Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

us.

demands, what can be left for the states ? Not a sufficiency even to defray the expense of their internal administration. They must therefore glide imperceptibly and gradually out of existence. This, sir, must naturally terminate in a consolidation. If this will do for other people, it never will do for me.

If we are to have one representative for every thirty thousand souls, it must be by implication. The constitution does not positively secure it. Even say it is a natural implication, why not give us a right to that proportion in express terms, in language that could not admit of evasions or subterfuges? If they can use implication for us, they can also use implication aga

We are giving power; they are getting power : judge then, on which side the implication will be used. When we once put it in their option to assume constructive power, danger will follow. Trial by jury, and liberty of the press, are also on this foundation of implication. If they encroach on these rights, and you give your implication for a plea, you are cast; for they will be justified by the last part of it, which gives them full power

6 To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper to carry their powers into execution." Implication is dangerous, because it is unbounded: if it be admitted at all, and no limits be prescribed, it admits of the utmost extension. They say, that every thing that is not given is retained. The reverse of the proposition is true by implication. They do not carry their implication so far when they speak of the general welfare. No implication when the sweeping clause comes. Implication is only necessary when the existence of privileges is in dispute. The existence of powers is sufficiently established. If we trust our dearest rights to implication, we shall be in a very unhappy situation.

Implication in England has been a source of dissension. There has been a war of implication between the king and people. For one hundred years did the mother country struggle under the uncertainty of im

25

VOL. I

plication. The people insisted that their rights were implied: the monarch denied the doctrine. Their bill of rights in some degree terminated the dispute. By a bold implication, they said they had a right to bind us in all cases whatsoever. This constructive power we opposed, and successfully. Thirteen or fourteen years ago, the most important thing that could be thought of, was to exclude the possibility of construction and implication. These, sir, were then deemed perilous. The first thing that was thought of, was a bisl of rights. We were not satisfied with your constructive argumentative rights.

Mr. Henry then declared, a bill of rights indispensably necessary; that a general positive provision should be inserted in the new system, securing to the states and the people, every right which was not conceded to the general government; and that every implication should be done away. It being now late, he concluded by observing, that he would resume the subject another time. On the 9th, Mr. Henry continued his remarks as follows:

MR. CHAIRMAN, I find myself again constrained to trespass on the patience of this committee. I wish there was a prospect of union in our sentiments; so much time would not then be taken up. But when I review the magnitude of the subject under consideration, and of the dangers which appear to me in this new plan of government, and compare thereto my poor abilities to secure our rights, it will take much more time, in my poor unconnected way, to traverse the objectionable parts of it; there are friends here who will be abler than myself, to make good these objections which to us appear well founded. If we recollect, on last Saturday, I made some observations on some of those dangers, which these gentlemen would fain persuade us hang over the citizens of this commonwealth, to induce us to change the government, and adopt the

new plan. Unless there be great and awful dangers, the change is dangerous, and the experiment ought not to be made. In estimating the magnitude of these dangers, we are obliged to take a most serious viety of them, to feel them, to handle them, and to be familiar with them. It is not sufficient to feign mere imaginary dangers: there must be a dreadful reality. The great question between us is, does that reality exist? These dangers are partially attributed to bad laws, execrated by the community at large. It is said the people wish to change the government. I should be happy to meet them on that ground. Should the people wish to change it, we should be innocent of the dangers. It is a fact, that the people do not wish to change their government. How am I to prove it? It will rest on my bare assertion, unless supported by an internal conviction in men's breasts. My poor sayso is a mere non-entity. But, sir, I am persuaded that four fifths of the people of Virginia must have amendments to the new plan, to reconcile them to a change of their government. Our assertions form but a slippery foundation for the people to rest their political salvation on. No government can flourish unless it be founded on the affection of the people. Unless gentlemen can be sure, that this new system is founded on that ground, they ought to stop their career.

I will not repeat what the gentlemen say, but will mention one thing. There is a dispute between us and the Spaniards, about the right of navigating the Mississippi. This dispute has sprung from the federal government. I wish a great deal to be said on this subject. I wish to know the origin and progress of the business, as it would probably unfold great dangers. In my opinion, the preservation of that river calls for our most serious consideration. It has been agitated in Congress. Seven states have voted so as that it is known to the Spaniards, that under our existing system, the Mississippi shall be taken from them. Seven states wished to relinquish this river to them.

ours.

The six southern states opposed it. Seven states not being sufficient to convey it away, it remains now

If I am wrong, there are a number on this floor, who can contradict the facts; I will readily retract. This new government, I conceive, will enable those states, who have already discovered their inclination that way, to give away this river. Will the honorable gentleman advise us to relinquish this inestimable navigation, and place formidable enemies to our backs? This weak, this poor confederation cannot secure us. We are resolved to take shelter under the shield of federal authority in America. The southern parts of America have been protected by that weakness so much execrated. I hope this will be explained. I was not in Congress when these transactions took place. I may not have stated every fact. I may have misrepresented matters. I hope to be fully acquainted with every thing relative to the subject. Let us hear how the great and important right of navigating that river has been attended to; and whether I am mistaken in my opinion, that federal measures will lose it to us forever. If a bare majority of Congress can make laws, the situation of our western citizens is dreadful.

We are threatened with danger for the non-payment of the debt due to France. We have information from an illustrious citizen of Virginia, who is now in Paris, which disproves the suggestions of such danger. This citizen has not been in the airy regions of theoretic speculation; our ambassador is this worthy citizen. The ambassador of the United States of America, is not so despised as the honorable gentleman would make us believe. A servant of a republic is as much respected as that of a monarch. The honorable gentleman tells us, that hostile fleets are to be sent to make reprisals upon us; our ambassador tells you, that the king of France has taken into consideration, to enter into commercial regulations on reciprocal terms with us, which will be of peculiar advantage to us.

Does this look like hostility? I might go fur

ther; I might say, not from public authority, but good information, that his opinion is, that you reject this government. His character and abilities are in the highest estimation; he is well acquainted, in every respect, with this country; equally so with the policy of the European nations. This illustrious citizen advises you to reject this government, till it be amended. His sentiments coincide entirely with ours. His attachment to, and services done for this country, are well known. At a great distance from us, he remembers and studies our happiness. Living amidst splendor and dissipation, he thinks yet of bills of rights--thinks of those little despised things called maxims.

Let us follow the sage advice of this common friend of our happiness. It is little usual for nations to send armies to collect debts. The house of Bourbon, that great friend of America, will never attack her for the unwilling delay of payment. Give me leave to say, that Europe is too much engaged about objects of greater importance to attend to us. On that great theatre of the world, the little American matters vanish. Do you believe, that the mighty monarch of France, beholding the greatest scenes that ever engaged the attention of a prince of that country, will divert himself from those important objects, and now call for a settlement of accounts with America ? This proceeding is not warranted by good sense. The friendly disposition to us, and the actual situation of France, render the idea of danger from that quarter absurd. Would this countryman of ours be fond of advising us to a measure which he knew to be dangerous—and can it be reasonably supposed, that he can be ignorant of any premeditated hostility against this country? The honorable gentleman may suspect the account, but I will do our friend the justice to say that he would warn us of any danger from France. Do

you suppose the Spanish monarch will risk a contest with the United States, when his feeble colonies are exposed to them? Every advance the people

« AnteriorContinuar »