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a foreign minister, elude matters taken ad referendum, by lam pering with the provinces and cities. In 1726, the treaty of . Hanover was delayed by these means a whole year. Instarcea of a liko nature are numerous and notorious.
In critical emergencies, the states general are often compelled to overleap their constitutional bounds. In 1688, they concluded a treaty of themselves, at the risk of their heads. The treaty of Westphalia in 1648, by which their independence was formally and finally recognized, was concluded without the consent of Zealand. Even as recently as the last treaty of peace with Great Britain, the constitutional principle of unanimity was departed from. A weak constitution must necessarily terminate in disaolution, for want of proper powers, or from the usurpation of powers requisite for the public safety. Whether the usurpation, when once begun, will stop at the salutary point, or go forward to the dangerous extreme, must depend on the contingencies of the moment. Tyranny has perhaps oftener grown out of the assumptions of power, called for, on pressing exigencies, by a defective constitution, than out of the full exercise of the largest constitutional authorities.
Notwithstanding the calamities produced by the stadtholder. ship, it has been supposed, that without his influence in the individual provinces, the causes of anarchy manifest in the confederacy, would long ago have dissolved it.” Under such a government, says the abbé Mably, the union could never have subsisted, if the provinces had not a spring within themselves, capable of quickening their tardiness, and compelling them to the same way of thinking. This spring is the stadtholder.". It is remarked by Sir William Temple, “that in the intermissions of the stadtholdership, Holland, by her riches and her. autbority, which drew the others into a sort of dependence, surplied the place.”
These are not the only circumstances which have controlled the tendency to anarchy and dissolution. The surrounding powers impose an absolute necessity of union to a certain do
gree, at the same time that they nourish, by their intrigues, the constitutional vices, which keep the republic in some measure always at their mercy.
The true patriots have long bewailed the fatal operation of these vices, and have made no less than four regular experiments by extraordinary assemblies, convened for the special purpose, to apply a remedy. As many times, has their laudable zeal found it impossible to unite the public councils in reforming the known, the acknowledged, the fatal evils of the existing constitution. Let us pause, my fellow-citizens, for one moment, over this melancholy and monitory lesson of history; and with the tear that drops for the calamities brought on mankind by their adverse opinions and selfish passions, let our gratitude mingle an ejaculation to Heaven, for the propitious concord which has distinguished the consultations for our political happiness.
A design was also conceived, of establishing a general tax to be administered by the federal authority. This also had its adversaries and failed.
This unhappy people seem to be now suffering, from popular convulsions, from dissentions among the states, and from the actual invasion of foreign arms, the crisis of their destiny. All nations have their eyes fixed on the awful spectacle. The first wish prompted by humanity is, that this severe trial may issue in such a revolution of their government, as will establish their union, and render it the parent of tranquillity, freedom, and happiness : The next, that the asylum under which, we trust, the enjoyment of these blessings will speedily be secured in this country, may receive and console them for the catastrophe of their own.
I make no apology for having dwelt so long on the contemplation of these federal precedents. Experience is the oracle of truth; and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to be conclusive and sacred. The important truth, which it unequivocally pronounces in the present case, is, that a sovereignty
over sovereigns, a government over governments, a legislation for communities, as contradistinguished from individuals ; as it is a solecism in theory, so in practice, it is subversive of the order and ends of civil polity, by substituting violence in the place of law, or the destructive coercion of the sword, in the place of the mild and salutary coercion of the magistracy.
NEW YORK, DECEMBER 12, 1787.
FURTHER DEFECTS OF THE PRESENT CONSTITUTION.
Having in the three last numbers taken a summary review of the principal circumstances and events, which depict the genius and fate of other confederate governments; I shall now proceed in the enumeration of the most important of those defects, which baye hitherto disappointed our hopes from the system establighed among ourselves. To form a safe and satisfactory judgment of the proper remedy, it is absolutely nocessary that we should be well acquainted with the extent and malignity of the disease.
The next most..palpable defect of the existing confederation, is the total want of a SANCTION to its laws. The United States, as now composed, bave no power to exact obedience, or punish disobedience to their resolutions, either by pecuniary mulcts, by a suspension or divestiture of privileges, or by any other constitutional means. There is no express delegation of authority to them to use force against delinquent members; and if such a right should be ascribed to the federal head, as resulting from the nature of the social compact between the states, it must be by inference and construction, in the face.of...that part of the second article, by which it is declared,“ that each state shall retain every power, jurisdiction, and right, not expressly dele.
gated to the United States in Congress assembled.” The want of such a right involves, no doubt, a striking absurdity ; but we are reduced to the dilemma, either of supposing that deficiency, preposterous as it may seem, or of contravening or explaining away a provision, wbich has been of late a repeated theme of the eulogies of those who oppose the new constitution; and the omission of which, in that plan, has been the subject of much plausible animadversion, and severe criticism. If we are unwilling to impair the force of this applaudod. provision, we shall be obliged to conclude, that the United States afford the extraordinary spectacle of a government, destitute even of the shadow of constitutional power, to enforce the execution of its own laws. It will appear, from the specimens which have been cited, that the American confederacy, in this particular, stands discrimi. nated from every other institution of a similar kind, and exhibits a new and unexampled phenomenon in the political world.
The want of a mutual guarantee of the state governments, is another capital imperfection in the federal plan. There is nothing of this kind declared in the articles that compose it: and to imply a tacit guarantee from considerations of utility: would be a still more flagrant departure from the clause which has been mentioned, than to imply a tacit power of coercion, from the like considerations. The want of a guarantee, though it might in its consoquences ondanger the union, does not so im. mediately attack_its existenco, as the want of a constitutional sanction to its laws.
Without a guarantee, the assistance to be derived from the union, in repelling those domestic dangers, which may sometimes threaten the existence of the state constitutions, must be renounced. Usurpation.may rear-its-crest in each state, and trample upon the liberties of the people;, while the national government could legally do nothing more than behold its en. croachments with indignation and regret. A successful faction may erect a tyranny on the ruins of order and law, while no succour could constitutionally be afforded by the union to the friends and supporters of the government. The tempestuous