary to govern men, that such a plan would be more eligible for a free people than the introduction of Crowned Heads and Nobles. Having premised this much to obviate misconstruction, I shall proceed to the clause before us with this observation, that I prefer a compleat consolidation to a partial one, but a Federal Government to either. In my opinion the State which gives up the power of taxation has nothing more to give. The people of that State, which suffer any power but her own immediate Government, to interfere - with the sovereign right of taxation, are gone forever. Giving the right of taxation is giving a right to increase the miseries of the people. Is it not a political absurdity to suppose that there can be two concurrent Legislatures, each possessing the supreme power of direct taxation? If two powers come in contact must not the one prevail over the other? Must it not strike every man's mind, that two unlimited, co-equal, co-ordinate authorities, over the same objects, cannot exist together? But we are told that there is one instance of co-existent powers, in cases of petty corporations, as well here as in other parts of the world The case of petty corporations does not prove the propriety or possibility of two co-equal transcendent powers over the same objects. Although these have the power of taxation, it only extends to certain degrees and for certain purposes. The powers corporations are defined, and operates on limited objects. Their power originates by the authority of the Legislature, and can be destroyed by the same authority. Persons carrying on the powers of a petty corporation may be punished for interfering with the power of the Legislature. Their acts are entirely nugatory if they contravene those of the Legislature. Scotland is also introduced to shew, that two different bodies may with convenience exercise the power of taxation in the same country. How is the land tax there? There is a fixed apportionment. When England pays four shillings in the pound, Scotland only pays . E. 45,000. This proportion cannot be departed from, whatever augmentation may take place.2 There are stannary courts and a variety of other inferior private courts in England. But when they pass the bounds of their jurisdiction, the supreme courts in Westminster Hallmay, on appeal, correct the abuse of their powers. Is there any connection between the Federal Courts and State Courts? What power is there to keep them in order? Where is there any authority to terminate disputes between these two contending powers? An observation came from an Honorable Gentle- man (Mr. Mason,) when speaking of the propriety of the General Government exercising this power, that according to the rules and doctrine representation, the thing was entirely impracticable. I agreed with him in sentiments. I waited to hear the answer from the admirers of the New Constitution. What was the answer? Gentlemen were obliged to give up the point with respect to general uniform taxes. They have the candour to acknowledge that taxes on slaves would not affect the Eastern States, and that taxes on fish or pot-ash, would not affect the Southern States. They are then reduced to this dilemma.–In order to support this part of the system, they are obliged to controvert the first maxims of representation. The best writers on this subject lay it down as a fundamental principle, that he who lays a tax, should bear his proportion of paying it. A tax that might with propriety be laid and with ease collected in Delaware, might be highly improper in Virginia. The taxes cannot be uniform throughout the States without being oppressive to some. If they be not uniform, some of the members will lay taxes, in the payment of which they will bear no proportion. The members of Delaware will assist in laying a tax on our slaves, of which they will pay no part whatever. The members of Delaware do not return to Virginia to give an account of their conduct. This total want of responsibility and fellow feeling, will destroy the benefits of representation. In order to obviate this objection, the Gentleman [James Madison] has said that the same evil existed in some degree in the present Confederation. To which I answer, that the present Confederation has nothing to do, but to say how much money is necessary, and to fix the proportion to be paid by each State. They cannot say in what manner the money shall be raised. This is left to the State Legislatures. But says the Honorable Gentleman (Mr. Madison) if we were in danger we should be convinced of the necessity of the clause. Are we to be terrified into a belief of its necessity? It is proposed by the opposition, to amend it in the following manner that requisitions shall be first made, and if not paid, that direct taxes shall be laid by way of punishment. If this ultimate right be in Congress, will it not be in their power to raise money on any emergency? Will not their credit be competent to procure any sum they mayw ant? Gentlemen agree that it would be proper to imitate the conduct of other countries, and Gre1at-Britain particularly, in borrowing money and establishing funds for the payment of the interest on the loans: That, when the Government is properly organized and its competency to raise money made known, public and private confidence will be the result, and men will readily lend it any sums it may stand in need of. If this should be a fact and the reasoning well founded, it will clearly follow that it will be practicable to borrow money in cases of great difficulty and danger on the principles contended for by the opposition, and this observation must supercede the necessity of granting them the powers of direct taxation in the first instance, provided the right is secured in the second. As to the idea of making extensive loans for extinguishing the present domestic debt, it is what I have not by any means in contemplation; I think it would be unnecessary, unjust, and impolitic. This country is differently situated and circumstanced from all other countries in the world. It is now thinly inhabited, but daily increasing in numbers. It would not be politic to lay grievous taxes and burdens at present. If our numbers double in 25 years, as is generally believed, we ought to spare the present race because there will be double the number of persons to pay in that period of time. So that were our matters so arranged that the interest could be paid regularly, and that any individual might get his money when he thought proper, as is the case now in England, it would be all that public faith would require. Place the subject, however, in every point of view, whether as it relates to raising money for the immediate exigencies of the State, or for the extinction of the foreign or the domestic debt, still it must be obvious that if a proper confidence is placed in the acknowledgment of the right of taxation in the second instance, that every purpose can be answered. However, Sir, if the States are not blameless, why has not the Congress used that coercion which is vested in their Government? It is an unquestionable fact that the Belgic republic on a similar occasion, by an actual exertion of force, brought a delinquent province to a proper sense of justice. The Gentleman said, that in case of a partial compliance with requisitions, the alternative proposed will operate unequally by taxing those who may have already paid, as well as those who have not, and involving the innocent in the crimes of the guilty. Suppose the new Government fully vested with authority to raise taxes, it will also operate unequally. To make up antecedent deficiencies they will lay more taxes the next succeeding year. By this means, those persons from whom a full proportion shall have been extracted, will be saddled with a share of the deficiencies, as well as those who shall not have discharged their full portion. This mode then will have precisely the same unequal and unjust operation as the other. I said yesterday that there were 1500 representatives and 160 Senators, who transacted the affairs of the different States. But we are told that this great number is unnecessary, and that in the multitude of counsellors there is folly instead of wisdom–that they are a dead weight on the public business, which is said in all public assemblies to devolve on a few. This may in some degree be true, but it will not apply in the great latitude as mentioned by the Gentleman. If ten men in our Assembly do the public business, may not the same observation extend to Congress? May not five men do the public business of the Union? But there is a great difference between the objects of legislation in Congress and those of the State Legislatures. If the former be more complicated there is a greater necessity of a full and adequate representation. It must be confessed that it is highly improper to trust our liberty and property in the hands of so few persons if they were anything less than divine. But it seems that in this contest for power, the State Governments have the advantage. I am of opinion that it will be directly the reverse. What influence can the State Governments be supposed to have, after the loss of their most important rights? Will not the diminution of their power and influence be an augmentation of those of the General Government? Will not the officers of the General Government receive higher compensations for their services than those of the State Governments? Will not the most influential men be employed by Congress? I think that the State Governments will be contemned and despised as soon as they give up the power of direct taxation, and a State, says Montesquieu, should loose her existence sooner than her importance. But,Sir, we are told, that if we do not give up this power to Congress, the impost will be stretched to the utmost extent. I do suppose this might follow, if the thing did not correct itself. But we know, that it is the nature of this kind of taxation, that a small duty will bring more real money than a large one. The experience of the English nation proves the truth of this assertion. There has been much said of the necessity of the five per cent impost. I have been ever of opinion, that two and a half per cent, would produce more real money into the treasury. But we need not be alarmed on this account, because when smugglers will be induced by heavy imposts to elude the laws, the General Government will find it their interest again to reduce them within reasonable and moderate limits. But it is suggested, that if direct taxation be inflicted by way of punishment, it will create great disturbances, in the country. This is an assertion without argument. If man is a reasonable being, he will submit to punishment, and acquiesce in the justice of its infliction, when he knows he deserves it. The States will comply with the requisitions of Congress more readily, when they know that this power may be ultimately used, and if they do not comply, they will have no reason to complain of its exercise. We are then told of the armed neutrality of the Empress of Russia, the opposition to it by Great-Britain, and the acquiescence of other powers. We are told that in order to become the carriers of contending nations, it will be necessary to be formidable at sea-that we must have a fleet in case of a war between Great-Britain and France. I think that the powers who formed that treaty will be able to support it. But if we were certain that this would not be the case, still I think the profits that might arise from such a transient commerce, could not compensate for the expences of rendering ourselves formidable at sea, or the dangers that would probably result from the attempt. To have a fleet, in the present limited population of America, is, in my opinion, impracticable and inexpedient. Is America in a situation to have a fleet? I take it to be a rule founded in common sense, that manufacturers, as well as sailors, proceed from a redundancy of inhabitants . Our numbers compared to our territory are very small indeed. I think therefore that all attempts to have a fleet, till our Western lands are fully settled, are nugatory and vain. How will you induce your people to go to sea? Is it not more agreeable to follow agriculture than to encounter the dangers and hardships of the ocean? The same reasoning will apply in a great degree to manufactures. Both are the result of necessity. It would besides be dangerous to have a fleet in our present weak, dispersed, and defenceless situation. The powers of Europe, who have West-India possessions, would be alarmed at any extraordinary maritime exertions; and knowing the danger of our arrival at manhood would crush us in our infancy. In my opinion, the great objects most necessary to be promoted and attended to in America, are agriculture and population. First take care that you are sufficiently strong by land, to guard against European partitions:S ecure your own house, before you attack that of other people. I think that the sailors who would be prevailed on to go to sea, would be a real loss to the community: Neglect of agriculture, and loss of labour, would be the certain consequence of such an irregular policy. I hope, that when these objections are thoroughly considered, all ideas of having a fleet in our infant situation willbe given over. When the American character is better known, and the Government established on permanent principles. When we shall be sufficiently populous, and our situation secure, then come forward with a fleet-not with a small one, but with one sufficient to meet any of the maritime powers.2 The Honorable Gentleman (Mr. Madison) said that the impost will be less productive hereafter, on account of the increase of population. I shall not controvert this principle. When all the lands are settled and we have manufactures sufficient, this may be the case. But I believe, that for a very long time this cannot possibly happen. In islands and thick settled countries, where they have manufactures, the principle will hold good; but will not apply in any degree to our country. I apprehend that among us, as the people in the lower country find themselves straightened they will remove to the frontiers, which for a considerable period will prevent the lower country from being very populous, or having recourse to manufactures. I cannot therefore but conclude, that the amount of the imposts will continue to increase at least for a great number of years. Holland, we are informed, is not happy, because she has not a Constitution like this. This is but an unsupported assertion. Do we not know the cause of her misfortunes? The evil is co-eval with her exist-ence–There are always opposite parties in that republic. There are now two parties-the Aristocratic party supporting the Prince of Orange, and the Louvestein party supporting the rights of the people. France foments the one, and Great-Britain the other. Is it known that if Holland had begun with such a Government as this, that the violence of faction would not produce the same evils which they experience at this present moment? It is said that all our evils result from requisitions on the States. I did not expect to hear of complaints for non-compliance during the war. Do not Gentlemen recollect our situation during the war? Our ports were blocked up, and all means of getting money destroyed, and almost every article taken from the farmer for the public service, so as, in many instances, not to leave him enough to support his own family with tolerable decency and comfort. It cannot be forgot that another resort of Government was applied to, and that press warrants were made to answer for the non-compliance of requisitions-Every person must recollect our miserable situation during the arduous contest, therefore shall make no farther apology for the States during the existence of the war.