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EXTRACTS FROM THE PROCE EDINGS IN THE CONWENTION OF NORTH CAROLINA.
THE convention in this State spent much time in the discussion of the power of impeachments. They appeared to think it was a matter of considerable importance; and the report of their discussion is very full. But, as this subject contains nothing that immediately applies to the subject under consideration, it may be proper only to allude to it, as a matter of information to those who may wish to know the fact. It may also be well to say there were a number in this convention who wanted to act on the proposed Constitution as a whole; and, as far as we could judge from the debates, it was among those who wanted to reject it because it did not favor their views on the subject of slavery; though the reasons why they opposed are not clearly stated. But their counsels did not prevail, and the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed form of government were generally discussed.
The following quotations comprise nearly all that was reported to have been said on the several subjects under discussion, together with such other observations as were thought to throw light on the several points at issue.
Mr. Davie, in answer to Mr. Goudy, who said he did “not wish to be represented with negroes,” especially if it increased his burdens, said, –
“The gentleman does not wish to be represented with negroes. This, sir, is an unhappy species of population; but we cannot at present alter their situation. The Eastern States had great jealousies on this subject. They insisted that their cows and horses were equally entitled to representation; that the one was property as well as the other. It became our duty, on the other hand, to acquire as much weight as possible in the legislature of the Union; and, as the Northern States were more populous in whites, this only could be done by insisting that a certain proportion of our slaves should make a part of the computed population; but, on consideration, it was found impracticable to determine the comparative value of lands and other property, in so extensive a territory, with any degree of accuracy; and population alone was adopted as the only practicable rule or criterion of representation. It was urged by the deputies of the Eastern States, that a representation of two fifths would be of little utility, and that their entire representation would be unequal and burdensome ; that, in a time of war, slaves rendered a country more vulnerable, whilst its defence devolved upon its free inhabitants. On the other hand, we insisted that, in a time of peace, they contributed, by their labor, to the general wealth, as well as other mem. bers of the community; that, as rational beings, they have a right to representation, and, in some instances, might be highly useful in war. On these principles, the Eastern States gave the matter up, and consented to the regulation as it has been read. I hope these reasons will appear satisfactory. It is the same rule or principle which was proposed some years ago by congress, and assented to by twelve of the States. It may wound the delicacy of the gentleman from Guildford, [Mr. Goudy, but I hope he will endeavor to accommodate his feelings to the interest and circumstances of his country.” "
Mark the language of this gentleman; that it was on the principle the South acknowledged the negroes were rational beings that the North consented to let them be represented, and not before; and just so far as they were taxed, just so far were they allowed to vote: three fifths were to have votes, and three fifths were to be taxed ; or, what amounted to the same thing in practice, each man was called three fifths of a man. But is this “rational being ” represented in our national councils? Is he who, they have allowed, in a time of peace, contributed to the general wealth, cared for 2 is his interest looked after 2 Is he who has been toiling the fifty-three years since this Constitution has been adopted, to add to our wealth, had any one from the South come forward, before the councils of our nation, to ask for him a little respite from his toils, or to consider him, in the least degree, for all the labor he has performed 2 Can we look for no gratitude for such a length of service, or “is there no flesh in man’s obdurate heart,” and does he not yet “feel for man?” Are the words of the poet ever to remain true? and are governments and courts of law, like corporations, ever to be without souls 2 Is man never to receive justice from their hands, when avarice bids them nay? We wait, with anxious solicitude, for the reply.
! Elliot's Reports, vol. iii. p. 41.
Mr. Spencer, in speaking of taxation, said,
“I am sensible that laws operating on individuals cannot be carried on against States, because, if they do not comply with the general laws of the Union, there is no way to compel a compliance but by force.”
Here is an instance where Mr. Spencer says, directly, that congress had to do with the individual instead of the States; in fact, our revenue laws bear directly upon the people, and the States, as States, have nothing to do with them : the power of taxation for the support of the general government is wholly confided to the people, and not to the States; and, consequently, as was intimated in many of the speeches made on the occasion, it was supposed that congress would lay such a tax on the slave as would compel emancipation; and the only way they thought they could escape was, the taxes would be in proportion to the representatives, and therefore could not be so increased as to compel emancipation. We, on the whole, incline to think it would have done it, if direct taxes had been laid for the support of the general government as was at first proposed.
“Gov. Johnston observed “ that a member says that it
! Elliot's Reports, vol. iii. p. 78.
* In this same speech, speaking of paper money, for the moment it gave great relief. “It assisted in prosecuting a bloody war. It is destructive in the end; it was struck, in the last instance, for the purpose of paying the officers and soldiers. The motive was Jaudable. I then thought, and still do, that these gentlemen [speaking of the officers of the army] might have had more advantage by not receiving that kind of payment. It would have been better for them, and for the country, had it not been emitted. We have in
is improper to take the power of taxation out of the hands of the people. I deny it is taken out of their hands by
volved ourselves in a debt of £200,000. We have not, with this sum, fairly and honestly paid £50,000. Was this right But, say they, there was no circulating medium. This want was necessary to be supplied. It is a doubt with me whether the circulating medium be increased by an emission of paper currency. Before the emission of paper money there was a great deal of hard money with us. For thirty years past I have not seen so much money in circulation as we had at the emission of paper money in 1783. That medium was increasing daily. People from abroad bring specie; for, thank God, our country produces articles which are every where in demand. There is more specie in the country than is generally imagined, but the proprietors keep it locked up. No man will part with his specie. It lies in his chest. It is asked, why not lend it out? The answer is obvious: that, should he once let it out of his power, he never could recover the whole of it. If he bring a suit, he will obtain a verdict for one half of it. This is the reason of our poverty. The scarcity of money must, in some degree, be owing to this, and the specie that is now in this country might as well be in any other part of the world. If our trade was once on a respectable footing, we should find means of paying that enormous debt.” " Mr. Maclane said, “We had more money in gold and silver in circulation than we have nominal money now.” “It is well known that in this country gold and silver vanish when paper money is made.” f In introducing these remarks, we have done it on account of the present agitation of the question respecting paper money, to make our readers acquainted, if they were not before, what was said on the subject on its first introduction in this country. One cannot but smile at the enormous debt then contracted, when we have now State debts of about two hundred millions; and, if report says true, the States in many cases have involved themselves without having but very little to show for their indebtedness. We have also introduced them, in part, from the fear lest, in the great anxiety to obtain a national bank, any compromise should be made with the South to grant her a standing army, if she will consent to the establishment of such a moneyed institution.
* Elliot's Reports, vol. iii. p. 167. f Idem, p. 89.