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It proceeded to a

through the debates of the Convention. degree of warmth and anger in which the Convention was on the point of dissolution. When the vote was taken, five States were for an equality of representation and five against it. At this critical period, a conference committee was appointed. It resulted in a compromise; the opponents of an unequal representation agreeing to yield their objections to it in the lower House, provided its advocates would pledge themselves to support an equal representation in the Senate: and on this basis of agreement was reared the constitution of the United States of America.

The reader must observe here, that the great distinguishing feature of this constitution, the peculiar virtue of the American system—namely, the mixed representation of the people and the States-was purely the result of a jealousy between the larger and the smaller States, the fruit of an accident. It contained the true virtue of a political instrument, which, as we shall see, was otherwise full of faults and glaring with defects. It was that in which it was original. But it was not an a priori discovery. It was not the result of the wisdom of our ancestors. History abounds in instances where accidental or empirical settlements have afterwards been discovered to contain great elements of wisdom and virtue; and it has been natural and pleasing for succeeding generations to account these rather as the result of human reason and prescience, than as the product of blind circumstances. But we are forced to confess, that in that great political novelty of the American system-in which the world was to see, for the first time combined and harmonized, the principle of geographical sovereignties with that of a confederate unity, which, for certain purposes, was to stand for national identity—the "wisdom" of our forefathers had no part, but acted unconsciously under the pressure of circumstances, or the direction of divine Providence.

This statement is not pleasant to American vanity. But it is due to the truth of history. It is highly probable that the framers of the constitution did not fully comprehend the importance of the principles of the combination of State sovereignty with that of the simple republic on which they had stumbled. If they had, it might be supposed that they

would have defined with a much severer accuracy the political relations of the States and the General Government; for it has been for the want of such accuracy that room has been found, at least for disputation, and the creation of two political parties, which have run through the whole of American history.

And here it is we must turn from the consideration of that principle in the constitution which was its distinctive feature and its saving virtue, to view briefly the enormous defects and omissions of an instrument that has shared so much of the undne admiration of mankind.

It is impossible to resist the thought, that the framers of the constitution were so much occupied with the controversy of jealousy between the large and the small States that they overlooked many great and obvious questions of government, which have since been fearfully developed in the political history of America. Beyond the results and compromises of that jealousy, the debates and the work of the Convention show one of the most wonderful blanks that has, perhaps, ever occurred in the political inventions of civilized mankind. They left behind them a list of imperfections in political prescience, a want of provision for the exigencies of their country, such as has seldom been known in the history of mankind.

A system of negro servitude existed in some of the States. It was an object of no solicitude in the Convention. The only references in the constitution to it are to be found in a provision in relation to the rendition of fugitives "held to service or labor," and in a mixed and empirical rule of popular representation. However these provisions may imply the true status of slavery, how much is it to be regretted that the Convention did not make (what might have been made so easily) an explicit declaration on the subject, that would have put it beyond the possibility of dispute, and removed it from even the plausibilities of party controversy!

For many years the very obvious question of the power of the General Government to make "internal improvements" has agitated the councils of America; and yet there is no text in the constitution to regulate a matter which should have stared its authors in the face, but what may be derived, by

the most forced and distant construction, from the powers of Congress "to regulate commerce," and to "declare war," and "raise and support armies."

For a longer period, and with a fierceness once almost fatal to the Union, has figured in the politics of America, "the tariff question," a contest between a party for revenue and a party for protective prohibitions. Both parties have fought over that vague platitude of the constitution, the power of Congress "to regulate commerce;" and in the want of a more distinct language on a subject of such vast concern, there has been engendered a controversy which has progressed from the threshold of the history of the Union up to the period of its dissolution.

With the territorial possessions of America, even at the date of the Convention, and with all that the future promised in the expansion of a system that yet scarcely occupied more than the water-slopes of a continent, it might be supposed that the men who formed the constitution would have prepared a full and explicit article for the government of the territories. That vast and intricate subject-the power of the General Government over the territories, the true nature of these establishments, the status and political privileges of their inhabitants—is absolutely dismissed with this bald provision in the constitution of the United States:

"New States may be admitted by Congress into this Union."-ART. iv., SEC. 3.

