Abbildungen der Seite

AUGUST, 1789.]
Amendments to the Constitution.

[H. OF R. stitution, which secures to the people the right of might be taken. He was supported in this by keeping arms, and in this case recourse must be one-fifth of the members present; whereupon had to a standing army, I conceive it, said he, to they were taken, and were as follows: be a Legislative right altogether. There are many Yeas-Messrs. Burke, Coles, Floyd, Gerry, Grout, sects I know, who are religiously scrupulous in Hathorn, Jackson, Livermore, Page, Parker, Partridge, this respect; I do not mean to deprive them of Van Rensselaer, Smith, (of South Carolina,) Stone, any indulgence the law affords; my design is to Sumter, Thatcher, and Tucker-17. guard against those who are of no religion. It has Nays-Messrs. Ames, Benson, Boudinot, Brown, been urged that religion is on the decline; if so, the Cadwalader, Carroll, Clymer, Fitzsimons, Foster, Gale, argument is more strong in my favor, for when Gilman, Goodhue, Hartley, Heister, Lawrence, Lee, the time comes that religion shall be discarded, the Madison, Moore, Muhlenburg, Schureman, Scott, Sedggenerality of persons will have recourse to these wick, Seney, Sherman, Sylvester, Sinnickson, Smith, pretexts to get excused from bearing arms.

(of Maryland,) Sturges, Trumbull, Vining, WadsMr. Boudinot thought the provision in the worth, and Wynkoop—32. clause, or something similar to it, was necessary. Mr. SHERMAN moved to alter the last clause, so Can any dependence, said he, be placed in men as to make it read, “the powers not delegated to who are conscientious in this respect? or what the United States by the Constitution nor projustice can there be in compelling them to bear hibited by it to the States, are reserved to the arms, when, according to their religious principles, States respectively, or to the people.” they would rather die than use them ? He ad- This motion was adopted without debate. verted to several instances of oppression on this Mr. BURKE.— The majority of this House may point, that occurred during the war. In forming be inclined to think all our propositions unimpora militia, an effectual defence ought to be calcu- tant, as they seemed to consider that upon which lated, and no characters of this religious descrip- the ayes and noes were just now called. Howtion ought to be compelled to take up arms. I ever, to the minority they are important; and it hope that in establishing this Government, we will be happy for the Government, if the majority may show the world that proper care is taken that of our citizens are not of their opinion; but be the Government may not interfere with the reli- this as it may, I move you, sir, to add to the argious sentiments of any person. Now, by striking ticles of amendment the following: “Congress out the clause, people may be led to believe that shall not alter, modify, or interfere in the times, there is an intention in the General Government places, or manner of holding elections of Senato compel all its citizens to bear arms.

tors, or Representatives, except when any State Some further desultory conversation arose, and shall refuse or neglect, or be unable, by invasion it was agreed to insert the words “in person,” to or rebellion, to make such election.” the end of the clause; after which, it was adopted, Mr. Ames thought this one of the most justifias was the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighthable of all the powers of Congress; it was essenclauses of the fourth proposition; then the fifth, tial to a body representing the whole community, sixth, and seventh propositions were agreed to, that they should have power to regulate their and the House adjourned.

own elections, in order to secure a representation from every part, and prevent any improper regu

lations, calculated to answer pariy purposes only. Friday, August 21.

It is a solecism in politics to let others judge for AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION.

them, and is a departure from the principles upon The House proceeded in the consideration of which the Constitution was founded. the amendments to the Constitution reported by Mr. LIVERMORE said, this was an important the Committee of the Whole, and took up the amendment, and one that had caused more debate second clause of the fourth proposition.

in the Convention of New Hampshire than any Mr. GERRY then proposed to amend it by other whatever. The gentleman just up said it striking out these words, " public danger," and to was a solecism in politics, but he could cite an insert " foreign invasion;" this being negatived, instance in which it had taken place. He only it was then moved to strike out the last clause, called upon gentlemen to recollect the circum"and if it be committed,” &c. to the end. This stance of Mr. Smith's (of South Carolina) elecmotion was carried, and the amendment was tion, and to ask if that was not decided by the adopted.

