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concession would have produced a readiness, which had not been manifested to strengthen the General Government, and to mark a full confidence in it. The report under consideration had, by the tenor of it, put an end to all these hopes.
Mr. Sherman regarded the slave trade as iniquitous; but the point of representation having been settled, after much difficulty and deliberation, he did not think himself bound to make opposition ; especially as the present article, as amended, did not preclude any arrangement whatever on that point, in another place of the report.
Mr. Gouverneur Morris moved to insert "free" before the word " inhabitants.” Much, he said, would depend on this point. He never would concur in upholding domestic slavery. It was a nefarious institution. It was the curse of heaven on the States where it prevailed. Compare the free regions of the middle States, where a rich and noble cultivation marks the prosperity and happiness of the people, with the misery and poverty which overspread the barren wastes of Virginia, Maryland, and other States having slaves. Travel through the whole continent, and you behold the prospect continually varying with the appearance and disappearance of slavery. The moment you leave the Eastern States, and enter New York, the effects of this institution become visible. Passing through the Jerseys, and entering Pennsylvania, every criterion of superior improvement witnesses the change. Proceed southwardly, and every step you take, through the great regions of slaves, presents a desert, increasing with the increasing proportion of those wretched beings. Upon what principle is it that the slaves shall be computed in the representation ? Are they men? Then make them citizens and let them vote. Are they property? Why, then, is no other property included? The houses in this city (Philadelphia) are worth more than all the wretched slaves who cover the rice swamps of South Carolina. The admission of slaves into the representation, when fairly explained, comes to this :—That the inhabitant of Georgia and South Carolina, who goes to the coast of Africa, and, in defiance of the sacred laws of humanity, tears away his fellow-creatures from their dearest connections, and dooms them to the most cruel bondage, shall have more votes, in a government instituted for the protection of the rights of mankind, than the citizen of Pennsyslvania or New Jersey, who views, with a laudable horror, so nefarious a practice. He would add, that domestic slavery is the most prominent feature in the aristocratic countenance of the proposed Constitution. The vassalage of the poor has ever been the favorite offspring of aristocracy. And what is the proposed compensation to the northern States, for a sacrifice of every principle of right, of every impulse of humanity? They are to bind themselves to march their militia for the defence of the southern States—for their defence against those very slaves of whom they complain. They must supply vessels and seamen in case of foreign attack. The Legislature will have indefinite power to tax them by excises, and duties on imports, both of which will fall heavier on them than on the southern inhabitants ; for the bohea tea used by the northern freemen will pay more tax than the whole consumption of the miserable slave, which consists of nothing more than his physical subsistence and the rag that covers his nakedness. On the other side, the southern States are not to be restrained from importing fresh supplies of wretched Africans, at once to increase the danger of attack and the difficulty of defence; nay, they are to be encouraged to it, by an assurance of having their votes in the National Government increased in proportion ; and are, at the same time, to have their exports and their slaves exempt from all contributions for the public service. Let it not be said that direct taxation is to be proportioned to representation. It is idle to suppose that the General Government can stretch its hand directly into the pockets of the people, scattered over so vast a country. They can only do it through the medium of exports, imports, and excises. For what, then, are all the sacrifices to be made ? He would sooner submit himself to a tax for paying for all the negroes in the United States, than saddle posterity with such a Constitution.
Mr. Dayton seconded the motion. He did it, he said, that his sentiments on the subject might appear, whatever might be the fate of the amendment.
Mr. Sherman did not regard the admission of negroes into the ratio of representation as liable to such insuperable objections. It was the freemen of the southern States who were, in fact, to be represented according to the taxes paid by them, and the negroes are only included in the estimate of taxes. This was his idea of the matter.
Mr. Pinckney considered the fisheries, and the Western frontier, as more burdensome to the United States than the slaves. He thought this could be demonstrated, if the occasion were a proper one. Mr. Wilson “thought the motion premature. An agreement to the clause would be no bar to the object of it.”
And on the question to insert free before inhabitants, only New Jersey voted in the affirmative, and all the other States in the negative. Ibid., 391.
VETO POWER OF THE EXECUTIVE.
In addition to the means of safety already noticed, designed by those who formed the Constitution to fortify the personal virtue and fidelity of the functionary in the execution of his trust, and to guard against evil from his misconduct in it, and to preserve intact, in all its parts, the republican system they aimed to establish, many other features might be enumerated, and many of which are not only wholly inconsistent with the kind of democracy now sought to be established, but expressly designed to guard against it. Their conservative policy is alike visible in the peculiar character of the Federal Constitution, and the State governments wbose Constitutions had been previously framed.
Without here referring to the then existing provisions of the State Constitutions, in proof of this assertion, sufficient guards and restrictions are to be found in the United States Constitution to show the principles which influenced the conduct of its framers. Prominent among the provisions of this character is what is now called the veto power given to the Executive.
It is, true, the first idea seems to have been to confer this power upon the Executive and the Judiciary ; but Mr. Gerry raised a doubt of the propriety of joining the Judiciary in such a power. He thought they would “have a sufficient check against encroachments on their own