페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

$27. In the opinion of the most distinguished jurist who has written on the Constitution, Judge Story, the only purposes for which the burden of taxes, duties, imposts, and excises can be imposed, are to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States. The power of raising money through these means is for these definite and stipulated purposes.

$28. Another eminent writer on the subject holds that the power over these governmental resources is unlimited and absolute, without any reference to the objects for which they are to be disbursed. By this reasoning, he would be obliged to vary the punctuation of these clauses so as to wholly disconnect that of obtaining money from that of paying it out. To justify this interpretation, it should read thus:1st. Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, im

posts, and excises. 2d. They shall have power to pay the debts and provide for the

conimon defense and general welfare of the United States. By reference to the original manuscript copy now preserved in the archives of the government at Washington, a true copy of which is found in this work, it will be seen that the punctuation of these clauses will not bear any such construction. The true construction seems to be, that Congress has these revenue powers in order to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; that is, they are given for these express purposes, and no other.

$ 29. Every thing necessary for the welfare of the country is included in these powers of collecting money and disbursing it. have seen that it may be necessary to borrow money ; thus creating a public debt for the payment of which the public faith must ise pledged. But public credit would be worthless, were there no authority to pay the debts thus contracted. This, it will be remembered, was a serious defect under the Confederation. The government was utterly powerless to maintain its credit at home or abroad.

830. The Great Rebellion of 1861-65 would have been successful

[ocr errors]

2.

but for the public credit which enabled our government to anticipate its revenue for one or two generations. We have seen that its expenditures were more than two millions a day for four consecutive years. Nothing but the strong powers of the government over its finances enabled it to march triumphantly through that terrible trial.

$31. The national debts before the Rebellion soinetimes looked forinidable ; but, from our present standpoint, they appear insignificant. In 1791, just after emerging from the Revolutionary War, it was less chan eighty millions. In 1805, it was less than ninety millions. With all the expenses of the war of 1812 with Great Britain, it amounted, in 1816, to less than a hundred and thirty millions.

- The Common Defense. $32. To provide for the common defense is one of the objects for which the various kinds of taxes may be imposed. Herein, as we have already seen, the ('onfederation was sadly deficient. It could apportion to the several States their respective shares of men and money to be raised; but could not enforce the enlistment or drafting of a single soldier, or the raising of a dollar in money.

$33. A nation without the ability to protect itself from foreign invasion or domestic insurrection is destitute of one of the attributes of sovereignty essential to its independence. The army and navy are the organizations through which a nation demonstrates its strength in time of war.

These will be considered when we come to examine the war-power of Congress.

3. — General Welfare. $34. To provide for the welfare of its citizens is the first duty of every government. Unable to do this, it will soon fail to command the respect, homage, and loyalty of its subjects; and no government, especially republican in form, can long exist without the regard and affection of the people. It must live, if it live at all, in the hearts and affections of its citizens, not " pinned together with bayonets.' If there is a single sentence or clause in the Constitution more comprehensive of its purposes than any other, it is this one requiring Congress to make provision for the general welfare. Indeed, this is the one great object of its origin.

[ocr errors]

$35. There has been much discussion on the latitude of meaning of these two words, “ general welfare.” The two great political parties of the country have long been divided on the subject. One party has insisted that the authority to provide for the general welfare gives power to establish a protective tariff, to expend the public money for internal improvements, to facilitate inter-State commerce in improving lake and river harbors, aiding in building railroads of especial public interest, giving away the public domain to actual settlers, and in promoting other enterprises having for their object the welfare of the nation at large. The other party has resisted this broad construction, insisting that the meaning of the words should be confined within more restricted limits.

ART. II.-COMMERCE.
To REGULATE COMMERCE,

1. With foreign nations.
2. Among the several States.
3. With the Indian tribes. 28.

1.- WITH FOREIGN NATIONS.