But however flagrant these omissions of the constitution, and however through them sprung up much that was serious and deplorable in party controversy, we must lose neither sight nor appreciation of the one conspicuous and characteristic virtue of this instrument. That was the combination of State rights with an authority which should administer the common concerns of the States. This principle was involved in the construction of the Senate. It was again more fully and perfectly developed in the amendments of the constitution; these amendments having a peculiarity and significance as parts of the instrument, since they were, in a certain sense,

conditions precedent made by the States to their ratification of it. They provide:

"The enumeration in the constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."*

It may be said, that whereas the element of the States was recognized in the construction of the Senate, that element was precisely adjusted and admeasured in the amendments which we have just quoted. In the debates in the legislatures of the different States on the ratification of the constitution, it was never doubted that their original existence was already recognized in it; not only in the text of the instrument, but in the composition by States of the convention that framed it, and in the ratification by States which was necessary to promulgate it, and give it force and existence. The design of the amendments referred to, was simply to adjust in more precise language a vital and important element in the new system, and to declare formally what sense the States had of it, and with what understanding they approved it.

*These amendments, which were the fruit of the legislative wisdom of the States, not of that of the Convention, and were designed to give a full development and a proper accuracy to what was certainly ill-performed work in it, will be found embodied in the official declarations of at least six of the States, coupled with their ratification of the constitution.

MASSACHUSETTS.-"That it be explicitly declared, that all powers not expressly delegated by the aforesaid constitution, are reserved to the several States, to be by them exercised."

NEW HAMPSHIRE.-"That it be explicitly declared, that all powers not expressly and particularly delegated by the aforesaid constitution, are reserved to the several States, to be by them exercised."

SOUTH CAROLINA.-"This convention doth also declare, that no section or paragraph of the said constitution warrants a construction that the States do not retain every power not expressly relinquished by them, and vested in the General Government of the Union."

VIRGINIA." We, the delegates of the people of Virginia, etc., do, in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known that the powers granted under the constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them, whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby remains with them, and at their will; that, therefore, no right, of any denomination, can be cancelled, abridged, restrained, or modified, by the Con

But even if these official texts are-as a party in America has long contended-insufficient to establish the political element of the States, and to measure it as the depository of sovereignty by the rule of reserved rights, we are left a rule of construction as to the true nature of the American Union, which is completely out of the reach of any ingenious torture of language, and far above any art of quibble on words.*

gress, by the Senate, or House of Representatives, acting in any capacity, by the President, or any department or officer of the United States, except in those instances in which power is given by the constitution for those purposes; and that, among other essential rights, the liberty of conscience, and of the press, cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained, or modified, by any authority of the United States."

NEW YORK.-"That the powers of government may be resumed by the people whensoever it shall become necessary to their happiness; that every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by the said constitution clearly delegated to the Congress of the United States, or the departments of the Government thereof, remains to the people of the several States, or to their respective State governments, to whom they may have granted the same; and that those clauses in the said constitution, which declare that Congress shall not have or exercise certain powers, do not imply that Congress is entitled to any powers not given by the said constitution; but such clauses are to be construed either as exceptions to certain specified powers, or as inserted merely for greater caution."

RHODE ISLAND.-"That those clauses in the constitution which declare that Congress shall not have or exercise certain powers, do not imply that Congress is entitled to any powers not given by the said constitution; but such clauses are to be construed as exceptions to certain specified powers, or as inserted merely for greater caution."

* It is curious to notice to what lengths of verbal torture that party in America that denied the sovereignty of the States, and represented the Union as a popular consolidated government, have gone.

Thus it has been fashionable to quote in the school of consolidation a declaration in the letter of George Washington, president of the Convention, submitting the constitution to the States for their ratification, in which he says: "It is obviously impracticable in the Federal Government of these States to secure ALL the rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all."-Eliot's Debates, Vol. I., p. 17.

Yet the word " ALL," which we have capitalized for emphasis, and which a hasty reader might lose in the context, is directly opposed to the theory of consolidation, and directly implies the residuum of sovereignty in the States. Again, the word "United States" has been used as a popular argument for a consolidated government. Yet we find in the history of America that the same words designated all the former associations of the colonies and of the States; that the first assembly of delegates to take into consideration the grievances that led to the revolt from the British crown were known as the

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