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and George Mason of Virginia.1 Mason led the fight against ratification in the Virginia Convention of 1788, supported by Patrick Henry (who had been elected to the Convention at Philadelphia, but had refused to serve), Richard Henry Lee, and James Monroe.2 Mason published his apprehensive views to the citizens of Virginia under the title, "The Objections of the Hon. Geo. Mason to the proposed Foederal Constitution."
There is no declaration of rights: and the laws of the general government being paramount to the laws and constitutions of the several states, the declarations of rights, in the separate states, are no security. . . .
The Senate have the power of altering all money-bills, and of originating appropriations of money, and the salaries of the officers of their appointment, in conjunction with the President of the United States - Although they are not the representatives of the people, or amenable to them. These, with their other great powers, (viz.: their powers in the appointment of ambassadors, and all public officers, in making treaties, and in trying all impeachments) their influence upon, and connection with, the supreme executive from these causes, their duration of office, and their being a constant existing body, almost continually
1 Of the 65 members elected to the Constitutional Convention, 55 attended. Of these 39 signed the Constitution. Three refused to sign, and 13 were absent from the closing session. Of the absentees only four (Lansing and Yates of New York and Mercer and Martin of Maryland) were hostile to the Constitution.
2 About a fortnight after Virginia ratified, Monroe wrote to Thomas Jefferson, who was our minister in Paris, declaring that Washington's influence had carried the state for ratification, and that a certain letter of Jefferson's on the subject had been discussed with great regard for the author. Jefferson would probably have opposed the Constitution as too aristocratic, had he been at home to take part in the events of 17871788; although on the eve of his departure for Paris (July 1, 1784) he had written to Madison from Boston: "I find the conviction growing strongly that nothing can preserve our confederacy unless the band of union, their common council, be strengthened" (Works, ed. Ford, Vol. III, p. 502).
sitting, joined with their being one complete branch of the legislature, will destroy any balance in the government, and enable them to accomplish what usurpation they please, upon the rights and liberties of the people.
The judiciary of the United States is so constructed and extended, as to absorb and destroy the judiciaries of the several states; thereby rendering laws as tedious, intricate, and expensive, and justice as unattainable by a great part of the community, as in England; and enabling the rich to oppress and ruin the poor.
The President of the United States has no constitutional council (a thing unknown in any safe and regular government) he will therefore be unsupported by proper information and advice; and will generally be directed by minions and favorites or he will become a tool to the Senate - or a council of state will grow out of the principal officers of the great departments the worst and most dangerous of all ingredients for such a council, in a free country; for they may be induced to join in any dangerous and oppressive measures, to shelter themselves, and prevent an inquiry into their own misconduct in office. . . .
The President of the United States has the unrestrained power of granting pardon for treason; which may be sometimes exercised to screen from punishment those whom he has secretly instigated to commit the crime, and thereby prevent a discovery of his own guilt. . . .
By requiring only a majority to make all commercial and navigation laws, the five southern states (whose product and circumstances are totally different from those of the eight northern and eastern states) will be ruined: for such rigid and premature regulations may be made, as will enable the merchants of the northern and eastern states not only to demand an exorbitant freight, but to monopolize the purchase of the commodities, at their own price, for many years, to the great injury of the landed interest, and the impoverishment of the people. . . .
The state legislatures are restrained from laying export duties on their own produce the general legislature is restrained from prohibiting the further importation of slaves for twenty odd years, though such importations render the United States weaker, more vulnerable, and less capable of defence. . . .
44. Jefferson's plan
ernment of the West,
This government will commence in a moderate aristocracy; it is at present impossible to foresee whether it will, in its operation, produce a monarchy, or a corrupt oppressive aristocracy; it will most probably vibrate some years between the two, and then terminate in the one or the other.
Of almost equal importance with the Declaration of for the gov- Independence and the Constitution was the Ordinance of 1787, which furnished the model for the government of territories of the United States.1 This Ordinance was based on the following plan of Thomas Jefferson's, which was substantially adopted by Congress, except for the antislavery clause (No. 5, p. 181), on April 23, 1784: [March 22, 1784]
The Committee to whom was recommitted the report of a plan for a temporary government of the Western territory have agreed to the following resolutions.
Resolved, that so much of the territory ceded or to be ceded by individual states to the United States as is already purchased or shall be purchased of the Indian inhabitants & offered for sale by Congress, shall be divided into distinct states in the following manner. . . [by degrees of latitude and meridians of longitude]
That the settlers on any territory so purchased & offered for sale shall, either on their own petition, or on the order of Congress, receive authority from them [Congress] . . . to adopt the constitution and laws of any one of the original states, so that such laws nevertheless shall be subject to alteration by their ordinary legislature; & to erect, subject to a like alteration, counties or townships for the election of members for their legislature.
That such temporary government shall only continue in force in any state until it shall have acquired 20,000 free inhabitants,
1 The Ordinance of 1787, or "Northwest Ordinance," may be found in William Macdonald, Select Documents of United States History, 1776-1861, pp. 21-29. The student should compare the Ordinance with Jefferson's plan.
when giving due proof thereof to Congress, they shall receive from them [Congress] authority with appointment of time & place to call a convention of representatives to establish a permanent Constitution and Government for themselves. Provided that both the temporary and the permanent governments be established on these principles as their basis. 1. That they shall forever remain a part of this confederacy of the United States of America. 2. That in their persons, property & territory they shall be subject to the Government of the United States in Congress assembled, & to the articles of Confederation in all those cases in which the original states shall be so subject. 3. That they shall be subject to pay a part of the federal debts contracted or to be contracted, to be apportioned on them by Congress; according to the same common rule and measure, by which apportionments thereof shall be made on the other states. 4. That their respective Governments shall be in republican forms and shall admit no person to be a citizen who holds any hereditary title. 5. That after the year 1800 of the Christian aera, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the sd [said] states, otherwise than in punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been convicted to have been personally guilty.
That whensoever any of the sd states shall have, of free inhabitants, as many as shall then be in any one of the least numerous, of the thirteen original states, such state shall be admitted by it's delegates into the Congress of the United States on an equal footing with the said original states; provided nine states agree to such admission. . . . Until such admission by their delegates into Congress, any of the said states after the establishment of their temporary government shall have authority to keep a sitting member in Congress, with a right of debating, but not of voting.
That the preceding articles shall be formed into a charter of compact, shall be duly executed by the President of the United States in Congress assembled, under his hand & the seal of the United States, shall be promulgated & shall stand as fundamental constitutions between the thirteen original states and each of the several states now newly described, unalterable but
by the joint consent of the United States in Congress assembled, & of the particular state within which such alteration is proposed to be made.
That measures not inconsistent with the principles of the Confed" & necessary for the preservation of peace & good order among the settlers in any of the said new states until they shall assume a temporary government as aforesaid, may from time to time be taken by the U. S. in C. assembled.