James McHenry,Luther Martin
November 29, 1787
Convention having deposited their proceedings with their Worthy President, and by a Resolve prohibited any copy to be taken, under the Idea that nothing but the Constitution thus framed and submitted to the Public could come under their consideration, I regret that at this distant period, I am unable from Memory to give this Honorable House so full and accurate information as might possibly be expected on so important and interesting a Subject. I Collated however from my Notes as soon as the. Pleasure of this House was made known to me such .of the proceedings as pass’d under’ my observation from an anxious desire I have to give this Honorable Body the information they require-
It must be within the Knowledge of this House Mr Speaker that the plan of a Convention originated in Virginia – accordingly when it met at Philadelphia the objects of the meeting were first brought forward in an address from an Honorable Member of that State. He premised that our present Constitution had not and on further experiance would be found that it could not fulfill the objects of the Confederation.
1st. It has no sufficient provision for internal defence nor against foreign invasion, if a State offends it cannot punish; nor if the rights of Embassadors or foreign Nations be invaded have the Judges of the respective States competent Jurisdiction to redress them. In short the Journals of Congress are nothing more than a History of expedients, without any regular or fixed system, and without power to give them efficacy or carry them into Execution-
2nd. It does not secure the separate States from Sedition among themselves nor from encroachments against each other-
3rd. It is incapable of producing certain blessings the Objects of all good governments, Justice, Domestic Tranquillity, Common Defence Security to Liberty and general Welfare – Congress have no powers by imposts to discharge their internal engagements or to sustain their Credit with Foreigners – they have no powers to restrain the Emission of Bills of Credit issued to the destruction of foreign Commerce – the perversion of National Justice and violation of private Contracts – they have no power to promote inland Navigation, encourage Agriculture or Manufactures
4th. They have no means to defend themselves against the most direct encroachments – in every Congress there is a party opposed to Federal Measures – In every state even there is a party
opposed to efficient Government, the wisest regulations may therefore thwarted and evaded: the Legislature be treated with insult and derision and there is no power, no force to carry their Laws
into execution, or to punish the Offenders who oppose them.
5th. The Confederation is inferior to the State Constitutions and cannot therefore have that controul over them which it necessarily requires – the State Governments were first formed and the federal Government derived out of them wherefore the Laws of the respective States are paramount and cannot be controuled by the Acts of Congress-
He then descanted with Energy on our respective situations from New Hampshire to Georgia, on. the Situation of our joint National Affairs at Home and abroad and drew the Conclusion that all were on the brink of ruin and disolution – That once dissolve the tie by which we are united and alone preserved and the prediction of our Enemies would be compleat in the bloodshed in contending and opposite interests – That perhaps this was the last, the only opportunity we should ever have to avoid or remedy those impending evils – The Eyes of all actuated by hopes or fears were fixed upon the proceedings of this Convention and if the present meeting founded in a Spirit of Benevolence and General Good, did not correct, or reform our present Situation, it would end most assuredly in the Shame and ruin of ourselves and the Tryumph of others—He therefore moved that it be- “Resolved the Articles of the Confederation ought to be corrected and enlarged, and for that purpose submitted certain resolves to the further Consideration of the Convention – Convention being thus in possession’ of these propositions on the thirtieth of May Resolved to go into a consideration of them when the Honorable Gentleman who first brought them forward moved to withdraw the two first Resolutions, and to substitute the following in lieu of them – 1st. That the Union of the States ought to be founded on the basis of Common Defence, security to Liberty, and General Welfare. 2d. That to this end the right of Suffrage ought to be in proportion to the value of the Property contributing to the expence of General Government or to the free Inhabitants that compose such Government. 3rd. That a National Government ought to be formed with Legislative and Judicial powers. – At this period, Mr. Speaker I was suddenly call’d from Philadelphia by an account that one of my nearest and Dearest Relations was at the point of Death, and did not return till the 4th of August – Convention had formed a Committee of Detail in my absence which on the sixth of August brought in their report, that had for its Basis the propositions handed from Virginia, and with some amendments is the Constitution now submitted to the People-