–Since the peace there have been various causes for not furnishing the necessary quotas to the General Government. In some of the flourishing States the requisitions have been attended to; in others their non-compliance is to be attributed more to the inability of the people, than to their unwillingness to advance the general interests.–Massachusetts attempted to correct the nature of things, by extracting more from the people than they were able to part with:What did it produce? A revolution, which shook that State to its centre. Paper money has been introduced. What did we do a few years ago? Struck off many millions, and by the charms of magic made the value of the emissions diminish by a forty fold ratio. However unjust or unreasonable this might be, I suppose it was warranted by the inevitable laws of necessity. But, Sir, there is no disposition now of having paper money: This engine of iniquity is universally reprobated. But Conventions give power, and Conventions can take away. This observation does not appear to me to be well founded. It is not so easy to dissolve a Government like this. Its dissolution may be prevented by a trifling minority of the people of America. The consent of so many States are necessary to introduce amendments, that I fear they will with great difficulty be obtained. It is said, that a strong Government will increase our population by increasing of emigrants. From what quarter is emigration to proceed? From the arbitrary Monarchies of Europe? I fear this kind of population would not add much to our happiness or improvement: It is supposed from the prevalence of the Orange faction, that numbers will come hither from Holland, although it is not imagined the strength of the Government will form the inducement. The exclusive power of Legislation over the 10 miles square is introduced by many Gentlemen. I would not deny the utility of vesting the General Government with a power of this kind, were it properly guarded. Perhaps I am mistaken, but it occurs to me that Congress may give exclusive privileges to merchants residing within the ten miles square, and that the same exclusive power of legislation will enable them to grant similar privileges to merchants in the strong holds within the States. I wish to know if there be any thing in the Constitution to prevent it. If there be, I have not been able to discover it. I may perhaps, not thoroughly comprehend this part of the Constitution, but it strikes my mind that there is a possibility that in process of time and from the simple operation of effects from causes, that the whole commerce of the United States may be exclusively carried on by the merchants residing within the seat of Government, and those places of arms, which may be purchased of the State Legislatures. How detrimental and injurious to the community, and how repugnant to the equal rights of mankind, such exclusive emoluments would be, I submit to the consideration of the Committee. Things of a similar nature have happened in other countries, or else from whence have issued the Hans-towns, Cinque ports and other places in Europe, which have peculiar privileges in commerce as well as in other matters? I do not offer this sentiment as an opinion, but a conjecture; and in this doubtful agitation of mind on a point of such infinite magnitude, only ask for information from the framers of the Constitution, whose superior opportunities must have furnished them with more ample lights on the subject than I am possessed of3 Something is said on the other side with respect to the Mississippi. An Honorable Gentleman has mentioned, that he was satisfied that no member of Congress had any idea of giving up that river. Sir, I am not at liberty from my situation to enter into any investigation on the subject: I am free, however, to acknowledge that I have frequently heard the honorable member declare, that he conceived the object then in contemplation, was the only method by which the right of that river could be ultimately secured. I have heard similar declarations from other members. I must beg leave to observe, at the same time, that I most decidedly differed with them in sentiment.–With respect to the citizens of the Eastern and some of the middle States, perhaps the best and surest means of discovering their general dispositions, may be by having recourse to their interests: This seems to be the pole star to which the policy of nations is directed: If this supposition should be founded, I think they must have reasons of considerable magnitude, for wishing the occlusion of that river. If the Mississippi was yielded to Spain, the migration to the Western country would be stopped, and the Northern States would, not only retain their inhabitants, but preserve their superiority and influence over that of the Southern. If matters go on in their present direction, there will be a number of new States to the Westward- Population may become greater in the Southern scale-The ten miles square may approach us! This they must naturally wish to prevent. I think Gentlemen may know the disposition of the different States, from the geography of the country and from the reason and nature of things. Is it not highly imprudent to vest a power in the generality, which will enable those States to relinquish that river? There are but feeble restrictions at present to prevent it. By the old confederation nine States are necessary to form any treaty. By this Constitution, the President with two thirds of the members present in the Senate, can make any treaty. Ten members are two thirds of a quorum. Ten members are the representatives of five States. The Northern States may then easily make a treaty relinquishing this river. In my opinion, the power of making treaties, by which the territorial rights of any of the States may be essentially affected, ought to be guarded against every possibility of abuse: And the precarious situation to which those rights will be exposed, is one reason with me, among a number of others, for voting against its adoption.4
Mr. Pendleton.-Mr. Chairman,-When I spoke formerly, I endeavored to account for the uneasiness of the public mind-that it arose from objections to Governments drawn from mistaken sources. I stated the General Governments of the world to have been either dictated by a conquerer, at the point of his sword, or the offspring of confusion, when a great popular leader, seizing the occasion, if he did not produce it, restored order at the expence of liberty, and became the tyrant. In either case the interest and ambition of the despot, and not the good of the society, give the tone to the Government, and establish contending interests. A war is commenced, and kept up, where there ought to be union; and the friends of liberty have sounded the alarm to the people, to regain that liberty which circumstances had thus deprived them of. Those alarms, misrepresented and improperly applied to this Government, have produced uneasiness in the public mind. I said improperly applied, because the people by us are peaceably assembled, to contemplate in the calm lights of mild philosophy, what Government is best calculated to promote their happiness, and secure their liberty. This I am sure we shall effect, if we do not lose sight of them by too much attachment to pictures of beauty, or horror, in our researches into antiquity, our travels for examples into remote regions-or severe criticisms upon, or unfriendly applications of expressions which may drop in the effusions of honest zeal.-The term herd was thus produced-meaning to express a multitude. It was capable of an odious application, that of placing the citizens in a degrading character. I wish it had not been used, and I wish the Gentleman on the other side had thought himself at liberty to have let it pass, without pointing its odious meaning. However, I claim no right to prescribe to him. It is done, and it must rest with the candour of the attending citizens whom it concerns, to give it the innocent meaning, which I am sure the Honorable Gentleman intended.
On the subject of Government the worthy member (Mr. Henry) and I differ at the threshold. I think Government necessary to protect liberty. He supposes the American spirit all-sufficient for the purpose. What say the most respectable writers-Montesquieu, Locke, Sidney, Harrington, &c.? They have presented us with no such idea. They properly discard from their system, all the severity of cruel punishments, such as tortures, inquisitions, and the like-shocking to human nature, and only calculated to coerce the dominion of tyrants over slaves. But they recommend making the ligaments of Government firm, and a rigid execution of the laws as more necessary than in a Monarchy-to preserve that virtue, which they all declare to be the pillar on which the Government, and liberty its object, must stand. They are not so visionary, as to suppose, there ever did or ever will exist a society, however large their aggregate fund of virtue may be, but hath among them persons of a turbulent nature, restless in themselves, and disturbing the peace of others-Sons of rapine and violence, who unwilling to labour themselves, are watching every opportunity to snatch from the industrious peasant the fruits of his honest labour. Was I not then correct in my inference, that such a Government and liberty were friends and allies, and that their common enemy was turbulence, faction, and violence? 'Tis those therefore that will be offended by good Government, and for those I suppose no Gentleman will profess himself an advocate. The writers just mentioned, point out licentiousness as the, natural offspring of liberty, and that therefore all free Governments should endeavor to suppress it, or else it will ultimately overthrow that liberty of which it is the result. Is this speculation only? Alas! reason and experience too fatally prove its truth in all instances. A Republican Government is the nursery of science. It turns the bent of it to eloquence, as a qualification for the representative character, which is, as it ought to be, the road to our public offices. I have pleasure in beholding these characters already produced in our councils-and a rising fund equal to a constant supply-May heaven prosper their indeavors, and direct their eloquence to the real good of their country. I am unfortunate enough to differ from the worthy member in another circumstance. He professes himself an advocate for the middling and lower classes of men. I profess to be a friend to the equal liberty of all men, from the palace to the cottage, without any other distinction than between good and bad men. I appeal to my public life and private behaviour, to decide whether I have departed from this rule. Since distinctions have been brought forth and communicated to the audience; and will be therefore disseminated, I beg Gentlemen to take with them this observation, that distinctions have been produced by the opposition. From the friends of the new Government, they have heard none.-None such are to be found in the organization of the paper before you.
Why bring into debate the whims of writers-introducing the distinction of well born from others?-I consider every man well born who comes into the world with an intelligent mind, and with all his parts perfect. I am an advocate for fixing our Government on true republican principles, giving to the poor man free liberty in his person and property. Whether a man be great or small he is equally dear to me. I wish, Sir, for a regular Government, in order to secure and protect those honest citizens who have been distinguished-I mean the industrious farmer and planter. I wish them to be protected in the enjoyment of their honestly and industriously acquired property. I wish commerce to be fully protected and encouraged, that the people may have an opportunity of disposing of their crops at market, and of procuring such supplies as they may be in want of. I presume that there can be no political happiness, unless industry be cherished and protected, and property secured.-Suppose a poor man becomes rich by honest labour, and increases the public stock of wealth, shall his reward be the loss of that liberty he set out with? Will you take away every stimulus to industry, by declaring that he shall not retain the fruits of it? The idea of the poor becoming rich by assiduity is not mere fancy. I am old enough, and have had sufficient experience to know the effects of it. I have often known persons commencing in life without any other stock but industry and economy; by the mere efforts of these, rise to opulence and wealth. This could not have been the case without a Government to protect their industry.-In my mind the true principles of republicanism, and the greatest security of liberty, is regular Government. Perhaps I may not be a republican, but this is my idea. In reviewing the history of the world, shall we find an instance where any society retained its liberty without Government? As I before hinted, the smallest society in extent, to the greatest empire, can only be preserved by a regular Government, to suppress that faction and turbulence so natural to many of our species.5 What do men do with those passions when they come into society? Do they leave them? No-they bring them with them.-These passions which they thus bring into society will produce disturbances which without any check will overturn it.
