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more. Shrinking from the final vote on the question, the house adjourned.
On Monday, the sixteenth, as soon as the convention assembled, the question was taken on the amended report which included an equality of votes in the senate.* The six southern states were present, and only four of the northern. Four of the six states which demanded a proportioned representation stubbornly refused to yield. It was of decisive influence on the history of the country that Strong and Gerry, balancing the inflexible King and Gorham, pledged Massachusetts at least to neutrality. On the other side, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland spurned the thought of surrender. The decision was given by North Carolina, which broke from her great associates and gave a majority of one to the smaller states. More than ten years before, Jefferson had most earnestly proposed this compromise, seeking to proselyte John Adams, to whom he wrote: “The good whigs will so far cede their opinions for the sake of union.” + He heard with great joy that his prophecy had come to pass. I
The large states accepted the decision as final. When, on the seventeenth, Gouverneur Morris proposed a reconsideration of the resolution of the former day, no one would second his motion.
On the twenty-third the number of senators for each state was fixed at two, and each of these, as had been proposed by Gerry and supported by Sherman, was personally to have one
From the day when every doubt of the right of the smaller states to an equal vote in the senate was quieted, they—so I received it from the lips of Madison, and so it appears from the records
exceeded all others in zeal for granting powers to the general government. Ellsworth became one of its strongest pillars. Paterson of New Jersey was for the rest of his life a federalist of federalists.
Gilpin, 1107–1109; Elliot, 316, 317. + Works of Jobn Adams, ix., 465–467.
| Jefferson, ii., 329. # Gilpin, 1098, 1185, 1186 ; Elliot, 311, 312, 356, 357.
THE OUTLINE OF THE CONSTITUTION COMPLETED AND REFERRED.
FROM THE 17TH TO THE 27TH OF JULY 1787.
The distribution of powers between the general government and the states was the most delicate and most difficult task before the convention. Startled by the vagueness of language in the Virginia resolve, Sherman on the seventeenth of July proposed the grant of powers to make laws in all cases which may concern the common interests of the union, but not to interfere with the government of the individual states in any matters of internal police which respect the government of such states only, and wherein the general welfare of the United States is not concerned."* Wilson seconded the amendment, as better expressing the general principle. But, on scanning its probable interpretation by the separate states, the objection prevailed that it would be construed to withhold from the general government the authority to levy direct taxes and the authority to suppress the paper money of the states.
Bedford moved to empower the national legislature " to legislate for the general interests of the union, for cases to which the states are severally incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States might be interrupted by the exercise of individual legislation.” + This Gouverneur Morris gladly seconded; and, though Randolph resisted, the current ran with such increasing vehemence for union that the amendment was adopted at first by six states, and then by every state but South Carolina and Georgia.
As to giving power to the national legislature "to negative * Gilpin, 1115; Elliot, 319, 320.
| Gilpin, 1116; Elliot, 320.
laws passed by the several states,” Gouverneur Morris, opposing it as terrible to the states,* looked where Jefferson invited Madison to look-to the judiciary department to set aside a law that ought to be negatived. Sherman insisted that state laws, contravening the authority of the union, # were invalid and inoperative from the beginning. Madison put forth all his strength to show that a power of negativing the improper laws of the states is the most mild and certain means of preserving the harmony of the system. He was supported by Massachusetts, Virginia, and North Carolina.
From the New Jersey plan it was taken, without one dissentient, that the laws and treaties of the United States should be the supreme law of the states, and bind their judiciaries, anything in their laws to the contrary notwithstanding. That all power not granted to the general government remained with the states was the opinion of every member of the convention; but they held it a work of supererogation to place in the constitution an express recognition of the reservation. Thus in one half of a morning the convention began and ended its distribution of power between the states and the union. The further development of the central government brought to it a wider scope of action and new ascendency over the states.
The construction of the executive department was fraught with bewildering difficulties, of which a new set rose up as fast as the old ones were overcome. The convention, though it devoted many days in July to the subject, did but acquiesce for the moment in the Virginia resolve, with which its deliberations had yet made it thoroughly discontented.