S: 2 To this Section it was objected that if the qualifications of the Electors were the same as in the State Governments, it would involve in the Federal System all the Disorders of a Democracy; and it was therefore contended, that none but Freeholders, permanently interested in the Government ought to have a right of Suffrage—the Venerable Franklin opposed to this the natural rights of Man their rights to an immediate voice in’ the general Assemblage of the whole Nation, or to a right of Suffrage & Representation and he instanced from general History and particular events the indifference of those, to the prosperity and Welfare of the State who were deprived of it. Residence was likewise thought essential to interest the Human heart sufficiently by those ties and affections it necessarily creates to the general prosperity – at first the Report of the Committee had extended it to three Years only, but on better consideration it was altered to Seven; And the Period of Twenty five Years deemed a necessary Age to mature the Judgement and form the mind by habits of reflection and experience. – Little was said on this subject it passed without any considerable opposition and therefore I was not at the pains to note any other particulars respecting it
That the Representatives should be appointed according to Numbers occasioned a very long, interesting and serious Debate. The Larger States warmly contended for this Regulation and were seriously opposed by the lesser – by the latter it was contended it threw too much power into the hands of the former, and it was answered by-the. former that Representation ought to be according to property, or numbers, and in either case they had a right to such influence as their Situation gave them, on the contrary if each State had an equal voice, it would unreasonably throw the whole power in the lesser States – In the end a compromise took place by giving an equal Voice to each State in the Senate which ’till then the larger States had contended ought to be formed like the other branch by a Representation according to numbers –
S: 3d. The Classing the Senate so as to produce the proposed change was established by Convention on the principle that a Rotation of power is essential to Liberty. No qualification of property was adopted, that merit alone might advance unclogged by such restriction. It did not pass however unattempted; but the proposed rate of property by the South, was thought much too high by the East, as that by the East on the Contrary was deemed too low by the South.-
The Committee of Detail by their report had at first given to the Senate the choice of their own President but to avoid Cabal and undue influence, it was thought better to alter it. And the power of trying impeachments was lodged with this Body as more likely to be governed by cool and candid investigation, than by those heats that too often inflame and influence more populous Assemblys.
S 4. It was thought expedient to vest the Congress with the powers contained in this Section, which particular exigencies might require them to exercise, and which the immediate representatives of the People can never be supposed capable of wantonly abusing to the prejudice of their Constituents – Convention had in Contemplation the possible events of Insurrection, Invasion, and even to provide against any disposition that might occur hereafter in any particular State to’ thwart the measures of the General Government on the other hand by an Assembly once a Year Security is Annually given to the People against encroachments of the Governments on their Liberty.
S 5. Respects only the particular privileges and Regulations of each branch of the Legislature.
S 6. That the attendance of Members in the General Legislature at a great distance from their respective abodes might not be obstructed and in some instances prevented either by design or otherwise in withholding any Compensation for their Services, Convention thought it most adviseable to pay them out of the General Treasury, otherwise a representation might some times fail when the Public Exigence might require that attendance – Whether any Members of the Legislature should be Capable of holding any Office during the time for which he was Elected created much division in Sentiment in Convention; but to avoid as much as possible every motive for Corruption, was at length Settled in the form it now bears by a very large Majority.
S: 7. Much was also said on the Priviledge that the immediate Representatives of the People had in originating all Bills to create a Revenue: It was opposed by others on the Principle that, in a Government of this Nature flowing from the People without any Hereditary rights existing in either Branch of the Legislature, the public Good might require, and the Senate ought to possess powers coexistive in this particular with the House of Representatives. The Larger States hoped for an advantage by confirming this priviledge to that Branch where their numbers predominated, and it ended in a compromise by which the Lesser States obtained a power of amendment in the Senate – The Negative given to the President underwent an amendment, and was finally restored to its present form, in the hope that a Revision of the Subject and the objections offered against it might contribute in some instances to perfect those regulations that inattention or other motives had at first rendered imperfect-
S 8. The power given to Congress to lay taxes contains nothing more than is comprehended in the Spirit of the eigth article of the Confederation. To prevent any Combination of States, Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be equal in all, and if such a Duty is laid on foreign Tonage as to give an advantage in the first instance to the Eastern States, it will operate as a bounty to our own Shipbuilders. If an oppressive Act should be obtained to the prejudice of the Southern States, it will always be subject- to be regulated by a Majority, and would be repealed as soon as felt. That at most it could prevail no longer than ’till that Jealousy should be awakened which must have Slept when it passed, and which could never prevail but under a supposed Combination of the President and the two Houses of the Legislature.
