« AnteriorContinuar »
six States to five would be rejected. Fortunately, the distinctness of the first and second groups of questions left the Convention a door of escape, as we shall see in the next chapter
188. Character of The Convention. In all sixty-five delegates were appointed, but only fifty-five attended. Of these one had sat in the Albany Congress, three in the Stamp Act Congress, seven in the Congress of 1774, nine had signed the Declaration of Independence, forty-three had been members of Congress and eighteen were members at this time. Twenty-nine had received a liberal education, either in the colleges of the country or in the universities of Great Britain. In ability, education, and political experience, the Convention represented the best elements of the country. Washington and Franklin were the two most famous members ; Madison and Hamilton were the ablest political thinkers, but there was a large number of men of a high order of ability.
189. The Words “Strong" and “ Weak.”—The ambiguities lurking in these words have much confused the history of the Federal Convention. To say that a man favored a strong" or a
weak” government does not settle his status. For example, although Mr. Randolph favored a “strong government,” he resisted giving Congress the control of commerce, and finally refused to sign the Constitution lest it become an instrument of tyranny. His “strong government was one of three departments, having a bicameral Congress, in which the States should be ratably represented. Mr. Patterson, and the Northern State men generally, wanted a “weak government,” and yet they wished to give Congress the control of commerce. Their “weak government” was one in which the States were equally represented.
190. Composition of the Large-state Party.—This party was not composed exclusively of large States. Had it been, it could never have commanded more than three votes out of twelve. North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia voted, on the motions involving this issue, along with Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Marylaud made up the other party. New Hampshire was not pres. ent until July 23, and Rhode Island not at any time. Had these two States been present from the beginning, it is impossible to say what the final outcome would have been. “A more fortunate union of circumstances for even-handed compromise could hardly have been imagined. The large States had, through all the preliminary debates, a majority of six to five, large enough to insure a general run of
1715 10,900 ...47,950
success in nationalizing the new government, but not so large as to obviate the necessity of deference to the minority.”
191. Slavery in the Colonies.-In 1619, the very year that Virginia won her House of Burgesses, a Dutch ship landed a few negroes at Jamestown, and with that act the history of slavery in the United States began. For a time its growth was very slow ; few negroes were imported, and their natural increase was small. Afterwards, both importations and the natural increase became more rapid. The increase in the total number of slaves, as well as their distribution North and South, is shown by this table :1
...657,527 Total............... --58,850
...697,897 Generally, the Colonies were opposed to the slave trade and to slavery. Statutes by the score designed to limit or prohibit the im. portation of slaves, are found in their statute books. But this opposition was always overborne by British traders supported by the British government. The feeling of the country is shown by a resolution adopted by Congress, April 6, 1776, three months before independ. ence was declared: “That no slaves be imported into any of the thirteen United Colonies.” Some of the States, as Virginia, had already taken the same action. In 1787 slavery had ceased to exist in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and in the five other Northern States it was doomed to early extinction. The most enlightened Southern men looked upon the institution as a great evil to be remedied as soon as possible; and it appears to have been the general expectation in the South that the remedy would come at an early day. The industrial prosperity of the Southern States, and particularly of the two Carolinas and Georgia, for the time depended upon slave labor. It was almost universally believed that emancipation would be attended by greater evils than slavery itself. Even Mr. Jefferson, who was a strong antislavery man, said the two races, equally free, could not live together in the same government.
1 Lalor's Cyclopædia of Political Science, "Slavery.”
THE CONSTITUTION FRAMED.
See references of last chapter, to which may be added Johnston's article, Compromises in U. S. History, I., III., (in Lalor's Cyclopædia.)
192. First Compromise.—Twice before June 15 it had been suggested that different rules of suffrage should be adopted for the different Houses. No attention was paid to these suggestions at the time. On June 29 Mr. Johnson, of Connecticut, proposed that instead of longer opposing the National idea to the State idea, the Convention should combine the two,-make the suffrage proportional in the one House and equal in the other. Mr. Ellsworth, also of Connecticut, made that motion. The Union, he said, was partly National, partly Federal ; proportional representation in the first branch would be conformable to the National principle, and an equality of voices in the other would be conformable to the Federal principle. Dr. Franklin seconded the motion. “The small States contended,"
” he said, “that the National principle would endanger their liberties; the large States contended that the Federal principle would endanger their money. When a broad table is to be made, and the edges of the planks do not fit, the artist takes a little from both and makes a good joint." This motion, sometimes called the “Connecticut Compromise,” was finally adopted. With it were coupled two other propositions. The first of these, "all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives,' was concession to the large States. The other one, that in apportioning Representatives and direct taxes three-fifths of the slaves should be counted, was a concession to the Carolinas and Georgia. This compromise was not adopted as a whole at one time, but by separate votes, item by
item. The concession of an equal vote to the small States was made irreversible. Article V. of the Constitution declares: “No State without its consent shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate."
193. Effects of the Compromise.—The adoption of this compromise was followed by two favorable results. The men most opposed to an efficient government went home in disgust; while the Small-state men, who really wanted such a government, were put.ịn a good humor, and were ready to assist in making it as: Širong as was necessary. Now that they were convinced: třạt thôir: States would not be merged in a consolidated National plan, or their influence lost in public affairs, such delegates as Dickinson and Patterson worked side by side with Franklin and Madison in perfecting the details of the Constitution. Nothing could show more conclusively that the most radical difference of opinion related to the organic nature of the Government, rather than to its powers or its framework.
194. Second Compromise.-This relates to commerce, and simply balances the two propositions: “Congress shall have power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes,” and, “No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State.” The first was a concession to the commercial States of the North; the second, to the agricultural States of the South.
195. Third Compromise.-The Carolinas and Georgia maintained that Congress should be prohibited from abolishing the slave trade, or taxing it more highly than other commerce. After a heated debate, which brought the Convention to a stand-still as effectually as the representation question had done, the three States united with New England in carrying a new compromise. It was conceded, on the one hand, that Congress should not forbid the trade for twenty years; and, on the other, that in the meantime Congress might impose upon the negroes
imported a tax of ten dollars a head. The three States also assisted the North in striking out of the Constitution, as it then stood, a clause requiring a two-thirds vote in each House of Congress to enact navigation laws. Virginia strongly opposed this compromise. She thought the first feature would tend to perpetuate slavery, while she objected to giving the control of commerce to a majority in Congress. It was also a part of this arrangement that
. slaves: escaping iropr. onte State into another should be given up to their nasters on demand.
195 Stages of Progress.- Few of these need be here reported." On July 24 the whole subject, including all the material that had been accumulated, was referred to a committee of five, called the Committee of Detail, to report a draft of constitution. The report of this committee, submitted August 6, bears a general resemblance to the Constitution as finally adopted. The whole ground was now gone over again; some old features were dropped, and
ones added. On September 8 the articles already agreed to were sent to a Committee of Revision, consisting of five, for arrangement and revision of style. Four days later, the Constitution came back nearly in its present form, and the proceedings entered on their final stage. Three or four days were now spent in a final revision. A few changes were made, of which the most important was the reduction of the minimum rate of representation in the House of Representatives from 40,000 to 30,000. Resolutions submitting the Constitution, and an address to Congress to be signed by the President, were agreed to. On the final vote the States present were unanimous, viz. : New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North
1“The finish given to the style and arrangement of the Constitution fairly belongs to the pen of Mr. [Gouverneur) Morris; the task having probably been handed over to him by the chairman of the committee, himself a highly respected member, and with the ready concurrence of the others. A better choice could not have been made, as the performance of the task proved.”- James Madison.