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that at several periods the convention were upon the point of breaking up without accomplishing anything. In the State conventions, in which the Constitution was presented for ratification, the debates were long and animated and eloquent; and, imperfect as the printed collections of those debates are, enough remains to establish the consummate ability with which every part of the Constitution was successively attacked and defended.2 Nor did the struggle end here. The parties which were then formed continued for a long time afterwards to be known and felt in our legislative and other public deliberations. Perhaps they have never entirely ceased.
§ 289. Perhaps, from the very nature and organization of our government, being partly federal and partly national in its character, whatever modifications in other respects parties may undergo, there will forever continue to be a strong line of division between those who adhere to the State governments and those who adhere to the national government, in respect to principles and policy. It was long ago remarked that in a contest for power, "the body of the people will always be on the side of the State governments. This will not only result from their love of liberty and regard to their own safety, but from the strong principles of human nature. The State governments operate upon those familiar personal concerns to which the sensibility of individuals is awake. The distribution of private justice in a great measure belonging to them, they must always appear to the sense of the people as the immediate guardians of their rights. They will of course have the strongest hold on their attachment, respect, and obedience." To which it may be added, that the State governments must naturally open an easier field for the operation of domestic ambition, of local interests, of personal popularity, and of flattering influence to those who have no eager desire for a widespread fame, or no acquirements to justify it.
§ 290. On the other hand, if the votaries of the national government are fewer in number, they are likely to enlist in its favor men of ardent ambition, comprehensive views, and powerful genius. A love of the Union, a sense of its importance, nay, of its neces
1 5 Marshall's Life of Washington, 128.
2 2 Pitk. Hist. 265 to 283; [Rives's Life of Madison, ch. 33 to 36.]
8 Gen. Hamilton's Speech in 1786; 1 Amer. Museum, 445, 447. See also The Federalist, Nos. 17, 31, 45, 46.
sity, to secure permanence and safety to our political liberty; a consciousness that the powers of the national Constitution are eminently calculated to preserve peace at home and dignity abroad, and to give value to property, and system and harmony to the great interests of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures ; a consciousness, too, that the restraints which it imposes upon the States are the only efficient means to preserve public and private justice, and to insure tranquillity amidst the conflicting interests and rivalries of the States; these will doubtless combine many sober and reflecting minds in its support. If to this number we add those whom the larger rewards of fame or emolument or influence, connected with a wider sphere of action, may allure to the national councils, there is much reason to presume that the Union will not be without resolute friends.
§ 291. This view of the subject, on either side, (for it is the desire of the commentator to abstain, as much as possible, from mere private political speculation,) is not without its consolations. If there were but one consolidated national government to which the people might look up for protection and support, they might in time relax in that vigilance and jealousy which seem so necessary to the wholesome growth of republican institutions. If, on the other hand, the State governments could engross all the affections of the people, to the exclusion of the national government, by their familiar and domestic regulations, there would be danger that the Union, constantly weakened by the distance and discouragements of its functionaries, might at last become, as it was under the confederation, a mere show, if not a mockery, of sovereignty. So that this very division of empire may in the end, by the blessing of Providence, be the means of perpetuating our rights and liberties, by keeping alive in every State at once a sincere love of its own government and a love of the Union, and by cherishing in different minds a jealousy of each, which shall check, as well as enlighten, public opinion.
§ 292. The objections raised against the adoption of the Constitution were of very different natures, and, in some instances, of entirely opposite characters. They will be found embodied in various public documents, in the printed opinions of distinguished men, in the debates of the respective State conventions, and in a still more authentic shape in the numerous amendments proposed by these conventions, and accompanying their acts of ratification.
It is not easy to reduce them all into general heads; but the most material will here be enumerated, not only to admonish us of the difficulties of the task of framing a general government, but to prepare us the better to understand and expound the Constitution itself.
§ 293. Some of the objections were to the supposed defects and omissions in the instrument; others were to the nature and extent of the powers conferred by it; and others, again, to the fundamental plan or scheme of its organization.
(1.) It was objected, in the first place, that the scheme of government was radically wrong, because it was not a confederation of the States, but a government over individuals.1 It was said that the federal form, which regards the Union as a confederation of sovereign States, ought to have been preserved; instead of which the convention had framed a national government, which regards the Union as a consolidation of States.2 This objection was far from being universal; for many admitted that there ought to be a government over individuals to a certain extent, but by no means to the extent proposed. It is obvious that this objection, pushed to its full extent, went to the old question of the confederation, and was but a reargument of the point whether there should exist a national government adequate to the protection and support of the Union. In its mitigated form it was a mere question as to the extent of powers to be confided to the general government, and was to be classed accordingly. It was urged, however, with no inconsiderable force and emphasis; and its supporters predicted with confidence that a government so organized would soon become corrupt and tyrannical, " and absorb the legislative, executive, and judicial powers of the several States, and produce from their ruins one consolidated government which, from the nature of things, would be an iron-handed despotism. "3 Uniform experience (it was said) had demonstrated "that a very extensive territory cannot be governed on the principles of freedom otherwise than by a confederacy of republics, possessing all the powers of internal government, but united in the management of their general and foreign concerns." 5 Indeed, any scheme of 1 The Federalist, Nos. 38, 39; 2 Amer. Museum, 422; Id. 543, 546.
