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ably fiatter ourselves, that this resource alone, upon the most improved scale, would even suffice for its present nocessities. Its future necessities admit not of calculation or limitation; and upon the principle more than once adverted to, the power of making provision for them as they arise, ought to be equally unconfined. I believe it may be regarded as a position, warranted by the history of mankind, that in the usual progress of things, the necessities of a nation, in every stage of its existence, will be found at least equal to its resources.
To say that deficiencies may be provided for by requisitions upon the states, is on the one hand to acknowledge that this system cannot be depended upon; and on the other hand, to depend upon it for every thing beyond a certain limit. Those who have carefully attended to its vices and deformitios, as they have been exhibited by experience, or delineated in the course of these papers, must feel an invincible repugnancy to trusting the national interests, in any degree, to its operation. Whenever it is brought into activity, its inevitable tendency, must be to enfeeble the union, and sow the seeds of discord and contention between the federal head and its members, and between the members themselves. Can it be expected that the deficiencies would be better supplied in this mode, than the total wants of the union havo heretofore been supplied, in the same mode? It ought to be recollected, that if less will be required from tho states, they will have proportionably less means to answer the demand. If the opinions of those who contend for the distinction which has been mentioned, were to be received as evidenco of truth, one would be led to conclude, that there was somo known point in the economy of national affairs, at which it would be safe to stop, and to say: Thus far, the ends of public bappiness will be promoted by supplying the wants of government, and all beyond this is unworthy of our care or anxiety. How is it possible that a government, half supplied and always necessitous, can fulfil the purposes of its institution; can provide for the security, advance the prosperity, or support tho reputation of the commonwealth ? How can it ever possess
either energy or stability, dignity or credit, confidence at home, or respectability abroad? How can its administration be any thing else than a succession of expedients temporizing, impotent, disgraceful? How will it be able to avoid a frequent sacrifice of its engagements to immediate necessity? How can it undertake or execute any liberal or enlarged plans of public good ?
Let us attend to what would be the effocts of this situation, in the very first war in which we should happen to be engaged. We will presume, for argument sake, that the revenue arising from the import duties answers the purposes of a provision for the public debt, and of a peace establishment for the union. Thus circumstanced, a war breaks out. What would be the probable conduct of the government in such an emergency? Taught by experience, that proper dependence could not be placed on the success of requisitions; unable, by its own authority, to lay hold of fresh resources, and urged by considerations of national danger, would it not be driven to the expedient of diverting the funds already appropriated, from their proper objects, to the defence of the state? It is not easy to see how a step of this kind could be avoided; and if it should be taken, it is evident that it would prove the destruction of public credit at the very moment that it was become essential to the public safety. To imagine that at such a crisis credit might be dispensed with, would be the extreme of infatuation. In the modern system of war, nations the most wealthy, are obliged to have recourse to large loans. A country so little opulent as ours, must feel this necessity in a much stronger degree. But who would lend to a government, that prefaced its overtures for borrowing, by an act which demonstrated that no reliance could be placed on the steadiness of its measures for paying? The loans it might be able to procuro, would be as limited in their extent, as burthensome in their conditions. They would be made upon the samo principles that usurers commonly lond to bankrupt and fraudulent debtors—with a sparing hand, and at enormous premiums
It may perhaps be imagined, that from the scantinces of the
resources of the country, the necessity of diverting the established funds in the case supposod, would exist; though the national government should possess an unrestrained power of taxation. But two considerations will sorve to quiet all apprehensions on this head; one is, that we are sure the resources of the community in their full extent, will be brought into activity for the benefit of the union; the other is, that whatever deficiencies there may be, can without dificulty be supplied by loans.
The power of creating by its own authority, new funds from new objects of taxation, would enable the national government to borrow, as far as its necessities might require. Foreigners, as well as the citizens of America, could then reasonably repose confidence in its engagements; but to depend upon a government, that must itself depend upon thirteen other governments, for the means of fulfilling its contracts, when once its situation is clearly understood, would require a degree of credulity, not often to be met with in the pecuniary transactions of mankind, and little reconcileable with the usual sharp-sightedness of avarice.
Reflections of this kind may have trifling weight with men, who hope to see the halcyon scenes of the poetic or fabulous age realized in America; but to those who believe we are likely to experience a common portion of the vicissitudes and calamities, wbich have fallen to the lot of other nations, they must appear entitled to serious attention. Such men must behold the actual situation of their country with painful solicitude, and deprecate the evils wbich ambition or revenge might, with too much facility, inflict upon it.
NEW YORK, JANUARY 1, 1788.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
In disquisitions of every kind, there are certain primary truths, or first principles, upon which all subsequent reasoninge must depend. These contain an internal evidence, which, antecedent to all reflection or combination, commands the assent of the mind. Where it produces not this effect, it must proceed either from some disorder in the organs of perception, or from the influence of some strong interest, or passion, or prejudice. Of this nature are the maxims in geometry, that the whole is greater than its part; that things equal to the same, are equal to one another; that two straight lines cannot inclose a space; and that all right angles are equal to each other. · Of the same nature, are these other maxims in ethics and politics, that there cannot be an effect without a cause; that the means ought to be proportioned to the end; that every power ought to be commensurate with its object; that there ought to be no limitation of a power destined to effect a purpose, which is itself incapable of limitation. And there are other truths in the two latter sciences, which, if they cannot pretend to rank in the class of axioms, are such direct inferences from them, and so obvious in themselves, and so agreeable to the natural and unsophisticated dictates of common sense, that they challenge the assent of a
sound and unbiassed mind, with a degree of force and conviction almost equally irresistible.
The objects of geometrical inquiry, aro so entirely abstracted from those pursuits which stir up and put in motion the unruly passions of the human heart, that mankind, without difficulty, adopt not only the more simple theorems of the science, but even those abstruse paradoxes which, however they may appear susceptible of demonstration, are at variance with the natural conceptions, which the mind, without the aid of philosophy, would be lod to entertain upon the subject. The INFINITE DIVISIBILITY of matter, or in other words, the INFINITE divisibility of a FINITE thing, extending even to the minutest atom, is a point agroed among geometricians; though not less incomprehensiblo to common sense, than any of those mystories in religion, against which the batteries of infidelity have been so industriously levelled.
But in the sciences of morals and politics, men are found far less tractable. To a certain degree, it is right and useful that this should be the case. Caution and investigation are a necessary armour against error and imposition. But this untractableness may be carried too far, and may degenerate into obstinacy, perverseness, or disingenuity. Though it cannot be pretended, that the principles of moral and political knowledge have, in general, the same degree of certainty with those of the mathematics; yet they have much better claims in this respect, than, to judge from the conduct of men in particular situations, we should be disposed to allow them. The obscurity is much oftener in the passions and prejudices of the reasoner, than in the subject. Men, upon too many occasions, do not give their own understandings fair play; but yielding to somo untoward bias, they entangle themselves in words, and confound themselves in subtletios.
How else could it happen (if we admit the objectors to be sincere in their opposition) that positions so clear as those which mani. fest the necessity of a general power of taxation in the govern. ment of the union, should have to encounter any adrer saries