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entire nation, but as composing the distinct and independent states to which they rospectively belong. It is to be the assent and ratification of the several states, derived from the supreme authority in each state—the authority of the people themselves. The act, therefore, establishing the constitution, will not be a national, but a federal act.
That it will be a federal, and not a national act, as these terms/ ure understood by the objectors, the act of the people, as forming so many independent states, not as forming one aggregate nation, is obvious from this single consideration, that it is to result neither from the decision of a majority of the people of the union, nor from that of a majority of the states. It must result| from the unanimous assent of the several states that are parties to it, differing no otherwise from their ordinary assent than in its being expressed, not by the legislative authority, but by that of the people themselves. Were the people regarded in this transaction as forming one nation, the will of the majority of the whole people of the United States would bind the minority; in the same manner as the majority in each state must bind the minority; and the will of the majority must be determined either by a comparison of the individual votes, or by considering the will of the majority of the states, as evidence of the will of a majority of the people of the United States. Neither of these rules has been adopted. Each state, in ratifying the constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new constitution will, if established, be & fedel ral, and not a national constitution.
The next relation is, to the sources from which the ordinary powers of government are to be derived. The house of repre sentatives will derive its powers from the people of America, and the people will be represented in the same proportion, and on the same principle, as they are in a legislature of a particular state. So far the government is national, not federal. The senate, on the other hand, will derive its powers from the states, as political and coequal societies; and these will be represented
on the principle of equality in the senate, as they now are in the existing congress. So far the government is federal, not national. The executive power will be derived from a very compound source. The immediate election of the president is to be made by the states in their political characters. The votes allotted to them are in a compound ratio, which considers them partly as distinct and coequal societies; partly as unequal members of the same society. The eventual election, again, is to be made by that branch of the legislature which consists of the national representatives; but in this particular act, they are to be thrown into the form of individual delogations, from so many distinct and cooqual bodies politic. From this aspect of the government, it appears to be of a mixed character, presenting at least as many federal as national features.
The difference between a federal and national government, as it relates to the operation of the government, is, by the adversaries of the plan of the conventiop, supposed to consist in this, that in the former, the powers operate on the political bodies composing the confederacy, in their political capacities; in the latter, on thé individual citizens composing tho nation, in their individual capacities.On-trying the constitution by this criterion, it falls under the national, not the federal character; though perhaps not so completely as has been understood. In several cases, and particularly in the trial of controversies to which states may bo partios, they must be viewed and proceeded against in their col. lective and political capacities only. But the operation of the government on the people in their individual capacities, in its ordinary and most essential proceedings, will, on the wholo, in the sense of its opponents, designato it, in this relation, a national government.
But if the government be national, with regard to the operation of its powers, it changes its aspect again, when we contemplate it in relation to the extent of its powers. The idea of a national government involves in it, not only an authority over the individual citizens, but an indefinite supremacy over all persons and things, so far as they are objects of lawful government.
Among a people consolidated into one nation, this supremacy is completely vested in the national legislature. Among com. munities united for particular purposes, it is vested partly in the general, and partly in the municipal legislatures. In the former case, all local authorities are subordinate to the supreme; and may be controled, directed, or abolished by it at pleasure. In the latter, the local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of tho supremacy, no more subject within their respective spheres, to the general authority, than the general authority is subject to them within its own sphere. In this relation, then, the proposed government cannot be deemed a national one; since its jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only, and leaves to the several states a residuary and inviolable sovereignty over all other objects. It is true, that in controversies relating to the boundary between the two jurisdictions, the tribunal which is ultimately to decide, is to be established under the general government. But this does not change the principle of the case. The decision is to be impartially made, according to the rules of the constitution; and all the usual and most effectual precautions are taken to secure this impartiality. Somo such tribunal is clearly essential to prevent an appeal to the sword, and a dissolution of the compact; and that it ought to be established under the general, rather than undor tho local govornments; or, to speak more proporly, that it could be safely established under the first alone, is a position not likely to be combated.
If we try the constitution by its last relation, to the authority by which amendments are to be made, we find it neither wholly national, nor wholly federal. Were it wholly national, the supreme and ultimate authority would reside in the majority of the people of the union; and this authority would be competent at all times, like that of a majority of every national society, to alter or abolish its established government. Were it wholly federal on the other hand, the concurrence of each state in the union would be essential to every alteration that would be binding on all. The mode provided by the plan of the convention,
is not founded on either of these principles. In requiring more than a majority, and particularly, in computing the proportion by states, not by citizens, it departs from the national, and advances towards the federal character. In rendering the concurrence of less than the whole number of statos sufficient, it loses again the federal, and partakes of the national character.
The proposed constitution, therefore, even when tested by the rules laid down by its antagonists, is, in strictness, neither a national nor a federal constitution; but a composition of both. In its foundation it is federal, not national; in the sources from which the ordinary powers of the government are drawn, it is partly federal, and partly national: in the operation of these powers, it is national, not federal; in the extent of them again, it is fuderal, not national; and finally in the authoritativo mode of introducing amendments, it is neither wholly federal, nor wholly national.
NEW YORK, JANUARY 18, 1788.
THE SAME OBJECTION FURTHER EXAMINED.
The second point to be examined is, whether the convention were authorized to frame, and propose this mixed constitution.
The powers of the convention ought, in strictness, to be determined, by an inspection of the commissions given to the members by their respective constituents. As all of these, however, had reference, either to the recommendation from the meeting at Annapolis, in September, 1786, or to that from congress, in February, 1787, it will be sufficient to recur to these particular acts.
The act from Annapolis recommends the “appointment of commissioners to take into consideration the situation of the United States; to devise such further provisions, as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the federal gove ernment adequate to the exigencies of the union; and to report such an act for that purpose, to the United States in congress assembled, as, when agreed to by them, and afterwards confirmed by tho logislature of every state, will effectually provide for tho samo."
The recommendatory act of congress is in the words following: “Whereas, there is provision in the articles of confederation and perpetual union, for making alterations therein, by the