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title:“McKesson's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates”
date written:1788-6-27

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"McKesson's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 22. Ed. John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2008. 1926-29. Print.
McKesson's Notes, New-York Historical Society

McKesson's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates (June 27, 1788)

On Article 2d. § 8th. with the Amendmt. SMITH. The State Govts. to remain for local Purposes—The State [i.e., general] Govt. for national Purposes— —If the line of Jurisdiction is not well fixed and ascertained there may be a conflict—If not the Liberties the peace & Harmony of the Country may be destroyed in the Conflict— Money Necessary to the Existence of both Govts. Give an uncontrouled power to one Govt. the other must then exist at the will of the other—If a Clashing of Interests and Power the Genl. Govt. must fall a Sacrafice to the State Govts. or Vice Versa— It will not be disputed but the Powers of the Genl Govt. and restrained by nothing but the will of the Legislature except one single Restrict. vizt. The Genl. Govt. has exclusive Power to raise monies by duties by Imposts The State Govts. have concurrent jurisdictions as to The State Govts. no exclusive Right to raise Monies The Genl. Govt. has also this Advantage that as their Laws are Supreme and to [be] determined by their own Courts and in all Cases of Interference they It can scarcely happen in the Cases of Concurrent Jurisdict but there will be a clashing— In Every Govt. there is demand for all the Monies they can raise and are generally in Debt— The Genl Govt. will have occasion for all the money they can conveniently raise— The State Govts. must have Money There will therefore be direct Taxation by both Govts. These will Interfere—They will even become hostile to each other— There will [be] two Setts of Suppervisors assessors Collectors Two Setts of Courts to determine the Matter— It is therefore Impossible they can subsist together Therefore unless the Powers of Each are so defined and Settled as to prevent this Jar[r]ing of Interests the Genl. Govt. must prevail— The unlimitted Power of Imposts the most Important Revenue can pay their Officers—Support an Army—&ca. The States have no Means of Revenue or Support— The Genl. Govt. has an unlimitted Power—They have express Power to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper If we contemplate the Com [i.e., common?] operation of Causes in producing Effects in Time the Genl. Govt. must Absorb the Others— It cannot be done at once—But as they encrease in Power the State Govts. must decrease—Affection to their State Govts. and Confidence in them must decrease—And they must become useless—And as much Pains will then be taken Some Gentlemen contemplate this Event with Pleasure— I contemplate it as the final destruction of the Liberties of America There is no Instance of any Governmt. so extensive— The Ancient Republic's were not like ours—and were in Genl. confined to small Territories— The Roman Provinces were Govd. by Tirants— Govermt. over any Country of great Extent must be despotic— It may be said we have no Instance of Govt. such as we would amend this to be so extensive— This is true—We must therefore reason on &correct this as well as we can— Can Govt. superintend Taxation over a Territory of 1200 Miles or more If the Genl. Govt. supplant the State Govts. can they manage the local Concerns of all— In Monarchial States the Monarch does not attempt to detail Taxes Suppose the Govt. pure—the Matter is impracticable—If Corrupt— they may distress the People beyond Measure— It is impossible to obtain a Representation adequate to Duties Taxes and Excises— Let us examine our Situation—If a man conceives he suffers Injury—he is apt to attribute it to Govt. Examine our State Govts. and our Situation when the forms were made, and the Situation in which the War left us—Is it not astonishing that our State Governments have worked so well— Rhode Island is much Condemned—I condemn it too—but She should be heard—perhaps A[n] Insurrection in Massachussetts—How trifling compared to other Govts. In Britain Nothing wanting but Time and Experience necessary as to our local Concerns—they have proved Good It is admitted the Genl Govt. defective and has failed in answering these Ends of Institution—It failed for want of the Means to procure Money— Let us examine how this arose— Let us consider our own Govt. and