Extract of a letter from Poughkeepsie, dated July 22
"... (Yesterday the Convention proceeded in the consideration of the first proposition [of Melancton Smith], and spent the whole day in discussing the several amendments; they wa[i]ved for the present the question whether any of them should be conditional or not.) The one which prohibits the Congress from calling out the militia of one State into another for more than six weeks without the consent of its Legislature, occasioned a good deal of debate. Mr. Hamilton insisted that the restriction was an impolitic one— that if the States intended to guard as much as possible against standing armies under the new Government, they ought to yield it the command of the militia in the most unqualified terms— that to apprehend danger from a militia, while the States appointed all the officers, was quite a novel idea, and the offspring of the most unenlightened and distempered jealousy—that the experience of the late war had demonstrated the great utility of the militia on special occasions; and on the other hand, the improper remissness and indolence of the State Legislatures, in sending their militia to the assistance of their neighbors, until the war had approached to their own doors-Virginia was adduced as an instance of this—that the direction of the forces and strength of the community ought to be placed with confidence and without limitation in the hands of that body which was to provide for the common defence.
["]Mr. Jay enforced the same ideas, and further contended, that the dictates of economy were against the amendment; for that on many occasions the government, contemplating their full and entire direction of the militia, would avoid the raising or the increase of their standing forces, to the degree that the national emergencies might otherwise require; and that the dictates of safety were against it: For as he and Mr. Hamilton, I think, both observed, the surest way to force government into the necessity of maintaining armies, was by fettering their authority over the militia.
"Mr. N. Lawrence rose and observed, that decency to their constituents required that the amendment should be recommended, for that the danger apprehended in giving the full command of the militia to Congress, had been a source of much uneasiness to their constituents. Mr. Hamilton, in reply, only observed, that the most effectual way to secure amendments, was by recommending such only as were valuable, and could be advocated on sober investigation— at all events we never ought to recommend a bad one. "This amendment was carried by all the Anti's on one side, and all the Fœderalists on the other.
"Mr. Jones moved as an amendment to the first part, that no excise, except on ardent spirits, be laid by Congress—this was carried, and also the other part respecting direct taxes: The yeas and nays being called on both of them, as well as on most of the amendments discussed.
"There was some debate on the amendment restricting Congress from laying excises. —It was demonstrated that the restriction was directly against the interest of this state, and in favor of the manufacturing states— that this state would not be a manufacturing state for a long series of years, and until we had a surplus of hands after all our waste land was occupied and cultivated— that some other states, as Pennsylvania and Connecticut, would speedily be great manufacturing states, and as they would continue to import, less as they increased in their manufactures, the importing states on whom the impost in the first instance fell, and who would be the chief consumers, would continue to increase in the weight of the public burden: —In reply to this reasoning, it was observed by Mr. Smith, that we could hereafter amend this part of the Constitution when the manufactures of this country should be so considerable as to become a productive source of revenue. But Mr. Hamilton observed, that 3-4ths of the states must concur in amendments, and the manufacturing states would not be likely after this period to consent to alterations in order to increase their own burdens that the clause they now proposed to introduce, if adopted, would probably be fixed permanently to the direct and palpable injury of our own state. However, all this reasoning would not do— the amendments considered yesterday were all carried by the entire voice of the opposition.
"Mr. Tredwell was against those amendments too, he said, as well as the Fœderalists, but upon a different principle— he considered them as still containing most unwarrantable donations of power, and that the arm of Congress ought to be further tied down under the new Constitution.
ge Wynkoop made some efforts yesterday to discuss the amendments and expose the futility of the arguments urged against them— he spoke so low and so thick that I lost the greater part of his reasoning. The singular idea which he advanced relative to taxation was, that direct taxes
, and not excises and imposts, &c. were the most equitable tax— that it was the most eligible one too, for it would be apportioned upon the rich and poor, according to their circumstances. . . ."2