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their political felicity, but their national exist- | from the Union, shall our chance of having ence? Let us examine her ability. Although these be greater? Or, will not the want of it be impossible to determine, with accuracy, these be more deplorable? We shall be told of what degree of internal strength a nation ouglit the exertions of Virginia, under the confedera. to possess, to enable it to stand by itself; yet tion-her achievements, when she bad no com there are certain sure facts and circumstances, merce. These, sir, were necessary for her which demonstrate that a particular nation immediate safety; nor would these have availed, cannot stand singly, I have spoken with free without the aid of the other States. Those dom, and, I trust, I have done it with decency; States, then our friends, brothers and supportbut I must also speak with truth. If Virginia ers, will, if disunited from us, be our bitterest can exist without the Union, she must derive enemies. that ability from one or other of these sources, If ihen, sir, Virginia, from her situation, is viz.: from her natural situation, or because she not inaccessible, or invulnerable, let us consider has no reason to fear from other nations. What if she be protected, by having no cause to fear is her situation? She is not inaccessible. She from other nations : has she no cause to fear? is not a petty republic, like that of St. Marino, You will have cause to fear, as a nation, if dissurrounded with rocks and mountains, with a united; you will not only have this cause to soil not very fertile, nor worthy the envy of fear from yourselves, from that species of popsurrounding nations. Were this, sir, her situ- ulation I have before mentioned, and your once ation, she might, like that petty state, subsist, sister States, but from the arms of other naseparated from all the world. On the contrary, tions. Have you no cause of fear from Spain, she is very accessible: the large, capacious bay whose dominions border on your country? of Chesapeake, which is but too excellently Every nation, every people, in our circumadapted for the admission of enemies, renders stances, have always had abundant cause to her very vulnerable. I am informed, and I fear. Let us see the danger to be apprehended believe rightly, because I derive my informa- from France: let us suppose Virginia separated tion from those whose knowledge is most re- from the other States: as part of the former spectable, that Virginia is in a very unhappy confederated States, she will owe France a very position, with respect to the access of foes by considerable sum-France will be as magnanisea, though happily situated for commerce. mous as ever. France, by the law of nations, This being her situation by sea, let us look at will have a right to demand the whole of her, land. She has frontiers adjoining the States or of the others. If France were to demand it, of Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina. what would become of the property of AmerTwo of those States have declared themselves ica? Could she not destroy what little commembers of the Union. Will she be inaccessi- merce we have? Could she not seize our ships, ble to the inhabitants of those States? Cast and carry havoc and destruction before her on your eyes to the western country, that is in our shores? The most lamentable desolation habited by cruel savages, your natual enemies. would take place. We owe a debt to Spain Besides their natural propensity to barbarity, also; do we expect indulgence from that quarthey may be excited, by the gold of foreign ter? That nation has a right to demand the enemies, to commit the most horrid ravages on debt due to it, and power to enforce that right. your people. Our great, increasing population, Will the Dutch be silent about the debt due to is one remedy to this evil; but, being scattered them? Is there any one pretension, that any thinly over so extensive a country, how difficult of these nations will be patient? The debts it is to collect their strength, or defend the due the British are also very considerable : country. This is one point of weakness. I these debts have been withheld contrary to wish, for the honor of my countrymen, that it treaty: if Great Britain will demand the paywas the only one. There is another circum- ment of these debts peremptorily, what will stance which renders us more vulnerable. Are be the consequence? Can we pay them if dewe not weakened by the population of those manded? Will no danger result from a refusal ? whom we hold in slavery? The day may come, Will the British nation suffer their subjects to when they may make an impression upon us. be stripped of their property? Is not that Gentlemen who have been long accustomed to nation amply able to do its subjects justice? the contemplation of the subject, think there is Will the resentment of that powerful and supera cause of alarm in this case. The number of cilious nation sleep for ever? If we become those people, compared to that of the whites, one, sole