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to their citizens;" and that the State judiciaries shall be bound thoroby. To this impotent system, was superadded an express power to the federal exocutive “to call forth tho powors of the Confedorated States to enforce and compel" by Statos or indi. vidual bodies, an obedience to the acts of the Confederacy or an observance of its treaties. It also provided for the admission of new States, and for the hearing and decision of territorial disputes.
It is seen, that this plan proposed merely a modification of the Articles of Confederation; and in most respects a modification embracing the several propositions made to Congress, from time to time, prior to the call of the Convention. It was in accordance with the policy of its advocates, to place themselves on the ground of a strict observance of the terms of their Commissions from their several States. The resolutions of Virginia, oven much as they had been amended, prosented features little less objectionable. With the undefined powers given to the national legislature, it was also empowered “to negative all laws passed by the several States, contravening, in the opinion of the national legislature, the articles of Union, or any treaties subsisting under its authority;" superadding the election of the Executive by the general legislature, and the choice of the Judiciary by the second branch of this legislature. A Government so constituted could not have been established; or if established, could not have maintained itself, without constant collisions with the States, early fatal to its existence, or without resulting in an intolerable tyranny. The two plans before the Convention were hopelessly irreconcilable. A dissolution of the Convention, and a dissolution of the frail union were impending-almost instant.
Hamilton, though by the uniting controlling voice of his two colleagues from New York, without a vote, resolved to present a plan-himself free from any weak reserves—in the approach to which might be framed a Government, rosting entirely on the free voice and power of the American people. Aware of the ex. isting heresy, that "a party to a compact hus a right to rovoko that compact"—the very heresy upon which the.existing rebellion places its vindication, assorting that the Constitution of the United States is a mere compact of several sovereign Status; he fully saw “the necessity of laying the foundations of the National Government deeper than in the mere sanction of delegated authority.” “The fabric of the American Empire," are his words, “ought to rest on the solid basis of the CONSENT
OF THE PEOPLE." " The streams of national power ought to flow immediately from that pure original fountain of all legiti mate authority.” This elementary, leading principle of his policy was avowed by him, on the first day of the deliberations of the Convention. The initial proposition of Virginia in the formation of a new Government was; " that the right of suffrage in the National legislature, ought to be proportioned to the quotas of contribution, or to the number of free inhabitants, as the one or the other may seem best in different cases.” Hamilton met the open question at once by a resolution, “ that the rights of suffrage in the National legislature ought to be proportioned to the number of FREE INHABITANTS."* This principle baving been adopted, as to the first branch of the legislature, was, with his concurring vote, extended to the second branch ;t and, upon a motion for the choice of the Executive by electors to be chosen by the people in districts, as the vote of New York was divided ;I (its other representatives strictly adhering to the theory of a Stato corporate vote); and as this was the mode of election provided for in his plan of a Constitution, it cannot be doubted, that Hamilton voted for it. Thus, did he propose to stamp upon the new system its primary essential character in his view, that of an Institution founded in the free voice of the whole people of the United States; and deriving all the departments of government from them ;-confronting at the same time --at the very outset,-in the foreground, the theory of the separate, controlling sovereignty of the mere, "artificial beings” --the States; and restoring to all the “freo inhabitants of the United States"_" as one people,” in Union, the united sovereignty and united independence they had asserted to themselves in the Declaration of Independence, when assuming, "among the powers of the earth, a separate and equal station." Thus, did ho carry into effoct his own pregnant, explicit, never to be forgotten attestation, that “tho sovereignty and independence of the People began by a federal act”-that, “the declaration of Independence was the fundamental Constitution of every State”_"that the Union and Independence of these States are blended and incorporated in one and the same act." The Convention had unanimously pledged themselves to esta
* Journal of the Federal Convention, p. 83. The resolution moved by Hamilton, seconded by Spaight, May 30, 1787. it. Ibid. 112. Moved by Wilson, seconded by Hamilton. June 11, 1787. Ibid. 92.
blish a republican Government. The only question, therefore, which remained, was, what form that republican government ought to take? The first resolution of the States right, or “New Jersey Plan"—is seen to have been, “ that the Articles of the Confederation ought to be so revised, enlarged and corrected, as to render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of government, and the preservation of the Union.” To declare a purpose beyond this; and to open the whole subject of the best form of Government to be framed, this resolution was postponed ; and it was now resolved;" that the Articles of the Confederation ought to be revised and amended, so as to render the government of the United States adequate to the exigencies, the preservation, and the prosperity of the Union."