§ 1. Congress did not possess the power to regulate commerce under the Confederation. The want of it involved the country in the most serious embarrassments. Foreign countries, and particularly Great Britain, cultivated a monopolizing policy injurious to this country, and destructive to its navigation. The General Government possessing no authority of this kind, the States attempted its exercise separately, each for itself; which not only proved abortive, but engendered rival, conflicting, and angry disputes and regulations.

§ 2. There was no want of harmony in the Constitutional Con vention on the proposition that Congress should have power to regu late commerce with foreign nations; but many members were in favor of requiring that no bill regulating or relating to commerce should be passed unless two-thirds of both houses voted in its favor. All were familiar with the defects of the former policy, and were in favor of vesting the power in Congress. If this were done, of

course the States must surrender all claim to the night which they had so disastrously exercised.

§ 3. Judge Story says, that, in different States, “ the most opposite and conflicting regulations existed. “ Each pursued its own real or supposed interests.

Each was jealous of the rivalry of its neighbors.

Each was successively driven to retaliatory measures. In the w, however, all their measures became utterly nugatory, engendering mutual hostilities, and prostrating all their commerce at the feet of foreign nations.”

2.- AMONG THE STATES.

§ 4. The disastrous experiences of the past had rendered it evident that the power to regulate foreign commerce and inter-State commerce ought to be in the same hands. Indeed, they could not safely be separated. The power to regulate foreign commerce, if vested in Congress, it was believed, might be so exercised as to compel foreign nations to abandon their selfish policy towards us, and oblige them to meet us on terms of reciprocity.

§ 5. But if the States were to be allowed to restrict each other, to cultivate rivalry of interests, and to foster the jealousies of the past, commerce must languish, and the whole country must suffer. If goods landed or manufactured in New York or Massachusetts could not be sold and conveyed into Pennsylvania or Connecticut without being burdened with State restrictions, not only would feuds be cultivated among the States, but foreign commerce would be seriously embarrassed, if not wholly destroyed. If a cargo of tea, having paid duties in New York, could not be sold into New Jersey without being subjected to State duties in the latter State. it would discourage importations, and strike a fatal blow at the national

revenue.

§ 6. The power to regulate commerce among the States, as well as with foreign nations, was, therefore, wisely placed in the hands of Congress. It has established our prosperity on a solid and enduring basis, and raised our country from embarrassment and poverty bn independence and wealth.

[blocks in formation]

§ 7. Under the Confederation, Congress had the power of "regulating the trade and managing all affairs with the Indians not members of any of the States, provided that the legislative right of any State within its own limits be not infringed or violated.” This did not give any rights to Congress over the matter, except outside the limits of States. Consequently, there was no uniformity of traffic with the Indians; and, this creating dissatisfaction among the tribes, frequent aggressions and depredations were the result.

$ 8. In the first draught of the Constitution by the Convention, there was no clause vesting this power in Congress; but, the draught being referred to the Committee on the Constitution, this clause was afterwards inserted and adopted. It was indispensable for three

reasons:

1st. Experience had proved that it was extremely hazardous to leave

it with the States. 2d. Congress could much more easily command the confidence of

the tribes than any State legislatures. 31. It was necessary for the preservation of the rights, and for the

defense of the territory, of the Indians themselves. $ 9. This power of Congress extends to tribes living within or without the territorial boundaries of the States, and within or without the limits of the United States. Whether the tribes remain on their original grounds within the States, inbabit unorganized territory, or roam at large over lands to which the United States have no claim, the trade and commerce with them are subject to the exclusive regulation of Congress.

ART. III.- COMMERCIAL, 1. To coin money. 2. To regulate the value thereof. 3. To regulate the value of foreign coin. 4. To fix the standard of weights and measures. 30. 5. To establish uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies

throughout the United States. 29. NOTE. These provisions of the Constitution give powers to Congress over matters auxiliary to commerce, and which facilitate and promote its

« 이전계속 »