S. 9. Convention were anxious to procure a perpetual decree against the Importation of Slaves; but the Southern States could not be brought to consent to it – All that could possibly be obtained was a temporary regulation which the Congress may vary hereafter.
Public Safety may require a supension of the Ha: Corpus in cases of necessity: when those cases do not exist, the virtuous Citizen will ever be protected in his opposition to power, ’till corruption shall have obliterated every sense of Honor & Virtue from a Brave and free People. Convention have also provided against any direct or Capitation Tax but according to an equal proportion among the respective States: This was thought a necessary precaution though it was the idea of every one that government would seldom have recourse to direct Taxation, and that the objects of Commerce would be more than Sufficient to answer the common exigencies of State and should further supplies be necessary, the power of Congress would not be exercised while the respective States would raise those supplies in any other manner more suitable to their own inclinations -That no Duties shall be laid on Exports or Tonage, on Vessells bound from one State to another is the effect of that attention to general Equality that governed the deliberations of Convention. Hence unproductive States cannot draw a revenue from productive States into the Public Treasury, nor unproductive States be hampered in their Manufactures to the emolument of others. When the Public Money is lodged in its Treasury there can be no regulation more consistant with the Spirit of Economy and free Government that it shall only be drawn forth under appropriation by Law and this part of the proposed Constitution could meet with no opposition as the People who give their Money ought to know in what manner it is expended.
That no Titles of Nobility shall be granted by the United States will preserve it is hoped, the present Union from the Evils of Aristocracy.
S: 10. It was contended by many that the State sought to be permitted to Emit Bills of Credit where their local Circumstances might require it without prejudice to the obligations arising from private Contracts; but this was overruled by a vast Majority as the best Security that could be given for the Public faith at home and the extension of Commerce with Foreigners.
Article the 2nd.S: 1st. The Election of the President according to the Report of the Committee of Detail was intended to have been by ballot of both Houses; to hold his appointment for Seven Years, and not be Capable to be reelected; but this mode gave an undue influance to the large States, and paved the way to faction and Corruption— all are guarded against by the present method, as the most exalted Characters can only be Known throughout the whole Union – His power when elected is check’d by the Consent of the Senate to the appointment of Officers, and without endangering Liberty by the junction of the Executive and Legislative in this instance.
Article the 3rd.S: 1st. The judicial power of the United States underwent a full investigation – it is impossible for me to Detail the observations that were delivered on that Subject – The right of tryal by Jury was left open and undefined from the difficulty attending any limitation to so valuable a priviledge, and from the persuasion that Congress might hereafter make provision more suitable to each respective State – To suppose that mode of Tryal intended to be abolished would be to Suppose the Representatives in Convention to act Contrary to the Will of their Constituents, and Contrary to their own Interest.
Thus Mr. Speaker I have endeavour’d to give this Honorable House the best information in my power on this important Subject – Many parts of this proposed Constitution were warmly opposed, other parts it was found impossible to reconcile to the Clashing Interest of different States – I myself could not approve of it throughout, but I saw no prospect of getting a better – the whole however is the result of that spirit of Amity which directed the wishes of all for the general good, and where those Sentiments govern it will meet I trust, with a Kind and Cordial reception.
