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honorable member from Virginia. Let me call the attention of this house to the conduct of Virginia when our Confederation was entered into. That state then proposed, and obstinately contended, contrary to the sense of, and unsupported by, the other states, for an inequality of suffrage, founded on numbers, or some such scale, which should give her, and certain other states, influence in the Union over the rest. Pursuant to that spirit which then characterized her, and uniform in her conduct, the very second resolve is calculated expressly for that purpose to give her a representation proportioned to her numbers, as if the want of that was the principal defect in our original system, and this alteration the great means of remedying the evils we had experienced under our present gosernment.
The object of Virginia and other large states, to increase their power and influence over the others, did not escape observation. The subject, however, was discussed with great coolness in the committee of the whole house, (for the Convention had resolved itself into a committee of the whole, to deliberate upon the propositions delivered in by the honorable member from Virginia.) Hopes were formed that the farther we proceeded in the examination of the resolutions, the better the house might be satisfied of the impropriety of adopting them, and that they would finally be rejected by a majority of the committee. If, on the contrary, a majority should report in their favor, it was considered that it would not preclude the members from bringing forward and submitting any other system to the consideration of the Convention; and accordingly, while those resolves were the subject of discussion in the committee of the whole house, a number of the members who disapproved them were preparing another system, such as they thought more conducive to the happiness and welfare of the states. The propositions originally submitted to the Convention having been debated, and undergone a variety of alterations in the course of our proceedings, the committee of the whole house, by a small majority, agreed to a report, which I am happy, sir, to have in my power to lay before you. It was as follows:
“1. Resolved, That it is the opinion of this committee, that a national government ought to be established, consisting of a supreme legislative, judiciary, and executive.
“ 2. That the legislative ought to consist of two branches.
"3. That the members of the first branch of the national legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several states, for the term of three years; to receive fixed stipends, by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service, to be paid out of the national treasury; to be ineligible to any office established by a particular state, or under the authority of the United States, except those particularly belonging to the functions of the first branch, during the term of service, and under the national government, for the space of one year after its expiration.
“4. That the members of the second branch of the legislature ought to be chosen by the individual legislatures; to be of the age of thirty years at least ; to hold their offices for a term sufficient to insure their independency, namely, seven years, one third to go out biennially, to receive fixed stipends, by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service, to be paid out of the national treasury; to be ineligible to any office by a particular state, or under the authority of the United States, except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of
the second branch, during the term of service, and under the national government, for the space of one year after its expiration.
“5. That each branch ought to possess the right of originating acts.
"6. That the national legislature ought to be empowered to enjoy the legislative rights vested in Congress by the Confederation, and moreover to legislate in all cases to which the separate states are incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the Ezercise of individual legislation ; to negative all laws passed by the several states, contravening, in the opinion of the legislature of the Unitea States, the articles of union, or any treaties subsisting under the authority of the Union.
“7. That the right of suffrage, in the first branch of the national legislature, ought not to be according to the rule established in the Articles of Confederation, but according to some equitable rate of representation; namely, in proportion to the whole number of white, and other free citizens and inhabitants, of every age, sex, and condition, including those bound to servitude for a term of years, and three fifths of all other persons not comprehended in the foregoing description, except Indians not paying taxes, in each state.
"8. That the right of suffrage in the second branch of the national legislature ought to be according to the rule established in the first.
“9. That a national executive be instituted, to consist of a single person, to be chosen by the national legislature for the term of seven years, with power to carry into execution the national laws; to appoint to offices in cases not otherwise provided for; to be ineligible a second time, and to be removable on impeachment and conviction of malpractice or neglect of duty; to receive a fixed stipend, by which he may be compensated for the devotion of his time to public service, to be paid out of the national treasury.
“ 10. That the national executive shall have a right to negative any legislative act, which shall not afterwards be passed unless by two thirds of each branch of the national legislature.
“11. That a national judiciary be established, to consist of one silpreme tribunal, the judges of which to be appointed by the second branch of the national legislature, to hold their offices during good behavior, and to receive punctually, at stated times, a fixed compensation for their services, in which no increase or diminution shall be made, so as to affect the persons actually in office at the time of such increase or diminution.