A distinction has been made which surprised me, between the illumined mind and the ignorant. I have heard with pleasure in other places, that worthy Gentleman expatiate on the advantages of learning, among other things as friendly to liberty. I have seen in our code of laws, the public purse applied to cherish private seminaries. This is not strictly just, but with me the end sanctified the means, and I was satisfied. But did we thus encourage learning, to set up those who attained its benefits, as butts of inviduous distinction? Surely the worthy member [George Mason], on reflection, will disavow the idea. He learns to little purpose indeed, who vainly supposes himself become, from that circumstance, of an order of beings superior to the honest citizens-peasants if you please to term them so-who in their labour produce great good to the community. But those illumined minds who apply their knowledge to promote and cherish liberty-equal liberty to all, the peasant as well as others-give to society the real blessings of learning. I have seen learning used both ways-but have had pleasure in observing, that lately the latter fruits only have generally appeared, which I attribute to the influence of republican principles, and a regard for true liberty. Am I still suspected of want of attachment for my worthy fellow-citizens, whom the Gentleman calls peasants and cottagers? Let me add one more observation.-I cannot leave them in the state in which he has placed them-in the parallel between them and those of Switzerland-the United Netherlands and Great-Britain. The peasants of the Swiss Cantons, trade in war-Trained in arms, they become the mercenaries of the best bidder, to carry on the destruction of mankind, as an occupation, where they have not even resentment. Are these a fit people for a comparison with our worthy planters and farmers-in their drawing food and raiment, and even wealth, by honest labour from the bowels of the earth, where an inexhaustible store is placed by a bountiful Creator?
The citizens of the United Netherlands have no right of suffrage. There they lose that distinguished badge of freedom. Their representation to their State Assemblies is of towns and cities, and not of the people at large.
The people of Britain have the right of suffrage, but sell it for a mess of pottage.
The happiness of the people is the object of this Government, and the people are therefore made the fountain of all power. They cannot act personally and must delegate powers. Here the worthy Gentleman who spoke last [William Gra6yson], and I, travelling not together indeed, but in sight, are placed at an immeasurable distance-as far as the poles asunder. He recommends a Government more energetic and strong than this-abundantly too strong ever to receive my approbation. A first Magistrate borrowed from Britain, to whom you are to make a surrender of your liberty, and you give him a seperate interest from yours. You intrench that interest by powers and prerogatives undefined-implant in him self-love, from the influence of which he is to do, what-to promote your interest in opposition to his own?- An operation of self-love, which is new! Having done this, you accept from him a charter of the right you have parted with-present him a Bill of Rights-telling him, thus far shall you oppress us and no farther. It still depends on him whether he will give you that charter, or allow the operation of the Bill of Rights. He will do it as long as he cannot do otherwise, but no longer. Did ever any free people in the world, not dictated to, by the sword of a conquerer, or by circumstances into which licentiousness may have plunged them, place themselves in so degrading a situation, or make so disgraceful a sacrifice of their liberty? If they did, sure I am that the example will not be followed by this Convention. This is not all; we are to look some where for the chosen few to go into the ten miles square, with extensive powers for life, and thereby destroy every degree of true responsibility. Is there no medium, or shall we recur to extremes? As a republican, Sir, I think that the security of the liberty and happiness of the people, from the highest to the lowest, being the object of Government, the people are consequently the fountain of all power. They must, however, delegate it to agents, because from their number, dispersed situation, and many other circumstances, they cannot exercise it in person. They must therefore by frequent, and certain elections, choose representatives to whom they trust it. Is there any distinction in the exercise of this delegation of power? The man who possesses twenty-five acres of land, has an equal right of voting for a representative, with the man who has twenty-five thousand acres. This equality of suffrage, secures the people in their property. While we are in pursuit of checks and balances, and proper security in the delegation of power, we ought never to loose sight of the representative character. By this we preserve the great principle, of the primary right of power in the people, and should deviations happen from our interests, the spirit of liberty in future elections will correct it.-A security I esteem far superior to Paper Bills of Rights.7
When the bands of our former society were dissolved, and we were under the necessity of forming a new Government, we established a Constitution, founded on the principle of representation, preserving therein frequency of elections, and guarding against inequality of suffrage. I am one of those who are pleased with that Constitution, because it is built on that foundation. I believe that if the Confederation had the principles and efficacy of that Constitution, we should have found that peace and happiness which we are all in search of. In this State Constitution, to the Executive you commit the sword,-to the Legislative you commit the purse, and every thing else without any limitation. In both cases the representative character is in full effect, and thereby responsibility is secured-The Judiciary is separate and distinct from both the other branches, has nothing to do with either the purse or sword, and for obvious reasons, the judges hold their office during good behaviour.
There will be deviations even in our State Legislature thus constituted. I say, (and I hope to give no offence when I do) there have been some. I believe every Gentleman will see that it is unconstitutional to condemn any man without a fair trial. Such a condemnation is repugnant to the principles of justice. It is contrary to the Constitution, and the spirit of the common law. Look at the Bill of Rights. You find there, that no man should be condemned without being confronted with his accusers and witnesses-that every man has a right to call for evidence in his favor, and above all, to a speedy trial by an impartial jury of the vicinage, without whose unanimous consent he cannot be found guilty.-These principles have not been attended to. An instance has been mentioned already, where they have been in some degree violated. (Here Mr. Pendleton spoke so very low that he could not be heard) My brethern in that department (the judicial) felt great uneasiness in their minds, to violate the Constitution by such a law. They have prevented the operation of some unconstitutional acts. Notwithstanding those violations, I rely upon the principles of the Government-that it will produce its own reform, by the responsibility resulting from frequent elections.-We are finally safe while we preserve the representative character. I made these observations as introductory to the consideration of the paper on your table. I conceive that in those respects where our State Constitution has not been disapproved of, objections will not apply against that on your table: When we were forming our State Constitution we were confined to local circumstances. In forming a Government for the Union, we must consider our situation as connected with our neighbouring States. We have seen the advantages and blessings of the Union. Every intelligent and patriotic mind must be convinced that it is essentially necessary to our happiness. God grant we may never see the disadvantages of disunion.
To come to the great subject of direct taxation, more immediately under consideration-If we find it our interest to be intimately connected with the other 12 States, to establish one common Government, and bind in one ligament the strength of 13 States, we will find it necessary to delegate powers proportionate to that end; for the delegation of adequate powers in this Government is no less necessary than in our State Government. To whom do we delegate these powers?-To our own representatives. Why should we fear so much greater dangers from our representatives there than from those we have here?-Why make so great a distinction between our representatives here, and in the Federal Government, where every branch is formed on the same principles-preserving throughout-the representative responsible character? We have trusted our lives and every thing to our State representatives. We have particularly committed our purse to them with unlimited confidence. I never heard any objection to it-I am sure I make none.-We ought to contribute our share of fixing the principles of the Government. Here the representative character is still preserved. We are to have an equal share in the representation of the General Government, should we ratify this Constitution. We have hitherto paid more than our share of taxes for the support of the Government, &c. But by this system we are to pay our equal rateable share only. Where is the danger of confiding in our Federal representatives? We must choose those in whom we can put the greatest confidence. They are only to remain two years in office. Will they in that time loose all regard for the principles of honor, and their charac8ter, and become abandoned prostitutes of our rights? I have no such fear.-When power is in the hands of my Representatives, I care not whether they meet here or 100 miles off.
A Gentleman (Mr. Monro) has said, that the power of direct taxation was unnecessary, because the impost and back lands would be abundantly sufficient to answer all federal purposes-If so, what are we disputing about? I ask the Gentleman who made the observation, and this Committee, if they believe that Congress will ever lay direct taxes if the other funds are sufficient? It will then remain a harmless power upon paper, and do no injury. If it should be necessary, will Gentlemen run the risque of the Union by withholding it? I was sorry to hear the subjects of requisitions and taxation misinterpreted. The latter has been compared to taxation by Great-Britain without our own consent. The two cases are by no means similar. The King of Great-Britain has not the purse, though he holds the sword. He has no means of using the sword but by requisitions on them who hold the purse.-He applied to the British Parliament, and they were pleased to trust him with our money. We declared, as we had a right, that we ought to be taxed by our own Representatives, and that therefore their disposing of our money without our consent was unjust.-Here requisitions are to be made by one body of our representatives to another. Why should this be the case, when they are both possessed of our equal confidence- both chosen in the same manner, and equally responsible to us? But we are told, that there will be a war between the two bodies equally our Representatives, and that the State Government will be destroyed and consolidated into the General Government. I stated before that this could not be so.-The two Governments act in different manners, and for different purposes-The Genera910l Government in great national concerns, in which we are interested in common with other members of the Union-The State Legislature in our mere local concerns.-Is it true, or merely imaginary, that the State Legislatures will be confined to the care of bridges and roads? I think that they are still possessed of the highest powers-Our dearest rights-life, liberty, and property, as Virginians, are still in the hands of our State Legislature. If they prove too feeble to protect us, we resort to the aid of the General Government for security. The true distinction is, that the two Governments are established for different purposes and act on different objects.-So that notwithstanding what the worthy Gentleman [William Grayson] said, I believe I am still correct, and insist that if each power is confined within its proper bounds, and to its proper objects, an interference can never happen. Being for two different purposes, as long as they are limited to their different objects, they can no more clash, than two parallel lines can meet.-Both lay taxes, but for different purposes.-The same officers may be used by both Governments, which will prevent a number of inconveniences.-If an invasion or insurrection, or other misfortune, should make it necessary for the General Government to interpose, this will be for the general purposes of the Union, and for the manifest interest of the States.-I mentioned formerly that it would never be the interest of the General Government, to destroy the State Governments. From these it will derive great strength, for if they be possessed of power, they will assist it.-If they become feeble, or decay, the General Government must likewise become weak, or moulder away. But we are alarmed on account of Kentucky - We are told, that the Mississippi is taken away. - When Gentlemen say, that seven States are now disposed to give it up, and that it will be given up by the operation of this Government; are they correct? It must be supposed that on occasions of great moment, the Senators from all the States will attend - If they do, there will be no difference between this Constitution and the Confederation in this point. - When they are all present, two-thirds of them will consist of the Senators from nine States, which is the number required by the existing system to form treaties. - The consent of the President, who is the Representative of the Union, is also necessary. The right to that river must be settled by the sword or negotiation. - I understood that the purpose of that negotiation which has been on foot, was, that Spain should have the navigation of that river for 25 years, after which we were peaceably to retain it forever. This, I was told, was all that Spain required. If so, the Gentlemen who differed in opinion from others, in wishing to gratify Spain, must have been actuated from a conviction, that it would be better to have the right fixed in that manner, than trust to uncertainty. I think the inhabitants of that country, as well as of every other part of the Union, will be better protected by an efficient firm Government, than by the present feeble one. We shall have also a much better chance for a favorable negotiation, if our Government be respectable, than we have now. It is also suggested, that the citizens of the Western District run the risk of loosing their lands, if this Constitution be adopted. - I am not acquainted with the circumstances of the title set up to those lands. - But this I know, that it is founded, not upon any claim commenced during the revolution, but on some latent claim that existed before that period. - It was brought before our Assembly and rejected, I suppose, because they thought it would at this late period, involve the just and unjust, indiscriminately, in distresses. I am bold to say, that no assistance can be given by the Constitution to the claimants. The Federal Legislature is not authorised to pass any law affecting claims that existed before. If the claim is brought forth, it must be before the Court of the State, on the ground on which it now stands, and must depend on the same principles on which it now depends. Whether this Constitution be adopted or not, will not affect the parties in this case. It will make no difference, as to the principles on which the decision will be made, whether it will come before the State Court or the Federal Court. - They will be both equally independent, and ready to decide in strict conformity to justice. I believe the Federal Courts will be as independent as the State Courts. - I should no more hesitate to trust my liberty and property to the one, than the other. Whenever, in any country in the world, the Judges are independent, property is secure. The existence of Great-Britain depends on that purity with which justice is administered. When Gentlemen will therefore find that the Federal Legislature cannot affect pre-existing claims by their legislation, and the Federal Courts are on the same ground with the State Courts, I hope there will be no ground of alarm.