Luther Martin Before the Maryland House of Representatives
When I join’d the Convention I found that Mr. Randolph had laid before that Body certain propositions for their consideration, and that Convention had entered into many Resolutions, respecting their manner of conducting the Business one of which was that seven States might proceed to Business, and therefore four States composing a Majority of seven, might eventually give the Law to the whole Union. Different instructions were given to Members of different States – The Delegates from Delaware were instructed not to infringe their Local Constitution – others were prohibited their assent to any duty in Commerce: Convention enjoined all to secrecy; so that we had no opportunity of gaining information by a Correspondence with others; and what was still more inconvenient extracts from their Journals were prohibited even for our own information – It must be remembered that in forming the Confederacy the State of Virginia proposed, and obstinately contended (tho unsupported by any other) for representation according to Numbers: and the second resolve now brought forward by an Honourable Member from that State was formed in the same spirit that characteriz’d its representatives in their endeavours to increase its powers and influence in the Federal Government. These Views in the larger States, did not escape the observation of the lesser and meetings in private were formed to counteract them: the subject however was discuss’d with coolness in Convention, and hopes were formed that interest might in some points be brought to Yield to reason, or if not, that at all events the lesser States were not precluded from introducing a different System; and particular Gentlemen were industriously employed in forming such a System at those periods in which Convention were not sitting.
At length the Committee of Detail brought forward their Resolutions which gave to the larger States the same inequality in the Senate that they now are proposed to have in the House of Representatives – Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts would have one half – all the Officers and even the President were to be chosen by the Legislative: so that these three States might have usurped the whole power. The President would always have been from one of the larger States and so chosen to have an absolute negative, not only on the Laws of Congress but also on the Laws of each respective State in the Union. Should the representation from the other States be compleat, and by a Miracle ten. States be so united as upon any occasion to procure a Majority; yet the President by his Negative might defeat the best intentions for the public good. Such Government would be a Government by a Junto and bind hand and foot all the other States in the Union On this occasion the House will please to remember that Mr. Bo was in the Chair, and General Washington and the Venerable Franklin on the floor, and led by State influence, neither of them objected to this System, but on the Contrary it seemed to meet their warm and cordial approbation. – I revere those worthy Personages as much as any man can do, but I could not compliment them by a Sacrafice of the trust reposed in me by this State by acquiescing in their opinion. Then it was Mr. Speaker that those persons who were labouring for the general good, brought forward a different System—The absence of Mr. McHenry unhappily left Maryland with only two representatives, and they differed: New Hampshire Delegates were also absent. Mr. Patterson from Jersey introduced this new System, by which it was proposed, that the Laws of the Confederacy should be the Laws of each State, and therefore the State Judiciaries: to have Cognizance in the first instance and the Federal Courts to have an Apelant Jurisdiction only-
The first measure that took place on the Jersey System was to pass a vote not to receive it – Three parties now appeared in Convention; one were for abolishing all the State Governments; another for such a Government as would give an influence to particular States – and a third party were truly Federal, and acting for general Equallity – They were for considering, reforming and amending the Federal Government, from time to time as experience might point out its imperfections, ’till it could be made competent to every exigence of State, and afford at the same time ample security to Liberty and general Welfare. But this scheme was so opposite to the views of the other two, that the Monarchical party finding little chance of succeeding in their wishes joined the others and by that measure plainly shewed they were endeavouring to form such a Government as from its inequality must bring in time their System forward, or at least much nearer in practice than it could otherwise be obtained-
When the principles of opposition were thus formed and brought forward by the 2d. S: respecting the manner of representation, it was urged by a Member of Pennsylvania, that nothing but necessity had induced the larger States to give up in forming the Confederacy, the Equality of Representation according to numbers—That all governments flowed from the People and that their happiness being the end of governments they ought to have an equal Representation. On the contrary it was urged by the unhappy Advocates of the Jersey System that all people were equally Free, and had an equal Voice if they could -meet in a general Assembly of the whole. But because one Man was stronger it afforded no reason why he might injure another, nor because ten leagued together, they should have the power to injure five; this would destroy all equallity. That each State when formed, was in a State of Nature as to others, and had the same rights as Individuals in a State of Nature – If the State Government had equal Authority, it was the same as if Individuals were present, because the State