“12. That the national legislature be empowered to appoint inferior tribunals.
“ 13. That the jurisdiction of the national judiciary shall extend to cases which respect the collection of the national revenue, cases arising under the laws of the United States, impeachments of any national officer, and questions which involve the national peace and harmony.
“ 14. Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the admission of states lawfully arising within the limits of the United States, whether from a voluntary junction of government, territory, or otherwise, with the consent of a number of voices in the national legislature less than the whole.
“ 15. Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the continuance of Congress, and their authority and privileges, until a given day after the reform of the articles of union shall be adopted, and for the completion of all their engagements.
“ 16. That a republican constitution and its existing laws ought to be guarantied to each state by the United States.
"17. That provision ought to be made for the amendment of the articles of union whensoever it shall seem necessary.
“ 18. That the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers, within the several states, ought to be bound by oath to support the articles of the union.
“ 19. That the amendments which shall be offered to the Confederation by this Convention, ought, at a proper time or times, after the appro bation of Congress, to be submitted to an assembly or assemblies, recommended by the legislatures, to be expressly chosen by the people, to consider and decide thereon."
These propositions, sir, were acceded to by a majority of the members of the committee - a system by which the large states were to have not only an inequality of suffrage in the first branch, but also the same inequality in the second branch, or Senate. However, it was not designed the second branch should consist of the same number as the first. It was proposed that the Senate should consist of twenty-cight members, formed on the following scale :- Virginia to send five, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts each four ; South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, and Connecticut, two each, and the states of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Jersey, Delaware, and Georgia, each of them one. Upon this plan, the three large states, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, would have thirteen senators out of twenty-eight — almost one half of the whole number. Fifteen senators were to be a quorum to proceed to business; those three states would, therefore, have thirteen out of that quorum. Having this inequality in each branch of the legislature, it must be evident, sir, that they would make what laws they pleased, hondever injurious or disagreeable to the other states, and that they would always prevent the other states from making any laws, however
necessary and proper, if not agreeable to ihe vieros of those three states. They were not only, sir, by this system, to have such an undue superiority in making laws and regulations for the Union, but to have the same superiority in the appointment of the President, the judges, and all other officers of government.
Hence these three states would, in reality, have the appointment of the President, judges, and all other officers. This President, and these judges, so appointed, we may be morally certain, would be citizens of one of those three states; and the President, as appointed by them, and a citizen of one of them, would espouse their interests and their views, when they came in competition with the views and interests of the other states. This President, so appointed by the three large states, and so unduly under their influence, was to have a negative upon every law that should be passed, which, if negatived by hirn, was not to take effect unless assented to by two thirds of each branch of the legislature - a provision which deprived ten states of even the faintest shadow of liberty; for if they, by a miraculous unanimity, having all their members present, should outvote the other three, and pass a law contrary to their wishes, those three large states need only procure the President to negative it, and thereby prevent a possibility of its ever taking effect, because the representatives of those three states would amount to much more than one third (almost one half) of the representatives in each branch. And, sir, this government so organized, with all this undue superiority in those three large states, was, as you see, to have a power of negativing the laws passed
by every state legislature in the Union. Whether, therefore, laws passed by the legislature of Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Georgia, or of any other of the ten states, for the regulation of their internal police, should take effect, and be carried into execution, was to depend on the good pleasure of the representatives of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.
This system of slavery, which bound hand and foot ten states in the Union, and placed them at the mercy of the other three, and under the most abject and servile subjection to them, was approved by a majority of the members of the Convention, and reported by the committee,
On this occasion, the house will recollect that the Convention was resolved into a committee of the whole. Of this committee Mr. Gorham was chairman. The Hon. Mr. Washington was then on the floor, in the same situation with the other members of the Convention at large, to oppose any system he thought injurious, or to propose any alterations or amendments he thought beneficial. To these propositions, so reported by the committee, no opposition was given by that illustrious personage, or by the president of the state of Pennsylvania. They both appeared cordially to approve them, and to give them their hearty concurrence. Yet this system, I am confident, Mr. Speaker, there is not a member in this house would advocate, or who would hesitate one moment in saying it ought to be rejected. I mention this circumstance, in compliance with the duty I owe this honorable body, not with a view to lessen those exalted characters, but to show how far the greatest and best of men may be led to adopt very improper measures, through error in judgment, state influ. ence, or by other causes ; and to show that it is our duty not to suffer our eyes to be so far dazzled by the splendor of names as to run blindfolded into what may be our destruction.
