Abbildungen der Seite

so or sever was designed to be, anything more than . . .ecutive of the laws; but the principle which con- --> over in the federal government clothes him with ... . . . . . ... od subjects every right and every interest of

. . . . is will. The boasted balance, which is supposed . ..., , he separation and independence of the departis - oved, even by our own experience, apart from all . . . . . , Jeri no sufficient security against this accumula--~ens, it is to be feared that the reliance which we . . . . asy serve to quiet our apprehensions, and render us s — so, as a we ought to be, of the progress, sly, yet sure, cous and cunning President may make towards abso

[ocr errors]

- - - - - - - . . . . . is lot sleep in the delusion that we shall derive all ... J from our own “intelligence and virtue.” The ... moeed, preserve their liberties forever, if they will v e always virtuous, always wise, and always vigilant. ...; he equally secure, if they can assure themselves ass they may select will never abuse their trust, but ... solderstand and always pursue the true interests of e. But, unhappily, there are no such people, and no \ government must be imperfect, indeed, if it . . . . egree of virtue in the people as renders all ...scessary. Government is founded, not in the on he vices of mankind; not in their knowledge o, a their ignorance and folly. Its object is to , , ... to restrain the violent, to punish the vicious, ... to the performance of the duty which man social state. It is not a self-acting machine, ... od perform its work without human agency; J from the human beings who fill its places, ... ... ovsulate and direct its operations. So long ... v err in judgment, or to fail in virtue, so J be liable to run into abuses. Until all o ostect as not to require to be ruled, all o, to be free will require to be watched, Jolled. To do this effectually requires * , aerally find of public virtue and pub- J A great majority of mankind are much


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

be safe from oilses. Look-r -- or ovi 5-3-ol rotatori são from the States of r-ri-- r + is or stor voti have as as a consolio:*: rst-Ti-I of 1 + ge:gos of its United States, we shall to #: i = - is is slot-i-T 3: L-isotsios osest. In an - is -o- is resis :-isost of all to spport to it site----- - -s for: for slosh it is un:act respects, it is much the =tisei. Urosy pily, however, the tes: i-7--es: if :-e viole is not for to *, although in truth it is the grezzes: +7===st of all the parts. This results from the fact that or oarseier is not homogeneous, and our pursuits are wholly diferent. Rightly understood, this fact should tend to tird us the more closely together, by showing us our dependence upon each other; and it should teach us the necessity of watching, with the greater jealousy, every departure from the strict principles of our union. It is a truth, however, no less melancholy than incontestable, that if this ever was the view of the people, it has ceased to be so. And it could not be otherwise. Whatever be the theory of our Constitution, its practice, of late years, has made it a consolidated government; the government of an irresponsible majority. If that majority can find, either in the pursuits of their own peculiar industry, or in the offices and emoluments which flow from the patronage of the government, an interest distinct from that of the minority, they will pursue that interest, and nothing will be left to the minority but the poor privilege of complaining. Thus the government becomes tyrannous and oppressive, precisely in proportion as its democratic principle is extended; and instead of the enlarged and general interest which should check and restrain it, a peculiar interest is enlisted, to extend its powers and sustain its abuses. Public virtue and intelligence avail little, in such a condition of things as this. That virtuo falls before the temptations of interest which you present to it, and that intelligence, thus deprived of its encouraging hopes, serves


could be hoped for, without a host of officers, whose compensations would consume a large proportion of the tax, while, from the very nature of their duties, they would be forced into minute examinations, inconsistent with the freedom of our institutions, harassing and vexatious in their details, and leading inevitably to popular resistance and tumult. And this process must be gone through at every new tax; for the relative wealth of the States would be continually changing. Hence, population has been selected as the proper measure of the wealth of the States. But, upon our author's principle, the South would be, indeed, little better off than the lamb in the embrace of the wolf. The slaves are easily found; they can neither be buried under ground, nor hid in the secret drawers of a bureau. They are peculiar, too, to a particular region; and other regions, having none of them, would yet have a voice in fixing their value as subjects of taxation. That they would bear something more than their due share of this burthen, is just as certain as that man, under all circumstances, will act according to his nature. In the mean time, not being considered as people, they would have no right to be heard in their own defence, through their representatives in the federal councils. On the other hand, the non-slave-holding States would be represented in proportion to the whole numbers of their people, and would be taxed only according to that part of their wealth which they might choose to disclose, or which they could not conceal. And in the estimate of this wealth, their people would not be counted as taxable subjects, although they hold to their respective States precisely the same relation, as laborers and contributors to the common treasury, as is held by the slaves of the South to their respective States. The rule, then, which considers slaves only as property to be taxed, and not as people to be represented, is little else than a rule imposing on the Southern States almost the entire burthens of the government, and allowing to them only the shadow of influence in the measures of that governIment. The truth is, the slave-holding States have always contributed more than their just proportion to the wealth and strength of [*116] the country, *and not less than their just proportion to its intelligence and public virtue. This is the only

