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impolitic, and not to be reconciled with the genius of free governments; and if fresh commotions should spring from them, that the State of Massachusetts alone should be at the charge, and abide by the consequences of their own misconduct.
Mr. MADISON would not examine whether the original views of Congress, in the enlargement of their military force, were proper or not; nor whether it were so, to mask their views with an ostensible preparation against the Indians.
He admitted, indeed, that it appeared rather difficult to reconcile an interference of Congress in the internal controversies of a State with the tenor of the Confederation, which does not authorize it expressly, and leaves to the States all powers not expressly delegated;-or with the principles of republican governments, which, as they rest on the sense of the majority, necessarily suppose power and right always to be on the same side. He observed, however, that in one point of our view military precautions on the part of Congress might have a different aspect. Whenever danger was apprehended from any foreign quarter, which, of necessity, extended itself to the Federal concerns, Congress were bound to guard against it, and although there might be no particular evidence in this case of such a meditated interference, yet there was sufficient ground for a general suspicion of readiness in Great Britain to take advantage of events in this country, to warrant precautions against her. But waving the question as to the original propriety of the measure adopted, and attending merely to the question whether at this moment the measure ought, from a change of circumstances, to be rescinded, he was inclined to think it would be more advisable to suspend than to go instantly into the recision. The considerations which led to this opinion were
First. That though it appeared pretty certain that the main body of the insurgents had been dispersed, it was by no means certain that the spirit of insurrection was subdued. The leaders, too, of the insurgents had not been apprehended, and parties of them were still in arms in disaffected places.
Secondly. That great respect is due on such occasions to the wishes and representations of the suffering member of the Federal body, both of which must be judged of by what comes from her representatives on the floor. These tell us that the measures taken by Congress have given great satisfaction and spirits to their constituents, and have co-operated much in baffling the views of their internal enemies; that they are pursuing very critical precautions at this moment for their future safety and tranquillity; and that the construction which will be put on the proposed resolution, if agreed to by Congress, cannot fail to make very unhappy impressions, and may have very serious consequences. The propriety of these precautions depends on so many circumstances better known to the Government of Massachusetts than to Congress, that it would be premature in Congress to be governed by a disapprobation.
Thirdly. That every State ought to bear in mind the consequences of popular commotions, if not thoroughly subdued, on the tranquillity of the Union, and the possibility of being itself the scene of them. Every State ought, therefore, to submit
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with cheerfulness to such indulgences to others as itself may, in a little time, be in need of. He had been a witness of the temper of his own State (Virginia) on this occasion. It was understood by the Legislature that the real object of the military preparations on foot was the disturbances in Massachusetts, and that very consideration inspired the ardor which voted, towards their quota, a tax on tobacco, which would not have been granted for scarce any other purpose whatever, being a tax operating very partially, in the opinion of the people of that State who cultivate that article; yet this class of the Legislature were almost unanimous in making the sacrifice, because the fund was considered as the most certain that could be provided.
Fourthly. That it was probable the enlistments, for the reasons given, would be suspended without an order from Congress; in which case the inconvenience suggested would be saved to the United States, and the wishes of Massachusetts satisfied at the same time.
Fifthly. That as no bounty was given for the troops, and they could be dismissed at any time, the objections drawn from the consideration of expense would have but little force.
Sixthly. That it was contended for a continuance of the apparent aid of Congress, for only three or four weeks, the members from Massachusetts themselves considering that as a sufficient time.
After the rejection of the motion, as stated on the Journal, a dispute arose whether the vote should be entered among the secret or public proceedings. Mr. PINCKNEY insisted that, in the former case, his view, which was to justify himself to his constituents, would be frustrated. Most of those who voted with him were opposed to an immediate publication. The expedient of a temporary concealment was proposed as answering all purposes.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20TH.
Nothing of consequence was done.
The Report of the Convention at Annapolis, in September, 1786, had been long under the consideration of a committee of Congress for the last year, and was referred over to a grand committee of the present year. The latter committee, after considerable difficulty and discussion, agreed on a report, by a majority of one only, (see the Journal," which was made a few days ago to Congress, and set down as the order for this day. The Report coincided with the opinion held at Annapolis, that the Confederation needed amendments, and that the proposed Convention was the most eligible means of effecting them. The objections which seemed to prevail against the recommendation of the Convention by Congress, were, with some, that it tended to weaken the Federal authority by lending its sanction to an extra-constitutional mode of proceeding; with others, that the interposition of Congress would be considered by the jealous as betraying an ambitious wish to get power into their hands by any plan whatever that might present itself. Subsequent to the Report, the Delegates from New York received instructions from its Legislature to move in Congress for a recommendation of a convention; and those from Massachusetts had, it appeared, received information which led them to suppose it was becoming the disposition of the Legislature of that State to send deputies to the proposed Convention, in case Congress should give their sanction to it. There was reason to believe, however, from the language of the instruction from New York, that her object was to obtain a new convention, under the sanction of Congress, rather than to accede to the one on foot; or perhaps, by dividing the plans of the States in their appointments, to frustrate all of them. The latter suspicion is in some degree countenanced by their refusal of the impost a few days before the instruction passed, and by their other marks of an unfederal disposition. The Delegates from New York, in consequence of their instructions, made the motion on the Journal to postpone the Report of the Committee, in order to substitute their own proposition. Those who voted against it considered it as liable to the objection above mentioned. Some who voted for it, particularly Mr. Madison, considered it susceptible of amendment when brought before Congress; and that if Congress interposed in the matter at all, it would be well for them to do it at the instance of a State, rather than spontaneously. This motion being lost, Mr. Dane, from Massachusetts, who was at bottom unfriendly to the plan of a convention, and had dissuaded his State from coming into it, brought forward a proposition, in a different