State laws ? Was not his qualification as a memThe House then took into consideration the ber of the Federal Legislature determined upon third clause of the seventh proposition, which the laws of South Carolina ? It was not supwas adopted without debate.

posed by the people of South Carolina, that the The eighth proposition was agreed to in the House would question a right derived by their

representative from their authority. The ninth proposition Mr. Gerry proposed to Mr. MADISON.-If this amendment had been amend by inserting the word “expressly,” so as proposed at any time either in the Committee of to read "the powers not expressly delegated by the Whole or separately in the House, I should the Constitution, nor prohibited to the States, are not have objected to the discussion of it. But I

reserved to the States respectively, or to the peo- cannot agree to delay the amendments now ople.” As he thought this an amendment of great agreed upon, by entering into the consideration

importance, he requested the yeas and nays of propositions not likely to obtain the consent of

same manner.

H. OF R.]

Amendments to the Constitution.

[AUGUST, 1789.

either two-thirds of this House or three-fourths pected, and therefore, on the principles of the of the State Legislatures. I have considered majority, ought to be adopted. this subject with some degree of attention, and, Mr. Smith, of South Carolina, said he hoped is upon the whole, am inclined to think the Consti- would be agreed to; that eight States had ertution stands very well as it is.

pressed their desires on this head, and all of them Mr. Gerry was sorry that gentlemen objected wished the General Government to relinquish to the time and manner of introducing this their control over the elections. The eight States amendment, because it was too important in its he alluded to were New Hampshire, Massachanature to be defeated by want of form. He hoped, setts, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virand he understood it to be the sense of the House, ginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. that each amendment should stand upon its own Mr. Carroll denied that Maryland had exground; if this was, therefore, examined on its pressed the desire attributed to her. own merits, it might stand or fall as it deserved, Mr. Fitzsimons.—The remark was not just as and there would be no cause of complaint on the it respected Pennsylvania. score of inattention.

Mr. Smith, of South Carolina, said the ConHis colleague (Mr. Ames) objected to the vention of Maryland appointed a committee to amendment, because he thought no Legislature recommend amendments, and among them was was without the power of determining the mode the one now under consideration. of its own appointment; but he would find, if he Mr. Stone replied there was nothing of the turned to the constitution of the State he was a kind noticed on the journals of that body. representative of, that the times, places, and man Mr. SMITH, of South Carolina, did not know ner of choosing members of their Senate and how they came into the world, but he had cerCouncil were prescribed therein.

tainly seen them. As to Pennsylvania, there was Why, said he, are gentlemen desirous of retain a very considerable minority, he understood oneing this power? Is it because it gives energy to third, who had recommended the amendment. the Government? It certainly has no such ten- Now, taking all circumstances into consideration, dency; then why retain a clause so obnoxious to it might be fairly inferred that a majority of the almost every Státe? But this provision may be United States were in favor of this amendment. necessary in order to establish a Government of He had studied to make himself acquainted with an arbitrary kind, to which the present system is this particular subject, and all that he had ever pointed in no very indirect manner: in this way, heard in defence of the power being exercised by indeed, it may be useful. If the United States are the General Government was, that it was necesdesirous of controlling the elections of the people, sary, in case any State neglected, or refused they will, in the first place, by virtue of the pow- to make provision for the election. Now these ers given them by the 4th sect. of the 1st art., cases were particularly excepted by the clause abolish the mode of balloting; then every person proposed by his honorable colleague, and theremust publicly announce his vote, and it would fore he presumed there was no good argument then frequently happen that he would be obliged against it. to vote for a man, or "the friend of a man, to Mr. SEDGWICK moved to amend the motion, by whom he was under obligations. If the Govern- giving the power to Congress to alter the times

