Wilson: As soon as Mr. M'Kean's motion had been read from the table, Mr. Wilson rose, and, in a long and elaborate speech, delineatedthe general principles upon which the Federal Constitution has been founded. The difficulties which the late Convention had to encounter were pointed out, in the extent of the country, its population, andindependent establishments, the various and contending habits, prejudices, and interests of the people, and the want of an applicable example in any of the ancient or modern institutions of governments. The republics of former times, as well as the existing confederations of the Swiss cantons, the United Netherlands, and the Germanic body, were shown to be incapable of furnishing precedent, and the three simple species of governments, the monarchical, aristocratical, anddemocratical, were accurately reviewed to demonstrate that did not singly afford a rule adequate to the exigencies and dominion of the continent.
Mr. Wilson then entered into a disquisition of the natureand properties of civil society, civil liberty, and civil government, and, closing this part of his speech with a definition of what, for thefirst time, he designated by the term of "federal liberty," he observedthat the same principles which applied in resigning a portion of thenatural rights of individuals to form society would apply in resigning portion of the civil liberty of each state to form a federal republic; because in both cases the good of the whole must be preferred to apart, and, in truth, more liberty is gained by associating, than islost by the natural rights which it absorbs.1
Having ably discriminated between the advantages and disadvantages of every known species of government, Mr. Wilson observed that it was the objectof the Convention to form such a system as would admit the one butexclude the other, and therefore a federal republic naturally presenteditself to their approbation. The result of their opinions lying for thediscussion of the Convention, it would certainly be asked, afterinvestigating other governments, of what description is the proposedplan? To which Mr. Wilson answered, in its principles, it is surelydemocratical; for, however wide and various the firearms of powermayappear, they may all be traced to one source, the people.