Permit me to deliver a few sentiments on the great and important subject of previous and subsequent amendments. When I sat down to read that paper, I did not read it with an expectation that it was perfect, and that no man would object to it. - I had learned, Sir, that an expectation of such perfection in any institution devised by man, was as vain as the search for the philosopher's stone. I discovered objections - I thought I saw there sown some seeds of disunion - not in the immediate operation of the Government, but which might happen in some future time. - I wish amendments to remove these. But these remote possible errors may be eradicated by the amendatory clause in the Constitution. - I see no danger in making the experiment, since the system itself points out an easy mode of removing any errors which shall have been experienced. In this view then, I think we may safely trust in the Government. With respect to the eight States who have already acceded to it, do Gentlemen believe, that, should we propose amendments, as the sine qua non of our adoption, they would listen to our proposal? I concieve, Sir, that they would not retract. - They would tell us - No Gentlemen, we cannot accept of your conditions. You put yourselves upon the ground of opposition. Your amendments are dictated by local considerations. We, in our adoption have been influenced by considerations of general utility to the Union. We cannot abandon principles like these to gratify you. - Thus, Sir, by previous amendments, we present a hostile countenance. If on the contrary we imitate the conduct of those States, our language will be conciliatory and friendly. - Gentlemen, we put ourselves on the same ground that you are on. We are not actuated by local considerations, but by such as affect the people of America in general. - This conduct will give our amendments full weight. I was surprised when I heard introduced, the opinion of a Gentleman (Mr. Jefferson) whom I highly respect. I know the great abilities of that Gentleman. Providence has, for the good of mankind, accompanied those extensive abilities with a disposition to make use of them for the good of his fellow beings; and I wish with all my heart that he was here to assist us on this interesting occasion. As to his letter, impressed as I am with the force of his authority, I think it was improper to introduce it on this occasion. The opinion of a private individual, however enlightened, ought not to influence our decision. But admitting that this opinion ought to be conclusive with us, it strikes me in a different manner from the honorable Gentleman [Patrick Henry]. I have seen the letter in which this Gentleman has written his opinion upon this subject - It appears that he is possessed of that Constitution, and has in his mind the idea of amending it - He has in his mind the very question of subsequent or previous amendments, which is now under consideration. - His sentiments on this subject are as follows - "I wish with all my soul that the nine first Conventions may accept the New Constitution, because it will secure to us the good it contains, which I think great and important. I wish the four latest which ever they be, may refuse to accede to it, till amendments are secured" - He then enumerates the amendments which he wishes to be secured, and adds, "We must take care however, that neither this, nor any other objection to the form, produce a schism in our Union. That would be an incurable evil; because friends falling out never cordially re-unite." Are these sentiments in favor of those who wish to prevent its adoption by previous amendments? He wishes the first nine States to adopt it - What are his reasons? Because he thinks it will secure to us the good it contains, which he thinks great and important, and he wishes the other four may refuse it, because he thinks it will tend to obtain necessary amendments. But he would not wish that a schism should take place in the Union on any consideration. If then we are to be influenced by his opinion at all, we will ratify it, and secure thereby the good it contains. - The Constitution points out a plain and ordinary method of reform without any disturbance or convulsions whatever. I therefore think that we ought to ratify it in order to secure the Union, and trust to this method for removing those inconveniences which experience shall point out.
Mr. Pendleton added several other observations, but spoke too low to be heard.
Mr. Madison. - Mr. Chairman, - Finding, Sir, that the clause more immediately under consideration still meets with the disapprobation of the Honorable Gentleman over the way (Mr. Grayson) and finding that the reasons of the opposition as farther developped are not satisfactory to myself and others who are in favor of the clause; I wish that it may meet with the most thorough and complete investigation. I beg the attention of the Committee, in order to obviate what fell from the Honorable Gentleman. He set forth that by giving up the power of taxation, we should give up every thing, and still insists on requisitions being made on the States, and that then, if they be not complied with, Congress shall lay direct taxes by way of penalty. Let us consider the dilemma which arises from this doctrine. Either req- uisitions will be efficacious or they will not. If they will be efficacious, then I say, Sir, we gave up every thing as much as by direct taxation. The same amount will be paid12 by the people as by direct taxes. - If they be not efficatious where is the advantage of this plan? In what respect will it relieve us from the inconveniences which we have experienced from requisitions? The power of laying direct taxes by the General Government is supposed by the Honorable Gentleman to be chimerical and impracticable. What is the consequence of the alternative he proposes? We are to rely upon this power to be ultimately used as a penalty to compel the States to comply. If it be chimerical and impracticable in the first instance, it will be equally so when it will be exercised as a penalty. A reference was made to concurrent executions as an instance of the possibility of interference between the two Governments. (Here Mr. Madison spoke so low that he could not be distinctly heard.) This has been experienced under the State Governments without involving any inconvenience. But it may be answered, that under the State Governments, concurrent executions cannot produce the inconvenience here dreaded, because they are executed by the same officer. Is it not in the power of the General Government to employ the State officers? Is nothing to be left to future legislation, or must every thing be immutably fixed in the Constitution? Where exclusive power is given to the Union, there can be no interference. Where the General and State Legislatures have concurrent power, such regulations will be made as shall be found necessary to exclude interferences and other inconveniences. It will be their interest to make such regulations.
It has been said, that there is no similarity between petty corporations and independent States. I admit that in many points of view there is a great disimilarity, but in others, there is a striking similarity between them, which illustrates what is before us. Have we not seen in our own country (as has been already suggested in the course of the debates) concurrent collections of taxes going on at once, without producing any inconvenience? We have seen three distinct collections of taxes, for three distinct purposes. Has it not been possible for collections of taxes, for parochial, county and State purposes, to go on at the same time? Every Gentleman must know that this is now the case, and though there be a subordination in these cases which will not be in the General Government, yet in practice it has been found, that these different collections have been concurrently carried on, with convenience to the people, without clashing with one another, and without deriving their harm1314ony from the circumstance of being subordinate to one Legislative body. The taxes will be laid for different purposes. The members of the one Government as well as of the other, are the agents of and subordinate to the people. I conceive that the collections of the taxes of the one will not impede those of the other, and that there can be no interference. This concurrent collection appears to me neither chimerical nor impracticable. He compares resistance of the people to collectors, to refusal of requisitions. This goes against all Government. It is as much as to urge, that there should be no Legislature. The Gentlemen who favored us with their observations on this subject, seemed to have reasoned on a supposition, that the General Government was confined by the paper on your table to lay general uniform taxes. Is it necessary that there should be a tax on any given article throughout the United States? It is represented to be oppressive, that the States who have slaves and make tobacco, should pay taxes on these for Federal wants, when other States who have them not would escape. But does the Constitution on the table admit of this? On the contrary, there is a proportion to be laid on each State according to its population.15 The most proper articles will be selected in each State. If one article in any State should be deficient, it will be laid on another article. Our State is secured on this foundation. - Its proportion will be commensurate to its population. This is a constitutional scale, which is an insuperable bar against disproportion, and ought to satisfy all reasonable minds. - If the taxes be not uniform, and the Representatives of some States contribute to lay a tax of which they bear no proportion, is not this principle reciprocal? Does not the same principle hold in our State Government in some degree? It has been found inconvenient to fix on uniform objects of taxation in this State, as the back parts are not circumstanced like the lower parts of the country. In both cases the reciprocity of the principle will prevent a disposition in one part to oppress the other. My honorable friend seems to suppose that Congress, by the possession of this ultimate power as a penalty, will have as much credit and will be as able to procure any sums, on any emergency, as if they were possessed of it in the first instance; and that the votes of Congress will be as competent to procure loans, as the votes of the British Commons. Would the votes of the British House of Commons have that credit which they now have, if they were liable to be retarded in their operation, and perhaps rendered ultimately nugatory as those of Congress must be by the proposed alternative? When their vote passes, it usually receives the concurrence of the other branch, and it is known that there is sufficient energy in the Government, to carry it into effect. But here the votes of Congress are in the first place dependent on the compliance of 13 different bodies, and after non compliance, are liable to be opposed and defeated, by the jealousy of the States against the exercise of this power, and by the opposition of the people which may be expected, if this power be exercised by Congress after partial compliances. These circumstances being known, Congress could not command one shilling. - My honorable friend seems to think that we ought to spare the present generation, and throw our burthens upon posterity. I will not contest the equity of this reasoning, but I must say that good policy as well as views of economy, strongly urge us even to distress ourselves to comply with our most solemn engagements. We must make effectual provision for the payment of the interest of our public debts. In order to do justice to our creditors, and support our credit and reputation; we must lodge power some where or other for this purpose. As yet the United States have not been able by any energy contained in the old system, to accomplish this end. Our creditors have a right to demand the principal, but would be satisfied with a punctual payment of the interest. If we have been unable to pay the interest, much less shall we be able to discharge the principal. It appears to me that the whole reasoning used on this occasion shews, that we ought to adopt this system to enable us to throw our burdens on posterity. The honorable member [William Grayson] spoke of the Decemviri at Rome as having some similitude to the ten Representatives who are to be appointed by this State. I can see no point of similitude here, to enable us to draw any conclusion. For what purpose were the Decemviri appointed? They were invested with a plenipotentiary commission to make a code of laws. By whom were they appointed? By the people at large?-My memory is not infallible, but it tells me they were appointed by the Senate. I believe in the name of the people. If they were appointed by the Senate and composed of the most influential characters among the Nobles, can any thing be inferred from that against our Federal representatives? Who made a discrimination between the Nobles and the people? - The Senate. Those men totally perverted the powers which were given them for the purpose above specified, to the subversion of the public liberty. Can we suppose that a similar usurpation might be made, by men appointed in a totally different manner? As their circumstances were totally dissimilar I conceive that no arguments drawn from that source, can apply to this Government. I do not thoroughly comprehend the reasoning of my honorable friend, when he tells us, that the Federal Government will predominate, and that the State interest will be lost; when at the same time he tells us, that it will be a faction of seven States. - If seven States will prevail as States, I conceive that state influence will prevail. If state influence under the present feeble Government has prevailed, I think that a remedy ought to be introduced by giving the General Government power to suppress it.