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

perfectly just measure of political influence; but it is a measure which cannot be applied in practice. We receive population as the best practicable substitute for it; and as all people, whatever be their private and peculiar conditions and relations, are presumed to contribute their share to the stock of general wealth, intelligence and virtue, they are all entitled to their respective shares of influence in the measures of government. The slave-holding States, therefore, had a right to demand that all their slaves should be represented; they yielded too much in agreeing that only three-fifths of them should possess that right. I cannot doubt that this would have been conceded by the convention, had the principle, that representatives and direct taxes should be apportioned according to the same ratio, been then adopted into the Constitution. It would have been perceived that, while the representation of the Southern States would thus have been increased, their share of the public taxes would have been increased in the same proportion; and thus they would have stood, in all respects, upon the same footing with the other States. The Northern States would have said to them, “Count your people; it is of no consequence to us what is their condition at home; they are laborers, and therefore they contribute the same amount of taxable subjects, whether black or white, bond or free. We therefore recognize them as people, and give them representation as such. All that we require is, that when we come to lay direct taxes, they shall be regarded as people still, and you shall contribute for them precisely as we contribute for our people.” This is the plain justice of the case; and this alone would be consistent with the great principles which ought to regulate the subject. It is a result which is no longer attainable, and the South will, as they ought to do, acquiesce in the arrangement as it now stands. But they have reason to complain that grave authors, in elaborate works designed to form the opinions of rising generations, should so treat the subject as to create an impression that the Southern States are enjoying advantages under our Constitution, to which they are not fairly entitled, and which they owe only to the liberality of the other States; for the South feels that these supposed advantages are, in fact, sacrifices, which she has made only to a spirit of conciliation and harmony, and which neither justice nor sound principle would ever have exacted of her. The most defective part of the Federal Constitution, beyond all question, is that which relates to the executive department. It is impossible to read that instrument, without [*117] being forcibly struck with *the loose and unguarded terms in which the powers and duties of the President are pointed out. So far as the legislature is concerned, the limitations of the Constitution are, perhaps, as precise and strict as they could safely have been made; but in regard to the executive, the convention appear to have studiously selected such loose and general expressions, as would enable the President, by implication and construction, either to neglect his duties, or to enlarge his powers. We have heard it gravely asserted in congress, that whatever power is neither legislative nor judiciary, is, of course, executive, and, as such, belongs to the President, under the Constitution! How far a majority of that body would have sustained a doctrine so monstrous, and so utterly at war with the whole genius of our government, it is impossible to say; but this, at least, we know, that it met with no rebuke from those who supported the particular act of executive power, in defence of which it was urged. Be this as it may, it is a reproach to the Constitution, that the executive trust is so ill-defined, as to leave any plausible pretence, even to the insane zeal of party devotion, for attributing to the President of the United States the powers of a despot; powers which are wholly unknown in any limited monarchy in the world. It is remarkable that the Constitution is wholly silent in regard to the power of removal from office. The appointing power is in the President and senate; the President nominating, and the senate confirming; but the power to remove from office seems never to have been contemplated by the convention at all, for they have given no directions whatever upon the subject. The consequence has been precisely such as might have been expected, a severe contest for the possession of that power, and the ultimate usurpation of it, by that department of the government to which it ought never to be entrusted. In the absence of all precise directions upon the subject, it would seem that the power to remove ought to attend the power to appoint; for

« ZurückWeiter »