nation, uniting with our sister States, is in an immense proportion: their number our means of defence will be greater; the inamounts to two hundred and thirty-six thou-dulgence for the payment of those debts will be sand, that of the whites only to three hundred greater, and the danger of an attack less probaand fifty-two thousand. Will the American ble. Moreover, vast quantities of lands have spirit, so much spoken of, repel an invading been sold, by citizens of this country, to Euroenemy, or enable you to obtain an advantageous peans, and these lands cannot be found. Will peace? Manufactures and military stores may this fraud be countenanced or endured? Among afford relief to a country exposed: have we so many causes of danger, shall we be secure, these at present? Attempts have been made separated from our sister States? Weakness to have these here. If we shall be separated | itself, sir, will invite some attack upon your country. Contemplate our situation deliberate- of the most calamitous and deplorable nature, ly, and consult history: it will inform you, on one another. that people in our circumstances have ever Mr. Chairman, were we struck off from the been attacked, and successfully: open any page, Union, and disputes of the back lands should be and you will there find our danger truly de- renewed, which are of the most alarming napicted. If such a people had any thing, was it ture, and which must produce uncommon misnot taken? The fate which will befall us, I chiefs, can you inform me how this great subfear, sir, will be, that we shall be made a par-ject would be settled ? Virginia has a large tition of. How will these, our troubles, be re- unsettled country; she has, at last, quieted it; moved? Can we have any dependence on | but there are great doubts whether she has commerce? Can we make any computation taken the best way to effect it. If she has not, on this subject? Where will our flag appear? disagreeable consequences may ensue. I have So high is the spirit of commercial nations, that before hinted at some other causes of quarrel they will spend five times the value of the between the other States and us; particularly object, to exclude their rivals from a participa- the hatred that would be generated by comtion in commercial profits: they seldom regard mercial competition. I will only add, on that any expenses. If we should be divided from subject, that controversies may arise concernthe rest of the States, upon what footing would ing the fisheries, which must terminate in wars. our navigation in the Mississippi be? What Paper money may also be an additional source would be the probable conduct of France and of disputes. Rhode Island has been in one Spain? Every gentleman may imagine, in his continued train of opposition to national duties own mind, the natural consequences. To these and integrity; they have defrauded their credconsiderations, I might add many others of aitors by their paper money. Other States have similar nature. Were I to say, that the bound- also had emissions of paper money, to the ruin ary between us and North Carolina is not yet of credit and commerce. May not Virginia, at settled, I should be told that Virginia and that a future day, also recur to the same expedient? State go together. But what, sir, will be the Has Virginia no affection for paper money, or consequence of the dispute that may arise be- disposition to violate contracts? I fear she is tween us and Maryland, on the subject of Poto- as fond of these measures as most other States mac river? It is thought, Virginia has a right in the Union. The inhabitants of the adjacent to an equal navigation with them in that river. States would be affected by the depreciation of If ever it should be decided on grounds of prior paper money, which would assuredly produce right, their charter will inevitably determine it a dispute with those States. This danger is in their favor. The country called the North taken away by the present constitution, as it ern Neck, will probably be severed from Vir- provides “That no State shall emit bills of ginia. There is not a doubt but the inhabit credit." Maryland has counteracted the policy ants of that part will annex themselves to of this State frequently, and may be meditating Maryland, if Virginia refuse to accede to the examples of this kind again. Before the revoUnion. The recent example of those regula- lution there was a contest about those back tions lately made respecting that territory, will lands, in which even government was a party; illustrate that probability. Virginia will also it was put an end to by the war. Pennsylvania be in danger of a conflict with Pennsylvania, was ready to enter into a war with us for the on the subject of boundaries. I know that disputed lands near the boundaries, and nothing some gentlemen are thoroughly persuaded, that but the superior prudence of the man who was we have a right to those disputed boundaries : at the head of affairs in Virginia could have if we have such a right, I know not where it is prevented it. to be found.
