Abbildungen der Seite


which will at once support a due supremacy of the national authority, and leave in force the local authorities so far as they can be subordinately useful.

The first step to be taken is, I think, a change in the principle of representation. According to the present form of the Union, an equality of suffrage, if not just towards the larger members of it, is at least safe to them, as the liberty they exercise of rejecting or executing the acts of Congress, is uncontrollable by the nominal sovereignty of Congress. Under a system which would operate without the intervention of the States, the case would be materially altered. A vote from Delaware would have the same effect as one from Massachusetts or Virginia.

Let the national Government be armed with a positive and complete authority in all cases where uniform measures are necessary, as in trade, &c., &c. Let it also retain the powers which it now possesses.

Let it have a negative, in all cases whatsoever, on the Legislative acts of the States, as the King of Great Britain heretofore had. This I conceive to be essential and the least possible abridgement of the State sovereignties. Without such a defensive power, every positive power that can be given on paper will be unavailing. It will also give internal stability to the States. There has been no moment since the peace at which the Federal assent would have been given to paper-money, &c., &c.

Let this national supremacy be extended also to the Judiciary department. If the Judges in the last resort depend on the States, and are bound by their

oaths to them and not to the Union, the intention of the law and the interests of the nation may be defeated by the obsequiousness of the tribunals to the pollicy or prejudices of the States. It seems at least essential that an appeal should lie to some national tribunals in all cases which concern foreigners, or inhabitants of other States. The admiralty jurisdiction may be fully submitted to the National Government.

A Government formed of such extensive powers ought to be well organized. The Legislative department may be divided into two branches. One of them to be chosen every years by the Legislatures or the people at large; the other to consist of a more select number, holding their appointments for a longer term, and going out in rotation. Perhaps the negative on the State laws may be most conveniently lodged in this branch. A Council of Revision may be superadded, including the great ministerial officers.

A national Executive will also be necessary. I have scarcely ventured to form my own opinion yet, either of the manner in which it ought to be constituted, or of the authorities with which it ought to be clothed.

An article ought to be inserted expressly guaranteeing the tranquillity of the States against internal as well as external dangers.

To give the new system its proper energy, it will be desirable to have it ratified by the authority of the people, and not merely by that of the Legislatures.

I am afraid you will think this project, if not exVOL. I.-40*

travagant, absolutely unattainable and unworthy of being attempted. Conceiving it myself to go no further than is essential, the objections drawn from this source are to be laid aside. I flatter myself, however, that they may be less formidable on trial than in contemplation. The change in the principle of representation will be relished by a majority of the States, and those too of most influence. The northern States will be reconciled to it by the actual superiority of their populousness; the Southern by their expected superiority on this point. This principle established, the repugnance of the large States to

power will in a great degree subside, and the smaller States must ultimately yield to the predominant will. It is also already seen by many, and must by degrees be seen by all, that, unless the Union be organized efficiently on republican principles, innovations of a much more objectionable form may be obtruded, or, in the most favorable event, the partition of the Empire, into rival and hostile confederacies will ensue.

part with


New York, April 15, 1787. DEAR Sir,

Your favor of the fourth of April has been received since my last. The probability of General Washington's coming to Philadelphia is, in one point of view, flattering. Would it not, however, be well for him to postpone his actual attendance, until some judgment can be formed of the result of the meeting?

It ought not to be wished by any of his friends that he should participate in any abortive undertaking. It may occur, perhaps, that the delay would deprive the Convention of his presiding auspices, and subject him, on his arrival, to a less conspicuous point of view than he ought on all occasions to stand in. Against this difficulty must be weighed the consideration above mentioned, to which may be added the opportunity which Pennsylvania, by the appointment of Doctor Franklin, has afforded of putting sufficient dignity into the Chair.

The effect of the interposition of Congress in favor of the treaty at this crisis, was foreseen by us. I would myself have preferred a little procrastination on the subject. But the manifest and undeniable propriety of the thing itself, with the chance that the Legislature here, which will adjourn in a little time until next winter, and which is one of the principal transgressors, may set an immediate example of reformation, overruled the argument for delay. The difficulties which, as you suggest, may be left behind by a mere repeal of all existing impediments, will be probably found of a very serious nature to British creditors. If no other advantage should be taken of them by the State, than the making the assent of the creditors to the plan of instalments, a condition of such further provisions as may not come within the treaty, I do not know that the existence of these difficulties ought to be matter of regret. In every view Congress seem to have taken the most proper course for maintaining the national character; and if any deviations in particular States should be required by peculiar circumstances, it will be

The ex

better that they should be chargeable on such States than on the United States.

The Maryland Assembly met on the second instant, being convened by proclamation. pected delay, therefore, in her appointments for the Convention, cannot be admitted among the considerations which are to decide the time of your setting out. I am sorry that punctuality on your part will oblige you to travel without the company of Mrs. Randolph. But the sacrifice seems to be the more necessary, as Virginia ought not only to be on the ground in due time, but to be prepared with some materials for the work of the Convention. In this view, I could wish that you might be able to reach Philadelphia some days before the second Monday in May.

This city has been thrown into no small agitation by a motion, made a few days ago, for a short adjournment of Congress, and the appointment of Philadelphia as the place of its reassembling. No final question was taken, but some preliminary questions shewed that six States were in favor of it; Rhode Island, the seventh State, was at first in the affirmative, but one of its Delegates was overcome by the exertions made to convert him. As neither Maryland nor South Carolina was present, the vote is strong evidence of the precarious tenure by which New York enjoys her metropolitan advantages. The motives which led to this attempt were probably with some of a local nature. With others they were certainly of a general nature.

Mr. Jay was a few days ago instructed to communicate to Congress the State of the Spanish nego

« ZurückWeiter »