Governments originated and flowed from the Individuals that compose the State, and the Liberty of each State was what each Citizen enjoyed in his own State and no inconvenience had yet been experienced from the inequality of representation in the present Federal Government. Taxation and representation go hand and hand, on the principle alone that, none should be taxed who are not represented; But as to the Quantum, those who possess the property pay only in proportion to the protection they receive – The History of all Nations and sense of Mankind shew, that in all former Confederacies every State had an equal voice. Moral History points out the necessity that each State should vote equally – In the Cantons of Switzerland those of Bene & Lucerne have more Territory than all the others, yet each State has an equal voice in the General Assembly. The Congress in forming the Confederacy adopted this rule on the principle of Natural right – Virginia then objected. This Federal Government was submitted to the consideration of the Legislatures of the respective States and all of them proposed some amendments; but not one that this part should be altered. Hence we are in possession of the General Voice of America on this subject. When baffled by reason the larger States possitively refused to yield—the lesser refused to confederate, and called on their opponents to declare that security they could give to abide by any plan or form of Government that could now be devised. The same reasons that now exist to abolish the old, might be urged hereafter to overthrow the New Government, and as the methods of reform prescribed by the former were now utterly disregarded, as little ceremony might be used in discarding the latter – It was further objected that the large States would be continually increasing in numbers, and consequently their influence in the National Assembly would increase also: That their extensive Territories were guaranteed and we might be drawn out to defend the enormous extent of those States, and encrease and establish that power intended in time to enslave ourselves – Threats were thrown out to compel the lesser States to confederate – They were told this would be the last opportunity that might offer to prevent a Dissolution of the Union, that once dissolve that Band which held us together and the lesser States had no security for their existence, even for a moment – The lesser States threatened in their turn they they would not lay under the imputation of refusing to confederate on equitable conditions; they threatened to publish their own offers and the demands of others, and to appeal to the World in Vindication of their Conduct.
At this period there were eleven States represented in Convention on the question respecting the manner of appointing Delegates to the House of Representatives – Massachusetts, Pensylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia adopted it as now handed to the consideration of the People. – Georgia now insignificant, with an immense Territory, looked forward to future power and Aggrandizement, Connecticut, New York, Jersey, and Delaware were against the Measure and Maryland was unfortunately divided – On the same question respecting the Senate, perceiving the lesser States would break up Convention altogether, if the influence of that branch was likewise carried against them, the Delegates of Georgia differed in sentiment not on principle but on expediency, and fearing to lose every thing if they persisted, they did not therefore vote being divided. Massachusetts, Pensylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina were in the affirmative, and New York, Connecticut, Jersey, Delaware & Maryland were in the Negative. Every thing was now at a stand and little hopes of agreement, the Delegates of New York had left us determined not to return, and to hazard every possible evil, rather than to Yield in that particular; when it was proposed that a conciliating Committee should be formed of one member from each State – Some Members possitively refused to lend their names to this measure others compromised, and agreed that if the point was relinquished by the larger States as to the Senate – they would sign the proposed Constitution and did so, not because they approved it but because they thought something ought to be done for the Public – Neither General Washington nor Franklin shewed any disposition to relinquish the superiority of influence in the Senate. I now proposed Convention should adjourn for consideration of the subject, and requested leave to take a Copy of their proceedings, but it was denied, and the Avenue thus shut to information and reflection—
Article 1st.S: 1st. A Government consisting of two Branches advocated by some was opposed by others – That a perfect Government necessarily requiring a Check over them did not require it over States and History could furnish no instance of such a second branch in Federal Governmts – The seperate States are competent to the Government of Individuals and a Government of States ought to be Federal, and which the object of calling Convention, and not to establish a National Government. It begins We the People – And the powers are made to flow from them in the first instance. That in Federal Governments an equal voice in each State is essential, as being all in a State of Nature with respect to each other. Whereas the only figure in this Constitution that has any resemblance to a federal one, is the equality of Senate – but the 4th Section gives the power to Congress to strike out, at least to render Nugatory this, the most valuable part of it. It cannot be supposed that any State would refuse to send Representatives, when they would be bound whether they sent Deputies or not, and if it was intended to relate to the cases of Insurrection or Invasion, why not by express words confine the power to these objects?
