Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

He could not sit down without taking some notice of the language of the honorable gentleman from Delaware, (Mr. Bedford.) It was not he that uttered a dictatorial language. This intemperance had marked the honorable gentleman himself. It was not he who, with a vehemence unprecedented in that house, had declared himself ready to turn his hopes from our common country, and court the protection of some foreign hand. This, too, was the language of the honorable member himself. He was grieved that such a thought had entered his heart. He was more grieved that such an expression had dropped from his lips. The gentleman could only excuse it to himself on the score of passion. For himself, whatever might be his distress, he would never court relief from a foreign power. 5 Elliott's Debates, 260.

On the question for allowing each State one vote in the second branch, as moved by Mr. Ellsworth, it was lost, five States voting for it and five against it. Gen. Pinckney thereupon said “some compromise seemed to be necessary, the States being exactly divided on the question for an equality of votes in the second branch,” and he “proposed that a committee, consisting of one member from each State, should be appointed to devise and report some compromise.” Luther Martin had no objection to a committee, but said, “no modifications whatever could reconcile the smaller States to the least diminution of their equal sovereignty." Roger Sherman said, "we are now at a full stop, and no body, he supposed, meant that we should break up without doing something;" and he thought therefore a committee “most likely to hit on some expedient."

Gouverneur Morris, Mr. Randolph, Mr. Gerry, and others, favored a committee, and Mr. Madison, Mr. Wilson, and others, opposed it. A committee was thereupon appointed, consisting of Messrs. Gerry, Ellsworth, Yates, Patterson, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Bedford, Mr. Martin, Mr. Mason, Mr. Davy, Mr. Rutledge, Mr. Baldwin, which made a Report. Ibid., 274. This Report again led to a long discussion, which ended in referring the subject to another committee, whose Report, after another long discussion, was referred still to another committee. The Report of the last committee still being unsatisfactory, various amendments were agreed to, and then, on the question for agreeing to the whole Report, as amended, and including the equality of votes in the second branch, it passed in the affirmative, as follows:

Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina (Mr. Spaight, no.) aye, 5; Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia—no, 4; Massachusetts, divided, (Mr. Gerry, Mr. Strong—aye; Mr. King, Mr. Gorham-no.) The whole, thus passed, is in the words following, viz. :

Resolved, That in the original formation of the Legislature of the United States, the first branch thereof shall consist of sixty-five members, of which number New Hampshire shall send three; Massachusetts, eight; Rhode Island, one ; Connecticut, five; New York, six; New Jersey, four; Pennsylvania, eight; Delaware, one; Maryland, six ; Virginia, ten ; North Carolina, five ; South Carolina, five; Georgia, three. But as the present situation of the States may probably alter in the number of their inhabitants, the Legislature of the United States shall be authorized, from time to time, to

apportion the number of representatives ; and in case any of the States shall hereafter be divided, or enlarged by addition of territory, or any two or more States united, or any new States created within the limits of the United States, the Legislature of the United States shall possess authority to regulate the number of representatives, in any of the foregoing cases, upon the principle of their number of inhabitants, according to the provisions hereafter mentioned : Provided always, that representation ought to be proportioned according to direct taxation ; and in order to ascertain the alteration in the direct taxation, which may be required from time to time by the changes in the relative circumstances of the States,

Resolved, That a census be taken within six years from the first meeting of the Legislature of the United States, and once within the term of every ten years after wards, of all the inhabitants of the United States, in the manner and according to the ratio recommended by Congress in their resolution of the 18th day of April, 1783; and that the Legislature of the United States shall proportion the direct taxation accordingly.

Resolved, That all bills for raising or appropriating money, and for fixing the salaries of officers of the Government of the United States, shall originate in the first branch of the Legislature of the United States, and shall not be altered or amended in the second branch, and that no money shall be drawn from the public treasury but in pursuance of appropriations to be originated in the first branch.

Resolved, That in the second branch of the Legislature of the United States each State shall have an equal vote." Ibid., 316.

