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any satisfactory reason been yet assigned for incurring that risk. The extravagant surmises of a distempered jealousy, can novor bo dignified with that charactor. If we are in a humour to presume abuses of power, it is as fair to prosume them on the part of the state governments, as on the part of the general government. And as it is more consonant to the rules of a just theory, to intrust the union with the care of its own existence, than to transfer that care to any other hands; if abuses of power are to be hazarded on the one sido or on the other, it is more rational to hazard them where the power would naturally be placed, than where it would unnaturally bo placed.
Supposo an article had been introduced into the constitution, empowering the United States to regulate the elections for the particular states, would any man have hesitated to condemn it, both as an unwarrantable transposition of power, and as a premeditated engine for the destruction of the state governments ? The violation of principle, in this case, would have required no comment; and, to an unbiassed observer, it will not be less apparent in the project of subjecting the existence of the national government, in a similar respect, to the pleasure of the state governments. An impartial view of the matter cannot fail to result in a conviction that each, as far as possible, ought to depend on itself for its own preservation.
As an objection to this position, it may be remarkod, that the constitution of the national senate, would involve in its full extent the danger which it is suggested might flow from an exclusive power in the stato legislatures to regulate the federal elections. It may be alleged, that by declining tho appointment of sonators, thoy might at any time givo a fatal blow to the union; and from this it may be inferred, that as its existence would be thus rendered dependent upon them in 30 essential a point, there can be no objection to intrusting them with it, in the particular case under consideration. The interest of each state, it may be added, to maintain its representation
in the national councils, would be a complete security against an abuse of the trust.
This argument, though specious, will not, upon examination be found solid. It is certainly true, that the state legislatures, by forbearing the appointment of senators, may destroy the national government. But it will not follow, that because they have the power to do this in one instance, they ought to havo it in every other. There are cases in which the pernicious tendency of such a power may be far more decisive, without any motive to recommend their admission into the system, equally cogent with that which must have regulated the con. duct of the convention, in respect to the formation of the senate. So far as that mode of formation may expose the union to the possibility of injury from the state legislatures, it is an evil; but it is an evil, which could not have been avoided without excluding the states, in their political capacities, wholly from a place in the organization of the national government. If this had been done, it would doubtless have been interpreted into an entire dereliction of the federal principle; and would certainly have deprived the state governments of that absolute safe-guard, which they will enjoy under this provision. But however wise it may have been, to have submitted in this instance to an inconvenience, for the attainment of a necessary advantage or a greater good, no inference can be drawn from thence to favour an accumulation of the evil, where no necessity urges, nor any greater good invites.
It may also be easily discerned, that the national government would run a much greater risk, from a power in the state legislatures over the elections of its house of representatives, than from their power of appointing the members of its senate. The senators are to be chosen for the period of six years; there is to be a rotation, by which the seats of a third part of them are to be vacated, and replenished every two years; and no state is to be entitled to more than two senators: A quorum of the body, is to consist of sixteen members. The joint result of these circumstances would be, that a temporary combination
of a few states, to intermit the appointment of senators, could neither annul the existence, nor impair the activity, of the body? And it is not from a general and permanent combination of the states, that we can have any thing to fear. The first might proceed from sinister designs in the leading members of a few of the state legislaturos; the last would suppose a fixed and rooted disaffection in the great body of the people; which will either never exist at all, or will, in all probability, proceed from an experionce of the inaptitude of the general government to the advancement of their happiness; in which evont, no good citizen could dosiro its continuance.
But with regard to the federal house of representatives, there is intended to be a general election of members once in two years. It the state legislatures were to be invested with an exclusive power of regulating these elections, every period of making them would be a delicate crisis in the national situation; which might issue in a dissolution of the union, if tho leaders of a few of the most important states should have entered into a previous conspiracy to prevent an election.
I shall not deny that there is a degree of weight in the observation, that the interest of each state to be represented in the federal councils, will be a security against the abuse of a power over its elections in the hands of the state legislatures. But the security will not be considered as complete, by those who attend to the force of an obvious distinction between the interests of the people in the public felicity, and the interest of their local rulers in the power and consequence of their offices. The people of America may be warmly attached to the government of the union, at times when the particular rulers of particular states, stimulated by the natural rivalship of power, and by the hopes of personal aggrandizement, and supported by a strong faction in each of those states, may be in a very opposite temper. This diversity of sentiment between a majority of the people, and the individuals who have the greatest credit in their councils, is exemplified in some of the states at the prosent moment, on the present question. The schemo of
separate confederacios, which will always multiply the chances of ambition, will be a never failing bait to all such influential characters in the state administrations, as are capable of preferring thoir own emolumont and advancoment to the public weal. With so effectual a weapon in their hands as the exclusive power of regulating elections for the national government, a combination of a few such men, in a few of the most considerable states, where the temptation will always be the strongest, might accomplish the destruction of the union; by seizing the opportunity of some casual dissatisfaction amon the people, and which perhaps they may themselves have excited, to discontinue the choice of members for the federal house of representatives. It ought never to be forgotten, that a firm union of this country, under an efficient government, will probably be an increasing object of jealousy to more than one nation of Europe; and that enterprises to subvert it will sometimes originate in the intrigues of foreign powers, and will seldom fail to be patronised and abetted by some of them. Its , preservation therefore ought in no case, that can be avoided, to be committed to the guardianship of any but those, whose situation will uniformly beget an immediate interest in the faithful and vigilant performance of the trust.
NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 26, 1788.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
We have seen, that an incontrolable power over the elections for the federal government could not, without hazard, be committed to the state legislatures. Let us now see what are the dangers on the other side; that is, from confiding the ultimate right of regulating its own elections to the union itself. It is not pretended, that this right would ever be used for the exclusion of any state from its share in the representation. The interest of all would, in this respect at least, be the security of all. But it is alleged, that it might be employed in such a manner as to promote the election of some favourite class of men in exclusion of others; by confining the places of election to particular districts, and rendering it impracticable for the citizens at large to partake in the choice. Of all chimerical suppositions, this soems to be the most chimerical. On the one hand, no rational calculation of probabilities would lead us to imagine, that the disposition, which a conduct so violent and extraordinary would imply, could ever find its way into the national councils; and on the other hand, it may be concluded with certainty, that if so improper a spirit should ever gain admittance into them, it would display itself in a form altogether different and far more decisive.