2 The Federalist, No. 39; Id. No. 38; 2 Pitk. Hist. 270, 272.
3 Address of the Minority of Penn. Convention, 2 Amer. Museum, 542, 543. also 2 Pitk. Hist. 272, 273.
4 2 Amer. Museum, 542.
5 See also 2 Amer. Museum, 422, 423, 424.
a general government, however guarded, appeared to some minds (which possessed the public confidence) so entirely impracticable, by reason of the extensive territory of the United States, that they did not hesitate to declare their opinion that it would be destructive of the civil liberty of the citizens.1 And others of equal eminence foretold that it would commence in a moderate aristocracy, and end either in a monarchy or a corrupt, oppressive aristocracy.2 It was not denied that, in form, the Constitution was strictly republican; for all its powers were derived directly or indirectly from the people, and were administered by functionaries holding their offices during pleasure, or for a limited period, or during good behavior; and in these respects it bore an exact similitude to the State governments, whose republican character had never been doubted.3
§ 294. But the friends of the Constitution met the objection by asserting the indispensable necessity of a form of government like that proposed, and demonstrating the utter imbecility of a mere confederation, without powers acting directly upon individuals. They considered that the Constitution was partly federal and partly national in its character and distribution of powers. In its origin and establishment it was federal. In some of its relations it was federal, in others national. In the Senate it was federal; in the House of Representatives it was national; in the executive it was of a compound character; in the operation of its powers it was national; in the extent of its powers federal. It acted on individuals, and not on States merely. But its powers were limited, and left a large mass of sovereignty in the States. In making amendments, it was also of a compound character, requiring the concurrence of more than a majority, and less than the whole of the States. So that on the whole their conclusion was, that "the Constitution is, in strictness, neither a national nor a federal Constitution, but a composition of both. In its foundation it is federal, not national; in the sources from which the ordinary powers of the government are drawn, it is partly federal and partly national; in the operation of these powers it is national, not fed
1 Yates and Lansing's Letter, 3 Amer. Museum, 156, 157; Mr. Jay's Letter, 1787, 3 Amer. Museum, 554, 562. The same objection is repeatedly taken notice of in the Federalist, as one then beginning to be prevalent. The Federalist, Nos. 1, 2, 9, 13, 14, 23; [Life of Samuel Adams, III. 251.]
2 Mr. George Mason's Letter, 2 Amer. Museum, 534, 536. 8 The Federalist, No. 39.
eral; in the extent of them, again, it is federal, not national; and, finally, in the authoritative mode of introducing amendments it is neither wholly federal nor wholly national.1
§ 295. Time has in this, as in many other respects, assuaged the fears and disproved the prophecies of the opponents of the Constitution. It has gained friends in its progress. The States still flourish under it with a salutary and invigorating energy; and its power of direct action upon the people has hitherto proved a common blessing, giving dignity and spirit to the government adequate to the exigencies of war, and preserving us from domestic dissensions and unreasonable burdens in times of peace.
§ 296. (2.) If the original structure of the government was, as has been shown, a fertile source of opposition, another objection of a more wide and imposing nature was drawn from the nature and extent of its powers. This, indeed, like the former, gave rise to most animated discussions, in which reason was employed to demonstrate the mischiefs of the system, and imagination to portray them in all the exaggerations which fear and prophecy could invent. Looking back, indeed, to that period with the calmness with which we naturally review events and occurrences which are now felt only as matters of history, one is surprised at the futility of some of the objections, the absurdity of others, and the overwrought coloring of almost all, which were urged on this head against the Constitution. That some of them had a just foundation need not be denied or concealed; for the system was human, and the result of compromise and conciliation, in which something of correctness of theory was yielded to the interests or prejudices of particular States, and something of inequality of benefit borne for the common good.
§ 297. The objections from different quarters were not only of different degrees and magnitude, but often of totally opposite natures. With some persons the mass of the powers was a formidable objection; with others the distribution of those powers. With some the equality of vote in the Senate was exceptionable; with others the inequality of representation in the House. With some the power of regulating the times and places of elections was
1 The Federalist, No. 39. See also 1 Tucker's Black. App. 145, 146. The whole reasoning contained in the 39th number of the Federalist (of which the above is merely a summary) deserves a thorough examination by every statesman. See also on the same subject, Dane's App. § 14, p. 25, &c. ; § 35, p. 44, &c. ; 1 Tucker's Black. Comm. App. 146, &c.; the Federalist, No. 9; 3 Dall. R. 473.