I beg leave to remind you of the strength of Are we not borderers on States that will be Massachusetts and other States to the north, separated from us? Call to mind the history and what would their conduct be to us if disof every part of the world, where nations have united from them? In case of a conflict bebordered on one another, and consider the con-tween us and Maryland or Pennsylvania, they sequences of our separation from the Union. would be aided by the whole strength of the Peruse those histories, and you find such coun- more northern States; in short, by that of all tries to have ever been almost a perpetual the adopting States. For these reasons, I conscene of bloodshed and slaughter. The inhab-ceive, that if Virginia supposes she has no cause itants of one escaping from punishment into the of apprehension, she will find herself in a fatal other, protection given them, consequent pur- error. Suppose the American spirit in the fullsuit, robbery, cruelty, and murder. A numer- est vigor in Virginia; what military preparaous standing army, that dangerous expedient, tions and exertions is she capable of making? would be necessary, but not sufficient for the The other States have upwards of three hundefence of such borders. Every gentleman dred and thirty thousand men capable of bearwill amplify the scene in his own mind. If you ing arms; this will be a good army, or they wish to know the extent of such a scene, look can very easily raise a good army out of so at the history of England and Scotland before great a number. Our militia amounts to fifty the union; you will see their borderers con- thousand; even stretching it to the improbable tinually committing depredations and cruelties, / arnount (urged by some) of sixty thousand; in
case of an attack, what defence can we make? | fused in the country, merchants and men o! Who are militia? Can we depend solely upon wealth will be induced to come among us; these? I will pay the last tribute of gratitude emigration will increase, and commerce will to the militia of my country; they performed flourish; the impost will therefore be more some of the most gallant feats during the last sure and productive. Under these circumstan war, and acted as nobly as men inured to other ces, can you find men to defend you? If not avocations could be expected to do; but, sir, it men, where can you have a navy? It is an is dangerous to look to them as our sole pro- | old observation, that he who commands at sea tectors. Did ever militia defend a country? will command the land; and it is justified by Those of Pennsylvania were said to differ very modern experience in war. The sea can only little from regulars, yet these, sir, were insuffi- be commanded by commercial nations. The cient for the defence of that State. The militia United States have every means, by nature, to of our country will be wanted for agriculture; enable them to distribute supplies mutually on this noblest of arts depends the virtue and among one another, to supply other nations the very existence of a country; if it be ne with many articles, and to carry for other naglected, every thing else must be in a state of tions. Our commerce would not be kindly reruin and decay. It must be neglected if those ceived by foreigners, if transacted solely by hands which ought to attend to it are occasion- ourselves, as it is the spirit of commercial naally called forth on military expeditions. |tions to engross, as much as possible, the carrySome, also, will be necessary for manufactures, ing trade; this makes it necessary to defend and those mechanic arts which are necessary our commerce; but how shall we encompass for the aid of the farmer and planter. If we this end ? England has arisen to the greatest had men sufficient in number to defend our- height, in modern times, by her navigation act selves, it could not avail without other requi- and other excellent regulations. The same sites. We must have a navy, to be supported means would produce the same effects. We in time of peace as well as war, to guard our have inland navigation. Our last exports did coasts and defend us against invasions. The not exceed one million of pounds. Our export impossibility of building and equipping a fleet, in trade is entirely in the hands of foreigners. a short time, constitutes the necessity of having We have no manufactures; depend for supplies a certain number of ships of war always ready on other nations, and so far are we from having in time of peace. The maintaining a navy will any carrying trade, that, as I have already require money; and where, sir, can we get said, our exports are in the hands of foreigners. money for this and other purposes? How Besides the profit that might be made by our shall we raise it? Review the enormity of the natural materials, much greater gains would debts due by this country; the amount of debt accrue from their being first wrought before we owe to the continent for bills of credit, they were exported. England has reaped imrating at forty for one, will amount to between mense profits by this; nay, even by purchasing six and seven hundred thousand pounds. There and working up those materials which her is also due the continent the balance of requisi-country did not afford; her success in comtions due by us, and, in addition to this pro- merce is generally ascribed to her navigation portion of the old continental debt, there are act. Virginia would not, encumbered as she the foreign, domestic, State, military, and loan- is, agree to have such an act. Thus, for the office debts, to which, when you add the British want of a navy, are we deprived of the multidebt, where is the possibility of finding money farious advantages of our natural situation; nor to raise an army or navy? Review then your is it possible, that if the Union is dissolved, we real ability. Shall we recur to loans ? Nothing ever should have a navy sufficient either for our can be more impolitic; they impoverish a na- defence or the extension of our trade. I beg tion; we, sir, have nothing to repay them; / gentlemen to consider these two things-our nor, sir, can we procure them. Our numbers inability to raise and man a navy, and the are daily increasing by emigration, but this, dreadful consequences of the dissolution of the sir, will not relieve us, when our credit is gone, Union. and it is impossible to borrow money. If the I will close this catalogue of the evils of the imposts and duties in Virginia, even on the dissolution of the Union, by recalling to your present footing, be very unproductive, and not mind what passed in the year 1781. Such was equal to our necessities, what would they be if the situation of our affairs then, that the powwe were separated from the Union? From the ers of a dictator were given to the commanderfirst of September to the first of June, the in-chief to save us from destruction. This amount put into the treasury is only fifty-nine shows the situation of the country to have been thousand pounds, or a little more. But, sir, if such as made it ready to embrace an actual dicsmuggling be introduced in consequence of high tator. At some future period, will not our disduties, or otherwise, and the Potomac should tresses impel us to do what the Dutch have be lost, what hope is there of getting money done—throw all power into the hands of a from these?
