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certain points of view, are greatly overbalanced by inconveniences that will appear on a more accurate examination. Animosities, and perhaps wars, would arise from assigning the extent, the limits, and the rights of the different confederacies. The expenses of governing would be multiplied by the number of federal governments. The danger resulting from foreign influence and mutual dissensions would not, perhaps, be less great and alarming in the instance of different confederacies, than in the instance of different, though more numerous unassociated states. These observations, and many others that might be made on the subject, will be sufficient to evince, that a division of the United States into a number of separate confederacies, would probably be an unsatisfactory and an unsuccessful experiment.
The remaining system, which the American States may adopt, is a union of them under one confederate republic. It will not be necessary to employ much time or many arguments to show, that this is the most eligible system that can be proposed. By adopting this system, the vigor and decision of a wide spreading monarchy may be joined to the freedom and beneficence of a contracted republic. The extent of territory, the diversity of climate and soil, the number, and greatness, and connexion of lakes and rivers, with which the United States are intersected and almost surrounded, all indicate an enlarged government to be fit and advantageous for them. The principles and dispositions of their citizens indicate, that in this government liberty shall reign triumphant. Such indeed
have been the general opinions and wishes entertained since the era of our independence. If those opinions and wishes are as well founded as they have been general, the late convention were justified in proposing to their constituents one confederate republic, as the best system of a national government for the United States.
In forming this system, it was proper to give minute
attention to the interests of all the parts; but there was a duty of still higher import—to feel and to show a predominating regard to the superior interests of the whole. If this great principle had not prevailed, the plan before us would never have made its appearance. The same principle that was so necessary in forming it, is equally necessary in our deliberations, whether we should reject or ratify it.
I make these observations with a design to prove and illustrate this great and important truth that in our decisions on the work of the late convention, we should not limit our views and regards to the state of Pennsylvania. The aim of the convention was, to form a system of good and efficient government on the more extensive scale of the United States. In this, as in every other instance, the work should be judged with the same spirit with which it was performed. A principle of duty as well as of candor demands this.
We have remarked, that civil government is necessary to the perfection of society: we now remark, that civil liberty is necessary to the perfection of civil gøyernment. Civil liberty is natural liberty itself, divested only of that part, which, placed in the government, produces more good and happiness to the community, than if it had remained in the individual. Hence it follows, that civil liberty, while it resigns a part of natural liberty, retains the free and generous exercise of all the human faculties, so far as it is compatible with the public welfare.
In considering and developing the nature and end of the system before us, it is necessary to mention another kind of liberty, which has not yet, as far as I know, received a name. I shall distinguish it by the appellation of federal liberty. When a single government is instituted, the individuals, of which it is composed, surrender to it a part of their natural independ, ence, which they before enjoyed as men. When a confederate republic is instituted, the communities, of
the government and to the exigencies of the United
which it is composed, surrender to it a part of their political independence, which they before enjoyed as states. The principles which directed, in the former case, what part of the natural liberty of the man ought to be given up, and what part ought to be retained, will give similar directions in the latter case... The states should resign to the national government that part, and that part only, of their political liberty, which, placed in that government, will produce more good to the whole, than if it had remained in the several states. While they resign this part of their political liberty, they retain the free and generous exercise of all their other faculties as states, so far as it is compatible with the welfare of the general and superintending confederacy. Since states as well as citizens are represented in the constitution before us, and form the objects on which that constitution is proposed to operate, it was necessary to notice and define federal as well as civil libertý. » These general reflections have been made in order to introduces with more propriety and advantage, a practical illustration of the end proposed to be accomplished by the late convention.
It has been too well known—it has been too severely felt that the present confederation is inadequate to
States. The great struggle for liberty in this country, should it be unsuccessful, will probably be the last one which she will have for her existence and prosperity, in any part of the globe. And it must be confessed, that this struggle has, in some of the stages of its progress, been attended with symptoms that foreboded no fortunate issue. :: To the iron hand of tyranny, which was lifted up against 'her, she manifested, indeed, an intrepid superiority. She broke in pieces the fetters which were forged for her, and showed that she was unassailable by force. But she was environed by dangers of another kind, and springing from a very
While she kept her eye steadily fixed on the efforts of oppression, licentiousness was secretly undermining the rock on which she stood.
Need I call to your remembrance the contrasted scenes, of which we have been witnesses ? On the glorious conclusion of our conflict with Britain, what high expectations were formed concerning us by others! What high expectations did we form concerning ourselves Have those expectations been realized ? No. What has been the cause? Did our citizens lose their perseverance and magnanimity? No. Did they become insensible of resentment and indignation at any high handed attempt, that might have been made to injure or enslave them ? No. What then has been the cause? The truth is, we dreaded danger only on one side: this we manfully repelled. But on another side, danger, not less formidable, but more insidious, stole in upon us; and our unsuspicious tempers were not sufficiently attentive, either to its approach or to its operations. Those, whom foreign strength could not overpower, have well nigh become the victims of internal anarchy.
If we become a little more particular, we shall find that the foregoing representation is by no means exaggerated. When we had baffled all the menaces of foreign power, we neglected to establish among ourselves a government, that would ensure domestic
vigor and stability. What was the consequence? The commencement of peace was the commencement of every disgrace and distress, that could befall a people in a peaceful state. Devoid of national power, we could not prohibit the extravagance of our importations, nor could we derive a revenue from their excess. Devoid of national importance, we could not procure for our exports a tolerable sale at foreign markets. Devoid of national credit, we saw our public securities melt in the hands of the holders, like snow before the
Devoid of national dignity, we could not, in some instances, perform our treaties on our part;
and, in other instances, we could neither obtain nor compel the performance of them on the part of others. Devoid of national energy, we could not carry
into execution our own resolutions, decisions, or laws.
Shall I become more particular still? The tedious detail would disgust me: nor is it now necessary. The years of languor are past. We have felt the dishonor, with which we have been covered: we have seen the destruction with which we have been threatened. We have penetrated to the causes of both, and when we have once discovered them, we have begun to search for the means of removing them. For the confirmation of these remarks, I need not appeal to an enumeration of facts. The proceedings of Congress, and of the several states, are replete with them. They all point out the weakness and insufficiency of the present confederation as the cause, and an efficient general government as the only cure of our political distempers.
Under these impressions, and with these views, was the late convention appointed; and under these impressions, and with these views, the late convention met.
We now see the great end which they proposed to accomplish. It was to frame, for the consideration of their constituents, one federal and national constitution--a constitution that would produce the advantages of good, and prevent the inconveniences of bad government-a constitution, whose beneficence and energy would pervade the whole union, and bind and embrace the interests of every part-a constitution that would ensure peace, freedom, and happiness, to the states and people of America.
We are now naturally led to examine the means, by which they proposed to accomplish this end. This opens more particularly to our view the important discussion before us. But previously to our entering upon it, it will not be improper to state some general and leading principles of government, which will receive