Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

On a question on the clause requiring the age of thirty years at least,-it was unanimously agreed to.

On a question to strike out the words, "sufficient to ensure their independence,” after the word "term,"—it was agreed to.

The clause, that the second branch hold their offices for a term of “seven years,” being considered,

Mr. Gornam suggests a term of “four years," one fourth to be elected every year.

Mr. RANDOLPH supported the idea of rotation, as favorable to the wisdom and stability of the corps; which might possibly be always sitting, and aiding the Executive, and moves, after “seven years,” to add,“ to go out in fixed proportion;" which was agreed to.

Mr. WillIAMSON suggests “six years," as more convenient for rotation than seven years.

Mr. SHERMAN seconds him.

Mr. Read proposed that they should hold their offices “during good behaviour.” Mr. R. MORRIS seconds him.

General PINCKNEY proposed “ four years.” A longer time would fix them at the seat of government. They would acquire an interest there, perhaps transfer their property, and lose sight of the States they represent. Under these circumstances, the distant States would labor under great disadvantages.

Mr. SHERMAN moved to strike out "seven years,” in order to take questions on the several propositions.

On the question to strike out "seven,”—Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye—7; Penn

240

sylvania, Delaware, Virginia, no—3; Maryland, divided.

On the question to insert “six years," which failed, five States being, aye; five, no; and one, divided, -Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, aye—5; Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, Georgia, no—5; Maryland divided.

On a motion to adjourn, the votes were, five for, five against it; and one divided, -Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, aye-5; Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no—5; Maryland divided.

On the question for “five years," it was lost, -Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, aye--5; Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, Georgia, no—5; Maryland divided.

Adjourned.

TUESDAY, JUNE 26TH.

in Convention, The duration of the second branch being under consideration,

Mr. GORHAM moved to fill the blank with "six years," one-third of the members to go out every

second year.

Mr. Wilson seconded the motion.

General PINCKNEY opposed six years, in favor of four years. The States, he said, had different interests. Those of the Southern, and of South Carolina in particular, were different from the Northern. If the Senators should be appointed for a long term, they would settle in the State where they exercised their functions, and would in a little time be rather the representatives of that, than of the State appointing them.241

Mr. Read moved that the term be nine years. This would admit of a very convenient rotation, one third going out triennially. He would still prefer “during good behaviour;" but being little supported in that idea, he was willing to take the longest term that could be obtained.

Mr. BROOM seconded the motion.

Mr. Madison. In order to judge of the form to be given to this institution, it will be proper to take a view of the ends to be served by it. These were,first, to protect the people against their rulers, secondly, to protect the people against the transient impressions into which they themselves might be led. A people deliberating in a temperate moment, and with the experience of other nations before them, on the plan of government most likely to secure their happiness, would first be aware, that those charged with the public happiness might betray their trust. An obvious precaution against this danger would be, to divide the trust between different bodies of men, who might watch and check each other. In this they would be governed by the same prudence which has prevailed in organizing the subordinate departments of government, where all business liable to abuses is made to pass through separate hands, the one being a check on the other. It would next occur to such a people, that they themselves were liable to temporary errors, through want of information as to their true interest; and that men chosen for a short term, and employed but a small portion of that in public affairs, might err from the same cause.

This reflection would naturally suggest that the government be so constituted as that one of its branches might have an opportunity of acquiring a competent knowledge of the public interests. Another reflection equally becoming a people on such an occasion, would be, that they themselves, as well as a numerous body of representatives, were liable to err, also, from fickleness and passion. A necessary fence against this danger would be, to select a portion of enlightened citizens, whose limited number, and firmness, might seasonably interpose against impetuous counsels. It ought, finally, to occur to a people deliberating on a government for themselves, that as different interests necessarily result from the liberty meant to be secured, the major interest might, under sudden impulses, be tempted to commit injustice on the minority. In all civilized countries the people fall into different classes, having a real or supposed difference of interests. There will be creditors and debtors; farmers, merchants, and manufacturers. There will be, particularly, the distinction of rich and poor. It was true, as had been observed (by Mr. PINCKNEY), we had not among us those hereditary distinctions of rank which were a great source of the contests in the ancient governments, as well as the modern States of Europe; nor those extremes of wealth or poverty, which characterize the latter. We cannot, however, be regarded, even at this time, as one homogeneous mass, in which every thing that affects a part will affect in the same manner the whole. In framing a system which we wish to last for ages, we should not lose sight of the changes which ages will produce. An increase of population will of necessity increase the proportion of those who will labor under all the hardships of life, and secretly sigh for a more equal distribution of its blessings. These may in time outnumber those who are placed above the feelings of indigence. According to the equal laws of suffrage, the power will slide into the hands of the former. No agrarian attempts have yet been made in this country; but symptoms of a levelling spirit, as we have understood, have sufficiently appeared in a certain quarter, to give notice of the future danger. How is this danger to be guarded against, on the republican principles? How is the danger, in all cases of interested coaliitions to oppress the minority, to be guarded against ? Among other means, by the establishment of a body, in the government, sufficiently respectable for its wisdom and virtue to aid, on such emergencies, the preponderance of justice, by throwing its weight into that scale. Such being the objects of the second branch in the proposed Government, he thought a considerable duration ought to be given to it. He did not conceive that the term of nine years could threaten any real danger; but, in pursuing his particular ideas on the subject, he should require that the long term allowed to the second branch should not commence till such a period of life as would render a perpetual disqualification to be re-elected, little inconvenient, either in a public

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »