Col. Mason. did not expect this point would have been reagitated. The essential differences between the two plans, had been clearly stated. The principal objections agst. that of Mr. R. were the want of powerwant of practicability. There can be no weight in the first as the fiat is not to be here, but in the people. He thought with his colleague Mr. R. that there were besides certain crisises, in which all the ordinary cautions yielded to public necessity. He gave as an example, the eventual Treaty with G. B. in forming which the Commsrs of the U. S. had boldly disregarded the improvident shackles of Congs. had given to their Country an honorable & happy peace, and instead of being censured for the transgression of their powers, had raised to themselves a monument more durable than brass. The impracticability of gaining the public concurrence he thought was still more groundless. (Mr. Lansing) had cited the attempts of Congress to gain an enlargment of their powers, and had inferred from the miscarrige of these attempts, the hopelessness of the plan which he (Mr. L) opposed. He thought a very different inference ought to have been drawn; viz. that the plan which (Mr. L.) espoused, and which proposed to augument the powers of Congress, never could be expected to succeed. He meant not to throw any reflections on Congs. as a body, much less on any particular members of it. He meant however to speak his sentiments without reserve on this subject; it was a privilege of Age, and perhaps the only compensation which nature had given for, the privation of so many other enjoyments; and he should not scruple to exercise it freely. Is it to be thought that the people of America, so watchful over their interests; so jealous of their liberties, will give up their all, will surrender both the sword and the purse, to the same body, and that too not chosen immediately by themselves? They never will. They never ought. Will they trust such a body, with the regulation of their trade, with the regulation of their taxes; with all the other great powers, which are in contemplation? Will they give unbounded confidence to a secret Journal � to the intrigues � to the factions which in the nature of things appertain to such an Assembly? If any man doubts the existence of these characters of Congress, let him consult their Journals for the years, 78, 79, & 80 � It will be said, that if the people are averse to parting with power, why is it hoped that they will part with it to a National Legislature. The proper answer is that in this case they do not part with power: they only transfer it from one sett of immediate Representatives to another sett. Much has been said of the unsettled state of the mind of the people. he believed the mind of the people of America, as elsewhere, was unsettled as to some points; but settled as to others. In two points he was sure it was well settled. 1. in an attachment to Republican Government. 2. in an attachment to more than one branch in the Legislature. Their constitutions accord so generally in both these circumstances, that they seem almost to have been preconcerted. This must either have been a miracle, or have resulted from the genius of the people. The only exceptions to the establishmt. of two branches in the Legislatures are the State of Pa. & Congs. and the latter the only single one not chosen by the people themselves. What has been the consequence? The people have been constantly averse to giving that Body further powers � It was acknowledged by (Mr. Patterson) that his plan could not be enforced without military coertion. Does he consider the force of this concession. The most jarring elements of nature; fire & water themselves are not more incompatible that such a mixture of civil liberty and military execution.
Will the militia march from one State to another, in order to collect the arrears of taxes from the delinquent members of the Republic? Will they maintain an army for this purpose? Will not the citizens of the invaded State assist one another till they rise as one Man, and shake off the Union altogether. Rebellion is the only case in which (the military force of the State can be properly) exerted agst. its Citizens. In one point of view he was struck with horror at the prospect of recurring to this expedient. To punish the non-payment of taxes with death, was a severity not yet adopted by depotism itself: yet this unexampled cruelty would be mercy compared to a military collection of revenue, in which the bayonet could make no discrimination between the innocent and the guilty.2
He took this occasion to repeat. that notwithstanding his solicitude to establish a national Government, he never would agree to abolish the State Govts. or render them absolutely insignificant. They were as necessary as the Genl. Govt. and he would be equally careful to preserve them. He was aware of the difficulty of drawing the line between them, but hoped it was not insurmountable. The Convention, tho� comprising so many distinguished characters, could not be expected to make a faultless Govt. And he would prefer trusting to posterity the amendment of its defects, rather than push the experiment too far.