, ment grows desirous of being arbitrary, elections manner, and places of holding elections, provided will be ordered at remote places, where their the States made improper ones; for as much friends alone will attend. Gentlemen will tell injury might result to the Union from improper me that these things are not to be apprehended; regulations, as from a neglect or refusal to make but if they say that the Government has the any. It is as much to be apprehended that the power of doing them, they have no right to say States may abuse their powers, as that the United the Government will never exercise such powers, States may make an improper use of theirs. because it is presumable that they will administer Mr. Ames said that inadequate regulations the Constitution at one time or another with all were equally injurious as having none, and that its powers; and whenever that time arrives, fare- such an amendment as was now proposed would well to the rights of the people, even to elect alter the Constitution: it would vest the supreme their own representatives.

authority in places where it was never conMr. Srone called upon gentlemen to show what templated. confederated Government had the power of deter Mr. SHERMAN observed that the Convention mining on the mode of their own election. He were very unanimous in passing this clause; that apprehended there were none; for the representa- it was an important provision, and if it was retives of States were chosen by the States in the signed, it would tend to subvert the Government. manner they pleased. He was not afraid that the Mr. Madison was willing to make every General Government would abuse this power, and amendment that was required by the States as little afraid that the States would; but he which did not tend to destroy the principles and thought it was in the order of things that the the efficacy of the Constitution; he conceived that power should vest in the States respectively, be the proposed amendment would have that tencause they can vary their regulations to accommo-dency, he was therefore opposed to it. date the people in a more convenient manner Mr. Smith, of South Carolina, observed that than can be done in any general law whatever. the States had the sole regulation of elections, so He thought the amendment was generally ex- / far as it respected the President. Now he saw no

AUGUST, 1789.]
Amendments to the Constitution.

[H. OF R. good reason why they should be indulged in this, His greatest apprehensions were, that the State and prohibited from the other. But the amend-Governments would oppose and thwart the genement did not go so far; it admitted that the Gen- ral one to such a degree as finally to overturn it. eral Government might interfere whenever the Now, to guard against this evil, he wished the State Legislature refused or neglected; and it Federal Government to possess every power might happen that the business would be neglected necessary to its existence. without any design to injure the administration Mr. BÚRKE was convinced there was a majority of the General Government; it might be that the against him; but, nevertheless, he would do his two branches of the Legislature could not agree, duty, and proposé such amendments as he conas happened, he believed, in the Legislature of ceived essential to secure the rights and liberties New York, with respect to their choice of Sen- of his constituents. He begged permission to ators at their late session.

make an observation or two, not strictly in order; Mr. TUCKER objected to Mr. SEDGWICK's motion the first was on an assertion that had been reof amendment, because it had a tendency to defeat peated more than once in this House, “ That this the object of the propositton brought forward by revolution, or adoption of the new Constitution, his colleague, (Mr. BURKE.) The General Gov- was agreeable to the public mind, and those who ernment would be the judge of inadequate or opposed it at first, are now satisfied with it." I improper regulations: of consequence, they might believe, sir, said he, that many of those gentlemen interfere in any or every law which the States who agreed to the ratification without amendmight pass on that subject.

ments, did it from principles of patriotism, but He wished that the State Legislatures might they knew at the same time that they parted with be left to themselves to perform every thing they their liberties; yet they had such reliance on the were competent to, without the guidance of Con- virtue of a future Congress, that they did not gress. He believed there was no great danger, hesitate, expecting that they would be restored to but they knew how to pursue their own good, as them unimpaired, as soon as the Government well when left to their discretion, as they would commenced its operations conformably to what under the direction of a superior. It seemed to was mutually understood at the sealing and delihim as if there was a strong propensity in this vering up of those instruments. Government to take upon themselves the guidance It has been supposed that there is no danger to of the State Governments, which to his mind be apprehended from the General Government of implied a doubt of their capacity to govern them- an invasion of the rights of election. I will reselves; now, his judgment was convinced that the mind gentlemen of an instance in the Governparticular State Governments could take care of ment of Holland. The patriots in that country themselves, and deserved more to be trusted than fought no less strenuously for that prize than the this did, because the right of the citizen was more people of America ; yet, by giving to the States secure under it.