At this moment of most critical, deepest, emergent interest, Hamilton took the floor. After stating* the importance of the occasion, he urged the obligation of adopting "a solid plan without regard to temporary opinions"-that "if an ineffectual plan were again proposed, it will beget despair; and no Government will grow out of the consent of the people-; that there seemed to be but three lines of conduct-; a league offensive, a treaty of commerce, and an apportionment of the public debts-; an amendment of the existing Confederation, by adding such powers as the public mind deems nearest being matured to grant-; or, the forming a new government to pervade the whole" country," with decisive powers," in short," with completo sovereignty.” The last, he stated, seemed to be the prevailing sentiment, and he therefore fully examined its practicability. He next exposed at much length "the objections" to the existing Confederation, concluding, that it could not be amended, unless the most important powers were given to Congress, constituted as they were, showing that this would be liable to all the objections against any form of general government, with the addition of “the want of checks.” On this point his speech took a large scope; setting forth “the principles of Civil obedienco," and the absence of their operation in such a plan; and stating in succession, the causes of opposition to it which would exist, and would be active, as the necessary consequences of such a scheme; sustaining his positions by a full exhibition from history, of the fate of ancient and modern Confederacies. The result, he declared, would be, "dismemberment," promotod by “foreign influence ;" followed by “standing armies," and "domesllu
* Hist. Rep. iii. 275. June 18, 1787.
factions ;" ending in “monarchy in the Southern States”—; the jeopardy of “federal rights,” especially, the “fisheries,” and the loss of their great natural “ advantages"-that, “ foreign nations" would not respect our rights, nor grant us reciprocity ; and would reduce us to a passive commerce,—that the fisheries, the navigation of the lakes--of the Mississippi ; and the protection and power of a fleet-would all be hazarded or lost. Tbát to prevent all thoso evils, and to secure permanently the national happiness; the General Government, must not only have a strong soul, but strong organs" by which that soul is to operate." What that Government ought to be was the great question. Here he gave his “sentiments of the best form of Government -not as a thing attainable by us, but as a model which we ought to approach as near as possible.” That the “British Constitution was the best form” —was the conclusion of the inquiries of the wisest philosophic investigators of the nature and characteristics of government,-of Aristotle, of Cicero, Montesquieu, and Neckar. The advantages of this form of Govern. ment were next fully pourtrayed; the difficulties of establishing a republican government with adequate checks were sbewn, and its defects exposed. The results of this wide survey were, that it was “impossible to secure the Union by any modification of federal government"—that, "a league offensive and defensive was full of certain evils, and greater dangers;" and that the organization of "a General Government was very difficult, if not impracticable," and liable to various “ objections.”—“What,” he asked, “is to be done? Balance inconveniences and dangers, and choose that wbich seems to have the fewest objections." He
“read his plan of a Constitution, as illustrative of his views, not as a project, but so prepared that it might have gone into immediate effect if it had been adopted."*
Some of the objections to such a plan were then adverted to and met—the apprehended increase of expense, by the fact, that the expences “ of the State Governments will be proportionably diminished”-that “the interference of officers would not be so great, because the objects of the General Government and the particular ones would not be the same”—that tho finances would be the care of the former—the administration of private justice that of the States;-and that energy would
* Hist. Rep. iji. 301. Statement by Madison, that this plan “was a full plan as long as the present Constitution ; and so prepared, that it might have gone into immediate effect, if it had been adopted."
not be wanting in essential points because the administration of private justice will be carried home to men's doors by tho particular governments, and that the revenues might be collected from imposts, excises, &c., and, if necessary to go further, the general government may make use of the particular govern. ments. The objection as to the non-attendance of members a frequent and most serious embarrassment in Congress-is answered, by stating, that the Government must be so consti. tuted as to offer, strong motives to exercise its powers-in short, “to interest all the passions of individuals and to turn them into that channel.”
Having stated, without reserves, his theoretical opinions of the different kinds of Government; Hamilton declared, “ that the republican theory ought to be adhered to in this country, as long as there was any chance to its success—that the idea of a perfoct equality of political rights among the citizens, exclusive of all permanont or hereditary distinctions, was of a nature to engage the good wishes of every good man, whatever might be his theoretic doubts; that it merited his best efforts to give success to it in practice ;-that, hitherto, from an incompetent structure of the government, it had not had a fair trial; and that the endeavor ought then to be to secure to it a better chance of success, by a government more capable of energy and order.'
The plan of Government read by him commences with a preamble, brief, simple, comprehensive, fully expressive of its purpose. “The People of the United States of America, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the government of themselves and their posterity.” It consists of ten articles, each divided into sections.
The first of these declared that the legislativo power should be vested in an assombly and sonate, subject to a negative; the executive power, with specified qualifications, in a president of the United States; and the supreme judicial authority, with certain exceptions, in a supreme court, to consist of not less than six, nor more than twolvo, judges.
The assembly of representatives wore (by the second article) to be choson by the free male citizens and inhabitants of the several states in the union, all of whom, of the age of twenty ono years and upwards, were to be entitled to an equal vote. The first assembly was to consist of one hundred members,
* Hist. Rep. iii. 283.