S: 6. By this Article the Senators when elected are made independent of the State they represent. They are to serve Six Years, to pay themselves out of the General Treasury, and are not paid by the State, nor can be recalled for any misconduct or sacrafice of the Interest of their State that they make before the expiration of that period. They are not only Legislative, but make a part of the Executive, which all wise Governments have thought it essential to keep seperated. They are the National Council; and none can leave their private concerns and their Homes for such a period and consent to such a service, but those who place their future views on the emoluments flowing from the General Government – Tho’ a Senator cannot be appointed to an office created by himself, He may to any that has been antecedently established; and by removing Old Officers, to new Offices, their. places may be occupied by themselves and thus the Door opened to evade and infringe the Constitution. When America was under the British Dominion every matter was conducted within a narrow Circle in the Provincial Government, greatly to the ease and convenience of the People. The Habits thus acquired are opposed to extensive Governments, and the extent of this, as a National one, cannot possibly be ever carried into effect-
S: 2. Slaves ought never to be considered in Representation, because they are Property. They afford a rule as such in Taxation; but are Citizens intrusted in the General Government, no more than Cattle, Horses, Mules or Asses; and a Gentleman in Debate very pertinently observed that he would as soon enter into Compacts, with the Asses Mules, or Horses of the Ancient Dominion as with their Slaves – When there is power to raise a revenue by direct Taxation, each State ought to pay an equal Ratio; Whereas by taxing Commerce some States would pay greatly more than others.
S: 7. It was contended that the Senate derived their powers from the People and therefore ought to have equal priviledges to the Representation That it would remove all ground for contest about originating Money Bills, what Bills were so or not, and how far amendments might be made, but nothing more could be obtained from the power of the larger States on that subject than what appears in the proposed Constitution. In Great Britain the King having Hereditary rights, and being one of the three Estates that compose the Legislature has obtained a Voice in the passage of all Acts that bear the title of laws. But the Executive here have no distinct rights, nor is their President likely to have more understanding than the two Branches of the Legislature. Additional weight is thus unnecessarily given to the large States who voting by numbers will cohere to each other, or at least among themselves, and thus easily carry, or defeat any measure that requires a Majority of two thirds.
S: 8: By the word Duties in this Section is meant Stamp Duties. This power may be exercised to any extent, but it has likewise this dangerous tendency it may give the Congress power by establishing duties on all Contracts to decide on cases of that nature, and ultimately draw the dicision of the Federal Courts, which will have sufficient occupation by the other powers given in this Section. They are extensive enough to open a sluice to draw the very blood from your Veins. They may lay direct Taxes by assessment, Poll Tax, Stamps, Duties on Commerce, and excise everything else—all this to be collected under the direction of their own Officers, and not even provided that they shall be Inhabitants of the respective States whey they are to act, and for which many reasons will not be the case: and should any Individual dare to dispute the conduct of an Excise Man, ransacking his Cellars he may be hoisted into the Federal Court from Georgia to vindicate his just rights, or to be punished for his impertinence. In vain was it urged that the State Courts ought to be competent to the decision of such cases: The advocates of this System thought State Judges would be under State influence and therefore not sufficiently independant. But this is not all, they would either trust your Juries for although matters of Fact are triable by Juries in the Inferior Courts the Judges of the Supreme Court on appeal are to decide on Law and fact both. In this Manner Mr. Speaker our rights are to be tried in all disputes between the Citizens of one State and another, between the Citizens and Foreigners, and between the Citizens and these Revenue Officers of the General Government. As to other cases the Constitution is silent, and it is very doubtful if we are to have the priviledge of Tryal by Jury at all, where the cause originates in the Supreme Court. Should the power of these Judiciaries be incompetent to carry this extensive plan into execution, other, and more certain Engines of power are supplied by the standing Army – unlimited as to number or its duration, in addition to this Government has the entire Command of the Militia, and may call the whole Militia of any State into Action, a power, which it was vainly urged ought never to exceed a certain proportion. By organizing the Militia Congress have taken the whole power from the State Governments; and by neglecting to do it and encreasing the Standing Army, their power will increase by those very means that will be adopted and urged as an ease to the People.
Nothing could add to the mischevious tendency of this system more than the power that is given to suspend the Act of Ha: Corpus – Those who could not approve of it urged that the power over the Ha: Corpus ought not to be under the influence of the General Government. It would give them a power over Citizens of particular States who should oppose their encroachments, and the inferior Jurisdictions of the respective States were fully competent to Judge on this important priviledge; but the Allmighty power of deciding by a call for the question, silenced all opposition to the measure as it too frequently did to many others.
