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frontiers, no part of the union ought to feel more anxiety on this subject than New-York. Her sea-coast is extensive. A very important district of the state, is an island. The state itself is penetrated by a large navigable river for more than fifty leagues. The great emporium of its commerce, the great roservoir of its wealtb, lies every moment at the mercy of ovents, and may be almost rogarded as a hostage for ignomi. nious compliances with the dictates of a foreign enemy; or even with the rapacious demands of pirates and barbarians. Should a war be the result of the precarious situation of European affairs, and all the unruly passions attending it be let looso on the ocean, our escape from insults and depredations, not only on that element, but every part of the other bordering on it, will be truly miraculous. In the present condition of America, the states more immediately exposed to these calamities have nothing to hope from the phantom of a general government which now exists; and if their single resources were equal to the task of fortifying themselves against the danger, the objects to be protected would be almost consumed by the means of protecting them.
The power of regulating and calling forth the militia, has been already sufficiently vindicated and explained.
The power of lovying and borrowing monoy, being tho sinow of that which is to be exerted in the national defence, is properly thrown into the same class with it. This power, also, has been examined already with much attention, and has, I trust, been clearly shown to be necessary, both in the extent and form given to it by the constitution. I will address one additional reflection only, to those who contend that the power ought to have been restrained to external taxation-by which they mean, taxes on articles imported from other countries. It cannot be doubted, that this will always be a valuable source of revenue; that for a considerable time, it must be a principal source; that at this moment, it is an essential one. But we may form very mistaken ideas on this subject, if we do not call to mind in our calculations, that the extent of revenue drawn from foreign commerce, must
vary with the variations, both in the extent and the kind of im. ports; and that these variations do not correspond with the progress of population, which must be tho gonoral moasure of the publio wants. As long as agriculturo continuos tho solo field of labour, the importation of manufactures must increase as the consumers multiply. As soon as domestic manufactures are begun by the hands not called for by agriculture, the imported manufactures will decrease as the numbers of people increase. In a more remote stage, the imports may consist in a considerable part of raw materials, which will be wrought into articles for exportation, and will, therefore, require rather the encouragement of bounties, than to be loaded with discouraging duties. A system of government, meant for duration, ought to contemplate these revolutions, and be able to accommodate itself to them.
Some, who have not denied the necessity of the power of taxation, have grounded a very fierce attack against the constitution, on the language in which it is defined. It has been urged and echoed, that the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States," amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power, which
be alleged to be necessary for the common defence or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labour for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction.
Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the congress been found in the constitution, than the general ex. pressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some colour for it; though it would bave been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to logislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms "to raise money for the general welfare."
But what colour can the objection have, when a specification
of the objects alluded to by these general terms, immediately follows; and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon ? If the different parts of the same instrument ought to be so expounded, as to give meaning to every part which will bear it ; shall one part of the same sentence be excluded altogether from a share in the meaning; and shall the more doubtful and indefinite terms be retained in their full extent, and the clear and precise expressions be denied any signification whatsoever ? For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural or common, than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars. But the idea of an enumeration of particulars, which neither explain nor qualify the general meaning, and can have no other effect than to confound and mislead, is an absurdity, which, as we are reduced to the dilemma of charging either on the authors of the objection or on the authors of the constitution, we must take the liberty of supposing, had not its origin with the latter.
The objection here is the more extraordinary, as it appears, that the language used by the convention is a copy from the articles of confederation. The objects of the union among the states, as described in article third, are," their common defence, security of their liberties, and mutual and general welfare." The terms of article eighth are still more identical : charges of war, and all other expenses, that shall be incurred for the common defonce or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in congress, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury," &c. A similar language again occurs in article ninth. Construe either of these articles by the rules which would justify the construction put on the now constitution, and they vest in the existing congress a power to legislate in all cases whatscever. But wbat would bave been thought of that assembly, if, attaching themselves to these general expressions, and disregarding the specifications which ascertain and limit their import, they had exercised an unlimited power of providing for
the common defence and general welfare ? I appeal to the objectors themselves, whether they would in that case have employed the same reasoning in justification of congress, as they now make use of against the convention. How difficult it is for errour to escape its own condemnation!
The second class of powers, lodged in the general government, consists of those which regulate the intercourse with foreign nations, to wit: to make treaties; to send and receive ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls ; to define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offences against the law of nations; to regulate foreign commerce, including a power to prohibit, after the year 1808, the importation of slaves, and to lay an intermediate duty of ten dollars per head, as a discouragement to such importations.
This class of powers forms an obvious and essential branch of the federal administration. If we are to be ono nation in any respect, it clearly ought to be in respect to other nations.
The powers to make treaties, and to send and receive ambassadors, speak their own propriety. Both of them are comprised in the articles of confederation ; with this difference only, that the former is disembarrassed by the plan of the convention of an exception, under which treaties might be substantially frustrated by regulations of the states; and that a power of appointing and receiving "other public ministers and consuls," is expressly and very proporly added to the former provision concerning ambassadors. The tèrm ambassador, if takon strictly,