stadtholder? How infinitely more wise and Shall we be asked if the impost would be eligible, than this desperate alternative, is an bettered by the Union? I answer that it will, union with our American brethren? I feel sir. Credit being restored and confidence dif- myself so abhorrent to any thing that will dissolve our Union, that I cannot prevail with my-ficacy was not discovered, till requisitions came self to assent to it directly or indirectly. If to be made by Congress. In the then situation the Union is to be dissolved, what step is to be of America, a speedy remedy was necessary to taken? Shall we form a partial confederacy; ward off the danger, and this sufficiently anor, is it expected that we shall successfully ap- | swered that purpose; but so universally is its ply to foreign alliance for military aid? This imbecility now known, that it is almost useless last measure, sir, has ruined almost every na- for me to exhibit it at this time. Has not Virtion that has used it; so dreadful an example ginia, as well as every other State, acknowlought to be most cautiously avoided; for sel- edged its debility, by sending delegates to the dom has a nation recurred to the expedient of general convention? The confederation is, of foreign succor, without being ultimately crush all things, the most unsafe, not only to trust to, ed by that succor. We may lose our liberty in its present form, but even to amend. The and independence by this injudicious scheme object of a federal government is to remedy of policy. Admitting it to be a scheme re- and strengthen the weakness of its individual plete with safety, what nation shall we solicit- branches; whether that weakness arises from France? She will disdain a connection with a situation, or any other external cause. With people in our predicament. I would trust every respect to the first, is it not a miracle that the thing to the magnanimity of that nation, but confederation carried us through the last war? she would despise a people who had, like us, so It was our unanimity, sir, that carried us imprudently separated from their brethren; through it. That system was not ultimately and, sir, were she to accede to our proposal, with concluded till the year 1781-although the what facility could she become mistress of our greatest exertions were made before that time. country. To what nation, then, shall we ap- Then came requisitions of men and money; its ply-to Great Britain? Nobody has as yet defects then were immediately discovered; the trusted that idea. An application to any other quotas of men were readily sent—not so those must be either fruitless or dangerous; to those of money. One State feigned inability, another who advocate local confederacies, and at the would not comply till the rest did, and various same time preach up for republican liberty, I excuses were offered ; so that no money was answer, that their conduct is inconsistent; the sent into the treasury-not a requisition was defence of such partial confederacies will re- | fully complied with. Loans were the next quire such a degree of force and expense as will measure fallen upon: upwards of eighty mildestroy every feature of republicanism. Give lions of dollars were wanting, besides the emisme leave to say, that I see naught but destruc- sions of dollars, forty for one. These things tion in a local confederacy. With what State show the impossibility of relying on requisican we confederate but North Carolina North tions. [Here Mr. Randolph enumerated the Carolina, situated worse than ourselves ? Con- different delinquencies of different States, and sult your own reason: I beseech gentlemen the consequent distresses of Congress.) If the most seriously to reflect on the consequences American spirit is to be depended upon, I of such a confederacy; I beseech them to con- call him to awake, to see how his Americans sider, whether Virginia and North Carolina, have been disgraced: but I have no hopes that both oppressed with debts and slaves, can de things will be better hereafter. I fully expect fend themselves externally, or make their peo- things will be as they have been, and that the ple happy internally. North Carolina having same derangements will produce similar misno strength but militia, and Virginia in the carriages. Will the American spirit produce same situation, will make, I fear, but a despi- money or credit, unless we alter our system? cable figure in history. Thus, sir, I hope that Are we not in a contemptible situation are we I have satisfied you that we are unsafe without not the jest of other nations? an union, and that in union alone safety con- But it is insinuated, by the honorable gentle. sists.
man, that we want to be a grand, splendid and I come now, sir, to the great inquiry, whether magnificent people: we wish not to become so. the confederation be such a government as we | The magnificence of a royal court is not our ought to continue under ; whether it be such a object. We want government, sir-a governgovernment as can secure the felicity of any ment that will have stability, and give us secufree people. Did I believe the confederation rity; for our present government is destitute of was a good thread, which might be broken the one, and incapable of producing the other. without destroying its utility entirely, I might It cannot perhaps, with propriety, be denomibe induced to concur in putting it together; nated a government-being void of that energy but I am so thoroughly convinced of its inca requisite to enforce its sanctions. I wish my pacity to be mended or spliced, that I would country not to be contemptible in the eyes of sooner recur to any other expedient.
foreign nations. A well regulated community When I spoke last, I endeavored to express is always respected. It is the internal situamy sentiments concerning that system, and to tion, the defects of government, that attract apologize (if an apology was necessary) for foreign contempt—that contempt, sir, is too the conduct of its framers-that it was hastily often followed by subjugation. Advert to the devised, to enable us to repel a powerful enemy contemptuous manner in which a shrewd poli.