others as to requisitions— The Govt. of the united States Requisitions for 10 years including amount to about 36 millions—24 millions have actually been paid— Can any Govt. count on raising the whole Tax laid—Has the State Govts. with all their direct power collected all or more than 2 3ds When the Govt. is properly organized the Defects will be less— Many States have made no payments on requisitions because Congress has been looking for other Sources for Money— When the Country better Established, Requisitions be better complied with— The War left the Country distressed—The Country is now retrieving with Celerity—Tho many Indivi[du]als are ruined yet the united States have advanced in point of Property to a great degree— Defects will always be found in the Collection of Taxes—The Difference will be as great as on Requisitions— Apportion a Tax as equally as you can—where money is in Circulation it will be paid—where it is Scarce there will [be] a Defalcation— The Idea that Congress should have unlimitted Powers in point of Revenue is perfectly novel until the meeting of the Convention— When they were pressed in 1783 Congress made a Requisition of 8 Millions and requested an Impost— Now the[y] Require unlimitted Revenue—If this must be done let us abolish our State Govts. Without some Source of Revenue the State Govts. cannot Support their Governments or Exist—
* * * * *
WILLIAMS. A few Supplementary Remarks— The Legislature the highest Power in Governmt.
If Congress should think it for the Common Defence & Genl Welfare To destroy the State Govts. what is to controul them— I If they should have recourse to Arms—they have not the means—they have no Money—The Militia not It is mere construction that in some Instances the States have concurrent jurisdiction as to Taxes— We should have certainty in a Constitution to operate I[t] should not be left to caprice and the Constructions of As the Constitution now is it is impossible to know Suppose they have concurrent Juris yet the Laws of Genl Govt. are Supreme & may & will controul the others where they interfere— Suppose both lay Taxes will not be jar[r]ing Interests—can this be Safe—Either the People must be doubly taxed—or the State Govts. destroyed— In England—they pay Taxes for the Light of Heaven & even for the paymt. of their Debts—Will our Rulers be more merciful— A Capitation Tax where their a great Disparity of Fortune is unjust— And making the Poor Servants to the Rich— A Poll Tax a mark of Despotism—a Tax on Property
* * * * *
R. R. LIVINGSTON. This Clause has taken up more Time and been more considered by Conventions (Who have adopted this Constitution) than most others— I Agree that our State Govts. will work better—That a Consolidation of the States would be proper— The Amendmt. two parts— 1st 2d. It should be considered that at a future day our principal Resource will [be] duties and Excise on Manufactures— Ex[empli] gr[atia] [i.e., e.g.] Excises on Wine, Brandy, Ale, Malt Liquors &c manufactured among us— The Genl. Govt. is to pay your Taxes, Debts, Troops, Expences abroad, and foreign Treaties— The State Govts. cannot do these—Excise on Manufactures the great Revenue in most Countries— 2d Part vizt. This should be viewed in three points of view— 1st. Many Gent calculate the Expences of the Genl Govt as it is at present and Calculate the present Imposts— There is no Govt. which has [not] been compelled to contract Debts make heavy Loans &ca. and many times to call in and Coin All the plate— The Amendmt. Supposes that Necessities may Exist— Let us see whether the Remedy is sufficient if they should Exist Have requisitions succeeded— Deduct the Bounties to the Soldiers which was a matter of Coercion, and See what they amount to— The Gent says Peace will enable us to Comply— Answer New Hampshire was principally clear of the War has paid nothing—The States at a distance from the War paid little or nothing— New York and the States near the Scene of War (because they were Interested) paid or advanced in part— Nothing but a Sudden Emergency will Induce Congress to raise Money—Can Requisitions answer in such Cases—Will the States comply unless they know and like the Cause of the War— The Amendmt. Declares an Organazation of Collectors and other Necessary Officers— Will they have power to collect In War— -No immediate Reliance on Taxation—It is ussual to Borrow to pledge a direct Revenue arising from Specific Tax— The Imposts will not be more than Sufficient to pay the Debt we already owe— And there will [be] no fund to Support a War— The Navigating