But it is insisted on, said Mr. B., by some gentlemen, that as the power to pass uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcy is expressly given to Congress by the Constitution, it is their duty to do it; and some go as far as to say that it is not proper for the States to legislate on that subject. He thought there was no great weight in that argument. Congress not having passed such a law for these ten years past, and the States having legislated upon it in their own way, is a sufficient proof that that has not been the understanding of the Constitution.1
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Many other instances might be adduced to prove the same thing, if necessary. The fact is, the powers given to Congress as well as to all other Legislatures, are in general submitted to their discretion to use them as the circumstances of the country should require. He had no doubt in saying, as well from the perusal of the instrument as from his own recollection, that many of them must have been considered as of very difficult execution, and that it must have been supposed that the existence of the power in Congress would effect the control which they desired, would check the abuses which might otherwise have taken place, and prevent the necessity of using it. Any other view of that instrument, he thought, would lead to great perplexity and embarrassment. He was sure it was the one which its best friends had originally indulged, and had made the administration of the Government much more practicable and successful than it otherwise could have been.