66

66

Instead of this decision settling the vexed question, it but increased the perplexity of the Convention; and after several ineffectual efforts to proceed, Mr. Randolph rose, and said :

The vote of this morning (involving an equality of suffrage in the second branch) had embarrassed the business extremely. All the powers given in the Report from the Committee of the Whole, were founded on the supposition that a proportional repre. sentation was to prevail in both branches of the Legislature. When he came here this morning, his purpose was to have offered some propositions that might, if possible, have united a great majority of votes, and particularly might provide against the danger suspected on the part of the smaller States, by enumerating the cases in which it might lie, and allowing an equality of votes in such cases. But finding, from the preceding vote, that they persist in demanding an equal vote in all cases; that they have succeeded in obtaining it; and that New York, if present, would probably be on the same side; he could not but think we were unprepared to discuss the subject further. It will pro. bably be in vain to come to any final decision, with a bare majority on either side. For these reasons he wished the Convention to adjourn, that the large States might consider the steps proper to be taken in the present solemn crisis of the business, and that the small States might also deliberate on the means of conciliation.”

Mr. Patterson “thought, with Mr. Randolph, that it was high time for the Convention to adjourn, that the rule of secrecy ought to be rescinded, and that our constituents should be consulted. No conciliation could be admissible on the part of the smaller States on any other ground than that of an equality of votes in the second branch. If Mr. Randolph would reduce to form his motion for an adjournment sine die, he would second it with all his heart."

Mr. Broome “ thought it was his duty to declare his opinion against an adjournment sine die, as had been urged by Mr. Patterson. Such a measure, he thought, would

a

be fatal. Something must be done by the Convention, though it should be by a bare majority."

Mr. Gerry "observed, that Massachusetts was opposed to an adjournment, because they saw no new ground of compromise. But as it seemed to be the opinion of so many States, that a trial should be made, the State would now concur in the adjournment."

Mr. Rutledge « could see no need of an adjournment, because he could see no chance of a compromiso. The little States were fixed. They had repeatedly and solemnly declared themselves to be so. All that the large States, then, had to do, was to decide whether they would yield or not. For his part, he conceived that, although we could not do what we thought best in itself, we ought to do something. Had we not better keep the government up a little longer, hoping that another Convention will supply our omissions, than abandon everything to hazard ? Our constituents will be very little satisfied with us if we take the latter course."

An adjournment until next morning was agreed to, and the published report of the proceedings contains the following note made by Mr. Madison :

On the morning following, before the hour of the Convention, a number of the members from the larger States, by common agreement, met for the purpose of consulting on the proper steps to be taken in consequence of the vote in favor of an equal representation in the second branch, and the apparent inflexibility of the smaller States on that point. Several members from the latter States also attended. The time was wasted in vague conversation on the subject, without any specific proposition or agreement. It appeared, indeed, that the opinions of the members who disliked the equality of votes, differed much as to the importance of that point, and as to the policy of risking a failure of any general act of the Convention by inflexibly opposing it. Several of them, supposing that no good government could or would be built on that foundation ; and that, as a division of the Convention into two opinions was unavoidable, it would be better that the side comprising the principal States, and a majority of the people of America, should propose a scheme of government to the States, than that a scheme should be proposed on the other side-would have concurred in a firm opposition to the smaller States, and in a separate recommendation, if eventually necessary. Others seemed inclined to yield to the smaller States, and to concur in such an act, however imperfect and exceptionable, as might be agreed on by the Convention as a body, though decided by a bare majority of the States and by a minority of the people of the United States. It is probable that the result of this consultation satisfied the smaller States, that they had nothing to apprehend from a union of the larger in any plan whatever against the equality of votes in the second branch. Ibid., 319.

When the subject was afterwards resumed, another discussion followed of which the following is an abstract:

Mr. King wished to know what influence the vote just passed was meant to have on the succeeding part of the report, concerning the admission of slaves into the rule of representation. He could not reconcile his mind to the article, if it was to prevent objections to the latter part. The admission of slaves was a most grating circumstance to his mind, and he believed would be so to a great part of the people of America. He had not made a strenuous opposition to it heretofore, because he had hoped that this 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.

CHAPTER XXXV.

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 bis 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

« AnteriorContinuar »