General powers not unlike those in this ConstituIt had been supposed by some States, that elect- tion, their right of representation was abolished. ing by districts was the most convenient mode of That they once possessed it is certain, and that choosing members to this House; others have they made as much talk about its importance as thought that the whole State ought to vote for we do; but now the right has ceased, all vacanthe whole number of members to be elected for cies are filled by the men in power. It is our that State. Congress might, under like impres-duty, therefore, to prevent our liberties from being sions, set their regulations aside. He had heard fooled away in a similar manner; consequently, that many citizens of Virginia (which State was we ought to adopt the clause which secures to divided into eleven districts) supposed themselves the General Government every thing that ought abridged of nine-tenths of their privilege by to be required. being restrained to the choice of one man instead Mr. Madison observed, that it was the State of ten, the number that State sends to this House. Governments in the Seven United Provinces

With respect to the election of Senators, the which had assumed to themselves the power of mode is fixed; every State but New York' has filling vacancies, and not the General Governestablished a precedent; there is, therefore, but ment; therefore the gentleman's application did little danger of any difficulty on this account. As not hold. to New York, she suffers by her want of deci The question on Mr. SEDGWICK's motion for sion; it is her own loss; but probably they may amending Mr. Burke's proposition, was put and soon decide the point, and then no difficulty can lost. possibly arise hereafter. From all these consi The question was then put on Mr. Burke's derations, he was induced to hope Mr. Sedg- motion, and the yeas and nays being demanded WICK's motion would be negatived, and his col. by the Constitutional number, they were taken league's agreed to.

as follows: Mr. Goodhue hoped the amendment never YEAs—Messrs. Burke, Coles, Floyd, Gerry, Griffin, would obtain. Gentlemen should recollect there Grout, Hathorn, Heister, Jackson, Livermore, Matappeared a large majority against amendments, thews, Moore, Page, Parker, Partridge, Van Renssewhen the subject was first introduced, and he had laer, Seney, Sylvester, Smith, of South Carolina, Stone, no doubt but that majority still existed. Now, Sumter, Thatcher and Tucker-23. rather than this amendment should take effect, he Nars-Messrs. Ames, Benson, Boudinot, Brown, would vote against all that had been agreed' to. Cadwalader, Carroll, Clymer, Fitzsimons, Foster, Gale,

H. OFR.]
Amendments to the Constitution.

[AUGUST, 1789. Gilman, Goodhue, Hartley, Lawrence, Lee, Madison, the expedition we can possibly give it. I would Muhlenberg, Schureman, Scott, Sedgwick, Sherman, prefer putting a finishing hand to what has been Sinnickson, Smith, of Maryland, Sturgis, Trumbull, already agreed to, and refer this to the Committee Vining, Wadsworth and Wynkoop-28.

of eleven for their consideration. So it was determined in the negative.

Mr. TUCKER.-This proposition was referred to The House then resumed the consideration of the committee, along with many others in the the proposition respecting the apportioning of the gross, but the Committee of eleven declined reportrepresentation to a certain ratio, proposed by Mr. ing upon it. I understood it to be in any gentleAMES.

man's power to bring it forward when he thought When, after some desultory conversation, it proper, and it was under this influence that I prowas agreed to, as follows: " After the first enume-posed it, nor do I conceive it to be an improper ration, required by the first article of the Consti- time. The House is engaged in the discussion of tution, there shall be one representative for every amendments; they have made some progress, and thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to I wish them to go on and complete what they one hundred. After which, the proportion shall have begun. This may be added without incon

be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be venience, if it meet the sense of the House; but • not less than one hundred representatives, nor if it does not, I wish my constituents to be

less than one representative for every forty thou- acquainted with our decision on the whole subsand persons, until the number of representatives ject, and therefore hope it may be decided upon shall amount to two hundred, after which, the at this time. proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that Mr. JACKSON.—The gentleman has an unthere shall not be less than two hundred repre- doubted right to bring forward the proposition; sentatives, nor less than one representative for but I differ greatly with respect to its propriety. fifty thousand persons."