He supposed that my argument with respect to a future war between Great-Britain and France was fallacious. The other nations of Europe have acceded to that neutrality while Great-Britain opposed it. We need not expect in case of such a war, that we should be suffered to participate of the profitable emoluments of the carrying trade, unless we were in a respectable situation. Recollect the last war. - Was there ever a war in which the British nation stood opposed to so many nations? All the belligerent nations in Europe, with near one half of the British empire, were united against it. Yet that nation, though defeated, and humbled beyond any previous example, stood out against this. From her firmness and spirit in such desperate circumstances, we may divine what her future conduct may be. I did not contend that it was necessary for the United States to establish a navy for that sole purpose, but instanced it as one reason out of several, for rendering ourselves respectable. I am no friend to naval or land armaments in time of peace, but if they be necessary, the calamity must be submitted to. Weakness will invite insults. A respectable Government will not only intitle us to a participation of the advantages which are enjoyed by other nations, but will be a security against attacks and insults. It is to avoid the calamity of being obliged to have large armaments that we should establish this Government. The best way to avoid danger, is to be in a capacity to withstand it.
The impost, we are told, will not diminish, because the emigrations to the Westward will prevent the increase of population. - He has reasoned on this subject justly to a certain degree. I admit that the imposts will increase till population becomes so great as to compel us to recur to manufactures. The period cannot be very far distant, when the unsettled parts of America will be inhabited. At the expiration of twenty-five years hence, I conceive that in every part of the United States, there will be as great a population as there is now in the settled parts. We see already, that in the most populous parts of the Union, and where there is but a medium, manufactures are beginning to be established. Where this is the case the amounts of importations will begin to diminish. Although the impost may even increase during the term of twenty-five years, yet when we are preparing Government for perpetuity, we ought to found it on permanent principles and not on those of a temporary nature.
Holland is a favorite quotation with honorable members on the other side of the question. Had not their sentiments been discovered by other circumstances, I should have concluded from their reasonings on this occasion, that they were friends to the Constitution. I should suppose that they had forgotten which side of the question they were on. Holland has been called a Republic, and a Government friendly to liberty. Though it may be greatly superior to some other Governments in Europe, still it is not a Republic, or a Democracy. Their Legislature consist in some degree of men who legislate for life. Their Councils consists of men who hold their offices for life, who fill up offices and appoint their salaries themselves. The people have no agency mediate or immediate in the Government. If we look at their history we shall find, that every mischief which has befallen them, has resulted from the existing Confederacy. If the Stadtholder has been productive of mischief - if 16we ought to guard against such a Magistrate more than any evil, let me beseech the Honorable Gentleman to take notice of what produced that, and those troubles which have interrupted their tranquillity from time to time - The weakness of their Confederacy produced both. When the French arms were ready to overpower their Republic, and were feeble in the means of defence, which was principally owing to the violence of parties, they then appointed a Stadtholder, who sustained them. If we look at more recent events, we shall have a more pointed demonstration that their political infelicity arises from the imbicility of their Government. In the late disorders the States were almost equally divided, three Provinces on one side, three on the other, and the other divided - one party inclined to the Prussians, and the other to the French. The situation of France did not admit of their interposing immediately in their disputes by an army - That of the Prussians did. A powerful and large army marched into Holland and compelled the other party to surrender. We know the distressing consequences to the people. What produced those disputes and the necessity of foreign interference, but the debility of their Confederacy? We may be warned by their example, and shun their fate, by removing the causes which produced their misfortunes.
My honorable friend has referred to the transactions of the Federal Council with respect to the navigation of the Mississippi. I wish it was consistent with delicacy and prudence to lay a complete view of the whole matter before this Committee. The history of it is singular and curious, and perhaps its origin ought to be taken into consideration. I will touch on some circumstances, and introduce nearly the substance of most of the facts relative to it, that I may not seem to shrink from explanation. It was soon perceived, Sir, after the commencement of the war with Britain, that among the various objects that would affect the happiness of the people of America, the navigation of the Mississippi was one. Throughout the whole history of foreign negotiation, great stress was laid on its preservation. In the time of our greatest distresses, and particularly when the Southern States were the scene of war, the Southern States cast their eyes around to be relieved from their 17misfortunes. It was supposed that assistance might be obtained for the relinquishment of that navigation. It was thought that for so substantial a consideration, Spain might be induced to afford decisive succour. It was opposed by the Northern and Eastern States. They were sensible that it might be dangerous to surrender this important right, particularly to the inhabitants of the Western country. But so it was, that the Southern States were for it, and the Eastern States opposed it. Since obtaining that happy peace, which secures to us all our claims, this subject has been taken again into consideration, and deliberated upon in the Federal Government A temporary relinquishment has been agitated. Several members from the different States, but particularly from the Northern, were for a temporary surrender, because it would terminate disputes, and at the end of the short period for which it was to be given, the right would revert of course to those who had given it up. And for this temporary surrender some commercial advantages were offered. For my part, I considered that this measure, though founded on considerations plausible and honorable, was yet not justifiable but on grounds of inevitable necessity. I must declare in justice to many characters who were in Congress, that they declared that they never would enter into the measure unless the situation of the United States was such as could not prevent it.
I suppose that the adoption of this Government will be favorable to the preservation of the right to that navigation. Emigrations will be made from those parts of the United States which are settled, to those parts which are unsettled. If we afford protection to the Western country, we will see it rapidly peopled. Emigrations from some of the Northern States have been lately increased. We may conclude, as has been said by a Gentleman on the same side (Mr. Nicholas) that those who emigrate to that country, will leave behind them all their friends and connections as advocates for this right. What was the cause of those States being the champions of this right when the Southern States were disposed to surrender it? The preservation of this right will be for the general interest of the Union. The Western country will be settled from the North as well as from the South, and its prosperity will add Ito the strength and security of the Union. I am not able to recollect all th18ose circumstances which would be necessary to give Gentlemen a full view of the subject. I can only add, that I conceive that the establishment of the new Government will be the best possible means of securing our rights as well in the Western parts as elsewhere. I will not sit down till I make one more observation on what fell from my honorable friend [William Grayson]. He says, that the true difference between the States lies in this circumstance—that some are carrying States and others productive, and that the operation of the new Government will be, that there will be a plurality of the former to combine against the interest of the latter, and that consequently it will be dangerous to put it in their power to do so. I would join with him in sentiments, if this were the case.— Were this within the bounds of probability, I should be equally alarmed, but I think that those States which are contradistinguished as carrying States, from the non-importing States will be but few. I suppose the Southern States will be considered by all, as under the latter description. Some other States have been mentioned by an honorable member [Patrick Henry] on the same side, which are not considered as carrying States. New-Jersey and Connecticut can by no means be enumerated among the carrying States. They receive their supplies through New-York. Here then is a plurality of non-importing States. I could add another if necessary. Delaware, though situated upon the water, is upon the list non-carrying States. I might say that a great part of New-Hampshire is so. I believe a majority of the people of that State receive their supplies from Massachusetts, Rhode-Island, and Connecticut. Might I not add all those States which will be admitted hereafter into the Union? These will be non-carrying States, and will support Virginia in case the carrying States will attempt to combine against the rest. This objection must therefore fall to the ground. My honorable friend has made several other remarks, but I will defer saying anymore till we come to those parts to which his objections refer.
Mr. Henry.—Mr. Chairman,—Once more I find it necessary to trespass on your patience. An Honorable Gentleman [Edmund Randolph] several days ago observed, that the great object of this Government, was justice. We were told before, that the greater consideration was Union. However, the consideration of justice seems to have been what influenced his mind when he made strictures on the proceedings of the Virginia(n) Assembly. I thought the reasons of that transaction had been sufficiently explained. It is exceedingly painful to me to be objecting, but I must make a few observations. I shall not again review the catalogue of dangers which the Honorable Gentleman entertained us with. They appear to me absolutely imaginary. They have in my conception proved to be such. But sure I am, that the dangers of this system are real, when those who have no similar interests with the people of this country, are to legislate for us—when our dearest interests are left in the power of thos19e whose advantage it may be to infringe them. How will the quotas of troops be furnished? Hated as requisitions are, your Federal officers cannot collect troops like dollars, and carry them in their pockets. You must make those abominable requisitions for them, and the scale will be in proportion to the number of your blacks, as well as your whites, unless they violate the constitutional rule of apportionment. This is not calculated to rouse the fears of the people. It is founded in truth. How oppressive and dangerous must this be to the Southern States who alone have slaves? This will render their proportion infinitely greater than that of the Northern States.20 It has been openly avowed that this shall be the rule. I will appeal to the judgments of the Committee, whether there be danger.— The Honorable Gentleman said, that there was no precedent for this American revolution. We have precedents in abundance. They have been drawn from Great-Britain. Tyranny has arisen there in the same manner in which it was introduced among the Dutch. The tyranny of Philadelphia may be like the tyranny of George the IIId. I believe this similitude will be incontestibly proved before we conclude.
