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was always urging the members to a spirit of conciliation and a compromise of their violent opinions on the ground that it was only by this means that a national government could be created. It was for this purpose that he proposed the daily reading of prayers by some minister of the Gospel, which was rejected by the convention, because, as they had not begun in this way, their taking it up in the midst of their proceedings would cause the outside world to think that they were in great difficulties.
He was strongly in favor of a clause allowing the President to be impeached for misdemeanors, which would, he said, be much better than the ordinary old-fashioned way of assassination; and he was opposed to allowing the President an absolute veto on legislation. All matters relating to money should, he thought, be made public; there should be no limitation of the power of Congress to increase the compensation of the judges, and very positive proof should be required in cases of treason. In these matters he was in full accord with the majority of the convention.
But his great work was done in settling the question of the amount of representation to be given to the smaller States, and was accomplished in a curious way. John Dickinson, of Delaware, was the champion of the interests of the small commonwealths, which naturally feared that if representation in both Houses of Congress was to be in proportion to population, their interests would be made subordinate to those of the States which outnumbered them in inhabitants. This was one of the most
serious difficulties the convention had to face, and the strenuousness with which the small States maintained their rights came near breaking up the convention.
Franklin was in favor of only one House of Congress, with the representation in it proportioned to population, and he made a most ingenious and fallacious argument to show that there was more danger of the smaller States absorbing the larger than of the larger swallowing the smaller. But, in the hope of conciliating Dickinson and his followers, he suggested several compromises, the first one of which was very cumbersome and impracticable and need not be mentioned here. It seemed to take for granted that there was to be only one House of Congress.
Afterwards, when it was definitely decided to have two Houses, the question as to the position of the smaller States was again raised in deciding how the Senate was to be composed. Some were for making its representation proportional to population, like that of the lower House, and this the small States resisted. Franklin said that the trouble seemed to be that with proportional representation in the Senate the small States thought their liberties in danger, and if each State had an equal vote in the Senate the large States thought their money was in danger. He would, therefore, try to unite the two factions. Let each State have an equal number of delegates in the Senate, but when any question of appropriating money arose, let these delegates “have suffrage in proportion to the sums which their respective
States do actually contribute to the treasury." This was not very practical, but it proved to be a step which led him in the right direction.
A few days afterwards, in a committee appointed to consider the question, he altered his suggestion so that in the lower House the representation should be in proportion to population, but in the Senate each State should have an equal vote, and that money bills should originate only in the lower House. The committee reported in favor of his plan, and it was substantially adopted in the Constitution. The lower House was given proportional representatives, and the Senate was composed of two Senators from each State, which gave absolute equality of representation in that body to all the States. Money bills were allowed to originate only in the lower House, but the Senate could propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.
Thus the great question was settled by one of those strokes of Franklin's sublime luck or genius. He disapproved of the whole idea of a doubleheaded Congress, and thought the fears of the small States ridiculous ; but, for the sake of conciliation and compromise with John Dickinson and his earnest followers, his masterful intellect worked out an arrangement which satisfied everybody and is one of the most important fundamental principles of our Constitution. Without it there would be no federal union. We would be a mere collection of warring, revolutionary communities like those of South America. It has never been changed and in all