S: 9. By this Article Congress will obtain unlimitted power over all the Ports in the Union and consequently acquire an influence that may be prejudicial to general Liberty. It was sufficient for all the purposes of General Government that Congress might lay what Duties they thought proper, and those who did not approve the extended power here given, contended that the Establishment of the Particular ports ought to remain with the Government of the respective States; for if Maryland for instance should have occasion to oppose the Encroachments of the General Government – Congress might direct that all Vessels coming into this Bay, to enter and clear at Norfolk, and thereby become as formidable to this State by an exercise of this power, as they could be by the Military arrangements or Civil Judiciaries. That the same reason would not apply in prohibiting the respective States from laying a Duty on Exports, as applied to that regulation being exercised by Congress: in the latter case a revenue would be drawn from the productive States to the General Treasury, to t[?] ease of the unproductive, but particular States might be desirous by this method to contribute to the support of their Local Government or for the Encouragement of their Manufactures.
Article 2nd.S: 1st. A Variety of opinion prevailed on this Article. Mr. Hamilton of New York wanted the President to be appointed by the Senate, others by both Branches, others by the People at large – others that the States as States ought to have an equal voice – The larger States wanted the appointment according to numbers – those who were for a one Genl. Government, and no State Governments, were for a choice by the People at large, and the very persons who would not trust the Legislature to vote by States in the Choice, from a fear of Corruption, yet contended nevertheless for a Standing Army, and before this point was finally adjusted I had left the Convention.
As to the Vice President, the larger States have a manifest influence and will always have him of their choice. The power given to these persons over the Army, and Navy, is in truth formidable, but the power of Pardon is still more dangerous, as in all acts of Treason, the very offence on which the prosecution would possibly arise, would most likely be in favour of the Presidents own power. -
Some would’ gladly have given the appointment of Ambassadors and Judges to the Senate, some were for vesting this power in the Legislature by joint ballot, as being most likely to know the Merrit of Individuals over this extended empire. But as the President is to nominate, the person chosen must be ultimately his choice and he will thus have an army of civil officers as well as Military – If he is guilty of misconduct and impeached for it by the first branch of the Legislature he must be tried in the second, and if he keeps an interest in the large States, he will always escape punishment—The impeachment can rarely come from the Second branch, who are his Council and will be under his influence.
S: 3rd. It was highly reasonable that Treason against the United States should be defined; resistence in some cases is necessary and a Man might be a Traitor to the General Government in obeying the Laws- of’ his own State, a Clause was therefore proposed that wherever any State entered into Contest with the General Governmt. I that during such Civil War, the general Law of Nations, as between Independant States should be the governing rule between them; and that no Citizen in such case of the said State should be deemed guilty of Treason, for acting against the General Government, in Conformity to the Laws of the State” of which he was a member: but this was rejected.
Article 6th.The ratification of this Constitution is so repugnent to the Terms on which we are all bound to amend and alter the former, that it became a matter of surprise to many that the proposition could meet with any countanance or support. Our present Constitution expressly directs that all the States must agree before it can be dissolved; but on the other hand it was contended that a Majority ought to govern – That a dissolution of the Federal Government did not dissolve the State Constitutions which were paramount the Confederacy. That the Federal Government being formed out of the State Governments the People at large have no power to interfere in the Federal Constitution Nor has the State or Federal Government any power to confirm. a new Institution. That this Government if ratified and Established will be immediately from the People, paramount the Federal Constitution and operate as a dissolution of it.
Thus Mr. Speaker, I have given to this Honorable House such information, as my situation enabled me to do, on the Subject of this proposed Constitution. If I have spoke with freedom, I have done no more than I did in Convention. I have been under no influence from the expectation of ever enjoying any Office under it, and would gladly yield what little I have saved by Industry, and the Emoluments of my profession to have been able to present it to the Public in [a] different form. I freely [own, that it did not] meet my approbation, and [ ] this House will do [ ] believe that [I have conducted myself ] freeman and a faithful servant of the [ ] to the best of my Judgement for the Gen [ ]
Earn graduate credits toward a Master’s
degree for each Live Online Graduate
Course in American History &
Government from Ashbrook Center at
Ashland University. Learn More