The Honorable Gentleman has endeavored to explain the opinion of Mr. Jefferson our common friend, into an advice to adopt this new Government. What are his sentiments? He wishes nine States to adopt, and that four States may be found somewhere to reject it? Now, Sir, I say, if we pursue his advice, what are we to do?—To prefer form to substance? For, give me leave to ask what is the substantial part of his counsel? It is, Sir, that four States should reject. They tell us, that from the most authentic accounts, New-Hampshire will adopt it. When I denied this, Gentlemen said they were absolutely certain of it. Where then will four States be found to reject, if we adopt it? If we do, the counsel of this enlightened and worthy countryman of ours, will be thrown away,—and for what? He wishes to secure amendments and a Bill of rights, if I am not mistaken. I speak from the best information, and if wrong, I beg to be put right. His amendments go to that despised thing a Bill 21of Rights, and all the rights which are dear to human nature—Trial by jury, the liberty of religion, and the press, &c.—Do not Gentlemen see, that if we adopt under the idea of following Mr. Jefferson's opinion, we amuse ourselves with the shadow, while the substance is given away? If Virginia be for adoption, what States will be left, of sufficient respectability and importance, to secure amendments by their rejection? As to North Carolina it is a poor despised place. Its dissent will not have influence to introduce any amendments.— Where is the American spirit of liberty? Where will you find attachment to the rights of mankind, when Massachusetts the great Northern State, Pennsylvania the great middle State, and Virginia the great Southern State, shall have adopted this Government? Where will you find magnanimity enough to reject it? Should the remaining States have this , magnanimity, they will not have sufficient weight to have the Government altered. This State has weight and importance. Her example will have powerful influence—Her rejection will procure amendments—Shall we by our adoption hazard the loss of amendments?—Shall we forsake that importance and respectability which our station in America commands, in hopes that relief will come from an obscure part of the Union? I hope my countrymen will spurn at the idea. The necessity of amendments is universally admitted. It is a word which is re-echoed from every part of the Continent A majority of those who hear me, think amendments are necessary. Policy tells us they are necessary. Reason, self-preservation, and every idea of propriety, powerfully urge us to secure the dearest rights of human nature—Shall we in direct violation of these principles, rest this security upon the uncertainty of its being obtained by a few States more weak, and less respectable than ourselves—and whose virtue and magnanimity may be overborne by the example of so many adopting States?—Poor Rhode-Island and North-Carolina, and even New-York, surrounded with Federal walls on every side, may not be magnanimous enough to reject, and if they do reject it, they will have but little influence to obtain amendments. I ask, amendments be necessary, from whence can they be so properly proposed as from this State? The example of Virginia is a powerful thing, particularly with respect to North-Carolina, whose supplies must come through Virginia. Every possible opportunity procuring amendments is gone—Our power and political salvation is gone, if we ratify unconditionally.22 The important right of making treaties is upon the most dangerous foundation. The President with a few Senators possess it in the most unlimited manner, without any real responsibility, if from sinister views they should think proper to abuse it. For they may keep all their measures in the most profound secrecy as long as they please. Were we not told that war was the case wherein secrecy was most necessary? But by the paper on your table, their secrecy is not limited to this case only. It is as unlimited and unbounded as their powers. Under the abominable veil of political secrecy and contrivance, your most valuable rights may be sacrificed by a most corrupt faction, without having the satisfaction of knowing who injured you. They are bound by honor and conscience to act with integrity, but they are under no constitutional restraint The navigation of the Mississippi, which is of so much importance to the happiness of the people of this country, may be lost by the operation of that paper. There are seven States now decidedly opposed to this navigation. If it be of the highest consequence to know who they are who shall have voted its relinquishment, the Federal veil of secrecy will prevent that discovery. We may labor under the magnitude of our miseries without knowing or being able to punish those who produced them.23 I did not wish that transactions relative to treaties should when unfinished, be exposed; but that it should be known after they were concluded, who had advised them to be made, in order to secure some degree of certainty that the public interest shall be consulted in their formation.
We are told that all powers not given are reserved. I am sorry to bring forth hackneyed observations. But, Sir, important truths lose nothing of their validity or weight, by frequency of repetition. The English history is frequently recurred to by Gentlemen. Let us advert to the conduct of the people of that country. The people of England lived without a declaration of rights, till the war in the time of Charles Ist. That King made usurpations upon the rights of the people. Those rights were in a great measure before that time undefined. Power and privilege then depended on implication and logical discussion. Though the declaration of rights was obtained from that King, his usurpations cost him his life. The limits between the liberty of the people, and the prerogative of the King, were still not clearly defined. The rights of the people continued to be violated till the Steward family was banished in the year 1688. The people of England magnanimously defended their ri2425262728ghts, banished the tyrant, and prescribed to William Prince of Orange, by the Bill of Rights, on what terms he should reign. And this Bill of Rights put an end to all construction and implication. Before this, Sir, the situation of the public liberty of England was dreadful. For upwards of a century the nation was involved in every kind of calamity, till the Bill of Rights put an end to all, by defining the rights of the people, and limiting the King's prerogative.29 Give me leave to add (if I can add any thing to so splendid an example) the conduct of the American people. They Sir, thought a Bill of Rights necessary. It is alledged that several States, in the formation of their governments, omitted a Bill of Rights. To this I answer, that they had the substance of a Bill of Rights contained in their Constitutions, which is the same thing. I believe that Connecticut has preserved by her Constitution her royal charter, which clearly defines and secures the great rights mankind—Secure to us the great important rights of humanity, and I care not in what form it is done. Of what advantage is it to the American Congress to take away this great and general security? I ask of what advantage is it to the public or to Congress to drag an unhappy debtor, not for the sake of justice, but to gratify the malice of the plaintiff, with his witnesses to the Federal Court, from a great distance? What was the principle that actuated the Convention in proposing to put such dangerous powers in the hands of anyone? Why is the trial by jury taken away? All the learned arguments that have been used on this occasion do not prove that it is secured. Even the advocates for the plan do not all concur in the certainty of its security. Wherefore is religious liberty not secured? One Honorable Gentleman who favors adoption, said that he had had his fears on the subject. If I can well recollect, he informed us that he was perfectly satisfied by the powers of reasoning (with which he is so happily endowed) that those fears were not well grounded. There is many a religious man who knows nothing of argumentative reasoning;—there are many of our most worthy citizens, who cannot go through all the labyrinths of syllogistic argumentative deductions, when they think that the rights of conscience are invaded. This sacred right ought not to depend on constructive logical reasoning. When we see men of such talents and learning, compelled to use their utmost abilities to convince themselves that there is no danger, is it not sufficient to make us tremble? Is it not sufficient to fill the minds of the ignorant part of men with fear?30 If Gentlemen believe that the apprehensions of men will be quieted, they are mistaken; since our best informed men are in doubt with respect to the security of our rights. Those who are not so well informed - will spurn at the Government. When our common citizens, who are not possessed with such extensive knowledge and abilities, are called upon to change their Bill of Rights, (which in plain unequivocal terms, secures their most valuable rights and privileges) for construction and implication, will they implicitly acquiesce? Our Declaration of Rights tells us, "That all men are by nature free and independent, &c." (Here Mr. Henry read the Declaration of Rights.) Will they exchange these rights for logical reasons? If you had a thousand acres of land, dependent on this, would you be satisfied with logical construction? Would you depend upon a title of so disputable a nature? The present opinions of individuals will be buried in entire oblivion when those rights will be thought of. That sacred and lovely thing religion, ought not to rest on the ingenuity of logical deduction. Holy religion, Sir, will be prostituted to the lowest purposes of human policy. What has been more productive of mischief among mankind than religious disputes. Then here, Sir, is a foundation for such disputes, when it requires learning and logical deduction to perceive that religious liberty is secure. The Honorable member [Edmund Randolph] told us that he had doubts with respect to the judiciary department. I hope those doubts will be explained.—He told us that his object was Union. I admit that the reality of Union and not the name, is the object which most merits the attention of every friend to his country. He told you that you should hear many great sounding words on our side of the question. We have heard the word Union from him. I have heard no word so often pronounced in this House as he did this. I admit that the American Union is dear to every man—I admit that everyman who has three grains of information, must know and think that Union is the best of all things. But as I said before, we must not mistake the end for the means. If he can shew that the rights of the Union are secure, we will consent. It has been sufficiently demonstrated that they are not secured. It sounds mighty prettily to Gentlemen to curse paper money and honestly pay debts. But apply to the situation of America, and you will find there are thousands and thousands of contracts, whereof equity forbids an exact literal performance. Pass that government, and you will be bound hand and foot. There was an immense quantity of depreciated continental paper money in circulation at the conclusion of the war. This money is in the hands of individuals to this day. The holders of this money may call for the nominal value, if this government be adopted. This State may be compelled to pay her proportion of that currency pound for pound. Pass this government and you will be carried to the Federal Court (if I understand that paper right) and you will be compelled to pay shilling for shilling. I doubt on the subject, at least as a public man, I ought to have doubts. A State may be sued in the Federal Court by the paper on your table. It appears to me then, that the holder of the paper money may require shilling for shilling. If there be any latent remedy to prevent this, I hope it will be discovered.
The precedent, with respect to the Union between England and Scotland, does not hold. The Union of Scotland speaks in plain and direct terms. Their privileges were particularly secured. It was expressly provided, that they should retain their own particular laws. Their nobles have a right to choose representatives to the number of sixteen.— I might thus go on and specify particulars, but it will suffice to observe generally, that their rights and privileges were expressly and unequivocally reserved.—The power of direct taxation was not given up by the Scotch people. There is no trait in that Union which will maintain their arguments. In order to do this, they ought to have proved that Scotland united without securing their rights, and afterwards got that security by subsequent amendments. Did the people of Scotland do this? No, Sir, like a sensible people, they trusted nothing to hazard. If they have but 45 members, and those be often corrupted, these defects will be greater here. The number will be smaller, and they will be consequently the more easily corrupted. Another Honorable Gentleman advises us to give this power, in order to exclude the necessity of going to war. He wishes to establish national credit I presume-and imagines that if a nation has public faith and shews a disposition to comply with her engagements, she is safe among ten thousand dangers. If the Honorable Gentleman can prove that this paper is calculated to give us public faith, I will be satisfied. But if you be in constant preparation for war, on such airy and imaginary grounds, as the mere possibility of danger, your government must be military, which will be inconsistent with the enjoyment of liberty. But, Sir, we must become formidable, and have a strong government to protect us from the British nation. Will the paper on the table prevent the attacks of the British navy, or enable us to raise a fleet equal to the British fleet? The British have the strongest fleet in Europe, and can strike anywhere. It is the utmost folly to conceive, that that paper can have such an operation. It will be no less so to attempt to raise a powerful fleet With respect to requisitions, I beseech Gentlemen to consider the importance of the subject. We who are for amendments propose, (as has been frequently mentioned) that a requisition shall be made for £200,000 for instance, instead of direct taxation, and that if it be not complied with, then it shall be raised by direct taxes. We do not wish to have strength to refuse to pay them, but to possess the power of raising the taxes in the most easy mode for the people. But says he, you may delay us by this mode.—Let us see if there be not sufficient to counterbalance this evil. The oppression arising from taxation, is not from the amount but, from the mode—a thorough acquaintance with the condition of the people, is necessary to a just distribution of taxes. The whole wisdom of the science of Government, with respect to taxation, consists in selecting that mode of collection which will best accommodate the convenience of the people. When you come to tax a great country, you will find that ten men are too few to settle the manner of collection. One capital advantage which will result from the proposed alternative is this, that there will be necessary communications between your ten members in Congress, and your 170 Representatives here. If it goes through the hands of the latter, they will know how much the citizens can pay, and by looking at the paper on your table, they will know how much they ought to pay. No man is possessed of sufficient information to know how much we can or ought to pay.
