페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

out bo oqual to the maintenance of an army considerable enough to confine the larger states within the limits of their duty; nor would the means ever be furnished of forming such an army in the first instance. Whoever considers the populousness and strength of several of these states singly at the present juncture, and looks forward to what they will become, even at the distance of half a century, will at once dismiss as idle and visionary any scheme, which aims at regulating their movements by laws, to operate upon them in their collective capacities, and to be executed by a coercion applicable to them in the same capacities. A project of this kind is little less romantic than the monstertaming spirit, attributed to the fabulous heroes and demi-gods of antiquity.

Even in those confederacies, which have been composed of members smaller than many of our counties, the principle of legislation for sovereign states, supported by military coercion, has never been found effectual. It has rarely been attempted to be employed, but against the weaker members; and in most instances attempts to coerce the refractory and disobedient, have been the signals of bloody wars; in wbich one half of the confederacy has displayed its banners against the other.

The result of these observations to an intelligent mind must be clearly this, that if it be possible at any rate to construct a federal government capable of regulating the common concerns, and preserving the general tranquillity, it must be founded, as to the objects committed to its care, upon the reverse of the principle contended for by the opponents of the proposed constitution. It must carry its agency to the persons of the citizens. It must stand in need of no intermediate legislations; but must itself be empowered to employ the arm of the ordinary magistrate to execute its own resolutions. The majesty of the national authority must be manifested through the medium of the courts of justice. The government of the union, like that of each state, must be able to address itsolf immediately to the hopes and fears of individuals; and to attract to its support, those passions, which bave the strongest influence upon the human heart. It must, in

1

short, possess all the means, and bave a right to resort to all the methods, of executing the powers with which it is entrusted, that are possessed and exercised by the governments of the particular statos.

To this reasoning it may perhaps be objected, that if any state should be disaffected to the authority of the union, it could at any time obstruct the execution of its laws, and bring the matter to the same issue of force, with the necessity of which the opposite scheme is reproached.

The plausibility of this objection will vanish the moment we advert to the essential difference between a mere NON-COMPLIANCE and a DIRECT and ACTIVE RESISTANCE. If the interpo. sition of the state logislatures be necessary to give effect to a measure of the union, they have only NOT TO ACT, or To AOT EVASIVELY, and the measure is defeated. This neglect of duty may be disguised under affected but unsubstantial provisions 80 as not to appear, and of course not to excite any alarm in tho people for the safety of the constitution. The state leaders may even make a merit of their surreptitious invasions of it, on the. ground of some temporary convenience, exemption, or advantage.

But if the execution of the laws of the national government should not require the intervention of the state legislatures; if they were to pass into immediate operation upon the citizens themselves, the particular governments could not interrupt their progress without an open and violent exertion of an unconstitu. tional power. No omission, nor evasions, would answer the end. They would be obliged to act, and in such a manner, as would leave no doubt that they had encroached on the national rights. An experiment of this nature would always be bazard. ous in the face of a constitution in any degree competent to its own defence, and of a people enlightened enough to distinguish between a legal exercise and an illegal usurpation of authority. The success of it would require not merely a factious majority in the legislature, but the concurrence of the courts of justice, and of the body of the people. . If the judges were not .em

barked in a conspiracy with the legislature, they would pronounce the resolutions of such a majority to be contrary to the supreme law of the land, unconstitutional and void. If tho people were not tainted with the spirit of their stato representatives, they, as the natural guardians of the constitution, would throw their weight into the national scale, and give it a decided preponderancy in the contest. Attempts of this kind would not often be made with levity or rashness; because they could seldom be made without danger to the authors; unless in cases of a tyrannical exercise of the federal authority.

If opposition to the national government should arise from the disorderly conduct of refractory, or seditious individuals, it could be overcome by the same means which are daily employed against the same evil, under the state governments. The magistracy, being equally the ministers of the law of the land, from whatever source it might emanate, would, doubtless, be as ready to guard the national as the local regulations, from the inroads of private licentiousness. As to those partial commotions and insurrections, which sometimes disquiet society, from the intrigues of an inconsiderable faction, or from sudden or occasional ill humours, that do not infect the great body of the community, the general government could command moro extensive resources, for the suppression of disturbances of that kind, than would be in the power of any single member. And as to those mortal feuds, which, in certain conjunctures, spread a conflagration through a whole nation, or through a very large proportion of it, proceeding either from weighty causes of discontent, given by the government, or from the contagion of some violent popular paroxism, they do not fall within any ordinary rules of calculation. When they happen, they commonly amount to revolutions, and dismemberments of empire. No form of government can always either avoid or control them. It is in vain to hope to guard against events too mighty for human foresight or precaution; and it would be idle to object to a government, because it could not perform impossibilities.

PUBLIUS.

THE FEDERALIST.

NUMBER XVII.

NEW YORK, DECEMBER 6, 1787.

HAMILTON.

THE SUBJECT CONTINUED, AND ILLUSTRATED BY EXAMPLES, TO SHOW THE TENDENCY OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS, RATHER TO ANARCHY AMONG THE MEMBERS, THAN TYRANNY IN THE HEAD.

An objection, of a nature different from that which has been stated and answered in my last address, may, perhaps, be urged against the principle of legislation for the individual citizens of America. It may be said, that it would tend to render the gov. ernment of the union too powerful, and to enable it to absorb those residuary authorities, which it might be judged proper to loavo with the states for local purposes. Allowing the utmost latitude to the love of power, wbich any reasonablo man can requiro, I confess I am at a loss to discover what temptation the persons entrusted with the administration of the general gov. ernment, could ever feel to divest the states of the authorities of that description. The regulation of the mere domestic police of a state, appears to me to hold out slender alluremonts to ambition. Commerce, finance, negociation, and war, seem to comprehend all the objects which have charms for minds governed by that passion; and all the powers necessary to those objects, ought, in the first instance, to be lodged in the national depobitury. The administration of private justice between the citi. zens of the same state; the supervision of agriculture, and of

other concerns of a similar nature; all those things, in short, which are proper to be provided for by local legislation, can never be desirable cares of a general jurisdiction. It is therefore improbable, that there should exist a disposition in the federal councils, to usurp the powers with which they are connected; because the attempt to exercise them, would be as troublesome as it would be nugatory; and the possession of them, for that reason, would contribute nothing to the dignity, to the importance, or to the splendour, of the national government.

But let it be admitted, for argument sake, that mere wantonnoss, and lust of domination, would be sufficient to boget that disposition; still it may be safely affirmed, that the sense of the constituent body of the national representatives, or, in other words, of the people of the several states, would control the indulgence of so extravagant an appetite. It will always be far more easy for the state governments to encroach upon the national authorities, than for the national government to en. croach upon the state authorities. The proof of this proposition turns upon the greater degree of influence which the state governments, if they administer their affairs with uprightness and prudence, will generally possess over the people; a circumstance which at the same time teaches us, that there is an inbe. rent and intrinsic weaknoss in all federal constitutions; and that too much pains cannot be taken in their organization, to give them all the force which is compatible with the principles of liberty.

The superiority of influence in favor of the particular governmonts, would result partly from the diffusive construction of the national government; but chiefly from the nature of the objects to which the attention of the state administrations would be directed.

It is a known fact in human nature, that its affections are commonly weak in proportion to the distance or diffusiveness of the object. Upon the same principle that a man is more attached to his family than to his neighbourhood, to his neighbourhood than to the community at large, the people of each state would be apt to feel a stronger hias towards

« 이전계속 »