I hope, sir, the experience we have had will be After which the House adjourned.

sufficient to prevent us from ever agreeing to a relinquishment of such an essential power. The

requisitions of the former Congress were ineffecSATURDAY, August 22.

tual to obtain supplies; they remain to this day Memorials from the inhabitants of Trenton, in neglected by several States. If a sense of comNew Jersey, Lancaster, and Yorktown, in Penn- mon danger, if war, and that a war of the noblest sylvania, were presented, stating their advantages kind, a contest for liberty, were not sufficient to in soil, climate, situation, population, cultivation, stimulate the States to a prompt compliance, and buildings and praying that the permanent when the means were abundant, by reason of the seat of Congress may be established at the same. immense quantities of paper medium, can we

The memorials were ordered to lie on the table. ever expect an acquiescence to a requisition in AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION.

future, when the only stimulus is honesty, to en

able the Confederation to discharge the debts of The House resumed the consideration of the the late war? amendments to the Constitution.

But suppose requisitions were likely to be, in Mr. Tucker moved the following as a proposi- some degree, complied with, (which, by the way, tion to be added to the same: "The Congress I never can admit,) in every case where a State shall never impose direct taxes but where the had neglected or refused to furnish its quota, Conmoneys arising from the duties, imposts, and ex- gress must come in, assess, and collect it. Now, cise, are insufficient for the public exigencies, nor in every such case, I venture to affirm that jealathen until Congress shall have made a requisition ousies would be excited, discontent would preupon the States to assess, levy, and pay their re- vail, and civil wars break out. What less can spective proportions of such requisitions. And gentlemen picture to themselves, when a Governin case any State shall neglect or refuse to pay its ment has refused to perform its obligations, but proportion, pursuant to such requisition, then that it will support its measures by the point of Congress may assess and levy such State's pro- the bayonet ? portion, together with the interest thereon, at the Without the power of raising money to defray rate of six per centper annum, from the time of the expenses of Government, how are we to be payment prescribed by such requisition." secure against foreign invasion ? What! can a

Mr. Page said, that he hoped every amendment Government exert itself, with its sinews torn to the Constitution would be considered sepa- from it? We can expect neither strength nor rately in the manner this was proposed, but he exertion ; and without these are acquired and prewished them considered fully; it ought to have served, our union will not be lasting; we shall be been referred to the committee of eleven, reported rent asunder by intestine commotion, or exterior upon, and then to the Committee of the Whole. assault; and when that period arrives, we may This was the manner in which the House had bid adieu to all the blessings we have purchased decided upon all those already agreed to; and this at the price of our fortunes, and the blood of our ought to be the manner in which this should be worthiest heroes. decided; he should be sorry to delay what was so Mr. LIVERMORE thought this an amendment of nearly completed on any account. The House more importance than any yet obtained ; that it has but little time to sit, and the subject has to go was recommended by five or six States, and therebefore the Senate, therefore it requires of us all fore ought to engage their most serious considera

August, 1789.]

Amendments to the Constitution.

[H. OF R.

tion. It had been supposed that the United States ed by the General Government, the State Governwould not attempt to levy direct taxes; but this ments would be annihilated. If every resource was certainly a mistake. He believed nothing is taken from them, what remains in the power of but the difficulty of managing the subject would the States for their support, or for the extinguishdeter them. The modes of levying and collect- ment of their domestic debt ? ing taxes pursued by the several States are so Mr. Gerry thought if the proposition was revarious, that it is an insuperable obstacle to an ferred, that it ought to go to a Committee of the attempt by the General Government.