We might also remonstrate, if by mistake or design, they should call for a greater sum than our proportion. After a remonstrance, and a free investigation between our Representatives here, and those in Congress, the error would be removed.
Another valuable thing which it will produce is, that the people will pay the taxes chearfully. It is supposed, that this would occasion a waste of time, and be an injury to public credit. This would only happen requisitions should not be complied with. In this case the delay would be compensated by the payment of interest, which with the addition of the credit of the State to that of the General Government, would in a great measure obviate this objection. But if it had all the force which it is supposed to have, it would not be adequate to the evil of direct taxation. But there is every probability that requisitions would be then complied with. Would it not then be our interest, as well as duty, to comply? After non-compliance, there would be a general acquiescence in the exercise of this power. We are fond of giving power, at least power which is constitutional. Here is an option to pay according to your own mode, or otherwise. If you give probability fair play, you must conclude, that they would be complied with. Would the Assembly of Virginia by refusal, destroy the country and plunge the people into miseries and distress? If you give your reasoning faculty fair play, you cannot but know, that payment must be made when the consequence of a refusal would be an accumulation of inconveniences to the people. Then they say, that requisitions be not complied with, in case of a war, the destruction of the country may be the consequence; that therefore, we ought to give the power of taxation to the Government to enable it to protect us. Would not this be another reason for complying with requisitions, to prevent the country from being destroyed? You tell us, that unless requisitions be complied with, your commerce is gone. The prevention of this also, will be an additional reason to comply.
He tells us, that responsibility is secured by direct taxation. Responsibility instead of being increased, will be lost for ever by it. In our State Government, our Representatives may be severally instructed by their constituents. There are no persons to counteract their operations. They can have no excuse for deviating from our instructions. In the General Government other men have power over the business. When oppressions may take place, our Representatives may tell us, We contended for your interest, but we could not carry our point, because the Representatives from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, &c. were against us. Thus, Sir, you may see, that there is no real responsibility. He further said, that there was such a contrariety of interests, as to hinder a consolidation. I will only make one remark—There is a variety of interests—Some of the States owe a great deal on account of paper money—Others very little—Some of the Northern States have collected and barrelled up paper money. Virginia has sent thither her cash long ago. There is little or none of the Continental paper money retained in this State. Is it not their business to appreciate this money? Yes,—and it will be your business to prevent it. But there will be a majority against you, and you will be obliged to pay your share of this money in its nominal value. It has been said by several Gentlemen, that the freeness of elections would be promoted by throwing the country into large districts. I contend, Sir, that it will have a contrary effect. It will destroy that connection that ought to subsist between the electors and the elected. If your elections be by districts instead of counties, the people will not be acquainted with the candidates. They must therefore be directed in the elections by those who know them. So that instead of a confidential connection between the electors and the elected, they will be absolutely unacquainted with each other. A common man must ask a man of influence how he is to proceed, and for whom he must vote. The elected, therefore, will be careless of the interest of the electors. It will be a common job to extort the suffrages of the common people for the most influential characters. The same men may be repeatedly elected by these means. This, Sir, instead of promoting the freedom of elections, leads us to an Aristocracy. Consider the mode of elections in England. Behold the progress of an election in an English shire. A man of an enormous fortune will spend 30,000 l. or 40,000 l. to get himself elected. This is frequently the case. Will the Honorable Gentleman say, that a poor man, as enlightened as any man in the island, has an equal chance with a rich man, to be elected? He will stand no chance though he may have the finest understanding any man in the shire. It will be so here. Where is the chance that a poor man can come forward with the rich? The Honorable Gentleman [Edmund Pendleton] will find that instead of supporting Democratical principles, it goes absolutely to destroy them. The State Governments, says he, will possess greater advantages than the General Government, and will consequently prevail. His opinion and mine are diametrically opposite. Bring forth the Federal allurements, and compare them with the poor contemptible things that the State Legislatures can bring forth. On the part of the State Legislatures, there are Justices of Peace and militia officers—And even these Justices and officers, are bound by oath in favour of the Constitution. A constable is the only man who is not obliged to swear paramount allegiance to this beloved Congress. On the other hand, there are rich, fat Federal emoluments—your rich, snug, fine, fat Federal offices—The number of collectors of taxes and excises will outnumber any thing fro31m the States. Who can cope with the excisemen and taxmen? There are none in this country, that can cope with this class of men alone. But, Sir, is this the only danger? Would to Heaven that it were. If we are to ask which will last the longest—the State or the General Government, you must take an army and a navy into the account. Lay these things together, and add to the enumeration the superior abilities of those who manage the General Government. Can then the State Governments look it in the face? You dare not look it in the face now, when it is but in embryo. The influence of this Government will be such, that you never can get amendments; for if you propose alterations, you will affront them. Let the Honorable Gentleman consider all these things and say, whether the State Governments will last as long as the Federal Government. With respect to excises, I can never endure them. They have been productive of the most intolerable oppressions everywhere. Make a probable calculation of the expence attending the Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary. You will find that there must be an immense increase of taxes. We are the same mass of people we were before.—In the same circumstances—The same pockets are to pay—The expences are to be increased—What will enable us to bear this augmentation of taxes? The mere form of the Government will not do it. A plain understanding cannot conceive how the taxes can be diminished, when our expences are augmented, and the means of paying them not increased.
With respect to our tax-laws, we have purchased a little knowledge by sad experience upon the subject. Reiterated experiments have taught us what can alleviate the distresses and suit the convenience of the people. But we are now to throw away that system, by which we have acquired this knowledge, and send ten men to legislate for us.
The Honorable Gentleman was pleased to say, that the representation of the people was the vital principle of this Government. I will readily agree that it ought to be so.—But I contend that this principle is only nominally, and not substantially to be found there. We contended with the British about representation; they offered us such a representation as Congress now does. They called it a virtual representation. If you look at that paper you will find it so there. Is there but a virtual representation in the upper House? The States are represented as States, by two Senators each. This is virtual, not actual. They encounter you with Rhode-Island and Delaware. This is not an actual representation. What does the term representation signify? It means that a certain district—a certain association of men should be represented in the Government for certain ends. These ends ought not to be impeded or obstructed in any manner. Here, Sir, this populous State has not an adequate share of legislative influence. The two petty States of Rhode-Island and Delaware, which together are infinitely inferior to this State, in extent and population, have double her weight, and can counteract her interest. I say, that the representation in the Senate, as applicable to States, is not actual representation is not therefore the vital principle of this Government—So far it is wrong.
Rulers are the servants and agents of the people—The people are their masters—Does the new Constitution acknowledge this principle? Trial by jury is the best appendage of freedom—Does it secure this? Does it secure the other great rights of mankind? Our own Constitution preserves these principles. The Honorable Gentleman contributed to form that Constitution: The applauses so justly due to it, should, in my opinion, go to the condemnation of that paper.
With respect to the failures and errors of our Government, they might have happened in any Government—I do not justify what merits censure, but I shall not degrade my country. As to deviations from justice, I hope they will be attributed to the errors of the head, and not to those of the heart.
The Honorable Gentleman did our Judiciary honour in saying, that they had firmness to counteract the Legislature in some cases. Yes, Sir, our Judges opposed the acts of the Legislature. We have this land mark to guide us.—They had fortitude to declare that they were the Judiciary and would oppose unconstitutional acts. Are you sure that your Federal Judiciary will act thus? Is that Judiciary so well contstructed and so independent of the other branches, as our State Judiciary? Where are your land-marks in this Government? I will be bold to say you cannot find any in it. I take it as the highest encomium on this country, that the acts of the Legislature, if unconstitutional, are liable to be opposed by the Judiciary.
Then the Honorable Gentleman said, that the two Judiciaries and Legislatures, would go in a parallel line and never interfere—That as long as each was confined to its proper objects, that there would be no danger of interference—That like two parallel lines as long as they continued in their parallel direction they never would meet With submission to the Honorable Gentleman's opinion, I assert, that there is danger of interference, because no line is drawn between the powers of the two Governments in many instances; and, where there is a line, there is no check to prevent the one from encroaching upon the powers of the other. I therefore contend that they must interfere, and that this interference must subvert the State Government, as being less powerful. Unless your Government have checks, it must inevitably terminate in the destruction of your privileges. I will be bold to say, that the British Government has real checks. I was attacked by Gentlemen, as if I had said that I loved the British Government better than our own. I never said so. I said that if I were obliged to relinquish a Republican Government, I would chuse the British Monarchy. I never gave the preference to the British or any other Government, when compared to that which the Honorable Gentleman assisted to form. I was constrained to say what I said. When two disagreeable objects present themselves to the mind, we choose that which has the least deformity.
As to the Western Country, notwithstanding our representation in Congress, and notwithstanding any regulation that may be made by Congress, it may be lost. The seven Northern States are determined to give up the Mississippi. We are told that in order to secure the navigation of that river, it was necessary to give it up twenty-five years to the Spaniards, and that thereafter we should enjoy it forever without any interruption from them. This argument resembles that which recommends adopting first and then amending. I think the reverse of what the Honorable Gentleman [Edmund Pendleton] said on this subject. Those seven States are decidedly against it. He tells us, that it is the policy of the whole Union to retain it. If men were wise, virtuous, and honest, we might depend on an adherence to this policy.—Did we not know of the fallibility of human nature, we might rely on the present structure of this Government.—We might depend that the rules of propriety, and the general interest of the Union would be observed. But the depraved nature of man is well known. He has a natural biass towards his own interest, which will prevail over every consideration, unless it be checked. It is the interest and inclination of the seven Northern States to relinquish this river. If you enable them to do so, will the mere propriety of consulting the inter33est of the other six States, refrain them from it? Is it imagined, that Spain will, after a peaceable possession of it for thirty years, give it up to you again? Can credulity itself hope, that the Spaniards who wish to have it for that period, wish to clear the river for you? What is it they wish?—To clear the river?—For whom? America saw the time when she had the reputation of common sense at least. Do you suppose they will restore it to you after thirty years? If you do, you depart from that rule. Common observation tells you, that it must be the policy of Spain to get it first, and then retain it forever. If you give it up, in my poor estimation, they will never voluntarily restore it. Where is the man who will believe that after clearing the river, strengthening themselves, and increasing the means of retaining it, the Spaniards will tamely surrender it?