States in Genl. and this State in particular Are peculiarly interested to Strengthen the Hands of the Union— Otherwise this State may again be reduced to Support a War alone— 2d. The Interference of Congress with the Rights of the State— And that Congress can destroy the Rights of the State— If the State Govts. are necessary to the Happiness of the People—to Suppose them to be injured is to Suppose Corruption Can this Govt. lead to Corruption— It is constituted of Representatives elected by the People every two years—It is constituted of a Senate elected by the State Legislatures—And by a President elected Are not these sufficient Checks— Have not our State Govts. all these powers— have not we sufficient What objects can the Genl Govt. have in View to Amass Money—they cannot do it— They must annually publish their Expenditures— if their Revenue should be Sufficient would the people pay direct Taxes without Murmuring—would not the people take the Alarm, and Change their rulers— It is said "It will be an object to destroy the State Govts." Why if they have sufficient Power why destroy the State Govts. more than their own officers— It is said that two taxes will interfere—Why—Will the union Tax articles which the State has taxed—If both can be paid they will If not they will pay the State Tax—State Tax and County Tax do now exist every day—and with [out] any Inconvenience true they are coil [ect] ed The Resources must be Adequate to a State Govt. and a genl Govermt. This admitted by Our present Business—If the people are able to pay both they must— 3d. As it respects the Citizens Individually— They are very little Interested— If they must Support the union and State Govt. it is of little Moment whether they pay to one Collector or to two The Collector who seizes the Horse first will hold him until paid and then deliver the Horse to the other— The Citizen Interested to preserve the State Govt. and Interested in preserving the union— The Citizens of those States who may be the Seat of War are very particularly Interested— I have confined myself immediately to the Objects in Debate—
* * * * *
SMITH. I Suppose from [time] to time may be once in twenty years—or from time to time may be from One Century to anothertwo publications will be from time to time
* * * * *
R. R. LIVINGSTON. It is to be presumed that as people are anxious about the payment of public Money The publications will be made as frequent as they need be when the Accounts are ready if not annually MELANCTON SMITH. I only told the Gent he had mistated the Clause that the accts. were
* * * * *
HAMILTON. It is more natural to the Mind of man to examine the Powers by which1 money is to be taken from him—than the necessity or reasons of those powers— In Regard to the Safety and Liberty of the people you are to constitute it to preserve Liberty with Power to preserve itself and with sufficient Checks—
1. This Govt. has represent elected only for two years— this the peoples Govt.2
2d. A Senate for 6 years—elected by the Peoples Represent. this is a Repub Branch
3d. A President elected by the People for 4 years how to be done— Electors equal to the No. of meet in Each State— If not elected then to be elected by the House of Represent Here is a Republican Magistrate— Here is a House of Assemy & Senate— these have a Check and Negative on each other—here is all the Security Then their Laws are to be submitted to this Chief Magistrate If a Virtuous Minority in either House But you have a Court formed on the best of principles and appointed during
Where will Jealosies End—Can any more be obtained in Society— The Executive Legislative and Judicial separated— Unless Power is lodged somewhere there can be no Govt. nor Any Business done— Where is the Govt. which had not the purse and the sword Except t5hat Shaddow Thing the Old Confederat
The Truth is the purse and [sword] Should not be one Branch or one Man—The Executive must have the Sword the Legislative the Purse Time when we reason about the great Interests of a great People— we should attend only to reason—6
In order to evade the force of these reasons it is said that we cannot have an adequate Representation under this Govt. here he will have an adequate Representation If we had 3000 Representatives would it not be a Mob A Sufficient Number may be 60—or 200, 300, or 400— When the Govt. acquires respectability you will easily get Men who will Serve— Will 200 Men be corrupted in 2 years—If they do can they in two years destroy your Liberties— Can Such Number combine— You begin with 61 [i.e., 65] Members 26 Senators and a President All this Conversation about an Inadequate Representation is only fanciful a Phantom & Ens Rationis—
