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decision to have its due effect. If a return can be obtained, no matter by what unlawful means, the irregular member, who takes his seat of course, is sure of bolding it a sufficient time to answer his purposes. Hence e-very-pernicious encouragement,-is-given to the use of unlawful means -for-obtaining-irPorn gular returns.---Were elections for the federal legislature to be annual, this practico might become a very serious abuse, particularly in the more distant states. Each house is, as it necessarily must be, the judge of the elections, qualifications, and returns of its members, and whatever improvements may be suggested by experience, for simplifying and accelerating the procoss in disputod casos, so great a portion of a your would unavoidably elapse, before an illegitimate member could be dispossessed of his seat, that the prospect of such an event would be little check to unfair and illicit means of obtaining a seat.
All these considerations taken together, warrant us in affirm. ing, that biennial elections will be as useful to the affairs of the public, as we bave seen that they will be safe to the liberties of the people.
NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 12, 1788.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED, WITH A VIEW TO THE RATIO OF
The next view which I shall take of the house of representatives, relates to the apportionment of its members among the several states, which is to be determined by the same rule, with that of direct taxes.
It is not contended, that the number of people in each state, ought not to be the standard for regulating the proportion of . those, who are to represent the people of each state. The establishment of the same rule for the apportionment of taxes, will probably be as little contested; though the rule itself in
is by no means founded on the same principle. In the former case, the rule is understood to refer to the personal rights of the people, with which it has a natural and universal connexion. In the latter, it has reference to the proportion of wealth, of which it is in no case a precise measure, and in ordi. nary cases, a very unfit one. But notwithstanding the imperfection of the rule as applied to the relative wealth and contributions of the states, it is evidently the least exceptionable among those that are practicable; and had too recently obtained the general sanction of America, not to havo found a ready preference with the convention.
All this is admitted, it will perhaps be said: But does it follow from an admission of numbers for the measure of representation, or of slaves combined with free citizens, as a ratio of tax ation, that slaves ought to be included in the numerical rule of representation ? Slaves are considered as property, not as persons. They ought, therefore, to be comprehended in estimates of taxation which are founded on property, and to be excluded from representation, which is regulated by a census of persons. This is the objection, as I understand it, stated in its full force. I shall be equally candid in stating the reasoning, which may be offered on the opposite side.
We subscribe to the doctrine, might one of our southern brothron observe, that representation relates more immediately to porsons, and taxation moro immodiately to property; and we join in the application of this distinction to the case of our slaves. But we must deny the fact, that slaves are considered merely as property, and in no respect whatever as persons. The true state of the case is, that they partake of both these qualities; being considered by our laws, in some respects, as persons, and in other respects, as property. In being compelled to labour not for himself, but for a master; in being vendible by one master to another master; and in being subject at all times to be restrained in his liberty, and chastised in his body, by the capricious will of his owner, the slave may appear to be degraded from the human rank, and classed with those irrational animals, which fall undor the loyal denomination of property. In being protected, on the other hand, in his life and in his limbs, against the violence of all others, even the master of his labour and his liberty; and in being punishable himself for all violence committed against others; the slave is no less evidently regarded by the law as a member of the society; not as a part of the irrational creation; as a moral person, not as a mere article of property. The federal constitution, therefore, decides with great propriety on the case of our slaves, when it vjewe them in the mixt character of persons and of property. This is w fact their true character. It is the character be
stowed ou them by the laws under which they live; and it will not be disputed that these are the propor criteria ; because it is only under the pretext, that the laws have trunsformed the negroes into subjects of property, that a place is denied to them in the computation of numbers; and it is admitted that if the laws were to restore the rights which have been taken away, the negroes could no longer be refused an equal share of representation, with the other inhabitants.
This question may be placed in another light. It is agreed on all sides, that numbers are the best scale of wealth and taxation, as they are the only proper scale of representation. Would the convention have been impartial or consistent, if they had rejected the slaves from the list of inhabitants, when the shares of representation were to be calculated; and inserted them on the lists when the tariff of contributions was to be adjusted? Could it be reasonably expected, that the southern states would concur in a system, which considered their slaves in some degree as men, when burdens were to be imposed, but refused to consider them in the same light, when advantages were to be conferred ? Might not some surprise also be expressed, that those who reproach the southern states with the barbarous policy of considering as property, a part of their human bretbren, should themselves contend, that the government to which all the states are to be parties, ought to consider this unfortunate race more completely in the unnatural light of property, than the very laws of which they complain?
It may perhaps be replied, that slaves are not included in the estimate of representatives in any of the states possessing them. They neither vote themselves, nor increase the votes of their masters. Upon what principle then, ought they to be taken into the federal estimate-of-representation? In rejecting them altogether, the constitution would, in this respect, have followed the very laws which have been appealed to, as the proper guide.
This objection is repelled by a single observation. It is a fundamental principle of the proposed constitution, that as the
aggregate number of representatives allottod to the several states, is to be determined by a federal rule, founded on the aggregate number of inhabitants; so, the right of choosing this allotted number in each state, is to be exercised by such part of the inhabitants, as the state itself may designate. The qualifications on which the right of suffrage depend, are not perhaps the same in any two states. In some of the states, the difference is very material. In every state, a certain proportion of inhabitants, are deprived of this right by the constitution of the state, who will be included in the census by which the federal constitution apportions the representatives. In this point of view, the southern states might retort the complaint, by insisting, that the principle laid down by the convention, required that no regard should be had to the policy of particular states towards their own inhabitants; and consequently, that the slaves, as well as inhabitants, should have been admitted into the consus according to their full number, in like manner with other inhabitants, who by the policy of other states, are not admitted to all the rights of citizens... A rigorous adherence, however, to this principle, is waved by those who would be gainers by it. All that they ask is, that equal moderation be shown on the other side. Let the case of the slaves be considered, as it is in truth a peculiar one. Let the compromising expedient of the constitution be mutually adopted, which regards them as inhabitants, but as debased by servitude below the equal lovel of free inhabitants, which regards the slave as divested of two fifths of the man.
After all, may not another ground be taken on which this article of the constitution will admit of a still more ready defence? We have hitherto proceeded on the idea, that representation related to persons only, and not at all to property. But is it a just idea? Government is instituted no less for protection of the property, than of the persons of individuals. The one, as well as the other, therefore, may be considered as represented by those who are charged with the government. Upon. this principle it is, that in several of the states, and particularly