With respect to the concurrent collections of parochial, county, and State taxes, which the Honorable Gentleman [James Madison] has instanced as a proof of the practicability the concurrent collection of taxes by the General and State Governments, the comparison will not stand examination. As my honorable friend has said, these concurrent collections come from one power. They irradiate from the same center. They are not co-equal or co-extensive. There is no clashing of powers between them. Each is limited to its own particular objects, and all subordinate to one supreme controuling power—The Legislature.— The County Courts have power over the county and parish collections, and can constantly redress any injuries or oppressions committed by the collectors. Will this be the case in the Federal Courts? I hope they will not have Federal Courts in every county. If they will, the State Courts will be debased and stripped of their cognizance, and utterly abolished. Yet, if there be no power in the county to call them to account, they will more flagrantly trample on your rights. Does the Honorable Gentleman mean that the Thirteen States will have thirteen different tax-laws? Is this the expedient which is to be substituted to the unequal and unjust one of uniform taxes? If so, many horrors present themselves to my mind. They may be imaginary,34 but it appears to my mind to be the most abominable system that could be imagined. It will destroy every principle responsibility: It will be destructive of that fellow-feeling, and consequent confidence, which ought to subsist between the Representatives and the represented. We shall then be taxed by those who bear no part of the taxes themselves, and who consequently will be regardless of our interest in imposing them upon us. The efforts of our ten men will avail very little when opposed by the Northern majority. If our ten men be disposed to sacrifice our interests, we cannot detect them. Under the colour of being out-numbered by the Northern Representatives, they can always screen themselves. When they go to the General Government, they may make a bargain with the Northern Delegates. They may agree to tax our citizens in any manner which may be proposed by the Northern members; in consideration of which the latter may make them some favorite concessions. The Northern States will never assent to regulations promotive of the Southern aggrandisement. Notwithstanding what Gentlemen say of the probable virtue of our representatives, I dread the depravity of human nature. I wish to guard against it by proper checks, and trust nothing to accident or chance. I will never depend on so slender a protection as the possibility of being represented by virtuous men.
Will not thirteen different objects of taxation in the thirteen different States, involve us in an infinite number of inconveniences and absolute confusion? There is a striking difference, and great contrariety of interests between the States. They are naturally divided into carrying and productive States. This is an actual existing distinction which cannot be altered. The former are more numerous, and must prevail. What then will be the consequence of their contending interests, if the taxation of America is to go on in thirteen different shapes? This Government subjects every thing to the Northern majority. Is there not then a settled purpose to check the Southern interest? We thus put unbounded power over our property in hands not having a common interest with us. How can the Southern members prevent the adoption of the most oppressive mode of taxation in the Southern States, as there is a majority in favor of the Northern States? Sir, 35this is a picture so horrid, so wretched, so dreadful, that I need no longer dwell upon it—Mr. Henry then concluded by remarking, that he dreaded the most iniquitous speculation and stock-jobbing, from the operation of such a system.
Mr. Madison-Mr. Chairman-Pardon me for making few remarks on what fell from the Honorable Gentleman last up:—I am sorry to follow the example of Gentlemen in deviating from the rule of the House:—But as they have taken the utmost latitude in their objections, it is necessary that those who favor the Government should answer them.—But I wish as soon as possible to take up the subject regularly. I will therefore take the liberty to answer some observations which have been irregularly made, though they might be more properly answered when we came to discuss those parts of the Constitution to which they respectively refer.—I will, however, postpone answering some others till then.—If there be that terror in direct taxation, that the States would comply with requisitions to guard against the Federal Legislature; and if, as Gentlemen say, this State will always have it in her power to make her collections speedily and fully, the people will be compelled to pay the same amount as quickly and punctually as if raised by the General Government. It has been amply proved, that the General Government can lay taxes as conveniently to the people as the State Governments, by imitating the State systems of taxation.—If the General Government have not the power of collecting its own revenues, in the first instance, it will be still dependent on the State Governments in some measure; and the exercise of this power after refusal, will be inevitably productive of injustice and confusion, if partial compliances be made before it is driven to assume it.—Thus, Sir, without relieving the people in the smallest degree, the alternative proposed will impair the efficacy of the Government, and will perpetually endanger the tranquillity of the Union.
The honorable member's objection with respect to requisitions of troops will be fully obviated at another time.—Let it suffice now to say, that it is altogether unwarrantable, and founded upon a misconception of the paper before you. But the honorable member, in order to influence our decision, has mentioned the opinion of a citizen who is an ornament to this State. When the name of this distinguished character was introduced, I was much surprised.—Is it come to this then, that we are not to follow our own reason?—Is it proper to introduce the opinions of respectable men not within these walls?—If the opinion of an important character were to weigh on this occasion, could we not adduce a character equally great on our side?—Are we who (in the Honorable Gentleman's opinion) are not to be governed by an erring world, now to submit to the opinion of a citizen beyond the Atlantic? I believe that were that Gentleman now on this floor, he would 36be for the adoption of this Constitution. I wish his name had never been mentioned.—I wish every thing spoken here relative to his opinion may be suppressed if our debates should be published. I know that the delicacy of his feelings will be wounded when he will see in print what has, and may be said, concerning him on this occasion. I am in some measure acquainted with his sentiments on this subject. It is not right for me to unfold what he has informed me. But I will venture to assert, that the clause now discussed, is not objected to by Mr. Jefferson:—He approves of it, because it enables the Government to carry on its operations. He admires several parts of it, which have been reprobated with vehemence in this House. He is captivated with the equality of suffrage in the Senate, which the Honorable Gentleman (Mr. Henry) calls the rotten part of this Constitution. But whatever be the opinion of that illustrious citizen, considerations of personal delicacy should dissuade us from introducing it here.
The honorable member has introduced the subject of religion.—Religion is not guarded—There is no Bill of Rights declaring that religion should be secure.—Is a Bill of Rights a security for religion? Would the Bill of Rights in this State exempt the people from paying for the support of one particular sect, if such sect were exclusively established by law? If there were a majority of one sect, a Bill of Rights would be a poor protection for (religion) (liberty). Happily for the States, they enjoy the utmost freedom of religion. This freedom arises from that multiplicity of sects, which pervades America, and which is the best and only security for religious liberty in any society. For where there is such a variety of sects, there cannot be a majority of anyone sect to oppress and persecute the rest. Fortunately for this Commonwealth, a majority of the people are decidedly against any exclusive establishment—I believe it to be so in the other3839 States. There is not a shadow of right in the General Government to intermeddle with religion.—Its least interference with it would be a most flagrant usurpation.—I can appeal to my uniform conduct on this subject, that I have warmly supported religious freedom.—It is better that this security should be depended upon from the General Legislature, than from one particular State. A particular State might concur in one religious project.—But the United States abound in such a vast variety of sects, that it is a strong security against religious persecution, and is sufficient to authorise a conclusion, that no one sect will ever be able to out number or depress the rest.
I will not travel over that extensive tract, which the honorable member has traversed.—I shall not now take notice of all his desultory objections.—As occasions arise I shall answer them.
It is worthy of observation on this occasion, that the Honorable Gentleman himself, seldom fails to contradict the arguments of Gentlemen on that side of the question.—For example, he strongly complains that the Federal Government from the number of its members will make an addition to the public expence, too formidable to be borne; and yet he and other Gentlemen on the same side, object that the number of representatives is too small, though ten men are more than we are entitled to under the existing system! How can these contradictions be reconciled? If we are to adopt any efficient Government at all, how can we discover or establish such a system, if it be thus attacked?—Will it be possible to form a rational conclusion upon contradictory principles? If arguments ofa contradictory nature were to be brought against the wisest and most admirable system, to the formation of which human intelligence is competent, it never could stand them.
He has accrimoniously inveighed against the Government, because such transactions as Congress think require secrecy, may be concealed—and particularly those which relate to treaties. He admits that when a treaty is forming, secrecy is proper; but urges that when actually made, the public ought to be made acquainted with every circumstance relative to it. The policy of not divulging the most important transactions, and negotiations of nations, such as those which relate to warlike arrangements and treaties, is universally admitted.40 The Congressional proceedings are to be occasionally published, including all receipts and expenditures of public money, of which no part can be used, but in consequence of appropriations made by law. This is a security which we do not enjoy under the existing system.—41That part which authorises the Government to with-hold from the public knowledge what in their judgment may require secrecy, is imitated from the Confederation—that very system which the Gentleman advocates.
No treaty has been formed, and I will undertake to say, that none will be formed under the old system, which will secure to us the actual enjoyment of the navigation of the Mississippi. Our weakness precludes us from it. We are entitled to it. But it is not under an inefficient Government that we shall be able to avail ourselves fully of that right.—I most conscientiously believe, that it will be far better secured under the new Government, than the old, as we will be more able to enforce our right. The people of Kentucky will have an additional safe-guard from the change of system. The strength and respectability of the Union will secure them in the enjoyment of that right, till that country becomes sufficiently populous. When this happens they will be able to retain it in spite of every opposition.
I never can admit that seven States are disposed to surrender that navigation.—Indeed it never was the case.—Some of their most distinguished characters are decidedly opposed to its relinquishment. When its cession was proposed by the Southern States, the Northern States opposed it. They still oppose it. New-Jersey directed her Delegates to oppose it, and is strenuously against it. The same sentiments pervade Pennsylvania:—At least I am warranted to say so, from the best information which I have. Those States, added to the Southern States, would be a majority against it.
The Honorable Gentleman [Patrick Henry], to obviate the force of my observations with respect to concurrent collections of taxes under different authorities, said, that there was no interference between the concurrent collections of parochial, county, and State taxes, because they all irradiated from the same centre; but that this was not the case with the General Government.—To make use of the Gentleman's own term, the concurrent collections under the authorities of the General Government and State Governments, all irradiate from the people at large. The people is their common superior. The sense of the people at large is to be the predominant spring of their actions. This is a sufficient security against interference.
Our attention was called to our commercial interest, and at the same time the landed interest was said to be in danger. If those ten men who are to be chosen, be elected by landed men, and have land themselves, can the electors have anything to apprehend?—If the commercial interest be in danger, why are we alarmed about the carrying trade?—Why is it said, that the carrying States will preponderate, if commerce be in danger?—With respect to speculation, I will remark that stock-jobbing has more or less prevailed in all countries, and ever will in some degree, notwithstanding any exertions to prevent it. If you judge from what has happened under the existing system, any change would render a melioration probable.
The Convention then rose—And on motion, resolved, That this Convention will, to-morrow, again resolve itself into a Committee of the whole Convention, to take into farther consideration, the proposed Constitution of Government.
And then the Convention adjourned untill to-morrow morning, ten o'clock.

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