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of each smaller State should be in the affirmative, and one in the negative; they will make
It is then apparent, that the 14 carry the question against the 43, and the minority overpowers the majority, contrary to the common practice of assemblies in all countries and ages.
The greater States, Sir, are naturally as unwilling to have their property left in the disposition of the smaller, as the smaller are to leave theirs in the disposition of the greater. An honorable gentleman has, to avoid this difficulty, hinted a proposition of equalizing the States. It appears to me an equitable one; and I should, for my own part, not be against such a measure, if it might be found practicable. Formerly, indeed, when almost every province had a different constitution, some with greater, others with fewer privileges, it was of importance to the borderers, when their boundaries were contested, whether, by running the division lines, they were placed on one side or the other. At present, when such differences are done away, it is less material. The interest of a State is made up of the interests of its individual members. If they are not injured, the State is not injured. Small States are more easily, well, and happily governed, than large ones. If, therefore, in such an equal division, it should be found necessary to diminish Pennsylvania, I should not be averse to the giving a part of it to New Jersey, and another to Delaware; but, as there would probably be considera
ble difficulties in adjusting such a division; and, however equally made at first, it would be continually varying by the augmentation of inhabitants in some States, and their more fixed proportion in others, and thence frequent occasion for new divisions; I beg leave to propose for the consideration of the committee another mode, which appears to me to be as equitable, more easily carried into practice, and more permanent in its nature.
Let the weakest State say what proportion of money or force it is able and willing to furnish for the general purposes of the Union.
Let all the others oblige themselves to furnish each an equal proportion.
The whole of these joint supplies to be absolutely in the disposition of Congress.
The Congress in this case to be composed of an equal number of delegates from each State;
And their decisions to be by the majority of individual members voting.
If these joint and equal supplies should, on particular occasions, not be sufficient, let Congress make requisitions on the richer and more powerful States for further aids, to be voluntarily afforded; so leaving each State the right of considering the necessity and utility of the aid desired, and of giving more or less, as it should be found proper.
This mode is not new; it was formerly practised with success by the British government, with respect to Ireland and the Colonies. We sometimes gave even more than they expected, or thought just to accept; and in the last war, carried on while we were united, they gave us back in five years a million sterling. We should probably have continued such voluntary contributions, whenever the occasions appeared to
require them for the common good of the empire. It was not till they chose to force us, and to deprive us of the merit and pleasure of voluntary contributions, that we refused and resisted. Those contributions, however, were to be disposed of at the pleasure of a government in which we had no representative. I am therefore persuaded, that they will not be refused to one in which the representation shall be equal.
My learned colleague has already mentioned that the present mode of voting by States, was submitted to originally by Congress, under a conviction of its impropriety, inequality, and injustice. This appears in the words of their resolution. It is of September 6th, 1774. The words are,
"Resolved, That, in determining questions in this Congress, each colony or province shall have one vote; the Congress not being possessed of, or at present able to procure, materials for ascertaining the importance of each colony."
FOR PRAYERS IN THE CONVENTION.
The small progress we have made, after four or five weeks' close attendance and continual reasonings with each other, our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many Noes as Ayes, is, methinks, a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the human understanding. We indeed. seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since 20
we have been running all about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those republics, which, having been originally formed with the seeds of their own dissolution, now no longer exist; and we have viewed modern states all round Europe, but find none of their constitutions suitable to our circumstances.
In this situation of this assembly, groping, as it were, in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard ;-and they were graciously answered. All of us, who were engaged in the struggle, must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine we no longer need its assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that GOD governs in the affairs of men. And, if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that "except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe, that, without his concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel;
we shall be divided by our little, partial, local interests, our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a by-word down to future ages. And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.
I therefore beg leave to move,
That henceforth prayers, imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business; and that one or more of the cler.gy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.*
SPEECH IN THE CONVENTION,
AT THE CONCLUSION OF ITS DELIBERATIONS.
I confess, that I do not entirely approve of this Constitution at present; but, Sir, I am not sure I shall never approve it; for, having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that, the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment of others. Most men, indeed, as well as most sects in religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them, it is so far error. Steele, a Protestant, in a ded
*Note by Dr. Franklin. - "The convention, except three or four persons, thought prayers unnecessary!"