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ment of delegates to the Convention to meet at Philadelphia
The “bread or blood” democracy of Massachusetts was effectually crushed, but its riotous character could not be forgotten. Of this, William C. Rives uttered the following sentiment:
“Whether it be, that the original, inherent proclivity of an unqualified democracy is to personify itself in the government of a single man, as has been said by one (Napoleon) who crowned his theory by successful practice, or that its excesses lead, by a natural reactionary process, to the establishment of despotic authority as a refuge from anarchy and civil disorder, modern times have certainly added an impressive testimony to the truth, which the future history of the United States may yet farther confirm, that a highly democratic state of society is far more likely, than vne tempered by natural aristocratical influences, to terminate in absolute monarchical rule."
In the winter of 1786 Mr. Madison again becoming eligible, was elected as one of the representatives of Virginia to the Congress, and, on the 12th of February, 1787, took his seat in that body. He at once gave his attention to the question which had recently engendered such a widespread ill feeling throughout the country, the proposed closing of the Mississippi to the trade of the United States for a term of twenty-five years. Mr. Jay, Secretary of Foreign Affairs for the Congress, insisted that affairs with Spain had reached that point when concessions must be made, or war would be the inevitable result. Seven States had authorized him to proceed with the negotiations on the ground of giving up the Mississippi for the time, as he deemed advisable. Mr. Madison, with the other members from the South, mainly, opposed this procedure in every possible way, and the correctness of his position nobody gainsays at this day.
On this very subject he wrote to Mr. Monroe as follows:
“PHILADELPHIA, October 5, 1786. “ DEAR SIR, -I received yesterday your favor of the 2d instant, which makes the third for which my acknowledgments are due. The progression which a certain measure seems to be making is an alarming proof of the predominance of temporary and partial interests over those just and extended maxims of policy which have been so much boasted of among us, and which alone can effectuate the durable prosperity of the Union. Should the measure triumph under the patronage of nine States, or even of the whole thirteen, I shall never be convinced that it is expedient, because I can not conceive it to be just.
“There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong. Taking the word interest' as synonymous with “ultimate happiness,' in which sense it is qualified with every necessary moral ingredient, the proposition is no doubt true. But, taking it in the popular sense, as referring to immediate augmentation of property and wealth, nothing can be more false. In the latter sense it would be the interest of the majority in every community to despoil and enslave the minority of individuals; and, in a federal community, to make a similar sacrifice of the minority of the component States. In fact, it is only re-establishing, under another name and a more specious form, force as the measure of right; and in this light the Western settlements will infallibly view it.”
MR. MADISON TO GENERAL WASHINGTON.
“New YORK April 16, 1787. “DEAR SIR, I have been honored with your letter of the 31st March, and find, with much pleasure, that your views of the reform which ought to be pursued by the Convention give a sanction to those I entertained. Temporizing applications will dishonor the councils which propose them, and may foment the internal malignity of the disease, at the same time that they produce an ostensible palliation of it. Radical attempts, although unsuccessful, will at least justify the authors of them.
“Having been lately led to revolve the subject which is to undergo the discussion of the Convention, and formed some out
lines of a new system, I take the liberty of submitting them without apology to your eye.
“Conceiving that an individual independence of the States is utterly irreconcilable with their aggregate sovereignty, and that a consolidation of the whole into one simple republic would be as inexpedient as it is inattainable, I have sought for middle ground, which may at once support a due supremacy of the national authority, and not exclude the local authorities wherever they can be subordinately useful.
"I would propose as the groundwork, that a change be made in the principle of representation. According to the present form of the Union, in which the intervention of the States is, in all great cases, necessary to effectuate the measures of Congress, an equality of suffrage does not destroy the inequality of importance in the several members. No one will deny that Virginia and Massachusetts have more weight and influence, both within and without Congress, than Delaware or Rhode Island. Under a system which would operate in many essential points without the intervention of the State Legislatures, the case would be materially altered. A vote in the National Councils from Delaware would then have the same effect and value as one from the largest State in the Union. I am ready to believe that such a change would not be attended with much difficulty. A majority of the States, and those of greatest influence, will regard it as favorable to them. To the Northern States it will be recommended by their present populousness; to the Southern, by their expected advantage in this respect. The lesser States must, in every case, yield to the predominant will. But the consideration which particularly urges a change in the representation is, that it will obviate the principal objections of the larger States to the necessary concessions of power.
“I would propose next, that in addition to the present federal powers the National Government should be armed with positive and complete authority in all cases which require uniformity; such as the regulation of trade, including the right of taxing both exports and imports, the fixing the terms and forms of naturalization, etc., etc.
“Over and above this positive power, a negative in all cases whatsoever on the Legislative acts of the States, as heretofore exercised by the kingly prerogative, appears to me to be absolutely necessary, and to be the least possible encroachment on the State jurisdictions. Without this defensive power, every
positive power that can be given on paper will be evaded or defeated. The States will continue to invade the national jurisdiction, to violate treaties and the law of nations, and harass one another with rival and spiteful measures dictated by mistaken views of interest. Another happy effect of this prerogative would be its control on the internal vicissitudes of State policy, and the aggressions of interested majorities on the rights of minorities and individuals. The great desideratum, which has not yet been found for republican governments, seems to be some disinterested and dispassionate umpire in disputes between different passions and interests in the State. The majority, who alone have the right of decision, have frequently an interest, real or supposed, in abusing it. In monarchies the sovereign is more neutral to the interests and views of different parties; but, unfortunately, he too often forms interests of his own, repugnant to those of the whole. Might not the national prerogative here suggested be found sufficiently disinterested for the decision of local questions of policy, whilst it would itself be sufficiently restrained from the pursuit of interests adverse to those of the whole society? There has not been any moment since the peace at which the representatives of the Union would have given an assent to paper money or any other measure of a kindred nature.
“The national supremacy ought also to be extended, as I conceive, to the judiciary departments. If those who are to expound and apply the laws are connected by their interests and their oaths with the particular States wholly, and not with the Union, the participation of the Union in the making of the laws, may be possibly rendered unavailing. It seems at least necessary that the oaths of the Judges should include a fidelity to the general, as well as local constitution, and that an-appeal should lie to some national tribunal in all cases to which foreigners or inhabitants of other States may be parties. The admiralty jurisdiction seems to fall entirely within the purview of the National Government.
“The national supremacy in the executive departments is liable to some difficulty, unless the officers administering them could be made appointable by the supreme government. The militia ought certainly to be placed, in some form or other, under the authority which is entrusted with the general protection and defense.
“A government composed of such extensive powers should be well organized and balanced. The legislative department might be divided into two branches; one of them chosen every years, by the people at large or by the Legislatures; the other to consist of fewer members, to hold their places for a longer term, and to go out in such a rotation, as always to leave in office a large majority of old members. Perhaps the negative on the laws might be most cenveniently exercised by this branch. As a further check, a council of revision, including the great ministerial officers, might be superadded.
“A National Executive must also be provided. I have scarcely ventured, as yet, to form my own opinion either of the manner in which it ought to be constituted, or of the authorities with which it ought to be clothed.
“ An article should be inserted expressly guarantying the tranquillity of the States against internal, as well as external dangers.
“ In like manner the right of coercion should be expressly declared. With the resources of commerce in hand, the National Administration might always find means of exerting it either by sea or land. But the difficulty and awkwardness of operating by force on the collective will of a State render it particularly desirable that the necessity of it might be precluded. Perhaps the negative on the laws might create such a mutuality of dependence between the general and particular authorities as to answer the purpose. Or, perhaps, some defined objects of taxation might be submitted, along with commerce, to the general authority.”