This Govt. has every thing necessary— Every danger of Liberty Suggested is mere talking— The Powers then should be what is Convenient— The 1st. Object is Common Defence— The Commerce &ca. will be committed — What does Com Defence imply 1st. Defensive 2d Offencive What do these require—Money for domestic Police and the civil Governmt.-Money for common Defence— In Britain the difference is 14 15th. for the Com Defence & one 15th. for the other— Then where should the Power of Taxation be lodged—In the Genl. Govt. or in the State Govts. Common Sense will say in the Hands of the Genl Govt. The Genl. Govt. intrusted with that object from whence arise the great source of Expence—Should have the Means to support that Ex-pence— The Power of Taxation should be coextensive with necessities of Defence—Why transfer this Power from the Hands where most If we find out any Resources of Revenue for the States it must only be one 15th. will the States be satisfied with this— It has been admitted the Genl Govt. and State Govts. have a concurrent Power as to Taxation (except Imposts [)] Many Evils would arise from limitted Powers— 1st. At the breaking out of a War you must change your funds— 2d. As they go along they should pay as much as they can If the[y] cannot do this they will run in Debt and leave an Immense Burthen in Posterity The Principle I contend for is acknowledged by the Confederation vizt That you cannot limit that power that is to provide for the Exigencies of the Community— The Amendmt. proposed admits this— But I shall Shew it is not so useful or Beneficial as the present Constitution—8
It is said an Extensive Territory must have a Despotism— The Position is misunderstood— The principle there contemplates such narrow limits where all the People are called together to deliberate— Not the Case with us—We are represented by Delegates or Representatives—Therefore our Republics may be as large as we can bring Represent[atives] conveniently together— The Writers allow that there may be an Association of States to any Extent—And this will I admit there must be local Govts. in this Country—It cannot be the Interest or desire to undermine the State Govts. The National Govt would destroy itself if it destroyed the State Govts.9
They could never have a president—They could have no senate—Would they destroy themselves to destroy the State Govts. to what End—If they have all the Power necessary what more can they want what motive could they have— It is a Dream— Next I say it would be Impracticable to destroy the State Governments—Some of the Ancient Confederacies rested on particular Legislation— In General the feudatory Barons prevailed agt. the Sover[e]igns where the Contrary prevailed it was because the Barons were the oppressors of their followers— If the Genl Govt should become oppressors let them be destroyed— The People of the State will love their State better than the united States— They will love the Govt. where they have the Sole powerthan that in which they have only a part— The State Govts. will continue Their No. of Representatives are and will be more numerous—The Expect[at]ions of Honor in that way looked up to Militia Officers—Judges—Justices—Sheriffs—will give power to the State Goverts.— The State govts. will make Laws as to Crimes—and Internal Police— I said they would make Laws for Agriculture Manufactures Canals— and whatever more Sensibly affects Individuals— It is conclusively true that the State Governmt. and Genl. Govt. have concurrent Jurisdictions (except as to Will the State Govts. be insignificant because the [y] do not act for the national Govt.—If they are useful to the People they will have the attachmt. of the people10
The Notion is the most wild— You may trust your State Govts. because you have no power to controul— I admit—That the Genl Govt. should be so constituted as not to prevent the State Govts. to provide for themselves— It is admitted that the Govts. have concurrent Jurisdiction and—yet takes it off by saying the Laws of the united States are Supreme— Suppose the Genl Govt. to lay a Tax on Land—it will be Supreme Let the State do the like It will also be Supreme— It is objected the Courts of Genl Govt. to determine— Are they not to be on Oath— will they not do right—if not will be impeached No such thing as Supreme where there is a concurrt. Juris This Concurrt. Jurisdiction does exist—11

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