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hardly a subject of litigation between individuals which may not involve those ingredients of fraud, accident, trust, or hardship, which would render the matter an object of equitable rather than legal jurisdiction, as the distinction is known and established in several of the States. It is the peculiar province, for instance, of a court of equity, to relieve against what may be called hard bargains. There are contracts in which, though there may have been no direct fraud or deceit, sufficient to invalidate them in a court of law, yet there may have been some undue and unconscionable advantage taken of the necessities or misfortune of one of the parties, which a court of equity would not tolerate. In such cases, when foreigners were concerned on either side, it would be impossible for the federal judicatures to do justice without an equitable as well as legal jurisdiction.”"
In the foregoing quotations, we think it must be apparent to every one, that, in Mr. Hamilton's opinion, the court held the rights of every individual in their keeping, and that, when appealed to, they would, in duty bound, be obliged to see him protected against all claims or authority over his inalienable rights, or even rights which are not inalienable; and, if wronged or oppressed, either by individuals or a State, the power of the court was sufficiently great to overrule their acts, and restore the man to his just rights. For, if they have jurisdiction in case of hard bargains, we would ask what harder bargain can there be, than that a man and all his posterity should be sold into slavery, even if the man consented, under peculiar
Federalist, p. 447.
difficulties, to his own sale, and afterwards repents? would not the court have jurisdiction ? If Mr. Hamilton is correct in the above observations, we think they would. How much more, then, should the court have jurisdiction, when the slave, in opposition to all his entreaties, is sold, and in various ways maltreated in the most shameful manner! If the courts have jurisdiction in any case where the individual rights are concerned, we know of none which so loudly calls for their interference as that of the slave; and we sincerely trust the slave will call upon them for that interference.
On general subjects.
Mr. Hamilton, in answer to an objection that the convention did not adopt a bill of rights, remarks, –
“There remains but one other view of this matter to conclude the point. The truth is, after all the declamation we have heard, the Constitution is itself, in every rational sense, and to every useful purpose, a bill of rights. The several bills of rights in Great Britain form its Constitution; and, conversely, the Constitution of each State is its bill of rights. In like manner, the proposed Constitution, if adopted, will be the bill of rights for the Union. Is it one object of a bill of rights to declare and specify the political privileges of the citizen in the structure and administration of the government * This is done in the most simple and precise manner in the plan of the convention; comprehending various precautions for the public security, which are not to be found in any of the State Constitutions. Is another object of a bill of rights to define certain immunities and modes of proceeding, which are relative to personal or private concerns 2 This we have seen has been attended to in a variety of cases, in the same plan. Adverting, therefore, to the substantial meaning of a bill of rights, it is absurd to allege that it is not found in the work of the convention.” "
After answering the objection, that it does not go far enough, he adds,
“Whence it must be apparent that much of what has been said on this subject rests merely on verbal and nominal distinctions, entirely foreign to the substance of the thing.”
Among the final reasons for adopting the Constitution, Mr. Hamilton adds, –
“The additional securities to republican governments, to liberty, and to property, to be derived from the adoption of the plan, consists chiefly in the restraints which the preservation of the Union will impose upon local factions and insurrections, and upon that ambition of powerful individuals in single States, who might acquire credit and influence enough, from leaders and favorites, to become the despots of the people; in the diminution of the opportunities of foreign intrigue, which the dissolution of the confederacy would incite and facilitate ; in the prevention of eactensive military establishments, which could not fail to grow out of wars between the States in a disunited situation; in an express guaranty of a republican form of government to each; in the absolute and universal exclusion of titles of nobility ; and in the precaution against the repetition of those practices, on the part of the State governments, which have undermined the foundation of property and credit, have planted mutual distrust in the breast of all classes of citizens, and have occasioned an almost universal prostration of morals.”
* Federalist, p. 481.
From this it appears the conclusive reasons for adopting the Constitution, and the ones which were to cap the climax, were, the States were incapable of defending the individual’s rights; they had not power to repel foreign invasions, or overcome the influences which ambitious men might obtain in a single State, or to check the outbreaks of the populace, or to overcome the jealousies that might arise between different States, and which would have a tendency to increase the military, and thereby endanger the good of society, its peace and happiness.
EXTRACTs, ETC. FROM THE PRoceedings IN THE CONVENTION OF THE STATE OF MASSAC HUSETTS.
WE will now enter upon the discussion had in the several conventions of the States, which were called to take into consideration the subject of adopting the Constitution as promulgated by the convention at Philadelphia, premising, however, the Constitution as adopted was an entirely different thing from what was anticipated by the generality of the people at large: they expected an improvement of the Confederation, not a new system of government, as the Constitution proposed.
In the debates on the Constitution in the convention of Massachusetts, Mr. King said, in the discussion of the third paragraph, 2d section, article 1st, — “three fifths of all other persons: ”
“These persons meant slaves. By this rule is representation and taxation to be apportioned. And it was adopted because it was the language of all America. [That is, that representation and taxation should go together; the greater the representation, the greater the taxation.] According to the Confederation, ratified in 1781, the sums for the general welfare and defence should be apportioned according to the surveyed lands, and improvements thereon in the several States. But