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Whai are to be the objects of federal legislation ? Those which are of most importance, and which soom most to rcquiro local knowlodgo, aro commerco, taxation, and tho militia.
A propor rogulation of commerce requires much information, as has been elsewhere remarked; but as far as this information relates to the laws, and local situation of each individual state, a very few representatives would be sufficient vehicles of it to the federal councils.
Taxation will consist, in great measure, of duties which will be involved in the regulation of commerce. So far the preceding remark is applicable to this object. As far as it may consist of internal collections, a more diffusive knowledgo of the cir. cumstances of the state may be necessary. But will not this also be possessed in sufficient degree by a very few intelligent men, diffusively elected within the state. Divide the largest state into ten or twelve districts, and it will be found that there will be no peculiar local interest in either, which will not be within the knowledge of the representative of the district. Besides this source of information, the laws of the state, framed by representatives from every part of it, will be almost of themselves a sufficient guide. In every state there have been made, and must continue to be made, regulations on this subject, which will, in many cases, leave little more to be done by the federal legislature, than to reviow the different laws, and reduce them into one general act. A skilful individual in his closet, with all the local codes before him, might compile a law on some subjects of taxation for the whole union, without any aid from oral information; and it may bo expected, that whenever internal taxes may be necessary, and particularly in cases requiring uniformity throughout the states, the more simple objects will be preferred, To be fully sensible of the facility which will be given to this branch of federal legislation, by the assistance of the state codes, we need only suppose foi a moment, that this or any other state were divided into a number of parts, each having and exercising within itself a power of local legislation. Is it not evident that a degree of
local information and preparatory labour, would be found in the several volumes of their proceedings, which would very much shorten the labours of the general legislature, and render a much smaller number of members sufficient for it? The federal councils will derive great advantage from another circumstance. The representatives of each state will not only bring with them a considerable knowledge of its laws, and a local knowledge of their respective districts; but will probably in all cases have been members, and may even at the very
timo be members of the state legislature, where all the local information and interests of the state are assembled, and from whence they may easily be conveyed by a very few hands into the legislature of the United States.
With regard to the regulation of the militia, there are scarcely any circumstances in reference to which local knowledge can be said to be necessary. The general face of the country, whether mountainous or level, most fit for the operautions of infantry or cavalry, is almost the only consideration of this nature that can occur. The art of war teaches general principles of organization, movement, and discipline, which apply universally.
The attentive reader will discern, that the reasoning here used, to prove the sufficiency of a moderate number of representatives, does not, in any respect, contradict what was urged on another occasion, with regard to the extensive information which the representatives ought to possess, and the time that might be necessary for acquiring it. This information, so far as it may relate to local objects, is rendered necessary and difficult, not by a difference of laws and local circumstances within a single state, but of those among different states. Taking each state by itself, its laws-are-the--same-and--its interests but little diversified. A few men, therefore, „willpossoss all the knowledgo roquisito for a propor reprosontation . of them. Were the interests and affairs of each individual state, perfectly simple and uniform, a knowledge of them in one part, would involve a knowledge of them in every other,
and the whole state might be competently represented by a single member taken from any part of it. On a comparison of the different states together, we find a great dissimilarity in their laws, and in many other circumstances connectod with tho objects of federal legislation, with all of which the foderal representatives ought to have some acquaintance. Whilst a few representatives, therefore, from each state, may bring with them a due knowledge of their own state, every representative will have much information to acquire concerning all the other states. The changes of time, as was formerly remarked, on the comparative situation of the different states, will have an assimilating tendency. The effect of time on the internal affairs of the states, taken singly, will be just the contrary. At present, some of the states are little more than a society of husbandmen. Few of them have mado much progress in those branches of industry, which give a variety and complexity to the affairs of a nation. These, however, will in all of them be the fruits of a more advanced population; and will require, on the part of each state, a fuller representation. The foresight of the convention, has accordingly taken care, that the progress of population, may be accompanied with a proper increase of the representative branch of the government.
The experience of Great Britain, which presents to mankind so many political lessons, both of the monitory and exemplary kind, and which has been frequently consulted in the course of these inquiries, corroborates the result of the reflections which we have just made. The number of inbabitants in the two kingdoms of England and Scotland, cannot be stated at less than eight millions. The representatives of these eight millions in the house of commons, amount to five hundred and fiftyeight. Of this number, one ninth are elected by three hundred and sixty-four persons, and one half, by five thousand seven hundred and twenty-three persons.* It cannot be supposed that the half thus elected, and who do not even reside among the people at largo, can add any thing either to the security of
* Burgh's Political Disquisitions.
the people against the government, or to the knowledge of their circumstances and interests in the legislative councils. On the contrary, it is notorious, that they are more frequently the representatives and instruments of the executive magistrate, than the guardians and advocates of the popular rights. They might, therefore, with great propriety, be considered as something more than a mere deduction from the real representatives of the nation. We will, however, consider them in this light alone, and will not extend the deduction to a con. siderable number of others, who do not reside among their constituents, are very faintly connected with them, and have very little particular knowledge of their affairs. With all these concessions, two hundred and seventy-nine persons only, will be the depository of the safety, interest, and happiness, of eight millions; that is to say, there will be one representative only, to maintain the rights, and explain the situation, of twenty-eight thousand six hundred and seventy constituents, in an assembly exposed to the whole force of executive influence. and extending its authority to every object of legislation within a nation, whose affairs are in the highest degree diversified and complicated. Yet it is very certain, not only that a valuable portion of freedom has been preserved under all these circumstances, but that the defects in the British code are chargeable in a very small proportion, on the ignorance of the legislature concerning the circumstances of the people. Allowing to this case the weight which is due to it; and comparing it with that of the house of representatives as above explained, it seoms to give the fullest assurance, that a representative for every thirty thousand inhabitants, will ronder the latter both a safe and competent guardian of the interests which will be confided to it.
NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 19, 1788.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED, IN RELATION TO THE SUPPOSED TENDENCY OF THE PLAN OF THE CONVENTION TO ELEVATE THE FEW ABOVE THE MANY.
The third charge against the house of representatives is, that it will be taken from that class of citizens which will have least sympathy with the mass of the people; and be most likely to aim at an ambitious sacrifice of the many, to the aggrandizement of the few.
Of all the objections which have been framed against the federal constitution, this is perhaps the most oxtraordinary. Whilst the objection itself is levelled against a pretended oligarchy, the principle of it strikes at the very root of republican government.
The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first, to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous, whilst they continue to hold their public trust. The elective mode of obtaining rulers, is the characteristic policy of republican government. The means relied on in this form of government for preventing their degeneracy, are numerous and various. The most effectual