Mr. Speaker, 1 revere those illustrious personages as much as any man here. No man has a higher sense of the important services they have rendered this country. No member of the Convention went there more disposed to pay deference to their opinions. But I should little have deserved the trust this state reposed in me, if I could have sacrificed its dearest interests to my complaisance for their sentiments.
When, contrary to our hopes, it was found that a majority of the members of the Convention had, in the committee, agreed to the system I have laid before you, we then thought it necessary to bring forward the propositions which such of us who had disapproved the plan before had prepared. The members who prepared these resolutions were principally of the Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland delegations. The Hon. Mr. Patterson, of the Jerseys, laid them before the Convention. Of these propositions I am in possession of a copy, which I shall beg leave to read to you.
These propositions were referred to a committee of the whole house. Unfortunately, the New Hampshire delegation had not yet arrived ; and the sickness of a relation of the Hon. Mr. M'Henry obliged him still to be absent — a circumstance, sir, which I considered much to be regretted, as Maryland thereby was represented by only two delegates, and they unhappily differed very widely in their sentiments.
The result of the reference of these last propositions to a committee, was a speedy and hasty determination to reject them. I doubt not, sir, to those who consider them with attention, so sudden a rejection will appear surprising; but it may be proper to inform you, that, on our meeting in
Convention, it was soon found there were among us three parties of very different sentiments and views:
One party, whose object and wish it was to abolish and annihilate all state governments, and to bring forward one general government over this extensive continent, of a monarchical nature, under certain restrictions and limitations. Those who openly avowed this sentiment were, it is true, but few; yet it is equally truc, sir, that there was a considerable number who did not openly avow it, who were, by myself and many others of the Convention, considered as being in reality favorers of that sentiment, and, acting upon those principles, covertly endeavoring to carry into effect what they well knew openly and avowedly could not be accomplished. The second party was not for the abolition of the state governments, nor for the introduction of a monarchical government under any form; but they wished to establish such a system as could give their own states undue power and influence, in the government, over the other states.
A third party was what I considered truly federal and republican. This party was nearly equal in number with the other two, and was composed of the delegations from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and in part from Maryland; also of some individuals from other representations. This party, sir, were for proceeding upon terms of federal cquality; they were for taking our present federal system as the basis of their proceedings, and, as far as experience had shown us that there were defects, to remedy those defects; as far as experience had shown that other powers were necessary to the federal government, to give those powers. They considered this the object for which they were sent by their states, and what their states expected from them. They urged that if, after doing this, experience should show that there still were defects in the sys. tem, (as no doubt there would be,) the same good sense that induced this Convention to be called, would cause the states, when they found it necessary, to call another; and if that convention should act with the same moderation, the members of it would proceed to correct such errors and defects as experience should have brought to light -- that, by proceeding in this train, we should have a prospect at length of obtaining as perfect a system of federal government as the nature of things would admit.
On the other hand, if we, contrary to the purpose for which we were intrusted, considering ourselves as master-builders, too proud to amend our original government, should demolish it entirely, and erect a new system of our own, a short time might show the new system as defective as the old, perhaps more so. Should a convention be found necessary again, if the members thereof, acting upon the same principles, instead of amending and correcting its defects, should demolish that entirely, and bring forward a third system, that also might soon be found no better than either of the former; and thus we might always remain young in government, and always suffering the inconveniences of an incorrect, imperfect system.
But, sir, the favorers of monarchy, and those who wished the total abolition of state governments, well knowing that a government founded on truly federal principles, the bases of which were the thirteen state governments preserved in full force and energy, would be destructive of their views; and knowing they were too weak in numbers openly to bring forward their system; conscious, also, that the people of America would reject it if proposed to them, - joined their interest with that party who wished a system giving particular states the poroer and influence over the others, procuring, in return, mutual sacrifices from them, in giving the govern