Mason and the Pinckneys would have required a qualification of landed property for the executive, judiciary, and members of the national legislature. Gerry approved securing property by property provisions. “If qualifications are proper,” said Gouverneur Morris, “I should prefer them in the electors rather than the elected ;” ( and Madison agreed
* Gilpin, 1117; Elliot, 321.
| Gilpin, 1119 ; Elliot, 322. f Gilpin, 1118; Elliot, 321.
A Gilpin, 1211, 1213; Elliot, 370, 371. † Gilpin, 1117, 1118; Elliot, 321, 322. O Gilpin, 1211; Elliot, 370. * Gilpin, 1118, 1119; Elliot, 322.
with him. “I,” said Dickinson, “doubt the policy of interweaving into a republican constitution a veneration for wealth. A veneration for poverty and virtue is the object of republican encouragement. No man of merit should be subjected to disabilities in a republic where merit is understood to form the great title to public trust, honors, and rewards.” * The subject came repeatedly before the convention; but it never consented to require a property qualification for any office in the general government. In this way no obstruction to universal suffrage was allowed to conquer a foothold in the constitution, but its builders left the enlargement of suffrage to time and future lawgivers. They disturbed no more than was needed for the success of their work. They were not restless in zeal for one abstract rule of theoretical equality to be introduced instantly and everywhere. They were like the mariner in mid-ocean, on the rolling and tossing deck of a ship, who learns how to keep his true course by watching the horizon as well as the sun. In leading a people across the river that divided their old condition from the new, the makers of the new form of government anchored the supporting boats of their bridge up stream. The qualifications of the electors it left to be decided by the states, each for itself.
All agreed “that a supreme tribunal should be established," + and that the national legislature should be empowered to create inferior tribunals. By the report of the committee, on the eighteenth, the judges were to be appointed by the senate. Gorham, supported by Gouverneur Morris, proposed their appointment “by the executive with the consent of the second branch”; a mode, he said, which had been ratified by the experience of a hundred and forty years in Massachusetts. The proposal was gradually gaining favor; but for the moment failed by an equal division.
The trial of impeachments of national officers was taken from the supreme court; and then, in the words of Madison, its jurisdiction was unanimously made to "extend to all cases arising under the national laws, or involving the national peace
Gilpin, 1213-1215; Elliot, 371, 372. † Gilpin, 1137; Elliot, 331. + Gilpin, 1130; Elliot, 328.
# Gilpin, 1134; Elliot, 330.
and harmony."* Controversies which began and ended in the several states were not to be removed from the courts of the states.
The convention had still to decide how the new constitution should be ratified. “By the legislatures of the states," proposed Ellsworth, on the twenty-third, and he was seconded by Paterson. “The legislatures of the states have no power to ratify it,” said Mason. “And, if they had, it would be wrong to refer the plan to them, because succeeding legislatures, having equal authority, could undo the acts of their predecessors, and the national government would stand in each state on the tottering foundation of an act of assembly. Whither, then, must we resort? To the people, with whom all power remains that has not been given up in the constitutions derived from them."
“One idea,” said Randolph, “has pervaded all our proceedings, that opposition, as well from the states as from individuals, will be made to the system to be proposed. Will it not, then, be highly imprudent to furnish any unnecessary pretext by the mode of ratifying it? The consideration of this subject should be transferred from the legislatures, where local demagogues have their full influence, to a field in which their efforts can be less mischievous. Moreover, some of the states are averse to any change in their constitution, and will not take the requisite steps unless expressly called upon to refer the question to the people.” +
“The confederation,” said Gerry, “is paramount to the state constitutions; and its last article authorizes alterations only by the unanimous concurrence of the states." “ Are all the states," replied his colleague Gorham, “to suffer themselves to be ruined, if Rhode Island, if New York, should persist in opposition to general measures? Provision ought to be made for giving effect to the system, without waiting for the unanimous concurrence of the states.”
“A new set of ideas," said Ellsworth,“ seems to have crept in since the articles of confederation were established. Conventions of the people, with power derived expressly from
Gilpin, 1138; Elliot, 332, and i., 210. Gilpin, 1180; Elliot, 354. + Gilpin, 1177-1179; Elliot, 352, 353.