Whole, for he wished it to have a full and candid He was sensible that the requisitions of the discussion. He would have something left in the former Congress had not been fully complied power of every State to support itself, independwith, and the defect of the Confederation was, ent of the United States, and therefore was not that the Government had no powers to enforce a satisfied with the amendment proposed. The compliance. The proposition now under con- Constitution, in its original state, gives to Consideration obviated that difficulty. Suppose one gress the power of levying and collecting taxes, or two States refused to comply, certainly the duties, imposts, and excise. The fault here is, force of the others could compel them, and that is that every thing is relinquished to the General all that ought to be required ; because it is not to Government. Now, the amendment gives the be supposed that a majority of the States will same power, with qualification, that there shall refuse, as such an opposition must destroy the have been a previous requisition. This by no Union. He hoped the States would be left to fur- means came up to his idea; he thought that nish their quotas in a manner the most easy to some particular revenue ought to be secured to themselves, as was requested by more than half of the States, so as to enable them to support themthe present Union.

selves. Unless something more effectual was done to He apprehended, when this clause in the Conimprove the Constitution, he knew his constitu-stitution was under the consideration of the seveents would be dissatisfied. As to the amendments ral State conventions, they would not so readily already agreed to, they would not value them have ratified it, if they had considered it more more than a pinch of snuff; they went to secure fully in the point of view in which he had now rights never in danger.

placed it; but if they had ratified it, it would have Mr. Page wished the proposition might be re- been under a conviction that Congress would adcommitted, for he was certain there was neither mit such amendments as were necessary to the time nor inclination to add it to those already existence of the State Governments. At present, agreed upon.

the States are divested of every means to support He observed that the warmest friends to amend themselves. If they discover a new source of ments differ in opinion on this subject; many of revenue, after Congress shall have diverted all the them have ceased urging it, while others have be- old ones into their treasury, the rapacity of the come strenuous advocates for the reverse. The General Government can take that from them most judicious and discerning men now declare also. The States can have recourse to no tax, that the Government ought never to part with | duty, impost, or excise, but what may be taken this power. For his part, experience had con- from them whenever the Congress shall be so disvinced him that no reliance was to be had on re- posed ; and yet gentlemen must see that the anniquisitions, when the States had treated them with hilation of the State Governments will be followcontempt in the hour of danger, and had abundant ed by the ruin of this. means of compliance. The public credit stood at Now, what is the consequence of the amendthis moment in the utmost need of support, and ment? Either the States will or will not comhe could not consent to throw down one of its ply with the requisitions. If they comply, they strongest props. He thought there was no danger voluntarily surrender their means of support; if of an abuse of this power, for the Government they refuse, the arms of Congress are raised to would not have recourse to it while the Treasury compel them, which, in all probability, may lay could be supplied from any other source; and the foundation for civil war. What umbrage must when they did, they would be studious of adapt- it give every individual to have two sets of coling their law to the convenience of the States. lectors and tax-gatherers surrounding his doors; He hoped, when the gentleman returned home to the people then soured, and a direct refusal by the New Hampshire, his constituents would give Legislature, will be the occasion of perpetual dishim credit for his exertions, and be better satisfied cord. He wished to alter this proposition in such 'with the amendments than he now supposed them a manner as to secure the support of the Federal to be.

Government and the State Governments likewise, Mr. Sumter felt himself so sensibly impressed and therefore wished the amendment referred to a with the importance of the subject, that if he ap- Committee of the whole House. prehended the proposition would not have a fair Mr. TuCKER.—I do not see the arguments in discussion at this time, he would second the motion favor of giving Congress this power in so forcible of commitment, and had not a doubt but the House a light as some gentlemen do. It will be to erect would acquiesce in it.

an imperium in imperio, which is generally conGentlemen had said that the States had this sidered to be subversive of all Government. At business much at heart. Yes, he would venture any time that Congress shall exercise this power, to say more, that if the power was not relinquish-l it will raise commotions in the States; whereas,

« ZurückWeiter »