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From these sources a delicate and difficult contest arose. It became necessary, therefore, to compromise, or the Convention must have dissolved without effecting anything. Would it have been wise and prudent in that body, in this critical situation, to have deserted their country? No! Every man who hears me, every wise man in the United States would have condemned them.
The Convention were obliged to appoint a committee for accommodation. In this committee the arrangement was formed as it now stands, and their report was accepted. It was a delicate point, and it was necessary that all parties should be indulged.
Gentlemen will see that, if there had been no unanimity, nothing could have been done ; for the Convention had no power to establish, but only to recommend, a government. Any other system would have been impracticable.
Let a convention be called to-morrow. Let them meet twenty times,-nay, twenty thousand times; they will have the same difficulties to encounter, the same clashing interests to reconcile.
But, dismissing these reflections, let us consider how far the arrangement is in itself entitled to the approbation of this body. We will examine it upon its own merits.
The first thing objected to is that clause which allows & representation for three-fifths of the negroes. Much has been said of the impropriety of representing men who have no will of their own. Whether this be reasoning or declamation I will not presume to say. It is the unfortunate situation of the Southern States to have a great part of their population, as well as property, in blacks. The regulation complained of was one result of the spirit of accommodation which governed the Convention, and without this indulgence po union could possibly have been formed.
But, sir, considering some peculiar advantages which we derive from them, it is entirely just that they should be granted.
The Southern States possess certain staples-tobacco, rice, indigo, &c.-which must be capital objects in treaties of commerce with foreign nations; and the advantages which they necessarily procure in those treaties will be felt throughout all the States. But the justice of this plan will appear in another view. The best writers on government have held that representation should be compounded of persons and property. This rule has been adopted, as far as it conld be, in the Constitution of New York. It will, however, by no means be admitted that the slaves are considered altogether as property. They are men, though degraded to the condition of slavery.
They are persons known to the municipal laws of the States which they inbabit, as well as to the laws of nature. But representation and taxation go together, and one uniform rule ought to apply to both.
Would it be just to compute these slaves in the assessment of taxes, and discard them from the estimate in the apportionment of representatives ?
Would it be just to impose a singular burden, without conferring some adequate advantage ?
Another circumstance ought to be considered. The role we have been speaking of is a general rule, and applies to all the States. Now, you have a great number of people in your State which are not represented at all, and have no voice in your government.
These will be included in the enumeration—not two-fifths, por three-fifths, but the whole.
This proves that the advantages of the plan are not confined to the Southern States, but extend to other parts of the Union.
EXTRACTS FROM THE DEBATES IN THE CONVEN
TION OF CONNECTICUT.
January 4, 1788.-Oliver Ellsworth. Mr. President: It is observable that there is no preface to the proposed Constitution; but it evidently pre-supposes two things; one is, the necessity of a federal government, the other is the inefficiency of the old Articles of Confederation.
A union is necessary for the purposes of national defense. United we are strong, divided we are weak. It is easy for hostile nations to sweep off a number of separate states, one after another. Witness the states in the neighborhood of ancient Rome. They were successively subdued by that ambitious city, which they might have conquered with the utmost ease if they had been united.
Witness the Canaanitish nations, whose divided situation rendered them an easy prey. Witness England, which, when divided into separate states, was twice conquered by an inferior force. Thus it always happens to small states, and to great ones if divided. Or if, to avoid this, they connect themselves with some powerful state, their situation is not much better. This shows us the necessity of combin. ing our whole force, and, as to national purposes, becoming one state.
A union, sir, is likewise necessary, considered with relation to economy.
They must provide for their defense.
The expense of it, which would be moderate for a large kingdom, would be intolerable to a petty state. The Dutch are wealthy, but they are one of the smallest of the European nations, and their taxes are higher than in any other country of Europe. Their taxes amount to forty shillings per head, when those of England do not exceed half that sum.
We must unite in order to preserve peace among ourselves. If we be divided, what is to prevent wars from breaking out among the States ? States, as well as individuals, are subject to ambition, to avarice, to those jarring passions which disturb the peace of society. What is to check these? If there be a parental hand over the whole, this, and nothing else, can restrain the unruly conduct of the members.
Union is necessary to preserve commutative justice between the States.
If divided what is to prevent the large States from oppressing the small ? What is to defend us from the ambition and rapacity of New York, when she has spread over that vast territory which she claims and holds? Do we not already see in her the seeds of an overbearing ambition ? On our other side there is a large and powerful State. Have we not already begun to be tributaries ? If we do not improve the present critical time-if we do not uniteshall we not be like Issachar of old, a strong ass crouching down between two burdens. New Jersey and Delaware have seen this, and have adopted the Constitution unanimously.
A more energetic system is necessary.
The present is merely advisory. It has no coercive power. Withont this, government is ineffectual, or rather is no goverument at all. But it is said, “Such a power is not necessary. States will not do wrong. They need only to be told their duty and they will do it." I ask, sir, what warrant is there for this assertion? Do not States do
? Whence come wars ? One of two bostile nations must be in the wrong.
But it is said, “Among sister States this can never be presumed.” But do we not know that when friends become enemies, their enmity is the most virulent?
The seventeen provinces of the Netherlands were once confederated : they fought under the same banner.
werp, hard pressed by Philip, applied to the other states for relief. Holland, a rival in trade, opposed and prevented the needy succors. Antwerp was made a sacrifice. I wish I could
there were no seeds of similar injustice springing up among us. Is there not in one of our States injustice too barefaced for Eastern despotism ? That State is small. It does little hurt to any but itself.
But it has a spirit which would make a Tophet of the universe. But some will say, “We formerly did well without any union."
I answer, our situation is materially changed. While Great Britain held her authority, she awed us. pointed governors and councils for the American provinces. She had a negative upou our laws. But now, our circumstances are so altered, that there is no arguing what we shall be, from what we have been.*
EXTRACTS FROM THE DEBATES OF THE COMMON
WEALTH OF VIRGINIA.
June 2, 1788. Mr. George Nicholas. Mr. Chairman : I feel apprehensions lest the subject of our debates should be misunderstood. Every one wishes to know the true meaning of the system ; but I fear those who hear us will think we are captiously quibbling on words. We have been told, in the course of this business, that the government will operate like a screw. Give me leave to say that the exertions of the opposition are like that instrument. They catch at every thing, and take it into their vortex.
* The report of the debates in the Connecticut Convention is very meagre, occupying but a few pages. In none of the speeches reported is the slavery question debated at all. We copy the foregoing from Mr. Ellsworth, as containing healthy Union sentiments, peculiarly applicable to a large class of people at the present time.