But independent of this most active and operative principle, to secure the equilibrium of the national House of Representatives, the plan of the convention has provided in its favor several important counterpoises to the additional authorities to be conferred upon the Senate.They have been stated as amounting to an admission that the plan is radically defective, and that without material alterations the rights and the interests of the community cannot be safely confided to it.An objector in a large State exclaims loudly against the unreasonable equality of representation in the Senate.If, in addition to this immense advantage, the ambition of the members should be stimulated by the separate and independent possession of military forces, it would afford too strong a temptation and too great a facility to them to make enterprises upon, and finally to subvert, the constitutional authority of the Union.
The passions ought to be controlled and regulated by the government.Previous to the Revolution, and ever since the peace, there has been a constant necessity for keeping small garrisons on our Western frontier.To shorten an enumeration of particulars which can afford neither pleasure nor instruction, it may in general be demanded, what indication is there of national disorder, poverty, and insignificance that could befall a community so peculiarly blessed with natural advantages as we are, which does not form a part of the dark catalogue of our public misfortunes.
The next relation is, to the sources from which the ordinary powers of government are to be derived.On ordinary occasions it might not be exerted with the requisite firmness, and on extraordinary occasions it might be perfidiously abused.Author: Alexander Hamilton To the People of the State of New York: THE necessity of a Constitution, at least equally energetic with the one proposed, to the preservation of the Union, is the point at the examination of which we are now arrived.
But admit that they might be willing to help the invaded State or confederacy.To another, the exclusion of the House of Representatives, whose numbers alone could be a due security against corruption and partiality in the exercise of such a power, is equally obnoxious.The power of levying and borrowing money, being the sinew of that which is to be exerted in the national defense, is properly thrown into the same class with it.Yet history does not inform us that either of them ever degenerated, or tended to degenerate, into one consolidated government.
Whilst the objection itself is levelled against a pretended oligarchy, the principle of it strikes at the very root of republican government.But as a more concise, and at the same time equally satisfactory, evidence, I will refer to the example of two States, attested by two unexceptionable authorities.
The Same Subject Continued: Concerning the General Power of Taxation From the New York Packet.These circumstances combined, admonish us not to be too sanguine in considering ourselves as entirely out of the reach of danger.The pride of states, as well as of men, naturally disposes them to justify all their actions, and opposes their acknowledging, correcting, or repairing their errors and offenses.In the eleventh century the emperors enjoyed full sovereignty: In the fifteenth they had little more than the symbols and decorations of power.In the sixteenth century, the emperor, with one part of the empire on his side, was seen engaged against the other princes and states.Such questions, accordingly, have arisen upon the plan proposed by the convention, and particularly concerning the judiciary department.An actual census or enumeration of the people must furnish the rule, a circumstance which effectually shuts the door to partiality or oppression.But even there the king is not bound by the resolutions of his council, though they are answerable for the advice they give.
And the adversaries of the plan promulgated by the convention ought to have confined themselves to showing, that the internal structure of the proposed government was such as to render it unworthy of the confidence of the people.The members retained the character of independent and sovereign states, and had equal votes in the federal council.The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States.Thus without corrupting the body of the people, the immediate agents in the election will at least enter upon the task free from any sinister bias.This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the FEW, not for the MANY.
The Same Subject Continued: Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States For the Independent Journal.Were every nation except France now to disband its peace establishments, the same event might follow.Here the writers against the Constitution seem to have taken pains to signalize their talent of misrepresentation.The territories of Britain, Spain, and of the Indian nations in our neighborhood do not border on particular States, but encircle the Union from Maine to Georgia.It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.Is it not the glory of the people of America, that, whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience.The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack.
I mean the power of imposing taxes on all articles other than exports and imports.It will be well if they are not able to counteract its legitimate and necessary authority.
They seem never to have recollected the danger from legislative usurpations, which, by assembling all power in the same hands, must lead to the same tyranny as is threatened by executive usurpations.The two former are expressly prohibited by the declarations prefixed to some of the State constitutions, and all of them are prohibited by the spirit and scope of these fundamental charters.Happy it is when the interest which the government has in the preservation of its own power, coincides with a proper distribution of the public burdens, and tends to guard the least wealthy part of the community from oppression.A sample of this is to be observed in the exaggerated and improbable suggestions which have taken place respecting the power of calling for the services of the militia.
The experience of Great Britain, which presents to mankind so many political lessons, both of the monitory and exemplary kind, and which has been frequently consulted in the course of these inquiries, corroborates the result of the reflections which we have just made.Not to confer in each case a degree of power commensurate to the end, would be to violate the most obvious rules of prudence and propriety, and improvidently to trust the great interests of the nation to hands which are disabled from managing them with vigor and success.This shows the immense difficulty in preventing that species of traffic, where there is an inland communication, and places in a strong light the disadvantages with which the collection of duties in this country would be encumbered, if by disunion the States should be placed in a situation, with respect to each other, resembling that of France with respect to her neighbors.It has been freely employed upon a variety of occasions, and frequently with success.If the foregoing argument is a fallacy, certain it is that I am myself deceived by it, for it is, in my conception, one of those rare instances in which a political truth can be brought to the test of a mathematical demonstration.The number of inhabitants in the two kingdoms of England and Scotland cannot be stated at less than eight millions.
As revenue is the essential engine by which the means of answering the national exigencies must be procured, the power of procuring that article in its full extent must necessarily be comprehended in that of providing for those exigencies.And here let us not forget how much more easy it is to receive foreign fleets into our ports, and foreign armies into our country, than it is to persuade or compel them to depart.The loans it might be able to procure would be as limited in their extent as burdensome in their conditions.As I flatter myself the observations made in a preceding number upon this part of the plan must have sufficed to place it, to a discerning eye, in a very favorable light, I shall here content myself with offering only some supplementary remarks, principally with a view to the objections which have been just stated.I shall undertake, in the next place, to show that unless these departments be so far connected and blended as to give to each a constitutional control over the others, the degree of separation which the maxim requires, as essential to a free government, can never in practice be duly maintained.