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tainly would, distribute their posterity throughout the lowest classes of society. Every selfish motive, therefore, every family attachment, ought to recommend such a system of policy as would provide no less carefully for the rights and happiness of the lowest, than of the highest, order of citizens.
Mr. Wilson contended strenuously for drawing the most numerous branch of the Legislature immediately from the people. He was for raising the federal pyramid to a considerable altitude, and for that reason wished to give it as broad a basis as possible. No government could long subsist without the confidence of the people. In a republican government, this confidence was peculiarly essential. He also thought it wrong to increase the weight of the State Legislatures by making them the electors of the National Legislature. All interference between the general and local governments should be obviated as much as possible. On examination it would be found that the opposition of States to Federal measures had proceeded much more from the officers of the States than from the people at large.
Mr. Madison considered the popular election of one branch of the National Legislature as essential to every plan of free government. He observed, that in some of the States one branch of the Legislature was composed of men already removed from the people by an intervening body of electors. That if the first branch of the General Legislature should be elected by the State Legislatures, the second branch elected by the first, the Executive by the second together with the first, and other appointments again made for subordinate purposes by the Executive, the people would be lost sight of alto gether; and the necessary sympathy between them and their rulers and officers too little felt. He was an advocate for the policy of refining the popular appointments by successive filtrations, but thought it might be pushed too far. He wished the expedient to be resorted to only in the appointment of the second branch of the Legislature, and in the Executive and Judiciary branches of the government. He thought, too, that the great fabric to be raised would be more stable and durable, if it should rest on the solid foundation of the people themselves, than if it should stand merely on the pillars of the Legislatures.
Mr. Gerry did not like the election by the people The maxims taken from the British constitution were often fallacious when applied to our situation, which was extremely different. Experience, he said, had shown that the State Legislatures, drawn immediately from the people, did not always possess their confidence. He had no objection, however, to an election by the people, if it were so qualified that men of honor and character might not be unwilling to be joined in the appointments. He seemed to think the people might nominate a certain number, out of which the State Legislatures should be bound to choose.
Mr. Butler thought an election by the people an impracticable mode.
On the question for an election of the first branch of the National Legislature, by the people, Massa
chusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, aye—5; New Jersey, South Carolina, no—2; Connecticut Delaware, divided.
The remaining clauses of the fourth Resolution, relating to the qualifications of members of the National Legislature, being postponed, nem. con., as entering too much into detail for general propositions,
The Committee proceeded to the fifth Resolution, that the second [or senatorial] branch of the National Legislature ought to be chosen by the first branch, out of persons nominated by the State Legislatures.
Mr. SPAIGHT contended, that the second branch ought to be chosen by the State Legislatures, and moved an amendment to that effect.
Mr. BUTLER apprehended that the taking so many powers out of the hands of the States as was proposed, tended to destroy all that balance and security of interests among the States which it was necessary to preserve; and called on Mr. RANDOLPH, the mover of the propositions, to explain the extent of his ideas, and particularly the number of members he meant to assign to this second branch.
Mr. RANDOLPH observed, that he had, at the time of offering his propositions, stated his ideas as far as the nature of general propositions required; that details made no part of the plan, and could not perhaps with propriety have been introduced. If he was to give an opinion as to the number of the second branch, he should say that it ought to be much smaller than that of the first; so small as to be exempt from the passionate proceedings to which
numerous assemblies are liable. He observed, that the general object was to provide a cure for the evils under which the United States labored; that in tracing these evils to their origin, every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy; that some check therefore was to be sought for, against this tendency of our governments; and that a good Senate seemed most likely to answer the purpose.
Mr. King reminded the Committee that the choice of the second branch as proposed, (by Mr. SPAIGHT) viz., by the State Legislatures, would be impracticable, unless it was to be very numerous, or the idea of proportion among the States was to be disregarded. According to this idea, there must be eighty or a hundred members to entitle Delaware to the choice of one of them.
Mr. Spaight withdrew his motion.
Mr. Wilson opposed both a nomination by the State Legislatures, and an election by the first branch of the National Legislature, because the second branch of the latter ought to be independent of both. He thought both branches of the National Legislature ought to be chosen by the people, but was not prepared with a specific proposition. He suggested the mode of choosing the Senate of New York, to wit, of uniting several election districts for one branch, in choosing members for the other branch, as a good model.
Mr. Madison observed, that such a mode would destroy the influence of the smaller States associated with larger ones in the same district; as the latter would choose from within themselves, although better men might be found in the former. The election of Senators in Virginia, where large and small counties were often formed into one district for the purpose, had illustrated this consequence. Local partiality would often prefer a resident within the county or State, to a candidate of superior merit residing out of it. Less merit also in a resident would be more known throughout his own State.
Mr. SHERMAN favored an election of one member by each of the State Legislatures.
Mr. PINCKNEY moved to strike out the “nomination by the State Legislatures;" on this question
* Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no—_9; Delaware, divided.
On the whole question for electing by the first branch out of nominations by the State Legislatures-Massachusetts, Virginia, South Carolina, aye -3; Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvanja, Delaware, North Carolina, Georgia, no—7.
So the clause was disagreed to, and a chasm left in this part of the plan."
The sixth Resolution, stating the cases in which the National Legislature ought to legislate, was next taken into discussion. On the question whether each branch should originate laws, there was an unanimous affirmative, without debate. On the question for transferring all the legislative powers of the existing Congress to this assembly, there was also an unanimous affirmative, without debate.
* This question is omitted in the printed Journal, and the votes applied to the succeeding one, instead of the votes as here stated.