Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

other part, and that other part be at liberty, not only to increase its own danger, but to withhold the compensation for the burden? If slaves are to be imported, shall not the exports produced by their labor supply a revenue the better to enable the General Government to defend their masters? There was so much inequality and unreasonableness in all this, that the people of the Northern States could never be reconciled to it. No candid man could undertake to justify it to them. He had hoped that some accommodation would have taken place on this subject;

that at least a time would have been limited for the importation of slaves. He never could agree to let them be imported without limitation, and then be represented in the National Legislature. Indeed, he could so little persuade himself of the rectitude of such a practice, that he was not sure he could assent to it under any circumstances. At all events, either slaves should not be represented, or exports should be taxable.

Mr. Sherman regarded the slave trade as iniquitous; but the point of representation having been settled after much difficulty and deliberation, he did not think himself bound to make opposition; especially as 'the present Article, as amended, did not preclude any arrangement whatever on that point, in another place of the Report.

Mr. Madison objected to one for every forty thousand inhabitants as a perpetual rule. The future increase of population, if the Union should be permanent, will render the number of Representatives excessive.

Mr. GORHAM. It is not to be supposed that the

Government will last so long as to produce this effect. Can it be supposed that this vast country, including the western territory, will, one hundred and fifty years hence, remain one nation ?

Mr. ELLSWORTH. If the Government should continue so long, alterations may be made in the Constitution in the manner proposed in a subsequent article.

Mr. SHERMAN and Mr. MADISON moved to insert the words, “not exceeding,” before the words, “one for every forty thousand;" which was agreed to, nem. con.

Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS moved to insert "free" before the word "inhabitants.” Much, he said, would depend on this point. He never would concur in upholding domestic slavery. It was a nefarious institution. It was the curse of Heaven on the States where it prevailed. Compare the free regions of the Middle States, where a rich and noble cultivation marks the prosperity and happiness of the people, with the misery and poverty which overspread the barren wastes of Virginia, Maryland, and the other States having slaves. Travel through the whole continent, and you behold, the prospect continually varying with the appearance and disappearance of slavery. The moment you leave the Eastern States, and enter New York, the effects of the institution become visible. Passing through the Jerseys and entering Pennsylvania, every criterion of superior improvement witnesses the change. Proceed southwardly, and every step you take, through the great regions of slaves, presents a desert increasing with the increasing proportion of these wretched

na.

beings. Upon what principle is it that the slaves shall be computed in the representation ? Are they men? Then make them citizens, and let them vote. Are they property? Why, then, is no other property included ? The houses in this city (Philadelphia) are worth more than all the wretched slaves who cover the rice swamps of South Caroli

T'he admission of slaves into the representation, when fairly explained, comes to this, that the inhabitant of Georgia and South Carolina who goes to the coast of Africa, and, in defiance of the most sacred laws of humanity, tears away his fellow creatures from their dearest connections, and damns them to the most cruel bondage, shall have more votes in a government instituted for protection of the rights of mankind, than the citizen of Pennsylvania or New Jersey, who views with a laudable horror so nefarious a practice. He would add, that domestic slavery is the most prominent feature in the aristocratic countenance of the proposed Constitution. The vassalage of the poor has ever been the favorite offspring of aristocracy. · And what is the proposed compensation to the Northern States, for a sacrifice of every principle of right, of every impulse of humanity? They are to bind themselves to march their militia for the defence of the Southern States, for their defence against those very slaves of whom they complain. They must supply vessels and seamen, in case of foreign attack. The Legislature will have indefinite power to tax them by excises, and duties on imports; both of which will fall heavier on them than on the Southern inhabitants; for the Bohea tea used by a Northern

freeman will pay more tax than the whole consumption of the miserable slave, which consists of nothing more than his physical subsistence and the

rag that covers his nakedness. On the other side, the Southern States are not to be restrained from importing fresh supplies of wretched Africans, at once to increase the danger of attack, and the difficulty of defence; nay, they are to be encouraged to it, by an assurance of having their votes in the National Government increased in proportion; and are, at the same time, to have their exports and their slaves exempt from all contributions for the public service. Let it not be said, that direct taxation is to be proportioned to representation. It is idle to suppose that the General Government can stretch its hand directly into the pockets of the people, scattered over so vast a country. They can only do it through the medium of exports, imports and excises. For what, , then, are all the sacrifices to be made ? He would sooner submit himself to a tax for paying for all the negroes in the United States, than saddle posterity with such a Constitution.

Mr. DAYTON seconded the motion. He did it, he said, that his sentiments on the subject might appear, whatever might be the fate of the amendment.

Mr. SHERMAN did not regard the admission of the negroes into the ratio of representation, as liable to such insuperable objections. It was the freemen of the Southern States who were, in fact, to be represented according to the taxes paid by them, and the negroes are only included in the estimate of the taxes. This was his idea of the matter.

Mr. PINCKNEY considered the fisheries, and the VOL. I.-80

Western frontier, as more burthensome to the United States than the slaves. He thought this could be demonstrated, if the occasion were a proper

one.

296

Mr. Wilson thought the motion premature. An agreement to the clause would be no bar to the object of it.

On the question, on the motion to insert "free" before "inhabitants,"—New Jersey, aye—1; New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no—10.

On the suggestion of Mr. DICKINSON, the words, “provided that each State shall have one representative at least,” were added, nem. con.

Article 4, Sect. 4, as amended, was agreed to, nem. con.

Article 4, Sect. 5, was then taken up.

Mr. PINCKNEY moved to strike out Sect. 5, as giving no peculiar advantage to the House of Representatives, and as clogging the Government. If the Senate can be trusted with the many great powers proposed, it surely may be trusted with that of originating money bills.

Mr. GORHAM was against allowing the Senate to originate, but was for allowing it only to amend.

Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS. It is particularly proper that the Senate should have the right of originating money bills. They will sit constantly, will consist of a smaller number, and will be able to prepare such bills with due correctness; and so as to prevent delay of business in the other House.

Col. Mason was unwilling to travel over this

« ZurückWeiter »