that the subject was novel, and that its inef- | tician speaks of our government. [Here Mr. Randolph quoted a passage from Lord Sheffield, the House as little as possible. What are the the purport of which was, that Great Britain powers of Congress? They have full authority might engross our trade on her own terms: to recommend what they please. This recomthat the imbecility and inefficacy of our gene- mendatory power reduces them to the condiral government were such, that it was impos- tion of poor supplicants. Consider the dignisible we could counteract her policy, however fied language of the members of the American rigid or illiberal towards us her commercial Congress-May it please your high mightiregulations might be.] Reflect but a moment nesses, of Virginia, to pay your just, proporon our situation. Does it not invite real hos- tionate quota of our national debt: we humbly tility? The conduct of the British ministry to supplicate that it may please you to comply us, is the natural effect of our unnerved govern- with your federal duties! We implore, we beg ment. Consider the commercial regulations be- your obedience! Is not this, sir, a fair repre tween us and Maryland. Is it not known to sentation of the powers of Congress? Their gentlemen that this State and that have been operations are of no validity, when counteractmaking reprisals on each other, to obviate a ed by the States. Their authority to recomrepetition of which, in some degree, these reg-mend is a mere mockery of government. ulations have been made? Can we not see But the amendability of the confederation from this circumstance, the jealousy, rivalship seems to have great weight on the minds of and hatred that would subsist between them, some gentlemen. To what point will the in case this State was out of the Union? They amendments go? What part makes the most are importing States, and importing States will important figure? What part deserves to be ever be competitors and rivals. Rhode Island retained ? In it, one body has the legislative, and Connecticut have been on the point of war, executive and judicial powers: but the want of on the subject of their paper money-Congress efficient powers has prevented the dangers did not attempt to interpose. When Massachu-naturally consequent on the union of these. Is setts was distressed by the late insurrection, this union consistent with an augmentation of Congress could not relieve her. Who headed their power? Will you then amend it, by that insurrection? Recollect the facility with taking away one of these three powers? Supwhich it was raised, and the very little ability pose, for instance, you only vested it with the of the ringleader, and you cannot but deplore legislative and executive powers, without any the extreme debility of our merely nominal control on the judiciary, what must be the government; we are too despicable to be re- result? Are we not taught by reason, expegarded by foreign nations. The defects of the rience and governmental history, that tyranny confederation consisted principally in the want is the natural and certain consequence of unitof power. It had nominally powers-powers ing these two powers, or the legislative and on paper, which it could not use. The power judicial powers, exclusively, in the same body? of making peace and war is expressly delegated | If any one denies it, I shall pass by him, as an to Congress; yet the power of granting pass-infidel not to be reclaimed. Wherever any two ports, though within that of making peace and of these three powers are vested in one single war, was considered by Virginia as belonging body, they must, at one time or other, termito herself. Without adequate powers, vested nate in the destruction of liberty. In the most in Congress, America cannot be respectable in important cases, the assent of nine States is · the eyes of other nations. Congress, sir, ought necessary to pass a law: this is too great a reto be fully vested with power to support the striction, and whatever good consequences it Union, protect the interest of the United States, may in some cases produce, yet it will prevent maintain their commerce, and defend them energy in many other cases; it will prevent from external invasions and insults, and inter energy, which is most necessary on some emernal insurrections; to maintain justice, and pro-gencies, even in cases wherein the existence of mote harmony and public tranquillity among the community depends on vigor and expedithe States. A government not vested with tion. It is incompatible with that secrecy these powers, will ever be found unable to which is the life of execution and dispatch. make us happy or respectable: how far the Did ever thirty or forty men retain a secret ? confederation is different from such a govern- Without secrecy, no government can carry on ment, is known to all America. Instead of be- its operations, on great occasions: this is what ing able to cherish and protect the States, it gives that superiority in action to the government has been unable to defend itself against the of one. If anything were wanting to complete encroachments made upon it by the States: this farce, it would be, that a resolution of the every one of them has conspired against it- assembly of Virginia, and the other legislatures, Virginia as much as any. This fact could be should be necessary to confirm and render of proved by reference to actual history. I might any validity, the congressional acts: this would quote the observations of an able modern au- openly discover the debility of the general gov thor, (not because he is decorated with the ernment to all the world. But, in fact, its imname of author, but because his sentiments are becility is now nearly the same as if such acts drawn from human nature,) to prove the dan- were formally requisite. An act of the assemgerous impolicy of withholding necessary powers bly of Virginia, controverting a resolution of from Congress; but I shall at this time fatigue Congress, would certainly prevail. I therefore